This is a short story that I wrote ages ago, when I was still figuring out how to write stories, so structure-wise and in terms of pacing, it is not really that good. But it does throw a glimpse into my writing style and my story ideas to some extent. Let me know what you think. Thanks very much!
Chapel bells rang pristine against the morning mist, fading fast to reveal violet peaks in the distance. Last night’s rain had seen to that the day remained cold and cold it was with a subtle sun that gave less light and no warmth. The chandeliers were lit and the prayers commenced and soon rows of figures clad in blood red robes were formed in the open courtyard overlooking the shores. Young Farrell didn’t stop to watch their training like he did the other days. His master had warned him not to. Besides, he had a scroll to deliver. His master had been waiting impatiently for this for weeks now. Much of that frustration carried week after week had leaked out as anger towards all that he did – the clumsiness with which he did it all. His arms still wore the scars of the beatings. But scars were the least that one gets in the Elderhall. He could live with that. He sped across the courtyard, along the corridors and dashed up the stairs that snaked its way up the tallest tower in the Elderhall – the one that belonged to the mage of the highest degree – Saint Eleric – his master.
He was breathing heavily now and beads of sweat appeared on his forehead and soon took the path that tears often did until his face was wet and slick. He gripped a statue for support and gave a glance behind. Five hundred steps! Five hundred steps he’d climbed and he wasn’t even halfway up. He eased down to a slow stride. But it wasn’t too long before he collapsed on the steps unable to continue any further. Five hundred steps were just too many. Suddenly, windows were thrown open overhead and an old man thrust his head out. Farrell leaned hard against the wall hoping that he wouldn’t be seen. But there was none that those wise eyes missed.
“Farrell … you useless prick!!” his master yelled. “Get up here!!”
He sighed and clambered back onto his feet. It took him a long while to get to the top, and when he did his master was waiting for him at the door with a cigar clenched between the edges of his lips.
“I…” Farrell was just too exhausted to come up with excuses. He gave the scroll and bent his head down, ready for a whack on the head. But it never came. He peered up to find that his master has already returned to his desk. That was strange. He got in and closed the door behind him.
The room was dark and cold, Farrell noticed. Either his master was losing his mind or that scroll was of a greater importance than what he had thought. Master Eleric was straining his eyes reading the scroll in the ill light. Farrell trod over to the fireplace in the hopes of starting a fire going. However, the firewood was damp to his touch and the fuel tin was empty. This hasn’t been lit for a while. He looked back at the desk.
“Master … Are you alright?”
Master Eleric shot him a quick glance before ruffling through another set of papers. He was muttering under his breath – a chant! But Farrell couldn’t quite understand it. He went over to the cabinet and poured a glass of wine for his master and brought it to the desk. He waited a while for his orders, but when it never came he turned to leave.
“Wait! There is something … I’ve got something for you.”
Master Eleric opened his drawer and produced a letter marked with Farrell’s name. He took them with certainty. He had never received a letter before, and letters usually don’t tell anything but ill-tides.
“That is your relieving letter freeing you of all duties from hereon. You are under no command – neither from the state or me but just your own free will. You may choose to leave whenever you want. But be gone before the day falls. For tomorrow on, this is my property and trespassing wouldn’t be tolerated. Is that understood?”
Master Eleric turned to meet him – his eyes were sunken and red and his breathe foul. Farrell eyed him with disbelief. This was his home. Where else would he go?
Before he could word out his concerns there was a knock at the door – which was odd at this time of the day. Master Eleric shoved him into the store.
“Stay quiet!” he said, before closing the door.
Farrell heard another knock on the front door. Master Eleric was slow on his feet for there was yet another knock before the door was opened. The voices weren’t audible enough – but weren’t getting any louder either. The door was closed again the room was still except for Farrell’s own breathing. He looked down uncertainly at the letter again. He was being relieved?
“Do you want some help, master?”
Master Eleric scorned at young Majestyr Felxio for his words of kindness. They are all a paltry act to dissuade him from coming to the Elders Meet. He used the pole as a support to stay up.
“I’ve walked these roads a thousand times, my boy. So don’t worry about me. I’ll be fine.”
He was anything but fine. His knees trembled as he walked and in the rush he had forgotten his walking stick. But still he walked on adamant to ask for help. However, his knees yielding not long later and he had to take a wagon for the rest of the way. A lot of his pride was left behind on the streets. But the last ounce of dignity held him.
The huge opal doors creaked open and they walked into the Council Hall. There were a dozen other saints there all eager to present their findings before the Elders. But thanks to Majestyr Felxio – an old pupil of his – he was given the higher priority. His findings were of that high importance and he didn’t hesitate to call favours from his pupils and friends. Many of them had turned up to witness the occasion. But a lot of them were here just to see him make a fool of himself. He didn’t care though. His old age alone was enough amusement to all these young presenters.
A servant appeared at the hall-front and lit a huge torch marking the commencement of the Meet. The presenters and the commoners took their respective seats. Felxio looked at Master Eleric for the last time and gave a gentle nod before taking his seat. Paltry acts! Master Eleric reminded himself. Paltry acts to earn credit for the findings. He shouldn’t fall for that.
The Chief Elders took his seat on the high-seat and watched the presenters with mocking eyes. He soon found Eleric and Felxio at the front row. He pointed them out to the other Elders who’d just taken their seats. They shared a laugh among themselves. The chief Elder rose and gave the command to one of the servants below. He stepped forward, unrolled a scroll and shouted.
“Master Eleric! Master Eleric is here with his findings on Dragons. Please step forward, master.”
There was a huge commotion in the commoners’ bay at the mention of his findings and hushed whispers among the other presenters. Obviously Dragons wasn’t a gentle subject.
The Chief Elder silenced the crowd with a raised finger. Such power! Eleric noticed. If only he could convince him. The Chief Elder looked at him.
“I think we’ve been over this a lot, Eleric. The existence of Dragons is not open to debates and any findings on that matter would be disregarded.”
“It’s different.” Master Eleric cut him short. “This time I got proof. This time I got facts.”
“Proof?” someone bellowed out from the crowd. “We don’t want to hear your proof!” Several in the crowd echoed the same. “The Dragons are extinct!!”
The general interest was against him, Eleric knew. But he could also sense fear in the men. They were trying their best to hide it by mocking him … or were forced to hide their fear by mocking him. He had to do something drastic to turn them around. He turned around to meet Felxio. He was expressionless but he did eye him eagerly as if he believed that Eleric would have something in his hands – which he did. A wild accusation without ample proof that would bring down the entire Elderhall or … he was too afraid to ponder the rest. Maybe he was wrong. Maybe he needed help like everyone did. Maybe it is time.
He turned towards the crowd. “This man …” he said, pointing towards the Chief Elder. “This man whom you all respect and admire is nothing but a coward. One who hides behind tall walls when the fate of the entire world hangs in the balance.”
“He has drained us off our courage to face hardship… off our right as Elders to make a difference. The end of the world is near, my friends. The Dragons are back.”
He produced the scroll from beneath his cloak. “Now this … is a letter from the Outcast – those saints who left the Elder community because of its inactivity. They report it too. I’ve also been in touch with the Hunters…”
There were sudden woops of surprise from the crowd and several presenters leaned to the edges of their seat. “It is for certain that the dragons will rise in the near future if we don’t do something about it. What do you say, my friends. Shouldn’t we do something about it rather than hide behind our walls?”
He was certain that he had the crowd. There was only silence. But then someone laughed from the crowd-bay and it was soon picked up by the others until the whole of the Council Hall was an explosion of laughter.
Felxio shook his head in dismay. He stood up and gave one last glance at Master Eleric before exiting the hall with his delegates.
Master Eleric helplessly watched as the crowd mocked him – among them were familiar figures – friends he had known, colleagues he had worked with and his students. Several guards rushed over and dragged him away – he was thankful of that. There was no way he could’ve managed to walk the way out with such pain in his heart. Chief Elder watched the guards take him away – he wasn’t laughing though.
Out on the road, he was shoved into a wagon and carried away, despite his weak protests. There was no use calling for help either. There was none that’d heed his call. As the wagon rode away, he wondered what really happened at the Council Hall. He had stated the facts, he had produced the proof yet the people were nonchalant about it. Strangely, they all found it amusing. He could decipher why. Suddenly, the wagon grounded to a halt. The doors were thrown open and it was the Chief Elder who met him.
Eleric clambered out on the wagon and onto his feet. “So you do believe me, don’t you?”
The Chief Elder had only a smirk at the edge of his lips in reply. “What I believe is not what’s important. What I want to know is this – How did you manage to get in touch with the Hunters?”
Master Eleric chuckled at that. One of Chief Elder’s henchmen slammed him against the side of the wagon. “Whatcha laughing?” He asked in a crude southern accent.
“To think that he has been with me all this time and you not knowing it proves that you were incompetent after all, Xaverin – the best of my students – the one that I called son.”
“Shut up old man! Now tell me – who was with you and where is he?”
“You won’t catch him now, son.”
The port horn blared and the ship left the port. Farrell climbed to the deck and watched the island that he was leaving behind – the violet peaks, the chapel lost in mist, his home. He felt the chain at his neck – the one that was contained in the letter that his master gave him. A miniature dagger carved out of a tooth hung at its end, and he clutched it hard.