Chapter 12

Welcome to the first ever crowd-sourced epic fantasy novel written with reader input on Twitter!

Go to @InverseWorlds to shape the story

Chapter 12: Pursuits

The Shadowplane sped by as the man ran on through the forrest to Palmer. Noises pursued him but no more beasts blocked his way. His speed was dictated by the need to make as much ground as possible, rather than a fear of the fiends in this plane.

He felt a tug on his spirit.

It felt like being pulled forward and backwards at the same time, his body returning to the home plane. He looked up at the locked gates of the city of Palmer, wall tall but scalable.

The relative warmth struck him, despite it being nighttime. Then extreme exhaustion hit.

  • Camp outside ‘till dawn 31%
  • Bang on the city gate 25%
  • Scale the wall and enter 44%

He walked until he found a quiet part of the city wall and scaled it with unnatural ease. In moments he had crossed the narrow rampart, climbed over the parapet and ascended into an empty alley behind a row of stores. He disturbed some rats from their midnight feast.

He had been in the city a number of times. He made his way to a prominent square to get his bearings and headed to a midscale street where his organisation kept a safe house. All was quiet.

He approached the front door, triggered the lock with a whispered password & entered.

  • Found a bedroom & slept 36%
  • Voices from the kitchen 36%
  • A spectral guard appeared 28%

He climbed the stairs of the quiet house, entered one of the bedrooms on the first floor & collapsed on the bed, exhaustion hitting like a sledge hammer. He managed to kick his boots off before sleep engulfed him.

Some hours passed. He woke from sounds in the kitchen.

He pulled his boots on and silently opened the door. Voices. There were at least two people in the building he had assumed was unoccupied.

He sidled down the back staircase towards the kitchen door, careful to distribute the his weight on each step.

He drew his dagger.

  • Listen to the voices 71%
  • Rush into the kitchen 14.5%
  • Exit the house quietly 14.5%

He heard two voices, both men. They shared his accent, as expected, no doubt from his organisation. From the conversation, they had arrived that morning by ship. The house had been empty when he arrived.

“He left Mrin without a horse so he’ll arrive in the next day or two.”

“He’ll likely come here. When he does, it will be a simple matter of surprise. With the two of us it should be short work”.

“Don’t underestimate the Broken. His skill is rumoured to surpass the best of us.”

“Then why has he failed?”

He was being hunted by his own.

  • Confront them 31%
  • Clear his room & leave 23%
  • Escape immediately 46%

He had heard enough. One of the Masters of the Metrist had decided to capitalise on his situation by removing him.

He retraced his steps up the back staircase, made his way to the front of the house, and exited via the main stairway and the door he’d entered the night before.

He had an advantage. They would wait a couple of days, not realising he had magically enhanced his travelling to the city.

He needed to get to Harn, find the message that was stolen from him, and dispatch the traitorous Librarian.

  • Find a boat to Harnport 67%
  • Ride to Harn over land 33%

A strong smell of salt & fish hung in the air at the Palmer docks. Gulls screeched at sailors unloading the last of the morning’s catch, stevedores pushing crates of goods down ramps.

The port was small but a number of large ships bobbed in moorings alongside smaller vessels.

A man pointed him towards the North dock. Three vessels bound for Harnport rocked there with the tide.

The largest, a four-masted ship with big crew, sat closest. Next, a two-masted Brig unloaded its light cargo. Finally, a swift looking cutter sat empty, a boy standing watch.

  • Talk to the ship captain 7%
  • Talk to the Brig captain 36%
  • Talk to the Cutter’s boy 57%

He strode to the far end of the dock & stood in front of the boy sat on the floor, looking up at him, shading his eyes from the bright portal in the sky.

“Yessir?” asked the boy

“Where’s the captain?” he asked coldly.

The boy shrugged. “Gone for an hour. Paid me to wait.”

“Will he be long?” he asked.

“She” said a woman behind him. He spun on his heel. “Can I help you?”

“Your name, captain?”

“Captain Sree” she said. He nodded.

“I’m in need of swift passage to Harnport. This morning.”

“I’m not due to leave until tomorrow. Business in town.”

  • Offer coin 11%
  • Offer barter 56%
  • Threaten her 33%
  • Try another vessel 0%

“I can make it worth your while?”

“I have a special trade to make in town”

“Can it be delayed?”

She purses her lips, thought, then shook her head. “It’s not a customer I would upset lightly.”

He read her pause as an invitation to negotiate.

He looked at her boat and understood that she must trade in rare, expensive items rather than bulk goods.

He didn’t have enough coin to sway her but he did have four rare items he would consider trading for passage that would likely spark her interest.

  • Ring: temp. magic shield 18%
  • Belt buckle: anti scrying 27.3%
  • Ruby: cutting ray 27.3%
  • Stirrup: silent steps 27.3%

He reached into his black leather bag and pulled out a ruby the size of his thumbnail.

“This creates a beam of hot light that can cut through almost anything” he said.

“It’s a start” replied the captain. He frowned at her.

“It’s worth more than your boat” he replied.

“You aren’t buying my boat. You are buying my services” she retorted.

She pulled a monocle from her pocket & put it to her eye, looking him up & down. “That & that, too” she said, pointing at his belt buckle & stirrups.

He nodded.

They sailed within the hour.

Jason & Fin’s discovery of a Mynistern plot to steal magical cargo had earned them accolades and promotion. They had been moved to the Isle of Falner to continue their training with the enigmatic Metrist.

Training was brutal, tiring and the boy’s bond grew stronger for it.

Fin sat on his bed, crying quietly. Today he’d taken his first life for the Metrist, not through combat but with poison.

Jason, sat next to him, hated to see him cry. He stroked Fin’s hair gently.

After some time their eyes locked. Jason wiped a tear from Fin’s cheek.

  • Jason kissed Fin 22%
  • Fin kissed Jason 56%
  • The door knocked 22%

Fin leant forward & kissed Jason softly. Jason kissed him back.

For some time they laid down, Fin resting his head on Jason’s chest, Jason’s arm wrapped snugly over Fin’s shoulder.

“I know it’s hard but we have to do this. We will be the best of the best” said Jason gently.

“And we will do it together. We will rule the Metrist one day. You’ll see”.

Both Fin & Jason were summoned to the assignment room. They were close to finishing their training, having been with the assassin order for two years.

“A mission for you both” said a Master.

  • Kill wizard in Mynistern 14%
  • Kill a Port Fashion noble 14%
  • Capture Arton’s Librarian 72%

The city of Arton is the inner-most city on the Gulf of Arts, South of Darak.

“The target is a promising young Librarian based in the city” the Master told them both. “This is a test of restraint. You are not to kill the target but await instruction once you have them captured”

They nodded in understanding.

Fin & Jason were now both 18. Few fight-pairs made it through training together, given the danger. And few fought as perfectly together. Their love had become inviolable.

The Master looked from Fin, to Jason & back, a look of knowing in her eyes.

The crossing from Palmer to Harnport was rapid, the seas largely calm. The captain & four crew had made this journey countless times.

The port was busy, a dozen large ships trading metallic ores and precious gems mined from the mountains on the isle.

It took 12 hours to make the crossing and the portal had dimmed to black, the white ring hanging in the sky & reflected in the harbour.

“Time to pay” said the captain to the hooded passenger, while her crew members tied the vessel to a mooring. She smirked & held out her hand.

  • Hand over the items 11%
  • Slit her throat 22%
  • Refuse & escape the ship 67%

He looked at the captain from under his hood while gripping his black obsidian blade.

With a thought, he pushed an intense feeling of sadness and despair into the blade which instantly amplified the dark feelings, projecting them in a bubble across the entire boat deck.

The captain dropped to her knees clutching her throat, breathless in emotional agony. The other sailors also writhed on the floor, tears rolling down faces.

The man casually looked at them, knowing the pain they experienced. It was his own.

He walked into the night.

%d bloggers like this: