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
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