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Combat Chaos - Story 18
D&D - Combat Chaos, Fantasy Stories of Battle

Story 18

VS
40%
60%

KRETX V.S. BEDIEN
Memories of Vengence!

Kretx Dlysatr stared sullenly into his drink. He was a large, powerfully built man. Age had taken it’s toll though, scars from numerous battles crisscrossed his burly arms. His thick hair was beginning to thin and run to gray. His clothes, though once fine, were now ragged and patch-worn. The past few months of his life had been a drunken haze, days melting into one another until they were indistinguishable. How long had it been since he had last eaten? Kretx hardly cared now. A year ago he had been a different man, wealthy and powerful, in charge of a seizable band of mercenaries. Their last real job had been a simple matter of ridding the area of the local lord, providing them with a small keep and the surrounding land. He had talked of retiring there and overseeing the operations, growing fat and wealthy off the reputation they had forged, but now it was so much rubble.

Kretx sighed deeply and drained his mug staring into the dregs. “What had gone wrong?” He silently wondered. It was as if they were cursed as soon as they had laid claim to the place. Marak, his lieutenant had died that very night, apparently having broken his neck when he tumbled drunkenly down the stairs that led to the banquet hall. After that it had only gotten worse half his men had sickened and died. The rest went mad or deserted, claiming to hear voices in the night, voices of the previous occupants, promising horrible fates. In the end, in an insane rage, he had set fire to the place with his own hand. Hoping to burn his troubles with the cursed stones. Unfortunately, everything he had went up with the keep, leaving him only the clothes on his back. Penniless, he had been forced to be a beggar, eventually falling to the lure of cheap ale and the comfort it brought.

Miserably he pushed his empty mug away and cast about for the serving wench, he had just enough for one more ale tonight. He spotted her across the room and started to raise his hand to signal her when a full mug slid in front of him.

Grunting with surprise, he reached for it only to have it swept out of his grasp. “What is this?” He shouted, pushing himself up from his seat. Turning, he found his would-be tormentor. The man was young, but well built. He wore loose road-stained clothes that looked as if they had been taken from someone much larger. He was maybe mid twenties with scraggly brown hair drawn into a ponytail at the base of his neck. One eye was brown, the other was milky white, blind, with a network of scars around it. Kretx frowned, there was something faintly familiar about the stranger.

But what it was eluded his ale fogged mind. He was suddenly wary, the young man’s gaze was far too intent for his liking. “It would do you well to learn some manners, whelp.” He grumbled irritably, returning to his seat. The stranger seemed to smile faintly, a twitch at the corner of his mouth in an otherwise impassive face. He set the mug back on the table just out of reach. “The drink is yours, for a price.”

Kretx snorted and went back to searching for the serving wench. “I think I’ll stick to the Innkeep’s prices.”

The young man sat, his gaze never wavering from Kretx. “Actually I think you’ll like mine better. All I want is a name.”

Kretx looked up, immediately suspicious. “Who’s name?” “Yours.”

Kretx fixed the intense, strange man with a hard stare, then broke out laughing. “That’s rich. You want my name? Dylsatr Kretx Dylsatr” He grabbed the mug and took a drink. It was good ale, not the swill he had been drinking. “Cheapest drink I ever bought. Satisfied the young man leaned back, folding his hands and placing them on the table. “The Kretx Dylsatr? Famed mercenary? Known throughout the free kingdoms?”

Kretx shook his head. “In my younger days. No more.” The young man grinned a little too wide for Kretx. He had seen that type of smile and intense look before, it was a zealot’s smile. “I have a proposition for you… I think you will be inter…”

Kretx cut him off with the wave of his hand. “No deal. I just wanted the drink. Unless you’re buying, go away.” The younger man would not be dissuaded. “Really. I think you should hear me out.”

Kretx stood up and shoved him backwards, toppling him out of his chair. The bar was suddenly silent except for the scrape of a chair on hardwood floor. Kretx looked menacingly around and the patrons returned to their own business. Reaching for his drink, he turned his attention back to the stranger. “Get lost! Before you get hurt.” The young man sat slowly up. “You should have heard me out. We could have come to a reasonable arrangement.” “Over my dead body.” Kretx muttered irritably into his drink as he raised it to his lips. Coiling his feet under him, the young man smiled. “That’s the idea.” Quick as a cat he launched himself into Kretx, catching the larger man in the gut and driving the wind out of him in a spray of ale.

Kretx rolled over onto his stomach, coughing and gagging. He was vaguely aware of his attacker slowly circling him. Catching his breath he glanced up. “That was a mistake.” The young man opened his mouth to retort, only to have his words cut off as he ducked the mug Kretx had held onto.

As quick as he was, Kretx had been quicker, the heavy pewter mug catching the young man in the head and dropping him like a felled ox. Kretx pushed himself to his feet. “So, little whelp. Come to make a name for yourself? Come to fight the mighty Kretx?” He kicked the young man in the ribs sending him sprawling. “Fool.” He hissed, kicking him again. “Many have come before you. How much was the bounty this time? A thousand? Two?”

Kretx paused as the young man muttered something under his breath. “What was that?” His assailant looked up, a fierce intensity in his single eye. “Nothing! There is no bounty!” With a feral growl he launched himself at Kretx, catching the old mercenary with a well aimed blow across the jaw. Staggering him. “I. Will. Kill. You!” He shouted. Each word punctuated by a lightening quick blow. Kretx reeled, set back by too much rink and the young man’s ferocity. He stumbled backwards, half falling across a table, upsetting food and drinks. The two warriors who had been eating jumped up as their food was dumped into their laps. The smaller of the two drew a knife and lunged at Kretx, murder in his eyes.

Kretx reached out and caught the smaller man’s knife hand in his own larger hand and squeezed. There was a crunch of bone and the knife wielder sank to his knees, his mouth wide in a silent scream. Grabbing him by the belt, Kretx turned and hurled him at his assailant, sending both tumbling into a tangled heap. They crashed into the bar and tumbled over it, shattering bottles and spilling drinks. A moment of silence hung over the bar, then it erupted into chaos. It’s patrons turning on each other at the sight of spilled booze. Kretx shook his head to clear it and stalked angrily over to the bar. “Get up whelp! I’m not finished with you.” He reached the bar in two strides, shoving people out of his way, around him patrons fought tooth and claw, mugs and trays flying with reckless abandon. He ducked to avoid a poorly aimed plate and scooped up a chair, smashing it into a makeshift club, thus armed he jumped over the bar. The bartender who had hidden at the first sign of a struggle scooted frantically away, of his opponent, there was no sign. “Where are you?” He bellowed over the din. “Here.” Kretx turned at the sound of his assailant’s voice and caught a bottle full across the face.

Momentarily blinded he swung wildly and connected with someone who went ‘oof’ and fell heavily to the floor. Kretx wiped the liquor out of his eyes and surveyed his handiwork. “Damn.” He muttered, it was only the bartender. Furious he scanned the melee. Out of the corner of his eye he caught a flicker of movement. Years of instinct took over and he flattened to the ground as a dagger sailed over his head. “Coward!” He swore loudly, throwing his club in the direction the dagger had come from. Unfortunately the throw was clumsy and missed its mark, striking another brawler and laying him out cold. The young man smiled wildly and drew two more knives, throwing them one after the other. Kretx grunted as one struck him in the shoulder and stuck. Roaring like a bull he lurched to his feet and charged his assailant, determined to crush the whelp into pulp. He hardly even blinked, drawing two more knives he sighted Kretx’s large form. Cocking his arm back he started to throw when a chair caught him across the back sending him full into Kretx’s charge.

The mercenary seized his advantage and caught the younger man easily by the neck with his large hands. Hardly breaking stride he bore his lighter opponent through the bar, slamming him hard enough against the far wall hard enough to splinter it. Tightening his grip he leaned close. “I want your last thought to be that you failed to kill a tired, broken old man.” His assailant squirmed and clawed, throwing ineffectual punches as his face turned purple. Kretx growled and squeezed harder, crushing the life from his opponent. Suddenly the room began to spin slightly. Looking down he realized where the young man’s other dagger had gone. Kretx’s body betrayed him then and he fell back hard, sitting and staring dumbly at the dagger in his chest. Everything seemed to be far away, the noise around him fading to a dull roar.

Blood began to form on his lips. He looked up at his assailant who was coughing and choking to find his breath. “Who are you?” The young man rolled over and pushed himself to his knees. “Malcaster,” He gasped. “Bedien Malcaster. You slaughtered my family.” Kretx frowned. He now realized why the younger man’s face had been vaguely familiar. Then it came to him. “Ah yes, the young paladin. I remember now. I split your helm with my axe.” The young man nodded. “You took my eye, my life, my faith, my home and my family” Kretx frowned. “It was you, wasn’t it?” Bedien nodded. “When your men occupied my family’s keep. I hid, wounded and sick. I poisoned your men and hid in the walls. Driving them mad in the night with demonic whispering.”

Kretx choked an some blood and slumped forward, his vision growing dim. “You poisoned them? But you were a paladin… Where was your honor?” Bedien smiled grimly. “Honor is an empty word when your kin lays slaughtered in their own home.” Kretx slumped to one side and laughed quietly, his laughter quickly turning into bloody choking.

Perplexed, Bedien rolled the dying man over. “What’s so funny?” Kretx grinned, his teeth and lips bloody. “It would seem that I made a new man out of you…”



By: Jason Haley

 
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