Hey everybody, sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but PercyQuest is going through some major technical difficulties, and you might not be able to access the site for a little while. Keep checking back because Natalie, Kyle, and I are working on it. In other (happier) news, here’s Wrathgate Chapter 2! 🙂
Bells of Cithara
The courtyard behind the Basted Pork Tavern was still littered with the trash from the mob that had rallied there during the day, but just a few men lingered.
“I heard something!” cried one, leaping out of his seat and dropping his tankard.
“Quiet, Tagrin. You’ll shpek when shpoken to,” said another, his voice slurred with rather too much ale.
The third man was gorging himself with succulent strips of juicy pork ribs. “When we asked you to guard us, Tagrin, we weren’t too worried about the pigs.” One of the pigs scavenging the rubbish in the courtyard grunted and began chewing on the third man’s pants.
Reluctantly Tagrin slunk back into his chair, caressing the hilt of his curved steel dagger. “Yes, masters. I will not speak again.”
“There is a storm brewing in the east, over the sea.” Remarked the third man, sniffing at the salty sea breeze.
“Go on, Marten. Lesh’ talk about the plan again.” The second man said, taking another swig from his tankard.
The third man, Marten, glanced around and then confiscated the second man’s tankard with a catlike swipe of his hand.
“You’ve had enough of that brine, Daemon. I’ve told you the plan four times.”
“Jush one more time? Pleash?” Daemon grimaced longingly at his tankard as Marten flung it against the wall, spattering the hapless Tigren with the contents.
“We have volunteered…” Marten glanced at Tigren, who seemed to be imitating a wet cat. “Well, most of us have volunteered to join the Revolution. We are bringing back the old days.”
“So get rid of all those peshky Sea Elfsh?” said Daemon, clapping his hands in excitement.
“Yes. Their tyranny will soon end, thanks to your connections Thieves’ Guild, my mobs, and… other allies.” Marten caught himself.
“We have other allies?” asked Daemon.
“I heard something!” cried Tigren, rocketing up from his seat again.
“Tigrin, that is the twelfth time!” snarled Marten.
“Listen!” Tigren was adamant, so Marten listened.
At first, Marten heard nothing out of the ordinary. But then, there was a sound like a child shouting, but far away. Slowly it came closer, and the words became more clear.
“The Ashen are coming! The Ashen are coming!” shouted the child.
Marten tensed. “We have to stop that child.”
“Why? The Ashen have been gone for… forever! He’s just had a nightmare, is all.” Daemon said, puzzled.
“Move. Now.” said Marten dangerously.
Without another word, Tigren obediently sprinted out of the courtyard into the main road, and took a left towards the voice, down the road towards the docks. Daemon stumbled out of his chair and then collapsed on the ground, completely incapacitated.
“I think I’ll wait here,” groaned Daemon.
A wild look of fury touched Marten’s blue eyes, like he was aiming a kick at Daemon’s pudgy face, but he thought better of it and glided out onto the street behind Tigren.
With feline grace, Tigren darted down alleys until he was on the main avenue through the city of Cithara. The tree-lined street was almost empty except for a figure sprinting down the center of the road, shouting his strange message about the Ashen. When the child noticed Tigrin, he stopped. Bathed in the light of a torch and suspended in a shaft of moonlight, Tigren saw a picture in his mind of James Weaver that would never fade away. His eyes were as blue as sapphires with a jagged jet eyebrow. His cheekbones were set high in his face, and his hair was as black as obsidian, striking against his pale skin and red lips. His nose was straight and regal with an aquiline flare at the end, giving him the appearance of some sort of sable bird of prey.
His tunic was black with a silver pattern skillfully sewn into the chest, and his trousers were black and ragged. A striking blue and silver cape billowed behind him. He was dressed well, but everything looked a little ragged, like a poor boy in a rich boy’s clothing.
“Stop!” cried Tigren. “I need to speak with you!”
“Sorry, no time!” said James, blowing past Tigren towards the top of the hill, returning to his shouting. Tigren intended on catching him. That turned out harder than he expected.
Every time the pursuer thought that James was growing fatigued and that the chase was almost over, the child would take a long gulp of a blue frothy potion, and would redouble his efforts. Despite this, Tigren had almost caught up to James by the time they had reached the top of the hill, where a huge cathedral stood, with a huge stained glass window and a colossal bell tower sporting the most impressive bells known to man.
The acolytes standing vigil at the door looked distressed, and rushed out to help, not sure if they should catch the shouting boy or stop the man from chasing him. James ducked under their arms and bounded up the steps and into the cathedral. Not waiting to see if the young priests had caught the man that had been following him, James silently rehearsed the way to the bell tower. He had been there once before, stealing up the steps with his friends to see the renowned Bells of Cithara for himself. However, because the way to the bell tower lead through the sanctuary, they had been caught on the way back by the high priest writing a sermon and had been chided for their sneakiness.
This time, however, his interruption was far worse. The people congregated for the evening service all twisted in their pews to look at the intruder.
“The Ashen are coming! Flee if you value your life!” James added for good measure, and then bolted through the sanctuary and up the spiral staircase to the bell tower. Through tall stained glass windows light poured onto the argent stones, illuminating ancient faded mosaics ingrained into the wall and steps. After what seemed an interminable amount of time, an impossible amount of steps, and his last azure refreshing potion, he finally reached the bells.
The Bells of Cithara were made of silver, elegantly embellished by lapis lazuli around the rims. They were operated by a half mechanical, half magical system that was controlled by a large crank near the stairs, currently unmanned. James twisted the crank as hard as he could, and it began moving slowly. The bells started to swing, and then to toll with a sound that put every other bell to shame. The largest bells sounded like thunder exploding in the heavens, the larger bells sounded like waves pounding against the seashore, and the smallest bells were like the wind blowing up off the sea. Spots danced before James’s eyes as he labored at the crank, each turn wracking his body with exhaustion.
Lights began to wink into existence all over the city, and James heard voices faintly echoing his warning to the people. The storm broke on the city, the thunder joining the chorus of the bells, the rain cascading on the townspeople gathering below the church.
When Tigren rushed through the door, James attributed the sight to the fact that he had not slept for more than a day. Letting slip a tear of helplessness, James crumpled to the ground and quivered in exhaustion, accepting oblivion to overtake his vision.