An Unnamed Tale

September 10, 2010
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Dear Reader,

Before reading this let me tell you something. This is not your little sister’s hero story. This is not the kind of story where a brave knight walks into an evil lair, runs a sword through a monster (way too easily) and walks away with a beautiful maiden. This is nothing like that.

First of all, I’m not a knight. I’m a rogue. For those of you who don’t know what that is, it means that I’m a thief. Not exactly a pickpocket but someone who can break into a house, steal anything of value, and leave without a trace. You would never know I was there. Secondly, my damsel in distress is anything but a typical maiden. She is…well…just different. She doesn’t act like a regular maiden, think like one, or dress like one. She…well, I’ll let you decide on your own. Finally, this shouldn’t have happened! I didn’t rescue her on purpose, it was all a mistake.

I guess there is no use dwelling on the past though. What is done is done. This is the story of when my life, along with many other people’s lives, changed all because of…well, a lie.


The dark was all consuming. It was the kind of darkness that threatened to crush you with all of its might. The kind that leaked into your heart and pushed away all hope. It was that kind of darkness that awaited the prisoners of Aiginor, the Fortress of Death. The stone fortress was built into the side of a mountain in the vast Adari Wastelands. For the prisoners, day and night were blended into one long nightmare, marked only by the bringing of scraps of food.

One prisoner was jailed apart from the rest. Younger than the rest, looking to be about 16, with long blond hair that was in a tangled mess and streaked with grime. Blue eyes that would have shone brightly had there been any light, stared off into the nothingness. Not really awake, but not really asleep either, simply waiting, waiting for anything to break the monotonous cycle of despair in the cells. Tears had long since stopped flowing. All that could be done was to wait, so she did.

The bright light of a burning torch came as a blinding awakening to the prisoners. Half a dozen armed guards stormed down to the cells. Almost instantly the wails and protests of the prisoners rang out. The guards casually ignored them though, continuing on their path to the last cell in the row. The cell of the girl.

The guards dragged her semi conscience body up and out of the cell. She stumbled up the stairs that led to the next floor. After days of darkness the bright light of the torches blurred her vision as she was dragged down the hallway and up more flights of stairs. Finally they stopped in front of a large door at the end of an unusually large hallway. The doors opened.
The light was even more intense and completely blinded the girl, but from visiting later, I can tell you that the room was as long as the hallways, but almost as tall as well. Grand arches rose up along the walls and lined the ceiling. Torches blazed along the base of the arches. Elaborate tapestries hung between the arches and statues of knights in armor seemed to guard the room. At the far end of the room sat a throne on a raised platform. The throne was made of gold and adorned with gems and valuable stones. Intricate patterns were carved into the arms of the chair and the back of the chair was covered in thick purple velvet. Atop the throne sat the lord of the fortress. He was a large man, both in height and girth. His face was pudgy and wrinkled. His hair had an unnatural black shine. He had a close cropped beard.
The girl was forces to her knees. Voices spoke in hushed tones all around her. Their words were muddled with heavy accents unfamiliar to the girl, added to the silence she had become accustomed to. She could make out the words “kingdom”, “invasion”, and “rulers”.
A hand grabbed her roughly from behind, hauling her to her feet. She was dragged away from the throne. Her eyes finally adjusted to the light and she could make out the details of the hallways. They were of grey stone with several doors on either side of the hall. Torches were mounted between the doors, casting eerie shadows of the rough stone that danced on the walls. She was lead up more stairs. The halls became larger and grander; some were decorated with gargoyles and other statues. Soldiers could be seen patrolling in small units. They passed the grand gates that served as the only entrance to the fortress. She was sure to make notes of the path they took as she was lead higher into the fortress. She was lead to a door guarded by a pair of soldiers armed with heavy lances.
The doors were thrown open and she was roughly pushed inside. She stumbled and hit the ground. Her head spun and she heard the door slam behind her, she realized that she was alone. She slowly sat up and looked around. The room was large and fully furnished. The room she was in now had a large couch against one wall with two chairs facing it. There were doors leading to different rooms. She opened one to find a bedroom. A simple bed, dresser, and nightstand with several unlit candles waited. Her head filled with questions. She walked to the final door. Inside was a bathroom. A bath with continuously flowing water was in the center, along with a small pedestal covered in different lotions and soaps. Finally there was a mirror in one corner of the room. She walked over and reached for the mirror. She saw her reflection and nearly dropped the mirror. Her face was soaked with grime and dirt, her hair was a mess and her clothes tattered and worn. What were her clothes? She wore a leather jerkin over what was a silk shirt. Cotton leggings that had been reduced to shredded shorts clung to her legs. She dipped her hand into the running water. It was cool. Suddenly there was a noise outside the door.
If you were wondering when I come into the story, and even if you weren’t, this is it. Like I said before, I’m a thief. I see treasure and can’t resist taking it.
I had been resting under the shade of tree, in the hills outside of the Adari Wastelands. My caramel horse grazed lazily on the grass to my side. I was dressed in simple black clothing. That’s when I heard the sound of approaching horses. I opened my eyes, a dark green color, which was the only color on me other than black. I lay silently as they came and passed. I brushed a lock of black hair out f my eyes before counting 8 horses, and they weren’t ordinary scout cavalry. They were heavily armed and had saddle bags bulging at the horses flanks. I could almost smell the gold.
I looked to the sky and guessed there would be about 3 hours of daylight left. My eyes fell back to the cavalry. They were steadily moving away from me, going west, by my best guess.
I stood up and stretched my still muscles. I whistled softly and my horse suddenly became alert. He trotted over to me and I stroked the side of his neck. I went through a quick check of the straps and bags on him. I didn’t have much; a little food, a small bag of coins (that I took from a home in some town), an assortment of knives and daggers, and a short sword that I rarely used.
I looked back to the cavalry; they were getting smaller on the horizon.
“Soon.” I said to my horse. In a little over a half hour, it was time
I mounted my horse and rode off in the direction the cavalry were headed. I rode for a few hours, never sighting any other people but knowing, by the obvious trail left behind, that I was not far away.
Finally night fell. I could see the glow of the fires in the distance. I approached it slower now, wary of any sentries that might have been posted. There were none. I left my horse about a quarter of a mile away from the camp and approached on foot. As I got closer it was obvious that these men had been a raiding party. They lay in awkward positions, and with bottles of empty dinks in their hands. They all wore different jewelry strung around them. I almost laughed at my luck. This would be the easiest steal I ever had. I silently crept around the camp, picking up anything loose. Not much of it was of any real value though, and by the time I left, I had only gained a few gold rings and a necklace set with diamonds. I was almost disappointed.
As I walked back to my horse I had an idea. These men were going somewhere. They must have been heading to a base of some kind. That’s where I would find the real treasure, I knew. So I rode on.
I didn’t realize I was heading for the Fortress of Death. The great stone fortress, garrisoned with over a thousand soldiers and walls that could never be destroyed, this would be fun.
There was only one door, everyone knew that. But I knew that there had to be some way to get air into the fortress. All I had to do was find it. I rode to the backside of the mountain. There, I left my horse and began my ascent. There was no trail but the climb was easy for someone who could scale the wall of a house with no footholds. In less than an hour I had reached what I thought was an air vent. It was a small pile of stones that looked strangely out of place. I moved some of the stones and smiled. There was a long dark hole in the mountain leading straight down. I pushed all of the stones aside and climbed into the hole.
All light was gone nearly immediately, but the shaft was smooth and I was able to slide down without too much difficulty. I finally felt my foot hit something solid. I looked down. There was light leaking through some cracks in the bottom. No. Not cracks, gaps, in wood. They were wooden boards blocking the air vent from the room below.
I waited for a minute. There was no noise so I gave the boards a hard kick. They gave a shudder but held. I lifted my foot for another kick, then, the boards gave. For a moment the world was a blur, then I felt my feet hit the ground. I bent my knees to absorb the impact. As I rose I was aware of someone watching me. I spun, and nearly fell back.
My first impression was a feminine guy, probably because of the clothes, then I realized it was a girl, a fairly attractive girl at that. She was a bit shorter than I was. In her eyes was a look of defiance, defiance which had obviously been tested. He could see her ribs through the tears in her…travelers shirt?
“Who…? Why are you…here?” she asked. Her voice was quiet, but had an undertone of authority. I would have stayed to talk, but I knew the clock was always ticking, that at any moment he could be caught.
“I don’t really have time to talk.” I said. I know, it was cruel and cold but what did I know at the time? A flicker of fear flashed across her face.
“Please!” she begged, “You need to help me!”
“I don’t need to do anything,” I said, “and will you be quiet.” I began to look though the room. For a moment I could see she was panicking. Then, I wished I had run while I had a chance.
“If you don’t help me,” she said, “I’ll call the guards in.” I stopped in my tracks.
“You wouldn’t.” I said.
“What’s stopping me?” She asked. Her voice was returning and now had some strength behind it.
“I would be long gone.” I said.
“You couldn’t get far. And even if you could back up the chute, the guards have crossbows. You wouldn’t get away.” Her voice was commanding and gaze unwavering. She was quick, I though, and smart.
“You’re lying.” I said.
“Are you willing to take that chance?” She asked. I glared at her for a moment. I almost couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I almost laughed.
“Who are you?” I asked.
“I’m Caitlyn.” She said. There was a moment of hesitation before she said her name, like she was unsure of something. “And you?”
“Dominic.” I said, “And why, may I ask, are you here?”
“I...I don’t know.” She said, “I’m just a farm girl.”
“And farm girls dress like that?” I asked. I didn’t expect an answer and didn’t get one. I pressed my ear to the door; I could hear the shuffling of feet on the other side, “How exactly do you plan on getting out? I don’t think you’ll be able to climb up the air shaft.”
“I know the way, but there’s no way I could get there on my own.” She said. Great, I thought. At least it was something. I thought for a moment.
“How many guards are out there?” I asked.
“Just two.” As she said this a plan began to form in my head.
“One more thing,” I said, “Are there any female soldiers?” She shrugged. Oh well, I thought, it was the only way.

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alpie said...
Sept. 17, 2010 at 8:03 pm
Very Clever, great description and character development, I feel like I know them.  
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