Allow me to summarize our story so far: A young man, Arthur, once ambitious and yearning for adventure, has now become tame and satisfied with his humble life as employee in the local inn. However, a spark of his past self still glimmers in the depths of his soul, waiting to be unleashed. Meanwhile, across town, a young woman, Nikke, is breaking the taboo of gender roles by taking up bounties to track down criminals, slay mighty monsters, and explore uncharted land, adventures usually reserved to men. As a matter of fact, she accomplishes this task in a disguise, so as not to reveal her true nature. Rumours of another woman-knight are being whispered in the deepest areas of the guild hall. This feminine blade wielder is told to possess formidable strength, dexterity beyond imagination, and superhuman speed.
For Arthur, this was just the start of another day in Lionsden, a humble quarter of the capital. He worked as tavern boy in the King’s rest, a cosy tavern huddled between two small shopes, on the side of one of the quarter’s bigger streets. He did all kinds of things in the tavern. He served meals, made the beds, cleaned the rooms, ran errands, tended to horses, and even cooked a little. It wasn’t an easy life, but a satisfactory one, with enough purpose to rise in the morning, and enough coin to afford a bed at night. Over the years he had built a solid endurance and was quite fit, though not enough to join the royal guards he once admired. His clothes were rough, his shaving blade blunt, his hygiene barely satisfactory, but he was happy… Or at least, most times he was.
Indeed, his dreams of adventure and fame hadn’t quite all gone away, and a spark still shone in his eyes every time the young boy saw military cavalry in the streets, or when his errands took him into the forger’s district, where steel blades of all kinds were on display.
Meanwhile, down in Raven’s Hollow the vaguely feminine figure that was showing interest in the quest board was starting to attract unwanted attention. Nikke was usually careful when scouting the quest board for jobs, and looking out for the near-mythical woman-knight. She was always swift, discreet, and cloaked. However, this time, she had stayed for too long. One of the guards of the quest hall approached her from behind.
“Hey lad!” he shouted, “You know it’s impolite to wear a hood inside public buildings right?” Taken by surprise, Nikke realised her mistake. She cleared her throat, trying to make her voice as deep as possible. “I’ve seen more bizarre in these halls. Why call out such a minute piece of cloth when other hunters wear full suits of armors. However, if so is your wish, I will be on my way. My business here is done.” She turned swiftly, making the end of her cloak revolve gracefully.
“Just hold on a minute!” the guard said, grinning, almost perversely. His hand grabbed the back of the hood. He yanked it back and Nikke’s face was exposed to full daylight. Her eyes widened in surprise and shock. She thrust her elbow in the guard’s face. The guard barely had time to realize what happened when Nikke followed up by jabbing her heel into the man’s abdomen, using him as leverage to dart forwards, as the gasps of indignation started to echo on the high walls.
She swiftly jumped off a bench and over the heads of the two guards guarding the entrance, and ran into the streets, hoping to lose any pursuers in the crowd. However, her hopes were quickly dissipated when she heard the steady beat of a horse’s gallop closing in behind her.
“Get her!” The guard on the back of the horse had his sword drawn, murder in his eyes. “All that just because I happen to have breasts!?” Nikke spat. Luckily the crowded and narrow streets of the neighbourhood made it difficult for the guards to move forwards. The mass of people were spreading to let the horses pass barely faster than Nikke was pushing and shoving her way through the crowd.
Her luck ran out as she turned the corner. Another patrol of guards on horseback were making their way towards her. She was effectively surrounded. As she was evaluating her options, a young man with a heavy looking bag opened the door of the small building immediately to her right. Nikke didn’t think. She jumped through the door and into the building, hoping the patrol in front of her hadn’t noticed her, and knowing the patrol behind her had yet to turn that corner.
Arthur didn’t really have the time to realize what had happened. His eyes hadn’t yet recovered from the sudden stream of sunlight flowing through the door that a mass had pushed him onto the floor. Arthur, thinking the intruder was a mugger, reached for his knife. He shifted his weight forward, from his back to his feet, planting his free palm on the ground, and used the three limbs to stand up quickly, his knife hand ready to defend any oncoming assault.
However, instead of attacking him, the person that had shoved him back into the inn turned around, bolted the door shut, and collapsed to the floor, breathing heavily. Arthur looked down on the strange, heaving figure at his doorstep, confused. He folded his knife, sheaved it and kneeled to the stranger, putting a hand on her right shoulder.
Nikke looked up at the young man kneeling in front of her, relief flooding her mind. Little did she know that this encounter was going to change her life forever.
Hello all! This is a continuation of our coop story, where BW and I take turns writing “episodes” or chapters. The ball has been in my park for a long time now, but my chapter is finally here. Where will BW take this? *dramatic voice* Find out next time!
For those whose memory needs refreshing, here is the preceding part, and if you are a new reader and missed all of it here’s the first part. On a closing note, this is my first story in months, so excuse the slightly rusty writing…. I have a few other rough drafts in the pipeline that I’ll try to polish before summer break. In the meantime, take care!