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    Sly's search [Chapter 2 - done]

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    sLy
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    Sly's search [Chapter 2 - done]

    Post by sLy on Thu Oct 01, 2015 9:51 pm

    Chapter 1

    -------

    Sly paid off the coach after stepping down from his cart. As if in a hurry, the coach whipped the horses and scurried off around the bend.

    It was too quiet. Sly started to miss the howls of the wind. He stood on the side of a dirt road that seemingly led to nowhere left and right. This countryside town sat on the foot of a mountain, with barely anything more than a few wooden houses. A river separated him from the townsfolk, but a pebble road came to a bridge. The sun was sitting on the horizon, and the townsfolk came out to light their lamps. Sly checked the time on his pocketwatch, and frowned at the replica as it contained nothing but battery-powered, glowing gears turning for no apparent reason. Then he remembered, and found his pocketwatch in his backpack. Though he didn’t want to keep it in there, fearing someone could run by and snatch the bag off him. After confirming that night was settling in, he stuffed it in his pocket and left.

    Sly adjusted his backpack and marched towards town. He decided to wear some cheap shirt for this expedition, not wanting to dirty the butler uniform which he always wore. Thinking about it, Sly wondered how everyone on his team were doing in his absence. It had been three days since he last saw them. The thought of everyone fighting amongst themselves haunted his dreams. Then again, it wasn’t like he had travelled far. It was nearly nightfall.

    After a bit of asking around and getting them to repeat because of their awkward accents, Sly found the local inn. The folks here were a lot more sensible compared to the bars Sly went to while living with his team. There was no brawling and no hookers. It was a great start to his journey.

    He found himself a stool before the bench, sitting between a nervous looking man, who looked like he would grab the nearest knife and stab anything with even a twitch of suspicion in their eyes, and a large man with a prominent moustache guzzling happily in his ale. Sure, it was more sensible here, but the noise was no better. Sly had to shout to get the innkeeper’s attention.

    I’m wondering if you have a room available. For two nights.”

    “Depends,” the innkeeper said, leaning across the bench. He glared into Sly’s eyes with those black eyes. “You ain’t like us folks around here. Who in a dragon’s breath are you?”

    Dragon’s breath. That was a new one.

    I’m a traveller. Came here for the tour around the Temporal Ruins. Is there a problem sir?

    “The Ruins?” He somewhat let the words slip from his breath as he looked to the side. “Now why don’t I believe that? You certainly look like one of them thugs, running around and destroying anything you set your eyes on for your entertainment.”

    Sly froze. Before he could digest any of this, the innkeeper turned and pointed to a couple of posters on the wall. Just as he expected. Crude drawings of the faces of Sly’s team were on it. Thankfully the town was missing half of the members, Sly being one of those not mentioned. He acted surprised and smiled, Ah! Team Dragonstorm. I heard about them.

    “They are not welcome here.”

    Sly dropped his smile. Slowly he straightened his pose and leaned forward, the two only a few inches from each other. Are you suggesting I’m one of them? You know, it might actually be a great privilege to be a part of them. Sure, they have incurred a high bounty, but at least they aren’t bound to the rules of society…and especially the law. As you know, I am a traveller, and I am extremely tired from the journey here. Sly reached for his pockets and dropped a small pouch of coins onto the table. Either you give me a room key, or tell me to leave, and stop wasting my time.

    There was silence afterwards. The innkeeper’s glare softened. Grumbling a bit, he pulled back and reached for one of the keys dangling on their hooks. He slammed it onto the table before moving the same, chubby hand to the coins and drag it towards him.

    Just here to enjoy the scenery, Sly added before returning to his friendly expression. He didn’t realise the inn went quiet until he sighed, with all the eyes watching him. As Sly met their gazes, they quickly returned to their colleagues and music.

    “Nothing but bandits,” Sly heard one of the men behind him said. Without looking, he listened in to their conversation. They were definitely talking about Dragonstorm, and these men looked like bounty hunters. He knew because of both their rugged and misplaced attire, and sinister weapons that looked like they came from powerful warriors. Sly’s heart jumped to his chest.

    He was alone here, like a fish in a pond of sharks. That realisation came the moment he saw their weapons. Being a butler, Sly hadn’t been involved in many fights, as he was tasked with defending his colleagues and servicing them to some degree. Naturally, he would stay away from fights and let his team deal with any intruders—if there were any to begin with. Sly was no longer in the nest. It was the first time he had been this close to enemies without a friend nearby.

    “Last sighting of them was in the nearby city. We should be there within a few days.”

    “They are pretty tough though,” said another bounty hunter, who was bare-chested and with a teethed cleaver beside him. “High bounties.” He shuffled through their copies of the poster. “Let’s go over their profiles once more. Their leader is known as the Speed Demon.”

    Another bounty hunter snorted. This one lost an eye and wasn’t afraid to show the drooping eyelid over what was there. This one was a crossbowman, though the crossbow next to him was a repeating one—a large magazine of arrows sitting on top of it. “Please. No ‘speed demon’ is going to outrun my crossbow. This beauty here can fire bolts so fast, you won’t see them until they hit you.”

    Interesting. At least, that would be what one of the Dragonstorm members would say before picking a fight with them. Sly hated to think about it, but he wished that particular member was here.

    “Then we have this monkey. He is known to have—”

    “Brekt, you can beat him easily. Besides, I hear he is stupid. As long as you lure him with food, we can cash him in without a fight.”

    Brekt didn’t look as scruffy as the other hunters. In fact, he was more appropriately dressed in a black coat. He was a little bony to the face, and he had long black hair. If anything, Brekt look like he belonged with the nobles.
    “I suppose,” Brekt said before putting Ariko’s poster behind the rest. “Next, we have this robot. An assassin of sorts, said to be able to appear anywhere and nowhere.”

    “A robot huh?” The one of the cleaver snickered. “I hear they hate electricity.” He grabbed his blade and waved it in the air. “What a perfect opportunity to test this sword.”

    A shadow loomed over Sly.

    “Is there anything else you want?” The innkeeper snapped.

    Sly almost fell off his stool. J-Just a glass of water.

    The eyes of the bounty hunters pierced his back as the innkeeper left. Sly held and fiddled with his room key, hoping that they would go back to their business already. He thought he could get some information on them, but hearing how they were probably equipped to fight Dragonstorm was a little worrying. The three they mentioned were probably the strongest of Sly’s team, but the bounty hunters had to be idiots to think power is enough.

    “Hey kid!” The one with the cleaver yelled. “You still thinking about joining Dragonstorm?”

    Sly gritted his teeth. He could hear footsteps behind him. Slowly Sly turned to face the three, all cornering him to the bench. He remained quiet.

    “Wait, I know you,” Brekt said, frowning. He waved his finger to Sly, trying to point at an old memory. “Ah yes! The wandering apothecary.”

    It was the one with the cleaver’s turn to frown. “The Apeth what?”

    “Slax just…let me speak.” A sickening grin crept on Brekt’s lips. “I saw your poster a while back. I’m surprised you are still breathing. Naturally, with a world infested with bounty hunters, those who walk alone don’t survive.”

    “What? This kid?” The crossbowman said. “How much is he worth?”

    Brekt raised an eyebrow to him, then back to Sly. “They say his bounty alone can build an entire city and run it for a good couple of generations. Fifty trillion. At least, that was when I last saw.”

    The other bounty hunters looked at one another in shock.

    “Is he now?” Slax said.

    “That is quite the mark you have on your head, boy,” Brekt said. “I’d say that is a little over half of what Dragonstorm is worth in total.”

    Sly huffed. If he were any other member, he would be thrilled with how much his bounty contributed to the total for his team. All Sly could do was look back into Brekt’s eyes, his head swirling and lost for words.

    “It’s dangerous to have a weighty name like that.”

    Thanks for the warning. Now I don’t want any trouble. I just want to go visit the ruins and be on my way. Now if you would ex—
    Slax put a hand on Sly’s shoulder and shoved him back onto the stool. “You are going nowhere. We came all the way here to fight Dragonstorm, but you will fill out bellies for now.”

    “Hold on,” Brekt said. “The reason for your bounty, I heard, was because of something you carry.” He reached a hand and beckoned Sly to put something on it. “Hand it over and you can go.”

    The pocket watch. Sly gritted his teeth. It was because of this that the world wanted his head. Sly himself wasn’t as strong. In fact, his ability to utilise the pocket watch was what brought him onto the same level as those in Dragonstorm. He doubted surrendering the pocket watch now would give him peace, with everyone mistaking him for still having that artefact.

    How about a deal? Sly asked, his heart racing. The reason I want to visit the Temporal Ruins is to explore the sealed temple. You get me in, and I will—

    Brekt raised his hand. “Whoa, whoa, whoa. Who do you think we are? We don’t bargain with our prey.”

    Well it was worth a shot, Sly said between his teeth. I said I don’t want to cause any trouble. How about you follow me to—

    “Enough!” The crossbowman grabbed his weapon and pointed it to Sly. At the same instant, the people who were listening gasped and stumbled back from them. “Give us the pocket watch or else!”

    “Hey! Knock it off!” The innkeeper yelled. “There be no killing here. If ya wanna start something, take it outside.”

    Sly rolled his eyes to the innkeeper, then to the people around him. It seemed his identity had been known to everyone in here. If such were the case, what would fighting achieve? Sure, Sly would want to hold onto his pocket watch for dear life, but he needed to remain low, at least until he reached the ruins.

    Fine, Sly reached in his pocket until his finger tapped something round. He pulled out the pocket watch, made with a silver casing and with a blue eye in the centre, and tossed it to Brekt.

    Brekt caught it and, just as curious as the other two, opened the casing to the glowing gears. “How does it work?”

    Figure it out on your own! Sly tried to push past them, only to have a hand clinging into his shirt.

    “Wait,” Brekt said, then beckoned the crossbowman forward. “Leth, check his pockets. Slax, the bag.”

    Sly sighed as he raised his arms, allowing Leth to pat him all over his torso and waist. He felt something hard, paused, and decided to dig his hand into the pockets. He pulled out the rest of Sly’s money and, with a cunning smile, pocketed it in his pants himself. “I don’t think you will be needing these.”

    Help yourself, Sly said off-handedly as he watched Slax tip the bag and let the books pile up with bent pages.

    “Nothing here,” Slax said before tossing the bag on top of them.

    Brekt smirked as he stepped aside, letting Sly pick up his items.

    Sly didn’t bother fitting them neatly. He just wanted to get away from the lot before they could do anything worse. Then, someone planted a firm boot into his back and Sly fell on top of the books, much to the hunter’s amusement.

    “You had it easy boy!” Slax bellowed before joining in with his comrades. They patted each other’s back as they exited the inn, Brekt still juggling around with the pocket watch.

    Sly waited until the revolving doors remain still. Then he was greeted with silence around the inn as the onlookers resumed their drinks. After packing the last of his books, he got up and turned into a beer belly. It was the innkeeper.

    “Ye call that being a man, sonny? What, are them leaders high on ale and pulled a high number out their hinds for ye bounty?”

    Sly sighed aloud, trying to collect himself. That was rather humiliating, but better than causing a huge scene. I will get back at them. Not now. Sly pointed to the customers around the inn.

    The innkeeper smiled, his moustache creasing in a friendly manner. It was a little surprising to see how he could turn from a stern glare to someone who seemingly wouldn’t hurt anyone. “Here. Ye forgot ye change.” He returned the small pouch to Sly, which visibly had a lot of coins missing.

    Sly smiled back at him and took the pouch. Told you I’m not here for trouble.

    With that, Sly hurried up the stairs to where the rooms were. The corridor was quite narrow, and the front doors of these rooms had worn from age and needed a new coat of paint. The smell of dust mites filled the air as Sly walked across the creaky floor until he found the door number that matched his key.

    The key had jammed the lock on his first attempt, but after rigorous turning, Sly managed to push the door open. It was no surprise that the room was rather small with nothing but a bed, a desk and a wardrobe, with a sink attached to the wall next to the only window. There was a small sliding door at one end of the room, and Sly guessed it must lead to the toilet. At least the bed seemed comfortable and cleaned.

    Sly fished for the pouch the innkeeper gave him and opened it up.

    There were no coins.

    He tipped the contents onto the bed and only a large pocket watch fell out, the menacing eye rolling to meet Sly’s. Sitting on the bed, Sly dug into the bag for the grey-cover book, and dropped it next to the pocketwatch. With that, he started to flip through the worn out pages, filled with very small handwriting.
    Then he came to a stop on the last entry.

    Dear Sly,

    By the time you are reading this, my death have reached your ears. I understand that my sudden passing may be too much to bear at first, but you must not turn memories of us into your enemy of life. You are a brilliant boy, and my most trustworthy butler. You cannot follow under my shadow forever.

    I noticed that you are very fond of my library. Most of the books there are written by myself during my travels around the world. And this is why I want to share my latest work with you, and I wish for the very best that you will write the last chapters on my passing.

    You see, I was rather fond with the pocket watch which you carry most dearly. After countless attempts at finding a history of it, I can only come to the conclusion that where your watch is made is beyond this world. But my research never stopped here. I need to find a way to journey into that other world. And in order to do that, I need some form of device.

    Your pocket watch is the key to finding it, but I fear that asking you at that time will anger you. The pocket watch carries a lot of memories, and I don’t want to hurt you with the thought that I only wanted it for power. So I did my research without your aid. There are many ancient ruins around this world, and I know that one of them houses that device. Exactly what that device is, even I am uncertain.

    I searched nearly every ruin but my findings have been rather fruitless. There is only one place where it can be: The Temporal Ruins. The temple has been sealed, but I am certain that it is locked for a reason. No archaeologist or locksmith has ever figured out how to open those doors.

    I think you know…


    Last edited by sLy on Wed Oct 07, 2015 3:28 am; edited 1 time in total
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    sLy
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    Re: Sly's search [Chapter 2 - done]

    Post by sLy on Wed Oct 07, 2015 3:24 am

    Chapter 2

    --

    Morning came too quickly. It was rather difficult to sleep, knowing that he had no money left and drowning his worries in Master’s books.

    Sly leaned against a building in the shade, looking at the tour bus, ready to load the few tourists. He tried asking the guide there, but unfortunately he wouldn’t accept free rides. To make matters worse, Sly had no money to the city, where he would find some members of Dragonstorm to take him back. No way of contacting them either, though he made sure Yuuki knew where he was going. Maybe he could stall here until someone turn up to find him.

    No. Maybe he could find some way of making some quick cash. After all, the tour was not expensive. Neither was the trip back to city. Thinking about home carried an encroaching memory of the bounty hunters. Sly guessed they were on their way there to meet with Dragonstorm.

    “Ye still here?” The innkeeper said, frowning under the sun as he carried a large barrel towards his inn. “The bus will high tail in any second.”

    Sly sighed. They took all of my money. Can’t go anywhere for a while. Not even home.

    The innkeeper shook his head before moving on. “This what ye get for havin’ high numbers on ye.”

    Sly hurried after him. He had no one else to turn to. So what should I do?

    “Afraid this ain’t my problem.”

    Please. Sly stepped in front of him. I need work. I don’t need much. Just enough for the tour and getting back home. I can tend your bar, make the beds, anything. I have medicines. Even recipes for exotic cocktails around the world. I can sell them to you.

    The innkeeper wasn’t pleased. He dropped the barrel and sighed, the ends of his moustache fluttering outwards. “Sorry lad. But we ain’t a coin to spare, not with them folks losing interest in the Ruins. None wanted to go to the city either, not with them Dragonstorm bandits roamin’ about.”

    Sly hissed between his teeth to the side. Of course, Dragonstorm wouldn’t be notoriously famous for nothing. To him, they were family. But others, a gang of wanted men for their destruction. He never thought their impact could extend this far.

    “Look kid. If I had a coin in me backpocket, I would hand it to ya in a jiffy. But ye can’t work forever. Our bones get old and we need the coin we save.”

    Sly nodded. So I’m better off looking for Dragonstorm instead? Is there nothing else I can do here?

    “Other than asking them folks for spare coin?” The innkeeper shrugged. He picked up the barrel and brushed past Sly as he thought about his predicament.

    The location of the Temporal ruins was past very rough terrain and he could easily get lost in the dense forest, even with his pocket watch. Even then, he had to worry about his food supply as well. Great. Another problem to add in his list. Food. If he decided to run back to the city now, he could either starve to death or reach the streets with tattered clothes, looking half-dead. Resorting to criminal activity was the last thing he wanted to do.

    “Oh! But ye have high numbers,” the innkeeper called out. “Are ye strong or what? Ye can be them looters who robbed you. See our town is need of them saviours. Ye can find them posters there.” He waved the barrel to the direction behind him, where there was a path down to a large building. “The mayor may have somethin’ for ya.”

    Bounty hunting. It would have to do. Besides, it was not like Sly was greedy enough to look for the most menacing targets. Thanks. He said as he hurried down the road. It was a bright and hot day today and he wanted to find a shade as quickly as possible.

    The road led to a well in the centre of town, and just behind it looked like a large hall. There was a post next to the door with many papers, both peeled and fresh, stuck to it. Sly went for a closer inspection. The old posters were those of Dragonstorm and other high bounty figures who had yet to be captured. Sly could find a piece of his poster. It was a zoomed in family photo some looter found in Master’s mansion. His young self brought happy memories, but over half of his face was missing, probably torn by someone who was interested, and replaced by One’s poster. That old stock photo gave Sly chills. It was taken from a security camera and zoomed in to depict a rather blurry black-and-white moment before One took the killing blow to a suited man’s back. The bounties of his team were outdated, but the figures were within the billions. The newer posters were more close to what Sly was looking for. Beasts, as well as petty criminals, with small bounties.

    “You interested?” An old woman asked, walking up to Sly. She was in a blue dress and a black feathered hat, accompanied by a boy in brown overalls.

    Sly smiled and shook his head slightly. Not looking for much. Maybe something I can pick off for the ride to Temporal Ruins.

    The woman’s chest fell, a sign of disappointment as her eyes wandered down. “I see. So you are not looking for them.”

    Dragonstorm? No. They are in leagues way above me, Sly said. Then he pointed to one of their posters. Did you know these numbers are outdated? I saw their posters at the nearby city and-

    “I’m sorry but…I couldn’t care less,” the woman snapped. She held her son close to her waist as she settled herself with a breath. “I don’t even know why they even bothered putting the posters here. This town already has enough troubles with tourists, and their presence is just another way of spitting on us. Just one poster, one for each crook, is enough.”

    Look, I understand the pain Dragonstorm has brought upon your town. But if you want them captured, you might be better off getting new posters. Who knows? Their bounty may be ten times that amount, or maybe they have grown a beard or…

    “I just want them gone,” the woman’s voice cracked a little, and she brought her hand to her eyes. “We are just simple folks. None of us are heroes. I couldn’t even think a single wrong this town had done to deserve this.” She motioned her hand around the town. “Everyone is leaving. I’m afraid if this goes on, this town will be no more.”

    Sly looked down to the boy, who was holding onto his mother close. He did not have the strength to look up to Sly, and he looked as if he were to cry as well. Altogether, it made Sly wonder what happened to his father. Maybe he tried becoming a bounty hunter and confronted Dragonstorm, only to be killed among the hundreds which none of the members would even wonder what their names were. Of course, that was speculation.

    “You’ll have to be lucky to find any of those,” she pointed her gloved finger to the low bounty posters. “You are better off looking for Dragonstorm. I’m sorry. I’m not trying to encourage you. But it’s the truth.”

    Sly waited for her to leave before he went to his thoughts. Although he admitted some members did cause havoc in some point of their lives, by no means did they do it for a living. Some of them had redeemed themselves of their wrongdoing and resorted to good. Actually, Dragonstorm was about hunting high profile targets, those who would be considered dangerous to the society as a whole. It was pointless arguing with the woman. He came for the Ruins anyway, not to lecture anyone.

    As for the posters, it disappointed him that many of them were already killed or captured. Surely this town no longer cared about the bounties and wanted to remain peaceful. Perhaps looking for those with small bounties was a poor decision. There were only two of those posters which Sly wasn’t familiar with. One of them was close by, but he would bet that someone had taken care of it already.

    Proximity wise, only one of them caught Sly’s interest. A man named Vilmor, a wanted fugitive who lead a gang of outlaws pillaging defenceless towns around the area. His appearance didn’t look like much—a long-faced man with long brown hair, a scarf and fedora hat. But the weapons were what concerned Sly. Two pistols, one that fired vemon-coated bullets and the other with numbing agent. The poster looked rather old as well, and had stated that he previously killed a dragon. Cities all over the Beyond had upped security and tried to trap Vilmor with an army waiting to ambush him—and it failed miserably.

    He was tough. The bounty was quite substantial, half of one billion. Then he read which city he had to surrender him to—a place on the other side of the world. Sly gritted his teeth. He would have to make do—and hope that Vilmor had some money on him when Sly finds him.

    Now where to start, he thought. Then he entered the hall. In fact, it wasn’t a hall at all. But a large office with the desk on the other end. Sly predicted he had walked into the major’s room.

    “Can’t you knock?” The man behind it shouted, though his eyes were still fixated on stamping the paperwork. Sly looked besides him and saw two officers, both in their brown uniform, staring back at him.

    Sorry, Sly said as he walked towards the desk. The walls were filled with many pictures. Some of them were large paintings, others a small photo of what would seem to belong to families. It was unnervingly quiet, with the only noise being the stamping and the footsteps. The mayor looked young for his age, but he had a very profound moustache. His yellow shirt was rolled up and he smelled of smoke. I saw one of your posters outside.

    The man didn’t seem to hear him, grabbing a feathered pen and scratching it against a rolled up parchment.

    What do you know a—

    “If you are looking for Dragonstorm members, they are near the city. Three days from here. If you enjoy dying, go ahead and—”

    Vilmor.

    The name froze his writing hand, the tip piercing into the paper and bleeding ink out. Slowly he looked up to see who he was talking to. “Vilmor?”

    I read he had been going from town to town, demanding ‘payment’. And I need the money to visit the ruins and go home. Sly leaned across the desk. Then he heard footsteps behind him as the two guards approached him. Tell me everything you know about this man.

    “What are you mad?” The man tossed the feather back into the bottle of ink. “That man is impossible to kill. What do you have to square against his guns, let alone his men? Are you by yourself here?”

    A traveller. And yes I’m alone.

    The major shook his head. His eyes struggled to find something to look at and his breaths a little quicker than usual. “Find another poster. Kid, don’t waste your life against him. If he finds out we sent you, he will—”

    I will make sure he doesn’t find out. And I will go alone. You have nothing to worry about.

    The major looked at Sly up and down, then back into his eyes. Finally he leaned towards the desk drawers and pulled one of them back. “You’re right.” Sly relaxed as he pulled himself away from the desk, and almost extended his hand when the major pointed a silver barrel towards him. “I have nothing to worry about.”

    Sly turned a little when the guards walked closer, their arms almost touching his. Then he stared back at the major. What are you doing?

    “You think I’m too much of a fool to not notice you are the apothecary the government is looking for? And don’t you think about using that device of yours. Hands up. Now!”

    Sly quickly did as he told. One of the guards behind him snatched them and clicked the cuffs around them. What about the town? I thought you wanted—

    “Yes, I know.” The mayor said as his other hand reached for his moustache and peeled, the tape snapping off. “He was a fool, but I put one in his head. Poor chap is feeding the fishes. Let’s move boys! We’re going to show Vilmor what we’ve just hooked from this dump.”

      Current date/time is Fri Nov 17, 2017 10:37 pm