TOA Chapter 1 Frostbite

Part 1                    Chapter 1 Frostbite

Exland, a land with a mysterious history and a chaotic present. Monsters roamed the lowlands and men hid in the highlands. It had freezing winters and frigid summers. Every man was ready to defend his homes from anything from goblins to desperate neighbors. It may have sounded like hell but at least it was a free state. Most other countries in the Deranian Isles were controlled by the king of Lioland.

Lioland was a massive kingdom just south of Exland. Exlanders always had to be prepared for an invasion. Lioland had two vassals under its control: Harpland and Dragoles. Exland used to be controlled by the great kingdom until a rebellion started and they were freed. Lioland had been planning revenge for years.

Exland consisted of mainly small islands and great mountains making it a very spread out place. Most lived in poverty except for some lucky lords and ladies. Few were middle class. You were usually very rich or very poor. I was an exception. I did not live in a shack but did not live in a castle. But I deserved a castle.

My name is Frostbite Showersnow. Interesting name you’re probably thinking. Well I didn’t name myself, now did I? Names are not important, so let’s focus on more important things.

I was 17 years old when it all started; the adventure that would change my life forever. War was already brewing on the border lands as Orcs, Goblins and other beasts started raiding the civilized lands. Crusades and campaigns were being called and men at arms from all over the world were being called to fight. Though this had affected most of the world, Exlanders continued to live their daily lives and this was more apparent than ever at my home town: Forgesmite.

Forgesmite was a tiny town near the coast of mainland Exland. The people living there were ignorant to what was happening in the outside world. Too busy defending themselves from bandits they had no time to worry about the wars starting in other countries. I was the only one interested in the idea of adventure, so when an explorer came into town I was ecstatic.

I woke up early that morning and rushed out the door after grabbing my cloak and putting it on. I had heard that Geavas Hankap, the great explorer, was coming to town. It was a cold day in February and the icy wind cut my face as I ran to Henry and Sharps Inn, where Hankap was supposedly staying. I walked in and was surprised to see that there were already several people there. The inn included a pub so many spent their days there to wash their sorrows away in drink. Today about 30 commoners were crowding around Geavas who was sitting at a table with a mug of ale in his hands telling stories. Even the usually drunken barman was leaning over the counter listening intently.

“So there I was, tied up and bruised watching the trolls lick their lips as they swallowed the rest of my companions” he said slowly and with relish in his voice. I got myself a mug and sat with the others. “One troll was still hungry and lumbered toward me. I tried to crawl away but he picked me up and opened his big nasty maw to eat me and…….” He took a big swig of his ale. Some of the older folk were not amused and rolled their eyes.  The younger ones though were wide eyed and excited. He continued “I sucked in my breath and slid from the ropes.”

A great deal of laughter came from the crowd. There was a great cheer of “lies!” and “You’re not that thin.”  A drunkard bellowed “I call for a toast to Geavas and his incredibly entertaining stories,” Several laughed and toasted.

“What happened next?” I shouted over the noise.

“You hear that boys,” Said the barkeep “The young lad wants to hear the rest.” Everybody hushed and turned to Geavas.

“I rushed to my sword,” He continued “the trolls right on my heels and I turned and cut all 4 of their heads clean off.”

Everybody chuckled. “ You did not” cried one “All hail Geavas the troll slayer.” Chuckled another.

I stayed quiet and pulled up my hood as the crowd started getting rowdy. The young ones though stayed intent on learning all about Geavas and his adventures. They stared at him waiting for another story as he got a refill. He sat back down and took a large swig and laughed randomly. Then he noticed the lads staring at him and he began to tell another story. “Did I ever tell you the tale of the maiden of the temple?” The youngsters stared at him some more. He continued “Oookay. Well, I was traveling through the Dry forest of Castlain when I found a temple. The temple was covered in webs and giant spiders.”

I shuddered. I’m seriously terrified of spiders. Just the thought scares me. Scorpions too.

He continued after a long pause as if anticipating this response. “I was somehow pulled towards the temple like an invisible hand grabbed me and was intent on bringing me into the webs.”

I wanted to stop listening to the story because as you know I am terrified of spiders, but the way Geavas told it, you just wanted to listen to more and more. He continued on to tell that he was taken into the temple and was in the middle of pitch black darkness.

“I heard the voice of someone calling my name in the distance”, he said while closing his eyes as if to remember the encounter. “Suddenly there was a flashing light in the hallway and I saw the silhouette of a human. Then a female voice said ‘I am the Spider Witch and if you don’t leave my temple you will be forever cursed’. “

The crowd around him howled with laughter, once again they believed he was lying. Even the young lads snickered a bit. A shout was heard from the barkeep “Different story!”

“Okay, Okay” Said Geavas “So you want a different story. So there I was……………”

His stories got more and more outrageous the more drink he got into him. Soon people started leaving; even the young were losing interest. I kept watching, waiting for something interesting. Around 12:30 my two best friends, Garet and Ferdeg Rethce, walked in the door.

“Well, fancy seeing you here Mr. Showersnow” Said Garet in his thick Exish accent. I barely ever see them because their dad is too sick to do anything himself and their mom is dead.

They sat down on either side of me. They are a lot taller than me and have long red beards. They have a tendency to wear kilts in any weather. I usually wear robes. They snickered at many of the stories even if we couldn’t understand what Geavas was saying over the rowdiness of the crowd. After a pretty interesting (but obviously false) story about a giant snake, a drunken fellow stood up and said “Hey, If you’re so strong and powerful, why you spenddin’ time with losers like us.” He turned to the crowd for reinforcement. Some nodded like this was the big realization or something. The others that weren’t drunk were insulted by this comment. Geavas had to think for a moment than he said “I’m exactly like you guys except I’m smarter and stronger.” The crowd jeered and shouted insults. Geavas treated himself like he had won a great victory.

“Hey if you’re stronger and smarter than us, prove it!” yelled Ferdeg. I was surprised to see him join the drunkards in their taunting.

“I suggest we make him fight Angus” Suggested a member of the crowd.

“Angus, Angus, Angus” crowd cheered.

I suddenly felt bad for Geavas. Angus was the toughest, meanest and strongest man in Forgesmite.  He was a veteran from the war with the hobgoblins and was a little different afterwards. At least that’s what his friends [terrified followers] said to explain violent actions, like beating people up for no reason, throwing the nearest thing to him when he got angry, and that one incident where he clubbed a man to death.

Anyway, Angus emerged from the crowd, by far the tallest one in the tavern. Geavas tried to hide his fear but it didn’t work. Angus was wearing his usual kilt and no shirt combo. He turned to the crowd and raised his arms in the air as if already won. The mob cheered back. The two clambered up onto the table, while the group swarmed around them. Geavas frowned, which as strange to see, and then he nodded and lifted his fists to show he was ready to fight.

Angus lunged forward and punched Geavas in the face. Geavas sputtered as his nose and mouth trickled with blood. The crowd cheered and screamed things like “Not so strong now, are you Geavas.” Or “Angus should be easy pickings compared to a troll.”

Geavas recovered right before Angus punched him again. The crowd cheered louder when Geavas fell down and spit blood all over the table. I felt really bad for him, but if Angus got a hold of me he’d snap me like a twig. Angus let Geavas get up right before he aimed another punch at his stomach. But this time things went wrong for Angus. Geavas caught Angus’s wrist and twisted it. Angus cried out in pain and held onto his wrist. In the mean time Geavas kicked his opponent off his feet and face first onto the table.

The crowd yelled it’s disapproval as Geavas raised his hands up in victory. But behind him Angus was getting back up. The crowd started cheering again which made Geavas turn around. Geavas barely ducked when Angus swung at him. Then Geavas got up and kneed Angus in a spot better not spoken of. Angus roared with anger and picked up Geavas by his collar and flung him across the table. Geavas moaned as he got up. Somebody gave Angus a club.

Geavas then said “Now that’s just not fair.”

Next he grabbed a bottle of liquor and smashed it against Angus’s head. Angus just stood there motionless, while Geavas smiled innocently and ran.

The crowd watched and cheered while Geavas ran from Angus like a mouse running from a cat. Then, after a long chase around the room, Geavas picked up a chair and slammed into Angus’s face. Angus fell over and moaned grasping his splintered face. Geavas shoved his boot into Angus’s mouth who was trying to get up. Geavas took Angus’s club and snapped it in half.

The crowd booed loudly when Angus didn’t get back up. Geavas sat down and started telling stories again. Angus’s gang got up and dragged Angus out the door. The crowd slowly faded as several people left muttering complaints. Even the Rethce brothers left.

“Sorry Frostbite,” Said Garet “This guy’s a phony, my brother and I like real adventurers.”

“It’s fine,” I said even though they were already out the door.

Geavas soon noticed that he was losing an audience. He realized he needed to try harder “Did I tell you about the beast of Derg?” He said desperately “ The demon prince? The frost giant?”

More and more people started to leave. Before long Geavas, the bar keep and I were the only left. It was about 4:00 when I decided it was time to leave.

I got up and headed for the door. “Wait don’t leave” Geavas said.

I turned and said “ I’m sorry, but I have to go home.”

“I have to show you something” he responded.

I walked over to where he was sitting. He looked around as if what he was about to show me was a big secret. The bar keep was washing dishes absent mindedly.  Geavas reached into his coat and took out a dagger.

“Pure silver” He said smiling “Good against Undead and werewolves. Forged by mountain dwarves. Very rare and expensive.”

He handed it to me. It was a small weapon, but very heavy for a dagger.

“You keep it” he said, when I tried to hand it back.

“Really?” I said.

“Of course” He responded.

“Sorry about the crowd today”

“When you’ve been all over the world you get used to tough crowds.”

I nodded like I understood. I waved my goodbye and headed for the door .

“You’ve got the heart of an adventurer, Frostbite,” said Geavas as I left the tavern. I ran back inside and to my astonishment, Geavas was no longer there, leaving me to wonder how he knew my name.

Nothing interesting happened on the way home.  The storm had stopped and now slick ice was the hazard. My house was a couple blocks down, so I pretty much slid the whole way home. Usually the town was bustling and packed, but during the winter people stocked up on food and stay indoors. At the time it was almost a ghost town.                                                                                                                                                               You might find it weird that I’m 17 and I live by myself, but in my community nobody cares.  I’ve lived this way for a year and it’s great only having to worry about myself.  So when I came to  home, I was alone and I sat down in my armchair by the fire and stared at the dagger like it would tell me the answers to my questions, like: why did Geavas give me the dagger? Were his stories true? How did he know my name? The dagger told me nothing. But I did decide something. I’d go tell my uncle Lane tomorrow what was going on and see what he thought of it. This calmed me down, so I started to go to sleep.

That night, like always, I had horrible dreams. Ever since I was a kid I had nightmares about a tower that had an army waiting inside of it. Each night the dream was worse.
I woke up the next morning tired and irritable. I stumbled out of bed and changed.  I headed out the door after putting on my cloak. It was evident that it had rained the night before as there was more slush then snow. I traveled over to the walls of the city and asked for a carriage.

“Where do you need to go?” asked the carriage driver.

“Gertsede,” I said back. Gertsede was a town a mile east of Forgesmite. My uncle lived there so I visited it often.

“Well, I’ll bring you, but I hear tell of bad things happenin’ in those parts.”

“What kind of things?”

“You know, the typical stuff: Orcs, goblins, riots.”

“Just take me there” I said impatiently.

On the way to Gertsede I noticed it took longer to get there. I didn’t know if I was imagining it or not, but it seemed to take a full two hours. Once I got to the tiny town, I paid the driver and got off.

When I got to the old house of my uncle, I knocked on the door. Nobody answered. After a couple of minutes I knocked again. Still no answer. I decided to walk on in.

His house was full of antiques. Portraits, busts and old books were found inside. I walked in out and out of the ancient rooms calling for my uncle, until I went into the dining room. He was on one of the chairs slumped onto the table sleeping. His long white hair covered his face.

“Have you been drinking again?” I said, smiling.

Then I noticed he wasn’t breathing.

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