Category: Jester’s Blade


Lucius strode down the alley to a half hidden sign that read “The Flying Dutchman! Best pub this side of the street!” He went through the door under the sign, and strode up to the bar. The barkeep strode up and and said “Ello mate! Wotcha’ have?” Lucius said in a low voice “Im looking for a man named Balt.” The barkeep visibly darkened, and motioned for Lucius to join him in the back room.

      As they entered the back room,  the barkeep spun and slammed him against the wall. “How do you know that name!” He yelled at Lucius.  Lucius shoved the other man off him, brushed himself off, and said “ I was told to contact a man by that name. I am interested in joing his… organization” The barkeep calmed down, and said “Oh… well in that case, a moment please” He turned, and began to walk away seemingly to get “balt”. Suddenly, he spun and threw a knife at Lucius, who caught off guard, barely dodged it. The barkeep charged at the surprised hero, and punched him in the chest before grabbing his arm, which he twisted. Lucius cringed, then spun, breaking the hold. He kneed the man in the gut then spun twice, hitting the man on the ear and in the ribs. The other man staggered back, shocked b y the speed of the attacks, but he only was off guard for a moment. He recovered, and threw a murderous right hook at Lucius dodged, and the man’s fist hit the wall with a *crack*. He howled in pain and staggered backward, cradling his smashed fist. Lucius took this moment to strike, knocking the man to the ground, and stepping on his chest. Oddly enough, the man laughed. “Impressive” he said. “ I think you have the right stuff for The Shadow. Welcome to the club… what was your name?” Lucius’ eyes widened, as he realized he hadn’t thought of a decent name. thinking quickly, he blurted out “Drake. Just drake” Balt patted him roughly on the back as he said “Well then, welcome to the club Drake”

 

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The Aging earl sat in front of the fire in his study, eating his afternoon meal. He had just finished a meeting with Earl Fraser and Prince Theobald over the grain shortage, and was exhausted. He was beginning to doze off when suddenly,  his chair was kicked over, and He lay on the floor. He looked up to see a well built, muscular man in a white cloak standing over him. “You Lied to me! i told you if you lied to me I would be back!” Sebastian Rigatonni, Fifth Earl of Bantyre, blanched white. “Lucius…” He  stammered “How wonderful.. to see you again!” His greeting was answered with a kick in the side. “Tell me what you know about The Shadow, you worthless pile of bones!” “The Shadow? Ive never heard of anything called the Sha-” He was cut off as Lucius hoisted him up and slammed him against the wall “You will NOT lie to me if you value your pitiful excuse for a life. I know you are connected with them, in fact, i’ve heard you are fairly high up in the food chain. Tell me how to get in.” Lucius said, tightening his grip on the other man’s throat. Sebastian frowned, turning even whiter than before. “Bu..but… they will kill me!” Lucius chuckled. “Then don’t tell them you fool! Tell me who to contact to get into the organization, and if i need it, vouch for me. Do so, and I spare you when the time comes. Decline, and.. well let’s just say I wouldn’t worry about what your shadowy friends will do to you.” Sebastian stammered for a moment, seemingly close to tears,  then he nodded “Fine… they aren’t worth my life. Go to the Flying Dutchman Inn and ask for a man named Balt. He’ll handle it from there” Lucius let go of the noble, who slumped into a heap on the ground. As he was walking away, lucius turned “Oh and Earl… We’ll keep in touch.”

Lucius entered the “Gilded Dragon”, and strode across the loud, smoky room, to a dimly lit table in the corner. He was there only a moment, when a hooded man appeared, seemingly out of nowhere. The man sat down, smiled, and said in a low tone “Lucius my freind! i thought thane had you rotting in Darkmyre for that business with the king!”. Lucius looked at him absentmindedly for a moment, before responding. “Khitŭr, Khitŭr Edno. its been far too long brother! ” he said, hugging the shorter man.

Breaking the embrace, Edno leaned back, stroking his beard. “So… what brings you to my neck of the woods Lucius?” He said questioningly “I Haven’t seen you around the dragon in quite some time.” Lucius sipped a stien of beer he had ordered, and said “I’m in a bit of trouble, and I need some information.”  “Oh? on who? Some earl, or a king even?” Lucius frowned, then responded “If only… What do you know about a man named Occassus? and have you ever heard of a Furvus B’as?” Edno’s face suddenly went pale, and he said ” I don’t know anything about either of them. Is there anything else i can do?” lucius looked up from his beer, staring at Edno. “Khitŭr Edno not knowing about someone? that’s impossible! Come now, stop jesting and tell me” he said, smiling. “After all, you do owe me one after that business in Thermapolis.” “Lucius. you don’t know what you’re getting into,  I can’t tell you, not even you, about them, my livelihood, even my life would be risk. Lucius looked at the other man, then shook his head unbelievingly. “Edno… please. I’ll protect you, and i’ll do anything to get this information. Anything at all.” Edno bowed his head for a moment, apparently in thought, before responding. “Fine… I can’t say no to you Lucius. But were even… No, you  owe me one after this.” Edno lowered his voice, and looked around furtively “The Furvus B’as is the head of the organization called The Shadow. No one knows his true identity. The Shadow is everywhere, in fact, i’m sure they have an informant somewhere in this very Bar. The only way you’ll ever get to Furvus B’as is by starting at the bottom and going from there.” Lucius frowned, shocked by this new information “Do you know any guaranteed members of The Shadow? Anyone i can start with?” Edno sighed heavily ” I’m already dead if they find out…. so why not? I believe the Rigatonni family is fairly high up in the organization, although nothing is a guarantee with The Shadow.” Lucius’ eyes suddenly turned to cold, hard steel as he said ” Rigatonni? as in Sebastian Rigatonni?”. Edno chuckled “The same. You know him?” Lucius got up, nearly knocking the table over in the process “Only met once. But i have a feeling were going to get to know each other a lot better”

Okay after that brief break from the story of our mysterious lucius, I give you the 6th installment of The Jester’s Blade!

As the figure drove the knife down, Lucius rolled, kicking the figure in the shin. The figure, taken by surprise, and thoroughly angered that its prey was still alive, jumped backwards, and drew a second dagger for his off hand. Lucius rolled out of bed, and jumped to his feet, grabbing his “juggling” daggers off of the wardrobe. He lunged at the figure, who easily sidestepped the half awake Jester, allowing him to barrel through the door.  Lucius stumbled back to his feet as the figure sprang through the door. Now that the figure was in the torchlight of the hallway,  Lucius could see that “it” was a small, lithe,man, clad in black robes, with a black hood over his face. The man slashed at Lucius with one dagger,  while he simultaneously stabbed at him with the other. Lucius dodged the blades nimbly, and grabbed the man’s off hand, twisting it until he heard a snap, along with the man’s scream. The man staggered then recovered, slashing at Lucius in a desperate attempt to regain the upper hand. he grazed Lucius’ chest, leaving a long slash across it and cutting his shirt. Lucius whipped out his own daggers, and threw two, pinning the man to the wall by his robe. Fighting the urge to kill the man then and there, he began to question him “What is you name, and who do you serve?” he asked the now bone white man. “My name is Occassus, and i serve my master” Lucius glared at Occassus, and almost growled the next question “Fine Occassus… who is your master?” “My master,” Occassus said, smiling insidiously, “Is the black death, the Furvus B’as, and your bane!” Suddenly, Occassus grabbed his dagger out of Lucius’ hand, thrusting it right into his own heart, then throwing it in one last rebellious attempt straight at Lucius. Lucius dodged the blade, then ran over to Occassus, who lay dying on the floor. Occassus looked up, spit at Lucius, then collapsed as his last breath escaped his body. “Fool.” Lucius muttered as he let go of the dead assassin.

With all his known leads either dead or worthless, Lucius felt lost. He lay on his bed in the inn, milling through the events of the past few days, searching for answers. He thought of Thane, the burly head guard at the palace. Could he know more than he let on to during Lucius’ capture? He thought of Earl Fraser, the man who had hired him. Could he have decided Lucius was a liability which needed to be disposed of?  Who was the man who left Sebastian’s Villa in so much haste?As Lucius began to doze off, hoping something might come to him in the night, he heard a click. Someone was at the door! Thinking fast, he rolled over, pretending to be fast asleep.

The door slowly opened, first only a crack, then wide enough to let a man slip in. A figure appeared in the doorway, black as night itself, and stood there for a moment before entering. It slid through the room, quiet as death, before stopping at the side of the bed Lucius was facing. It hovered for a moment before drawing a long, black, dagger from its robes, and raising it above its head, preparing to deliver a lethal blow…

Jesters Blade Chp. 4

The next morning, Lucius lounged upon his bed, debating where to start his search. He though of Earl Sebastian, Fraser’s opponent in the grain negotiations. Sebastian may have feared he was going to lose the trade deal, and in an act of desperation, ordered a hit on the king. Even if he hadn’t, Sebastian was a man with connections, who may have information on who did frame Lucius.

A day later, Lucius rode toward Sebastian’s villa, an opulent 4 floor mansion a few miles south of the capitol. As he neared the mansion, he saw a hooded figure, clad in charcoal grey, ride out of Sebastian’s estate, galloping full speed due north. Sensing danger, He pulled off the road, and hid in a nearby thicket of aspen trees. The hooded figure flew past, not even glancing in Lucius’ direction. After a few minutes had passed, Lucius returned to the road, and headed for the Villa

He slipped past the Villa’s outer guards without being seen, and approached the main entrance to the mansion. Instead of attempting passage through the heavily guarded main doors, Lucius chose to go directly to the Earl’s bedroom, on the third floor. He ran up the wall, grabbing a nearby window-sill, and began his ascent.  After climbing past various windows, arrow-slits, and balconies, he arrived at the bedroom balcony

, and saw light filtering through the curtains of a nearby glass door. He strode to the door, to find it unlocked. How foolish, he thought, for such a powerful man to feel so secure.

He slipped into the room unnoticed, and crept to the Earl’s bed, drawing a knife. He sprang up, putting the dagger at the Earl’s (who had been sleeping) throat, and using his free hand to cover his mouth. ” Earl Sebastian, how nice to see you” Lucius whispered into the Earl’s ear. “if you would be so kind, would you join me on the the balcony?”

Lucius shoved the now wide awake Earl through the door, pressing him against the balcony’s sculpted edge. “If you don’t want to become a cobblestone, you will tell me what i want to know!” Lucius said menacingly to the Earl, who replied, terror in his voice “Anything! what do you want to know?” “what do you know of the king’s assassination?” Lucius said, pushing a little harder on the aging noble. “The king’s assassination? some jester did it… Oh! and the spy I placed in his courts has been arrested for apparently trying to kill that Jester. Thats all I know! I swear!”

Lucius pulled him away from the Balcony, holding him up by the scruff of his nightgown “If you speak of this to anyone, you won’t survive the week” He threatened, before shoving him back into his room, and jumping off the balcony onto a waiting horse.

Jesters Blade Chp. 3

The next morning, Lucius awoke in the small room he had acquired in a nondescript inn in the countryside. Donning the new clothes he had also acquired, he went downstairs into the inn’s smoky, dimly lit, main hall. walking up to the innkeeper, he asked for a small meal, a mug of ale, and for the innkeeper to keep the room vacant for him, while handing over a small pouch of coin. After eating, he left the inn, and mounted a nearby horse, returning to the Kingdom’s capital city.

An hour or two later, as he rode through the city’s gate he saw a poster with an crudely drawn image of himself with the words “WANTED! dead or alive! reward: 50,000 sovereigns” written under it. He shrugged it off, knowing the guards would eventually discover the fact that his cell was empty.

He stowed his horse in a nearby stable, and walked to the “Gilded Dragon”, one of the city’s more famous inns. As he strode through the doors, he saw an aged, particularly pudgy, wealthy man sitting at a table and strode over to him. “Earl Fraser” he said quietly, slipping into an empty chair.  The man looked up, shock and confusion on his face, then exclaimed “Lucius! wha… how did you… never mind. Not here, this place isn’t safe. Meet me in my room in an hour, and make sure you aren’t followed.”

Around an hour later, Lucius snuck up to the Earl’s room, on the dragon’s second floor. He slipped into the room, to find Fraser sitting in front of a small fireplace. Fraser saw him enter, and got up, walking to him. “Lucius! I counted you dead for sure!” he exclaimed. “They’ll have to try harder than that to get rid of me” Lucius said, smirking. “Indeed…” the Earl retorted. “What were you thinking!” The portly noble said angrily as he shut the door “you were only supposed to spy on the king, gather information to help me get those grain trade rights, not kill the man!” “I knew my duties. I didn’t kill the king. someone framed me.” Fraser leaned back in his chair, stroking his small, white beard. “I see… Well this changes everything! If it wasn’t you, then who did kill our beloved imbecile of a ruler? And why would they want to frame you? Do they know of your true background, or were you merely a victim who was in the wrong spot at the wrong time?” Lucius looked at Fraser, cold, hard, determination on his face, as he replied “I do not know, but I intend to find out.”

An hour or two later, Lucius lay in his dark, dank, pit of a cell, eating Darkmyre’s terrible attempt at food. As he finished the “meat” he saved one of the narrower bones.

Within an hour, Lucius had managed to whittle the bone into a knife, and attempted to pick the lock on his cell door. At first, the lock stubbornly refused to co-operate, nearly breaking the makeshift pick, but after an hour or two of poking in the keyhole, Lucius heard a small click. He pushed on the door, which without the lock restraining it, swung open freely. Without the door to blockade him, the only thing between Lucius, Son of Graf, and freedom were four hundred guards and the second thickest gates in the entire kingdom.

The young Guard stood at his post at the cell block door, fighting against the growing urge to doze off for a few hours. As he was about to lose the battle, he was suddenly roused awake by an odd noise on the wall. He turned to see what the noise was, and after peering over the edge for a minute, decided it was the wind. He turned back to his post, to find himself face to face with a mysterious man in hooded robes. “G’nite boy!” the man said, before slugging the guard in the gut, and following up with an elbow to his head

After gaining a set of keys off the unconscious Guard, the man raced down the cell block, looking for the cell of Lucius, son of Graf.

As he came to the row of cells which contained Lucius he halted, checking for guards. Seeing none, he drew a small, dark, dagger out of his robes, preparing to deal a killing blow. He sprinted down the hallway, throwing his knife into Lucius’ cell as he ran, hitting Lucius’ cot squarely in the pillow.

Instead of hearing the dying scream he expected, the man heard only a dull thud. As first shock, then worry, then fear raced through his heart, he grabbed a torch off the wall and thrust it through the cell’s bars, illuminating the dank room. He found nothing.

As Lucius slowly slid down the wall on his newly acquired rope (courtesy of the Darkmyre store room) he saw a light shining out of his cell. Realizing either his escape had been discovered, or far worse had happened, he hastened his descent, rappelling down the wall as fast as he safely could.

The man ran to the cell window, and saw Lucius descending toward Darkmyre’s courtyard. He grabbed his knife and began working on the rope that Lucius was suspended by, hacking wildly, out of desperation.

As Lucius was nearing the bottom of the wall, he felt his rope jerk, then snap, falling down toward him. He began to freefall straight toward Darkmyre’s stone courtyard, just barely grabbing a drain protruding from the wall. Now hanging just a few feet above the ground, he dropped into the cover of a nearby bush.

The man mumbled something under his breath as Lucius touched the ground, then raced off, hoping to catch him before he escaped the prison entirely.

Lucius looked around for some means of escape when he heard a nearby door slam. He whipped around, to see a prison cart begin to pull away from one of Darkmyre’s towers. He raced after it, barely managing to grab a hold on the back of the cart, and passed right through Darkmyre’s 40 meter thick gates completely un-noticed.

The Man burst through a door at the bottom of the tower, and raced out of the gate before it slammed shut. He looked down the road and saw a cart tearing along into the night, with a poorly dressed, haggard man hanging on behind. He strode away, wondering where he might “meet” that man next.

As the king listened to the Earl’s proposition, which happened to be (as far as he could tell) about some grain shortage in one of the provinces, and another who could supply them, but refused to trade, or some such nonsense, he turned his attention to the court jester, a much more intriguing man. Having arrived only a fortnight before, the jester was the newest member of the king’s court, as well as one of the more popular. The jester, whose name was Lucius, was juggling some brightly colored balls in a figure eight pattern, while wearing a goofy grin. As entertaining as Lucius was, the king forced himself to listen to the pointless squabbles of the two nobles. As they quarreled on, he began to doze off, hoping they would simply be gone when he awoke. He had begun to dream of his villa high in the mountains, and his loving wife and four children, when suddenly he felt an excruciating pain in his side

The entire throne room went silent as the king slumped over, a dagger stuck in his side. As a guard ran out of the room, the color drained from the face of the Earl who had been arguing for more grain, while his adversary simply stared in shock at the murdered ruler. Within two minutes, the doors to the throne room burst open and every royal guard in the Castle poured through, surrounding the nobles, merchants, and performers, leaving no route for escape.

The head of the royal guard, a tall, burly, man by the name of Thane, strode up to the body of the king, ripping the small, gilded dagger from his side. He then ordered two of the guards to search all the court member’s belongings, as well as those of the various servants and entertainers. When one of the guards reached Lucius’ pack, he pulled out a small, decorated box and opened it to examine the contents. Inside the box lay five small, gilded daggers, exact duplicates of the one in the king’s side.

Thane strode over to Lucius, grabbed him by the scruff of his shirt, and pulled him up to eye level. “Lucius, son of Graf. You are hereby charged with high treason and murder of our beloved King Edric” He stated. “You are sentenced to be thrown in Darkmyre Dungeon until a new ruler is coronated, at which time a proper trial will be held”. “But… but.. Sire, I have done nothing wrong!” Lucius exclaimed. “Nothing? Are these not your knives?” Thane asked calmly, pulling out Lucius’ box “Yes sir. They are.” Thane then held up the dagger that killed the king “And is this dagger the same as those in your box?”  Lucius looked thoughtful “Yes sire, but I only own five of those knives” Thane suddenly became enraged, throwing the blood stained knife on the floor “LIES!” he bellowed “Guards! Take this traitor to his new home!” With that, two of the stronger guards under thane’s command grabbed Lucius and dragged him out of the throne room.