Chronicles of Noctra: Age of Legends

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Chapter Eleven

Patri didn’t count himself an unlucky man.

Fortune had played its hand many times in his life. He’d been born to a loving low-class woman who happened to marry a big dull brute that just barely made it onto The White’s personal guard. Yes, his father worked like a madman and slew like one too, the skill behind that man’s blade kept his family sheltered and fed.

His death had made them rich.

Traditionally, when a White’s Guard died, the family was ensured to receive a stipend the same amount as the officer’s salary, however, Patri’s father took a blade for Councilor White when a Trallen delegate had gone into a drunken rage at the councilor’s remark. Policy in Blancana stated no guard could assault a diplomat without verbal command, which was not given.

To accommodate his father’s brave sacrifice knowing there would be no retribution, Patri and his mother were given a very large sum of money which came with a brand new estate. Yes, they were granted a great gift of fortune and in the end, it killed his mother. She couldn’t bury her sorrows in anything or anyone she possessed.

To make matters worse, Patri’s mother saw only her dead husband when she looked upon him and she wasn’t strong enough for that, young Patri could see it tearing her apart; saw clearly in her eyes the moment she had decided it was all too much. The servants found the body, arranged her funeral, and within days the entire estate was his. A young boy as wealthy as a low noble family was more than enough to draw attention in Blancana in those days.

Mainly the attention of thieves.

He was absolutely fortunate though, some of the... kinder thieves had found Patri, worked with him, and went on their merry way without gutting the young boy. He’d become a major resource for them and they always paid back in kind. That lasted until the war when Grand Councilor White had declared all thieves guilds and Nomads guilty of aiding in an unsuccessful rebellion against the White and his “progress”.

Blood had rolled down the cobblestone streets and marbled roads for days on end, mingling with the ash of countless fires until Patri was the only member left. Yet again, fortune smiled on him. Before they found Patri and executed him like rotten livestock, Senfe came barrelling in and knocked him unconscious. She was pissed they hadn’t meant her so she went to see who was supposedly the true last thief to prove her mettle and found a useless, middle-aged man who went down in one blow.

“Fortune has not blessed me with healthy hair, though I am younger than I look!“, was all Patri could manage in reply and this made her burst into tears laughing. Since then, with her by his side, he’d remained master of the only thief guild left in Blancana, ‘The Tainted’. No, Patri didn’t consider himself an unlucky man, nor a fortunate one. More or less, Patri considered himself a simple man who had been born into extraordinary circumstances and made enough bad decisions to keep things interesting all the while.

When Amberosin had decided to cut him all to shit, each meager slice and vulgar gash seemingly on one vital point or another, Patri had thought his life was finally over. Patri knew how much the young woman had lost to SynthEs, how much they’d all lost since it’s widespread introduction; having her nearly kill him wasn’t fair.

Patri had faded into blackness after the last cut, warm and welcoming, for what seemed a mere moment before being ravaged by the ever-persistent pain of reality. “Five full fucking days you laze about, all for some stupid ten-minute thrill,” Senfe stated from the corner of his room, nearly scaring Patri to the point of passing right back out. She only laughed at the pale, silent shock on his face and that laugh brought Patri back to himself, as always.

“Aye, I’ll take a five-day nap over five days of your harping, my love.” Patri couldn’t help but smile at her. Through the burning of each cut and throbbing of every fresh hole that would soon add to his collection of scars, he felt peace knowing they were still the same. Senfe had slowly walked over to his bedside in a dramatic and slow fashion as not to startle him again.

Her weight had just hit the bed behind him when she leaned close against his back with a soft chin on Patri’s scarred shoulders and spoke directly into his ear, “She saved your life with all those holes ya’ know? I didn’t get it at first, actually thought she was just pissed off enough to end you but guess what? You didn’t have a single puke or shiver coming off that nasty shit. You owe her.” Creator did he. As soon as he was healed enough to venture and fight on his own Patri set out to find Amberosin.

Bounding across rooftops and into the depths of each alley, nook, and cranny of Blancana, Patri searched tirelessly. By the fourth night searching, he felt ready to call it off, assuming her dead or far away by now. That night, as a last-ditch effort, Patri had gone off to ask Ole Lenny Loose-lips if he had seen Amberosin around recently. Lenny man had been an informant for everyone in his prime, though that all stopped just before the Fracturing when Councilor White enacted a new city guard.

No telling what he had seen on the streets following the Nu’ Decrees. Patri eventually spotted the drunken tale spinner about a street down from where he’d had his own drinks. Len had been mumbling rather loudly to himself as Patri made his approach so neither had heard the hooded man walking down the southern road; fortunately, Patri spotted him doing his usual peek around for any unfriendly shadows.

Hoping he hadn’t been seen by either man yet Patri dove behind a nearby stone wall and kept silent; the old guild leader recognized the metallic smell of blood on the stranger. Patri could only barely hear them from where he lay and inched over to try and sneak a look at the two. “Huh? All that… for.. For what, uh, sir? I didn’t… I didn’t do anything for you.” Lenny had stammered and stuttered through but even his drunkenness couldn’t drown out the elation in his voice.

Patri had gotten to the small stone walls edge in time to see Lenny throw his cloak to the stranger and run down the street like a man possessed. Patri didn’t let his eyes leave the bandaged man and after a few minutes sitting in a way that mimicked Len in a flawless manner, the bandages began to shift, to fade, and swirl out of existence until an image of Lenny sat beneath a heavy shadow.

Patri couldn’t see his eyes but he did see a small smile.

Patri nearly lost himself thinking about how useful such a skill could be to the guild when he saw Amberosin sprinting from the shadows, also from the south. Patri feared she would find him hiding there like a cretin and that was not where he wanted to start their next interaction. It took every fiber of his numb, tense, exhausted body not to spring up and run when yet another figure approached from the southern shadows only moments later.

“Oh for fucksake, the youngin has lost her mind.

Even he could see that Amberosin had not eaten well as of late. That sack she had tied around her was likely a desperate last-ditch effort to survive and here she was facing the Heria. Patri cursed the hooded man for not intervening as the Alta and Amberosin collided. Amberosin could not cast and was obviously relying on a waning ferocity; any decent person would help. Well, almost any. By the time Patri resolved to join the fray for the young woman, she was gone, Heria chasing after her with unbelievable speed. Before they’d even gone out of view the bandaged stranger had stood, looking like himself once more, and started his way after them as he shot Patri a quick salute freezing Patri’s blood.

He knew. He knew I was here the whole time. Patri’s lightly wrinkled cheeks burned furiously. Patri had no choice but to tag along now if he was going to retain any sense of self-respect.

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