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Lyanna

A Tale of Vermor Castle

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The Tale of Vermor Castle

 

At the dawn of the new century, Vermor Castle was a proud building, full of the grace and splendour that characterised its inhabitants. A large family lived within its walls – descendents from the great King Vermor himself, who once ruled all of the White Stone area. Of course, those days are long over now. The head of this family was simply known as Lord Vermor, and his domain encompassed the castle grounds only. Nevertheless, many of the leaders of the surrounding villages still continued to look to Vermor for guidance and justice, for it was well-known that the family of Vermor was honourable and fair to a fault.

 

“And then what happened, Uncle?†The boy was fair-haired and tanned, a scrappy youth barely 7 years old, but already showing the promise of great height and breadth. His younger brother, a dark-haired, pale-faced 6-year-old, was playing in the corner with his cousin, a girl about two years his junior.

 

“Yes, what happened, Papa?†The girl left her playmate and climbed into her father’s lap. She was fair of skin and boasted a full, rich head of golden hair. Disgruntled, the younger boy left his fascinating toy boats and followed his cousin, sitting next to his brother. They were a study in contrast as they sat together – two young boys only separated by a year, and yet so wildly different in appearance and character. The old, grizzled sailor smiled, remembering another pair of boys who looked about the same. Then his smile turned sad.

 

“Then, one night, a foul mage crept into the castle and killed all of the Vermor family except for the youngest son, who happened to be away at the time taking a midnight stroll. He returned to find all of his family murdered, and vowed revenge on the mage who had did this to them. Alone, he went down into the dungeons of the castle and came face to face with the evil mage. The mage had heard him coming, however, and caused the staircase he was on to collapse, burying him in a pile of stone and wounding him dreadfully.â€

 

“Oh no!†the little girl gasped. The two boys stared wide-eyed at their uncle. They were trembling in suspense.

 

“Did he manage to escape? What happened?†the elder boy blurted out.

 

The old man smiled, patting his daughter’s head, and continued. “Don’t worry, dear heart. He survived. You see, although the stones had gashed his legs, they hadn’t hit his head. Eventually, he managed to pull himself out of the rubble, but by that time, the mage was gone. The man was able to stand – barely. His legs had been terribly cut open. He left the castle to find a healer…and was never seen again.â€

 

“What?! Is that all? What happened to him, Uncle?†the boys shouted, clamouring for more. “Did he go back to Vermor Castle? Where is he now?†They were jumping up and down with excitement.

 

“Nobody knows where he is, boys. And as for Vermor Castle, a hedge maze grew up after that day to surround it. Nobody knows how to get in anymore. I went there to check myself, and couldn’t find a way in.†The old man held his hand up to forestall arguments. “Now, that’s enough. I told you your story for the day. It’s time for bed. I still have customers to serve downstairs.â€

 

The old man tucked them into their beds, kissed his daughter good night, and then limped towards the stairs, closing the door behind him.

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“I’m telling you, Jarrett, it’s easy as pie! I’ve got it figured out.†The young man was flashing grins at every pretty face that walked past as he chatted with his younger brother. Most of those grins elicited a blushing response and a answering smile, as the village maids of Lakeside stepped quickly past the two young sailors from the docks. The dark-haired Jarrett ignored them and grunted.

 

“You’d better not let Uncle or Diana hear about your mad fantasies, Banner,†he advised. “After the Aunt Mardrin’s death, Uncle hasn’t been the same. And you’re NOT going to worry Diana by going off on another of your half-cocked adventures.†They came to a halt outside Lakeside Tavern and Inn. “It’s just as well that we’ve got a month’s leave from Captain Gaildren. You can’t get into much trouble here.â€

 

“You know, for someone who’s supposedly my younger brother, you’ve got the manner of a fussy parent.†Banner said, grinning at his brother. Jarrett smiled wryly. He could never hold out against Banner’s high spirits for long. His brother had talked him into doing the craziest things before, even against his better judgement. This was another matter, however.

 

“I’m serious, Banner. No talking about going into Vermor Castle in front of Uncle or Diana. You know how paranoid Uncle has been lately. Seems to think that that mage is going to come out and kill us all.†With that, he pushed open the door and entered into the noisy taproom of the Lakeside Tavern and Inn.

 

“Hey! It’s the Vermillion brothers!†one noisy sailor shouted. The room was full of good-humoured, boisterous raillery as the barroom patrons hailed the returning sailors and asked them about the trip. Banner immediately began an exaggerated account of all the adventures they had encountered on their latest voyage to the other continent. The assembled sailors crowded around him, leaving Jarrett to slip out of the crowd and go behind the bar. His cousin Diana was serving that day, and she handed him a towel. Jarrett gave another of his patented wry smiles and started collecting empty glasses.

 

“Still busy as always, eh, Di?â€

 

“Welcome back, Jare. Father’s missed you. He’s been fretting a lot. Without you boys around, and with Andrew taking leave to visit his sick mother, I’ve been trying to keep this bar from falling apart,†she said briskly, mixing drinks with one hand and collecting payment with the other. “He’s upstairs right now. Go and see him once that brother of yours finishes entertaining my customers.â€

 

Jarrett hid a smile. He had noticed that although she was talking to him, and serving the patrons at the bar, his cousin’s eyes had never left Banner’s face ever since they had entered the tavern. His brother had that kind of effect on people – young village girls in particular. There was just something about his tanned skin, fair hair, and native charm that attracted them to him like bees to honey. Diana was only 19 – she would get over it. Especially since marriage between cousins was severely frowned upon in Lakeside. He heaved a brief sigh and squeezed her shoulder in sympathy. She glanced at him briefly and gave a quick smile of appreciation. They had always been close. Even at a young age, they had played together, and she had confided to him secrets that she would never have told anyone, not even Banner. Still, it was Banner that captivated her attentions. They chatted for a little while longer, and then he pushed his way through the admiring crowd that had gathered around the erstwhile storyteller.

 

“…and then, just as it was about to attack me, Jarrett shot it through the eyes. The beast howled in agony and collapsed into a whimpering heap. Then, I pulled myself together, took out my trusty axe Pollix,†Banner brandished his double-headed war axe in a way that caused the nearest patrons to hastily backpedal, “and lopped off its head, right through the neck!†The cheers resounded through the room.

 

“Banner! Quit the horseplay! Uncle wants to see us!†Jarrett shouted above the noise. Banner looked up and then ruefully shook his head at the audience.

 

“Well, boys, looks like I’ve got to save the rest of the adventures for next time. Duty calls!†He was met with rowdy jeers and catcalls as he leapt off the table he had been sitting on, blew a kiss to Diana (who blushed), and followed his brother to the staircase. “Next time, I’ll tell you about the man-eating tree we fought on the Isle of Harta!†he shouted down at the dispersing crowd, before disappearing up the stairs.

 

Once he was out of view from the crowd beneath, his face turned serious. “How is he?†he asked his brother as they walked along the corridor to his uncle’s room.

 

“Not good. Di says he’s been worrying himself sick over us. He’s failing fast. All those years at sea must have finally caught up to him,†Jarrett’s face was somber. They didn’t say any more as they came to a halt outside their uncle’s door. Even behind the closed door, the smell of medicine was distinct. Jarrett opened the door. Banner went in and nearly choked on the overpowering odour of the herbs that filled the room. On the bed lay a thin, greying old man, who rose feebly from his prone position.

 

“Banner, Jarrett! You’re safe. Oh, thank Aluwen!†The old man’s voice was cracked and whispery. His eyes wandered from face to face as the young men came to sit by his bedside. He smiled faintly at the tears he thought he saw his nephews trying to hide. “Yes, it’s a big change, isn’t it? Two months ago, I was as hale and hearty as anything. Now, I’m barely a shadow of my former self.†He tried to laugh and broke off into a fit of coughing and wheezing.

 

Banner laid a hand on his uncle’s shoulder. “Don’t worry, Uncle. You’ll be over this sickness in no time! Why, you’ve travelled round the entire world! This is nothing to a crusty sailor like you!†Even he could detect the falsity in the cheerful words he said. He blinked to brush away the tears. His uncle had been the only father and parent he ever had – his hero. He had continued to raise the three of them after his beloved wife had died several years back, and had started the brothers off on the same ship that he had sailed. There was no way he would die now – still in the prime of his life.

 

The coughing fit had stopped, and the old man sank back into the pillows, exhausted. “Don’t fool yourself, Banner. I know I won’t make it through this storm. This old sailor knows when the sea comes to reclaim her own.†He gripped Banner’s hand tightly. “I’ve made preparations for you all…yes, preparations to claim your inheritance. Remember that, Banner. It falls to you by right. I said it all in my will. Golric has it. Go to him when I’ve sailed across the horizon.â€

 

Banner was confused. His uncle had started rambling on about someone called Adrian, and swearing revenge on him. Then, he dozed fitfully, calling out the name of his wife and daughter in turn, and cursing Adrian – whoever he was. Suddenly, the old man woke and stared piercingly at Banner. “Don’t let him get her!†He gripped Banner’s hand in a vicelike grip. “Promise me that, the both of you. Don’t let that foul Adrian get his hands on Diana.†He broke off into another fit of coughing.

 

Banner was frightened by the intensity of his uncle’s vehemence. “I promise, Uncle. Don’t worry…we’ll take care of Diana. Nothing will ever harm her,†he said, trying to soothe the old man.

 

“I promise too, Uncle,†Jarrett interjected. Banner shot him a glance. He had kept quiet during the entire time they had been up here. Jarrett looked back, and in his glance was the bitter truth. Banner recognised it, and sighed in defeat. He had known it in his heart, anyway. The years of experience with dying comrades on his adventures had taught him many hard lessons.

 

He turned back to his uncle, and found him about to doze off again, a peaceful smile on his face, as if content that the brothers would protect his daughter. Banner patted his hand as he and his brother rose to leave. “Don’t worry, uncle. Everything will be all right.â€

 

The last words he heard his uncle mumble before closing the door were, “It’s all right, boys. I’ve made preparations. Yes, I’ve made preparations…â€

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ohhh that conflicts perfectly with somethin i wrote for a quest :? In fact I just finished the lord vermor part...bah i wish could write stories that good because mines slightly cheesey..but i had to write it myself because no one wanted to help. Um..anyway thats just a story you decided to write right not anything official? :)

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Yes, sorry. Been pretty busy and lacked inspiration for a while. This is a 15-post story...all about this length. :P Will get working on it later. Going slowly.

Edited by Acelon

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The ageing scholar got up from his desk and removed some parchment from his wooden cabinet. Jarrett, Banner and Diana were seated in rather uncomfortable wooden chairs in front of the massive oak table in Golric’s office. At times, Jarrett still caught himself wondering whether the events of the past few days had really taken place or not. Did his Uncle really pass away the night after the brothers had visited him? Did they really bury him only yesterday? Did they…

 

Golric sat down again with a grunt, interrupting the train of Jarrett’s thoughts. He focused his eyes on his Uncle’s close friend and legal advisor. The scholar was famous for owning the largest private collection of books in the world, although some said that there was a rival collection somewhere in Grahm’s village. Golric cleared his throat, looked piercingly at each of the three Vermillions seated in front of him, and then began to read.

 

The Last Will and Testament of Sir Robert Vermor, alias Robert Vermillion.

 

I, Sir Robert Vermor, hereby do declare that I am the heir and possessor-by-right of Vermor Castle and its estates, in the continuing absence of my elder brothers, Lord Garic and Sir Harris Vermor. I also declare that I am the sole possessor of the building known as the Lakeside Inn and Tavern, and the ship Mardrin’s Deer, as well as sundry items and possessions, including a Titanium Serpent Sword, and the hereditary Cloak of Vermor.

 

My heirs and dependents are Banner Vermor, eldest son of my brother Garic, Lord of Vermor, Jarrett Vermor (of the same parentage), and my own daughter Diana. This testament hereby divides the assets that I possess in the following manner:

 

1) To the people of Lakeside, in gratitude for their support and help when I was without hope, I donate the ship Mardrin’s Deer, to be used for the public good. As my wife came from Corren Town, I would like it to be a link between our two villages, but I do not seek to enforce my wishes upon the populace.

 

2) To my daughter, Diana, I entrust the deeds and income of the Lakeside Inn and Tavern. It shall belong to her and her descendants in full, and I stipulate that it should not be sold unless the family honour is at stake. Neither should it come under the possession of the Vermor family estates, but it should remain as a separate entity. Upon the untimely death of my daughter or any of her descendants without heir, the possession of the building shall be revert to the Lakeside Municipal Council.

 

3) To my eldest nephew, Banner Vermor alias Banner Vermillion, I pass on the Lordship and possession of Vermor Castle and its estates, contingent upon the destruction of the mage Adrian, who has usurped our family seat and murdered our family. To aid him in his efforts, I also bequeath to him the Titanium Serpent Sword, currently in storage in Portland.

 

4) To my younger nephew, Jarrett Vermor alias Jarrett Vermillion, I bequeath the hereditary gift of the Vermors given to the youngest son of each generation: the Cloak of Vermor, passed down from the last King of Vermor Castle. Also, in the event of his brother’s untimely death without heir, I decree that the Lordship and possession of Vermor Castle and its estates shall pass to him.

 

5) Lastly, of my remaining possessions, I decree that they should be sold for money, and the proceeds to be divided equally between my nephews and the Church of Aluwen in Corren Town, in gratitude for their healing of my wounds. The division of the monies from the sale shall be handled by Golric, my close friend and advocate.

 

Thus, on this 4th Day of the 3rd Quartet, Aluwentia 2003, I hereby declare that I am of healthy mind and body, and do so sign this document to dispose of my belongings in the event of my death.

 

Signed,

 

Robert Vermor

<Lord of Vermor>

 

 

Witnessed by,

 

Golric Justix ,  Clark Gabble ,  Dan Smith

 

Jarrett fell back in his chair, stunned. He cast a quick look at the others. His brother looked equally shocked, and Diana was weeping quietly again. Thoughts whirled through his head: I’m a Vermor! Adrian killed my family. Uncle knew about it. Why didn’t he TELL us sooner?! What will happen now? Banner’s going to kill Adrian. I’m going to join him. No! Uncle made us promise to protect Diana. The hedge maze is impassable. Golric is lying. How can this be?

 

He stared at Golric again, who was looking at them with an inscrutable expression on his face, unable to utter a sound. The older man sighed, then turned away and fished a small piece of parchment from his pocket.

 

“I know it’s a great shock,†he sympathised. “Your uncle also wrote a short note addressed to you. He meant to tell you this himself, but I’m afraid the illness carried him off too fast. Luckily, your uncle was a man of great foresight, and would prepare against all eventualities. This was written specifically for the chance that he would not be able to tell you in person.â€

 

Golric held out the parchment to Banner. Seeing that his brother was still in a state of shock, Jarrett reached out with a trembling hand, took the note, and began to read in a faltering voice.

 

“My dear boys, and darling Diana,

 

I wish I could be there to break the news gently. But if you’re reading this, it must mean that Death has carried me off too fast to tell you. My children, our family name is not Vermillion. That was a name I took to disguise myself among the peasantry of Lakeside, when I did not wish to be recognised during my travels as a sailor. In actual fact, you three are of the family of Vermor, as am I. I was the youngest son that got away in that story that I told you. The story wasn’t exactly accurate. I didn’t return to find my family completely murdered. My sister-in-law – your mother, boys – lived long enough to tell me where she had hidden you. I took you to a friend of mine – a fur trapper in Tirnwood Vale – and entrusted you into his care before I went back and confronted Adrian. It was there that I got my leg wound – not from the pirates that I told you about.

 

I escaped to Corren Town, where I wandered into the Church of Aluwen there. The priests there healed me, and a beautiful young novitiate nursed me through my recovery. That was how I met your mother, my dear Diana. After I had recovered, I sought to hide myself among the people of Corren Town for a while, but eventually your mother convinced me that it was important for me to return to White Stone and face my past. I reclaimed you boys from my friend, and have spent the last two decades researching into advanced weaponry with the help of Golric and Dan the librarian, in order to discover a weapon that would be able to kill the mage.

 

I had to earn enough money to support the family and pay for the sword, so I switched from a sailor to a barkeep, to stay close to you. Now, the preparations are made. After my beloved Mardrin’s death, I have nothing left to live for. You three are grown-up now and able to make your way in the world. I am going to make one last expedition to Vermor Castle to reclaim my heritage. I leave this note behind with Golric in case I do not come back. Think well of me when I’m gone, and know that I’ve tried my best.

 

I love you all.â€

 

Banner stared at Golric in puzzlement. “Uncle was planning to leave us?â€

 

Golric sighed and replied, “That was written just before he was struck down by that sickness. When he realised that he would probably not recover, he called me and a few friends and wrote out his will in front of us to witness.â€

 

Banner found Jarrett looking at him intently. “What do we do now?†Jarrett asked. A new weight and determination settled over him.

 

“What else? We pick up that sword, avenge our family, and reclaim our castle.â€

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“Wait here,†the elf said, stopping in front of a door. As William disappeared into the back room of the massive storehouse in Portland, Banner and Jarrett exchanged amused glances. The old grouch never seemed to crack a smile, from the moment the brothers had met him many years ago on their maiden voyage. They had made a bet that the first person who could make the elf laugh would choose where they would eventually settle down and get married. Seven years later, and the decision had still not been made.

 

Of course, that all was changed now that they knew where their ancestral seat was.

 

“I wonder what it will look like?†said Banner, fidgeting slightly. His face was flushed, and his hands were twitching. “Never actually HAD anything made of titanium before.†Jarrett half-listened to his brother’s tense comments as he fiddled with the clasp around his throat, trying to adjust it to rest more easily around his collarbones. The Cloak of Vermor was a fairly nondescript green cloak with a neck clasp made of gold – which was rather uncomfortable. It didn’t seem like something a King would wear, or fulfil any of Jarrett’s ideas about what ancient family heirlooms were like. The blasted thing was itchy and hot. But nevertheless, out of respect for his uncle, Jarrett had made a vow to wear it every time he went out.

 

Banner started pacing the floor, thinking aloud. “Once we get the sword, we get back to Lakeside as fast as we can, buy some food using the money from Uncle’s will, and get hopping to Vermor Castle. It shouldn’t take us more than two days…unless maybe my idea won’t work.â€

 

Jarrett looked up. “Banner, don’t be an idiot. You don’t know the first thing about sword-fighting. All you’ve done is charge into every battle with that axe of yours. How are you going to defeat a mage if you don’t know how to use the weapon?â€

 

“Well, I was thinking of…†Banner faltered, then grinned sheepishly. “I guess I didn’t think of that. We’re going to need some practice, aren’t we?â€

 

“You said it. Besides, you really think the two of us are going to survive against whatever that mage has been doing for the past twenty years or so? We’d better recruit an army to go along with us.â€

 

“Aw, come on, Jare – it can’t be that bad. We did survive quite a few battles on our own before. I think we can handle him just fine by ourselves. The Brothers Vermillion – I mean Vermor – eh? We burned down that man-eating tree, killed the dreaded Beast of Jupta, fought off those cannibals and witch-doctors...we can take a mage. Besides, we don’t have the money to recruit an army. And who’d follow us if we claimed to be Vermors? They’d laugh us out of town!â€

 

“Banner, you’re forgetting that this guy killed our entire family! He won’t be that easy to take down. But you’re right about us being laughed out of town,†Jarrett sighed. “Okay, how about…â€

 

The door banged open, and William came out carrying an ornately-carved sword. “Well, there you go,†he muttered, handing it to Banner. “Your uncle left that here and said he would pick it up someday. The old codger never came back to collect, and I’ve had to sprain my back each time Maggi told me to take inventory...†He continued mumbling complaints to himself as Banner slowly lifted the wave-shaped sword in both hands.

 

“It’s a pretty light sword,†he grinned, as he took a few practice swings. Jarrett and William prudently stepped back. His admiring eyes traced the intricate carvings on the gleaming blade as it pointed towards the ceiling. Jarrett looked on in silence, and with a twinge of jealousy. He gets this beautiful sword, and all I’ve got is a warm green cloak. He pushed that thought out of his mind and focused on the task at hand.

 

“Come on, Banner, we’ve got to get going. The captain’s not going to like us being late, especially since he’s doing us a favour by coming out here.†Jarrett towed his brother towards the door. Banner’s eyes were still gazing at the sword, falling in love with it. Jarrett looked on in exasperation as he pushed his brother out into the streets of Portland. “Bye William! That’s the last you’ll see of us!†he shouted back into the storehouse. “Now you’ll only get to sprain your back twice in a month, instead of three times!†For a moment, Jarrett thought he saw the flicker of a smile cross the somber elf’s face, but it was gone before he could catch it.

 

The streets outside were bustling with people, but they all paused to gawk at the huge sword and the large man carrying it. Some warriors near the tavern looked on enviously as the brothers hurried to the docks. Jarrett breathed a sigh of relief as they rounded the corner and saw Captain Gaildren shouting orders to the dockworkers aboard the Good Mary.

 

“If you so much as get a scratch on that box, I’ll gut you with a fishing-hook and use your entrails as shark bait!†he was roaring, as some handlers slipped and nearly dropped an ornately-carved crate. He noticed the brothers hurrying towards the ship. “About time, you slowpokes! Is that oversized table knife the reason that you dragged me and my crew out to this place at the beginning of the storm season?!†Both Banner and Jarrett grinned at the rough sailor’s good-natured insults. They knew their Captain well to see past his brusque manners. His bark was usually a lot worse than his bite. As they walked up the gangplank, one of the handlers lost his grip on the crate and it wobbled out of control, smashing into the cobblestoned path. Captain Gaildren looked murderous. “That’s it! I’m going to pluck out your eyeballs personally and pee on them!†He jumped down from the ship and ran towards the dockworkers, followed by several of his sailors.

 

Jarrett rolled his eyes. “Not again,†he said, as the brawl started behind him.

 

A few days later, after they had bailed their shipmates out and finally arrived back at Lakeside, Banner and Jarrett sat in their room and counted the money from the sale of their Uncle’s possessions.

 

“All in all, it comes out to seven hundred and forty-three gold coins,†Jarrett said, closing the account book wearily. Banner checked the piles of coins in front of him, made some quick calculations on the tally sheet he was holding, and concurred. Jarrett leaned back against the bed and sighed. “Well, we’ve got enough to buy us provisions for about six months, or maybe hire a couple of mercenaries for a few weeks.â€

 

Banner made some quick decisions. “All right then. We don’t really need supplies for six months. We can probably take back Vermor Castle in a couple of days, maximum. All we need is a short period of time to figure out how to get past the hedge maze. It’s also the stormy season now, so there are a lot of adventurers and sailors with nothing to do. Let’s just put out an advertisement for people who would be willing to come along with us.â€

 

Jarrett considered it for a while. “Sounds good to me,†he said, getting up.

 

 

Brave Adventurers Wanted!

 

The Vermillion brothers are looking for brave souls to accompany them on a quest to explore Vermor Castle and uncover its’ secrets. Danger and excitement guaranteed. Payment of 200 gold coins each upon successful outcome of the venture. Anyone interested, talk to Banner or Jarrett Vermillion at the Lakeside Inn & Tavern.

 

 

Banner finished hammering the notice to the outside of the tavern door, and then went back inside and sat down at a table next to his brother.

 

“Now we wait.â€

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oh man that is a great story so far.

you have nice and smooth writing lyanna

i give this story two thumbs up yeeyah :lol:

 

 

 

do u like mortos? :twisted:

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Weeee! A story bout me! I LOVE it so far and cant wait to read it all!Lyanna, you rock. :D

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I love it!!! We will make this one official for sure! :)

 

One inaccuracy I found though:

titanium=light. The sword would not be heavy at all ;)

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Sorry...I'm a bit stuck right now. I have the story outline traced in easily, but I've got difficulty trying to write the romance in. No experience, you see. :wink: The next part is where I introduce the love interest, and I have NO idea how to go about it.. :?

 

Do you think the story would benefit from having a girl in the party for Jarrett to fall in love with, or should I make it an all-guy action-adventure? I'm open to suggestions and comments.

 

Oh, and someone please check up on my mistakes. I obviously can't edit myself very well. Thanks for the tip, Roja - always though titanium was heavy, thought. It's aluminium that's light, isn't it?

 

Once I can figure out how to tell a love story, or get a lot of boos about that idea, I can continue.

 

-Lyn-

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If you are having trouble with the romance, I dont mind if u leave it out ;) Gotta love the action :lol:

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Well, here goes... I'm going to have to build up the love subplot slowly...

 

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

“Any luck?†Banner asked.

 

Jarrett shook his head and dropped into the chair his brother pulled up. “No good. I spent the whole day down at the docks, talking to Hulling, Kirtan, Pishgar, and the rest. Everyone’s either too busy or has other plans.†He gave a tired smile. “Hulling’s finally planning to propose to Rhinda next week. Captain Gaildren’s going to love that.†The brothers shared a chuckle at the thought of the Captain’s reaction to his prospective son-in-law. It was a good time to be away from the docks.

 

Jarrett gave a cursory glance around the tavern. It was beginning to fill up with the evening crowd. Diana was bustling about as usual, serving tables and berating Andrew for mixing the wrong drinks. Every now and then, her eyes strayed to the dark corner where Banner and Jarrett – especially Banner – sat. “Any luck on your side?†he asked.

 

“Nope,†Banner replied. “I’ve been sitting here all day too, and no one’s asked about the notice. Didn’t realise it was going to be so difficult to find adventurers.â€

 

“Well, you know it’s only because the weather’s been unusually good this year. The sea’s as flat as a mirror, and there hasn’t been a good squall since last spring.â€

 

“I know, but how does that help US? We’re stuck here because there’s no one that’s willing to go to Vermor Castle with us, and we can’t fight that mage alone,†Banner said, with not a small amount of frustration. Nearby bar patrons looked up for a moment before returning to their drinks and conversations.

 

A hulking dark-skinned Orchan rose from a seat at the far end of the tavern and made his way to them. He was a brutish-looking fellow, with ragged scars lining both cheeks and an aura of fearsome danger hanging around him. He was wearing what looked to be a suit of custom-made leather armour, adorned with colourful tassels that somehow seemed incongruous with the other aspects of his garb. At his side swung a finely-crafted steel sword of a make that Banner was unfamiliar with – but then again, he reflected, he was no expert in swords.

 

The warrior glanced critically at the both of them, then looked at Banner and grunted out, “You two the Vermillion brothers?†Out of the corner of his eye, Banner could see his brother eyeing the stranger rather dubiously. Jare was too cautious at times.

 

“Yeah, we’re the Vermillion brothers,†Banner replied, trying to match gruffness with gruffness. “You here about the job?â€

 

He dropped into the seat opposite Banner and shrugged. “It depends on whether it’s worth it. I got a partner too. What'cha you offering?â€

 

Jarrett pulled Banner aside a little and whispered. “Banner, I don’t think he’s exactly what we’re looking for. I mean, he look mean and tough, but what’s that got to do with magic? Looks too dumb to be of any use. And you know what they say about mages being able to control weak minds easily…â€

 

“We don’t have much choice, Jare,†Banner hissed back. “It’s already been two weeks. Just leave it to me.†He turned back to the orchan and said aloud, “Two hundred gold coins each – for both you and your partner, if we succeed in our mission. But it’ll also depend on how well you and your partner perform. Anyway, where IS your part–â€

 

He was interrupted by a commotion at the bar. A drunken sailor was roaring out a bawdy song and stumbling around the room. The sailor bumped into cloaked figure, causing the hood to fall back and reveal a stunningly-beautiful Elven girl. He lurched towards the girl, belched, and peered blearily at her, brightening as he saw her face. “Hey, you’re a pretty girl. What’s say you and me go upstairs and enjoy ourselves a little?†He threw an arm around her and attempted to plant a slobbering kiss.

 

“Get off me,†the girl said, in a cold voice. She deftly sidestepped out of the man’s way and was about to proceed when he grabbed her from behind.

 

“See here, girlie. Garlet don’t take no for an answer. I’ma gonna –hic– give you the time of your life. You just come with ol’ Garlet.†He dragged her to him and was about try kissing her again when he found a knife blocking his neck from getting any closer. The girl was holding it.

 

“How about this for an answer, then?†she said, and drove her knee between his legs. The sailor collapsed in agony as she coolly slipped the knife back inside the folds of her robe. Banner and Jarrett sat stunned, while the orchan let out a roar of laughter and waved his hand. The girl saw it and proceeded to make her way to their table, sitting down opposite Jarrett. Behind her, Diana and Andrew were helping Garlet out of the tavern, still moaning in pain.

 

Chuckling, the orchan said, “You wanted to know who my partner was, eh? Gentlemen, meet Alyssa. She’ll cut your tripes out just as soon as she will your enemy’s.†The orchan smiled slyly, “provided the price is right, of course.†Alyssa gave a brief, cool stare in reply to the brothers’ slightly amazed gazes.

 

“Purgul, get back to business,†she told the orchan.

 

“Yes, Alyssa,†the orchan named Purgul straightened up, and his features lost their dull, semi-idiotic aspect. It must have been a blind, Banner realised, to throw people off his actual intelligence. The eyes that met his now were certainly not those of a brainless meathead. He began to fire questions rapidly at Banner.

 

“Any promise of loot?â€

 

“No.â€

 

“What sort of danger are we looking at?â€

 

“We’re going to kill a mage that’s occupying Vermor Castle at the moment.â€

 

The orchan gave a low whistle. “You don’t say. Heard about that incident, when I was a young ‘un. Some sorta wizard butchered the entire Vermor family, didn’t he?â€

 

Banner felt his face hardening at the thought. “Yes.â€

 

“How long’s the job?â€

 

“It depends. Finding a way into the castle may take a while. Killing the mage and whatever he’s got inside would take less than a day. A month, at most.â€

 

“And you expect to pay us a lousy two hundred coins for an entire month, as well for putting our lives on the line against a mage?â€

 

“We’ll also provide money for all food, supplies, and other expenses along the way.â€

 

The orchan shook his head. “No way. Even with that, I’d expect at least three hundred and fifty. Up front, too.â€

 

“You must think I’m crazy,†Banner rebuffed. “How can I trust you to stick around after I’ve paid you? Okay, I’m willing to go as high as two hundred and forty – after we’ve completed the job.â€

 

“You’re out of your mind,†Purgul snorted. They then got down to the serious business of haggling. As his brother continued to trade offers with the orchan, Jarrett gazed at the figure that sat opposite him. He hadn’t taken his eyes off her since the hood had fallen. She had glossy jet-black hair that fell to her shoulders, softly encircling her oval face. Despite her wintry disposition, she did not look like a person who was naturally harsh by nature. Her large, blue-grey eyes were seemed to be more appropriate for a dreamer than a cold-blooded mercenary. Her neck was a graceful as a swan’s, leading down to a body which was concealed by the robe she wore, but which Jarrett had no doubt would prove to be as appealing as the rest of her visible parts. Her hands were folded in her lap, and she sat almost perfectly still, reminding Jarrett of a statue he had seen once. Only her glorious eyes gave any indication that she was, in fact, paying close attention to everything happening around her. They flickered from side to side, watching sudden movements, measuring distances, and then unexpectedly focused on Jarrett.

 

He became uncomfortably aware of the fact that he was staring and quickly lowered his gaze, coughing slightly to hide his embarrassment. Unlike his brother, Jarrett had had almost no experience with girls, since he was almost invariably seen in the company of Banner – and hence had come off second-best by comparison. A rather strange, light-headed mood had taken hold of him, making his gaze continually wander in the direction of the girl, but he firmly told himself to pay attention to negotiations.

 

“All right, two hundred and fifty each – half now and half upon completion of the job. We’ll bear all the expenses. And that’s my final offer, take or leave it,†Banner’s voice was firm and he straightened in his seat.

 

Purgul looked inclined to argue the point further, but checked himself and agreed rather reluctantly. “All right, done. So when are you planning to leave?â€

 

Banner’s voice was triumphant. “We’ve been preparing for two weeks. Everything’s ready now. We leave at first light tomorrow for Vermor Castle!â€

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Here I go, trying out a slightly different descriptive style and working in a small love interest as practice.

 

--------------------------------------------------------------------

 

The sun rose. An owl, winging its way from a successful night’s hunt, swooped over a sleepy village near the shore. A lazy stream of smoke rose from a chimney, evidence of a diligent housewife rising to prepare breakfast. A solitary rabbit hopped into view. The owl began to dive, but evidently decided that he was full already, and veered to the west. It let out a screech of triumph before entering the hollow tree that was its home, startling a golden-haired girl who was closing the door of a large grey building behind her.

 

Diana jumped slightly at the sound of an owl’s cries, and then blushed at her own surprise. It had been a long time since she had been out this early in the morning, so she wasn’t used to the noises creatures made at night. She wondered if he had noticed it, and would laugh at her. She couldn’t bear the thought of being made fun of – especially by him. He did it all the time to other girls – she had seen him and them joking and laughing together, and often wished she could join them. But every time she was near him, her brain wouldn’t function properly, and she could only talk of mundane, boring things. Safe things. Cousinly things, she thought with a hint of scorn. Jarrett knew. She never had problems talking with him, but why...?

 

The orchan and elf were waiting for them at the windmill. Diana walked with her cousin on one side, and another... cousin... on the other side. She looked at the two figures waiting below the revolving vanes. The elf girl was very pretty. And she was not afraid of anything, too. That sailor Garlet wouldn’t be walking straight for some time. Diana knew she could never do that. If it wasn’t for her two big relatives – and Andrew – she would have had to succumb to the indignity of having her bottom slapped by him. Diana wouldn’t have had the courage to stand up to him like that. In a small corner of her mind, she wondered if he liked women who were brave and could fight.

 

They had arrived. The scarred orchan greeted them with a roar of welcome, and the Elven girl nodded calmly. All too quickly, they were sorting out provisions and gear, and referring to maps. Diana was in a confused whirl of emotions. Finally, they turned to her. It was time for them to leave. She would not cry – she wouldn’t. She shook the moisture out of her eyes and forced a smile onto her face.

 

“See you soon, Di! We’ll be back within the month,†Banner enthused, gripping her in a bear hug, just as he used to do when they were children. Diana couldn’t trust herself to speak, so she just nodded and hugged back, as tightly as she dared. Banner let her go suddenly, gave her a grin, and turned to tighten one of the straps on his backpack. Jarrett came up to her and hugged her gently.

 

“Take care of yourself, Jare,†she said, her voice trembling with fear for them both. They were going to face such great danger. Who knew what a mage could do to them? “And, and – take care of him too.â€

 

She felt Jarrett nod against her shoulder. “Don’t worry,†he said. “I’ll bring us both back safely. You take good care of yourself, okay? Don’t overwork yourself in the tavern, and get Andrew to help all you can. We’ll be back as soon as possible.†He released her and went to join the other three, waiting for him. Banner tossed a farewell wave over his shoulder to her as they began to walk north, and she lifted a hand in response, dropping it when they were out of sight.

 

A hawk soared in the open sky, easily dodging the big rotating vanes of the windmill. It watched the ground, and saw four figures walking north along an ill-used road, and one solitary figure walking back south, alone. It peered closer for a moment, long enough to see tears falling from the single forlorn individual trudging south. Then the hawk saw a rabbit moving in the underbrush and dived, forgetting the momentary flicker of interest it had.

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Thanks, brain. Made some minor edits, took care of the titanium weight correction, and readjusted the quotes to fit these Forum styles. Got an idea for the next post, but not yet. :blink:

 

-Lyn-

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Since I was talking with Lyanna and she said she is a storywrite I got a little bit interested...so I will drop

a line (I know you all are so happy because of this) so...story is nice, nice vocabulary and technique but...

it is so common, that story has been told hundreds of times, I see nothing original here. But maybe

it was Lyanna's intenetion to do it that way...no idea. I am not telling that Lyanna sucks as storywriter,

the story is very nice I am only saying that fabule of story was copied from very popular schema. ;-)

 

Regards.

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You're right...it IS unoriginal. Actually, I was basing this particular story on the writing style of David Eddings (author of the Belgariad, Malleoreon, and other books). It's not meant to be a strongly-crafted story, but "pop fiction", if you like. Cliched characters, typical quest-style, etc. There IS a twist at the end, though - if I ever manage to get to it.

 

-Lyn-

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What I did notice: In the beginning, the young man (uncle) escapes from the castle and the mage was gone....

While later in the story there's just being assumed he's got hold of it ;)

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