This’ll be my first attempt at writing. I’m hoping everyone who reads this posts any comments, concerns, or criticisms that come to mind. Every little bit helps.
As for how I’m posting this, this first attempt will be a short one. Similar to a light novel or novella, with only a few chapters that I’ll post over the next few days. Please enjoy.
The Dok Alv
Tristan inhaled deeply, savoring the crisp winter air at midnight.
His mercenary unit had just had a successful campaign, so they were spending the night celebrating at a country inn that they favored in the area. After hours of his men partying and telling other guests of their exploits, Tristan decided to step outside for some fresh air.
“What’s wrong, Commander, don’t want to join the party?”
Turning at the sudden voice, Tristan saw a small figure approaching. “Oh, you know how it is, Gretchen. When Cu’thar gets drinking, there’s no telling what’s going to come out of his mouth.”
“Ha. Yeah. If I have to hear one more story about that idiot’s exploits in bed, I’m going to throttle him, and vows be damned.”
Tristan couldn’t help but to chuckle at that, picturing the child-sized Gretchen, who was no taller than a 13-year-old human child, trying to strangle the almost 2.5 meter mace-wielder. But he knew she was only joking. Gretchen took her vows as a Healer very seriously, and she wouldn’t wish harm on one of her oldest friends.
Tristan, Gretchen, Cu’thar, Gortuk, and Angela founded this mercenary unit, the Strong Horns, almost 2 years ago. The five of them had grown up together, and from a young age had decided they would either become adventurers together, or start up a mercenary band.
While they have been at this for a short time, they managed to succeed in playing a pivotal role in securing victory for a big client. More importantly, they did it without losing any men. Thus, the reason for the celebration is for two things. The large pay, and all 30 men making it back to celebrate.
While the two stood enjoying the comfortable silence, broken only by the sounds of the various mounts in the stables and pens, something suddenly changed. When the wind shifted, the animals suddenly started to become nervous. Even the Wargs, the mounts favored by Orcs and other smaller Jotunn-kind for their fearlessness and ferocity, were backing as far back as they could with their ears flat and tails between their legs.
Soon after, Gretchen was finally able to smell the scent on the wind, thanks to her heightened sense of smell due to being a Hobgoblin. As if foretelling doom, the wind carried the scent of old blood.
“Tristan, something’s coming from the west!”
Tristan caught the worried tone of her voice, and moved his 3 meters of solid bulk between Gretchen and whatever was coming.
“Any idea what it is?” his deep voice sounded through the whimpers of the various animals.
“No. It’s scent is masked by blood, and a lot of it. Human by the smell of it, and at least a week old at that.”
That made Tristan shift his wings nervously. There weren’t any Human settlements within a weeks travel of here. The big Demon shifted from one hoof to the other, scanning his cat-like eyes right to left, looking for where the unknown threat would appear from.
There! Just to his right, the bushes rustled, heralding the arrival of a humanoid figure. Even in the dim light provided by the inn’s windows, it was obvious that this man was covered head to toe in dried blood. On his hip was a sword, but he had no other possessions. He continued walking straight, paying no heed to what was around him, before he collapsed, falling on his face.
“The hell?” Tristan mumbled, as he and Gretchen rushed over to the unconscious figure.
While Gretchen checked over the man, Tristan looked around, making sure nothing else came out of the woods.
Gretchen used her magic to heal any broken bones and open wounds the man might have, before deciding that flipping him onto his back wouldn’t pose any problems.
Hearing Gretchen let out a surprised breath, Tristan turned to see what startled her, and was surprised himself.
“What in the nine hells is an Alvar doing here covered in Human blood?” He asked in amazement.
“I don’t know, but it looks like he’s been moving nonstop for awhile. He’s exhausted, and possibly delirious. He keeps muttering ‘I’m sorry’ over and over again,” Gretchen looked over at Tristan, “I need you to carry him inside so I can look at him. This cold probably isn’t helping him any.”
“Hah. Guess it’s impossible to talk you out of this.”
Tristan bent down to pick him up as Gretchen said, “Sorry. If he does prove to be a threat, I’ll let you kill him after my job’s done.”
Once the Alv was in one of the inn’s rooms, the first thing Gretchen did was to give him a sleeping draught to ease his dreams. As his feverish mutterings subsided, the Hobgoblin proceeded to clean him and cut away his ruined clothes.
It was then that Gretchen realized the mysterious man was a Dok Alvar. Dok Alvar were one of the few Dok Shee even partially accepted by the other Shee races. They still faced discrimination, but nowhere near the “kill-on-sight” mentality that other Dok Shee like Gretchen’s own Goblin race suffered under.
As she cleaned him, she noticed the intricate tattoos that covered his body. But it wasn’t until she turned him over to see the markings on his back did her blood run cold.
“Shit. Maybe I should’ve let Tristan kill him.”
Tristan stood outside the room with the Alv alongside Cu’thar, Gortuk, and Angela.
Joining them was a werewolf, Rom, the owner of the inn. Due to his race, he seemed young, but he had at least 200 years on anyone else in the building.
“Sorry about this, Gramps.” Tristan apologized again.
“Don’t worry about it. I know how Gretchen can be.” Rom replied with an easy smile.
“So let me get this straight. When this Alv showed up, all the animals were terrified? Even the Wargs?” Gortuk asked, raising his eyebrows skeptically.
As an Orc, Gortuk had a heavy trust in the fearless nature of the massive Wolves. So it wasn’t surprising that he found it hard to believe.
“Yeah. I checked around to see if it was anything else, but they were all staring at the Alv as if he were Death himself.” Tristan confirmed.
Gortuk shook his head, “Even that much blood shouldn’t have gotten that kind of reaction from Wargs. Hells, someone might actually need to be Death to get that kind of reaction.”
At that moment, Gretchen walked out of the room, drying her hands.
Everyone looked at her, waiting for her to speak.
“Well, the good news is, that he’s not in any danger, and he’s sleeping. I got some water down his throat, but we’re going to need to wait until he wakes up before he gets more sustenance in him.”
“So what’s the bad news?” asked Angela, the Succubus quickly catching on to her friend’s words.
Gretchen looked around to make sure no one else was around. Luckily, all of their men and the other patrons of the inn and tavern had already gone back to their drinks and party.
Once she was confident there were no eavesdroppers, she looked back to her friends and the innkeeper, and said, “You’re all going to need to see this.” With that, she went back into the room.
Everyone looked at one another uneasily before following the Healer inside the room.
There, they all saw their long-time friend standing beside the bed with a worried look on her face, a Dok Alvar lying facedown on the bed, with intricate tattoos that consisted of interconnected lines all across his body.
Once Gortuk, Cu’thar, and Rom saw the tattoos placed between the Alv’s shoulder blades, their faces visibly paled as their hearts skipped a beat. The only sound in the room was Rom muttering, “Rashee.”
Tristan and Angela, not knowing what the word meant could only look between everyone waiting for someone to explain.
“Okay. So obviously, all of you know something that we don’t. Care to explain?” Angela asked, annoyed that no one was explaining what the problem was.
Gortuk audibly swallowed, and said, “Remember when I said that someone would have to be Death to scare Wargs like that? It turns out that might not have been too far off the mark.”
Tristan looked at him, “What do you mean?”
Gretchen cut in, starting to explain.
“The tattoos on his back mark him as a member of a certain clan of Dok Alvar. All Alvar are skilled Warriors and Mages to a certain extent. But there is one clan that excels at war beyond all others. Their clan is called Rashee. All Shee know this clan’s symbol, the black pentagram with a black dragon intertwined. Legend has it that even an average member of the clan can be a match for hundreds of elite soldiers of any race you could name. They’re said to be blessed by the Gods of War and Magic more so than any other, and for that reason, the Dok Alvar view them as the royalty of their people. Many of the other Dok Shee do as well.”
Cu’thar cut in at that moment. “The reason the Dok Alvs are accepted as much as they are among the High and Wood Alvs are because of the Rashee. The story goes, that during the last war between the Demons and Alvs, the head of Clan Rashee, who ordered the Dok Shee to stay out of it, saved the High Alvs’ King from an ambush. As thanks, he was offered anything he desired. The man asked for all the Dok Shee to be treated as equals by the other Shee, even Goblins and Trolls such as myself. The King agreed that the Dok Alvs would be accepted, but no others, and only if Clan Rashee swore themselves to the royal family and fought for them. Rashee wasn’t happy, but he thought it would be a start, so he agreed.”
“And that was the moment that the war that was in a stalemate for over a year shifted,” Rom sighed.
Angela asked the old Werewolf, “What do you mean?”
“I was a young man, just entered into the army at the time. We had been winning battle after battle, and when the next city came into view, we were all excited. Before we could split off to encircle the city and prepare for a siege, five Dok Alvs coming from the city approached us. Our commander thought they were surrendering or something, but when they spoke, what they said was laughable. ‘Turn around and return home, or the five of us will destroy you.’ he said, as calmly as if he were talking about the weather. The commander openly laughed, and refused.” Rom shudders. “That’s when the nightmare began. I was in the front, so I saw it all. The five of them began to glow red, lines across their bodies lit up and their eyes became completely red. At that moment, one of the women raised up her hands, channeled more of that red energy, and dropped it. After that, a massive ball of fire landed in the middle of our army. The next few hours was a blur of running and hiding from those monsters that looked like Alvs as they slaughtered over 5000 experienced soldiers. No one could do anything. Hell the only reason I survived was because they didn’t think I was worth the few seconds it would take to kill me. Even now, 1000 years after the fact, those nightmares still haunt me.”
There was several moments of silence as the younger men and women digested this story. All of them staring at the Dok Alv.
Tristan then looked at Gortuk and asked, “And how do you know of this clan?”
Gortuk chuckled dryly as he responded, “You know how Orcs are. The Orcs who survived the battles with Clan Rashee started telling everyone they could, and it wasn’t long before all Orcs knew that mark and name. Some of them actually started worshiping them as Gods of Calamity and Destruction. If even half of the stories I’ve heard are true, and judging from Rom’s story, they are, then it’s not far off the mark.”
Tristan scratches at the base of his ram-like horns, “So in other words, if this Alv wakes up, he could slaughter us all with no trouble whatsoever.”
“More or less, yes.” Gretchen responded.
Angela cut in with, “What I want to know is why he was wandering out here, covered in week old human blood, well over a week from any human settlements.”
“Well, that is a bit of a long story. But if you all promise not to try to kill me at least until I’ve had a chance to eat, I’ll explain.”
This new voice came from the man on the bed, which everyone thought was asleep.
Well, what do y’all think?