The atmosphere at Laurenhall was always cold. It didn’t matter what season it was, be it winter or summer, as the land that knew monsters was always cold. If you found the days cold, then the nights would be freezing. Every adventurer worth his salt knew that.
But not Jave. He was a good adventurer alright, he had good gear, and even knew a little magic. But he was tricked. Tricked into coming here because he was different.
He had joined the adventurer’s guild when he was seventeen. That was three years ago. Back then, he had nothing but a few rags to keep him warm and a small dagger he had lifted off a passerby. Before that, he was a beggar, and, if things got a little too extreme, a thief. He had never met his parents, from what he could remember. He grew up in an orphanage until the age of ten, at which point, a group of thieves and bandits burnt down the orphanage, and he was abandoned to the streets.
Seven years later, as he squatted by the roadside, a trio of adventurers caught his eye. They laughed and talked merrily, feeling as if they were on top of the world. They talked about adventure, the thrill of it, and how they were going to explore all the corners of the world, fight the scariest monsters, and when they would grow old, they would settle down in some faraway land, and live like a wise old sage, recounting their adventures to merry travelers and young inexperienced adventures.
Jave wanted that for himself. And so he became an adventurer, doing his best to ignore the strange looks he got, and doing his best to not let the mediocre quests he got get to him. He had known he was not strong nor smart, and to be the former, he had to work from the bottom up.
And so he did, because three years later, he was one of the most liked adventurers in the city. So how did it come to this? Because he won a bet. Simple as that. A noble’s son, declaring himself to be better than the ‘filth’ that was Jave, decided to challenge him to a duel. And Jave, having found no reason to refuse, accepted his challenge. And won. Gloriously. For him, anyway.
The uppity brat, as it turned out, was a sore loser. And so he exchanged Jave’s maps with his own modified version, where he had changed the names of many locations. Jave, having not been educated, didn’t find anything wrong with the map. At least, not until he found himself in Laurenhall that is.
Laurenhall was not an area where legendery beasts of myth lay. No, it just had mid ranked monsters, a bit challenging, but no problem to an adventurer like Jave. So why then, did it have such a famous reputation? The answer was simple. Illusions. There lay an artifact in the middle of the land, that did not let anyone leave until they had claimed it as their own, nor did it let getting anywhere near it easy. It drove every adventurer mad by the third day.
Even the most powerful adventurers would find it a challenge.
As for the reason why it was so cold, it was because of a monster that made Laurenhall its lair. The Chill sprite was usually just a pest that could be extinguished with a slap of the hand. The sprite that resided in the area, however, had taken advantage of all the adventurers that had gone crazy and died here, feeding off whatever was left of their souls, and growing more powerful with time.
It was still fragile though. All it would take to kill it would a punch. Even a seven year old could kill it.The problem, however, was finding it, and finding it before you went crazy. But every adventurer usually just ignored it and made a beeline to the center, hoping to reach the artifact in time.
Not Jave though. He knew that reaching the artifact in time would be near impossible for him. So would be leaving. The only hope he had was to get rid of that darned sprite so he could live whatever was left of his non-crazy days in peace, and also make it easier for the next adventurer. Maybe carve a message into a stone to avenge him too.
The forest was desolate, as the artifact drove every living thing that wasn’t a monster to their breaking point, and that included all the wildlife. The trees were still alive though, though that was probably because they didn’t have a mind to break.
Jave was currently sitting in front of a campfire, rocking back and forth, his arms folded around himself. He hummed a melancholic tune, mostly just to distract himself.
Not that it was working.
His thoughts kept turning back to the life that he wouldn’t be able to have. To all of the friends that he’d made in the last couple of years.
Would they care, He thought, If I died?
Would they give Drygg what he deserves?
He honestly had no idea. He was not very good with people. And yet he’d still been able to make a few friends. Friends who actually cared about him. And treated him well. Not many friends as compared to others, but to him, that didn’t matter. Norbert Hardstone, and Damen Enchime, were their names.
Drygg was the name of the noble’s son who had tricked him. He wondered what he was doing now. Maybe laughing with his other twisted friends about how the idiot who dared to take him on and win went crazy and had to be put down.
Anger rose up in him.
Then another, much more horrifying thought came up.
Would they even know? That it was because of Drygg that I ended up here, and not because I was crazy enough to think I could claim Laurenhall’s artifact as my own?
Fear enveloped him, as he imagined his friends disappointment, and Drygg pissing over what was left of his reputation.
That last part made him angry. Angry enough to clench his fists so hard that his knuckles turned white. But it wasn’t enough.
He stood up, stomped over to a tree, and punched it. However, his punch delivered a lot more force than it should have, even with his enchantments, and the tree cracked. Then, what followed was lot more cracks with crunching noises, as Jave stared in shock at the huge crack he had left in the tree.
Then, he realized, the tree was going to fall, and if he did not move, it would fall on him.
And at the last moment, when the tree was an inch from his face, he dived to the right, saving himself from being crushed. His fire, he noted, was now extinguished, being in the path of the tree.
He got up, and dusted himself, then rubbed his hands together to put some warmth and feeling in them. Not a minute had passed by, and he could already begin to feel the numbing cold. He wanted to go find the sprite right there and then, but he stopped himself, knowing that he would freeze to death before he ever got that far, if he ever got that far.
No, he thought to himself, have to wait until morning. In the mean time I need to get some rest.
He went to the fallen tree, lifted it with that same superhuman strength that he was not supposed to be have, though it escaped his mind, as he was thoroughly exhausted. He then set to rebuilding the fire, and once that was done, he set up a tent, and collapsed into it, the exhaustion taking over.
Jave woke up to the sound of his friends laughing. One was a young man, probably around the age twenty, just as he was, and had blonde hair, and brown eyes. He was not scrawny, nor was he overly muscular, in fact, he lay somewhere in middle of the two, just as all three of them were. His name was Norbert, and he held a wooden pitcher in his hand, the other on the hilt of his sword. He wore leather armor, just as Jave.
Damen however, wore a set of Black leather armor, armor specially enchanted for stealth. In some openings, one could see the glint of the metal of throwing daggers. He had a long face, which always looked bored, and had green eyes. You could not make out his emotions from his face expressions, but from his body language. And right now, he seemed to be less reserved, and more open. He too, held a wooden pitcher, and was currently drinking from it.
The three of them were in a room, with Jave lying on a bed, and his two friends sitting on chairs opposite to him.
Norbert nudged Damen with his elbow and pointed to Jave with his pitcher.
“Look who’s finally awake.” He said.
Jave frowned. This didn’t feel right somehow. Something felt off. And then it hit him. These weren’t his friends. His friends did not drink ale in the morning. They were simply too self-disciplined for that.
“Who are you and what have you done to my friends?”
The only thing he got in response were two malicious grins that spread all the way to their eyes. Their eyes, Jave noted, was now crimson in color. And then the world faded into darkness.
Jave woke up sweating and panting. The dreams, he realized with dread, was only the first stage. It was only so long before he was consumed by the madness.
End of chapter 1
- A Human Of Earth
Bio: I like writing. And drawing. And reading. Yeah, I like a bunch of stuff. My main interest lays in science, though art and fiction? They come at a close second. Hence why I'm writing a fiction of my own. I'm not pros at them. Just like them a lot.