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After completing his last mission, Niklaus Ashthorn finally decides to return home indefinitely. How can you live when your ex fiancé reigns the land you call home? Miserably, that’s how. With the help of some friends in high places, Ashthorn and his past lover must set aside their differences to save their home. Mysteries unravel, true colors are revealed, and magic and death lie in wait at every corner. Who better to fight off evil and save the peninsula than a princess and a mercenary? ~Forewarning, this story starts slow and picks up pace. I also don't have any editors so please forgive me for any spelling errors. I try my best :) ~

Fantasy / Adventure
5.0 3 reviews
Age Rating:

Chapter 1

I cantered up the staircase centered within the Great Hall of the Blacksteele Clan's manor. A place I was devoid of excitement to return to, yet, intrigued to reacquaint myself with the inhabitants of. Specifically one in particular, but I doubt I’d be getting any semblance of a warm welcome.

The guards that escorted me inside ushered me down the central hall atop the stairs, then through the largest set of doors at the very end. The ornate hand-carved oak gave way to the very peak of my interest; the hard case, headstrong female that remained one of the foremost reasons I left and avoided this dreaded place. Coincidentally, she was the only reason I didn’t exile myself forever.

"Domina, your guest has arrived." The guard to my left announced.

"Leave us." Was all she replied. Her back remained towards me as she faced the large window that gave a generous view of Barcena, her country. The sky was grey and dull, everything here seemed dull.

My escorts nodded and swiftly left the room.

"Ashthorn, how quaint of you to return."

"I see you haven't changed, Blacksteele." I responded to her lukewarm greeting.

"I would correct you, but I know your obliviousness isn't something that can be helped. Pity really."

I could hear the sarcastic smirk on her face without even needing to see it. I just stared at the cascading waterfall of her hair that lay around her shoulders; it was long enough to touch her waist.

"Indeed." I blankly responded, it finally got her to look at me. Her curly raven hair swished around with the motion, breaking the illusion.

"Why don't we skip the pleasantries, why are you here Niklaus?"

Niklaus. She never called me that, it was always Klaus. Maybe she had changed.

"My latest mission has been completed, I thought it time to come home." I responded, unfazed.

She angled her head in question. There was genuine concern that shone in her eyes, "You've never thought Rhonesmith your home. What changed?"

"I want to settle down, I've had many adventures and plenty of stories to tell. Yet, with all my accomplishments, I feel unfulfilled-"

"You're tired and lonely, is what you're trying to say with such grandiosity, hm?" She cut in. In essence, she was right. Sharp, clever, and straight to the point as always. Her cunning demeanor wasn't something to question, her mouth and quick wit were a sword and shield no one dare cross; even kings.

"You're still as insufferable as when I left."

"I'd rather be insufferable than a floozy bimbo with doe eyes for any mildly attractive looking male that comes around."

I rolled my eyes, “One time. That happened one time. Need you bring it up in every conversation we have?”

She laughed, it was dark and sultry. I hated it. “How else do I live up to my insufferable persona?”

“This was a bad idea. I’m leaving. Thank you Lady Blacksteele for your time.” I took a breath and turned to leave.

“What was your purpose in coming back? Here, specifically.” She asked as I was attempting to walk out of her office.

“I thought I’d like to see you again. I thought wrong. Good day.” I slammed the doors behind me and cringed. A bit dramatic, even for me.

I thought that maybe, my return would’ve softened her up. That, she would’ve changed her mind. She’s still the same bitter bitch that took me breaking our engagement off to heart. It wasn’t my fault she wouldn’t leave this place.

Long ago, she had a choice. Come along with me on my travels, or stay in Rhonesmith. She chose the damn latter all because she ‘had duties to stay within the territory’.

What fucking rubbish.

She didn’t even bother to stop me. Let me go as if she wasn’t whimpering the previous night in my bed about not wanting to be apart from me. Yes, I had many unresolved feelings about her. I thought they had simmered down to a smoking coal, but being back here fanned the flame high enough to burn. What an infuriating pain in my ass.

While I was lost in thought about that She-Devil, I had made my way into the city. I wasn't here for more than a couple hours and already I needed a fucking drink.

Welcome to Rhonesmith, Barcena’s dull capitol. There's blacksmiths, brawling, brothels, and booze. Take your pick and enjoy.

“And so the prodigal hero returns!”

“Where’ve you been you bastard?”

Choruses of delinquent greeting sounded around me as I entered the inn’s tavern. I waved them off and sat down at the bar.

“Welcome back. What’ll it be?” The barkeep Whitford asked. He was getting up there in age, had owned this inn and tavern for as long as I could remember. By no means was the burly, bearded man slowing down.

“Tankard of your strongest. Been a long day.” I laid down a silver cheq.

"Let me guess, you volunteered to get your ass handed to you by Blacksteele? You're one hell of a daft fuck for trying to crawl back to her for forgiveness." He poured the ale from the large tap behind him and set it on the bar, taking the cheq as his hand retreated. Whitford pocketed the coin that was supposed to be worth three rounds for myself, not the measly one.

I pulled the ale towards me and scoffed as I took a hefty chug. "Keep the change," I lowered my voice as he walked out of earshot, "Old, fucking wanker."

"Ho-ho, be careful there. He may be an old bastard but he can still toss you out with the pig fodder. By the looks of it, you have nowhere else to go. I'd bite my tongue if I were you."

My eyes confronted the speaker. A freckled ginger that looked hardly a day past 20, seemed to have been getting friendly from the alcohol induced haze. Most people around here knew not to bother with me, guess he needed an introduction.

"Get lost kid."

"Hey I was just trying to give some advice to you, Ashthorn. You've been gone for some time, I thought you might've lost your manners."

My ale went down the wrong way and I started coughing. The audacity of this kid. He knew who I was and still talked to me as if I were some idiot off the streets. Fucking rubbish.

"Speak for yourself."

He shrugged and smirked behind his tankard. I think he was the type to enjoy pissing people off, he seemed to do it for sport.

My eyes rolled of their own accord as I turned to face the bar again. Whitford was finishing up with another patron, I waived him down.

"Another one?" He asked.

"Why not. I wanted to also inquire about a room for the next night or two." I laid down three silvers. He'd better take it.

"I had a feeling." He grabbed one of the few keys on the hooks behind the bar. "I'll give you a discount. Two nights, you'll need another for the ale and tip."

I scoffed. "I leave for two years and you turn into some kind of hustler. I get smart mouthed by some lad still wet behind the ears. To top it off, Blacksteele will barely even look at me. Rhonesmith turned into a shithole after I left apparently."

"Or, and I'm just throwing out hypotheses, you have a skewed memory of Rhonesmith and her people, so now you're entitled and think everyone's out to get you."

"I'm not a child, I don't think everyone's out to get me. I thought you barkeeps tried to keep the peace, yet you seem to be picking a fight with me. I was chosen for my position for a reason; I don't hesitate, and now is no exception. Cross me again old man, see what becomes of you."

"I'm not done yet boy." Whitford's usually mirthful face curdled into a serious scowl, his bushy brow furrowed in annoyance. Once I became silent, his expression relaxed once again and he continued. "I don't doubt you Niklaus. I've watched you grow into a fine man. Your journeys and experiences with your trade have taught you much, the places you've traveled to have opened your eyes to the rest of the world. We haven't changed since you left, you outgrew us. Rhonesmith isn't a small city by any means, but we're a simple people here. Compared to what you've experienced elsewhere, it's quiet. Magic doesn't thrive here, neither does diversity. I know deep down in that thick skull of yours you know that, son."

I looked down at the tankard between my hands. What he said was true, to a point. Rhonesmith never felt like home to me, just a place I grew up in. It wasn't a bad place by any means. The people were nice enough, and I grew up living comfortably. The absence of warmth and care is the cause of my negligence to Rhonesmith. My family wasn't the most welcoming, but then there was her; she was the only warmth I'd ever experienced. The only reason I deigned to come back.

Once my thirst was quenched by the second pint, I dragged my buzzed ass up to my suite. I hadn't even acknowledged the looming presence behind me while struggling up the flight of stairs, nor the whispers and hushed tones of the other patrons as said presence gracefully stalked into the tavern. The clumsy fumbling of keys could be heard as I tried and failed three times to unlock the door, and suddenly I was dragged backwards and thrown against the railing opposite the door. I was lucid enough to grip tight onto the rail as gravity threatened to have me plunge down over the side.

"Excuse me fucker, it's rude to try to kill someone and steal their room without so much as a greeting." My S's were slurred terribly. Probably from the lack of food. I had nothing to ease the heavy polluting of my blood from the strong ale I just finished guzzling.

I heard a scoff coming from the shadows of my room. The thief stole my keys and welcomed themselves into my home for the night. The door was left open as if they were waiting for me to follow.

"I don't appreciate the attitude, you could at least introduce yourself." I pulled one of the sconces from the hall into my room to shed light on the intruder. Upon entry, the door was slammed shut behind me. I heard a lock click into place. What an odd thief.

I lowered my sconce to the lantern I'd knew to be on the wall and lit it with the sconce's flame. The room illuminated around me, providing light to finally see the intruder in front of me. They wore a black cloak, embellished with silver, white, and red thread. I knew exactly who they were even with their face concealed beneath the hood.

"Valeria. What an unwelcome surprise."

The Blacksteele heir lowered her hood and smirked softly. "Always a pleasure, jackass."

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