Nicks Game

Chapter 1 - A New Horizon

                While travelling the southern lands in Castille, following dead ends and leads on my family's murderers, I found out two things.  One, Theah is expensive, flashy, and noisy, and, two, no one accepts chickens as a form of payment.  In desperate need of guilders, I hired myself to some Vodacce winemaker.  I forget his name, not very good at remembering names, so I just called him Boss.  Seemed simple enough and I'm not bound to forget it.

                 We were at a tavern in San Something-or-Other after the Boss just finished a very lucrative trade.  People accept wine as payment but not chickens.  The Boss, feeling rather delighted with himself after such a profitable day, decided to take up a challenge of cups with some fellow patrons, including some priest.  Once again, I'll have to remind you that I'm very bad with names so I'll just call him Priest.  Boss and Priest drank all the challengers under the table until they both passed out at the same time and ended up splitting the pot between them…after three drinks.  These southern men are made of softer stuff than I thought possible.

                 After collecting their winnings, Priest headed upstairs, off to bed to sleep off his watered-down ale, while Boss finally paid me.  Shortly after, Boss headed upstairs himself and bid me to stand guard outside his door.  Several minutes later, I was quickly asleep against the wall, dreaming of my sweet Asha.  None of these smaller, southern men would dare to wake someone of my size, or so I thought.  In the dark of night, a loud commotion downstairs brings me out of my sweet dreams.  I headed downstairs to see who was about to get a table flung at them.  Inquisitioners, and lots of them.  Odd how one never sees a lone Inquisitioner, they always travel in packs, like dogs.  No doubt they were looking for me since I questioned some of them about the my family's murder by banging some their heads together.

                 I'm not a man to forget his duties, break his word, or dishonor himself.  I rushed upstairs to wake Boss and alerted him to the holier-than-thou trouble brewing downstairs.  When he came to, it was too late, they were outside the door.  I flung a chair under the door knob to buy us sometime.  "He's in there," one of the soon-to-be-badly-beaten said.  They started kicking in the door, and I'm not one to keep people waiting.  I snatched up the chair, and the first fool had a face full of door while the second had a chair heaved at him  with such strength that he doubled over in pain.  The rest weren't so lucky, they had to deal with me and my boys (the handaxes).  Soon as they were done with, I grabbed Boss and left a Vesten-sized hole in the window, where we nearly fell on top of Priest.

                 "Forget them, it's him we want!" shouted the one in charge from the window.  Next thing I know, Priest is caught in a storm of badly-placed bullets.  "Follow me,"  Priest quickly said.  I set Boss down and chased after him.  A few dark alleys and several knocked-out Inquisitioners later, we arrive at the docks.  Boss recognized the boat of a friend who gave us safe passage in exchange for some extra hands on deck.  We arrived safe and sound at El Somewhere and immediately went to a fancy, really fancy, tavern.

                 Boss asked Priest why the Inquisition was after him, but all Priest said was that he "...did the right thing, but they, the Inquisition, disagreed."  Sounded good enough excuse to me to knock some Inquisition heads together.  Boss decided to try his luck at cards.  I think he may have a gambling problem, I need to keep an eye on him before he loses my wages again.

                 His luck seemed to prove fortuitous for once until a bad hand came up.  I suspected another player of cheating and intervened on Boss's behalf by flipping the table over.  Apparently, this tavern is a place where students from a nearby university come to relax, and they didn't appreciate my form of gentlemanly conversation.  After some broken tables, chairs, and bones, I almost had an apology from the cheating bastard when I heard the distinctive sound of a dozen guns being cocked, a sound I have heard once too many times.  I grabbed Boss and leapt over the counter for cover.  I think Priest had already been subdued, but I had my own problems to work out at that moment.

                 The one in charge was the some head of the university and the cheater's father.  "Surrender, and you may get to live,"  the boy's fathers said… I think.  Things got a little fuzzy, I was pretty angry by then, after having a dozen guns pointing at me and Boss.  So, I got rid of a few of them by letting loose Erik and Jarl (the handaxes).  These scholars were hardy men, and excellent shots as well.  Nine shots later, the room was going dark, and I felt like Vendel (Swiss) cheese.  Last thing I saw before Death was Boss putting a napkin on the end of his sword and waving it from behind the counter.  What an odd thing to do, I had them just were I wanted them…out of bullets.

                 I was waiting for Death's cold, familiar embrace when I suddenly came to.  They patched me up at the university and offered the three of us a job.  In return, no charges would be filed and the boy would be disciplined.  The boy's father, who turned out to be the dean, just wanted us to escort some wagons of books to Eisen, and if all of them made the journey intact, we would receive a handsome bonus upon our return.  We would have others journeying with us, but our primary concern was to be the safekeeping of the books.

                 I wasn't expecting a challenging journey.  The weather was pleasant, and the job seemed easy.  There were some pretty wenches making eyes at me for most of the journey.  Pretty they may have been but too frail for Ragnar the Crimson.  There would be no woman as fiery as Asha was.  Anyway, if there were to be any trouble on this trip, it would be at the Castille-Eisen border, and, once again, I was right.

                 Boss pointed out a shadowy figure hiding in a tree further up the road.  " Go find out what that is," he asked of me.  He has such a way with words, how could I refuse.  Using an ancient technique handed down from my father who learned it from his father's father, I used my thumb to steady my aim and hurled Asha (the handaxe with a blue ribbon tied to it) at the tree from a150 paces.  My aim was true, and my arm strong as the tree, and several behind it, came crashing down, and men were falling out like leaves in a storm.  Asha was always a fiesty wench.

                 Men were dropping left and right as they charged at me from the treeline.  I looked over at Boss to make sure he was alright when I noticed that he was busy fighting a masked stranger.  No doubt he was some Avalon pretty boy, so I let the Fury take over and charged the Masked Bastard.  He was definitely Avalon, tricky Bastard kept getting away from my attacks.  He jumped onto the wagon carrying the scrawny wenches, not the books oddly enough.  He used his Fairy Magic and tricked me off of the wagon.  Priest was on top of the wagon by then, fighting off waves of the Masked Bastard's men.

                 I looked around and saw Boss taking off with the first wagon of books and jumping out as it took off on its own.  Inquisitioners were coming up the road with torches in hand.  They like burning stuff, I wonder if Theus likes burning as well.  As I came around from my blind Fury, Boss was already in the second wagon, but the Inquisitioners were already on top of him, flinging torches into the wagon.  The cowards took off after I bloodied a few of them, thinking that their task had been completed.  Boss snuffed out the flames with his cloak while I bravely grabbed the chests and dumped the books out of harm's way, after all the flames feared me not the other way around.  In the end, our pay was saved.

                 Priest managed to keep the bandits off the wenches's wagon, but he too got tricked off by the Avalon Fairy.  Boss picked him up, and we were off once again.  The books were saved, but the frail wenches were taken.  I had a duty to perform, a task I promised to take, and had no time to chase after them.  The books arrived safely along the Eisen coast without further incident.  The captain of the ship we were delivering to informed us that our pay was at another castle.  So, we turned around and started to trek back south once more in search of a pay promised to us.

                 As we layed to rest that night, I had a dream… a dream about some fancy, upside-down duck.  Needless to say, I woke up with a great hunger, and, along the way back, Boss bought us all some fancy duck eggs.  They were delicious.  Shortly afterwards, we came across an inn with a sign of said upside-down duck, and Boss wanted to go take a look around.  Maybe he had the same dream too.  Damn uptight ducks.



The Setting of the Stage

We join our would-be hero's on a rather normal night ..

This story is told from the perspective of Ragnar the Crimson, a Vesten of enormous size and strength. 


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