“ I don’t hear a damn thing!” Griever cursed. His neck decided to start working at about that time and he risked a look at this old man.
He was sitting across the bonfire and draped in robes that covered every portion of his body, including his face. The only part Griever saw of the man was a hand covered in a black glove holding a small metal band. For some reason, the band seemed to be glowing. It was probably a side effect of the fire. Metal didn’t glow.
“Don’t hear it?” the cloaked man muttered, sounding disappointed. “Well, it’s to be expected.” He stood and walked over to Griever and around to his right side. Griever followed him, but couldn’t focus once he saw his right side. He had known the loss of his sword arm would be devastating for a mercenary even with his skill but…
His arm was still there!
Had he dreamed it all? Maybe his brothers were still alive! Griever cursed. You fool, he thought harshly toward himself, you may have imagined a missing arm, but not that battle.
The hooded man put the metal band on Griever’s sword arm and slid it up until it was fixed just below his elbow, then walked back to his own seat. Even though Griever couldn’t see the man’s face, he thought he could sense the satisfaction coming off him.
“There,” the man said, “now you can go on living.”
Griever ignored the words. It was no use in putting stock in any of this man’s words, he realized. “Do you know how the battle went?”
“Battle?” the man asked, seeming confused. “I saw no battle. I arrived only to find you laying among the dead.” The man paused for a moment, as if thinking about something. “You’re not the lightest of men, even with a missing arm.”
Ignore him, Griever. Ignore his lies. He’s probably a trickster who can guess thoughts to make you think you’re crazy. “My captain will reward you if you can get me to him,” Griever told the man, trying a different approach. Even the loons liked money.
“The Whit Boar?”
Griever felt himself growing excited. “Yes! Do you know of him?”
The man shook his head. “I only know that he is dead, along with his band of mercenaries.”
The words, despite being from a questionable source, hit Griever like a punch to the gut. Was he really the only member left of the White Boars? No! The Captain was a better warrior than even Griever and Falk, the Left Tusk’s commander! No way he fell to Abysman swords!
Anger pumped through Griever and he found himself able to sit up. He jumped up and glared at the hooded figure. “You lie! He would never die! He’s invincible!”
The man didn’t move. “Well, it’s impressive you can use the Gear to that extent already…”
Griever started to attack the man out of pure rage when he noticed his right arm – that had only worn the odd band only a moment before – was covered in his gauntlet. He nearly fell back trying to make sense of it. How had… He may have dreamed losing an arm, but there was no way he dreamed being without the gauntlet mere moments before!
“What trickery is this, wizard!?” Griever demanded from the hooded man. It had to be his work. Maybe the Devil had taken form to punish him for living!?
“It’s one of the powers of the gear,” the man explained, as if telling Griever how to ride a horse or tie a knot, “It alters to the appearance you like it best and assumes that state until you decide on another form. Of course, that’s one a side power of-“
“Shut up!” Griever shouted as he tried not to stare at his gauntlet – the Gear? – and focused on the man. “Stop talking bullshit and tell me what you’re doing before I beat that hood into your face!”
The hooded figure sighed. “A half-naked man with a iron fist does not scare me,” the man said, “so why don’t you sit down and talk, Leonard Dominos Vayr.”
How did he..? Griever sat down and tried to relax. This man knew his real name. He hadn’t seen his parents in over a dozen years and they didn’t have near enough money to find him. Maybe this man was his…
“Father?” Griever whispered, testing his theory.
The hooded figure burst out laughing, though it was slightly muffled, which annoyed Griever. “God, no!” he said between laughs, “Not even I would want to father a ruffian like you!”
Damn old man. “Remind me why I shouldn’t just bash your head in and find my Captain?” Griever was ready to do it, too. He was tired of fooling with this man and his tricks. He probably had given Griever a delusion drug or some bad shrooms to make him see things, too. Magic didn’t exist and Gears didn’t exist.
The man breathed a few times and calmed his laughter. “First of all, your Captain White you love so much is dead. It’s actually the talk of the town lately. You guys are traitors who violated the treaty between Abysma and Lighthaven. Those are actually Lord Barnabus Droil’s words.”
Griever didn’t want to believe it, but pieces were starting to fall in place. Captain White had held a meeting, discussing the job when they got it. It had been a secret job from Lord Droil of the royal house himself. He had paid the White Boar’s to take care of stragglers after the treaty was supposed to be signed. It was well known the White Boars had earned a distinguished reputation in the War, threatening the official knights with becoming an official unit themselves. In short, Droil had sold the White Boar out, just like Falk had theorized.
But, wasn’t this all just Griever trying to make pieces fit? It could be something different. This man could be trying to trick Griever some more… And why did he want to believe his mysterious hooded figureso much? It was almost akin to listening to an extremely persuasive whore.
“I’m not lying,” the man said, a dangerous edge yet amusing tone permeating from his hidden mouth, “And I’m no whore.”