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Author caadu

Stories : Caadu's Story

EverQuest 2 tale by caadu, 2005-06-30T14:31:00.0000000. Reads: 446
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He's here, hunting me. I can't see him, but I know he's here. All around me is dark, unnaturally dark. Not even my Tier'Dal vision can make out anything. He's getting closer, I can feel it. How can he find me? Is he not as blind as me? Those drums, they are everywhere. No. Not drums. My heart is hammering in my ears. He's following the sound of my heartbeat. The pounding beat is louder and faster, I can sense him reaching out to touch me.
"Mister! Mister, wake up!"
"Wha..? Ah, 'twas only a dream." I wipe the sweat from my brow. Propping myself up off the drenched pillow, I look around to see the familiar inn room and an unfamiliar boy. He can't be more than ten years of age. "Who are you and what are you doing in my room?" There is a look of fear and wonder on his face. I reach out a hand and tossle his hair and try to show a friendly smile.
"M-my n-name is Tarbin, b-but m-my friends call m-me Runt." The fear has faded from his face, but the wonder is still there. "I'm s-sorry for b-being in your room, Mister, b-but I couldn't help m-myself. I've n-never seen a d-dark elf before. I only s-snuck in t-to p-peek at you, b-but you were having a b-bad d-dream."
"You wouldn't lie to me, now, would you?"
"N-no sir! M-my m-mother said n-never lie. Lying m-makes m-me no b-better than a ..." There's a little of that fear returning to his face.
"No better than a what, boy?" He casts his eyes toward the floor.
"N-no b-better than a d-dark elf." He looks back at me wide-eyed and says excitedly, "B-but you're d-different. P-people say you're n-not like the others. They say you're a g-good g-guy. Well, m-most do anyway."
"Most? Tell me, boy, what do the others say about me?" Downward gaze again.
"Um, well, they say you were b-born evil. They say you're still evil. They say you're a spy." Slowly, he raises his head to look at me again. "Are you a spy?"
I study him for a moment. Unkempt red hari, freckles, and bright blue inquisitive eyes. "What do you think, boy? Do you think I'm a spy?"
"N-no, sir. I d-don't think a spy would t-talk t-to a b-boy like m-me."
"Ah, good. Then we're agreed. I'm not a spy, and you're not a small thief come to steal my belongings." The boy beams a smile at me. "Now tell me, boy, where are your parents?"
"Well, m-mister, m-my mom works in the k-kitchen here. M-my d-dad, well, he left a year ago t-to fight ... um ... t-to fight p-people like you." He cocks his head to the side and looks up at me. "B-but you seem n-nice. Why d-di he leave t-to fight d-dark elves? Why c-couldn't he stay home with m-me?"
And there's the real reason he's here. True, he was curious to see a Tier'Dal, but more than that he was seeking answers. "Tell you what ... Tarbin is it?" He nods his head. "I'll call you Tarbin instead of boy, if you call me Caadu instead of Mister. Deal?" He nods again, grinning. "Now, Tarbin, if you'll go fetch me some breakfast while I get dressed, I'll tell you a story of what brought me here. Perhaps that will help explain why your father had to go away. Sound good to you?"
"Yes! Mist ... er, um ...Caadu, sir." With that he hurries off out of the room.
The innocence of children. It's so abundant within the walls of Qeynos. Freedom may be what these people claim to fight for, but I think deep down they fight to protect the innocence here.
Tarbin returns with a plate of bread, cheese, and eggs and a mug of milk all balanced carefully on a tray. "Smells delicious. Set it on the table there and pull up a chair. You'll have to thank your mother for me."
"N-nah. She thinks it's f-for m-me. She wouldn't let m-me out of the k-kitchen if she knew I was t-talking t-to you."
"Ah, fair enough, I guess. Then I guess this will have to be for your trouble." His eyes sparkle as I pass a couple silver coins across the table to him. Such a polite lad. Doesn't say a word while I eat. He tries not to stare, but I still catch the occasional sideways glance now and then. He pretends to be interested in various objects around the room until I push my plate away, and he once again focuses his full attention on me. "Mmmm. It was indeed as good as it smelled. I may just have to hire you to sneak your mothers good cooking to me." He laughs. "Now, I'm to tell you a story. A true story, mind you. Where should I begin?"
"At the b-beginning, of c-course," he says with a grin.
"Ah, but to start at the very beginning would take more time than I think either of us has. I know, I'll start the story at the point where I was your age. How does that sound?"
"Sounds p-perfect," and he leans forward with elbows on the small tabel and his chin resting in his open palm. Looking into his freckled face, I begin.

Chapter 1

"Freeport is a rich city with much to offer.  However, it is never offered lightly.  Those who are strong take what they want.  Everyone else steals, cheats, manipulates, or even kill to get what they want.  Do its citizens think of this as wrong and evil?  No.  To them it is the way life is.  Survival of the fittest, or at least what the Overlord sees as strong.<br>
Compassion, mercy, honor, integrity ... these are thought of as weaknesses in that dark city.  Strengths there are cunning, ambition, money, and power.  As relatively new refugees to freeport, my family had no money.  Our home was little more than a closet on a dirty side street.  I work filthy rags and ate scraps from garbage because it was only slightly better than starving or freezing.<br>
Mind you, I was, at that time, what you would consider evil.  I didn't know it, of course.  We had no money or power.  My father told tales of our family once being rich and very powerful.  It was before my time and I do not remember.  Our family name was Shar'Talinok, and once struck fear into the hearts of those who spoke it.  As a refugee, names meant nothing.  The loss of all that power sent my father into a depression from which he sank into drunkeness.  My mother left him for his weakness, and me for reminding her of him.<br>
As for me, I had cunning and ambition.  Slavery runs rampant in and around Freeport.  I was able to read and write, and even knew the true value of money.  It didn't take me long to find a fairly wealthy family of trolls to take me as a slave.  Why trolls you ask?  They're ineritantly stupid.  They were just smart enough to know they needed help with keeping track of their business books, and dumb enough not to realize that any smart slave would eventually rob them blind.  And that was my plan.  I was to suffer being a slave to trolls until I was old enough to strike out on my own, all the while embezzling money from their smithing business.<br>
This was not as easy as it seemed, mind you.  When fighting or eating isn't envolved, trolls are lazy.  I harvested and mined fro them while they gradually began to drink and fight more, and smith weapons and armor less.  I was stuck being a slave for a family of trolls that was drinking the business into the ground.  There no longer was any money coming in for me to steal.  I dared not run away.  Runaway slaves were hunted and killed.  Or worse, they were hunted and captured, only to be relaeased so they could be hunted for sport.  I still had cunning and ambition, though, and began paying more attention to the business and teaching myself how to forge armor and weapons.  As the years went on, I became better at it, and I began selling things I made on the side and pocketing the profits.  Occasionally, I sold from my masters store so they'd have enough money to remain drunk and ignorant.  This went on for several years.<br>
One day I was in the smithy when a customer pulled a sword from a rack and asked me about it.  I could tell he really didn't care about the weapon for a couple of reasons.  My first clue was that he was an erudite, and they aren't known for their prowess with blades.  The second was the way he just stared at me rather than inspecting the weapon.  What did I care, though.  If he bought it I'd have more money in my pocket.  So, I answered his question and said that I indeed did make the sword.<br>
"Do you know what this weapon will be used for?" he asked.<br>
"Killing I assume, since the carving knives are against the other wall."  He was not amused.<br>
"This sword and the other weapons you make will be used to slaughter innocents."<br>
I think that was the first time I really heard the word innocent.  However, I still didn't grasp what he was talking about.  "Well then, I guess I'll have to make them extra sharp so they kill quickly."<br>
Again, he was not amused and lay the sword down and stormed out of the smithy.  My curiousity was peaked.  Who in Freeport was an innocent?  And why should anyone care if they were slaughtered?  If they were killed, they were weak and a drain on the city's resources.<br>
Later that night, I went to the part of town where the erudites resided.  I told myself I was only out for an evening stroll, but soon found myself sneaking into the shadwos when I heard the voice of the strange customer.  He and three others were huddled around a small fire and talking softly.  Easing my way through the dark, I was able to get within ear shot of them.<br>
I couldn't believe what I was hearing.  They were discussing plans to free some local slaves and smuggle them to Qeynos.  It was blasphemy.  Before I could decide on whether to shout for a guard or sneak off to find one, I saw a flash of firelight on metal and with a sickening swish watched the head of one of the men fall into the fire.  Three Freeport militia guards stepped into the light and quickly killed two of the remaining men.  The last man, the same erudite that had visited my store, was able to flee the scene with the guards giving chase.  Before I knew what I was doing, I found myself following after the guards.<br>
The chase didn't last too long, only a few streets away the militia burst through the door of a small house the erudite had run into.  I waited outside while screams from inside split the night air.  After only a minute, the screams had dimished into sobs.  Then the guards left the house with the erudite in chains and weeping.<br>
I stayed there in the shadow for a while longer before stepping out.  The erudite was more than likely being led to the prison where he'd be tortured 'til he confessed to treason, then executed.  Treason was, after all, very serious and he deserved what he got.  At that moment, however, was a new opportunity.  Here was a home with a busted door and the ownter areested.  I entered the home prepared to loot what I could.  What I found when I stepped into the room stole those thoughts from me.  Blood was everywhere.  Three bodies lay there; a woman, a boy, and a baby.  The remains of the baby haunt me to this day.  One of its arms had been severed from its body, and the body itself was almost cut in half ... lengthwise.<br>
I vomitted in the corner, then ran home as fast as I could.  The whole time the erudites words from the smithy ringing in my ears, "slaughter of innocents."<br>
Days afterward I walked the streets, listenting to bits of conversations everywhere.  I learned that most of the citizens truely were evil and either didn't care about the murdered family, or wished they'd had a ahnd in the killing and looting.  I also learned that there were some, not many, but some that wanted to leave the city and head west.  There was talk of a place ruled by true justice, where people were free and life was cherished.  They talked of joining up with the army there to fight agains the Overlord.<br>
In another month I'd be old enough to be enlisted into the militia.  This meant no longer being a slave to the drunken trolls.  I would still not be free, however.  If not a slave then forced to be a soldier.  Either way, I'd be serving someone else's interests.  After the slaughter I'd seen, these were interests I wanted nothing to do with.  I had to get out.  There was no way I could ever kill the way they did.<br>
My decision made, I stopped just listening and started asking questions.  Before long a name was given to me of someone that could help.  The risk I was taking was great.  For the first time in my life I wanted more than money or personal gain, I wanted freedom for myself, freedom for others, and vengence for the slaughter of innocents.  I took that risk.<br>
I sought out the person who could help.  He sent me to another deep in the sewers of Freeport.  This second person required a task of me before he could trust me further.  I was to find and kill a spy that had information against Qeynos.  This is not a task I accepted lightly.  I felt I only had two choices however, stay in a city that places no value on life, or kill one spy in the name of a greater freedom.<br>
I was set up.  There was no spy.  Instead, the Overlord himself was there to meet me in the room I was sent to.  He was not alone.  With him were his personal guard and executioner.  I was put to death then and there without even a trial.<br>
Oh yes.  I did die.  A day later I woke ... yes, woke ...outside the city walls with the executioner standing over me.  You see, there was a spy after all.  The exectutioner is actually a priest from Qeynos itself.  I don't know how many others she has saved and helped out of Freeport.<br>
Now, I fight for freedom.  The Overlord still believes me to be dead, as far as I know.  Someday, I hope to see him again, face to face, to watch him die and put an end to his tyrany.<br>
You see, young Tarbin, you can enjoy your childhood and the love of your mother because your father fights for your freedom.  As long as he and others like him keep fighting, the Overlord's rule will never reach Qeynos."<br>
His face has lost it's curious glow, it is now beaming with pride.  "Now Tarbin, take these dishes to your mother before she worries where you are.  You and I can talk another time."

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