The boy got back on his feet. Blood caked all of his left shoulder and arm. But what was a little blood in the grand scheme of things. He would stand against the world if he had to.
Forte, the monster slayer. He brawled with an S-class monster and won. How glorious! And blown the other out of existence with arcane arts. MAGIC. Were he alive, the boy imagined that his father would have been proud.
Never in Forte’s wildest dreams did he ever think he had the innate talent for magic.
The boy laughed maniacally, ending with a wild grin on his face. Despite setbacks, it seems like the heavens were on his side… he was destined for greatness. He would become a giant amongst men. An immortal. Death would not stop his ambition; nothing would.
Forte walked over and stepped on the charred remains of the three raptors, grabbed his money pouch, and walked out of his room. A fat body lay on the ground—the dead innkeeper. He kicked it aside and walked downstairs, calm as ever. Nightmare, his tiny black dragon, had recovered some of his strength and weakly floated alongside Forte.
Outside the inn, what was left of the guard patrol fought the raptors. The rain was unrelenting on the desolated streets of Adith. Just as Forte reached the inn’s front door, he began to choke as a muscular tattooed arm wrapped around his head and a foul smelling cloth rag was forced against his mouth.
Breathing in the heavy fumes, he began to lose consciousness. Nightmare took to his wings and hissed weakly at the mysterious assailant. A familiar, raspy voice spoke from behind him…
“You little shit. You damned little shit! You got my men killed, you nearly had me killed! Normally I send boys of your…. circumstance… to the coal mines, where you can peacefully work yourself to death. HA! But you, boy… you little son of a whore… I’m sending you straight to the Count……
The boy thought he glimpsed a ruby encrusted sword on the man’s back, right before slipping out of awareness and into a deep slumber. It was the leader of the slavers he had baited and killed in the forest.
Two hours later.
Tlot tlot tlot tlot.
The sound of hooves. The haze in Forte’s mind was slowly lifting. Judging from the bumps in the road, he must be travelling on a carriage. His hands were tied with thick rope. Strapped to his back was his gravitite sword. If only he could reach it…
Men were yelling at the front of the carriage. He couldn’t concentrate and understand what they were saying. As he struggled against the rope, he slowly began to pass out again.
An hour later.
Forte awoke with a thud, as he found himself face-first on the floor of an opulent but demonic looking manor. His hands were still bound.
A raspy voice spoke from behind him, “this is your gift, Count Florien, sir. Gave me a helluva rough time, this boy.”
“Oh, I quite enjoy presents, hee hee!” a high pitched, wheezy voice responded. “Excellent work Thaddus, and by my word as a Templar you shall be duly compensated! Now shoo, shoo. Away with you.”
The slaver grunted in his raspy, tired voice, and left the room with his heavy boots clanking against the marble floor. As he left, the Count trained his eyes on the dirty boy sprawled face first on the floor with his hands tied behind him.
Forte strained his neck and looked up at the Count. He was a short, fat man with greasy curled hair, sitting on an embroidered armchair and fiddling with the many rings on his pudgy fingers. The boy grimaced at the Count’s face, which was grinning madly as his eyes flared with malevolent exuberance.
“Ho ho, don’t be so shy,” the Count flared a fake smile, “What’s your name, boy?”
Forte squared his jaw and did not answer.
“Now now, don’t be like that. What is your name, boy?” the Count inquired.
Forte struggled against the rope, muscles fluttering as he replied wearily, “My name isn’t your concern.”
The Count’s unerring smile melted away as his features twisted into anger. His large, porous nose bobbed as he sneered at the boy. The Count stood up from his chair and grabbed a bubbling vial of grey liquid. He walked over to Forte and grabbed the boy’s hair, pulling Forte face to face with him.
Uncapping the vial, a foul smell quickly spread through the manor. Forte looked in horror at the bubbling concoction.
“Drink.” the Count ordered. He yanked Forte’s head up and forced the vial towards the boys mouth, as the liquid dribbled down his closed mouth.
“DRINK!!!” the Count shrieked, forcing the vial at the boy. Grey liquid dripped down Forte’s face and clothes, but his lips did not budge. Eventually, the entire vial was emptied.
The Count walked back to his armchair and carefully placed the vial on the floor beside him.
“Do you know why I like… lads…. better?” the Count whispered, an eerily cheerful smile returning to his face. “It’s because, you see, you’re my toy. I like to play with my toys! But girls break too fast. Boys are a little harder to break. And when my-
A deafening crash startled the Count. The tinted window above broke open as a tiny black dragon came swooping down to Forte.
With eyes wide in surprise and terror, the Count grabbed his cane and rushed at the intruder. The infant dragon opened its mouth and let loose a torrent of black fire, singing the Count’s clothes. A terrible shriek erupted from the Count’s mouth, and guards flooded into the room.
Sinking its jaws into the fabric of Forte’s back, the dragon swiftly snatched the boy up. The gravitite sword on Forte’s back began to resonate and grew hot. Propelled by wing and magic, the dragon darted back out the shattered window, and out of the manor.
Nightmare flew for half a mile before tumbling into a descent, completely exhausted. The grey gravitite sword had turned white hot, and burned into Forte’s back.
They could see Sawen in the distance, a western port town.