The Pen and The Wind

The writings and musings of a windswept soul.
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Tavion glared at the sign that made no sense, trying to deduce which path would lead him to his pay the fastest. He thought to himself “Signs are supposed to be helpful,” yet these provided no direction at all. They only pointed down two paths, with two phrases carved down each arrow, “Where there are owls,” and “Where there are no owls.”

“Which way should we go?” The voice behind him asked.

He turned and glared at the robed twit asking the ceaseless annoying questions, “Shut up, this is your fault we’re stuck like this.”

“Well you’re the ‘world’s greatest thief, treasure hunter and adventurer,’ you should be able to handle this kind of thing!”

“Forgive me for not being able to navigate my way through a place called The Forrest of No Return!”

“Well, what are we going to do?”

Tavion stared back at the owl sign, and couldn’t help but think how he got into this mess. He could have been drunk out of his mind right now, probably in the middle of a rather extraordinary evening with that one cute barmaid, or any other woman lucky enough to cross his path. Of course, that was kind of how he got into this mess.

This whole ordeal began when he was in Crookshank’s Tavern, the closest place he had to a home in the Kingdom of Wildethorn. It was nestled in the dank armpit of the capital city, Goldspire. It was a city to reside in if one liked variety. It was on the coast, with miles of forest to the west, Mountains to the north, and a grasslands to the east. It was prime location, and this the upper levels of the city were littered with towers and other intrusive structures. The city’s motto was, “Prosperous to all,” which was pretty amusing seeing as the pub he loved so much was nestled between a sewage channel, a boarded up apothecary that went under for being a slave trading front, a whorehouse, and a house that one had resided in since that incident with the imps. One day after he had far too much to drink he proposed to the High Council that it be changed to, “Prosperous to all who can afford to distract themselves from the mass squalor below them.” It didn’t take.

Tavion brushed his long black hair out of his face and took a swig from his third bottle of rum. His leather breastplate was worn and his gray-blue tunic was beginning to show through it. A new one would be nice, but not necessary. There was a reason he wasn’t as scarred as his fellow patrons, he was near impossible to touch when focused enough, his frame not bulky, but slender and built for movement. It was about the time when he was admiring his own figure as much as the barmaids were when the twit walked in. He wore a set of semi-ornate robes and had large staff that appeared jeweled, but from Tavion’s experience with all things shiny and valuable, they were worthless glass. Such was the appearance of someone in the Royal Academy, which meant he was either a pompous ass, or a naive sucker. Judging from his slouched appearance and complete lack of confidence, he was the later. Tavion took another swig of his rum, eying him from his usual booth at the back corner of the lowlife bar that was his home, people like him only came into Crookshank’s to hire thugs or to hire Tavion. The little robed man looked around nervously as he made his way back to the bar. This was more often than not the standard reaction to Crookshank’s, as the walls were mounted with various rusty and quite frightening looking weaponry, as well as the mounted heads of hundreds of various creatures and monsters, all arranged to look like they were currently snarling at anyone who walked by them. Also, it always seemed to have a musty decaying scent, as if it was built over a large pile the undead (which would explain those odd scratching and clawing sounds one often heard coming from the floorboards). The other patrons were off putting too, as everyone except that rather handsome gent in the back sipping rum looked as though one had taken a pile of beast parts, stitched them together in a vaguely humanoid form, shaved them with a broken bottle, and dressed them in garments so dirty even a beggar would refuse to wear them. Ugly brutes are a common sight in a tavern, but Crookshank’s patrons took the cake. Tavion often wondered how the owner convinced the barmaids to work here, but his focus was now on the out of place little man.

The scared robed man made his way to Tavion’s booth, with a voice meek and quaking, “I-I’m looking f-f-for a thief.”

“I’m looking for a barmaid I have yet to seduce, but I’d have to ride to Ispost to do that.” He turned and looked the scared little man. “Why do you need a thief?”

The robed man began to stammer, but before he could say anything Tavion held out the bottle, “Here, your nervousness is annoying me, take a drink and settle down.”

Tavion learned a lot in his rum filled haze. He learned that the robed man was a total lightweight for one, as it only took one drink to get him clumsily slurring words. He also learned that his name was Rafquel, and he was a Cleric at the Royal Academy. He had been working there for several years, and the higher ups were about to discover a dirty little secret of his. A few years back a certain sacred item important to the well being of the entire kingdom went missing from his watch, and rather than reporting it and being executed, he replaced it with a cheap but remarkable lookalike. In a week’s time there was going to be a very important royal ceremony, and his mistake and cover up would be discovered. He also learned that the person who took it was some sort of dark wizard, and took it to do… dark wizard stuff. He was two thirds his way down the bottle by then, details were a little fuzzy. What it all boiled down to, he figured, was that Rafquel needed to get it back, and was here to hire someone to do it because he had little to skill of any sort of his own, and that he intended Tavion to be that person.

“Alright, I suppose I’m interested. Where is the target?”

“Well, it took me a while, but I heard that he has a hideout within the Forest of No Return.”

Tavion paused a moment and thought it over, “Wait a minute, if it’s a forest of no return, then how would anyone know whats in it?”

That stumped Rafquel, and he responded, “I’m not quite sure, but I spoke with a diviner and he said that it is definitely in the center of the forest.”

“And another thing, if it’s a Forest of No Return, how do you expect me to return deliver the package?”

“I’m sure it’s just a name.”
“That’s what John said after about three pints. No one ever saw him again.”

“Are you up to the task or not?”

Tavion paused for dramatic effect, always drove the point home when he did that, “Rafquel my lad, I am the world’s greatest thief, treasure hunter, and adventurer. I once got trapped by a lich, and stole the orb that held it’s very soul. There is no task I’m not up to. That said, I’m not going to do it.”

“What?! Why not?!”

“Because I don’t care about your problems and am pretty drunk? That good enough a reason?”

“But… I could die.”
“I… find myself not caring about your fate.”

Tavion then began to give him a look that said, “leave now, there is no swaying me.” The man looked as if a knife had been stabbed in the chest, the sheer shock of the world etched in his face, contemplating his own fleeting mortality, probably reminiscing over all those missed opportunities. He got up and left with that look still on his face, and Tavion took another swig of the rum, such emotion may have affected him in his younger days, but he was far too hardened, with a far too infamous a reputation to afford such acts of kindness.

He was just about to sit back and finally get to that full state of relaxation, and maybe pass out, when another figure approached his booth. This one far larger and more intimidating, wearing the pelt of a bear around his crotch, with a smell that could slay a griffin and carrying an axe that was quite possibly the size of a horse, but that might have been a trick of the rum. This very frightening figure was glaring at him, seething with rage, and it managed to grunt out, “Are you the son of a whorish rat who slept with my wife?”

Normally, a cunning ruse, or pretty much any deceit would be appropriate here, and normally would diffuse the trouble. However, Tavion was far too drunk for deceit, and despite his common sense screaming at him not to, he slurred this gem of a response, “that’s a very real possibility. What’s her name my good, smelly bear?”

He stared at Tavion with unblinking eyes, which Tavion could have swore were actually glowing with rage. That probably wasn’t a good sign. “Her name… is Sarasha.”

Tavion began to think, and the image of a red-headed blacksmith with a very large rack and a firm rump came to mind, and then the image of her without clothes laying out on her workbench came to mind. “Oh… her… well, I can safely that I didn’t not sleep with her, or her luscious rack. I would definitely say that-” he couldn’t finish his already incriminating sentence, as that axe of the bear of a gentleman was carrying was now lodged in the floor after splitting his table in half. The response of panic was enough to overtake the tides of rum he had ingested, and he fled with much haste. He made it out of the tavern and into the streets, with the thundering feet of that reeking gigas right behind him. He frantically searched around for a means of escape or a way to hide, but all the alleys boarded up due to the outbreak of rats (and to conceal the lepers and political protesters), and the street was completely barren of horses, save for the one Rafquel had just climbed upon. Not dying was enough of a motivation for Tavion, so he rushed over and lept onto the horse. Rafquel was surprised, but Tavion yelled, “Just ride you twit!” and they were off. Soon enough they were out of the city, and Tavion could see the treeline of The Forest of No Return, and thought to leap off the horse, letting the twit handle his own business himself. In the back of his mind, a thought came up. “If its a treasure so valuable that the royal family would execute upon learning that it went missing, there would probably be a great reward for it’s return.” For the chance of an extraordinary payout, it might prove valuable to go with the twit. They were deep in the forest by now, and stopped when they reached a fork in the road, one with a sign that said, “where there are owls,” and “where there are no owls.” They had dismounted to ponder the direction, when a horrible shrieking sound which came from all around them had spooked the horse, and it ran off into the trees, never to be seen again. There they were, a thief and a cleric, stranded in a wood where there was supposedly no return, with a fork in the road, and a sign alluding to owls. There was no way this was going to be easy.

The Forest of no Return was a place with a rather unimaginative but accurate name. It spanned the continent for miles on end, with pathways ever changing and shifting. The lore behind the forest said that once there was a very powerful wizard who discovered some devastating truth about the universe, and hid it deep inside the forest, casting a powerful spell so evil may never find it to use for nefarious purposes. Other stories said he was just an ass who liked screwing people over. Nevertheless, the forest was dense with impossibly high trees, each with a gray-black trunk that looked like it was made of charcoal. Light broke through in in small pieces of shimmering glass that offered little illumination. The forest was known to be sparsely populated, it’s only inhabitants being the birds that could roost and fly over in the canopies, and any creature or person dumb enough to walk into a place called The Forest of No Return, which means it was very easy for one to find piles of bones scattered all throughout it. In an environment like this, it is easy for one to get angry and scared, and that is exactly what happened with Tavion and Rafquel.

Tempers rose as they spent hours at that fork in the road, as Tavion’s nerves were wearing thin hearing Rafquel complain about how he’s going to die no matter what. There was a lot of bickering, and hurtful words being thrown around, but they still were stuck there. Eventually Tavion got fed up, and unsheathed a blade. It was a long curved blade, with several small serrations along the edge, made of a jade green metal. Rafquel did not respond positively to it.

“Oh gods, you’re going to kill me! I swear I’ll shut up!”

Tavion chuckled slightly, “Please, I wouldn’t sully my dear Venopresa here with your blood.”

“Venopresa?”
“My prized treasure, I stole it from the Naga Queen of Southern Iraquesh, I always have it on me, and I wouldn’t waste it on you. We’re going to let it make a decision for us.” With that, he closed his eyes, and spun around once, throwing the blade with incredible speed. The jade blur shot through the air and sunk into the signpost with a dull thud. Tavion opened his eyes and saw it resting in the center of the arrow that said, “where there are owls.” He walked over and pulled the blade out of the sign, there was a green residue where it struck in, which began sizzling and bubbling, eating away until the arrow broke in two.

He turned and looked at Rafquel with a devious smile, “Little enchantment on the blade, corrosive venom that seeps into any incision it makes. Anyway, let’s go, it’s better than sticking around here any longer.”

“But do we have to go down that path?” There was a tone of worry in his voice.

“Why the sudden concern?”
“Well… what if that sign is accurate?”

“Then we will see owls, what of it?” Tavion was getting annoyed.
“I… don’t like owls.”
“I don’t like rats, what of it?”

“I have a fear of owls, alright?”

Tavion was amused, “A fear… of owls? What, did an owl take your lunch money or something?”

“No! It’s nothing like that!” He then sat down and began to reminisce, much to Tavion’s annoyance. “My parents died when I was very young, so I lived with my grandmother. She had always wanted me to have a respectable career, and always nurtured me and pushed me to join the Royal Academy. In a way, she helped make me who I am today. She had a beloved pet owl, which didn’t like me that much. One day, it went wild and attacked me, and when she tried to get it off of me and defend me, it mauled her to death. Since then, I can’t be around owls at all, they terrify me.”

“Wow… I’m sorry, that’s actually tragic.”

“Thank you.”
“… And kind of hilarious.”

“What?!”

“I’m sorry, I’m just picturing an old lady getting attacked by an owl, and I can’t help but laugh.”
“That was my grandmother!”

“Still funny.”
“You’re horrible, you know that?”
“Rafquel my dear annoyance, you have to be in order to survive in this world. Now suck it up and come with me, or stay here and starve to death.”

They continued on, Rafquel slowly trudging on, eyes darting in every direction, looking for the owls that the sign spoke of. There was no end to the path in sight, and watching trees pass by for what looked like hours of travel, Tavion figured he should try some kind of small talk.
“So, you’re cleric at the Royal Academy, what’s your field.”
Rafquel’s eyes were still darting around, still looking for the winged menace. “Uh, oh right, I’m in an Arcane Acolyte, studying the magics of the lost kingdoms.”

“Huh, you’re actually a little interesting. Can you do any of that magic?”

“A-a bit yes. Nothing too useful I’m afraid.”

“Well that’s less interesting. Why do you live like that? You academy jokers spend all your time inside, pouring over books, rarely venturing outside, and you don’t even allow women into your ranks. Why live like that?”

“Well, there’s a quiet dignity to it I suppose. I did it all because my grandmother wanted me to, she wanted me to have a life as a dignified academic, to make some great discovery to benefit all of mankind. But I don’t know if that’s really for me.”

“Alright, lack of alternatives forces me to ask, what would you prefer to do?”
“Well, I’ve always dreamed of owning a little apothecary shop. Just a quiet little existence helping people out, going out once a week to pick ingredients, returning home every night to a loving wife. A lot better than wasting away pouring over musty tomes.”

“Wow… that’s… nice? Not really my thing.”

“Well, I’ve never been one for excitement. What about you? Do you particularly enjoy your means of living?”

Tavion paused for a bit, it was a question that he had never even thought he’d be asked, and he really didn’t know how to answer. “I remember back when I was young, my dad was the only one around, and he really didn’t care about me. I was free to roam the streets while he was doing odd jobs and drowning himself in rum. I had always heard the stories of the famous adventurers, braving untold dangers, slaying vicious monsters, and recovering precious lost treasures, all to the glory and admiration of everyone. I always dreamed of being an adventurer and finding some priceless treasure, to buy a big house will all kinds of luxuries, so dad wouldn’t drink so much, and maybe be proud of me for once.

“One day there was a flier posted up outside a pub, there was a crew wanting to go out, and recover a lost treasure from deep within a large canyon, and they needed some extra hands. I saw this as my chance, and gathered the few things I owned, and slipped away. The crew saw I was nimble and small, and gladly accepted me. It was several days journey, and one night we snuck over to see our target. Turns out it was a small tribal village in their ancestral home, proud men and women with playful children all living out a happy life. The target was a sacred idol in the back of the village, which they all prayed to once a day, at the same time. There were too many people around no matter the hour, so they decided that I was small enough to take it without getting noticed. I got in easily, but was hesitant, I didn’t want to destroy these people’s lives. But then I remembered my dream of the big house, and took the idol.

“When we got back to the city, the crew thanked me, and gave me 75 gold pieces. It wasn’t enough to buy the house, but it was enough to live comfortably for a while. I rushed home, so happy, so proud of myself, and was sure dad was going to be proud. I walked in and found my dad on the floor, dead. He had drank himself to death, and I was now an orphan. I lived in that home by myself, sneaking into people’s houses and stealing from them while they slept. A few weeks later, I had heard about a small village, peaceful people who had never hurt anyone and were always kind to travelers. They had all died of thirst, after their sacred idol and only source of making water went missing. All their blood was on my hands. After that, I remembered just feeling a sort of emptiness, and realized what a cruel place the world was, and how you had to be cruel to survive in it. I don’t think there’s any other way I can live really.”

There a long silence, as Rafquel kept feeling the need to say something, but failed to find the words. The silence didn’t last, as a mysterious sound began to come from the path in front of them. There was a thick cloud of black mist that was giving off a sound that was like a hiss and a gurgle. The cloud began to rise and expand, before the hissing sound turned into a ear shattering screech. The mist blew away as a huge gale erupted from it’s center, and where the mist once was now stood a creature, ten feet tall, with four large wings, barbed claws at the end of each one, covered in brown and white feathers, and a distinct owl-like face.

Rafquel fell down in shock and began backing away in terror. “Good Gods, it’s Zezmelett!”

Tavion drew Venopresa and his secondary mythrill dagger and got into a ready stance. “Zezmelett?”

Rafquel was still backing away, quaking in fear, “The monstrous Owl-King. It’s a vicious and deadly beast, with a bounty on it’s head in every kingdom.”

Tavion raised an eyebrow in interest, “You mean to tell me that this thing’s head is valuable?”

“Yes, incredibly so!”

Tavion gave a wry smile,“All the motivation I need.” With that he dashed forward, but to his surprise was kept at bay by the squall created by it’s massive wings. Thinking on his feet, he lunged to the side, running up the trunk of one of the trees, jumping from it and diving forward to it. Zezmelett, began to change direction of it’s flapping, but it wasn’t quick enough as Tavion made a gash in the center of it’s chest. It screeched in pain, but before Tavion could strike a finishing blow, it caught him with one of it’s barbed claws. It threw him to the ground, and stepped on him with one of it’s talons. It gave off another bellowing screech, and began to swing all four of it’s claws at once, aiming right at Tavion. He cringed, and held his blades in front of him as some sort of desperate defense, waiting for the blow to strike. It never came though.

Cautiously he opened one eye, to see what exactly was keeping his demise from finishing things. Around all four of its wings and tight around its throat was a set of glowing, golden chains. Tavion followed the chains with his eyes, and found Rafquel crouched in a ready position, mumbling in a strange language, with each chain appearing from the center of his palms.

“Hey, good on you, you finally stopped pissing yourself in fear! Can you get this feathered bastard off me though? It’s not nearly attractive enough for me to get into this submissive stuff.”

Rafquel cracked a smile, and then slammed his arms down to the ground, the chains taking that force with them, toppling Zezmelett and making it stumble out of balance, freeing Tavion from it’s grasp. Tavion sprang to his feet, and lunged forward, ready to finish things. Still moving forward, he plunged his mythrill dagger into the Owl-King’s side, leaping up and swinging his legs as he did so, propelling him above the beast, facing it’s back. Fluidly he sank Venopresa right into the back of its neck, the corrosive venom eating away at it’s spine, until it’s screams of agony ceased and it fell to the ground. The long feared Owl-King was now dead.

Tavion began to get to work cutting off it’s claws and head, trophies so he could claim the bounty promised. While he was eviscerating the monstrous corpse, Rafquel was oddly silent. He only spoke up when Tavion was having a comically hard time jamming it all in the rather small pack he brought everywhere. “You know, I was admittedly too terrified by the thought of a giant owl ripping me asunder, but I just realized what that black mist was.”

“Oh?” Tavion said, stomping on the surprisingly thick skull barely not fitting in the pack.

“That was an old preventative spell, a fear spell. It rips your worst fear in the world from wherever or whenever it really existed, as a way to keep people away.”

“So, *whack * you’re *whack * saying *whack * that *whack * this *whack * giant *whack * bastard *whack *… is because of your rather amusing owl fear?” He said, gasping for air after trying to hammer the head of the monstrosity into the pack with it’s own leg.

“Exactly, but that means we’re not exactly through.”

Tavion finally managed to get the buckle of the pack to close, and stood up. “I’m guessing you mean we’ve yet to face my fear here?”

“Yes!”

“Calm down Raffy, you’ve got nothing to worry about, I’ve got no fears.”

“You’re not afraid of anything?”

“I can promise you no owl monsters or any other type will come after us. At least, not on my account.”

They were about a half mile past the owl’s corpse when they encountered a large cloud of black mist. Rafquel gave a worried look at Tavion who remain stoic and unphased. They waited, yet nothing stepped out of the cloud, and only when a light breeze kicked up did they see what it was hiding. There was a large hole in the ground, rectangular with neat edges, showing it was man made. A step closer showed it was not too deep, only about five or six feet. There was an awful smell reeking from it, and upon closer inspection was revealed to be layers upon layers of shit, some fresh, some months old. The most disturbing element wasn’t the excrement though, but the two skeletal arms reaching out of it. They were strewn randomly, as if their owner was carelessly tossed in, and tightly clutched in each of their bony fingers were two objects. One, an empty rum bottle, the other a very distinctive dagger, with a serrated blade made of a jade green metal.

Tavion stared at that grave for a long time, silent, unblinking. This was his future, and how he was viewed. He remembered that scrappy little kid with wide eyed dreams of being an adventurer, to be beloved by all, to help people in every way he could. He looked at himself now, a drunken selfish thief, he adventured, but only at the request of others for him to pilfer something or another, and the fruits of his efforts always ended with him drowning himself in rum and women. His younger self would have kicked him. He was what so many people despised, he was what he despised, he was worse than his own bastard of a father. His whole world, what he was, and what he was going to be crumbled around him.

He bent over, and grabbed the second Venopresa from the skeletal hand, and turned to Rafquel. “Heh, joke’s on them, now I’ve got two.” He chuckled weakly, but his face soon returned to the hollow dazed expression, and he began to trudge on as if he was fighting himself to remain the same. Rafquel remained silent, and followed behind.

The passing of time blurred, and neither of them was sure of how long they had walked before before they had reached that clearing. There was a stark deadness to the ground, as if it was a patch of land so malevolent that neither tree nor blade of grass dared grow in it. In center was a stone building in disrepair, dead vines draped over the black granite stones, it was a building that gave a sense of foreboding just looking at it. In the center of the ramshackle doorway stood a strange looking man. He had a long beard, white, yet with waving streaks of black throughout it. He wore a set of long mauve robes, yet they appeared to be made of fur. He had a small, mean looking face that looked like a rat had chewed on it for several hours, and dark, bloodshot eyes that made one’s blood grow cold. On top of his head was the most remarkable feature though, a crown made entirely of yellow topaz that shimmered even in the dark forest, with a black owl crest in the center of it. He barked at them in a high, annoying voice, like a sick mouse trying to sing an opera, “Very impressive gentlemen, I never expected anyone to get this far.”

Tavion gave a smirk, “Look Raffy, I’m not the only thief here anymore.”

“Oh I’m far from a thief, only taking what is so rightfully mine. The Crown of Zem-Zelette is a gift to those who rule from wisdom. Those fools in that palace don’t act like that in the least. And once I’ve finished unlocking it’s power, I’ll force the fools out and dance on their bloated corpses. The kingdom will be mine to rule!”

“Right, because citizens are all for taking orders from a crazy man who spends his time living out in the middle of a forest, and I can only guess who spends his time humping squirrels.”

The sinister man laughed, “I’ll show you my power if you don’t believe me. It’ll be nice to wipe that smug grin off your face.” with that he began chanting and raised his arms into the air. The crown on his head gave a faint glow, and then a bright flash, as a dull yellow bolt of electricity shot from his hands into the dead ground. There was a silence, followed by a rumbling sound which admittedly scared Tavion a bit. Not as much as when the ground erupted with bodies though. Each looked like a human corpse, but yet not human, as their arms and heads were covered in feathers, and from their hands protruded a set of barbed claws that looked all too familiar. There were about thirty total, and they were striding at a dangerously fast pace, heading right to Tavion and Rafquel.

Tavion began to chuckle, and then limber up. “Nice one there, gotta say I wasn’t expecting anything like that,” he said while cracking his neck. “I wouldn’t get all that cocky though. You see, it’s always wise to know about your opponent. I’ve already got a good idea about your boys here thanks to your little fear spell out there. But I’m a fair man, so I’ll give you a little something to go on yourself.” His expression grew serious as he drew both jade green blades. “I’m the best.”

Tavion rushed forward at incredible speed, it almost seemed like he melted into a whirlwind of blades. As soon as he got into range of one of the creatures he plunged one blade straight into its heart while slitting its throat with the other, seamlessly pulling them out and hacking another’s arm off and gouging it’s eye. It was a sheer storm of blades, each that tried to lay its claws on him would find its claws hacked off and a blade through its throat. The crowned man looked in horror as that which took him months of vigorous study to learn, and years of planning beforehand was hacked down one by one in front of his eyes. But he was not going to roll over and give up that easily. While Tavion worked his guresome buisness, he began to chant again. His own arms grew four times in size with bulk, thick feathers sprouting down them. His legs elongated and the bones in his feet stretched and broke free of his flesh, sharpening into long talons. Small feathers sprouted all over his body, and his lips hardened and protruded into a sharp beak. He was now another owl-like monstrosity, and he let a horrible screech and charged at Tavion.

Tavion was knocked down by the incredibly fast arms, and before he could leap back to his feet, one of the bloody talons. It would have pierced into his lung, had it not been for one resiliant strap of that leather armor holding it at bay. With one quick swipe a Venopresa cut into the bony leg, and the Chimera Owl screamed in pain. It’s leg loosened it’s grasp on him and Tavion rolled out from under it. The Chimera Owl swiped at him again, but Tavion could now anticipate the speed, and managed to barely dodge. Using the momentum from his movement, he flowed around and made another clean slice in it’s arm. It screamed in pain, and tried to slam down on him from above. He tried to dodge, but couldn’t clear it in time, and it caught his shoulder. The force dislocated his shoulder, but he couldn’t allow himself to respond to the pain. He focused his mind, trying to block out everthing else. He began to flow like water. Like a stream flowing around a rock, he dodged the wild flailing of the Chimera Owl, and was soon in incredibly close range. With his one good arm, he struck his Venopresa in it’s forehead like a lightning bolt. The Chimera Owl let one final scream, and fell dead while the venom eating it’s skull and brain away.

The crown rolled off his cracked and sizzling head and into the small building. Tavion followed it in and picked it up, but noticed a door in the middle of the room, not connected to any wall. He stepped forward and inspected it, there was an odd familiarity to it. Slowly, cautiously, he opened it and looked through. There was the sound of birds in the air and the rather larger rats squeaking., and the smell of cooked meats, blacksmith furnaces, and sewage flooded in. He was looking through the door into a paved alley, right in the center of the city. This was an enchanted doorway, and how the lunatic was going to get his horde in the city.

Tavion shouted for Rafquel to come, and the two of them found themselves about three streets from where it all began. Tavion held the crown in his hand, inspecting it, and playing around with it to torture Rafquel. “You know,” he said not looking up from the crown, “it has occurred to me that I could simply return the crown to the palace for a large reward myself, and just leave you to whatever fate that would come to you.” He heard Rafquel give off a shocked whimper, and looked up to see his face twisted in terror, betrayal, and sadness. Before he could go on a pleading tirade, Tavion interrupted him, “BUT, I think it would be better if I just turned it over to you.” He gave a small smile as he handed it over to Rafquel, who gladly took it, stashing it under his robes and then hugging Tavion before running off, to save his own hide.

Tavion smiled, though he missed the chance for a rather large payout, he still felt good about it. “The world is a terrible awful place, and one has to be terrible to survive in it, but sometimes a bit of kindness can be warranted,” he figured. He sheathed both his blades, and walked on, noticing the particular brightness of the sun, and the warm energy of the populace in the streets. He was tempted to return to Crookshank’s, but wanted to go somewhere a little more positive. He thought about it for a moment, and then wondered what Sarasha was up to.