Human Warrior, Devotee of Tempus
“So there I was, faced with certain danger. His foul breath invading my nostrils, choking the very air I breathe!”
A climb up to the bar table. A signal to raise the climax. Thrust open both hands for glorious exaggeration.
“Then, by the silent suggestion from Tempus’ mouth to mine ears, I raise my shield to sun, reflecting rays of awesomeness that blind my foe! Once Lady Opportunity opened thine legs of Luck, I thrust with strength guided only by the arms of Tempus himself, sending my enemy to his mortal end!”
A wide smile to reveal his clean, sensible teeth. Seriously. It was a painful but important ritual to keep it in great condition. The Ladies always will go for a Knight with good teeth.
“By Helm’s bloody eye I had enough of this crap,” bellowed the bartender. “Ye told the same story once, and ye told it again. If ye truly did fight a troll, then where’s yer shield with its spittle on de surface?”
“Well…,” Aurus responded, “uh… well… there was… an accident?”
“Horseshite, gimme back my ten silvers,” demanded the bartender. “Next time, when you tell a tale as large as Tempus’ arse, bring something of credence. Otherwise, shut yer lip and just drink.”
Aurus signed as he gave the tavernkeeper back his money. After all, it was his fault that he made a bet with him that he had grand, genuine story to tell and if nobody believed it, it was money back guaranteed.
Aurus exited the tavern with heavy sigh. It was weeks already. He had waited time and time again for Henelopia to respond to his request. He knew of her loyalty to the House of Merinius from Baldur’s Gate. And it was unfortunate that he was the exiled son, decreed by his brother after the death of his father. It was a weird coincidence regarding his father’s death. As the eldest son of Armus Merinius, the inheritance of the company “Armus’ Peacekeepers,” fell to him. However on his brother’s eighteenth birthday, his father fell ill and died, with Tarkus, his brother, declaring that Father’s wishes were for him to lead the company instead, and that Aurus leave the family.
Aurus was left confused in this change of his brother’s behavior. To avoid any familial bloodshed, he surrendered to his exile and with only his sword to be his constant companion in his exodus. But what was also strange that Tarkus had dressed his dead father the Armor and Shield of Merinius, two important ancestral artifacts passed down from generation to generation, and set his corpse to the sea. If he knew his father, he would want these artifacts remain the household and for the leader of the company to wear them as a sign of the existence of Merinius.
Henelopia was his childhood friend. As bratty girl that would pull his ears and stomp his toes when he was a young child, as they grew older they grew closer. He had fallen in love with her as she became more beautiful with age. They trained, drank, pranked on each other. However her boldness raised his shyness every time he was near her; he would often clumsily recite pickup lines that would only charm a drunken orc wench, and she would rap her knuckles on his head for even considering such a thought.
Three days during his exodus of five months, she revealed to him that she was no longer satisfied with the direction of the Company but could not decide whether to leave because that would betray the Merinius Family. When he received her letter, she directed him to head to Beregost and wait for her there. And so he complied. Doubt filled his mind. Worry and fear crept on his nerves. Did she have second thoughts? Is she even considering betrayal? Aurus perished that thought; there no way his best friend could ever betray him.
As he wandered the streets of the Market District of Beregost, he heard small cries, pleading for help. As any noble knight would do to defend the people, he followed the sounds…
“Please good sir, it is our only warehouse left,” pleaded the trader with his daughter and wife cowering behind him, “Our inventory is our lifeblood! Without it, what would we sell?”
“You signed the contract,” sneered the mercenary captain while his other men dragged out sacks of the poor trader’s marrow of economic stability. “You agreed to the rates and if you failed to pay them we take compensation.”
“Please you have no right,” argued the trader with a whimpering attempt of being steadfast against the intimidating aggression of his “protector.” “You killed our caravan guards and forced us to sign it in a middle of a goblin raid. I should really r-r-r-report you to the Trader’s Guild for your disingenuous deeds!”
“Oh really,” replied the captain. Then with an unexpected whip of his arm he struck down the merchant with his blade. The trader lifelessly fell to the ground as the wife-now-widow and her daughter shrieked and howled with mad agony and shock.
“Take them, we’ll have fun with them after we load the cargo to our caravan,” ordered the captain. He then noticed rapid footsteps and turned to a figure becoming visible with increasing proximity. “Hold on boys, we gots company.”
“Unbelievable,” said Aurus as he found the men who had mercilessly slaughtered the trader. They were wearing his father’s, no his family’s insignia; two griffons embracing a shield.
“To see the Peacekeepers reducing themselves to extortion and worse, murder,” gritted Aurus as fury quickly engulfed his mind. “An affront, nay, a blight to all my father stood for and built upon!”
There was no longer doubt clouding he thought. His righteousness was his shield. His fury shall be his sword. The false Peacekeepers who had spat upon his Father’s code of honor, the same code that provided the structure of the Company, would pay for their very lives for the murder of an innocent.
“Heh, I see it’s the idiot son, twice removed from his father,” the captain grinned, “Come on boys, Boss Tarkus will pay us huge money for his head.”
Aurus engaged his blade with his opponent; he parried the swing and kicked him in the groin and sliced his middle torso, resulting in a satisfying plop on the ground. The charge of his next opponent caught him off guard as struggled to maintain his stance. The Son of Armus parried up, followed with a block to a lower stab and punched the brigand, stunning him. Aurus followed up with a straight thrust through his chest, dealing a killing blow to his enemy. As his foe fell, he was suddenly knocked out by the bashing of the mercenary captain’s shield, forcing him to fall in sheer dizziness. By the time he sat up, the sword was already at his throat.
“Sorry, your Majesty,” the captain smiled, “But your resignation from the Company is due.” Before he could strike, the murderer’s face contorted into an expression of pain as a blade stuck out of his chest like a skewered pig. He fell to the paved ground as he fall revealed a familiar face.
“I’m always there to save your sorry arse,” said the red-headed beauty as she swung her blade to clear its surface of any excessive bodily fluids that came with a reddish color. She stuck her hand and Aurus grasped it, using it as an aid to stand up. Seeing his childhood friend (and unrequited love) filled him with numerous pleasant feelings that he said what came his thoughts.
“So… is that your sword sticking out or are you happy to see me? Wait a minute, that didn’t make sense…”
Henelopia sighed and rolled her eyes as she sheathed her sword. “Always with the pickup lines. You never change Aurus.”
Aurus smiled for bit until his smile quickly turned into anger and sadness. “Explain Hennie. Why are these brigands wearing my father’s uniform?”
“Things changed after Tarkus took over Aurus. The Peacekeepers expanded quickly and became more ruthless in their operations. After establishing a base of operations in Amn, Tarkus renamed the organization to the Watch of Tarkus. They rule the world of merchants through fear and tyranny, hiring thugs and bandits to uphold ‘order.’ There is talk of Tarkus consorting with dark beings. Its not safe for you here Aurus. Not anymore.”
Aurus picked up the captains shield and slung it to his back.
“I guess this is where the saying ‘Run away to fight another day’ comes in handy,” solemnly said Aurus as he picked up his sword. He turned and tenderly embraced Henelopia. “Please come with me. There is nothing for you there. We can adventure together, just like old times.”
His arms went down as he heard her rejection. “Why?”
“There is work for me there. They do not know my true objectives. I am in the process of gathering evidence against Tarkus. But you must go. What is left of nobility in the line of Merinius must not end with your assassination.”
Aurus nodded. “I guess… this is farewell then.” He then failed to hold his tears as Henelopia wistfully looked at his eyes drowning in salty sea of sorrow.
“No my friend,” whispered his childhood friend. “This is a ‘see-you-later’.” She tenderly kissed on his mouth, slowly before reluctantly removing her lips from his own before she departed.
The dawn was visible at the horizon. It was a new day. New paths to travel. New roads to take. A few things were certain; Aurus was determined ever before that he will win the trust and honor of his father’s name. He will disrupt his brother’s operations if given the chance to, and find the armor and shield of his forefathers.
Will a few steps of a road going on and on, he smiled. Maybe he’ll see Henelopia again.