The boy stood outside the Magnimar office of the Sandpoint Mercantile League. He eyed the door nervously before pushing it open and heading inside. The door led to a small room with a counter and another door leading deeper in to the building. A burly dwarf sat
behind the counter.
“Is… is this where I apply for a job,” the boy stammered. His heart thundered
in his chest. This is my last chance, he thought. Don’t screw it up.
The red haired dwarf looked up from the papers on the counter. He wore some wire rimmed spectacles and his eyes were a bit bleary. He gave the lad a once over with his squinty gaze. “Aye, lad. We are looking for some men for some jobs up north. Are ye sure yer old enough?”
“I’m sixteen and definitely old enough to be on my own, " the boy said with indignation. Why does everyone harp on my age, he thought angrily.
“Simmer down, son. I’ve no doubt ye think yer ready, but this here job is not for the faint of heart. Ye will be defending caravans from nasty beasts and creatures such as goblins and orcs and maybe even the occasional ogre.”
With every word, the boy became more and more certain he wanted the job. “I can do it,” he interrupted. “I have some weapon skills.” He pulled out a dagger and flourished it in front of the dwarf, clipping his thumb and dropping it to the floor with a loud clang.
He put his thumb in his mouth as the dwarf chuckled. “Ye seam eager. I’ll give ye that. What other skills ye have?”
The boy thought for a bit. “Well, I am able to call forth darts of fire.” He focussed his will and three licks of flame appeared in his right hand.
“Ah no need for a demonstration, lad. I git yer point,” the dwarf said hastily. “Ye have a bit of magic about ye. That could prove useful.” The dwarf rummaged behind the counter for a moment. “Ah here we go, a standard contract for employment by the League. Take a look over it.” He handed the boy several sheets of paper.
The boy looked over the paper for several moments. "I agree to the terms, " he all but shouted.
The dward looked him over again and shook his head in amazement or incredulity, the boy would never be sure. “Ok lad, what’s yer name?”
“Valeri, Eran Valeri.”
Eran step out of the office, newly employed by the Sandpoint Mercantile League. Located in Beacon’s Point district, the office looked out on to main harbor, and Eran’s eye was drawn to the massive ruined bridge on the far side. A relic of some ancient past and what had been Eran’s home for the past four years of his life. A life he was running away from as fast as his legs and the tide could take him.
He squinted to see if he could make out any details of the slums under the bridge. Appropriately named Underbridge, it was also known as the Shadow and was one of the poorest areas of Magnimar. He could barely make out any of the squalid and leaning buildings. He absentmindedly rubbed his thigh as he stared lost in the past.
He visibly shuddered as he pulled himself from his reverie. Time to move forward, he thought. And quickly.
Eran had been given instructions to head to dock sixteen where the Mermaid’s Folly was berthed. He had a signet he was to show the captain and he would be taken to Sandpoint where he was told to meet a man by the name of Jaspar Korvaski, his new boss. Jaspar would give him his assignments and determine his pay.
Eran turned away from the harbor view and headed towards the merchant docks and what he hoped would be a new life.
“Think yer better than us, dontcha Eran,” came a voice from behind Eran. He stopped and slowly turned. A lanky man with oily black hair and a scar on his right cheek stood in the road. People moved wide of him as they headed down the street.
“No Jace, I just want out,” Eran retorted. So close, he thought. How did he track me down?
“Ye know ye can’t leave. We own ye, boy.”
Eran looked around. Most of the people on this part of the docks were pointedly ignoring the confrontation. No one was going to help him here.
He turned and ran three steps before his feet seemed to find no ground. He slammed in to the ground face first and felt his nose crunch under the impact. Blood started streaming from it. He rolled over with a groan and saw the bola partially wrapped around his feet.
Jace and three ragged boys slowly approached him. “Ye still owe me plenty for saving yer life, feeding ye, housing ye. This is how ye repay me.” Jace accentuated the last statement with a kick to Eran’s ribs. The other three joined in and several kicks left Eran gasping for breath and certain he had broken at least one rib.
“Enough for now, " Jace commanded. “Get him to his feet. It’s time we went back to the Shadow and taught this boy some manners.” Jace’s companions reached down towards Eran as Jace turned away, pulling something from a pocket in his tunic.
Eran thought furiously. How do I get away? His mind remained blank. The first of the oily boys leaned down to grab his shoulder. No, how would a League member handle this, he thought and suddenly he had an idea.
As one boy grabbed his shoulders and started to pull him up, Eran focussed his will and three daggers of flame streaked through the gathering dusk straight in to the face of each. At the same time, he pulled his dagger from his waist, cutting his feet free of the bola.
All of the boys shrieked as the flaming darts struck home. The hair on the closest even caught on fire. Eran gave him a swift kick to the back, knocking him in to the other two. Not waiting to find out how they fared, Eran leaped up and ran.
“Get him,” he heard Jace shout. Glancing back, he saw the three boys tangled in heap, trying to get back up as various parts of their clothes or hair burned. Jace kicked at them and then started running after Eran.
Eran knew he couldn’t keep this up for long. His breathing was already labored from the kicks to his ribs. As he ran, he started knocking over anything he could find in to the path of Jace, hoping to slow him down, and for the most part he was able to keep his distance until he ran out of barrels and boxes.
Eran could see dock sixteen up ahead, but he could also hear Jace closing in on him. He started to slow as despair began to overtake him. I’m not going to make it, he thought. He slowed to a walk and finally a stop. He turned to face his tormentor.
Uncertain as to what Eran was doing, Jace had also slowed and was now warily approaching the boy. “Ye know ye belong here. Yer talents will always be in demand,” Jace declared.
Hearing those words, something snapped in Eran. He stood up slightly straighter and whispered, “no.”
“What was that,” Jace asked as he closed distance.
Eran barely heard him as rage boiled up from some unknown depths. Rage at Jace. Rage at his unknown mother. Rage at himself. “NO!” he shouted and with it came a thunderous roar which crashed in to Jace and threw him back, knocking him to his knees.
“I WILL NOT GO BACK!!” Another wave of thunder picked up Jace and threw him about like a rag doll. Eran advanced, anger in his eyes and murder in his heart. He stood over the still form of Jace and pulled out his dagger.
Jace groggily lifted his head. His dazed eyes grew wide in shock as he focussed on Eran looming over him. Eran brought the dagger up high, readying the killing blow when a small whimper made him hesitate. He looked around and noticed a woman with a small girl. Both stared on in horror at what he was about to do. Cutting him to his very soul, he cried out in anguish and hurled the dagger in to the harbor.
Jace tried to get to his feet, but it was as if he couldn’t control them. He fell back and stopped struggling. Eran looked at him. “I’m leaving, Jace. It’s time I go my own way and make my own destiny.” He turned and started heading toward the ship tied to the docks.
“It’s not that easy, Eran. Ye are mine and I will have ye back,” Jace shouted. Eran never turned to look back as Jace finally passed out.
Eran slowly walked up the gang plank on to the Mermaid’s Folly. He felt exhausted and every breath felt like it would be his last, but he was the happiest boy, no, man in the world. The ship was busy with activity as sailors move about the deck. A bald, barrel chested man stopped him at the top of the plank.
“Who might you be?‘’
Eran blinked for a moment before remembering the signet. He pulled it from his tunic pocket and showed it to the sailor, "I’m Eran. I was sent here to voyage to Sandpoint. Trask said I was to show someone this, but I forget who."
The man looked at the signet and back at the young man. “Aye lad, that twould be me. Captain Florin. Glad to have you aboard. You aren’t the only one heading north with us…”