04 November 2005

Chapter Two

Selfless Sacrifice was used to suffering for others. It was his calling in life and he would begrudge no one the comforts he could provide them. He wasn't exceptionally tall, strong, or attractive, but he had found his niche and it made him happy. His horses were always given away to the crippled, his food to the starving, and his money to the poor. This left him in a perpetual need for more money to buy more horses and food, which in turn left him in the employ of the King.
King Feeble neither hired nor paid Selfless directly, and the two had never met. Selfless worked for the King's chief aide, a short whispy man of very advanced years called Ancient Advisor. Mr. Advisor was wise by the standards of wise men, and old by the standards of old men, but he had advised the royalty of Setting for longer than anyone else could remember. There was even some doubt as to whether or not he even remembered a time when he did not have a king's ear.
Access to the King meant access to the King's Treasury as well, and Advisor had often hired adventurers to do the King's dirty work. Selfless had been hired this time to prevent a war with the neighboring kingdom of Locale, along with Dandy Fop who employed the Goon brothers as bodyguards. Fop and his men were waiting in an alley, the recruiting wasn't done yet and Advisor was keeping them on a tight budget this time.
Others were being lured into a trap with the temptation of mischief, a rare and highly valued spice. Advisor had made all the arrangements, Selfless only needed to lure them into the alley and give them an ultimatum: help or die. Not even King Feeble could afford to hire very many mercenaries at the rates charged by the guilds, and no ordinary guild would help to prevent a profitable war.
Selfless had been instructed to wait for a very hairy man and two companions, who would try to rob him. He saw three men approaching, one was very hairy indeed, with enough hair to to keep warm on the coldest of nights. Selfless did not see the mountain of hair that had moved around behind him, and wasn't quite prepared to be flung against a wall. Cleans flung Selfless against a wall anyways.
Selfless drew his sword, an elven blade filled with enchantments so common that he'd never felt a need to offer it to anyone without also being the one to use it. The elves had made more magical blades than could be counted, and only animosity from the Great Elf War kept them out of the hands of most people in the Kingdom of Setting. Selfless had used his sword in many different circumstances, and was able to parry a thrust dagger aside.
“Now,” he shouted towards the alley, spinning his sword upwards in an arc, blocking a strange twirling motion from the older of the two non-hairy men. The younger man stood back, with the less hairy of the two hairy men, whose face was now entirely obscured by a large ax blade so dirty that it would have been difficult to distinguish blade from handle.
Dandy Fop and his two bodyguards came dashing out of the alley. “Halt, in the name of the King!” yelled Dandy, as the Goon brothers ran at the two hairy men. Idiot and Stupid both had their swords drawn, but let the tips of the swords drag on the ground as they ran toward the fight. Selfless blocked an arm which lunged with surprising speed from the mountain of hair, and then kicked out, knocking whomever was under the hair backwards into a puddle. He turned to the other man just in time to see him get tackled by Idiot, who dropped his sword on impact, letting it clatter to the ground.
“There is no mischief here!” said Selfless loudly, turning the heads of several passers-by. “You need to come with us or die.”
Noreach shrugged, his face unreadable behind the ax blade. Adolescent stood still, looking confusedly between Noreach and Amiable for some sort of explanation. Amiable lay on the ground, trying to push Idiot off, and gave no indication that he had heard or understood what Selfless had said. Cleans lay in his puddle for a second before rolling back and forth in the mud, laughing.
Selfless put away his sword, and with the help of Dandy, pulled Idiot off of Amiable. Stupid stood next to Cleans, drooling heavily. When Amiable was back on his feet, Stupid reach down into the mud and pulled Cleans up to his feet as well.
“We are on a task assigned to us by the Association of Stereotypes, Archtypes, and Caricatures, and we can not fulfill other tasks until we've achieved our stated objective of robbing you. Working for you at all would be a violation of the Adventurer Caricature Labor Union Law as established by King Delirium so many centuries ago. Therefore, we have to say no.”
“Well, in that case, we'll have to kill you,” said Dandy, pulling a knife out of his immaculately sequined tunic. The knife had a jeweled handle far larger than it's blade. Dandy spoke in a lighthearted way, almost laughing. “It's such a pity too, because we really could have used your help. With you along, we'd fail in no time and rot in a most unfashionable manner in some distant swamp. Now we'll just succeed and save the kingdom.”
“That's enough, Dandy,” said Selfless, who then turned his attention to Amiable. “The Order of Timely Heroes, Enchanters, and Royalty is a section 23 organization. As such, I will repeat the offer. Join or die.”
A look of surprise appeared on Amiable's face. Noreach's ax slid down several inches, and Adolescent was stunned. Cleans' hair even seemed to wriggle slightly more than the breeze and lice would account for. Section 23 organizations were the stuff of legends, of secret conspiracies, and royal intrigue, all beyond the scope of the adventurer guilds and their corrupt guildmasters. Amiable, with an expression akin to having been hit with a frying pan while standing in a fire, nodded.
“Excuse me,” Said Dandy, his tufts on his large pink hat waving so freely as he bounced towards Selfless that they appeared ready to fall off, “but are you agreeing to join us or are you agreeing to die?”
“Huh?” mumbled Amiable, turning to notice Dandy smiling at him as though he were some sort of freshly won prize. “Join. Not die.”
“Very good then,” said Dandy. “Got your things? We're heading off in a bit. Got to pick up a few more chaps and then get some instructions from Ancient Advisor.” Amiable blinked a few times in rapid succession, as though starting to come out of a stupor. “You did know he was involved, didn't you? Who else could actually run a section 23 organization such as the Order? Come on now, that's a good fellow.”

Goe, will finish the story even if he doesn't 'win' nanowrimo.

1 comment:

Rachmeg said...

Rach - will keep reading, and he can't 'lose'