"Now I want you to concentrate, how may fingers am I holding up?"
The Physician held up his hand, all of his fingers outstretched wide in front of Hatham's face.
"Four fingers and a thumb?" Hatham replied dully to the man who was now considering had no actual idea what he was doing.
"Smart lad, good eyesight and it seems your mental functions are not impaired in the slightest, just as I suspected."
The physician scribbled a couple of notes on a pad of paper before turning to Roxanne and giving a nod. "It seems the boy is in the peak of physical and mental healthy. I am surprised that this is the case considering all he has been through but now that my examination is over I will write a letter of approval to Guard Captain Quinton on the topic of his military training to become the new bodyguard for the Baron." Hatham yawned and got off of the stool the physician had made him sit on during the tests and put his shirt back on after the man had made him take it off to check for any damage internally using a complex process of magically formed weaves and sigils. Hatham had been fascinated as the man waved his hands through the space above Hatham's skin and his body had tingled the more it went on.
Afterwards he had asked the man about the magic he was using and what it was exactly to which the man replied: "Mages and Wizards are able to perform magical sigils thanks to mana, the life energy that courses through every living being. I just used some sigils to check your body over for internal physical problems. Some call it Ki, Chakra In the Eastern Provinces, most call it The Soul or The Stream or other such things depending on where you are from and who has taught you. What separates mages from normal everyday people is that those who are magically talented have excess amounts of mana that emit from their bodies. This allows them to conjure magical constructs and produce the mana into various physical forms such as fire or even just a ball of light. The more excess mana a person has, the more spells they can fire off or perform before they reach their limit and begin to tap into the remaining energy that is their life force, their essence that is essential for living. This is a darker form of magic, such as blood magic or soul binding since it relies on the users life force and the excess mana of their bodies rather than just the latter meaning that although it is a stronger kind of magic since it uses both excess and essential mana, it is dangerous and can be deadly to the user. A good reason for why it is banned in most provinces and only certain member of the Ash Brothers or The Golden Light can practice such arts."
Hatham was stunned by how much he would have to take in to fully understand his powers and had many questions to ask the man, but he barely stopped to breathe before continuing.
"The more they use it the better they feel since it creates a sort of euphoria, as the energy is drained from the body and eventually will lead to death if the practitioner does not rest to gain back his mana."
When he heard this Hatham became concerned as his own abilities drained him immensely of his energy and did physically change him rather than normal magics ,which he was told, were concerned with making the immaterial material. "You are completely different, the exception to all the rules." The physician said." Mages regenerate excess mana from the world around them is it flows in and out of their body and like floodgate or a dam it fills up the empty spaces left behind. This takes time of course but is the only way we know of to regain mana. I noticed during the examination that you on the other hand seem to create your own mana, your body rejects the mana around you and instead your soul seems to manufacture its own excess mana which you then use for your unique form of magic which from what I can tell is closer to blood magic or dark alchemy than anything else that I know of." The physician almost sounded impressed with his lecture while Hatham had barely understood a thing that he had said.
I think he is saying that you and I are a special little case my darling. "Well why didn't he just say that instead of saying the word mana about a hundred times!" Hatham exclaimed, but he soon remembered that no one else could in fact hear Priscilla so he was greeted with strange looks from both the physician and Roxanne.
After blushing immensely, Roxanne bowed to the physician and then escorted Hatham out of the shop and into the busy street. Back in the Free City, Hatham had seen streets bustle with merchants and civilians but nothing like this.
Quinton had explained to him earlier on in the day that Fernhelm's location by the ocean in a natural harbour made it a popular trading port and allowed the business' of the city to prosper as good from around the land passed through it's walls.
They walked for a while down the paved streets, dodging families and crowds of merchants and shoppers alike that walked the opposite way or were simply standing at stalls haggling and arguing with the owners over goods. The sun shone brightly and judging from the way that people were dressed, it was a warm day. Many women wore thin garments and some of the men were even shirtless.
Hatham had to observe other people to judge the warmth of the day because no matter how much sunlight kissed his skin he still did not feel any heat. He felt cold inside and out, even Roxanne showed a look of surprise when she had taken his hand to escort him out of the office of the physician.
Hatham spotted Quinton leaning against a street corner, two fully armoured city guards at his side, their armour glinting as they shifted to get comfy against the brick walls, the sun reflecting perfectly off of the polished steel. Quinton waved, his mouth crunching down on another seed as he dismissed the guards and they disappeared around the street corner.
"Hey kid, how are you doing?" he asked, giving Hatham a gently slap on the back "Seems like we are both in the Baron's favour now hey?"
Hatham smiled nervously.
He did not want to admit it in case it seemed pathetic, but he enjoyed seeing Quinton. Ever since the destruction of his home, he had trusted Quinton. Perhaps it was because he had no one left to turn too or perhaps it was because his family was no longer in this world, but he felt that Quinton could be the only person to come close to understanding what Hatham had been through.
"I'm okay, Roxanne and I have been getting some new clothes for me." New clothes? He felt silly just saying something like that so casually! "The Baron gave me some money so that I could buy some garments, armour and a solid weapon for my training next week",
"Oh yeah, well a piece of advice, just stick too good quality armour and a longsword, nothing fancy like gilded armour or jewelled sabres, leave that sort of finery to the mages."
"The mages?" Hatham asked.
"Some battle mages use the jewels in their weapons or gold in their armour or robes to hold enchantments or to store mana in case the situation calls for it." Quinton explained "Makes them a fucking pain in the arse to fight!"
Hatham was taken back at Quintons use of curses. His mother would have slapped him if Hatham had even considered using a curse word.
Quinton saw the look on Hatham's face and gave an awkward cough.
"Sorry, I forgot now that I am Captain of the City Guard, I must act proper and all that other rubbish." He gave a beaming smile and ruffled Hatham's hair.
Looking at Hatham's face had always confused Quinton. On the day he found the boy, his face was like that of some of the men he had seen coming back from wars in the Plague Marshes. These wars had lasted for over seven years and had started because The Order of the Golden Light had preached that the time had come to take the wilds back from the various Fey tribes that lived there, since they were heretics and followed the beliefs of the wild. Fey were tribal thin creature, supposedly of a strange beauty, that lived in the marshes and practised the old magics. However it was not the warriors of the Fey that were the problem, it was the terrain and the environment. Soldiers that did not fall ill from various diseases or poisons that the marshes contained, were most likely killed off by the other wildlife that inhabited the marsh, or sometimes even were felled by the traps the Fey set to block their progress. After the seven years had past the Golden Light finally deemed the land as "not worth their time" and any outposts were abandoned and the remaining legions returned to their cities. The men that returned were changed, they barely spoke and barely ate. Quinton imagined that seeing the horrors of the Plague Marshes and watching your comrades being eaten by basilisks or ravaged by insects would change any man.
Hatham had the same look on his face when Quinton had found him. A boy hardened by his experiences on the outside but broken inside.
However now Quinton looked at him again and saw only a boy, seemingly free from the cares of the world, awkward, shy and nervous.
A fish out of water.
"Anyway we should move on , get you some proper gear worthy of a Baron bodyguard." Quinton suggested "I know a good blacksmith further down the street, he charges a lot for his work but is a good man and can forge good steel."
Hatham nodded in agreement but before he could reply Roxanne let out a shriek behind them and Hatham spun around to see Roxanne on the floor, her bought items spilled everywhere and a small cloaked figure running away from her down the street.
"Are you okay!?" Hatham asked.
"I'm fine but he cut the coin purse from my belt!" she cried out in annoyance.
Quinn helped her up and Hatham looked at the figure running away further down the street. Before Quinn could stop him, Hatham began to run after the figure.
Oh look at you being the hero for the damsel in distress,
"Is now really the time for this?" Hatham said panting and out of breath. He was never an athletic child and never got enough exercise. He even had a small stick out belly that alot of the kids bullied him for but he didn't ever try to change his appearance, be always lacked muscle and had too much fat. Now he was seriously regretting it!
Perhaps I could help you if you were to ask me very, very nicely. Damn he hated her attitude sometimes! But as the thief was getting further and further away from him, Hatham did not really have many options.
"Please help me?"
I love it when you beg for me. As Priscilla laughed in his head Hatham felt a massive surge of energy and his legs felt stronger. He couldn't help but laugh as he sprinted by the market stalls. Within a couple a minutes he had already almost caught up to the thief and still had so much energy to spare.
The thief looked behind him and saw that Hatham was gaining and twisted into one of the stalls grabbing a cart and then kicking it into the Hatham's path.
Hatham jumped on instinct, telling himself in his head that he could not possibly make the jump and it would end up with him smashing into the wooden cart and breaking a couple of bones. To Hatham's surprised however a huge strength shot through his legs cracking the street road slightly beneath him as he jump over eight feet into the air and directly over the wooden cart. As he landed back in the street the shock of hitting the ground rippled through his body slightly but he didn't have time to be shocked as he watched the thief kick himself up from one of the stall's wooden tables and onto a wall. The thief's agility was amazing as he climbed further and further up the walls and onto the slanted roofs of the houses and kept his balance so that he did not slip and fall down to the street below.
This human is impressive, even if he still is just a human.
"You know I can do without your constant commentary Priss." Hatham said annoyed. He looked up at the building and braced himself and closed his eyes in concentration. He jumped and felt a flare of energy again as he pushed his body to its limit and managed to jump up nearly the triple the height he had done before and waved his hands trying to balance himself as he landed on the roof of the building.
"I could really get used to this." He said smiling as he once again focused on his legs and the energy burst as he shot off after the thief who was near jumping from rooftop too roof top.
The feeling was incredible! Not only did he feel amazing physically and was faster than any man he had seen but he could also hear more and see further than he had ever done before. Even as the wind swept through his hair as he ran at an immense speed he could listen to the conversations of the people below and could see the birds flying in the sky so closely that if he wanted too he could have counted their feathers.
He could tell that the thief was now getting tired as his movements became sluggish as he manoeuvred across the rooftops but now Hatham was closing the distance between them. Hatham was so close now that he could have reached out his hand to grab the thief's cloak and at the speed he was now moving it would not be that hard.
Hatham heard the noise but was not sure in what direction it came from. It sounded like it was pretty far away and was probably just something in the back around down on the...
The crossbow bolt shot at a great speed diagonally from the street and straight through Hatham's heart and his body immediately went limp and he fells onto the tiles of the roof and slid down, falling further and hitting the street below.
The last thing Hatham felt was the immense pain in his chest and he heard the screams and commotion of the citizens below as a group of them ran up to him and bent down over him begging him to keep his eyes open and stay awake. They shouted at him that help would be coming soon and as more people crowded around him they obscured Hatham's view of Priscilla standing there shaking her head at him, the same smug grin on her face.
Then everything went black as he took his last breathe.
Then he died.
"You called me Priss."
Hatham's eyes snapped open, his naked body floating on it's back in a clear blue ocean, his head staring up into a clouded white sky. It was strange, he was floating in the water yet didn't feel cold and didn't feel wet. He tilted his head to look up a bit more to see Priscilla crouching over him, her feet not sinking into the water yet standing on it as if it were solid. He snowy hair was draped at either side of his head and her was was looking down on him, both of them starring into each others silver eyes.
"What did you say?" Hatham asked.
"Back there when we were chasing the thief, you called me Priss" Her voice sounded almost sad and for the first time her face looked concerned.
"I...I didn't mean too, it just sort of, well it just sort of happened" Hatham said not really knowing what else he could say. He blushed immensely and got the feeling that he was in trouble, the sort of feeling he would get when he knocked over a plate when his mother told him not to play with his wooden sword in the house.
"So now you think of me as your mother now?" Priscilla said, he expression now changing to that playful grin. "That is quite inappropriate considering how much you have seen of me." She stood up showing off her full body and once again Hatham blushed and looked away "All those bad thoughts you don't want to share with me, all those lusts."
"Please don't do that." Hatham said, pushing down the thoughts that he told himself any man would have in front of a woman of such naked beauty. "Where am I?" He said, changing the subject as best he could. "The last thing I can remember was the pain in my chest, the nothing."
"You are still where you are, just think of it as a dream yet not a dream."
"Thanks, not confusing at all."
"Your body is healing itself but in reality to you are dead so your mind floats to this place, the place in your mind where I reside,where you will sit until your physical form is reading for you to use again." Priscilla said, sounding bored "Next time be more careful darling." She bent back over him and gave him a full kiss on the lips and without even thinking Hatham kissed back. She pulled back and smiled a warm smile at him with her cold lips "See was that so hard to let a little of that desire out, I know you loved it."
Before Hatham could respond she laid down beside him, stroking his chest with her hand and nuzzled his neck with her head before resting it on his chest.
"Why do you do things like that?" Hatham asked
"Because I love you." She said innocently, as she moved up him so they were both looking at each other again "When laying there dying in the rubble I could feel how desperate you were for someone to love you in place of those that were taken from you, so here I am to fill that void, all I want to do is make you happy Hatham." She moves forward and lightly kiss him and smiled, making him feel warm inside, but it somehow still felt wrong. Priscilla frowned "You are still thinking about her aren't you? That is why you called me by her name."
Hatham suddenly felt a stab of guilt and pain as he thought about Priss. It was true that he still missed her, but was it still possible to love something so much even though you had lost it. Priscilla looked hurt and rejected and at that moment Hatham realized why she was acting so passionately towards him and why he had felt such conflicted emotions towards her.
They had both felt the harsh sting of loneliness.
Without warning Hatham moved forward and grabbed Priscilla and held her down. She looked shocked, he had reacted before he she has even a chance to feel and sense his intentions and emotions. He kissed her passionately and released her before holding her gently close to him.
"I'm sorry, I guess I am still holding onto the past." Hatham said "I didn't mean to hurt you Priscilla, I don't want anyone to be hurt again. It is just I have urges towards you yes, any man would I guess, but I can also relate to you, you were alone for so long and I have lost so much that it has caused me to know what it is like to feel alone and helpless, but I don;t think you know what love is."
Priscilla smiled at him slyly "Perhaps one day I can learn." she said before taking Hatham's hands and letting him stroke them down her sides. Her skin was smooth and although it was also cold he did not mind. It felt like stroking soft marble as he couldn't help explore her body. "But for now we can always be here for each other, and never be alone again." She over powered him and pushed him onto his back again and kissed him on his lips, biting them teasingly, and moved down with her touch to his chest and his stomach. Once against Hatham could not shake this feeling in his stomach this feeling of wanting her and of knowing that he could have her. This creature has given him everything, hope, power, companionship and had banished despair and loneliness from his life. Now she offered him her love too and who was he to deny her. Hatham pushed her down again and Priscilla giggled in delight pulling that smile of hers that drove him crazy but her would not admit it until now. He felt every of her cold white marbled body and she sighed in pleasure as his hands caressed her breasts. Her hands equally caressed him and moved lower down and behind his back, cupping his buttocks and feeling them in her hand. At this point nothing seems to matter any more, he forgot everything else in his life but this moment, his suffering and his lust for revenge and instead gave into his lust for her. He laid down on top of her, his chest pressing against her's and they kissed for what seems like an age. Finally she spread open her legs for him and he blushed at the sight once again remembering that he was still at his age a virgin. he moved closer to her and she took his manhood in her hand to guide him to her and as he entered her she let out a moan of pleasure and he pushed further into....
Hathams eyes snapped open as he shot up upright, breathing heavily and sweating as he remember the pain of the bolt penetrating through his heart. He held his head panting trying to get a hold of himself and moved his over hand down over his chest but felt nothing, no hole, no blood and no scar. Nothing but smooth skin.
After composing himself he sighed and looked around the room. It was what he was used too, shabby a straw filled bed, the curtains with holes in them and rotting wooden floorboard. Covering the floor was a cheap woven rug dyed crimson with dried blood. There was a lot of it that stained the floor all the way to his bed and judging by that alone Hatham guessed that if the bolt had not killed him straight away then losing that amount of blood would have ended him for sure.
He remembered his time with Priscilla and sighed once again realizing how disappointed he was at the timing of him waking up again.
I quite enjoyed it
"Oh great.." Hatham said
You were so strong and passionate, so full of lust.
"How long is it going to be before you get bored of teasing me with this." He said, slightly smiling and trying not to laugh.
Do you think this means you are no longer a virgin or does it have to count physically rather than mentally?
They both couldn't help it and laughed.
The door to the room opened and Quinton rushed in.
"Hatham! Dammit son you gave us such a scare, I am barely into my thirties and yet you almost gave me a heart attack!" Quinton shouted as he walked over to the bed and ruffled Hatham's hair. "How are you feeling?"
"I'm feeling okay I guess, a bit shaken but it doesn't hurt." He showed Quinton where the wound was supposed to be and Quinton gave an impressive whistle. "Well you are just full of surprises aren't you?"
Hatham tried not to chuckle again as Priscilla giggled in his head.
"Was it something I said?" Quinton asked looking confused at Hatham's expression.
"No it's nothing." Hatham said rubbing his eyes and composing himself before looking at Quinton again with a more serious expression "Did you catch the thief?"
"Sorry Hatham, by the time we had gotten to you he was long gone." Quinton shook his heard and moved to the window to open the curtains and let a little bit more light in. Afterwards he sat down in a chair next to the bed and searched in his pocket for another seed and eventually found one and popped it in this mouth and crunched down on it. "Any idea who stuck the bolt in you?" He asked with his mouth full of crunched seed.
"No it happened too fast, I knew my senses were enhanced but It seems that it wasn't enough. I have no idea who shot me." Hatham admitted.
Oh yes you do, you are just not thinking hard enough.
Hatham opened his mouth to argue but instead just closed his eyes and thought. He imagined the scene before the moments he was shot and felt the bolt pierce his body again. He winced in pain but realized there was no actual feelings as the bolt embedded itself in him and he fell from the building again but this time he was more aware. he looked to the direction that the bolt has come from and found windowless gap in one of the more run down houses. A flash of red hair flooded his mind.
It wasn't a ginger red, nor a dark red but was somewhere in between, like Autumn if was pushed together into a person, yet with pale Winter skin and ice shattered blue eyes. He concentrated even more and focused on the image.
Smooth skin, not a single blemish on it except for an unusual tattoo on the collar bone.
An emerald dragon. Ferocious and coiled like a serpent, ready to breathe hot rage.
There you see? Was that so hard?
Hatham opened his eyes again but Quinton was not staring at him like he has spaced out but instead was still crunching down on the same seed he had taken but a minute ago.
It was like it never happened. You are more powerful then you were before Hatham and you have powers that some mages could only dream of. With my help of course. It really does help when I have all of your memories to sieve through at my leisure, all those feelings and experiences, I am really learning so much.
"Thanks for the help." Hatham whispered.
"Did you say something?" Quinton asked quizzically, still chewing down on the remains of the seed in his mouth before swallowing the rest.
"Nothing." Hatham replied "Quinton, do you know anything about tattoos? Specifically a green dragon?"
"Tattoos? Well I know that nobles think they are disgusting. Soldiers sometimes get them after or before battles, they like to think that they are badges to signify their achievements or sometimes they get runes etched into their skin by mages or alchemists to give them courage or to protect them in battle. If you ask me I never believed in that shite."
"Anything else you know?" Hatham asked.
"In the poorer districts the guild rats normally get tattoos but nothing as elaborate a dragon, they normally get the guild marks painted onto their hands, depending which guild they belong too. The only other thing I can think of is the pirates and traders down in the harbour district. They like too show of and get tattoos that are elaborate so as to make them distinct from other pirates. I know a lot of captains like to get tattoos that have something to do with the names of their ships since it is a tradition that it bring good luck. Something to do with being one with the ship and all that. Why? Do you think the person that shot you was a pirate?" Quinton suggested.
"Well from what I saw it is possible. I would like to try and confront the person that killed me as well as get the money back." Hatham said. However he did not truly mean anything that he has just said. The Baron has more money and Hatham could not care less about it and also did not care that he was killed by them. He had another motive to wanting to find these people "So I guess we should go to the docks then."
"Woah hang on are you sure you are all right to move? I mean you took a bolt to the heart! You were dead for a good couple of hours." Quiton said, getting up from his chair as Hatham tried to get out of the bed and stopping him by holding his shoulders.
"Quinton I'm fine, see no wound." Hatham said point to his bare chest "I can't be killed and if I do die I just come back. I will be fine. Although what I'm about to do you might not want to take part in."
"Because this will probably end up with you losing your job if we get caught." Hatham said solemnly and there was an awkward tension in the air after that.
Finally after a long silence Quinton side and popped another seed in his mouth and crunched down on it.
"In my life I have always gone with my instincts and my feelings. It has gone well at some times, but has not gone well most of the time. However I don't know why, but I have a good feeling about you Hatham , I don't believe in fate or destiny or all that other crap, but right now I think I should trust you." Quinton said giving his signature smile "Hell if we get caught it is only a job, there are plenty more in the world!"
Hatham laughed and smiled back at him.
"I guess you are right."
Hatham got out of bed and put on the fresh clothes that Quinton had fetched for him and after moving his arms and legs to make sure that there were no physical side effects to his body coming back Quinton and Hatham exited the building and stepped into the midday sun. Quinton told Hatham that Roxanne had returned to Baron to inform him of what had happened so they had time before the Baron would have sent soldiers to find Hatham and return him to the keep.
So we are to pursue this, Emerald Dragon?
Hatham nodded when Quinton was not looking.
He had a plan, now to put it into action and hope for the best.