The boy seemed happy; his life was simple and agreeable, there was always good company around and new stories waiting to be heard. But sometimes, when he was alone, he would think back to those stories heard in the warm safe tavern by the fire. He would sometimes wonder what it would be like to actually be there, in the wild outside where anything could happen but he would quickly dismiss these foolish dreams of adventure. The town was enough for him, its unexplored streets called out to him, speaking of stories begging to be heard, people itching to be met, things waiting to be found. For even the darkest nights were fully alert and the place was never completely dark or silent.
Truly the Shining Citadel was a beautiful and enchanting place full of mysteries. Arthur lived in Lionsden near the Lion’s Gate and every morning after his chores in the tavern he would watch the City Guard open the majestic gate. There were never less than ten soldiers guarding the gate at any time though often there were more. The Lion’s Gate was huge, bronze, and golden – the doors were made of thick, strong wood covered with many layers of bronze and on that bronze was a roaring lion, looking as if it could jump out at you at any moment, beautifully carved in gold. The bolts and chains that held the doors were forged from steel and iron.
From the Lion’s Gate ran the Lion’s Road: into Lionsden and then further into the place all the way to the castle. On this road stood Arthur’s tavern: Kings Rest, further on at the first crossroad lay a giant stone lion on a pedestal watching all who pass through his gate; at the next crossroads was the beautiful fountain where Arthur watched the blond girl and all the way at the end of the road, as it passed through different parts of the citadel, was the castle in Angels’ Keep. All along the road were merchants and artists, with many things to show and on busy market days in the crowds you could be sure there would also be thieves.
Raven’s Hollow was two districts away, it was the secondary military district after Hummingbird Bay and it had barracks and the primary Quest Hall of the citadel; all districts had quest boards but only Raven’s Hollow, Angel’s Keep and Eagle Steep had an entire hall dedicated to quests. It was only in these places that you could be tested to acquire the right to take higher ranking quests. There were 7 levels of quests: the first was more errands than actual quests, all you had to do to get that badge was swear honesty and loyalty to those who issued the quests and to the king himself. To reach the second level you had to have completed 20 first rank quests, if you were only interested in a certain type of quests you could be tested only for that but you always needed a minimum amount of self-defence; for example if you were a mage only interested in quest that required magic you could become “rank II specified mage” and each level had it requirements. Of course, as a general rule, the higher ranking the quest the less there were. The level seven board was almost always empty and no-one knew for sure how many rank VII questers (the general name for those who quested) there were but all knew they were very few and there would sometimes be rumours… some said they had seen an old hag take a level 7 quest, some said they had seen a dragon take the form of a man to take such a quest, one man would no longer go into the hall because he said that the statue near the last quest board was actually a level 7, waiting for a quest to come up so that he could get it first. “He winked at me I swear he did!” this man would say. And there were people who had been seen at improbable hours: a young and beautiful woman stride in, take one look at the empty rank 7 quest board and leave. It was not a good thing for a woman to take a quest. It was well seen when it was to escape poverty or do something useful but if a woman were to get a higher rank it was less well seen and for a woman to have obtained rank 7… it was unthinkable. Which is why Nikke was pretending to be a boy while waiting for her to turn up again. She was already rank II but didn’t know anyone who would teach her enough to go higher, she hoped this woman could help her but for the moment she was stuck in and around the hall waiting for an opportunity to see her. So Nikke pretended the young man checking out rank IV quests at that moment wasn’t attracting her attention. He looked stupid anyway and she was too tired to bother actually getting up to talk to him. So she ignored him and focused on not falling asleep and looking for a woman.
This is the third and most recent part of our joint story (DragonSpark and I) so far. If you want the last part you can find it here and if you missed all of it here’s the first part.
Right back atcha DS 😉
Here’s the next bit: Encounter