The Roserote

This is a new draft of a story that I composed several months ago. The original purpose was to enhance my descriptive abilities, but to some degree this hampered the flow of the story. Thus, you won’t be seeing quite so much description. I hope you enjoy this piece!

Woron hurried down the road, his boots stepping in roadside puddles, his cloak soaking in the rain and billowing behind him in the wind. No one glanced at him as he stopped in front of a large building, unseen candles and fireplaces illuminating the windows, with a large sign over the door, depicting a well-drawn image of the building’s name: The Wheezing Stoat.

He entered, water cascading onto the floor while he closed the door behind him. Despite the damp condition of his cloak, he declined to lower his hood out of his fierce desire to keep his anonymity, especially in this region, with what he was carrying.

He still couldn’t believe he had managed to steal it. He, Celer Woron, had managed to steal the Roserote, the stone of legendary powers, from the vaults of the emperor himself. Once he got out of the country, he would be able to do whatever he wanted. Nations would go to war for the power of the stone. Granted, Woron didn’t know what those powers were, but he knew where to find those who did, and that was all that mattered to him.

The tavern was full of people halted by the rainstorm outside. The bartender was operating from the axis of the bar against the left wall, incessantly walking between it and the myriad of tables populating the room. Woron made his way through the crowds to a vacant table in the corner. He drew up a chair and sat down, facing the wall, which glowed red in the flickering firelight. After several moments, the bartender arrived at his table, asking if he desired something to drink. Woron assented.

A short time later, he continued to brood, solitary amidst the noise of the tavern, every so often raising the silvery mug to his lips and sipping slowly, trying to act calm, despite the raging excitement of his acquisition burning in his chest.

Abruptly, however, he felt a strong hand clenching his shoulder. Woron’s muscles tensed as his mind fought to exert that stoic calmness over him. This not very successful, seeing as this new presence was probably the one looking for him, and the thing that he had recently taken possession of. He silently cursed himself for being caught so soon.

“Celer Woron,” said a deep, imperial voice behind him. “Give it up, or we’ll be required to use force.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Woron replied.

The hand on his shoulder hoisted him to his feet and twisted him around. Facing him were four grim warriors, bounty hunters more than likely, their eyes boring into his own. Woron’s mind raced to recognize any of them.

“Hand it over,” repeated the man holding him, his free hand resting on the hilt of a sword.

“Hand over what?”

The soldier ripped off his hood, revealing his care-worn face to the other mercenaries. Their eyes flashed in recognition, and Woron cursed the day he had ever been imprisoned long enough for the imperials to get a sketch of his face.

“You know what we’re here for: the Roserote. Hand it over.”

Woron’s eyes darted around the room, searching for an escape route. He couldn’t stall much longer. It was only a matter of time before these men decided to kill him and search his bleeding corpse for the stone.

“No,” he said, pushing the man’s hand off his shoulder.

The mercenary took a step back, hand gripping his sword all the more tightly. Woron’s hand flew to his own sword.

“And I wouldn’t suggest trying to take it,” he continued. “If you know who I am, then you should know what I’m capable of.”

“Yes, thievery and parlor tricks,” replied the other, tensing and taking an intimidating posture. “I really doubt you could take on four well-trained soldiers at once.”

“But we don’t need to find out whether I can. You could just clear out.” Woron tensed as he anticipated a fight.

“I don’t think so.” The mercenaries drew their swords, pushing aside tables to clear space for themselves. Around them, the other tavern guests quickly backed away, trying to avoid the sudden brawl that was about to ensue. Woron toppled his chair as he drew his sword.

The first soldier, embracing Woron’s challenge, pointed his sword tip at him and thrust. Woron stepped to the side, parrying the bounty hunter’s blade by forcing it up. He grabbed his opponent’s sword handle with his free hand, and pushed it at the mercenary, sending the soldier stumbling back.

This, however, allowed the other three to attack, especially now that the area was sufficiently emptied of the relaxers and drinkers who had fled for fear of being accidentally hurt in the fight. Woron blocked the blades of the first two, but the third wasn’t quite carrying a blade – rather a large battleax, that nearly split the table Woron stood in front of.

Now the first soldier returned to the fight. Despite his apparent success, he was only able to keep them off him – there was no room to make any aggressive moves. Granted, if he could fight them each one on one, he might stand a better chance, but while this room was too small for all four of them to attack him at once, it was also too big for him to choose his opponents.

It was shortly after he had punched one of the swordsmen, sending him tumbling to the side, that he felt the jab at his back and fell forward onto the floor. He quickly rolled over to get up again, but found that impossible when he saw the first soldier’s blade hovering over his chest. Soon the other three had joined in surrounding him. Woron dropped his sword in surrender.

“It’s over,” said the mercenary calmly. “Give it up.”

“Just who are you planning to take it to?” Woron asked, only his lips moving.

“To Casecatho, Lord of the Dreimer Wastes,” he replied. He gestured to one of the other mercenaries. “Take the stone.”

The man crouched over Woron, searching his pockets. It wasn’t long before he took out a small orb, wrapped in brown paper, from Woron’s breast pocket.

“This is a mistake,” Woron pleaded, knowing exactly what Casecatho terrible things would try to do with the stone. “It doesn’t belong there.”

“I don’t really care,” replied the first mercenary. He took the package from the other soldier, opening it up to reveal the red orb inside. He dropped it in his own pocket and sheathed his sword, gesturing to the others to do the same.

“Let’s go.” The bounty hunters turned, with a swish of their cloaks, walking purposefully to the door. They passed out of the tavern, amidst the silence of the inhabitants, while Woron watched them disappear into the night, unmoved from his place on the floor.

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2 thoughts on “The Roserote

  1. Rob says:

    OK, now I have to know what happens next. Does he chase after the goons to recover the orb? Does he give up and go home?

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