James, son of Lord Rainport entered his father’s castle.
His tour had been tough as evidenced by his dented and marked armour and a few new scars. He had manhandled rowdy natives, killed brigands and hunted a pequin with a spear.
He walked proudly. He had completed a tour for the king and had been captain over several rotations of soldiers. As a second son, this would be part of a continuing legacy for his house.
Emerson Berengar was frustrating at first, but he had grown to like him and the 16 convicts he led. James was embarrassed that he said he would be his overlord, but it was water under the bridge for both of them.
Jeptha, or Beast as he was better known was his favorite. He had spent countless hours teaching him swordsmanship and polearm proficiency. It was a secret he kept with Beast as a rebellious act toward his father.
A year ago, his father and older brother tortured Jeptha because they thought he knew the location to a hidden portal the kings alchemist was looking for.
James would have nothing to do with it.
When the full moon came, Jeptha broke free of his bonds and escaped. Fearful of a scandal, Lord Rainport quickly spread the word that he had eaten a child. An angry mob set about to lynch him before the city watch became involved and locked him up for his safety.
He was greeted by the king’s alchemist and men dressed in dark hooded robes. Lord Rainport rushed to meet him.
” The orders. Were they set in motion?”
James stared daggers at his father.
” My tour was eventful. Thank you for asking.”
” The orders, James!” Lord Rainport screamed.
” what are you talking about?”
” the animation letter, you cumberground! The messenger hand delivered it!”
” I burned it. Without even looking at it.”
Lord Rainport raised his hand to strike James. Instincts kicked in and James blocked.
“You are not going to hit me again, father.”
Lord Rainport was enraged.
“Guards, take this filth!”
The guards approached, drawing their swords.
James held a sheathed longsword in his hand. They circled warily.
” you would throw your son in a dungeon?”
Lord Rainport was beyond reason.
” This is bigger than anything, everything! Don’t you see? We could have brought great power to us.”
A guard stepped too close to his right side, almost in his blind spot.
James had been in the field too long. His left hand released his scabbard and his aim was true, the cut clean. Time seemed to stop. His head toppled to the ground, a sword dropped, a body fell.
James recovered, placing both hands on his sword. He caught a target glance; a forward thrust was coming to his front right midsection. Swinging wide arc, he blocked the stab and continued through, gutting the guard to his left.
James spun around and faced the remaining guards with a low ready blocking a strike as he did so.
There is a distinct distaste for battle that comes from seeing the crumpled remains of a companion and the screaming of one holding their insides in place with their hands. The consequence of laying hands on a second heir further hindered forward momentum.
Lord Rainport was shocked.
“You bastard, you killed them, in my house.”
James looked at his sword. The end had shattered off with the last block.
” You speak well, Lord Rainport. Your eldest son gave me this sword as you did not present me one. It was well used when I recieved it. Now I have no sword and no loyalty. We are severed. Jeptha is Beast, I am Bastard.”
He dropped his broken sword and walked out of the castle. He would not be returning.
Lord Rainport cursed and ordered the bodies to be disposed of.
” I will deal with James later. Let’s continue.”
The kings alchemist turned to Lord Rainport.
” this is not good. the portal was to be opened in the morning. It is too late.”
Lord Rainport sought out the dark arts. He pointed to a dark hooded man.
“Read the scroll again, minion.”
The minion said, It is hard to translate, but it reads like this.
“Marvel Stanley created a fantastic avenger wolverine hulk thor spider. His images come to life if you read them. His work brings you to another dimension. Human torch flame on hawk eye. Eleventh Month, Twelfth Day, 95, one year ago Posthumous Animation“
The kings alchemist scratched his head. He had read it on his collection of webs and transcribed it. It was accurate.
“This can be nothing other than Brother’s Campfire. If James had put a hawks eye on the human’s torch or fire, we would have animated Marvel Stanley. Who likes fire more than Emerson Berengar?” There are approximately 95 in the village of Northwich and he has been there around one year. The timing and placement are perfect. If James had done as asked, our plot would have worked.”
Lord Rainport kicked his dog, who was sleeping too soundly for his taste. He scrambled off to safety.
He steepled his fingers.
“I have another plan.”