Arvid, Chapter 3
- Arvid, Chapter 1
- Arvid, Chapter 2
- Arvid, Chapter 3
- Arvid, Chapter 4
Not one hour after Arvid had drifted to sleep, he woke up to a noise from the tavern four floors below. The unmistakable sound of a wooden mug slamming on a table, amplified by his Neraidan ears.
“Aye!” a chorus of drunk men cheered in newfound confidence.
“An’ Blood-Demhain or no, we gonna’ let him claim one of our kin in the dead of night when we’re unawares?”
Arvid didn’t need to see them through the fire as before in order to know where this was headed. It was his time to leave.
He threw on his cloak and shoved the last quarter of his bottle of root whiskey into his satchel.
Checking to feel his knives were still secure under his tunic out of habit, he moved his palms over the candle flame on his bedside. The flame danced and jumped off the wick into his palm, which he clenched shut.
He likewise gathered in the dying flames of the fire with both hands as one might collect slow-moving fish with no net. Bringing the separated flames to his face, Arvid inhaled deeply, and the room fell dark.
“Yer gonna’ get yerself killed ya’ are. Whole lot o’ ye,” the bartender’s voice whispered up from below as Arvid opened the door with a creak.
As Arvid heard the determined buckling of sword belts and sheathing and unsheathing of knives, he slipped out the fourth-floor window of the hall and into the night.
Could he go back down and kill the lot before they unsheathed a single useless blade? Of course. But then, he was no better than the creature they mistook him for.
Arvid gripped the slate tiles of the slanted roof beneath a thin layer of snow in the darkness. He made his way up and over to crouch near a chimney overlooking an alleyway and stopped.
Fat snowflakes fell from the night sky into the little town, lit by only a few candles and lanterns in a handful of thatched huts.
He heard scuffles in the snow in the neighboring alleyway, then a cry for help muffled by hands over the mouth.
Stay the fek out of it, he thought. No good ever comes from interacting with humans more than need be.
“AyyyySot! Fucker bit me!” a deep voice growled before more shuffling, punches, and a groan from the victim.
“Ahh… fek it all to the seven hells,” Arvid whispered as he jumped to the next roof over toward the sounds.
The wind rushed out of Sansha’s lungs as he crumpled to the ground in the snow. The three much larger young men who’d made it a ritual to beat him in alleys such as this commenced their rib-cracking kicks and nose-crunching stomps.
Sansha assumed his usual curled-up position with his arms around his head in an attempt to prevent any long-term brain damage.
He felt his already crooked nose pop and begin to gush blood into the snow where he lay.
“Ye no-good fekin’ whoreson!” Jeremiah growled as he delivered a kick to Sansha’s crotch.
Sansha was normally quite resilient to his beatings and kept his cries to a minimum in order to prevent the gang from having too much satisfaction. But this was an exception, and he howled like a dog with its foot in a bear trap.
“I see ye so much as look at my woman again, and we’ll take more than a finger,” Jeremiah said as he knelt on Sansha’s back, and his other two cronies stopped their kicks.
Jeremiah grabbed Sansha’s hair and wrenched his head up from the bloody snow.
“Ye hear me ye filthy Neraidan half-breed son of a whore?” The other two began to snicker, and Jeremiah opened his mouth to say something else but was cut short.
A flurry of dark cloak flapped down from the rooftops above the alley and took down the two standing near the stone wall.
The massive figure landed with his hands pressed down on the backs of their heads for a moment before releasing his grip on the unconscious bodies.
Jeremiah’s eyes lit with fear as the Neraidan stood and lifted him off the ground by his throat.
“Fekin’ knew your whore mother was spreadin’ for Demhain filth!” Jeremiah spat out as the Neraidan tightened his grip around the young man’s throat.
Sansha rolled over and looked up at Arvid, whose hood had fallen, revealing two spiraling dark horns protruding from his hair.
Arvid’s pointed teeth snarled as he spoke in a voice calmer and quieter than Sansha expected.
“The boy does not know me, and I don’t know him. All I know is that you are the type of shite stain that makes my kind wish to wipe humans off the face of this realm.”
No longer brave enough to spit out an insult, Jeremiah writhed in the air, fruitlessly clutching at Arvid’s iron grip as he wet himself.
Sansha held his breath as Arvid looked down at him on the alley floor, covered in blood.
The Neraidan snarled at the young boy in pitied disgust before he turned his face back to the whimpering.
“Leave the boy alone,” Arvid growled. He brought his face close enough so that Jeremiah could feel Arvid’s breath on his ear. “Or I’ll be back to eat your organs as your family watches,” he lied.
With that, Arvid slammed the young man’s head against the wall and stalked down the alley toward the forested mountainside in the distance.
Sansha scrambled to his feet and wiped the blood from his nose with a clump of snow.
He took the long dagger from Jeremiah’s belt before delivering a kick to his face and then ran after the cloaked Neraidan.