Sunday, 31 May 2015

Jacek's Fantasy Counterpart

This is from the sequel to my magical fantasy novel THE CATASTROPHE OF THE EMERALD QUEEN. Entitled THE SUNDER OF THE OCTAGON, it contains a character based on Polish KMG instructor Jacek Walczak.

The character is called Alaskadie, a badass of the first order. In this scene he is threatened by a gang of thieves in a tavern.



The room was dark and smoky. Very few people were there and the aura of the place was one of sleepiness and age. Snoring with his head on the table was Old Ben, drunk as usual after his lunch time session. At another table sat two men playing a dice game. Their faces were old and leathery, lacking expression. Occasionally they took swigs from the large metal tankards by their right hands.
There was little sound in the room and the figure in the far corner liked it that way. Peace and quiet. The chance to drink in solitude and reflect on the world. His blue eyes saw the room in clarity, his mind wandering to memories of his past. His training, his life, his childhood. Forever waiting for a signal he knew would never come. Not in his lifetime, or five generations before him. He knew that his life would be constant anticipation of a call to duty that wouldn’t come.
Alaskadie was very, very bored.
He glanced to the bar. The barman was looking at him quizzically. At the crystal gaze from the blue eyes the barman’s face momentarily flickered with fear and he looked away.
The barman Steren, had never seen the man before. A well built fellow of well over 6 feet. His hair was cut to the scalp. He wore a loose shirt, the buttons open to the navel due to the heat in the room. He could tell the man could handle himself. He considered himself able to judge people within seconds and his brief conversation with the stranger had made the hairs on his neck prickle. Muscles rippled in his arms as he walked, his shoulders broad and all he’d asked for was a bottle and to be left alone to enjoy it. Quiet yet there was something frightening about the man.
Oh well, he thought. At least the stranger meant no harm. Steren turned back to the bottles behind him and reached for one to brush off the dust. There was a loud crash and the door the tavern burst open.
“Hey, heeyyyy. Back in town again. The boys are here!”
Steren winced and composed himself before turning round. The Aaron brothers. They’d been gone for weeks and he hoped they’d decided never to come back.
He smiled as he turned round. “Morning lads, what can I get you? On the house of course.”
Unik Aaron was facing him. His two brothers either side and four of their friends behind. Unik was a scrawny man of about five and a half feet. His hair was shoulder length and lank, the stubble on his face partially hiding the pock marks and blemishes. Half his left ear was gone, the result of a fight he’d had several years ago. He grimaced at Steren and tutted loudly. “Now now, let’s not forget who you’re talking to fat man”, he chided as if talking to a child. His brothers simply glared at Sengen but the other four tittered loudly. “Of course the drinks are on the house. You don’t expect us to PAY do you?”
Steren swallowed hard, trying to control his shaking. “No offence meant boys, take a seat. I’ll bring a few bottles right over.”
Unik moved forward slowly, his brothers flanking him. He lunged and grabbed Steren by the lapels of his shirt, pulling him halfway over the bar. He whispered slowly, “You call me sir you fat idiot. You understand that?!!”
Steren was terrified but he nodded slowly then added, “Yes sir”. The Aaron brothers had clearly had a bad time, whatever they’d been doing while they were away. He glanced at Malik and Doren, the two younger brothers. They were taller than Unik, their wide brimmed hats battered by wind and rain. Their long leather coats faded. All were armed with swords and Steren prayed to his personal gods that they would simply get drunk and then leave.
Unik smirked and let him go. He turned to where the two men were playing dice. They were looking at him with wide eyed fear in silence. Unik smiled amiably and said, “You two chaps won’t mind buying us a drink will you? And that table is mine I think you’ll find.”
The four other mean surrounded them, hands resting on the hilts of their swords. The menace was palpable but no one spoke. Slowly the two men took leather purses from their belts and placed them on the table with a loud jingle. Unik chuckled and the two men stood up and moved to the door, the wall of men parting to let them out.
“Splendid,” Unik said grinning. Some of his teeth were missing and his smile was far from pleasant to see.
“What about him?” one of his men said, pointing to where Old Ben still sat snoring, head on the table.
Unik chuckled. “Old Ben’s a good lad. Just leave him. He was a friend of my father’s.”
They pulled chairs up to the table and Steren arrived with two large bottles of rum.
“That the best you can do old man?” Unik snapped angrily.
“No, no. Not at all,” Steren said quickly. Just getting you some more.”
“Good man,” Unik replied, not looking at him. He pulled the cork with his teeth from a bottle and took a big swig. Steren returned with two more bottles and put them on the table, then returning with a tray of small glasses.
“Well lads” Unik said looking round the dimly lit room, “Never thought I’d see this place again. Good to be back don’t you think?”
The others sniggered and one poured rum into the glasses and they raised them in a toast.
“To taking whatever you want!” Unik said, glancing at Steren who looked away.
The others shouted back, “WHATEVER WE WANT!” and swiftly downed the drinks.
Unik looked around the room, his eyes finally fully adjusting to the gloom. He saw the stranger in the corner. His brow creased. The man was simply staring at them, one hand holding a glass. As he looked at the stranger the other man made no attempt to look away or acknowledge him. Unik’s anger riled and he said loudly, “Well, well boys. Looks like we’ve got a new friend in our tavern. Why don’t we say hello.” He stood up ,his chair scraping back as he got to his feet.
He sauntered over to where the stranger sat. The man simply stared at him levelly as he approached. His brothers flanking him and the others one step behind.
“It’s polite to introduce yourself when your betters enter a room,” Unik said grinning.
The stranger simply looked at him, then the others, then slowly raised his glass to his lips and took a drink.
“Cat got your tongue?” Unik asked. His brothers smiled and the others giggled again. “I must say you’re a quiet one. Still I’ll forgive your lack of manners if you buy us all a drink. Can’t say fairer than that can I?”
The man’s expression didn’t change. He slowly finished his drink, put his glass on the table and then wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. He looked past Unik to the bar, his expression one of complete disinterest. He took the bottle and filled his glass again, ignoring all of them.
Unik found his temper fraying. He got respect wherever he went and this man wasn’t even acknowledging him. His cheerful fa├žade slipped. Through gritted teeth he hissed, “I’m talking to you. Now you put down that glass and pay attention to me.” He looked at the stranger’s wrist and saw the bracelet, a many sided, multi coloured jewel encased in strands of silver over a chunky leather strap. “I think we can start by you handing over that bracelet if you want us to forgive your rudeness.” One of his brothers laughed loudly.
Finally the stranger spoke. His tone was weary and cracked, as if he didn't speak very often and his voice was rarely used.
“Everywhere I go, I meet people like you,” he said, staring at Unik again.
Unik felt his anger overflow. This man wasn't even afraid of him.
“Well, maybe you won’t go anywhere else my friend.”
Alaskadie eyes were impossible to read and a look of utter fury began to form, like black storm clouds on the horizon. He slowly took his hand from the table and a short, wicked looking blade was revealed that his palm had been covering.
He glared at Unik and said slowly. “If you can take this knife from the table, then you may take my bracelet.”
Unik grinned once more. “Oh, you want to play silly games do you?” He snarled and lunged for the dagger with one hand while his other lunged for his sword. At this range he could take the stranger’s head from his shoulders in one swipe. He grasped the hilt and began drawing the blade, felt it slide from the scabbard, halfway out, more.
Then…suddenly the stranger vanished.

Alaskadie appeared in the room. The room that had been used by his predecessors. The secret room, hidden deep below the palace and known only to a handful of people, the room where the protectors of a multitude of worlds could be called. For over a hundred years no Octagon sentinel had been summoned. Four priests of the Guardianship stood in a semi circle around the dish in the middle of the room. Their white robes were dazzling and perfect. Six guards stood in shining armour, hand picked for this honour that would doubtless not happen again in their lives or the lives of their children, or their children’s children. Their armour was gleaming as they stood nervously awaiting the arrival of a legend so secret that it was a fairy tale for generations. A protector of the Octagon.
With this one secured and the formalities out of the way, the summoning of the remaining sentinels could take place. The Prime Guardian calmed his nerves and despite the gravity of their situation, was immeasurably pleased to have the honour of being present at such a historic event. The three available would assemble here and be despatched together to return the crystals that Scious had so stupidly stolen. A simple task, but one that required a very complex set of protocols and magic to invoke. To see such a secret order of people in one room was something few men knew could ever happen, let alone dream of seeing.
As Alaskadie fully materialised Jakoban began to recite the lines, last spoken generations ago, to formally welcome the most exalted guest. “It is an honour to be present at your most…” his voice faltered as he realised something was terribly wrong.
Instead of a man materialising before him Jakoban could only see a chaotic weaving of clothing and flesh. It was as if someone was shaking the man inside the Shimmer dish like a dog with a rat. With a final flash of bright light the sentinel fully appeared.
The figure before them wasn’t a man but a pure blur of motion, impossible to focus upon. Before anyone could speak the blur moved incredibly fast from the stone dish and the nearest guard went flying into the wall, armour crashing loudly. The others didn’t have time to react before the blur moved to them. In the space of a few seconds all five were thrown like rag dolls into the walls of the room. Jakoban made to move away but the blur turned towards him and through a scattered staccato of speech, the terrifying vision swarmed on him, high shouts and yells emanating from the spinning smear of violence. Jakoban felt himself lifted and hurled backwards, landing heavily into the crystals set out so lovingly for the summoning of the sentinel’s fellow kind. The precious glass smashed as it collided with the wall and floor. The other priests scattered to the far end of the long room. The haze snarled in anger and made towards them but suddenly purple light erupted from the doorway and cocooned the hazy form. It continued to thrash violently but the cocoon morphed until it held the man in an oval prison. Alaskadie howled in frustration and the priests turned to stare in fright at the doorway. Jakoban raised his head and stared in frightened awe at the spectacle.
Sophie stood there, Mordalayn beside her. Her hand was raised, the purple light emanating from her outstretched fingertips. Alaskadie continued to thrash and blur inside his tiny cell, screaming with rage. Mordalayn stared at the spectacle, his brow furrowing in concern, for the first time in a long time, not knowing what to do.
Sophie spoke, her voice quiet but carrying in the narrow room. “Octagon sentinel, we are not your enemies. We summoned you because we need you. Please trust us.”
Alaskadie beat against the walls of light holding him. The oval cocoon stuttered and Sophie muttered some words and the spell was reinforced, pinning the furious, screeching man once more.
“Please, Alaskadie. We need you, we are not your enemies, please trust us.”
The blur began to slow and Alaskadie became visible to the entranced audience. As the blurring slowed more they could see the sweat lining every visible piece of skin on his body and soaking his clothes, his shirt stuck to his muscled chest and heavy arms. As his body stopped hazing he staggered and fell to his knees with a thud, breathing heavily, palms open to support him as he panted and gasped.
“I will release the holding spell now, we are not your enemies,” Sophie said once more.
Mordalayn’s sword was instantly in his hand. “My Lady!” he growled, moving to stand in front of her.
She turned to stare up at her bodyguard. “Takoba, he is not a threat. Look.” With that she lowered her hand and the purple light vanished. Alaskadie remained on his knees, his breath coming in ragged gasps. Slowly he raised his head and looked at them both, saying nothing.
“What, what is he?” Mordalayn asked in bewilderment, staring at the man.
“He is a rage dancer, he can harness the power of warping . A power known only to few and used very rarely. He is now exhausted beyond endurance. The guards are lucky they did not draw their swords. If they had he would have killed them.” She turned to Alaskadie. “You are my guest here but we have need of you Chosen One.”
Slowly Alaskadie stood up, almost falling as he staggered upright.
“Are you calm now?” Sophie asked gently, her face full of concern
After a long pause Alaskadie took a deep breath. “You are the Emerald ruler?” he asked still panting, his breath slowly returning to normal.
Sophie looked at the man then replied. “I am. Why were you warping when we summoned you?” she asked looking puzzled.
Alaskadie smiled. “In over 100 years, no sentinel has ever been named  for summoning. The fates decreed that you called me to you just as I was about to teach some cut throats a lesson.”
Sophie smiled too and Mordalayn resheathed his sword and stood back. The priests moved hesitantly forward and the guards sat up groaning and painfully stood. Alaskadie turned to Jakoban and winced when he saw the devastation he had wrought upon the crystals. The only way of summoning the most elite of warriors. “My apologies. My actions were not malicious. Can you still summon my brother and sister kind?”
Jakoban shook his head and with a wheeze, the bearded man replied. “The crystals were priceless. They can be replaced but not in time. I am afraid that you now are our only hope.”
Alaskadie shook his head sadly and reached down to help Jakoban up. His hands were soaking with sweat. Once the priest was on his feet Alaskadie turned to Sophie. “Emerald queen. Please tell me what you require of me. I, Alaskadie, guardian of the Octagon , am yours to command.”

“Come” she said and they left the room.

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