This story was originally made to be my entry for the Love story contest but Enya said it was too big, so she allowed me to post this in Player Stories as an extension to my Artwork entry for the contest. I hope you enjoy it or at the very least not cringe.
It was an early morning. The sun had still not risen, the streets of Varlone were deserted and all but one house remained with their lights out. It was the Drunken Bumblebuzz Tavern and inside Jeff the Innkeeper was restlessly loading up bottles, crates, clothes and whatnot. He immediately stopped when he heard an odd noise. As he was was looking around the room he noticed a familiar figure in dark clothing next to him leaned on a wall with her arms crossed and with a half-smile.
You know, Mortred ... I'm not sure if you are aware of this but ... there are these things called doors and you use them to enter buildings instead of going through windows, chimneys and what not.
Heh, I'm not much of a door fan. You got a target for me to rob? My rent is overdue, so ...
No can do, I'm packing, if you hadn't noticed and I'm gonna be out of town for the week. Can you guess the accasion? - he said with a hint of excitement.
... No, but I have the feeling you're gonna say what it is anyway. - Mortred replied as she rolled her eyes.
But of course, tis the day of Love and I've planned an anniversary trip for me and my beloved across the ocean to an exotic island near the cost of ...
Okay I get it ... you're busy. I was hoping that maybe we could ...
Look Mortred, the whole black marketing and smuggling thing is just not working for me anymore and ... I wish to start a new.
What do you mean?
I wish to start a new life, away from crimes, away from burglary, away from ... what we've been doing for the past years.
I ... I don't understand. What has brought this change in you?
Didn't I tell you last time? My wife and I are expecting a baby. Listen I know you're young, at least compared to me and impressionable, but with time, you'll learn that life isn't all about gold or gems or any kind of treasure. Right now, the thing that I care most is my family and I intend to keep it that way. I am willing to give up on any job or career that could potentially endanger them.
Mortred just stood still and silent, couldn't believe what she had just heard. Was this the same Jeff that once told her that he would never love someone other than himself or his gold? Was this some kind of a dream or a joke?
It's a shame we won't be around for the King Roland's celebration. - Jeff's words immediately snapped Mortred out of her thoughts.
What celebration? - she quickly asked.
Every Year King Roland invites all citizens of Varlone to celebrate the event that is St. Vallens day, where at
the end of the evening he will crown a Mr. and Mrs.Valentine of his choice out of all the love couples. I thought you of all people would know about it.
Jeff's answer got Mortred thinking. On one hand every person in one castle means a lot of unguarded homes just begging to be robbed, on the other hand losing an old crime friend and being left uninvited to the celebration left her confused at how she should be feeling.
Well I'm all set. What do you plan to do until the celebration begins? - Jeff broke Mortred out of her thoughts once again.
Oh um, I'm ... I'm just gonna check on Market for some deals, so I can have enough to pay my rent.
Ahem Mortred, it's today is a celebration of Love, it's a non working day for all. That includes Ashkalot Merchants. If I were you I'd start looking a job or I'd join a Guild.
Mortred did not reply, she began to leave the Tavern when she heard Jeff's voice for the last time.
Ahem ... through the door, please.
Roaming through the streets, still shocked and confused by what happened to Jeff, Mortred kept asking herself:
What happened to you Jeff? Since when do we hold celebration for this day? Why wasn't I invited? It can't be just me, can it? I need to clear my head ... if what Jeff said is true then all the taverns must be closed for the day, lucky for me I know another place.
When Mortred entered the Forest of Shadows she noticed a group of children gathered around One-eyed Silver.
"...Clear the debris! Reload cannons and give them another round from our right side!
Nearly all the cannons we destroyed by their last attack Captain, there won't be enough to deal any damage! - The Master Gunner said while carrying the body of the Quarter Master.
She's comming to scourge Captain, they're going to board us! - informed me the Carpenter.
The only Cabin Boy looked at me with fear and despair, he only said: Captain?
Ready our firearms and prepare for attack! THEY'LL NEVER TAKE US ALIVE!!! ... "
Telling young Rogues your old Pirate stories again, Silver? - Mortred snuck up behind One-eyed Silver and interrupted.
Yarrrr, me matie. - he said not even phased by Mortred's attemp at a surprise.
Just looking after kids till Trainer Shadow comes back and takes them for training. Now shhhhh! Where was I? Ah, yes so ...
Come along now children.
Mortred and Silver turned to see Trainer Shadow who looked neither impressed at how much Mortred has grown or approving of One-eyed Silver's stories.
But we were just getting to the good part. - the children cried.
The longer you stand around, the longer your training is going to be. - Trainer Shadow said, turning his back on the group and started walking away. The young rogues immediately ran after him as Silver waved and yelled:
AND NEXT TIME I'LL TELL YA' HOW I LOST ME RIGHT EYE, hehe.
As soon as Trainer Shadow and his apprentices left from sight, Silver looked at Mortred and asked:
Well shiver me timbers, Anaia's only successor. What do i owe the pleasure of your company?
It took Mortred a bit to reply and when she did, she sounded gruff.
I uh ... I've been feeling a bit down. Usually when I feel like this I just visit the Taverns ... considering that today they are all closed ... I thought ... maybe I could ... maybe visit for a drink.
King's orders are that today everyone stays sober 'til the celebration in the Royal Palace. Besides if I open up for you I'd have to open up for everyone.
I'm asking you as one smuggler to another. You haven't forgotten our code of honor, have you?
Silver sighed and invited Mortred in his Shore house for a drink.
Unsurprisingly to Mortred, when Silver opened his doors, his house was full of people heavily drinking.
So, "if I open up for you I'd have to open up for everyone" huh?
Don't push your luck, ya Landlubber. So what would it be? The usual?
... I wanna try the Kraken Black Spiced Rum.
Commin' right up.
While waiting for her drink, Mortred started looking around the place out of boredom. The place was mainly full of Sailors and Fishermen, but there was this one person sitting on a chair in the corner, away from everyone else, wearing a dark and somewhat ripped cloak with a hood covering his face. Unable to see what he was doing, she tried to get a better look at him. It was then when he lifted his head and a gave Mortred a death stare. Only half of his face was visible, the other half was still in the shadows. Mortred immediately looked away and thought to herself:
Silver brought a couple of half filled bottles to Mortred's table and sat next to her.
No glasses left, hope you don't mind drinking from a bottle. - he chuckled.
No ... I don't mind. - Mortred replied trying to avoid any more eye contact with the cloaked person.
So, who are you going with tonight? - Silver asked and started chugging his bottle.
Mortred took a sip and said:
What do you mean?
Arrr ya' know what I mean. King Roland's Valentine celebration tonight. Who's the unlucky Jelly Fish who's going with ya'?
You know ... some guy that I know ... I rather not talk about it. - Mortred hesitated to say after which she took another sip.
Hmm hmm hmm hmm ha ha haaah. I see, didn't take you were the romantic type.
This ... isn't really helping. - Mortred replied and took another look around the room, meeting the dark figure's piercing gaze once more.
Who's that fellow in the left corner there? - Mortred asked as she made a gesture with her head in the direction of the cloaked man. Feels like he can't take his eye off me.
Silver looked around for a couple of seconds then lowered his head and voice.
I wouldn't want his attention if I were you, lassie.
Why? - Mortred raised her eyebrows.
There are a lot of rumors surrounding that tourist. His name is Alexander and he comes from across the ocean. Some say he seeks redemption for his sins, others say that he is a Bounty Hunter and he is here on a job and a couple of people say he's a prince unrightfully dethroned and now he's seeking cold blooded revenge.
Mortred turned to take another look at the man but to her surprise he had vanished. Silver stood up and yelled:
ALRIGHTY MEN AND LASSIE, FIVE MORE MINUTES AND EVERYONE OUT. I'VE GOT SOME WORK TO DO.
What work? - Mortred whispered.
I just need an excuse to have some alone time to prepare for me and me lady's celebration tonight. Arrrr, I'll be proposing.
Mortred slammed her head on the table and mumbled under her nose:
... Not you too.
Seven hours had passed since Mortred returned home only to be kicked out by her landlord for not paying rent on time, leaving her wandering, spying on others' preparations and eavesdropping on peoples' private conversations about the event. It was now night time and all of population of Varlone was either already in King Roland's Palace or on their way to there. Bored our of her mind with no interest to rob, nobody to talk to and feeling left out, Mortred decided to take a look at the celebration. Climbing her way to the rooftop of the Royal Palace to sneak in via air vents, Mortred had one thing on her mind:
I've always equated "love" and "feelings" with "getting caught"...they all get in the way of my money. What could others possibly describe love or even gain anything from it?
Upon reaching the rooftop to find a way to sneak in, Mortred noticed a circular glass ceiling.
I've never noticed this before. Is this new just for the event? A little peek won't hurt, I guess.
Mortred moved closer and leaned towards the glass ceiling. The King's living room was completely changed to look like a ballroom. Mages were enchanting the room so that paper hearts were endlessly flying around the room and were arranging music records. Rogues were setting up pyrotechnics and redecorating the room with gold treasures. Archers were preparing the food and drinks. Warriors were readying photomachines and checking others for invitations. It only took a couple of minutes for the place to become exotic. As all sat down and began to chat,
King Roland rose up and turned to Trainer Thibius. Mortred squinted her eyes to see what was going on. She could neither hear or make up what the King said by the movement of his lips. One thing was sure, the he said only four or five words. Trainer Thibius walked up to King Roland and merely snapped his fingers. What followed made Mortred jump. The King's voice suddenly was so loud that even Mortred could hear him from the outside.
GREETINGS TO ALL! WELCOME TO OUR ANNUAL CELEBRATION OF ST. VALLEN. WHILE THE RAIN OUTSIDE WASHES OUR HOMES ...
Rain? What rain? There isn't even a cloud in the sk...
The moment she said that light rain immediately showered her, making her shut up and close her eyes in irritation.
... AND THUS WE HOPE YOU ENJOY YOUR EVENING. LET THE CELEBRATION BEGIN!
For the next two hours, Mortred just stood outside in the rain, watching from the glass ceiling with an envious look. As the feeling of loneliness began to settle in, she heard a deep monotonous voice:
I'm assuming you're the fashionably late type.
... Bog off. - Mortred replied without using emotion or looking at whoever said that.
So what's your story? Daddy not buy you that Ball dress? Boyfriend leave you for a spoiled rich girl?
Mortred slowly turned to her right and noticed the cloaked figure from One-eyed Silver's Shore house, sitting next to her with his face covered like before to protect him from the rain.
... What do you care? - she tearfully asked.
Just not a fan of watching a woman go through an emotional breakdown. - he said as he uncovered his face. Mortred's eyes widened.
His eyes were different in color, one in green and the other in brown. A scar across his brown eye, as if something had clawed his previous eye. His hair short and unkempt. A beard just barely visible
and a facial structure that made him look serious and unamused all the time.
I uh ... - Alexander raised one of his eyebrows upon looking at Mortred who was incapable of saying a sentence longer than two words.
Just by saying those words, Mortred realised her voice was trembling. She stopped attemping to speak and felt her heartbeat accelerate. If that wasn't enough, her stomach felt as if it's insides were tied in a knot.
What ... what is this ... this feeling? - she asked herself as she stood staring at Alexander.
What's wrong, Sweetheart? Cat got your tongue? - he said with a smirk.
Silver mentioned he is a potential Bounty Hunter or possibly worse. - she thought to herself and wiped her tears.
What are you even doing up here?
I could ask you the same question. - he said as he crossed his arms and his smile widened, leaving Mortred thinking.
He doesn't seem to be taking any of this seriously. If he really was a Bounty Hunter or a Killer for hire, he
would have attempted to kill me when my back was turned. Is he taunting me? What would he be trying to gain from this place or from me?
Is this conversation going anywhere or are you waiting till we catch a cold out here?
What are you doing here? - Mortred asked once again in a serious tone.
Well if it really means that much to you, I was wandering in the streets, wondering where is everybody. For a highly advanced civilization this city lacks something as simple as tourist guides, event announcements or even interaction with newcomers such as myself. So a habit of mine when I am bored is to parkour on rooftops, occasionally stopping by a house or a mansion that I fancy and just "borrow" something of my taste. I only found out about this so called "celebration" from a small add on a message board near the central fountain.
You're a Thief? - Mortred asked as her eyes widened and she broke into a smile.
Hah, takes one to recognize one. The name's Alexander. - he chuckled as he offered his hand for a shake.
So what's a lovely flower like you doing all alone up here, mmm? And while we're at it, I'd like to know your name and a bit about you. - he asked as they shook hands.
Her cheeks immediately turned red after he asked her about herself.
Uh, my name's ... Mortred and um I started out as an orphan growing up in the streets of Elgore, pickpocketing and stealing garden vegetables to keep my ribs meeting my spine. One night ...
Say no more, I get the picture. The whole orphan backstory thing - been there, done that. I know the feeling.
You were an orphan?
Oh please, more than half of all rogues that have continued a life or crime and burglary after adulthood were born as orphans.
Well ... there goes the possibility of him being a prince. - Mortred thought to herself
Now, what are you doing out here, at this time of hour no less? - he said as he took a step closer to
I um ... I've not ... I ... was not ... invi... - she stopped half way when she noticed Alexander's sad expression
and how close he had come.
AND NOW LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, THE MOMENT YOU'VE ALL BEEN WAITING FOR - THE FINAL THREE COUPLES WHO WILL COMPETE FOR THE TITLES MR. AND MRS. VALLENTINE. THE COUPLES WILL BE JUDGED ON PASSION, TALENT, SENTIMENT, ROMANCE AND DANCING BY MISS ENYA, MISS KIRAQUEST AND YOURS TRULY. IT IS WITH GREAT HONOR THAT I PRESENT OUR TOP THREE LOVE COUPLES. GIVE YOUR APPLAUSE FOR CHENLI AND KAILEENA, OOMPH AND STARRLIGHT AND FINALLY GAROLD AND HEIDI!
King Roland's voice startled both Mortred and Alexander making them turn and look through the glass ceiling. As the King finished his speech, the two thieves looked at each other with cunning expressions.
You thinkin' what I'm thinkin'?
I'm thinking of a friendly competition ...
... who can steal the most ...
... but not from the empty houses in Varlone ...
... from the Royal Palace ...
... the more people there are ...
... the higher chances of getting caught ...
... the more challenge ...
... the challenge ...
... is ...
Earlier I saw rogues preparing pyrotechnics, they must be saving them up for when they announce Mr. and Mrs. Valentine. Maybe we can use them as a signal to meet up in the King's garden. We could make a quick getaway from there.
I like the way you think! - Alexander said with excitement.
Is that the only thing you like about me? - replied Mortred.
Maybe, I'll tell ya' if you beat me. Oh and loser buys dinner. - he answered with an eye wink, after which he jumped off the rooftop.
Oh, you're on!
Edited by Morŧred (Elgore), 21 February 2017 - 06:49 PM.