On to part 2 of Pariah Company Le Reject Version. If everything works out and I’m not lazy the real version might come out in Q3 2018. I like to take my time.
Here there be dragons. It had been the first thing the ship’s captain had told him the moment they sighted land. More so than any place in the world, Western Europe had been chosen by the Great Dragons as their favorite home for more than a thousand years and counting. Wherever they went, the landscape changed. Misty mountains, swooping meadows, castles in the mountains long abandoned and now nesting places for wild wyverns. It truly was a strange land of mystic opportunities and possibilities far from which Achilleos had ever dreamed of one day seeing.
He shouldered his sack from the right to the left shoulder as he walked through the forests that still marked the majority of Germania as they had in the days he had last been here. He took a deep breath. Gone was the salt of the sea, the odor of North Africa, the dry heat of Arabia, not to mention the one-thousand-and-one corns of sand still somehow stuck between his toes over nine-hundred leagues from the sands of Arabia Felix. It would do for now.
Achilleos started whistling just then. An old tune learned by heart many hundred years ago. It was the song his mother sung to him of his father, the great explorer, who never returned, a song of love and sorrow that seemed to fit the general mood of this great forest. The road was well traveled, laid out with stone no less, with wagons passing him by left and right, forcing him to dance in between, bringing to mind memories of the great feasts and dances of the Orient. Promptly he stepped off the beaten path, making his way in the undergrowth. The ground was slowly but steadily rising, coming up against the high mountain in the distance on which fate urged him to climb for which he might see the entire region and orient himself properly. He had, somewhat, missed his turn. Reorienting himself would solve this problem right then and there. His sharp eye even saw a small castle high up. It would make for a fine observation post, maybe a way to rest for the night. His walk crouched as the incline got stepper. His tune changed, becoming the call of the adventurer, a strange music played on bongos by the people of China in his honor but fifty years ago. It seemed fitting. His whistling grew louder until the birds in the trees returned his call, making the entire area fill with music.
“Quiet there, you stupid idiot,” a voice hissed suddenly.
Achilleos looked around. The voices of the birds were quickly dying down. Nothing was around him. Could the birds in this region talk? It might be so because of the proximity of Great Dragons and their fascinating magic. He shrugged his shoulders and looked back to his climb, now rising with the need of his bare hands grabbing upon granite as brown earth and trees slowly disappeared behind him. Again he started whistling.
Again came the strange voice: “Keep your fucking hole shut, do you want to get us all killed?!”
Achilleos looked around once again. It had definitely not been an imaginary voice. But he still couldn’t see anyone. He climbed up again, near a pass that wound around the mountain, allowing access to the castle. He could have taken that of course, but he needed some upper body exercise. Bronze muscles sculpted by the finest training the world had to offer had to be maintained or it would bring shame on two millenia of hard work and dedication. As he placed his first foot on the path, rising to stand straight for the first time in twenty minutes of free climbing, someone grabbed him by the shoulder as he was already starting another song, roughly shoving him against the wall with a strength Achilleos, champion of the Gods of Old, found surprising.
“Not one more tone of you, man-bear.”
He stared into the muzzle of a firestick. No, musket they called it in these regions. He had seen them pop up here and there lately over the last two centuries. The mortals were funny creatures. Still, he had no idea if they could harm him, so he quieted down for the moment, if only to be polite. “Greetings, fellow traveler.”
It was a man wearing peculiar robes of green and black, with a small cloak draped over one shoulder, a sword on the side, a small fire stick on his hip, a long one in the hands, currently pointed straight at his magnificent nose. Achilleos’ face lit up, showing his teeth as pearly white as the day he left his island so many years before. “I’m sorry my music disturbed you. I assure you, there are others I have, if they were not to your liking.”
They shushed him again, the tall one pulling back the hammer. “Quiet. Do you want to get us both killed? What is wrong with you, ogre?”
“My name is Achilleos, friend, not ogre,” Achilleos offered nicely and in a hushed tone as to please the man. While he had been taught to be courteous at all times, the had learned the hard way to be much more so when faced with the possibility of death, as unlikely as it was for one of his standing, of course. But what were manners if none paid any attention to them?
The firestick was now lowered, the hammer slowly pushed down in its resting position. The strange man rolled his eyes and rubbed his stubbled chin. It was graying as much as the hair on his head, reminding him of the offers of a spice merchant he had known in far off Mosul. “You’re not from this region, are you, stranger?”
“Indeed, I am not, friend Greybeard,” Achilleos answered in the quietest whisper his booming organ could muster. “I am Achilleos, nephew to Achilles, son of…”
“Yeah, how you’re doing, save your breath, air’s getting thin in these parts,” the older stranger said, peering up the side of the mountain, taking a knee and going for his water bottle. Continue reading “Pariah Company (Part 2)”