The Storyteller

By Faerie007

"...and he slew the monster with his bare hands!" The crowd went wild! The mysterious, hooded storyteller bowed to his left, then to his right; then, in a flash of smoke and light, he was gone.

Tyronicus laughed as the boy next to him stared in surprise at the storyteller's disappearance. He knew all the tricks in the book, and had good cause to. It was handy to know how to disappear if you were Iridine's greatest thief. But something about that particular storyteller was suspicious...

Later that night, after a profitable day relieving patricians of their pouches, Tyronicus headed for the main gates of the city. He whistled a happy tune as he strolled along. Finally, he reached the gates. He found the guards sitting around a campfire, listening to a storyteller- the same one he had seen earlier. Curious, Tyronicus crept closer.

The storyteller was shrouded in a dark, hooded cloak. He was telling a story of a soldier trapped in a maze of living vines. The soldiers listening to him had mugs of ale in their hands, and were slowly nodding off. Tyronicus decided this was a good time to slip out, when the tired guards were focused on the storyteller. He crept past the fire, keeping close to the wall, and slipped out one of the side gates. He was shocked at what he found.

Two dead Iridine soldiers were outside, with knives in their backs. Gingerly Tyronicus stepped over them- and came face-to-face with two masked men. One of them was holding a knife in his hand, and the other, a big, hulking man, carried a huge club. "What you doin' out here on such a night, man?" asked the big one. "What you waitin' for, kill him!" cried the other. Tyronicus drew his gladius and knocked the stabbing knife away. He turned and ran through the gate, stumbling over the two guards' bodies as he went. He found the storyteller bent over the twisted corpses of the rest of the guards, all torn apart. The storyteller's hands were bloody, and Tyronicus shuddered. The storyteller sprang at him, and his hood fell back. He could see that the man's face was twisted in hatred, with red eyes and snarling teeth. This..this thing was definitely not human. Tyronicus hit him with the flat of his sword, and he fell back. But now the two masked men were closing on him. He ducked as a knife went whizzing past him, then turned and stabbed the small, wiry knifethrower through the chest. The man fell to the ground, dead. The clubman was still after him, though, and he ran up the stairs onto the walltop. He yelled for help as he ran.

Once, Tyronicus looked over the walltop and saw thousands of masked warriors charging toward the main gate. "Cinerans," he spat, and ran on. Now the clubman was gaining on him. He made for the corner of the wall, only a hundred yards ahead. When he reached it he ran up the side of it, did a backflip, and landed behind the charging clubman. He slew him with one swift thrust of his gladius, and pushed the body off the wall onto some of the attacking Cinerans. Now they had noticed him. He had to duck as a shower of arrows flew over him and into the city. Some Iridine soldiers had arrived now, and were attempting to hold the gates. The few dozen or so men fought valiantly, but could not hold the gates. The Cinerans charged through.

Now in those days, the city was not so big as it is in modern times. There were less roads, for one thing. All the roads from the gate led to a single, narrow bridge that crossed the Invex at its narrowest point. The Iridinians chose this bridge for their last defense. Hundreds of citizens and soldiers massed on the bridge and in the streets adjacent to it. Archers were positioned in the buildings flanking the bridge on either side. Tyronicus made his way through this mass of people, and rushed toward his destination- the Temple of Ereal.

In those days the temple was located on a large hill overlooking the entire city. It was destroyed when an earthquake hit Iridine a century later, along with many other buildings. Tyronicus ran through the streets shouting, awakening people, and soon he passed a stable. He hit the stablehand over the head and grabbed a horse. People ducked out of his way as he charged through the streets towards the temple. Finally, he reached it. He ran inside and made his way to the sun room, where the Head Priest was praying. He grabbed the priest and told him what had happened. Quickly, the old man grabbed his Staff of Ereal and followed Tyronicus to his horse. They hopped on, and galloped towards the battle.

The Cinerans were winning. The Iridinians put up a valiant struggle, but they couldn't stand against the waves of soldiers that came against them. The storyteller was like a raging whirlwind, tearing friends and foes to shreds. Tyronicus and the priest rushed through the crowd towards the evil beast. Suddenly, they found themselves surrounded by soldiers. Tyronicus, in a fit of rage, killed them all.

Now they stood face-to-face with the storyteller. His eyes gleamed red, and he snarled in anticipation. The beast rushed forward. Just when Tyronicus was sure they were going to be destroyed, red energy exploded from the priest's staff into the body of the storyteller. The evil beast writhed in pain as the energy surrounded him, and then he exploded in a burst of light. The Iridinians charged forward, driving the Cinerans out of the city and into the forests beyond, where they were drowned by the thousands in a wave that mysteriously came rushing down the Invex right as they were attempting to cross.

Tyronicus stood still for a few moments, then went home. He gave up thievery, and became the most skilled swordsman the world had ever known. He died as

the hero of the Bandit Wars, and is one of the most revered and famous heroes ever to have lived in Iridine.

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