Read the first chapter of Scarlet Quest

For those who are considering reading my novel Scarlet Quest. Here is the first chapter. Hope you like it.

 

             Chapter 1: A man of victory

 

They ran through the misty forest with a bounty on their heads. They thought they could get away with it. Jump over the country border, down south, and never be seen again. They made that goal impossible to reach the moment they decided to pilfer the prince’s treasure. No one in the country could get away with such a crime. Stealing from royalty meant writing your own suicide letter, but a desperate thief gives it no mind. It did not matter if it was fool’s gold. It was a snatch and run. Find one valuable treasure and take it, even if it means taking the foe’s life first. That is the mind of a thief: anything for the money.

The twelve thieves sprinted among the trees, never looking back, only hoping their speed would set them free from their bounty hunter. Their leader carried the prince’s treasure. “Do you think we lost them?” The skinny one with black hair in a ponytail and a long nose asked.

“I don’t know, but they can’t chase us forever,” answered the leader.

“Boss, look up ahead,” said another, this one wearing a black headband and taller than the others. Up ahead, a river crossed their path. All twelve thieves stopped at the bank of the river. It looked deep, long to cross, and there were no boulders to jump on over to the other side.

“This is going to slow us down,” said their leader.

“What should we do, Wolfgang?” asked the one with the black headband.

“I think we should go around. Hopefully, we’ll run into some fisherman with a boat and steal it from him.,” suggested the short one. The rest just stood waiting for Wolfgang’s command.

“We are swimming across the river,” said Wolfgang “Larry!” He turned to a group member behind him. Larry had a serious look on his face. Probably the silent killer of the group. “You are the best swimmer. Take the prince’s treasure and don’t you dare lose it.”

“Whatever you say, sir,” responded Larry. Wolfgang threw a brown pouch over to Larry.

“Once we deliver this piece of treasure to the queen, our pockets will be filled with gold. Enough for the twelve of us to retire till old age.” Wolfgang and the thieves laughed thinking about their reward.

“All the women in the village will be begging to marry me,” said the short one of the group.

As they all laughed, the short man began  making a gurgling sound that did not blend in with the group’s laughter. The laughter subsided as they heard the awkward sound coming from the short man.

“Are you alright, Tom?” The tall man with the black headband asked. Looking at him, they all saw there was an arrow in his throat, and blood running down his neck, staining his clothes. They watched  as Tom fell to his knees and collapsed.

“No, not now. We were so close,” Wolfgang cried out. He gazed across the river and eyeballed the area. The rest of the thieves began to panic and drew their swords, knives, and throwing weapons.

Suddenly, Wolfgang’s eyes caught sight of an arrow flying from the other side of the river. It pierced the head of one of his thieves. The thief collapsed and all the members stepped away in cowardice from the corpse. Wolfgang looked to the other side of the river, and between two trees, a man nocked an arrow on his bow. “Run!” yelled Wolfgang. He began to run alongside the river, following the stream and behind the first row of trees to avoid the arrows. He thought his group was following him, running right behind him as he commanded. However he glanced back and noticed they weren’t there. He stopped behind a tree and saw his group of thieves running in the direction that they had come from. It was like working with a bunch of morons. “You imbeciles!” He roared. “You’re going the wrong way. You’ll die, you bunch of idiots. The band of the fox will have your head.” In frustration, Wolfgang wanted to ignore them and leave by himself, but then he remembered, the prince’s treasure. Larry had it and he was with the rest of the thieves: so close and yet so stupid. He had to run back to prevent them from losing the treasure they worked so hard to get.

Nine of them were now running back in the direction from which they came. They thought the band of fox was suddenly approaching from the opposite direction. Oh, great dragon gods, how wrong they were.

Coming from the fog, in a blurry view, someone on horseback emerged. All nine thieves stopped. “We’ve been tricked,” said Larry. “What do we do, boss?” He looked at the members, and realized that Wolfgang was missing. Then he began to think, this is probably the end. As he looked at the enemy on horseback coming from the fog, three more horsemen appeared and they were closing in fast.  Most men of warfare would stand their ground and fight till the end and at least die with honor. There was no honor with these men. They were thieves and so when the moment came, they betrayed each other, all nine of them. Larry ran back to the river and left the rest of them to the horsemen who were on the hunt.

The first horseman tackled through them with his horse and cut off the heads of two thieves, left and right with his twin swords. He jumped off the horse and clashed swords with two more. The second horseman carried an axe. He was burly and tall. He saw one thief running away and hurled his axe at the running coward. The axe got stuck on the back of the thief’s cranium. The axe horseman jumped off his horse, stepped on the head of the thief’s corpse, and yanked out the axe.

The last two horsemen came rushing in as well. One carried a saber, pure red hair flaming on his head, and different from the others. The other horseman was a woman with short black hair, slender figure,and she was wielding a spear. “Make sure you keep one of them alive,” commanded the red hair horseman. The woman jumped off her horse, descending on a thief, broke through his defense, and pierce his chest. The thief fell with the weight of the woman stabbing his chest. She stomped on his face and then yanked the spear out. “You…are…a woman?” The thief groaned as he felt his life fading away. “Yes,” she said, “I am not your orthodox woman.”  Then she plunged her spear again in his chest.

The red headed horseman jumped off his horse as well. As soon as his feet touched the ground, he dashed among the trees with an incredible speed like that of a wolf. He moved so fast that, he sliced one thief and the coward did not react to the pain until he saw the crimson stain on his clothes and then collapsed. His speed made it difficult to see where he was swinging his sabre. The redheaded man quickly snuck behind another two and horizontally slashed the thieves that his twin sword friend was fighting. The two thieves grunted in pain and died.

“Must you always take my fun?” Asked the man wielding two swords, disappointed he did not get to cut down the thieves.

“We’re not doing this for the joy, Oseth,”  answered the redheaded man.

Oseth saw three more thieves running away from the battlefield. “Those three are mine,” claimed Oseth. He ran after them, but then he saw his friend with the big axe, cleaving two of them. Oseth stopped, frowned and cursed. “Edd, you big meat head I said I got them,” Oseth yelled at his friend.

“This is not playtime,” said Edd.

There was one more thief. Larry knew he could not win. He only held daggers to defend himself with. Crossing the river would only slow him down and he feared dying with an arrow in his body like his other friends. His only choice was to run.

Edd could not catch Larry. The redheaded man used his wolf-like speed again and ran past Edd. The wind blew hard as he rushed. The redheaded man finally caught Larry, clutched his shirt, pulled him back and slammed the thief on the ground. The man stomped on Larry’s chest, pressing him against the ground.

“I’ll do anything,” begged Larry, “just don’t kill me.”

“That was easier than taking a piss,” commented Edd, standing next to his friend. They both stared down at the thief.  Larry took out a small knife hidden in his belt, but just before Larry could use the knife, Edd noticed it and stomped on his hand. Larry now had two men holding him down as he lay helplessly.

Then the woman with the spear entered the scene. “Looks like you got it all under control,” she said and patted the redheaded man on the shoulder. “Make it quick, Auron. I want to go home to my sisters.”

Larry’s eyes bloomed as he heard the name, “Auron.”

“Auron? You mean. The Auron. The man whose head is always on fire.”

“Shut up!” Auron stomped on Larry’s chest again, causing him to gasp for air.

“I ask the questions and you answer,” Auron commanded. “You know why we are here, so make this easy for us and we’ll let you go unharmed.”

“What do you want, Fox? What could a man of such high status want from a commoner like me?” Larry coughed, still struggling to breathe as Auron twisted and pressed his foot on his chest. “Ha, just look at you, taking the life of poor men while you profit from our deaths.”

“We profit from your crime and death is your atonement. You are nothing but a low life thief that knows nothing except to pilfer. Don’t you dare accuse me for the suffering of the poor,” Auron said, staring down at the thief, giving him time to answer.

“I believe there are one more of them,” said the woman standing next to Auron.

“Let’s start with this one first,” said Auron. “Give me the prince’s treasure.”

“I don’t have it,” answered Larry.

“Liar! Do you think we would hunt you down without having a clue of what you did?” Edd said with his arms crossed. “We know you stole the treasure of the King’s son. You are probably thinking of selling it somewhere for thousands of coins.”

“I said I don’t have it!” Larry gave a half yell, still unable to budge Auron’s foot from his chest. “Well, then, you are of no use to us.” Auron lifted his sword with the end of the blade pointing down at the thief and bluffed his intent.

“Wait!” Larry panicked, “I don’t have it. Someone else does.”

“Ha! I knew there were more of you,” commented the woman, leaning on Auron. “Where is he?”

“He ran away after one of our friends was killed with an arrow,” Larry said, hoping they would spare him, believing he was of value with the information he provided.

“Yes, our friend Saron scared you and led you in our direction. You thieves aren’t very smart,” critiqued the woman. Auron turned his head to Edd. “Do you think Saron let the others get away?” he asked.

“I don’t think so, but I will go and look for him. That midget probably took them down already.” Edd answered with a laugh, and walked away towards the river. He then saw the bushes move and rustle.  He assumed another thief was approaching. The three bounty hunters readied their weapons again and once the person from the bushes was revealed…it was Saron. He was short, probably four inches shorter than the rest of them. He carried a bow and arrows, with daggers and small knives sheathed in his belt. He dragged an injured man out of the bushes with an arrow in the man’s right foot and in his thigh. It was Wolfgang.

“He has it,” said Larry pointing at Wolfgang “he has the prince’s treasure. He was running away with it.”

“God damn you, Larry,” Wolfgang snarled. “I hope the band of the fox kills you first, so I can watch you die, traitor.”

“What a pitiful group,” said Oseth several feet away, resting his back on a tree with both hands behind his head comfortably, one leg over the other and his twin swords resting on his lap. Quite the relaxer. He watched them from afar, letting the team do the problem solving. “I have seen better team work from a pack of wild dogs.  You thieves are something special.” Oseth said sarcastically as he usually did. His friends hated his laziness, but he was always of great aid due to his skills with the sword and his fire magic. Oseth didn’t take much seriously. “Hurry it up, mates, and let’s get something to eat. I think my stomach is eating my insides.”

“Remind me again why you keep him around Auron?” Asked the woman with a mildly angry tone of voice.

“Leave him alone, Genie. He does what he is supposed to do and he does it well” Auron told Genie. Although the rest of the team was not so fond of Oseth’s work ethic, Auron always defended him for some strange reason. Auron kept the fire going in the team as the leader of the band of the fox, the most famous and feared mercenary band of Burnahdujf and the south country.

“Saron, bring the thief over here,” Auron commanded. Saron dragged Wolfgang’s body to Auron and tossed the thief on the floor next to Larry. As soon as Wolfgang was positioned next to Larry, he punched the coward with his left fist. The two thieves began to fight on the ground and bicker over their immature teamwork and failure, like children fighting over a toy. Saron and Edd hauled them up and forced them to face Auron. They stared into the blue eyes of the redheaded mercenary and lightly shuddered.

“Genie, check their pockets.” Auron ordered his female band member. She dug into the pockets of Wolfgang’s dirty brown pants. They were empty. “Hey, pretty girl, you can search more than my pockets if you want,” jeered the dirty thief. Genie ignored him and moved on to Larry, digging her hands into his pockets. Feeling something solid, she grabbed it and pulled it out of the thief’s pocket. It was a pendant, black and purple with small diamonds around the center jewel being held by a gold and silver base. “It’s beautiful,” she murmured with a slight smile. She turned to Wolfgang and her feeble smile turned to a frown. She then delivered a kick between Larry’s legs. The thief then gasped for air and fixed his hands between his legs, as he fell to the ground after being released from Edd’s grasp.

“That was uncalled for, Genie,” stated Auron with a serious face.

“I guess all cowards die hard,” shouted Oseth from a nearby tree.

Auron and Edd just chuckled, but then they were startled by the sudden bloodshed from Larry and his gagging sounds. Genie had thrust her spear into his belly. No one was expecting such action and Auron surely did not command it. Sometimes, Genie would take the lead without a word. She was an independent woman and powerful. She took the thief’s life without hesitation. Auron, Edd, and Saron would get intimidated at her masculinity sometimes and were afraid of telling her what to do. She was very generous and contributed to the team a lot, sometimes more than the men did but she was still frightening.

“A little warning next time, Genie. You startled me,” Auron suggested, taking a step back from Genie.

“Sorry sir” she apologized “I just thought the dirty thief deserved it. Should I spear the other one too?”

“We’ll take it from here, Genie. Thank you.” Edd gently lowered her spear.

“The job is done, Auron. Let’s deliver and collect our reward. My wife is waiting,” Saron said as he let go of Wolfgang and kicked him to the floor.

“God damn you all. If I was able to walk, I would kill all five of you,” threatened Wolfgang. Saron kicked him again and stepped on the injured foot. “You are in no position to make threats. Why don’t you stay here and keep your friend company. Goodbye.” Saron walked away. The short man whistled and  out of the fog, a brown horse came running at him. Saron mounted the horse. “Let’s go!” He shouted and galloped into the mist.

“Such patience” Auron murmured. “Well then, let’s get out of here.” Auron, Edd, Oseth and Genie called their horses with a whistle, mounted  and rode away.

Wolfgang watched them leave, as he lay on the ground injured, unable to walk next to Larry’s corpse. “Wait!” Wolfgang yelled. “Please don’t leave me with this idiot. Kill me if you must.”

************

On the path, hundreds of miles away from the capital city of Burnahdujf. They traveled north on horseback. The green fields were vast with trees and fruits that they fed from on their way back to collect their reward. They ride slow taking in all the agriculture and the sight of the farms, fields of rice and other vegetation. They passed village after village and everywhere they went, someone knew their name. The band of the fox. Mainly for Auron Fox. The man who kills for money. The man who would go across the country for a bag full of gold. Everything he did was for the money. Every job he took whether if it was an assassination mission, finding someone or something, being a body guard, babysitting some wealthy man’s family, or fighting off an enemy in some distant war, Auron and his band never failed. He chose his members wisely and those who begged to join his band almost never passed the test.

Some saw the band of the fox as heroes and others saw them as stone hearted sword wielding bastards. Auron cared not. He did not aim for fame. He had a different goal in mind. Today his head was clouded with thoughts of his future plans.

“What are you thinking about, Auron?” Asked Edd.  Auron did not answer; it seemed his mind was somewhere else. Edd waited for Auron to respond but all he heard was the sound of the horse’s shoes and Saron and Oseth conversing in the back. Edd gently punched Auron on the left arm stretching his big muscles across his horse.

“Ouch!” Auron snarled, “What’s wrong with you?”

“Sorry boss, just trying to get your attention. You seem lost in thought. Missing your wife already?”

Then Genie’s horse stepped forward and strolled next to Auron’s horse. “Leave Auron alone. He is probably thinking of our next mission.” Genie seemed  always to stand by Auron and his opinion.

“I am just thinking of those thieves,” Auron finally said, “Where were they going with the prince’s treasure? It was just a pendant. It is probably enchanted with magic.” Auron turned his head to Genie. “Let me see that pendant, Genie.”

Genie was wearing the pendant. She was quite fond of it and wished she could keep it. It was beautiful and as tough as her friends thought her to be she still enjoyed womanly things. She removed the pendant and gave it to Auron.

Auron contemplated the pendant. Being a magus himself, he had knowledge of enchanted objects. He held the pendant on his left palm. He used his right hand and it glowed green of earth magic. He waved his glowing hand over the pendant hoping it would react but nothing happen. Then his hand glowed blue of water magic and he waved it over the pendant again. Still no reaction.

“Genie, try white magic,” Auron tossed the pendant to Genie. She caught it and tried to use white magic on it. Genie’s magic allowed her to heal her friends in and out of battle. Her hands glowed with a white light over the pendant and still the jewel showed no sign of enchantment. Genie tossed the pendant back to Auron.

“Perhaps it will react to dark magic sir,” Edd suggested.

“Perhaps,” Auron repeated, “I wouldn’t be surprised but why did the thieves steal it? Could it be that they were heading to the south country?”

“What interests me most is how they were able just to snatch it from the prince? The castle is heavily guarded.” Genie said solemnly. The conversation had connected their mood. Now they seemed melancholy. The only thing cheery was the sound of Oseth and Saron bantering and laughing behind them.

“Do you think someone let them in?” Edd questioned.

“If so, then there is more going on than I thought.” Auron stated. “There could be a chance that someone set us up and this mission was just a façade.”

“A façade?” Genie seemed dumbfounded. “That can’t be. The king would never mislead you.”

“He is a man of power and those with power intend to use it. I know little of the king’s motivations,” Auron began to feel apprehensive. “It is only a theory, I can only speculate as to why the prince’s treasure was such an easy snatch for a guild of thieves, but I think Edd has a good point. Someone inside the castle allowed this to happen. We must be cautious next time the king hires us.”

Most of Auron’s highest paying jobs are from the king. Other jobs he gets from wealthy affiliates whom he knows very well. However, he usually relies on the jobs given to him by the king, but he understood that making “friends” within those in royalty can also turn to be his greatest enemies. He knew better than to get close to people outside his home. Auron had a better understanding of business than most mercenaries who ended up getting murdered by their own employer.

“I don’t trust anyone in royalty,” said Edd, “they promise one thing then turn their back on the people. King after king, it’s always been the same. Why don’t they give the throne to someone who deserves it?”

“That might not be the best idea,” Genie advised. “If it wasn’t for the Sainos dynasty, this country would not be the richest from what I understand this world to be. Anyone else on the throne might change the efforts that the Sainos family applied to make this country so powerful. I would not be surprised if the south declares war upon us again. Either way, I still dislike the Sainos family.”

“There will always be another war,” Auron said speaking with experience. The man had gone through so much he could write tomes. “Like I said those with power intend to use it and crave more power as well as property. As I learned studying the nature of fire. Fire is power and it will spread. Those who do not know the definition of enough, won’t be able to control that fire.”

“Can we change the subject?” Edd snapped. He hated talking about kings, power and politics. Edd was a big man with simple pleasure. He just wanted to go home to his wife and drink wine, play with his children and lay back with sunshine. He rather stay home carving wood than to spill the blood of strangers.

“Hey, Auron, why don’t you try some fire magic on the pendant? Maybe it will work,” Edd suggested, already knowing the results.

“Hey, you know Auron can’t use fire.” Genie defended Auron.

“Don’t remind me,” Auron said.

“Get Oseth to do it. He is the real hot head around here.” Edd turned his torso to look back at Oseth and Saron who were still bantering throwing one joke after the other, teasing each other and trying to knock each other off their horses.

“Hey, Oseth, come over here!” Edd shouted and gestured at Oseth.

“Just forget it, Edd. It is not that important.” Auron said as serious as usual.

Oseth spurred the horse and the animal rushed forward. He stopped the horse next to Edd pulling its head back by the reins. “How may I help you?” Asked Oseth with a cheery tone.

“Auron, let Oseth try it.” Edd asked the bandleader, but Auron refused and put the pendant in his belt pocket. “Just forget it. It’s not like we have any use of it,” said Auron.

Auron’s eyes bloomed at what was approaching. Suddenly, the band of the fox watched as a group of horsemen approached. The horses rushed quickly on the path going south as the band faced north. It was a big group of horsemen. About thirty of them, running as if they were chasing someone or going into battle. They were definitely another mercenary band judging by their appearance. They did not wear the armor of the knights from the Sainos order. Rarely would anyone see a mercenary on his own, unless that person had incredible swordplay and magic skills. The horseman in the front wearing luxurious armor made it obvious that he was the leader. His hair was black in a ponytail and once Auron saw the flag they waved, he knew who it was. The symbol on the flag was a black tiger.

“Barvoch,” Auron whispered and nodded his head as if he knew this foe too well. All of the horsemen stopped right in front of the band of the fox in a phalanx of four columns. Their leader’s horse stepped forward. The leader put a grin on his face once he saw Auron and chuckled lightly as if the sight of Auron was a joke. The leader’s horse was black. Black seemed to be the color of the group. They all wore the color and had designs on their armor that symbolize a tiger.

“Look who we have here,” the leader of the group continued to chuckle and stroke his ponytail with a feminine swing about it. “The man who’s head is always on fire. Tell me, who’s job have you been taking lately?”

“Barvoch, we will move our horses to the side of the road and you can be on your way. I refuse to listen to anything that comes out of your mouth.” Barvoch, not just the man himself but everything he stood for annoyed Auron. Barvoch was like a desperate child who tried to get everyone’s attention and made it overly obvious.

“What’s wrong red head? Can’t talk to an old friend now that you are famous.” Barvoch tried to drain Auron of his stealth.

“I am not in this for the fame, Barvoch. The word itself is too much of a burden. Now if you please…”

“You were always good at hiding your emotions, Auron.” Barvoch rudely interrupted. “I can see through your facade. Perhaps you have forgotten that I was once in your band. That thief hunt mission was going to be mine until you showed up at the king’s throne room.”

“Always getting the wrong idea, Barvoch. The king obviously trusts me more and I don’t understand why you complain about getting kicked out of the band. You have your own crew. Now, if you would clear the road for us.” Auron was holding in the irritation. He understood the hidden envy coming from his former band member. A childish rivalry he did not pick, nor did he have the time to deal with.

“I can’t believe I use to call myself a fox,” Barvoch continued. “Black looks so much better on me.” The black tigers laugh and even the fox band laughed as well, but in a rather sarcastic manner.

“If only your looks were as good as your swordplay, Barvoch.” Auron mocked. The band of the fox laughed even harder.

“You want to try me red head,” Barvoch snarled.

“Can you just get out of the way?” Oseth roared taking in part of the conversation. “We need to get to the capital city.” Edd smacked Oseth on the back of the head and moved his horse towards his. “When Auron is in a conversation, don’t interrupt you idiot.” Edd whispered to Oseth, fearful of the situation escalating.

“Put your dog on a leash, Auron or he might die,” Barvoch threatened.

“This can all be prevented if you just move along now and let us be on our way. No need for violence. You are not on my agenda.” Auron tried to be the better man for he saw no profit in confronting Barvoch.

“Die!” Oseth snarled, “I will cut your pretty face into pieces.” Oseth drew his two swords glaring at Barvoch. Auron saw the bait and immediately yelled, “Oseth settle down, he is just trying to provoke us!” Oseth refused to sheath his swords back. He was way too competitive to allow someone to threaten him like that. He never backed down from a fight. Saron moved his horse to the front to join his four band mates facing the black tigers. His horse stood next to Oseth. “Listen, hot head,” Saron murmurs. “We all want to go home. Do us a favor and don’t look for trouble.”

Barvoch laughed at Oseth. His cocky laugh was that of a spoiled prince. It was typical of him to pick fights and being a well known mercenary himself, people feared his name, but not to Auron’s height.

“Barvoch, are you looking for bloodshed. If so, just remember…you asked for it.” Auron leered at Barvoch and eyeballed the black tigers. There were many of them but nothing Auron could not handle. Barvoch only smiled with that wide cocky grin on his face Auron hated so much.

“You haven’t changed one bit, Barvoch.” Genie commented also getting into the conversation. “You are still a child. Putting up a tough attitude to cover the little coward you really are.”

“Is that so?” Barvoch’s face seethed, his pale skin began to turn red. “I guess a little wanton like you knows much about playing with little boys. You are the only female in the group after all.”

Genie grunted at the insult. She removed the cover from the blade of her spear and pointed it at Barvoch. She wanted to thrust her blade at him but she did not want to cause a sudden battle. “You better hope we never meet in the battlefield, because I will make sure you die slowly with agony,” she said and knew better than to let her anger get the best of her. “Auron, let’s leave before I lose my temper. Can’t we just go around them?”

“There is not much space to move around on this narrow road and I hate to step on the farmer’s vegetation.” Auron just pondered and stared at Barvoch stressfully, trying to leave violence as the last resort. “Barvoch will you get out of the way?”

“Excuse me,” Barvoch said with a polite and creepy tone of voice, “it’s only fair that you move to the side, being the smaller group. Such a man with a big name and a small force. I don’t understand how you have not died in battle yet.”

“I only have as many men as I can trust.” Auron answered.

“Well then, move your trusted men to the side in a line and my men will move quietly without any means of combat.” Barvoch negotiated.

“Agreed,” said Auron.

Saron, Edd, and Oseth moved their horses behind Auron and Genie. Barvoch marched his men in a line to pass by the band of the fox. It was a long group. Thirty men on horses passed one by one. When the long line of horsemen finished, Barvoch went last. “Go back to your country redhead,” Barvoch gave once last annoying laugh and finished with. “As for you, my lady, don’t forget to think about me when you are opening your legs for other men.” Barvoch and his black tigers ran down the path. Genie just wished she had something to hurl at Barvoch. A rock or a knife, anything but her spear, for he was not worth it.

“One hell of a cocky bastard. He was being an ass the entire time,” Oseth complained, still wishing he could have had a chance to clash swords with Barvoch. “Who was he? And how does he know Auron?” Oseth asked feeling as if he had no part with what had just happened. He did not like feeling left out of his group’s conflict. The groups conflict with an opponent was also his conflict, and he refused to be in the background of the painting when it came to fighting.

“Barvoch was in our band before we found you,” Saron said to Oseth. “Barvoch was one of our members about three years ago. He was reckless and always going ahead of the group. He always tried to take the lead, even though he was horrible at it. The funny thing is that he was also a coward. In battle, he was the first one to run away and the first to get injured. It was sad. He was really arrogant and always wanted everything to be done his way when Auron was the one in charge. He would never listen.”

“Don’t forget the duel,” Edd got into the conversation bringing back memories from the bands genesis. “Saron, tell Oseth about the fight with Barvoch and Auron hahaha.” Edd chuckled. Auron just listened and crossed his arms. Auron enjoyed listening to Saron, for the short man was a really good story teller. It was his second best skill next to archery and accuracy.

“Auron told Barvoch that he will have to leave the band due to his vile behavior. Barvoch quarreled with Auron but we all agreed to kick him out. Barvoch then challenged Auron to a duel…” Saron paused for a few seconds.

“Well, don’t stop, mate. Continue.” Oseth was anxious to hear what followed in the story.

“Barvoch lost terribly I mean he really did not stand a chance against Auron. Auron broke Barvoch’s sword and wounded his arms, legs, and almost cut off his willie. Auron was seriously going to take his life or at least he bluffed it. Barvoch begged Auron not to kill him. He cried in front of everyone and with that said, Genie left Barvoch and the coward left the band.” Everyone began to giggle at the last sentence of the story. Genie glared at Saron and seethed with anger and embarrassment. “Can we go and change the subject. The sooner we go home the better,” she suggested.

“Oh, wait a minute,” Oseth said as he sheaths his swords behind his back. “Are you telling me Genie was with that womanly cocky bastard? Hahaha” Oseth laughed, suddenly his temper fell and he held his stomach from the laughter.

“Shut up!” Genie yelled and raced her horse around Auron. She then poked Oseth on the head with her spear.

“Ouch!” screamed Oseth, and grabbed his forehead in pain.

“Keep laughing at me and I will spear you,” she threatened.

“Are you going to spear me like you speared Barvoch,” Oseth ignore the pain and continued laughing, enjoying his own joke before her. Genie now pointed the spear at Oseth’s neck. “Easy there. I was only joking. Take it easy,” he said and Genie withdrew the spear.

“Just one question,” Oseth added. “What made you even think about being with that man?”

“That is none of your business,” Genie answered.

Auron rode his horse between the two band members. He constantly had to break up arguments. He never allowed anything to get out of hand.

“That’s enough. Let’s move. Once we deliver the prince’s treasure, we are free to go home and you can fight all you want. Got it”

“Yes sir,” Genie and Oseth answered simultaneously.

The five of them turned their horse north and raced to Barinos, the capital city of Burnahdujf. It was only one day away on horseback from their current location. Auron placed the prince’s pendant safely in his belt. It was a long ride home but he doubted anyone would try to rob him on the road. Saron’s horse caught up with Auron going in the front. “Sir, now that we just saw him again, I have been meaning to ask you something, sir.”

“Go ahead,” Auron gave permission.

“Do you think Barvoch has told anyone of our village?” Saron asked with much worry in his tone of voice.

“Good question, but there is no way he can gossip about it. I cast a permanent spell on his tongue before we exiled him from the village.”

 

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