Greetings readers, this week I have an exciting new tale of betrayel, murder and intrigue for you. Presented here is the first portion of Trasian, a work in progress detailing the rise of a humble elf to one of the most powerful Vampires in the Known World. Last month's edition of Tales (The Tax Collector) can be reached at Previous Tales or you could check out Unfinished Tales, If you've got some literature you would like posted, email me at Inches_72@yahoo.com or Inches_72@hotmail.com

 

Trasian- A Tale of Betrayal and Death


Prologue-Creation of the Beast

Trasian sighed and pushed a stray strand of thick black hair from his stormy blue eyes. Three days of walking through this woodland may have been interesting to start with, but already its monotony was wearing at his sanity. His companions, no doubt, shared his contempt for their menial task. Several weeks ago now, they were hired by a pair of foreigners to investigate some disappearances in a distant mine. The deal sounded good, lots of money for little effort, but so far all their task had entailed was walking and helping farmers herd their cattle back into their farms. A cool spring breeze blew along the well traveled road, carrying with it the scent of freshly baked bread. Trasian’s mouth practically watered as the spicy scent tempted his nostrils, beckoning him onwards despite the aching pain in his legs.

Wondering whether or not this scent was merely a phantom created by a hungry wanderer, Trasian glanced over the rest of his companions. Morgan was staring blankly ahead, puffing on his pipe and mumbling to himself through the grey hood which fell down over his face. Puraj’s thickly corded muscles were tense beneath the sweat matted fur which covered his frame. The cat-man occasionally paused to sniff the air, and it was clear that he also smelt the bread. Cadfael, the Halfling cleric, was already picking up speed as the scent of food reached his tubby frame. The final members of their party seemed uninterested in the food. Gn’Raal and Iolus were bringing up the rear and occasionally burst into raucous laughter. Neither of them liked Trasian, and Iolus threw him a hateful glance for looking in their direction. Iolus was a Centaur, one of a race known for their obsession with alcohol and womanizing. Trasian and Iolus grew up together, the Centaur constantly bullying Trasian for his wiry frame. When Iolus had gone to war against invading Orcs, Trasian had spent the majority of his days bulking up for a future showdown with his arch nemesis. With the aid of Puraj, he had become a skilled warrior but still did not possess the courage to challenge his lifetime nemesis. At one hundred and thirty, it seemed strange to still fear someone who you had known since childhood, but Trasian could not shake off his lifelong fear of the proud and brash Centaur.

Gn’Raal was a different story. Standing a little over four feet tall, the agile lizardman had always been Iolus’ lackey and whipping boy. Possessing little intelligence or strength, the lizardman mistook Iolus’ attention for friendship and so shared the Centaur’s hatred for Trasian. A sudden gust of pleasant smelling wind shook Trasian out of his thoughts and back into the real world. The world where his stomach grumbled at the very scent of freshly baked bread. The party had crested a ridge and the valley which spread out below them was a welcome site. Rolling green hills dotted with plowed fields and the occasional quaint farming cottage. Trasian’s keen eyes scanned the valley, but he could not find a source for that mysteriously tantalizing scent.

“See anything Trasian?” Puraj’s voice interrupted Trasian’s silent observation.

“No,” replied Trasian “The smell must be coming from one of those houses though”. Puraj nodded in agreement, but did not reply. As leader of their ragtag band, Puraj was respected despite his close friendship with Trasian.

Sometimes Trasian wondered how this group had got together. Iolus, Trasian and Puraj had grown up in the same expanse of forest, but that did not warrant the formation of an adventuring band. Iolus’ presence allowed for Gn’Raal’s. The two were inseparable, unless Iolus told Gn’Raal to go away, in which case the dull-witted fool would immediately comply. They had encountered Morgan and Cadfael in the quaint village of Cindred several weeks ago now. The two had been in trouble with the local authorities over trying to promote a false god to earn money. Cadfael, a loyal follower of Olidamarra, did not see it as heresy because his god promoted such enterprises. Morgan was tall and quiet, and spent more time smoking his pipe than anything else. Sometimes Trasian wondered what strange herb the human must smoke to remain so calm all of the time. In combat with Orc bandits several days ago, the human had simply smiled to himself as the rest of the party fought for their lives. Trasian had proved to Iolus that he was more than competent in melee, single handedly slaying the Orc leader with a well placed blow. The Centaur had been unimpressed, not that Trasian had expected compliments, but recognition for battle prowess would have been good.

“We’ll camp here tonight,” began Puraj “I want everyone to take a shift at watch, we don’t want a reenactment of the other night”. The catman smiled at his mild joke. He was, of course, referring to Cadfael’s panic stricken calls when he discovered a badger foraging amongst his belongings. The Halfling had claimed a ‘huge monster with nine inch claws and fiery breath’ was in his tent, and vehemently denied mistaking the badger for a dragon. Cadfael blushed but didn’t complain, immediately opening his pack in search of his tent.

“You take first watch Trasian” yelled Iolus, already opening another bottle of poorly made human wine. The Centaur’s obsession with that weak human wine irritated Trasian. Why not drink good quality Elven wine when it was so readily available? Trasian didn’t bother arguing, being best friends with the party leader didn’t earn special treatment. Resigned to his dull task, Trasian found a comfortable looking log whilst Morgan began to light a fire.

The sun was already dipping below the horizon as the last tent was erected and everyone gathered around the flickering campfire. The breeze occasionally caused ashes to leap out of the fire, a million dancing spirits momentarily illuminating the dark sky. The talk around the fire was mostly related to their mission, their ‘quest’ as Morgan liked to call it. What could be taking people in the mines? Where could they have gone? Trasian didn’t really listen. The adventuring life wasn’t exactly what Trasian had wanted to do with his life. An artist at heart, his passion lied in sculpture, and area he had excelled in since childhood. He had been talked into adventuring by Puraj, the only friend he had every known. Against the wishes of is parents, Trasian had spent his savings on a finely crafted blade and a suit of leather armour. Puraj had painted pictures of dragons, wizards and Undead. Pictures full of excitement and beautiful women. So far these pictures had proved to be the elegant wrapping on a New Year gift. Farmers and uncomfortable beds and drunken wenches. None of which appealed to Trasian.

Bored with the conversation, Trasian silently got up and wandered into the increasingly dark woods. These trees guarded the very edge of Valenwood, marking the edge of Elven territory. As much as the Elven Elders liked to deny it, the Elven empire was in the decline. An empire which had once spanned the vast majority of the Known World, now reduced to several crumbling citadels in a heavily logged forest. Without the sun to warm him, Trasian quickly noticed how cold it had become. The breeze, which had come as a welcome relief during the day, was now a bane. Trasian pulled his hood over his head to stave off the cold, but it did little to hold off the feeling of unease he felt as he traveled further into the forest. His Elven eyes quickly adjusted to the darkness, and he began to notice some strange things. For one, the forest was unusually quiet and none of the normal nocturnal activity was taking place. No owls hunting mice, no wolves wandering in search of deer. Nothing. Silence. Trasian had read the stories, the tales that older boys told around campfires to scare the young. Stories about demons and ghosts, how they scared off wildlife. He shuddered but refused to believe anything like that could occur within Elven borders. They may not have been as well patrolled as during the height of the empire, but the Elves still defended their borders against such intrusions. Trasian pressed on despite the growing fear inside him, and the feeling that he was being watched. The trees seemed to grow more menacing as he traveled further from the warm glow of the fire. What may have provided welcome shelter from the sun during the day, now blocked what little light the moon provided. A crack to his right made Trasian spin, his sword already in hand. Nothing emerged from the murky dark. No beasts, no monsters, just silence. Trasian sighed.

“Fool,” he whispered to himself “Jumping at shadows”. He chuckled and turned back towards the fire, but could not find its glow. He dashed forward a few feet, but the fire did not come into sight. Panic began to set in, Trasian was never a brave man, but it took quite a bit to force the cold sweat which now soaked his clothes.

“Where is it?” he muttered, spinning slowly around, his eyes scanning the horizon for some flicker of light.