Mists of Kel Doran
Season 1 - Dragon-Touched
Episode 1 - The Weave of Fate
Chapter 1 - Beacon of Light
Chapter I - Beacon of Light
Approximate read time ~ 5 minutes
The rhythmic chorus of hooves shattered the early morning silence while long shadows lumbered through the empty streets. Half-starved rats scurried across broken cobblestone in terror, avoiding the wheels of an enormous, barrel-shaped wagon. Oiled oak and gilded iron lined the over-sized carriage as it crept into a large courtyard, ushered in by a complement of armed guards, its curtains sealed shut.
Axles groaned and oaken beams ached as the crimson behemoth grinded to a halt, accompanied by the subtle rocking back and forth. Its door flew open to reveal a man working his way to the edge of his seat. A wagon this size would not be made for just any man, however. As wide as an ox and half as tall, the man inside hoisted himself up, at great cost, and turned sideways as he angled his body into the light.
His robes were a brilliant white, a sharp contrast to the aged stonework of the city. They were long and silken, stretched to their limits as they folded in and out of his many rolls. Several hairs stretched from one side of his head to the other, with very little in between to hold them in place. Jeweled rings adorned most of his fingers, squeezed tight to the door frame as he pulled his way through.
He emerged into the morning light, his eyes slow to adjust after their time spent in darkness. His hands subconsciously fell to a leather strap across his chest while his eyes squinted into focus. Pudgy fingers clumsily massaged along the strap, coming to rest on a tired, worn satchel, which he pulled into place, secured under his arm. Satisfied, the large man adjusted his robes, then stepped onto the cobblestone street…with a splash.
Profanity rang across the courtyard as stagnant, muddy water forever stained the luster of his robes. “Gods be damned!” he screamed, tiptoeing through the rancid puddle. He mumbled under his breathe, cursing the Gods, the puddles, and any rats that scrambled into view. He danced around cracks in the road and pools of water while he delicately raised his robes, much to the delight of those nearby.
“Payment,” came a gruff voice, interrupting the laughter. The white-robed man jumped at the words, emitting a childish squeal and squeezing the satchel to his chest. His eyes unfocused from the courtyard and set upon a tall, armed man, draped in boiled, black leather armor and a grim look of displeasure. “Mr. Aerent,” the voice continued. “Our deal.”
“Oh, r…right, right,” Mr. Aerent stumbled, diving into his robes. “A deal is a deal, Lord Rowen,” he continued, withdrawing a small coin purse. He pushed this hand through the idle strands of hair in reflection, then thumbed over several pieces, his eyes rolling skyward as he counted the total in his head.
Rowen snatched the purse and peered inside. He gave the coins a gentle shake to allow the contents to settle, then looked up with a devilish grin. “This’ll do nicely, Thibold,” he chuckled, with a nod to the soldiers flanking the wagon. “Men!”
Thibold’s eyes widened as the wagon guards fled his protection. He reached for them, his lips stammering to speak while his eyes darted back to the courtyard. Crumbled, moss-covered stone buildings lined the docks, wooden merchant stands leaning against their hollowed forms. Cracked and broken cobblestones reflected the morning sun as a subtle breeze delivered the putrid scent of dead fish and salt water. “B…but wait,” he begged. “I said you’d get the other half once I arrived,” he continued, a distinct lift in his voice.
Disheveled families lined the crumbling walls, huddled together to shield against the cool morning breeze. Their ragged blankets offered little protection from the elements, and no protection from the sinister scent of feces and urine. Mr. Aerent crept toward the carriage, a hand straining to cover his face. “By the Gods,” he gagged. “Wh…where have you taken me?”
Rowen spun around while the rest of his men continued toward an old, stone inn. He raised his arms outstretched, as if pointing to the limits of the city. “Congratulations, you dumb fuck…you’ve arrived,” he chuckled. “Welcome to Wyvern’s Rest.” He then turned back toward the inn and kicked open the worn, crooked doors, allowing a chorus of chatter to spill into the otherwise quiet market square.
Thibold Aerent stood in the old market, his arms wrapped tightly around his leather satchel. The smell of stale beer and sweat poured from the inn for the slightest of moments…enough to elicit a gag reflect from the startled businessman. His eyes wandered in disbelief while his mouth muttered words no one could hear. “Wyvern’s Rest,” he whispered. “It just can’t be.”
Haggard merchants eyed the visitor as he tiptoed around the front of his carriage, careful to avoid the stagnant water and broken cobblestone. Thibold stepped into the shadow of the inn, ducking under the loose boards that marked its entrance. A large wooden sign hung from the second story eave, worn and cracked, wearing a mask of paint long forgotten. The sign swung gently as the breeze swept through the market, issuing a low, rhythmic creak.
But this can’t be, Thibold thought, his shoulders slumping in disbelief. He squinted to make out the faded letters as it ebbed in and out of the shadows. “Guilded Wyrmling,” he said aloud. His hand slipped into his robes and fumbled around for a moment before pulling forth a loose piece of parchment. He unrolled the letter and read while his lips mouthed the words, slowing to a crawl as he reached the words Guilded Wyrmling Inn, Wyvern’s Rest.
He stood on the boardwalk for several moments, his eyes dancing along with the swing of the wooden sign. From the darkened street darted a young boy, his hair soaked in sweat, his eyes soaked in fear. Thibold jumped as the child darted past him, bursting through the doors amidst a torrent of tears. Terror gripped the boy’s expression, a sensation that haunted Mr. Aerent well after he disappeared from sight.
Thibold stepped back to the end of the boardwalk and peered along the dark walls of the inn, through the iron gates and abandoned streets of the inner quarter. Subtle shadows danced among the highland grasses that flanked the road as a feeling of dread washed over him. He quickly stood upright, the stone of the old inn shielding his view of the empty street.
Sweat beaded on his forehead as Thibold looked around once more. “It just has to…this has to be some sort of mistake,” he whispered, again, to no one in particular. His bright colors and exotic clothing stood out against the grey, worn inn…like a beacon of light in the darkest of storms…the shadow of the eave offering little to conceal his vivid robes. He sensed the eyes of the market upon him and the danger looming closer. His feet tapped excitedly on the boardwalk before finally launching toward the wooden doors, stumbling head first into the warmth of the Inn.
This series runs on caffeine and donations!
Learn how we can increase your sales, develop your brand, and generate interest in your site.
Mists of Kel Doran