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Flameflicker and the Priestby Roger LaVern Girtman, II
In summer when the caravans are garbed in the full bright colours of carnival with merchants hawking their wares and birds flying overhead beckoning for scraps, Felmont in Specularum is a wonderful sight. This Lunadain the sounds of the city mingled with the scents of Ylari and gnomish travellers and local merriment as beastmen were to be slain in mock-battle at every corner of every street and alleyway.
Today was Beasts' Day. It is a celebration of the people's defeat over their monstrous invaders centuries ago. More than that, it is a holy day. For the people of Traladara, in the land now called Karameikos, it is a day to honour and remember the great heroes of the ancient Traldar--ancestors of the Traladaran people. One of those Traladarans is Flameflicker, a thief, an outlaw, a criminal.
Flameflicker, the Thief-king, was in a sombre mood, standing reflectively into the waters of the Mirror Bay from the warehouse dock where their meet was to be held. Meetings of the Kingdom of Thieves were never held in the same venue twice. On this day, it was being held overlooking the merchant ships docking and unloading all their precious wares.
“This is a good morning,” said Flameflicker’s companion, “by Halav, a happier man than I could not be found in all of Traladara!”
Upon seeing the Thief-king’s mood, Ivan the Lesser consoled him, “Pick up your heart, my dear Master. To think of all the goods to be had on a Felmont morning.”
“Yes,” said Flameflicker, “but one thing grieves me and weighs heavily upon my soul. That I cannot go to give the libations on this Beasts’ Day. It’s been nigh on to three years since I’ve offered up my drinks to the Heroes’ memory.”
With newfound commitment, Flameflicker continued, more to posterity than to Ivan, “Today I will leave the Nest and give honours to the full might of the Good King Halav.”
Just then, overhearing the conversation, Mikhail, a vintner’s son, approached his Master and spoke. “Take twelve of these strong gentlemen, well armed, to be by your side. He who would kill you would not dare face those twelve.”
“Of all my good men,” said Flameflicker, “by my faith, I will take none. But young Ivan shall carry my bow until I choose to shoot.”
“You shall carry your own, Master,” said Ivan who, being in his forties, was not as young as his moniker alluded, “and I will carry mine. We will shoot arrows for a kopec wager beneath the linden trees in the garden.”
“I will not shed a copper with you, young Ivan,” said Flameflicker, “but for every one that you shoot, in faith, I shall hold you a crona.”
Thus the bet was set forth between these two archers. They shot at both bush and shrub until Ivan the Lesser won the pot of his Master: five crona for a set of hose and shoes.
A great argument fell between them as they went on their way; Ivan said that he had won five silver coins and Flameflicker abruptly replied “no.” With that simple word, Flameflicker had called Ivan a liar and struck him with a hand. Ivan grew angry and drew his bright sword.
“Were you not my Master, you would sorely pay for that. Get yourself another man where you will, for you will get me no more.”
Then the Thief-king continued towards the Hill, grieving all alone. Ivan returned to the Nest following the back streets. He knew every one of those alleyways.
When Flameflicker reached the Hill, the libations were drunk
one more grieving spirit brought to rest. Flameflicker prayed to the Heroes for a safe return. Going in to the Great Church of Traladara, the outlaw knelt down before the sanctuary. All around, in the church with him were patrons that knew well the name of Flameflicker, the Thief-king.
Beside Flameflicker stood a fat-headed priest. “I pray to Halav, woe to him!” Flameflicker thought, for certainly the fat-headed priest would know good Flameflicker as soon as he looked.
Out of the doors, Flameflicker ran at once. All of the gates of Specularum were made to be barred at the first sign of trouble. There was no time to waste.
“Rise up!” the priest cried, “Rise up and call the Constable! I’ve seen the Duke’s felon. I tell you he’s here!”
Quickly rallying the crowd, “I’ve seen the criminal; he’s here in the church. It’s your fault,” the priest shouted, “if he escapes!”
“The traitor called Flameflicker! He robbed me of more than a hundred royals. I tell you that was him; I could never forget that face!”
As the priest ranted with his fat-head, the constable of the Guard Phorsis stood from his libation and quickly made himself ready. Many a mother’s son was in the church with them.
The crowd mustered and shut the doors of the Great Church, blocking them closed with plenty of staves.
“Great,” Flameflicker muttered, “just when I needed Ivan,” as the unbound sword that hung at on his belt was drawn.
... To be continued.