start of a new day
I woke to the sound of birds chirping. Sunlight leaked through my window spilling across the room. Pushing the darkness away. I sat up pushing the covers away. The smell of my small room was terrible but I had gotten used to it by now. Well, I had to make do with it, for my job as a mill worker did not pay much.
My parents had sent me to live alone a long time ago. I had gotten a job and went on from there. I had made a friend at work. He was a confident man. But he was foolhardy.
I put on my cloak and walked out of the oak wood door. The burst of sunlight was almost blinding. I winced as my eyes adjusted. The rocky streets were mostly empty. A few people chatted here and there but everyone else was asleep.
“Kyan how are you?” The sound of Tom’s voice surprised me. I turned to see my friend. His brown hair was neatly combed. It seemed out of place because his clothes were dusty.
“Well you know same old same old,” I said as we walked and talked. The mill was a way away so we always got up early to walk there.
We walked down the cold stone street. We walked past small houses of workers and mansions of the noblemen. We always wondered what it was like to be a nobleman. We would never know.
As we walked the houses slowly became less frequent. And slowly there were no longer any houses, only trees, and the ground went from stone pavement to dew-stained grass. Some of them were spruce, some of them are in the dark wood. Most of their leaves had changed color. The air was crisp and calming.
“I love this time of year. The crisp air, the colors and not only that but the fall festival is coming up,” Tom said. The fall festival was one of the town’s traditions. Where everyone came together and ate.
“I have to agree,” I respond. The sounds of the leaves underfoot are very satisfying. The mill could be seen ahead. It towered over the trees making them look small in comparison.
“We best get going,” Tom said running to the mill. I ran after him. The master of the mill greeted us and then we went to work.
Our work was done for the day. I was tired but I was used to my heavy eyelids. Tom and I walked through the forest. Something rustled in the bushes. We both jumped at the sound.
“Who’s there?” Tom shouted at the bush. It continued to shake. Slowly a man in a dark purple cloak and hat jumped out of the bushes. His cloak covered his body, concealing what he looked like.
Who was he? An outlaw? No, he looked nothing like an outlaw. He didn’t have the seal of a guard. So who was he? Could he be a mage? It was a possibility.
“Who the h*ll are you?” Tom questioned further.
“May I walk with you?” the man asked, ignoring Tom’s question.
“Answer me,” Tom demanded. The man did not answer, he just walked the way we had been going. Tom looked at me confused. I just shrugged not knowing what to make of the situation.
We walked with the man for the rest of the way. He hummed a tune that I did not recognize. It was very catchy and cheerful. Soon we came to the village. There were many more people in the streets than in the morning. Most of them were running around doing different tasks.
I could see two people fighting in the streets. Those were getting more and more frequent. Some ignored them others watched the two people brawl. Some even bet on who would win. The man in the purple cloak walked over to the fight.
What was he doing? Was he going to watch? Why would a mage watch two people fight? Was he even a mage? He was very mysterious. But he had not done anything to allow me to understand him.
Suddenly he pushed the two people away from each other. The two people who had been fighting turned their attention to the purple man. One of them threw a punch at the man out of anger. The purple man easily moved out of the way. The other man who had been fighting picked up a nearby glass bottle.
He threw the empty bottle. The purple man grabbed it mid-air becoming a blur of speed and cloth. The two men who had been fighting seemed surprised. The purple man used this as an opportunity to attack. He broke the bottle over the man who had thrown it. The man slumped on the ground. He was out cold from the blow. The man in the purple cloak walked over and retrieved the now broken bottle.
The man who was still standing pulled out a small knife. He swung it at the purple man. He parried it with his now broken bottle. It barely held the knife before shattering.
The purple man discarded the mostly broken bottle, throwing it aside. The man thrust his knife at the purple man. Purple easily doged and gripped the man’s arm. He put the man’s arm behind his back. Then the purple man pushed him to the ground. The man slowly got off of the ground and ran.
No one could be that strong or agile. He was absolutely a mage. Onlookers backed away knowing the same as I that the purple man was dangerous. Even so, he still hummed his little tune as he walked over.
“Why would you do that?” Tom asked confused why he would help the two strangers from killing each other.
“They were fighting. They could have killed each other,” the man said nicely.
“Why should we care if there are always fights? Not to mention the people who go around killing in alleyways,” Tom said. It was harsh but it was the truth people were always dying.
“We can’t save them all but we can at least try,” the purple man argued. Picking up the man that he had knocked unconscious.
“Well didn’t you knock that man out?” I argued. The purple man stopped and looked around at us.
“Don’t pick fights you can’t win,” he said. The words make me cringe. I did not want to end up like the two other people. I walked back hoping Tom would follow.
Tom stood his ground. He was always the kind of guy to stand up even when he had no chance. I could tell the purple man was getting sick of him. I could tell that Tom was doomed. Some would call it bravery. I would have to call it foolishness, for the purple man had taken down two armed opponents at the same time.
The purple man put down the unconscious person he had been carrying. Then he took a step towards Tom. They seemed to be sizing each other up.
“Tom, let’s just go,” I said, trying to talk him out of it. He just stood there ignoring me. He continued to stare down the purple man.
The purple man reached into his hat and took it off. His hair was dark blood-red. One of his eyes was covered with a white patch. He had a grin on his face.
“Kid you remind me of when I was a child. Always so stupid trying to seem brave... when really you're just as afraid as your friend is. you wouldn't last long against a dog, let alone me,” the man said putting back on his hat.
“Prove it then,” Tom said challengingly. I believed the man. He had taken down the two men with ease, and he spoke in a sincere tone.
“It's your d*mn funeral,” the man said. A scythe appeared in his hands as he ran forward. His cloak waving in the wind as he ran. Tom unsheathed a knife. Everyone carried one, even if it was illegal. Even the least important person had a knife or two.
The man was indeed a mage. He had made a scythe appear out of thin air. No regular man could beat a mage.
I ran out to help Tom. I knew how to read people like books. By how they act and what they say. You just have to focus. The purple man wanted to help others. He would never hurt someone unless it meant helping others, but he was angered quickly and became rash when he was.
People are like books. All you have to do is stare at them and you can learn their secrets. I indeed was a poet. One of the few people who knew how to read. I did not have the money for books but my parents worked hard and found enough time to teach me.
I stood in front of Tom as the purple man struck. I had gotten there just in time. I was right. The purple man stopped before the scythe came down on the two of us. It disintegrated soon after it stopped. The man seemed touched by what I had done.
“Come with me,” the man said after a moment of silence. I looked at Tom. He didn’t seem to like the idea, but he nodded. I was glad we were not fighting. The purple man picked up the still unconscious man.
“I am Wyatt. Who are you?” Wyatt asked.
“I am Kyan and this is Tom,” I said. We continued to walk with the unconscious man. We walked in silence for a while. Wyatt seemed to be thinking about something.
“So I was thinking. You guys work at a mill. You guys seem strong so I have to ask, Do you two know anything about combat?” Wyatt asked, looking at me and Tom.
“Well, we know the basics. But why do you care?” Tom asked suspiciously. I was wondering why he needed to know as well.
Wyatt chuckled. “You really are like me. Always wondering why and being paranoid. Well, you want more pay I am guessing,” he said as we walked into an alleyway.
“Well, who doesn’t?” I said as a joke. But it was true, the workers were paid very poorly. Most could barely afford to live in a house.
“I have a group of people that do...things and I was wondering if you would like to join us in one of our jobs. You would of course be paid handsomely if we succeed,” Wyatt said, putting the man he had been carrying on the side of the alleyway.
I looked at Tom. He seemed to like the idea. But I was unsure. What did he want us to do exactly? Why would a mage need help?
“What kind of job?” I asked. Wyatt took off his hat and put it on the man in the alleyway. It was a marker I could tell. To tell everyone that he was here.
“I am part of an elite group that wants to overthrow the king. We are going to raid a supply cart that is coming to the city. It is not only filled with food but with riches. From what we have gathered only ten guards are protecting the cart. So now that you know the truth what will it be?” Wyatt said looking at us with his one remaining eye.
The king was terrible. He hired people to join the marsh. The marsh was the people who kept everyone from being outspoken. The king did not care who got hurt in the process as long as he got what he wanted. People tried to kill him but he was the strongest mage anyone had ever seen.
“We’ll do it,” Tom said quickly. Wyatt chuckled. As he walked down the street.
“Come on, you have to introduce yourselves to the gang,” Wyatt said.