City of Storms
Original art by @writerofage
A slow warmth caressed, it spread and danced, it had already been there, but seemed just out of notice. He noticed it now. The ground was a soft, moss-covered hill, he rested below towering pine trees. The wind, that was the wandering warmth, and it was delightful. The day had begun, fresh, ready. Like a cool spring on a hot afternoon. Or a new spring day.
The light, morning light, that kind that has a keen edge to it, like it is stretching from a long rest. That light fell in, wound through the quiet hill he had slept on. It whispered by, quiet, peaceful, like it hummed a gentle tune of greeting.
That spread too. It was his greeting to the day that stretched out before him. He sat up, arms reaching out, stretching toward the sky, drawing the sleep out of him and pulling him toward the day. It was today, he had been waiting, endlessly it seemed. Days, hours, weeks, ah he didn’t even know at this point. Long enough. Gods, the excitement began to bubble in, a fizzing and fizzling of mirth. Today, he would have his chance.
Tigs bounded to his feet, like a spring. Laughter clipped his lips, and his breath felt electric. He felt that way, static, ready, full of the energy to come. He tossed the pouch that had traveled so far with him up, high into the air. It hung there, just for a moment, as though it bounded off his excitement as well. He caught it in a flash, quick as a stormfly, and laughed loudly, it came out unhindered. A gleeful thing.
He took off running, through the glade, between the trees, over root and branch and brush. Fenthall was ahead, the City of Storms. It was buried deep in the Rangforne Mountains, along the great ridge that sheltered the Stormlands. He had traveled weeks through the TImberlands, a vast forest, ripe with lost paths and dead ends.It was an endless gathering of trees held more than just wood and pine and bristle. Fenthall, was known as the City of Storms. Rightly so, tempers flared at the edges civilization, where local laws were more profound, local characteristics and rituals. He’d seen enough, none of that now though. He had things to do. Places to be…
The night before he had fallen asleep nearly the second his head felt the ground. He had not expected to be so close to Fenthall, mountain cities had a way of hiding themselves in the night, only to reappear in plain sight with the day. Especially such splendid morning light as this. He breathed it in. The rushing air as he ran, the fresh day’s exhales, the soft wind, softer ground and grass. It was one of those mornings that reached out and tickled.
Oh yes, there was still that bastard Clem on his trail, likely not far behind, and who knew what lay waiting for him ahead. Even he didn’t want to guess at that. Only what he made of it, no use letting that catch up to him now! He ran, fast, mirthful. Life had that way about him. As though a fine medley always hung on the edge of his thoughts. Something that he hummed to himself, maybe he’d even go as far as to call it his theme song. It was short and sweet, easy to remember. He’d even taught it to a good friend of his.
A nearly cloudless sky greeted him as he came from beneath the needle-leaved trees.The slope of the mountains ran up, cragged rocks, twisting trees that pushed themselves too far up the hills to grow properly. He followed a worn path that led from Halar to Fenthall. Normally he preferred to walk freely through the woods, following where he wanted to go, not some path. Up here, this deep into the Rangforne peaks, that was foolish, even for him.
He thought over his trip, the nights spent beneath wind and rain, the two times Clem had found him. That inn, with the red-haired woman, full of fire, whew. He laughed. Sometimes looking back at everything, Tigs had to laugh. To do otherwise…
He stopped and looked up, letting the breeze pass by him, it felt beautiful up in the mountains. Down in the Timberlands it had been stifling. Not quite hot, but the air didn’t move! Tigs liked it fresh. The City of Storms grew closer. He had only been here twice before, and both times had been, well, exciting to say the least.
“This time. Everything is going to be different.” He said it, he felt it, the way someone reminds themselves of a resolution.
The pouch was still clutched in his hand, the worn leather felt warm. He opened it, making sure it was safe. A faint glint told him it was. Well, he figured he’d know if it broke. The whole damn world would know. He tucked it away. There were sticky hands in The City of Storms. He continued his climb, his thoughts could have easily stuck to what was at his side. They had for a bit of the trip. But there was the end of the journey, he had made it. Damn Forgemasters and their quests. How he had gotten tied up into it he couldn’t guess, bad luck? Happenstance? Or did that crazy old man choose him?
Either way. Tigs walked beneath the gates of Fenthall. It was a stalwart place. Cut into the very mountain itself. Hard walls, hard knuckles, and a fierce pride to show it. Fenthallians? He tripped over what to call them, well they were a prickly bunch. Too many hadn’t grown there, but found their way. That grew a pride, sometimes bordering on damn crazy if you asked Tigs.
Tigs had been here twice, he was pretty much family now. He chuckled at the thought, receiving a curt look from the short guard who glared at him as he walked into the city. He held a great axe, wicked, and sharp and looking wholly unused. Tigs offered a quick shrug and far too big of a smile.
“Hey! What are you smiling at! You got something to say?!” The rock of a man said, maybe he was eager to use it.
Tigs ignored him. ‘Don’t get cut in half two steps in.’ He thought.
All he had to do was find…shit. Where the hell was it he was supposed to bring this thing? He stopped, came to a halt in the middle of the busy street. People jostled by, knocking and pushing him. Some more fervent than others. He just stood there, wits hounding the seven sides of his idiocy. Tigs had traveled thousands of miles, traversed the Timberlands alone with one of the most ruthless assassins on his heels. Now…he couldn’t remember a name! He had to remember to be better with names.
“Shit. Trens? Sams? It either started or ended with an ‘S’.” He said this out loud. “Or it didn’t.”
He tossed the pouch up and down, catching it absentmindedly. Hoping it would trigger something, prick a thought, poke his memory. Nothing came though. It was one of those moments where he reached out to recall a thing, and nothing was there. Just…gone. Up, and down. The pouch, the storming end of the world pouch. That Forgemaster had seemed quite serious about not breaking the thing, citing three ways of apocalyptic assurances.
Those folks had a way with words. All wrapped up in their own story, but not even Tigs would be foolish enough to ignore the call of a Forgemaster. Kings and queens heeded before them. Well, he’d have his story told. One way or another.
Tigs pocketed the pouch. The City of Storms was a place to enjoy, a place to experience. He’d figure out who in town would want something like this. He had a way with ferreting out who did what and why, of seeing what that person valued. Someone in here, in this secluded city, needed this essence. He looked around. Folks from all over walked through the busying streets. The sun was rising, warmth grew closer to hot, Clem drew nearer to Fenthall -he could just feel it- and Tigs wanted breakfast.
‘Sometimes a man’s got to take care of himself, first.’ He couldn’t quite remember where he had heard it, but it had always stuck with him.
He struck off, losing himself in the flow of the crowd, he had always moved well in cities, in crowds. His stomach rumbled. A rolling scent of cinnamon, fresh rolls, melting butter tumbled into the streets. He followed it to a swinging door. Above a sign hung on well-polished hinges. They creaked anyway in the wind.
It read, ‘Baker’s’.
Well even if the name was a bit bland, unimaginative, he imagined a Baker ran the place, the smell was bordering on heresy it was so succulent. The door swung shut behind him, drawing Tigs into its bosom. Warm air, hot cinnamon, wafting fresh bread, and a rumbling stomach.
The pouch could wait...
While Tigs entered the bakery, another watched him, a newcomer to The City of Storms drew attention. Especially Tigs, Hands of Lightning. A swift scrape, a flowing cape and an unknown intention approached.
The Tales of Tigs continue…
Thank you for reading. Each small story I write, is a piece to the world that grows, Rangforne. Your attention, comments, just the act of reading through this, is greatly appreciated. These short stories, are brief glimpses of the world to come. Come along, there are stories afoot, tales to tell and wonder to behold. Terrors and those that would face them, and the journey it takes to get there.
Welcome to my small corner of the world. Pull up a seat, we have boundless room. Here at Catylist Inn there is room for all.
You are helping me in the journey of my story, it is just beginning. These tales will paint the world I write in, just a little more. I am indebted to you, my audience, I write for myself, to grow. For you, my readers. For purpose, life. Thank you. Follow more stories @writerofage Rangforne awaits…