《The House of Wolves》[The House of Wolves] - Just another dead man
Elesett Álmodozó was a knight. He was a man of average height, with dark skin and almond shaped eyes. His irises were onyx black, his hair was curly and his face was dotted with freckles. What was most impressive about him, was his musculature. He had a sculpted body with glistening abdominals, pulsing triceps, and a sturdy back. However despite how physicall imposing he was, he made for a rather poor fighter.
He was hesitant to swing a sword and in single combat was quite ineffective. There was a running joke amongst his squad that he was the perfect of example of why to not judge a book by its cover. Their latest task, had only solidified the truth behind that notion.
Before them, lay a sub-human of the Dalkyvith kind. The creature ran a small pub and was quite well liked despite his appearance. He had a bloated belly and stubby legs meaning he couldn move very well. He was six times the width and three times the height of an average human after all. His skin was red and warty like a toads, and his head was shaped like a Salamanders. The reason he had been killed, was because of the abnormality of his appearance.
The entire altercation had begun when a man stormed into the knights hall, shrieking and shuddering. He wore a cats mask, indicating he was a merchant and a man of importance. Tyteos, the leader of Elesetts party, had immediately set down his drink and rushed to him.
”Sire, what happened? ”
The man continued panicking for several seconds longer before begining to stammer out words. ”I-I went to a pub down in that ” he shivered, ”detestable Ravens Market. I just wanted to see get a drink and see what the area was like, but when I entered the place there was this-this creature, ” he paused again melodramatically. ”It was this disgusting fish, frog like thing handing out the drinks. It frightened me oh so terribly and when I collapsed in terror, it only offered me a few words of concern! Can you imagine the disrespect? ” he stopped to recollect himself, as if he had experienced something truly traumatizing.
”So, uh, what would you like us to do about that? ” Tyteos asked, not seeing the full picture. The masked fellow lunged forth and gripped Tyteoss tunic tightly, setting the entire group on edge.
”I want you to kill it of course! Rid me of that thing and toss it out of the city gates! I want nobody to know, lest word of it clogs my ears. ”
”But si- ”
”No buts! I asked to you to kill it, did I not? You are knights. You do not have the authority nor privilege to question to me! This entire guild here only exists because of us merchants, meaning you must do what we say! ”
Tyteos shared an uneasy glance with the rest of the party, but inevitably conceded. ”Fine. Please submit your request at the front. This will bind us both to a contract and well be able to complete the mission for you. ”
”I know how it works. ” the merchant snapped haughtily. He then got up and brushed off his silk coat, cleansing himself of the commoner which had touched it. Elesett could visibly see Tyteos tremor with anger, but he calmed himself and made his way back to the party, picking up his drink solemnly. He had a solemn look about him, like someone enjoying their last drink before execution.
”Are we really agreeing to this? ” Elesett wondered. Tyteos simply shrugged in response.
”You heard the man. We aren in a position to argue back, or else we lose our jobs. Nothing much we can do about that. ” replied Bolzein nonchantly. Bolzein was a thin man, one with long, messy hair that dropped to his sides and a rather hunched back. However despite his less than savory appearance, he was a much better knight than someone like Elesett.
”I know, but…there has to be some other way! We
e knights aren we? Isn our job to protect the innocent and all that? ”
Tyteos nearly spat out his drink. ”Protect the innocent? You know how many kids we drag off to the mines every other day? Innocent is the last thing we are. ” he returned to sipping his drink, stone faced despite the amount of alcohol he was gulping down.
”It doesn change the fact that we have roles to fill. Sure we aren perfect but this is too far! This is a complete violation of everything we stand for! ” Elesett cried passionately. A hand gripped his shoulder, cutting him off abruptly.
The man was an average fellow, with ginger hair and a decently bulky frame. His name was Frank, accentuating his pure plainness. ”Come on now Elesett. Use your brain! If people like us can become knights in this city you know the standards low here. The qualifications are barebones, not like the knights who actually go out to battle. ”
e hardly any different though. ” Tyteos interjected. ”They
e stronger and tougher than us, but all that leads to is a worse temperament and atrocious nature. This may sound crazy but we
e just probably the noblest knights youll find in this kingdom. ”
e hardly noble! Just because we
e a bit better off than the scum in other places doesn make us
Tyteos spun around, knocking his own glass over, so that he could grab Elesett by the collar and stare him in the eyes. It had been a long time since passion had roused within them, and the man looked almost demonic. ”Shut up! I don want to hear about being noble from a coward who can barely swing a sword! ”
The rest of the party went completely silent, watching with bated breath what their leader would do next. Tyteos glared at Elesett for a few more seconds before loosening his grip and taking a deep breath.
”The definition of a knight changed a long time ago. We
e basically just armored freelancers now, taking on jobs and walking around in this stiff ass armor all day for some coins. Get that in your head before you get killed. ”
Just then, the merchant strode over, a quill in hand. He requested that Tyteos sign the contract he had obtained, and without question Tyteos complied. It made Elesett sick to his stomach, instilling a helplessness within him that seemed to eat away at his soul. The quill used to sign the paper might as well have been a blade due to the way it drove through his heart, filling with him with self loathing for what he was about to agree to. But he held his tongue and watched the transaction transpire. Of course he did. It was all he could do after all. He was a lumbering force of pure muscle who wasted it all in holding himself back, what right did he have to object to anything?
As soon as the agreement was made the group put on their armor and set off. He disliked the way the metal felt against his skin. It gave him a feeling of pride, like he was meant to actually accomplish something with it on, but every time that pride turned to shame once he realized what he had put it on for. The only way to forget his shame, was through drink, but even he couldn be drunk all day. Or could he? Perhaps he couldn be drunk on alcohol all day, but when he wasn doing that he was drunk on a blade he didn deserve. Drunk on the idea of what it could do, and the future he could carve for himself if he had the strength of will to use it for something. But every time he dared to believe in that future, he was dragged back to the reality that he was useless, a failure too human to do what needed to be done. He was like an egg raised in the perfect conditions, but which turned into a runny mess when opened.
Outside was a halfway constructed church, where a young priestess directed several workers to fulfill certain tasks. Elesett could feel a blush rising in his cheeks, sweeping him up in a heat which made him forget how much he hated himself, but he turned his head away and denied himself that warmth. Unfortunately, the female member of the party noticed, and leaned against Elesetts shoulder.
”Youve got a thing for that priest don you? ” Edith teased.
”You can tell even under the armor? ” Elesett asked nervously.
”Im perceptive that way. ”
”Well, she is gorgeous. ”
”That is true. ” she mused. Suddenly, she pulled Elesetts helmet close to hers, so they could lock eyes through the visors. ”Forget about her though. ”
”What? Why? ”
”Ill admit, you two would look good together, but you can afford to get distracted on the job. Its just a trick of the trade. All distractions that aren related to your task are weeds that need to be cut out. ”
”You speak as if you
e good at your job Edith. ” Frank quipped. She growled at him, but he was hardly fazed. ”You can bark at me all you want but its true. None of us are all that skilled, so I say let the lad live how he wants! ”
Their sixth and youngest member, an adolescent named Barnett criticized Franks condescending attitude.
”You can hardly be calling anyone a lad, considering how you and Elesett are the same age. Matter of fact, you
e only a few years older than me! ”
”Hes right yknow.
” Edith remarked, cutting her way back into the conversation.
”Besides, since we
e all shit my advice is even better! He should learn how to wield an actual sword before he pulls out his own. ”
Elesett could feel color flushing into his face once again. But it didn provide him warmth, but shame he was all to used to. Anger bubbled withim him upon that realization.
”Yeah but then what makes up different than undead? We
e basically sucking off those merchants just to scrape by, now you want me to compromise my feelings on top of that? ”
Bolzein cackled. ”It seems like this ones finally grown some balls! Still, comparing us to undead? Quite a leap there. ”
”Yeah, no one even know if undead exist. ” Barnett quipped. Before he could get shot down more however, Tyteos fell back from his position at the groups helm in order to pat him on the back. It was a rare moment, to see Tyteos break away from his selfish disposition and show someone else compassion.
”He makes a good point though. I say, if he wants to go after the priest lady let him. Assuming we make it past today. Folks in the Ravens Market are tricky. I reckon wed get taken down by a single assassin if they
e well trained enough. ”
Elesett gulped. ”Don say that please. ” Tyteos just opened his mouth, allowing what sounded like a laugh to escape his lips. As soon as they arrived at the pub however, their demeanor changed. A few folks spared glances at them, but most of them didn care enough to do more than spit in their direction.
The moment they opened the door, Elesetts jaw dropped. The pub owner was massive. He had met some abnormal peoples before during the guilds jobs but this, this was terrifying. Tyteos didn waste a single moment in awe however.
Before the fat fellow could even say
e closed ”, Tyteos had already rushed forth and driven a sword into its swollen gut. His handling of the blade was improper, but it was enough to pierce through the gluttons enormous stomach. At first the Dalkyvith didn notice, but soon blood spurted from its lips and a scream began to gargle. But Tyteos didn stop. he moved the blade around and around with such intensity that blood began to splatter on his helmet and pink pieces of intestine accumulated on his sword. The poor fellow was dead before he could even fully process what had happened.
Elesett was left nauseuous after the incident, but everyone else had an air of complete casualness. Even Barnett, who was only seventeen. They stared at the thing for a few moments and immediately went about the rest of their tasks. Frank went back and retrieved several large satchels, Bolzein sliced the Dalkyvith into dozens of fat little pieces, whilst Ed