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Court of Hearts Pt.1

By Steven Collier All Rights Reserved ©

Fantasy / Horror

The Jester

Year 399 Jester’s day

A slim young man with the appearance of a human in his twenties had his head placed into his palms as he leaned against the wood wall that was The Rhinestone Tavern, the second place to get drunk in Castle Rhinestone.

The night; dark and cold.

There was an alley and steps where many people walked down to get to the entrance of the pub. That’s where the man stood. Rocking back and forth as he mumbled profanity over and over in repetition, his feet began to shake as he turned to the crowd of five.

The man who stood nearest was a burly human with pale skin, his head shaven and beard neatly kept into a braiding fashion commonly seen in the noble’s district.

This wasn’t the noble’s district, this was the slums.

The crazed man leapt at the noble born man on one foot, in such a weird and creepy manner the four behind him began to shriek lowly as he hopped ever closely whispering a song to himself.

“The neatly grass is grain, on which we tear apart.”

He hopped ever nearer to the man who now was stumbling back, near a torch that completely showed his appearance, he wore a vest of highbourne nature. The signature of the tailor sewn obviously to the upper right torso.

An amateur’s mistake.

The man thought more and more about the other man’s appearance, so obsessively until he began to sing again.

“The neatly wheat is grass on which we call our lives.”

Now at this point he was uncomfortably near the drunken noble, well at least a noble that was so inclined to want a beverage as why else would he be outside the establishment

The crazed singer leapt off of his stationed foot, which was his right. Now his left caught him up off of the cold stone beneath his foot, his right soared upwards at the burly man. A blade extended(-ing) from the tip of his boot.

The man never knew what hit him as he grasped ahold of his throat, going to swallow only to meet cold steel from the man’s hidden blade. His eyes darted around in panic only seeing the color of his assailants eyes.

Purple.

As he pulled his foot smoothly from the forsaken man’s throat, he placed both feet onto the ground, as time seemed to slow. People ran and the crazed man began to have an inner battle as his eyes reverted from purple to yellow. Then his eyes froze a dim purple as he seized a Jester’s cap that had been tucked between his belt and his chest piece. He brought it up to the color changing eyes he called his own.

Peering at the cap that seemed to hold significant value to the psychopath, he didn’t notice the four making their escape. He quickly put the cap on, and his eyes were clear and white. No color phased the man. No morality. No consciousness. The man jolted at the woman who was nearest to him.

She was nearly at the stairs that would lead up to where Laristar guards were stationed, so he acted quickly getting near her in what seemed to be a simple bat of the eye.

She wore a white common folk dress, normally seen in Osagor for it’s thin fabric in the humid swamps. Her visit to the grand capital of the west was cut short by the notorious Jester who built his reputation in the slums over the years. Only fitting to name the day after him.

Her end was with a sword the killer revealed from a sheathe that hid only in the dark, for it was a large sword not small enough for hiding in a well lit place.

The claymore cleaved her and the third victim down, all he could see of him is, he had already had a frosted mug from The Dragon’s Poison. Their cups had very unique art painted onto them to indicate the whereabouts of the crafter.

The handle of the mug would be ivory crafted with a wood sculpting tool to resemble a dragon, while painted different colors for different mugs in the tavern. This one was yellow, and as all the other mugs, a story of Edward the dragon slayer was painted onto it.

He planned to get drunk at two taverns that night, that means he planned some sort of injury. Not the one he was given though, the rest of the deaths were hidden within the darkness as the blood from the cleaved victims splashed out the fire.

Besides that one lone torch that sat in front of the tavern.

Screams of joy inside, of death outside. The circle.

Tiro

Year 395 The Botched Concert

His cheeks high like an elf’s, skin untouched by battle, his eyes worn and torn from the things he has seen. His body young and fresh, the hair he fashioned of obsidian slicked back not long enough for a loop to declare it a pony tail.

The skin protecting his skull suffered of blemishes of the sort a young adult would naturally endure, yet his appearance just seemed off putting for a western human.

Well the story he stood by that put him on top of the walls overlooking Dragon’s Mouth pondering over the torturous events that provide him a surplus of sleepless nights. Upon awaking he can never remember what had happened; truly terrifying.

He was a squire along with the orphan; the castle would showcase as a beacon of hope when the dragon attacked two years ago.

Tiro stood beside Edward ‘The Dragon Slayer’ since year 389, preparing, fighting, protecting the people of the realm alongside the knight before his fame.

He inducted into the knight’s program of House Laristar that fateful year alongside his brother, Vindaes Laveas. A man who would remind Edward of his mortality, more than once.

The Laveas brothers soared in the ranks, Vindaes even became a knight beside Edward as Tiro decided to take a different course rarely any men of his age would take. Becoming Edward’s student; a squire. The title would be placed among the curious Tiro.

From east to south, northeast, and southeast, the two travelled to every human settlement from Osagor, Salsgar, Saltire and the human capital, Veldorm.

Hidden orc hideouts, as the famed Torhlem barely whispered among the people of Osagor of the remembrance of the slaughters rumored to have ensued of orcish and human nature. That’s where he was lost to the dwarven cult, Trotor’s Will in year 393 during the dragon’s attack.

He awoke, wet of swamp water; more like mucus he remembers that thought. He couldn’t see anything, just smell, feel and hear the muck under him sliding and splashing up onto his skin.

The cult took him; Edward never could find him, even though they hid in a basement in the constantly falling slums, as Teranis Laristar ruler of the castle chose to fund everything into martial law. The crime rate rose so high, festivals and speeches seemed to be the only thing holding the other districts of the town together.

He sat in a cage, in a cold poorly ventilated room. Bugs crawled in and greeted him on many occasions, mainly the biting and stinging types.

Tiro had declared them the predators of the insect world, spiders, centipedes, an occasional bee finding his way through a crevice in the stone that is the mountain the structure had been built onto.

Oh… The centipedes though, those always terrified poor Tiro, long with many legs. Bright with color, he could swear they were hissing at him, yet he’d always have to ask himself if insects could make noises at all. The question never mattered as they would always leave him large bloody welts before he could tear them in half with his bare hands.

That was Tiro’s life, as he waited endless days and terrifying dark nights. True darkness, and aloneness as the Laveas would have to strain himself to sleep, regarding to seeing his captors who always wore cloaks, varied in heights.

They always had a terrifying chill about them, the smell of rot, and the feeling of death. Each and every member that entered to check up on him, he was always punished for staying awake as they would only feed him when he slept.

So he became very clever at pretending to be asleep, he thought he was clever as that very technique sprung him free. Into a world that had passed two years without him, he couldn’t comprehend that. After only darkness time passed a tremendous deal differently in his perspective.

Months ticked away as the confused and now torn Tiro searched for Edward who was in constant piles of paperwork in constructing several new structures after the dragon attack. Then he was titled with the foreman position on reinforcing the nobles district, that’s where his former squire would see him.

So Tiro never stepped up and sought to interrupt the knight’s duties, instead he started to foster a strange hatred for the man. The feeling of sanity seemed more foreign to him than the torn personality he was now left with. One old and tortured, the other logical and understanding to his past.

That was his story, that lead him to sit atop the walls in open sight. The Laristar patrols wouldn’t pass back through for hours as there would be a concert in the honor of the dragon slayer, something bigger drew him to this spot of the castle at this certain time of day.

Tiro looked up to a flock of birds and grinned wickedly he spoke frantically to himself.

“That’s what i’ll do today!”

His voice then changed to calm and controlled, of an old elven voice; nature guiding through his tone.

“Do what, Laveas?”

He began to giggle like a young excited girl, not answering himself he hopped up off of the edge of the burnt stone wall that protected from Dragon’s Mouth.

It didn’t protect from a real Dragon’s Flame; ironically.

As the grand marble like wall, standing longer than any human could remember otherwise, laid melted scorched parts falling off as Tiro slipped off of the structure.

Falling into the giant lake, Dragon’s Mouth. Turning around quickly to look down at the water that came ever closer upon the growing seconds. He thought to himself, that it was not quite a good idea to walk on marble structure just after a mild drizzle this morning.

Intense wind and deafening sounds.

Everything was wet, and now I was about to become soaked.

I will admit the first few seconds felt like hours, days…

Which gave me a lot of time to accept that I was going to probably break my skull onto the water surface, that I know too well it’s more of a solid coming from this height.

I accepted it.

Then splash, Tiro sank into the deep dark blue of the water. His ears began to ring, drowsiness grasping him as well as adrenaline.

His head was light from the adrenaline that had coursed in his veins during his flight time.

Feeling worse and worse by the second… Oh that’s why…

Tiro sprung to the surface in mere seconds, his vision blurry. He could still see the four newcomers begin to near the gate.

Making a mad dash towards the narrow cobblestone pathway with many unique shells scattered into the mix. The weight of constant venture from here and there did not break the beautiful pathway leading to the twenty foot tall gate. Already the caravan of four approached the open structure, as anyone in the realm was invited to attend the concert.

Springing to intercept them he spoke in a outrageous manner that caught the two dwarfs, and two dugnim by surprise.

“Welcome to Castle Rhinestone! I will be your escort for today!”

One, stood a blue cloaked dwarf.

Two, stood a platemail dwarf.

Three, stood a leatherbound dugnim.

Four, teeth glare at me, from a leatherbound dugnim.

“You? An escort?!” Shouted out the bulky dwarf.

“Why yes me! Do you happen to see anyone else?!” Exclaimed the superficial Tiro.

Hope they believe me, because I don’t.

Frantically Tiro glanced around, his right eye twitching.

Neither dug, nor nim formed a smile at how hilarious Tiro believed he was being. Everyone held their stern, judging glare onto him; except the familiar robed figure.

Having no idea why on earth a cloaked dwarf would be familiar to the youngling, his thoughts began cut short.

“Why don’t you even bare the sigil of house Laristar!” Shouted once again the plump dwarf did.

Turning all cherry red, veins all pronounced.

Once again Tiro fell into his daydreaming, he really had to work on that. A group of guards far behind him, and far beyond his will to perceive at this moment.

“Guards!” screamed out one of the furry archers, the one who bared fangs, and held the string back. Along with arrow ready to kill.

Freezing, Tiro began to think of all the foulness in this world. Stories of an unknown life, full of hatred, despair, and revolution.

“What are you doing?” He asked to himself insecurely, “Improvising…” He whispered in a cruel tone.

His right hand darted down to his throwing knife attached to his belt, only to meet the arrow to his right shoulder. His arm flinging back awkwardly and brutally.

Spinning around in a perfect 180, knees buckling from the newly arrived, and kindly greeted pain. He then peered up, quickly.

“Why did you shoot me!” Screaming perhaps over the necessary drama needed for such a blunt shot, Tiro didn’t remember equipping arrow-proof armor underneath his silk tunic.

But he had.

All four remained quiet to the dramatic query.

“What’s going on here!” Exclaimed the guards as they stood in defensive positions around Tiro, as the dugnim archer had loaded another arrow.

Then the blue hooded one took a few steps forward, the memorable one. Pulling his hood completely off he revealed his appearance, and some sort of crazed trance marked even deeper into the young adult’s mind.

“Your escort for us, reached for a weapon… Rose here, just did her job.” Waving back to the dugnim who still bared her teeth at Tiro.

“Escort?” The five armored guards questioned, looking back to see the retreating Tiro.

I must run, as fast as I can. If only there weren’t so many forsaken merchant booths, well I suppose one would depart from a boring day of selling cheeses, and fine cutlery to go see a concert.

Dodging the booths, the curious Tiro ventured into the right section of town. Where muffled noises of a gathering clicked for the disorderly to follow; hoping the crowd had grown large enough for him to slip away.

The ground shook, entering a neighboring district that split the town square and the trade district apart.

The noble’s district he was eyeing frantically, elven marble with iron bracing from human tampering.

His mouth turned sour, obvious dislike for anything noble.

Fuck you Edward.

Then his eyes met the grand gathering he had been hearing about for months. The concert, and it was time to botch it.

In the middle of the town square sat a hexagon stage where three bards sat playing idly, waiting for the person of interest to arrive.

The famed knight.

That thought enraged Tiro, so his solution…

He hurled his body into the crowd of clapping and stomping attendees. A flash of white clouded, his vision, hearing… Well overall every sense he was graced with.

Awaking to being stomped on he began to crawl against the cobblestone, his sides screamed, and his legs crushing under the relentless stomping.

Crawling, crawling…

Finally he became tired of the pain, even though he welcomed it as usual.

Leaping up in front of a dark skinned drunken maiden, holding a mug from The Dragon’s Poison. Peasants garments, with cloth bracers, and her knotted black hair tied into dreadlocks.

She had been cheering and jumping until the new appearance rocked her mind, intoxicated and delirious. Tiro gripped ahold of a dagger that he hid within his boot.

Cleverness.

Seeing the hazel eyes start to meet with his, he darted behind her, holding the blade softly against her curved back. His left hand holding onto her hip, he pretended to dance with the woman as he had another inner conflict with himself.

She let out a gasp, looking over her shoulder her cheeks having a soft blush to them. Her breath smelt heavily of alcohol, and he was easily mistaken for someone else.

“Don’t do it Tiro…” He mumbled to himself, his expression changing to stern before switching back almost immediately. His voice frantic as his heart began to beat faster, his right eye twitching profusely.

“Don’t do what, my love? Show some public affection.” Pressing back against the freshly sharpened dagger, it slid in effortlessly.

Startling Tiro, he grasped ahold of her mouth to silence her last breath, scream, possibly no noise at all. He did not care, he didn’t want anyone to know what just occurred.

Failing horribly as the husband he had been mistaken for made an appearance with two more frosted mugs, not from the same tavern either.

“Honey! What are you doing dancing with another man?!” Exclaimed the dark skinned human who stood behind him, having similar appearance to his wife.

“Your sister, is your wife?” The gutsy Tiro questioned as he spun around to meet the enraged husband’s gaze.

“Is that a knife?” Asked another peasant who Tiro couldn’t even identify. The music had begun to quiet down and eyes were turning to the three conversing.

“No! No! We are just dancing!” His right eye continuing to twitch uncontrollably, a psychotic grin stretched across the man’s face.

He did a little motion to the left and right, her body was becoming a gruesome sight.

Eyes widening, realizing what his wife’s fate was.

Should be grateful, now I must run.

Dropping the refreshments he reached to his side where a short sword resided, that did not even bother Tiro in the least, as he hummed to himself.

Something has changed for the young man, all grips of sanity slipped more and more ever since this morning.

Looking up to spot the guards finally catching up, he then met the gaze of the husband.

“Have a beautiful funeral!” The psychotic man screams out as he forces his right hand holding the dagger, which resided in the woman’s lower back.

Twisting it ruthlessly side to side, he cut her in half in mere seconds and kicked the lifeless torso to the husband. Who dropped his weapon and caught her, guts stretching onto the cobblestone.

Tiro bowed graciously, as villagers screamed and dispersed.

“I’ll kill-” The man paused as he saw Tiro take off like a bolt of lightning, looking to be headed to the grand walls.


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