Fiction

2 – Nawen

December 16, 2006 · 0 comments

“You’re very lucky, you know,” Serrintha said as she finished applying her Cure Light Wounds spell to Nawen’s arms. When transformed as a giant bird and colliding with the ship’s masts, Nawen had broken her wings – when in human form, these were her arms.

“Luck’s my middle name,” Tarrant said, as he finished tying the rope around Nawen’s unconscious body lying on the floor. He still couldn’t believe how lucky he’d actually been… Nawen had tried chasing him across the deck, but then she tripped over some rope and knocked herself out on the remains of a broken mast. Tarrant was almost ready to believe one of the Gods was looking out for him.

“Do you really have to use that much rope?” Serrintha asked.

“Well, those sailors aren’t using it any more,” Tarrant replied. “Less sails means less rope needed… Besides, she’s pretty damn strong, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.” He jumped back a foot when Nawen moved. “Whoah, she’s waking up!”

“Of course she is, she’s feeling much better now,” explained Serrintha. “Now that she’s healed she’s going to be just fine.”

“Wha– what happened?” Nawen muttered, and then, when she realised she couldn’t move, looked down at the ropes cocooning her body. She moved her head around, seeing Tarrant. “This is your work, isn’t it.”

“Of course,” Tarrant smiled. “I’m not stupid, you know, and it would obviously be very stupid of me to leave you in a state where you could try and kill me.”

“It’s going to happen eventually,” said Nawen. “You may as well accept it and we can get it over with.”

“Now, now,” Serrintha said, walking into Nawen’s field of view. “I’m sure there’s been a few misunderstandings that we should resolve. I agreed with Tarrant that tying you up was the best solution. You know how hotheaded and impulsive you can be,” she said with a smile.

“He needs to die,” Nawen said simply.

“Why?” Serrintha asked.

Nawen looked back at her, frowning. “He’s untrustworthy, a gnome, and… he annoys me. And everyone else.”

“Racist,” Tarrant muttered, but said nothing else when Serrintha looked at him sternly.

“There’s a lot of people who are annoying,” she said, returning her attention to Nawen. “You can’t go around killing everyone just because they annoy you.”

“I don’t want to kill everyone, just him,” Nawen replied.

Serrintha sighed. “I remember you saying a few times in the past that you considered yourself to have noble values… you even considered being a Paladin, if I remember correctly. Do you really think a Paladin would go around killing gnomes – or anyone – simply because they were annoying?”

“I guess not,” Nawen replied after a moment to think about it. “But I’m sure he’s broken the law, and betrayed us on at least one occasion.”

“You’ve got no proof tha—“

“Quiet Tarrant!” Serrintha glared at the gnome, who went quiet again. She looked back at Nawen. “As the gnome said, there’s been no proof. You can’t kill someone because you don’t like them, and you can’t kill them because you THINK they might have broken the law. There’s a justice system, remember? You can defend yourself when attacked, but you have to let the courts decide a person’s fate. If you think he – or anyone – has broken the law, you have to gather proof first.”

Nawen was quiet while she was digesting what Serrintha was saying.

“Do you still want to be a Paladin?” Serrintha asked.

“Yes,” Nawen replied.

“Well, I’d be happy to help you achieve that goal,” Serrintha said. “My order certainly has need of Paladins… if you pass the trials, that is.”

“Really?” Nawen’s face lit up with pleasure. “You’ll help me become a Paladin?”

“Of course. However, your success at becoming one will be up to you, not me.” She paused and then leant a bit closer to Nawen before continuing, speaking a little conspiratorially. “But there’s one trial you have to pass first…”

“What is it? I’ll pass it!”

Serrintha smiled. “It’s the Trial Of Loving Your Gnome.”

Tarrant laughed as Nawen ground her teeth in anguish…

To be continued….

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1 – The Reunion

December 10, 2006 · 2 comments

“I hate them!” Tarrant exclaimed, his eyes glowing red with the force of his anger. He was leaning against his bunk, trying to counter the rolling of the ship they were sailing on.

“Why do you do that?” Serrintha asked him from her bunk. She had given up on countering the rolling motions some time ago, deciding that laying down was a much better idea.

“What?” Tarrant asked.

“Make your eyes glow like that. I know it’s a really simple spell… but don’t you even realise you’re doing it any more?”

“I guess not,” he admitted, frowning at her. Being a small gnome, he had discovered some time ago that people seemed to fear him more when he made his eyes glow red. It had helped compensate for his insecurity about his size. Even looking up to dwarves was embarrassing.

“Since you’re pretending to be scary,” Serrintha said with a smile, “then I’ll pretend to be afraid.” With an exaggerated squeak she pulled the blankets up over her head, hiding from his glowing eyes.

“Ah shaddup,” Tarrant replied, his eyes returning to normal as the glow faded. He climbed into his bunk, collapsing into it with a sigh. “I just can’t believe they’d dump me like that.”

“Well, you didn’t make it easy for them to like you,” she replied, poking her head back out of the blankets. “You’re small – so what! There’s a lot of small folks out there who don’t feel the need to try and intimidate everyone they meet who’s taller than them. People will respect you more if you stop trying to scare them into it.”

“Whatever,” Tarrant muttered, settling back into his bunk and looking at the ceiling. He knew she made sense, but he just couldn’t shake the feeling that he needed to inspire fear in people. And then there were his flashbacks, visions that showed people fearing him. He still hadn’t worked out what they were all about.

They were silent for a while, both of them lost in their thoughts and memories about the adventures they had which led them to where they were now. Tarrant was absentmindedly tracing the tattoos on his face. He was a sorceror who used tattoos as a source of his magic, and they glowed faintly whenever he was casting a spell.

Suddenly there was a huge crash that shook the ship, quickly followed by a yell from Tarrant as he was shaken out of his bunk and onto the floor. From above them could be heard general sounds of chaos amongst crew members.

“Come on,” Serrintha said, grabbing her staff. “Let’s go see what’s going on.”

“Right behind you,” Tarrant muttered. He picked himself up and grabbed his cloak, following her out the door.

Up on the main deck there was confusion. It was night and in the only light was from lanterns. A large animal, possibly a giant bird of some kind, seemed to have flown into the sails and dropped to the deck, bringing two of the masts and their sails down with it. It was lying unmoving under a tangled mess of broken masts, sails and ropes. Some of the sails had caught fire from the lanterns.

Serrintha and Tarrant came up from below and stood there watching the crew trying to put out the fires and regain a measure of control without two of the masts. The captain was barking orders, organising a cleanup crew to untangle the bird and clean up the deck. Serrintha was looking to see if there was anyone injured that she could help, but apart from one of the crew trying to untangle themselves from some ropes, there was no one.

However, they both looked at the animal when some of the crew near it started yelling in surprise. It wasn’t an animal any more… it was a human figure, a woman. The crew backed away as the woman started moving, and she sat up, pulling the ropes off herself.

Moving closer, Serrintha thought the woman looked familiar, but in the flickering light from the lanterns, it was hard to make out. From behind her she heard Tarrant’s sharp intake of breath.

“Oh no,” he whispered. “That’s not…”

“Nawen?” cried out Serrintha, finally recognising the human warrior that was climbing to her feet.

“You!” yelled Nawen, seeing the gnome behind her. “Tarrant! I’m gonna kill you!”

“Ah crap, it IS her,” said Tarrant. He turned and ran.

To be continued…

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