The docks smelt of sea salt, alcohol and mistakes.
Seagulls cawed and shit all over the docks before settling in little nests they had made on top of the houses, shops and taverns that dotted the district.
Out of all of the districts the Harbour District seemed to be the smallest out of all of the districts that Hatham had visited. It did not have as many shops as the Market District and it didn't have as many taverns or pleasure houses as the lower district. It certainly was not as showy and well built as the Keep district.
Quinton took in a deep breathe and then let it out again.
"Damn this place doesn't change." He said "It still reeks of whores and drink."
Quinton and Hatham made their way down the stairs from the gates that led out to the harbour district and the wood creaked beneath them with every step that they took.There were't many ships docked at the harbour, a few small trading galleys and some even smaller sloops. Fernhelm was not a renowned trading hub so there was little money to be made in the business of being a merchant but from time to time trade did occur when there was a surplus of silk or precious ores in the city, or when there was a shortage of grain or building supplies that were essential to maintaining the life that people of Fernhelm had built. The trade routes were dangerous however, not just from pirates and natural hazards but also form the various beats that inhabited the seas. The route consisted of travelled down the Selarian Channel that ran across the Fernhelm's coastal waters, moving further west across to the city of Alistair, a more profitable trade port with a rich economy and a place of nobility and class, or so people said. To the north was the Whispering Seas and the Emerald Towers, great blocks of ice that were carved by the ghosts in the winds themselves to form huge towering structures. Of course if you moved south you would reach the lands of Arcadia, a land of ash and sand that barely had any inhabitants and as you moved even further south you would reach the great city of Drogan ' Khen, the domain of the Great Lords. This was a city built on the worship of their gods, the Dragons, and was the hub of religious dogma and worship that spread to every land. Of course you did not have to go out to sea to find trade. The land of Nevera had many rivers that ran past the major cities of Alistair and Fernhelm. These routes were only for the brave as they ran deep into the Plauge Marshes that comprised most of the land in the center of Nevera. Only those who were friendly with the Fey folk were allowed passage if they could even get past the tight river banks and other dangers that awaited them. However the Fey folk has many treasures to offer brave traders in the forms of alchemical herbs and various spices and food from the Plauge marshes. Sometimes they would trade artefacts from the old cities to the merchants but these were forbidden in most of the cities by The Order of The Golden Light.
Hatham and Quinton continued walking along the docks, trying to ignore the menacing stares many of the sailors were giving them as they glared at Quintons armour, marking him out as one of the city guard.
"I probably should have changed clothes before we got here." he said not returning the looks that were given to him.
"So where should we start looking for this Emerald Dragon?" Hatham asked.
"Well over there might be a good start." Quinton said as he pointed at a large ship docked at the very end of the harbour. It was a sturdy looking vessel, larger than most of the other ships that had made port and was well armed too with about seven cannons on either side and two more at the back of the ship.Alongside the hull was a carved and painted green dragon that twisted its way around the ship itself only for its head to meet its tail once it has looped fully around the ship. "A pretty damn impressive looking ship." Quinton said as they both moved further down the pier to get a better look. The white said were rolled up and except for two men scrubbing at it's decks it looked like nobody was home.
Opposite the ship and located in a little tucked away part of the docks was a ship-side tavern located between some shabby looking house and some even shabbier looking stalls selling almost rotted fruit and spare pieces of wood and nails for ship repairs. The sign outside presented the tavern as being called 'The Highwayman and the Swindler' and the loud voices and laughs of the patrons could be heard from inside.
They both walked up to the double doors of the establishment and Quinton raised his eyebrow and gestured to the tavern.
"After you, kid" He said as he held the door open for Hatham.
Hatham gave Quinton a scowl but entered through the door nervously. The atmosphere inside they tavern would have been pleasant to some an abhorrent to others but to Hatham all he felt was awkwardness. There were twelve tables in all some placed in corners and others placed near the center of the room but in a manner that did not restrict the movement of the barmaids. Some people were playing Sea-man, a Neverian card game, in booths that were reserved for gambling games of all sorts, while others were sitting on the other side of the room smoking opiates such as Trip Weed and Rash Salts. The barmaids made there way to and from the different tables across the dirty wooden floors too serve an assortment of drinks to the already intoxicated customers, ignoring the various hands that brushed and stroked them as they walked by, sometimes yelping at the occasional slap on the arse cheek. Quinton moved into the tavern behind Hatham and the insignia's on his armour made a lot of the patrons halt what they were doing in order to get a better look at these two people who had entered, on of them representing the law. At the closest table a grubby man who was playing Sea-man put down his cards and nodded to his friends at the same table before standing up and turning to the both of them. In the corner of his eye Hatham spotted a discrete movement the man made as he walked closer towards them. He was bald with a Fey folk tribal tattoo down his face that stopped at the bottom his neck, but his bulky statue and his pocked, white skin stated that he was not a Fey. When he was younger his Uncle had told him that many sailors had Fey tattoos drawn onto their skin as a superstitious good luck charm when travelling through their waters. The man smiled showing off stained yellow teeth, a Trip Weed addict obviously, and bowed a mocking bow too the both of them, the muscles in his arms rippling as he did so, showing off the many scars he had collected over the years.
"To what do we owe the pleasure sir? For the city guard to grace us with their presence." He said making his friends laugh, most of them having one hand placed on a knife or short sword placed in their belts.
"Now, now I don't want any trouble, I am off duty and I just want a drink okay? No need for the tough guy welcome." Quinton said holding his hands in mock surrender, showing that his hands were no where near his weapon.
"Well that is perfectly fine." The man said grinning and turning around to go back to his seat, but pausing and swinging back on both feet. "Well it would be if not for the fact that a bunch of your mates seized a shipment of goods that my friends and I were carrying here from Alistair. You bunch cost me a great deal of money, you did." He moved towards the both of them, his face painted with aggression.
"That is not my problem friend. If it was deemed illegal cargo then it was..."
Before Quinton could finish the man swiftly moved forward and for Hatham it was like time had slowed. Mostly everyone in the tavern has their eyes fixed on this moment, as the man flipped a switch knife he had hidden up his sleeve, the mechanism clicking and the knife extending further to the length of Hatham's forearm and aimed directly at Quinton's neck.
Everything moved so quickly and Quinton stared down at the knife that had stopped just before his neck and his eyes scanned the blade to see why the man had stopped. The man's eyes were fileld with shock as the blade should have hit its mark if not for Hathams hand getting in the way. At the last second Hatham had thrown up his hand so that the blade had slid through it, past the bone, the then stopped its movement with the small crystals that had formed in the wound. The man tried to pull the knife back but it would not budge no matter how hard he pulled. His friends moved forward and one of made a full sprint at Hatham, a short sword drawn and aimed at his heart. The blade pierced Hathams shirt but shattered as soon as it touched Hathams skin and the men just stared at where the wound should have been, all that was there were a glittering film of white crystals that had protected him. The first man had finally managed to pull his knife out of Hathams hand and jumped back with his friends to keep a good distance away from him.
"Freak! What kind of mage are you!"
Hatham ignored the man and looked at the hole in his hand and held it up so he would see straight through it and into the man's eyes. The pain was beginning to subside but the speed at which he had moved still shocked him.
Priscilla's voice was that of satisfaction as the crystals burst into dust and he could see his wound slowly start to heal, the flesh beginning to knit back together and new skin forming without any bleeding at all. Quinton was equally as shocked, seeing a person die was one thing and seeing them come back was another but it was an even stranger sight to see someone have a hole in their body and not care.
"Okay,I think we all need to calm down and just forget this ever happens. How about a drink? On me yes?"
Ignoring Quinton the third man charged forward with a switch knife. Hatham's body moved once again without his permission and his own will cried out in resistance to Priscilla's manipulation of his body, his eyes shut in fear at both the looming threat of pain.
The attacker screamed out in pain and Hatham opened his eyes to see the man staring at the bleeding stump that was where his left hand used to reside. Hatham's mind was racing and he nervous looked at his own hand only to see a long and sharp blade had formed along his entire forearm and the third man's lifeless hand had rolled to his feet, still clutching the knife.
"Fuck this!" The first man cried as he grabbed his bleeding friend and all three of them ran out of the tavern.
Hatham felt a hand on his should and spun around, meeting Quinton's gaze, his heart still racing, beads of sweat forming on his brow..
"It's okay kid, it's over now, just calm down." He said.
Hatham nodded and took in a large breath and the blade shattered into dust as he concentrated on his breathing and managed to calm himself. He realized that right now just about every single person was staring at him, and he blushed immensely as they looked in both wonder and fear.
"What are you lot all staring at!? Nothing happened here now go back to your fun before I arrest the whole bloody lot of your!" Quinton shouted and everyone immediately forgot what had happened and with a few awkward coughs the atmosphere matched the intention once again. "Are you all right kid?"
"Yeah, just a bit out of breathe, my hand kinda hurts thought."
"You are one strange person you know that?" Quinton said as he sighed and popped a seed into his mouth.
Hatham smiled nervously, his body gradually recovering from the pain in his hand and they tried to walk up to the bar as casually as they could. The bartender had been looking at them the whole time, and gave them a weary look.
"I'm going to ignore that trouble you just caused in my tavern because they attacked you, but I don't serve non-humans here" he said, nodding towards Hatham "And you I am only serving because you are part of the city guard."
For some reason the words non-human hit Hatham hard, but he shrugged it off despite the nagging feeling the words left at the back of his mind.
"That is fine, we are not here for drinks anyway." Quinton said as he slid a couple of coins across the bar "We are looking for someone."
"Aren't we all?" The bartender said laughing as he picked up the coins and pocketed them "Who might this person be then?"
"The Emerald Dragon." The bartender gave him a quizzical look "Sounds silly I know, till we saw the ship outside I would not have bothered asking."
The bartender paused again and looked hesitant and he looked from Hatham to Quinton then back again. Quinton tossed a couple more coins onto the bar and the man sighed.
"I know who you are talking about and she don't like to be disturbed." The bartender sighed again before picking up the coins and nodding to a curtain on the far side of the tavern leading stairs that Quinton assumed led to another room for patrons that wanted a bit more privacy. "She and her crew are in the private room in the back, but you didn't hear anything from me. I don't want any more trouble today."
"Not a word from me." Quinton said smiling and nodding in agreement with the bartender.
Hatham shuffled slightly further away from Quinton, still aware of all the looks her was getting.
You know, a simple thank you would suffice. Perhaps even just a gasp of wonder at your admiration for me?
"Why did you do that? Why didn't I have any control?" Hatham whispered, staring at the man's hand on the floor of the tavern which no one had wanted to go near or pick up.
Well I can't have you dying can I? Not until you have kept your side of the contract at least, I mean we are sharing a body after all. Didn't you wonder how you were able to take down a dragon with magical or combat training? I simply pushed your will aside and substituted it for my own, I moved your arms and your legs and stopped you from potentially dying. You are welcome.
"It felt wrong, like I had no control whatsoever. Thank you for saving me, but try to avoid doing that in the future, If I am going to avenge my family I need to learn how to do it myself rather than relying on you otherwise it would just be pointless." Hatham said, feeling slightly down and thinking himself stupid for boasting to himself that he had taken a dragon down on his own after he had been found by Quinton. "Don't get me wrong, it felt amazing and without you I would have stood no chance against those people, let alone a dragon. It felt amazing having such power but you controlling me, it feels wrong, I always have this feeling in my chest, a sort of pain that hurts more and more when you move my body for me. What I am trying to say is I thank you for moving my body for me when I am too scared to act, but please try not to do it again."
Of course my precious, I promise not too do it again without your permission. I am sorry that I hurt you.
Hatham gave a sigh of relief. He was worried that he would have offended Priscilla, it might have even be seen as ungrateful after everything she had done for him. Could she even be offended? After all she wasn't human, but she did have access to all his memories so did that mean she knew what being offended felt like?
Just thinking about it made Hatham's head hurt and he realized that this was all too complicated for him. He had never received a great education, his mother and uncle had taught him how to read and right and his uncle had a basic knowledge of the major events of history and could count and had taught him basic arithmetic. Uncle Ron had become almost like a father to Hatham, yet every time he had asked his mother about his natural father she refused to answer or changed the subject. One day Ron had told Hatham that his father had been a soldier who had stayed at The Free City and when he had met his mother they had both fallen in love with each other. Before Hatham was born however his father had left and didn't contact them ever again.
Quinton came up behind Hatham and tapped him on the shoulder, waking him up from his thoughts and nodded towards the curtain that separated the normal tavern from the private rooms that were available for an extra price. Quinton brushed the curtain aside and walked up the stairs with Hatham following closely behind. They came to a corridor with private rooms on either side and began to walk down it looking into each room. As they walked they passed drunken sailors, a couple of nobles high on quite a few kinds of opiates from what Quinton could see and even a couple of patrons who had fallen asleep on the beds provided, naked with their escorts by their sides.
They heard loud laughter at one of the very end rooms so Quinton ignore the rest of the private rooms and moved with Hatham to the very end of the corridor.
The end doors were shut so Quinton sighed and smiled at Hatham before knocking on the door where the laughter had emanated from. It opened and a tall and heavily muscled man answered, his skin was of a very dark colour and the hair on his head was so short that some who were looking from afar might assume he was bald. His expression was that of somebody who didn't care and he gave a huff before looking Quinton in the eyes.
Quinton coughed awkwardly and cleared his throat.
"I am looking for the captain? My friend here has some things he would like to discuss with her, if that is okay?"
The man didn't seem impressed and his expression didn't change as he looked Quinton up and down. He turned to look at Hatham and his eyes narrowed as he observed his almost white hair and his metallic silver eyes.
After a moment of awkward silence the intimidating man nodded and let them both inside and closed door behind them, following them closely as they walked into a slightly smoke filled and strange smelling room.
The room itself was nicely furnished and instead of chairs and tables or lavish sofas, there were instead piles of cushions and bamboo slabs on the floors to set food and drink down onto. Rich purple translucent curtains covered the high placed windows so as to avoid the gaze of those outside, and the carpet was of a similar colour if not richer and looked softer too the touch.
The rooms occupants consisted mostly of bare chested and tattooed sailors, some of obviously foreign origins while others has obviously been born in the local lands and were less tanned and more fair haired.
In the middle of the dozens of cushions that had been set around the larger of the bamboo mats was possibly one of the most beautiful women Hatham had ever seen.
Unfortunately this woman had already shot him through the heart with a bolt and the accuracy of a trained killer.
If every there was a pun about cupids and being shot through the heart this would probably not be the time to bring it up.
The doorman nodded respectfully to the woman and she nodded back in turn. The woman waved her hand and two men began to search the both of them. The confiscated Quinton's broadsword and a small dagger he kept hidden in his boot but as for Hatham they found nothing that could possibly pose a threat to anyone in the room.
Oh how little they know. If they had, had a mage checking us maybe things might have been different.
Hatham ignored the cheery giggling voice in his head and attempted to keep eyes contact with the woman, her emerald eyes sparkling like gems.
This proved to be very hard however as Hatham's eyes could not help but be drawn down to the woman's cleavage. Hatham didn't know what it was that was so fascinating about breasts but at that moment he could not help but absorb it all in through his eyes. The corset that the woman was wearing didn't help matters either as it was tightly tied up and so pushed her cleavage up, giving it the appearance of being bigger and fuller then they were.
This of course definitely worked.
"If you keeping looking like that I may have make sure that you leave here as less of a man."
Hatham immediately looked back up to the woman's face, biting his lip and blushing profusely.