A Story I Wrote Whilst Bored

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A Story I Wrote Whilst Bored

Post  Kelvas on Mon Aug 13, 2012 8:53 am

Uhh, so here it goes. Fuck you.



Gerald turned his head to catch a glimpse of his pursuers, still sprinting down the narrow alley. Just the regular recruits of the town watch, nothing incredible. As he turned back, he noticed a light at the end of the narrowing corridor, no doubt the more veteran guards had begun scoping out his escape routes. No matter, he thought as he jumped atop a dusty crate and leapt for the gutter of a small house.

With practiced skill, he grabbed the gutter with his fingers, and bent his knees slightly to cushion the impact of the wooden wall underneath his feet. Now, for the most painful part, he thought as he pulled hard on the gutter, which began to bend and creak. It started to tear apart from the roof as he pulled himself up.

Fuck! I didn't account for the extra weight, he thought as he shrugged the satchel up onto his shoulder. He kept pulling, putting more strain on the tips of his fingers. He began to feel the rough metal gutter cutting into his flesh as he increased the pressure. But it was either this, or feel the clubs of the disgruntled watch guards against his back and head.

As he struggled to the roof, he glanced back again. On the ground, the incompetent city guards were getting to the crate where he had just jumped, and were now struggling to circle around the building. Before they had an actual perimeter, Gerald was already on to the next building, and then the next. After a few more houses, he began to feel comfortable that he'd lost them.

==========================================================================

The torchlight flickered dimly against the rough hewn rock. Jacob flipped a page in his book, pushing his glasses up on his nose. With a sigh, he sat it down on the wooden desk and stood up. Where is that bastard? If he gets busted they'll move it again. He better not get caught...

Almost as if on cue, Gerald surfaced from the murky pool by the wall with a gasp. Jacob let out a sigh of relief as he grabbed a cloth and helped his accomplice out of the water. "I was worried you'd been caught!" Jacob said, breathing a sigh of relief.

Gerald scowled, "Well, I didn't. I have it. Where's my gold?"

Jacob raised an eyebrow, "Did anyone follow you here? Did anyone see you take it?"

"I told you nobody would see me. Nobody saw me," replied Gerald in a low voice.

Shaking his head briefly, Jacob said "Alright, whatever, hand it over! I need to make sure it's the right one!"

"Gold first." Gerald put his hand out and he noticed his fingers were still bleeding from grasping that gutter. He wasn't the only one to notice.

"Who cut your hand? Did you do it, or did you have to fight anyone for it? I told you I didn't want anyone to see you!" Jacob said, looking frustrated. He began balling his hands into fists and moving toward Gerald.

Gerald dropped the towel he had used to dry himself to the ground and put his hand on his dagger, stopping Jacob in his tracks. "I told you nobody saw me. Now give me the gold, and I'll give you the satchel.

Jacob squinted. "Fine." He backed toward a chest and took out his keys. With a turn of the latch, he popped open the trunk and reached inside. He then extracted a very rotund bag. He threw it to the floor at Gerald's feet with a soft jingle, scattering a few gold coins out onto the ground. "One-hundred fifty gold before, and the same after. Now hand it over!"

Gerald took off the satchel and put it on the ground. He walked it past the bag of gold and set it on the ground, then began picking up gold pieces. Jacob darted toward the satchel and unbuckled it.

"Yes..." Jacob muttered under his breath. "I have it... After all these years..."

Gerald looked back as he placed the last gold piece back in the bag. "I'm out of here. Have fun with that thing. I couldn't figure out what it does."

Jacob crouched down next to the satchel, "Ohhh, it's not about what it does," he said as he removed the large dark-grey cube. Inscriptions covered its surface. Triangles, circles, squares, and other shapes all intersected to create intricate designs. Jacob ran his hands along the cube, seeming to get a feel for its carvings.

"It feels like there's buttons on the sides. I pushed them all and nothing happened." Gerald said, unimpressed.

Jacob then exhaled slowly and held the cube out in the palm of his hand. He pressed at certain inscriptions, hitting one on each face on the metallic block. "Like I said, it's not about what it does. It's about what's inside..."

He pressed down on the last inscription on the box. A loud click pierced the silence, followed by a short hiss.

"And what's that?" Gerald asked, utterly befuddled.

The top half of the cube rose up very slightly, then split into two halves, revealing what lie inside the box. Jacob peered inside, smiling slightly. "Nothing you need to worry about." said Jacob in a low voice.

Consumed by his curiosity, Gerald moved toward Jacob. As he bent to look into the box, Jacob moved to the side so he could see. Inside, lay a blackened, dead hand. Its long, bony fingers tipped with claws.

"Why-" was all Gerald managed to get out before his words failed him. He felt a sharp slicing pain through the side of his throat, blocking his windpipe.

"Goodbye." Jacob said as he pulled the knife horizontally, slicing out of Gerald's throat. As Gerald toppled to the ground, gurgling on his own blood, Jacob pulled out a red handkerchief and wiped down the blade. Gerald clutched at his throat and writhe on the ground, bleeding out helplessly. Jacob made a disgusted look.

He shouldn't have looked. I didn't expect to have to kill him.

==========================================================================

A bonfire now illuminates the entirety of the cavern. Gerald's body lay next to it, with his dagger laying on his chest. Jacob had at least given him the respect of closing his eyes and putting him in a dignified position, as well as wiping up the wound. Jacob sat in the chair at his desk with a hand on his forehead, reading further into the journal he kept. He placed the book back on the table and ran his hand through his hair. I guess it's the only way, he thought as he walked over to Gerald's body.

"I'm going to need to borrow that," Jacob said, motioning to Gerald's body. He picked up the knife in its sheath and pulled it out. Squinting, he examined the blade in the fire's light. "It'll have to do," he muttered.

He thought as he stoked the bonfire with a flat piece of metal. The handle he had wrapped with a strip of leather and secured with twine.

He stood over the bonfire and looked longingly at Gerald's body. Holding the knife in his right hand, he placed the sharp blade against his other wrist. He stopped to assure himself that everything would work out. He failed.

"I'm going to need something for the pain," he muttered under his breath as he looked at the knife against his wrist. Pulling it away, he walked back over to his desk and grabbed a roll of leather. As he sat back down by the fire, he placed the leather in his mouth. He caressed his wrist with the knife, he had second thoughts.

What if I bleed to death before I can complete the ritual... He thought long and hard about what was going to happen next. Looking at Gerald, he decided that it was only fair to go on with it, or else the thief would have died in vain.

With a shaky confidence, he placed his left wrist against the floor of the cave and began pressing the knife into it with his right hand. He bit down hard on the leather as the knife slid into his skin. With a muffled scream, he sliced through the tendons, sawing between the bones, splitting cartilage and veins. Hesitating, he felt faint as blood poured from the wound. A puddle formed on the ground. Can't stop now, he thought as he kept pushing. Finally, all that remained was a strip of skin. He squinted as he cut it, then sat back a moment, looking at the stump. Still in shock over what he had just done. Jacob sat on the stone floor and stared long at his bleeding stump. The wound was a fountain of blood. He seemed to slip in and out of consciousness and dropped the knife.

Jacob shook his head, can't pass out, I'll die. He crawled over to the bonfire, and grasped at the leather-handled, flat poker. He pulled it out and lined it up with his stump. Biting down hard on the leather, and looking away from the wound, he pressed the red-hot metal into the site of his recent amputation. Wracking pain shot through his body as he struggled to keep himself still. Tears streamed down his already soaked cheeks. The world went dim as he dropped the bloodied poker to the ground. He looked at his arm, it was just a mess of blood and mangled flesh. His eyes lost focus on his bloody stump.

Then it was all dark.


Last edited by Kelvas on Tue Aug 14, 2012 2:12 am; edited 1 time in total
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Re: A Story I Wrote Whilst Bored

Post  Kelvas on Mon Aug 13, 2012 5:25 pm

Jacob felt the heat of the bonfire on his face. He didn't need to be that close to feel it warm his body to the core. His eyes opened slowly as he got a grip on his surroundings. He tried to get his feet underneath him and stabilize himself with his hands, but the feeling of his stump hitting the floor was excruciating. As he looked down at the mangled mess, he sat back and cradled his wrist. To his left lay the cold, lifeless hand that he had removed, blood surrounding it in a dark pool.

Jacob's head was still spinning, so he crawled to his desk. Once there, he reached up and pulled himself into the chair. He removed the handkerchief from his back pocket and dipped it into the pale of water on the desk. Padding gingerly, he began the delicate task of cleaning off his mutilated wrist of all the dried blood.

After what seemed like an eternity, he had mostly cleaned the wound. He left the handkerchief in the bucket and dried his hand off on his pants. Being careful not to get any blood on it, he grabbed the tattered book on his desk. Holding open the book, he struggled to turn the pages one-handedly. He flipped through the book and read it very intently. After a short while, he set it back down to focus his attention on the metal box.

Still open, its contents lay bare. A bony, black hand with long, skeletal fingers ending in sharp claws. He ran his hand through his hair again and pulled off his glasses. After rubbing his eyes, Jacob let out a deep sigh. Reaching into the box, he grabbed the mummified hand. It was icy-cold to the touch, and seemed heavy. Without much hesitation, he placed the hand against the stump of his wrist, and immediately felt it grafting onto his skin.

Jacob's face went from shock to horror as the hand became one with him. He felt his tendons stretch in his arm, and his veins moving. The cartilage repositioned itself, and he felt it chill his wrist to the bone. Nearly doubled over in agony, Jacob began to feel the pain subside. He stared at the new hand. It seemed to twitch to life when he tried to move it. One by one, the fingers twitched to curl and touch the palm. He felt nothing, except the extraordinary power of his hand. It was cold against his wrist, as though it wasn't really part of his body. What a strange sensation, he thought while he flexed his new hand. As he limbered it up, he began to wonder if he was really in control of this new appendage. Looking closely, it seemed to be nearly entirely skeletal. The bones that made up the fingertips looked almost as thought they'd been sharpened with a knife. The bones of the hand appeared unnaturally long.

Jacob didn't have time to react. In a blink, the long bony fingers clawed into Jacob's eye socket. With a flick of its wrist, his left eye was torn clean out, nerve and all. The hand then held the eye in it's clenched fist and maintained control. Pulling his rebellious hand away from his face, Jacob screamed incoherently. He grabbed wildly at the dead hand and tried to pry open its fingers. It wouldn't give up control, and he could do nothing to open it. Giving up on recovering his eye, he covered the socket with his hand. Blood trickled between his fingers and down his cheek. Jacob sobbed, staring at the fist clutching his eye. The fist slowly opened, holding the eye in its palm. A wave of realization washed over Jacob and he stopped sobbing. He'd see that before, on the cover of his book. His thoughts raced, Now it wants me to read the book? The dull throbbing pain in his eye was nothing compared to the shock of trying to control the bony hand. It dropped his eye and gave up the fight.

Shocked and confused, he looked at his eye on the ground and sobbed softly. Shaking his hand in front of him he flexed it to make sure he was still in control. Jacob went to his desk to began treating the bleeding hole that his eye used to occupy. After cleaning off his hands again, he went placed a clean cloth over his eye. Too much blood had already been spilled for the sake of this stupid thing. How much more would it take from him? These thoughts ricocheted around in his mind as he wrapped another cloth around his forehead to secure this makeshift eyepatch. After that was done, he put back on his glasses and opened the book again. He felt control of the hand slipping again as it began throwing pages to the side. Jacob let it work. Flipping quickly, it reached the a page titled The Eye of Vecna. It ran its finger down the page and pointed straight at the words "Rod of the Whispered One," then promptly gave up control. Of course, thought Jacob. My work isn't done...

After a few hours of reading, Jacob picked up his book and placed it in the satchel that Gerald had originally brought. He then walked over to the wardrobe to grab some fresh clothes. Can't go into town like this, he thought as he stared at his bloody reflection in the murky pool next to the cave wall. Both arms were soaked in blood up to the shoulders and blood stained his shirt around the base of his neck and down his chest. He took off his clothes and tossed them into a bucket next to a washboard. After a short wash in the water, Jacob put on a fresh shirt and pants. Then he pulled a grey robe from the wardrobe. He slid it over his body, and pushed his arms through. Taking another look in the pool, he held the bony appendage out in front of him, flexing it open and closed. I can't let anyone see this, or else word could spread to the king before I can get the eye... After grabbing a large roll of cloth, he began wrapping the mummified hand until it seemed more like a bandaged mitten. He grabbed a few more provisions and tossed them into the satchel. With one last look around his cave, Jacob picked up the satchel, pulled it up up on his shoulder, and went to a nondescript wall of the cave.

Reaching for the bottom of the wall, he pulled out a couple rocks at its base. He reached underneath and pulled a handled-chain out about four inches, then the rock wall slid away, revealing a short passage and a ladder. Jacob readied his hands and feet on the rungs of the ladder. He looked longingly at the hatch above.

It's been too long since I've seen the light of day.

==========================================================================

To Francis, today was nothing special. The sick and injured come in, the healthy come out, the dead stay in the back. All a relatively simple procedure, practiced through nearly twenty years of routine. He'd seen rotten mouths, infected legs, children bleeding from the eyes and gums... To say he'd been hardened against gore would be a severe understatement. Luckily, the worst he'd had to deal with in the past week was lancing an old man's back-boil. Which was actually only bad because of how undignified the man felt afterwards. With a chuckle, Francis shook his head at the memory. He looked up and saw that one of his patients was giving him a puzzled look. Francis was still cleaning off his hands as he walked toward the man's bed. "Is there anything I can do for you, sir?" Francis asked, gingerly.

"Oh, I'm sorry for staring! It's just... How can you laugh in a place like this? Surrounded by the sick and dying..."

"You're not going to die, Harry. Quit talking like that."

Harry stared at Francis for a long while. "I'm gonna die eventually. Might as well be now. I'm just in misery."

"You're alive, Harry! And I'll do everything in my power to keep it that way," said Francis, with a touch of heroism.

Harry began coughing, hard. He clutched his sheets and squinted. Francis handed him a piece of cloth. Harry coughed into it for a while then stopped. "See," he said, showing Francis the cloth. "I'm just getting worse."

Francis winced as he looked at the cloth. It was covered in blood. In the blood were little specks, like black sand. Letting out a deep sigh, he said "Harry, I'm going to fix you. You just need to be patient, and hold on!"

Harry looked sympathetic, almost seeming to pity the doctor for his devotion. "Alright, doc. But could you do something for the pain?"

"Of course," said Francis as he reached over to grab a small glass container. He rubbed it on his hands, spreading it across his palms. Then he began rubbing the man's neck with the poultice, putting an even coating across the skin. "Better?"

"Yeah, thanks doc." Said Harry as he drifted back to sleep.

There came a knock at the door. Francis made his way over. Opening it slowly, he peered outside. A man in a grey robe stood in front of his hospital. The man'shood was pulled past his eyes, and his hands were hidden under the folds of his sleeves. "Are you the priest I sent for?" Francis asked.

The man giggled, "Far from it." He pulled back his hood with his right hand to reveal his face, the bloodied bandage still covering his opened eye-socket. "My name is Jacob, and I hear you're the doctor here," he said with a big grin.

Francis sighed, "Oh, well! Pleased to meet you, Jacob! Welcome to my humble abode..." he said as he opened the door wide and extended his arm in welcome. "Please, sit down on the table, and I will be with your shortly," said Francis as he walked toward a desk in the back of the building.

The walls of the room were all sectioned off by cloth, so that the center of the room acted as a sort of reception area. Jacob looked around and noticed that most of the curtains were closed, with only about five or six being open. In the reception area was a desk covered with various books with a bag next to it. In the middle of this room was a table long enough to lay on with a smaller table next to it. On that table were various tools and cloths, all seemingly clean. Jacob sat down on the table so his legs dangled off the side. "So I assume you know why I'm here," said Jacob as he watched Francis pick up his bag and bring it toward the table.

"If you mean your eye wound, then yes. Smart of you to come to me. A lot of people just cover it up and forget about it, only to die later from the festering wound," said Francis as he placed some glass bottles on the small table. "How long ago did it happen?"

"Two days ago. I lost it sparring with my friend." Jacob said, taking off his glasses. He set them down next to him. "What's this going to cost?"

"Well, first thing's first. Let me see how bad it is under here," said Francis, unwrapping the bandage around Jacob's forehead. He removed the piece of cloth over his eye and looked closely. "Can you still open your eyelid?"

"Yes, it's just painful..." said Jacob, through gritted teeth.

"Well, I need you to open it up so I can clean it out. I have to make sure it's clean, then we can deal with how you want to cover it."

Jacob ground his teeth together as he forced his eyelid open. Francis grabbed a bottle and poured come clear liquid onto a small towel. He then grabbed a pair of forceps and clamped the towel so that it was balled tight. Then he put his hand on Jacob's shoulder and said, "Good job, buddy. You made it to the hard part. I'm going to have to ask you to sit still while I swab this around in there. It's going to hurt worse than anything you've ever felt."

"Try me," Jacob sneered.

Raising an eyebrow, Francis put pressure on Jacob's chest then put the swab into the socket where Jacob's left eye used to be. Immediately, Jacob's chest jerked and his breathing came out shallowly. Grinding his teeth again, he made a low grumble while Francis swabbed the socket. He pulled out the cloth, now covered in dark blood, and tossed it onto the smaller table. Grabbing another piece of cloth, he said, "Just going to do one more, then we're almost done..."

"Get it over with."

Francis sighed as he clamped the cloth and went back to swabbing. After what seemed like a lifetime of agonizing pain, Francis extracted the cloth and Jacob let out a long sigh. "Not a lot of people stay awake through it all," said Francis as he went back to his kit.

"How much will this cost?" asked Jacob in a low tone.

"It depends on what you want to do. I have some glass eyes in the back, or we can sew it up shut, or you can leave it and wear a patch," Francis said wiping a wet cloth across Jacob's eyelid. "It's up to you. A glass eye is going to be the most expensive, because we'll have to find one just your size and color. Patches are cheap enough. Honestly, you don't have to do anything with it. Some people are just a little... Off-put when they see an eye-socket."

Jacob nodded, "I understand. I suppose I'll go with the patch."

"Very classy choice, sir," said Francis, with a smile. "Any color in mind or just the standard black?"

"Black is fine."

"Great choice! Well, I'll just charge you the standard fifty gold. You had to go through a lot, and I apologize that I couldn't make it less painful for you," said Francis, with a frown. "Here's the patch, I included it in the cost."

"Here," said Jacob, pulling a bag of gold from his satchel. He exchanged the bag with Francis for the patch, then said "One-hundred fifty gold pieces. Please keep the extra."

Francis was stunned, "Sir, I can't just take your money for nothing!"

Jacob looked amused, "You misunderstand me, I don't expect you to do nothing for it."

"What is it that you want me to do, then?" Francis asked, raising an eyebrow.

Jacob leaned in close and whispered, "Forget you ever saw me."

Francis looked quizzically at him for a moment, then squinted. Nodding, he said "Fine, but if that's the case, you shouldn't come back."

"I don't intend to," said Jacob as he stood up and put on the eye-patch. Then he picked up his glasses from the bed, put them on, pulled his hood down, and said, "Farewell, doctor."

As Jacob closed the door behind him, Francis felt a chill go down his spine.


Last edited by Kelvas on Tue Aug 14, 2012 4:50 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: A Story I Wrote Whilst Bored

Post  Kelvas on Mon Aug 13, 2012 10:39 pm

Curled in his blankets, Carl found it hard to sleep. God damnit he thought as he opened hie eyes, now I have to find out. He threw his sheets off and stood up. Rubbing his eyes, he stretched and yawned. Resigned to his insomnia, he grabbed the set of keys off of an end-table and made his way out of his room to the study where he kept his work.

He stood in front of the thick, oak door. The iron reinforcements surrounded and crossed the doors, making them extremely heavy. He pulled the keychain from his pocket and stopped at the largest key on the chain. It slid into the keyhole and turned with a soft click. The door unlatched and Carl walked inside. Once there, he looked across the room at his collection of various artifacts. A chimera's claw sat in it's holder, a trophy from past exploits. Next to it, the shrunken head of a pygmy warrior stared blankly through the glass of the case. A number of other rare and precious items sat on its shelves. Some were pieces of jewelry, either inlaid with rare gems, enchanted, or both. A number of daggers and a bundle of arrows sat on the bottom most shelf. Everything seems to be in its place, thought Carl as he walked toward his desk. He sat down in the burgundy, padded-leather chair and looked at the papers on his desk.

Ever since the vault at the college had been broken into, the mages felt that the Hand of Vecna would be best kept secretly in the home of the archmage. Vecna's journal, a powerful magical artifact, had been stolen right from the vault under the college of mages, quite literally under the noses of the Order of Magic. The journal is said to be blank to all who read it, except those who Vecna has chosen to be his vessel. Vecna, a litch who was defeated by his treacherous lieutenant, Kas the Bloody-Handed, was extremely powerful. It is said that, even after death, his worship increased to the point where he ascended to godhood. From what the various magical orders have uncovered, Vecna's ultimate goal is to destroy all of the other gods, and become the ruler of all creation.

Vecna's Hand and Journal were kept apart, as for Vecna's chosen to actually find both at the same time would be almost unthinkable. The only other known part of Vecna that could still be recovered is known as the Eye of Vecna, which has been lost for hundreds of years. The journal was to be hidden in the vaults under the college of mages, there it would be safe from Vecna's chosen. The hand, once discovered and retrieved by the mages, was locked within a lead, clockwork-puzzlebox whose combination was only told to the Archmage of the college of mages and kept under the supervision of the Grand Battlemage, who relinquished ownership to the Archmage after it had become known that Vecna's Journal had been stolen. Why me? Carl thought as he poured over these thoughts in his mind. He leaned back in his chair and dreaded checking on that damned box. Each time he peeked at it, he was filled with dread. If it was still there, he's in danger. If it was gone, he'd failed his task. If the journal had truly been stolen, how long before Vecna's chosen finds his home and tries to murder him? He poured himself a glass of whiskey from a nearby decanter. Raising it to his lips, he tilted it back slightly. To Vecna, that mischievous bastard Carl thought as he sipped. Not the best whiskey he'd tasted, but it certainly beat the rotgut they served in the local taverns. Might as well check on the damned thing. He sighed deeply.

He grabbed the keychain and reached down to the bottom left drawer on his desk. Keys in hand, he unlocked the latch and slid the drawer open.

Carl stared blankly at the empty drawer for a few seconds. He then closed the drawer and locked it again. Looking up he saw one of the windows on the ceiling had a circle missing from the glass. It looked big enough for a person to fit through.

Carl's face started to turn red and his eye twitched.

"FUCK!"

==========================================================================

Caine sat at the bar sipping his ale. He looked around, like he was waiting for someone. He'd done this the past few weeks. Slowly spending the money he made, as a guard for the local gambling hall, on a room and just enough ale so that the bartender wouldn't kick him out for loitering. He had just spent most of his savings on a long sleeved chainmail shirt, and a set of gauntlets, as well as hard leather greaves and a pair of work boots. He had a knife already, which he used to intimidate the drunkards and cheaters at the gambling den, as well as a sword that was willed to him by his father. He thought it was a sign that he should join the life of adventure, and cut his ties to the underworld of this city. Sadly, fortune had not been kind on him. He was running very low on money, and the frequency with which he was approached by his old "friends" was ever increasing. He worried that they would drag him back by force if he didn't get a break soon.

The doors to the inn opened slowly. A few people turned their heads to look, Caine among them. The figure was clad in a grey robe. It was raining outside, so he had his hood drawn up over his eyes, and his hands folded in front of him under his sleeves. He took a few steps through the door and closed it behind him. Rain dripped from his robes as he pulled off his hood with his right hand, revealing his face. He grinned wide, and everyone seemed to go back to what they were doing. Everyone except Caine, whose gaze remained transfixed on this man. Worried that he'd be caught staring, Caine looked back at the bartender and asked for another beer. He slapped a few coins on the table and the bartender slid him a pint before swiping the coins.

The man who had just come through the door walked toward the bar. Caine realized that the only open seats around were one next to his, and another on the far side of the bar. He hoped that the stranger wouldn't sit next to him. He didn't care what the guy needed. Something about the eyepatch creeped him out.

Jacob sat next to Caine. With his right hand, Jacob motioned to the bartender. "How much for what he's having?" Jacob said, pointing at Caine's cup.

The impish bartender looked him over head to toe, "One gold piece."

Caine picked up his head from his glass. Jacob slid the gold piece across the bar to the short man. "Here you are, sir."

The bartender gave a sly smirk and poured the pint of ale, then he slid it to Jacob. "And here you are, sir," he said with a sneer.

Jacob raised his eyebrow as he watched the bartender go to another patron. He lifted the glass to his lips and looked over at Caine, who was already staring right at him. "You didn't have to pay that much, you know," said Caine in a hushed voice.

Jacob shrugged. "He probably needs it more than I do. Besides, I'm not here to drink ale. The gold was a small sacrifice."

Caine squinted, "Alright, then why are you here?"

"I need to get some people together. I need to find something that I lost a long time ago. I'm willing to pay each of you fifty gold up front, and fifty gold after we get back to town if you agree to come with me, and aid me on my quest." Jacob had a touch of heroism in his voice, like he was on some kind of holy quest.

Caine seemed reluctant. "What exactly is it that you lost? And where is it?"

"A ruby, a family heirloom. I have reason to believe it is in a cave to the southeast of here. It is about a day's travel on the road. The worst I expect to be in the caves might be a bear or some wolves."

Caine thought for a while, sipping his beer. "How many others are you thinking about bringing?"

"No more than three, no less than two."

Caine looked Jacob in the eyes. "Why do you need three to four people to kill a bear?"

Jacob raised his bandaged hand, "I'm injured. I lost my eye but yesterday, I'm still trying to get used to it. Of course you would want three people to help if you could get them. I'm not going there to risk my life, I'm going there to retrieve what is rightfully mine!"

"How'd you manage to get so hurt?"

Jacob sighed. "Yesterday I was attacked by a thief. He cut out my eye and mangled my hand before I managed to kill him." He looked at his bandaged hand, "The doctor says I might never be able to use my left hand again. At least that murderer is gone for good..." Jacob took a long gulp of beer.

Caine finished his beer. "Fifty gold now, fifty gold after? When are you planning on leaving?

"At our earliest convenience," said Jacob, wiping his eye with his left hand.

"I can be ready tomorrow morning. I just have something I need to take care of."

Jacob pursed his lips and squinted, "What kind of experience do you have doing this sort of thing?"

"I've, uhm, I hunted wolves for a while. I know how to track them." Caine looked down at his beer.

"Fantastic! I didn't think I'd have stumbled into a hunter on my first try! We'll meet out front of this establishment tomorrow, and that's when you'll get your up-front payment."

"Sounds good to me, see you tomorrow," said Caine, putting his glass on the bar and walking out quickly. Shit, how am I going to pretend to be a tracker? Thought Caine as he jogged down the street through the rain.

Jacob sat back in his bar seat, surveying the patrons. He looked for anyone who had a weapon and looked like they could use it, or anyone who looked like they'd lived outside. His luck here had been good, first meeting Gerald here, and now this new ally. Surely, Vecna would show him to the next stop on his journey, as he had before. He considered pulling out the journal in the bar, but decided against it. Too close to the mages guild. Too many witnesses. He looked around one last time before he stood up. It didn't seem like any likely candidates were sitting around. The patronage seemed to consist mostly of farmers and merchants, all trying to escape the dreariness of their lives. He walked to the door and outside into the rain.

Soon, their lives will all have purpose...
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