A cool breeze blew gently across the prairie grass, as the full moon shone intermittently from behind black clouds. A lone individual dressed in black with a black fur cloak hiding his features, sat upon a black steed heading along the well-used dirt road towards the town in the distance.
An image flashes through the traveler’s mind – clashing swords gleaming from the fire surrounding the area, blurred by the blood of the blades’ victims – a look of torment laces his tanned facial features, then they fade away as he approaches the moat and guards just before the 100’ high town walls.
The man on the horse stopped as he made it across the moat, beside the guard on the other side. The guard put his hand on the hilt of his sword.
“State your business?” bellowed the human guard who was about 6’4” tall with a stocky build.
“I am looking for a place to stay and a job during my stay,” replied the man in a low tone.
“What is your name?” questioned the guard as he relaxed a bit and pulled out a piece of parchment and a quill.
“My name is Aust Nailo,” replied Aust, as the guard wrote down his name and waved him through the town gates.
The first thing he sees is an inn and stables to the right of him and a blacksmith to the left. Further down on the right there was a tavern strictly for elves that don’t have any contact with the humans unless absolutely necessary, an arms store for both humans and elves, and a general store. On the left was a row of houses and small farms. Aust slowly moves towards the well-lit noisy inn when suddenly the door flew open sending a stream of light leading to the feet of the black horse.
A dwarven man about 4’3”, well-built wearing full chain mail armor with a helmet on top of his long red hair and beard, apparently drunk, stumbled out through the opening onto the porch towards the main street.
Aust slowly lowered himself off the back of his steed and tied him to the post in front of the ‘Black Rose’ Inn, grabbed his saddlebags, slung them over his shoulder, and walked past the dwarf who was now past out sitting on the stairs leaning against the post to the porch, snoring loudly. He went through the oak doors into the lobby of the Inn.
As Aust closed the door behind himself, he noticed a halfling female behind the desk standing on a stool, about 3’9” tall and of a slim attractive build with waist length black hair, a set of doors to the left leading to the tavern, and a set of stairs leading upstairs to the rooms.
Aust approached the female behind the counter. “How may I help you?” asked the halfling in a pleasant tone.
“I would like a room for the next few days,” stated Aust.
“That will be fifty dollars,” she replied, as Aust reached into a pouch and put a silver piece on the counter, her eyes widened and she replied in a shaky tone, “I don’t have change for that.”
He replied in a steady voice, “Don’t worry about it.”
She then grabbed the coin off of the counter and passed him a key. “Your room is on the fourth floor at the end of the hall,” responded the female in a more relaxed tone. Aust then headed up the stairs to his room.
As he unlocked the door to his room and proceeded into the chamber he noticed a down-filled queen-size four-poster bed underneath the window in the center of the room in front of him, a shelf below a fair-sized mirror with a basin of water on it, and an oak chest below the shelf on the left side of the room. On the right side of the room he saw a large oak desk with a stack of parchment with a quill and ink beside it and an oak chair.
Aust put most of his possessions in the chest, except his weapons and money, took out a lock from his bags and locked the chest. He then locked the door as he was leaving the room to take his horse to the stables.
After he left the Inn, he grabbed his horse and walked to the stables. A boy came out to greet him. “How much to leave my horse here for the next few days?” Aust asked of the boy.
“About twenty-five dollars,” replied the boy who was about 8 years old. His eyes lit up as Aust handed him a copper piece and replied, “Do you want any change?”
“No that is okay,” stated Aust bemusedly as the boy pocketed the coin and led Aust’s horse into the stables. Aust then went back to the Inn to have a drink and meal in the tavern.
Aust strode into the tavern through the doors, suddenly assaulted by the music a bard was playing on the stage, the sound of people chatting merrily, and the smell of alcohol and freshly made bread and roasted meats. A few dwarves were drinking ale, while throwing daggers at a target, a few older human males were sitting at the bar drinking, a couple was sitting at a table near the stage eating meals, while a dark elf was sitting in a booth by himself smoking a tobacco pipe and nursing a drink.
Aust sat down in a booth near the old looking elf as a wench approached Aust and asked him what he would like to order.
Aust responded, “I would like today’s special and a bottle of red wine with a glass.”
“That will be thirty dollars,” replied the wench as Aust handed her a silver piece, and told her not to worry about giving him change. She then left his table and went into the kitchen.
As soon as she left Aust took out his pipe and smoked some tobacco, the wench came with his bottle of wine and a glass, then went back into the kitchen. Aust poured himself a glass, took a sip and then continued to smoke his pipe while glancing casually around the room.
When his gaze fell upon the old elven man, the elf looked him straight in the eyes, got up and joined Aust in his booth.
“I knew you would be here,” stated the old elf as he sat down while puffing on his own pipe, “I didn’t know when, but I knew you’d be here sometime.”
Aust was puzzled but curious, “What do you mean by that?” replied Aust in a steady tone.
“I sensed the power in you,” stated the black skinned, white haired, red eyed old elf, “It is just starting to build, not long before it becomes dominant, you are about 19, are you not?”
“I am almost twenty,” responded Aust as he removed his hood and let his long cherry black hair be seen with his hazel eyes, which made him appear older than he actually was.
“You will soon understand what I’m talking about as you grow in strength, your powers will help you in your quest,” said the old man as he looked Aust straight in the eyes.
“What would you know about my ‘quest’?” questioned Aust as he slowly moved his hand towards his dagger.
The old man stood up and responded as he was leaving, “You will see eventually what I mean,” then he was gone.
The wench then appeared with Aust’s meal, a pheasant steamed with wine and part of a fresh loaf of bread. Aust thanked her as she left, then ate his meal, finished his bottle of wine, then went back to his room, got ready for bed, stashed a dagger under his pillow and fell asleep after locking his door and the window.
The next day at about noon, as one of the two suns was shining through his window, Aust woke up to a knock on his door.
“Hold on a minute,” stated Aust as he got up and got dressed, tucking the dagger in his belt near the small of his back then unlocked and opened the door.
At the door was the same wench from the night before with a tray of food. “Here is your breakfast compliments of the management,” stated the human wench.
“Thank you,” responded Aust as he grabbed the tray and went over to the desk to put the tray down. He then ate most of the food, finished putting on his cloak, and arming himself, and then he locked the chest again, and left the room to see if he could find a job and a place to train in his spare time.
As Aust was striding down Main Street he approached one of the town guards and inquired as to where a man might find some decent job until he left town. The guard pointed to the town office, and said there was a bulletin board with various job listings posted. So Aust thanked him and went inside the building.
As he entered the town office he seen the wall with all the job listings and scanned the postings quickly. Aust’s eyes landed on an apprenticeship for the town blacksmith, he was supposed to go see Charles Damon, and whatever happened from there happened. So Aust took down the ad, then left to go to the blacksmith.
The 6’2” tall Aust was slightly shorter and less built than the blacksmith but Aust had done this type of job before.
“What can I do for you?” rumbled the big dark tanned blacksmith.
“Are you Charles Damon?” the big man shook his head yes, as Aust showed the man the ad, the man looked Aust up and down.
Then Charles responded, “How long do you plan on staying in town for?”
“For a while, until fate takes me away from here,” stated Aust.
“You done this before?” asked Charles of Aust.
“Once or twice,” replied Aust, “I know what to do.”
“I will pay you fifty dollars a day,” Charles affirmed, “You will have to work here for the length of your stay.”
“Thanks, that will be fine,” accepted Aust as he then asked what to do first and made himself busy.
As one of the suns was setting, Aust headed towards a place for himself to train with his weapons that he had found out about from Charles, who as it turned out was a member of the town guard.
Aust arrived at a fairly large one-story building made out of stone. As he entered through the large oak door he found himself in a large open room with various weapon and armor racks, a sparring area, various workout equipment, and a place to practice with weapons, there also was an area where people could practice with ranged weapons. There was a notice on the wall near the door announcing a fighting tournament in a couple days with a prize of five hundred dollars and a chance to see the local Lord. (Maybe if he joined he could find out something about his memories.) He signed his name to the sign-up sheet, which had quite a few names currently upon it. Aust then went and started practicing with his katanas, lifted weights for a while and practiced throwing his daggers and firing his repeating crossbows.
He spent the next two days working and training.
On the day of the tournament, Charles and Aust stopped work early as most of the town was gathering just outside of the town gates in the tents for the tournament. Aust and Charles entered the big main tent and approached the human male sitting at a desk near the entrance.
“Names please gentlemen?” queried the man. They both then told the man their names, he told them they would be involved in five matches, and they would have to win all five to get the prize, being the last one standing.
So Aust and Charles parted ways as they found their own places to get ready for their matches.
Aust’s first fight was against a middle-aged dwarf named Doran Forask. Aust entered the arena with just his two katanas, three daggers and two healing potions. He was dressed in his silk shirt covered with studded leather armor, leather pants and knee-high soft leather boots. The dwarf was wearing splint mail with a longsword and large spiked steel shield.
The two fighters prepared themselves for battle. The bell rang and Aust drew his swords as the dwarf advanced.
Aust took a test swipe with his right hand sword towards the dwarf’s sword hand, Doran moved backwards a couple of steps and raised his shield to block the swing. Aust took a step back, withdrew his word then made a quick swipe to Doran’s left hand side which caused him to move his defence away from vital areas, and then Aust took a planned swipe with the sword in his left hand and opened a gash in his neck before the dwarf could defend against it.