A/N: Originally published on May 15th, 2013 on A Purple Panda. – Alixa
THE DAGGER OF EXION
After a few weeks spent at Kirieth’s, studying and training, it felt good to be on the roads again. The mage had found me a horse to facilitate my travelling, then Silva and I were gone towards the sea. I was determined to find Exion, so sure I was I would find the truth about myself. The Dagger hadn’t ended in my possession for no reason, or so I liked to believe.
The journey to Tarvel went well. I expected more surprises from the Order of the Black Hawk, but nothing happened since that one night in Heilam. I was sure it was only a matter of time, they didn’t seem like the kind of people that would simply give up. After all, I was defying them openly.They had their reasons, but I had mine. As long as I would look for the lost city of the gods, they would come after me. I wasn’t afraid, as long as I had my sword and my furry companion by my side.
Tarvel was a large but scattered city, nothing like the tall and clean Crystal capital. Houses were displayed in what seemed like randomly around crooked streets. Shops were everywhere, but you could see an increased amount of them near the docks. That’s where all the activity was, and that’s where I would find a place to stay the night. Lights were bright in that area of the city, anyone could see it from afar. You could hear as you came closer the sounds of drunken people signing or fighting. Among them were crazy men I would convince to follow me on a crazy adventure.
As usual, Silva attracted attention as we made our way through the docks. It was fine by me, I wanted to be seen. Curious eyes, as well as scared or suspicious ones, would follow me and I pretended not to notice. I was very aware of everyone around me, though. I didn’t want to be ambushed as this place would be perfect with the many dark corners. I was more interested by the ships I could see sitting in the bay. Many were still at sea, for trading missions or adventures, I was told, but I was sure to find what I was looking for.
A few caught my attention. Many were impressively large with their white sails and their amazing bows. I love those with unconventional figures, such as the siren holding a harpoon, ready for attack, or the snake-like creature rising to eat you alive, it’s tail following the side of the ship. It told me a lot on the nature of the crew and the captain aboard, probably not simple merchants. That’s what I was looking for and I knew their loyalty would come at a price. I didn’t have nearly enough, my small wages from working in villages couldn’t even afford a ship without a crew. No, I would have to make them come to me and join me from their own free will. All I could offer was a promise of adventure, maybe some treasure, and certainly some glory, if we get to our goal.
But first, I needed to make myself known. I chose a tavern that looked crowded. People were already enjoying the night, beer flowing freely. A man with a harp was starting to tune his instrument in the middle of the room, people cheering as they loved a good story. I got myself a glass and made my way to a corner where I could listen and think. Silva followed me, making others notice me, but I was curious about their songs and legends as I only knew those related to Exion.
The bard started. The room quieted. You could still hear noises coming from the taverns around, but people would listen respectfully, even the drunk ones. As his voice reached the streets, more came, filling the already full room, or simply standing at the open door and windows.
He sang the story of a beautiful maiden who had fallen in love with a handsome and young seaman, The man, however, loved the sea. As much as he cared about his lady, he kept leaving, hearing the call of the waves. She would wait for him at the docks, hoping for his return, dressed in her beautiful white gown with flowers as a crown. One night, she stayed late, staring in the dark ahead. She suddenly saw a ghost ship sail in the bay. She could hear the cries of the sailors demanding for revenge. She saw among them the familiar face of her lover, tears bright as pearls on his cheeks. He whispered to her the lyrics of an old song of love and death, and she knew what monster living in the depths of the sea came to take away her beloved.
The young woman tried to convince the people of Tarvel, a small town then, to go after the creature and avenge the sailors. They all thought she was crazy, though. She decided to go herself, on a small fishing boat, rowing towards the voices that kept calling her. She wanted to help their lost souls and bring peace to them. She wasn’t a sailor and a storm caught her just outside the bay. The waves swallowed her and the boat, and nothing was left of them. She could now rest with her lover at the bottom of the ocean.
Now and again, if we look for it, we can see the ghost ship sail in the bay and the maiden in her white dress standing on the shore, waiting for the return of her beloved.
The bard ended with a few notes, then the silence was destroyed by cheers and applause. He smiled and bowed, and it was over. People went back to what they were doing while the echos of the sad story stayed with me. Sailors here probably knew a woman waiting for them, but they had married the sea knowing the risks.
The harpist made his way through the crowd and sat down in front me, offering beer, as I welcomed him with a nod.
– You have quite the audience. Beautifully sang, though.
– Ha! These drunken bastards can’t tell if I sing well or not! They only care about the story. This one always gets me free drinks!
He laughed and started emptying his glass. I didn’t believe him, there had to be a reason why people would just stop the party to listen to him. I watched him with curiosity, wanting to know more about him. He wasn’t a tall or especially handsome man, but he seemed to make the best out of his art. He was wearing clean, but simple clothes, and his haircut was fresh. He wasn’t starving, though he wasn’t very big. He had blue eyes shining with intelligence and I knew this man was more than he appeared to be. As he noticed my inspection, he winked and came closer, speaking softly.
– I know things. I am eyes and ears in this city. I would like to know your story, but all I can offer for it is my help.
That was enough to intrigue me more. I would play the game, to see where it would take us. Maybe I could get what I wanted with him by my side.
– My story could be nothing but ordinary and what I would ask in return might be more than you can do.
He laughed quietly and shook his head.
– I am no fool, you have a beautiful sword made by a master and a white wolf as a friend. The dagger at your belt might just be decorative, but didn’t come at a cheap price.
He smiled as I frowned, and he pulled away, patting Silva’s head.
– Don’t worry, your secrets are as safe with me as then can be! Call me Brendt!
The wolf didn’t seem to mind him and I decided I would trust him. I nodded and tried to figure out where to start. So many secrets were entangled in my story, which I couldn’t begin with my childhood or anything before the Crimsom Forest.
– Alright, I said. The price might be high for the bits and pieces of my story you will get, but I don’t think you will regret it,
He raised an eyebrow and I could only guess how interested he was. And so I told him everything I could remember, starting in the Forest, waking up and not remembering a thing. I told about the bandit and Meriel, Marn and Silva. I told him of my travels and the villages I crossed. I spoke of Kirieth and the Order, of my studies and training. I told him more quietly about my dagger and my quest, and what I would need him to do for me.
He listened to every word I said with a spectacular attention. He nodded here and there, never interrupting. At the end, he simply smiled and sat back with visible satisfaction.
– You are golden, my friend. Aevik, Meriel named you? Interesting. Anyways, I shall help you get a ship and a crew. Actually, I will be the first to sign on the adventure! I want to see the City of the Stars for myself, it holds so many tales no one remembers. And of course, I will sing yours, but only when your quest comes to an end.
For tonight though, we would both go rest. As Brendt brought in customers, the tavern where he would sing usually offered him food and shelter for the night. He expanded his privilege to me and I found myself in a small room next to his. I went straight to bed, falling asleep with ease even though I could hear the party going on until dawn. I dreamed of the souls of the maiden and the sailors, that night, and woke up with a vision of the sea-monster that had taken them into the dark sea.