Die Writing

The Ranger’s last stand

Posted in Ezra Haley by erdaron on August 27, 2012

The orcs piled into the room. The Ranger stood at the other end, blocking the door to the next passage. His longsword was drawn, with its tip pointed down, touching the rough stone floor. With his other hand he held his cape. The orcs formed a semicircle around the ranger, packed almost shoulder to shoulder in the small room. The cleric followed the orcs, standing behind them at the other end of the room.

“Stand aside, ranger. The bounty is ours. You cannot stop us.” The cleric spoke with mocking confidence.

“We’ll see. All that separates me from your throat is a few soldiers.”

The cleric laughed.

“It used to be hundreds of miles and tall castle walls. This is easier,” the Ranger replied.

The melee broke out without any warning. One of the orcs launched at the Ranger, whose blade cut him down in an instant. The wave of soldiers’ steel then thrust forward, but the room was crammed and they constantly blocked each other. The Ranger bound and leapt in the tight space, weaving a deadly arc. His cape flashed a momentary obscuration, and his blade cut and sliced against his enemies. Several more fell away, but still their number remained great against the lone vigilante.

Then for just one instant, he broke the wave of black armor that rose around him. The thrust forward with his gleaming blade, striking at the cleric, who froze in disbelief. Yet the Ranger was not quite accurate enough to find his enemy’s heart, not quite fast enough to evade all of the cleric’s bodyguards, not quite powerful enough to brush them aside. The blade did not strike true, merely wounding the sorcerer, yet the attack left the Ranger open. A warhammer landed squarely on his chest, tossing his broken body back against a wall. His convulsing hands dropped the sword. His body whizzed as he tried to suck air into his crumpled lungs.

Though the Ranger was dying, the orcs surrounded him with their weapons still drawn, and did not approach his body.

“Bring me his badge,” the cleric growled, clutching at his shoulder in an attempt to stem the flow of blood. Two soldiers knelt down and started searching the ranger. He was still alive, but could do nothing to resist. A minute later, the orcs stood up, empty-handed.

“That is impossible,” the cleric spat. He shoved the orcs aside and stood over the broken Ranger. “Where is it…” he said. He stared at the dying Ranger. Perhaps it was the odd, shifting lighting, but to the cleric it seemed that the man’s lips curled in a grin. The cleric looked up, and turned his gaze toward the door through which he came in, then back at the Ranger. “Open the door,” he ordered, motioning toward the door that the Ranger was guarding.

One of the orcs moved toward the door. It was stuck, so he used his shoulder to force it open. Beyond it was a tiny room filled with broken dusty furniture. There were no other exits. There was no one in it. The Ranger was guarding trash forgotten in this cave for centuries.

The gambit was not for the Ranger to draw the cleric into close quarters and kill him. The Ranger must have known he could not overcome the guard. The gambit was to lure the cleric deep into the underground tunnel, while the woman who was worth more than the Ranger’s life could slip away to freedom.

Silent, the cleric took a sword from one of the orcs, knelt beside the Ranger, then stabbed him in the chest several times.

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Fathers

Posted in Ezra Haley by erdaron on October 11, 2011

Varston and Ezra sat across the small camp fire from each other. So far Ezra has done most of the talking, while the older ranger calmly stared into the flames. It was dying, slowly turning into a handful of glowing coals. The night was warm, so there wasn’t much need for a fire aside from boiling a bit of water for tea.

Ezra reached a pause, and it grew into a somewhat extended silence. Finally, Varston looked up at the boy, and said with a smirk,

“So I guess we both didn’t know our fathers.”

“I know my father!” The boy shot back, glowering.

“Do you now?”

“I grew up with him! I grew up in his house – he raised me!”

“No no no, lad. You knew a nice guy who’d tuck you in at night and wash your face in the morning. But for your father, that was pretend. That’s a part he played. Kind of like a hobby. Your real father stalked the shadows and stabbed orcs in the heart. And that’s no easy trick, either, the bastards can see in the dark better than the bloody elves. Once you get used to the smell of blood, you can’t just walk back to picnics and cute tea cozies.”

“My father is not a killer…” Ezra stared at Varston in shock.

“Ezra, I’m taking you to see your sister. A sister you didn’t even know you had until maybe a month ago. Think on that. I didn’t know your father, but I’ll bet this isn’t the last surprise.”

The conversation arrived at another tense pause. Eventually, Varston spoke up.

“I’m not saying your father was evil. I respect the things I’ve heard about him. And by your words, sure sounds like he was a good dad. He just wasn’t the man you think he was.

“The difference between you and me is that when we get to the end of the line and walk through the Big Shiny Doors, you’ll know who to look for and I won’t. And that is a luxury you shouldn’t take for granted.”

Wouldn’t be a Haley

Posted in Ezra Haley by erdaron on September 8, 2011

Aside

Also a rewrite from memory. Should have some new sketches for this storyline though :).

Spare

They circled the young boy like sadistic coyotes. Ezra pinned himself against the wall, breath shallow, nose bleeding, body aching and bruised. The most painful, however, was the paralyzing realization of the quick and fatal failure. The journey from his mother’s home was bleak and brief indeed.

“Didn’t know they made you guys so young,” the bandit smirked and flipped Ezra’s father’s badge between his fingers. “No matter. Not the youngest I’ve taken.” He produced a long knife from within the folds of his cape. “It won’t hurt for long.”

The strike was swift and nearly silent. The ruffian moaned and stumbled forward into the wall next to Ezra, fumbled the knife and slumped down. His companions instinctively reached for their blades, ready to turn the tight corner into a bloodied battlefield.

“Back off, scum. The boy is mine.”

The woman’s voice froze them in place. They knew this voice, its weight and command. The boy with the badge was a joke. The lady with the badge was the kind of risk you simply didn’t chance. The men hesitated just long enough to make sure no one would say they ran off, disappeared quietly and quickly, leaving the woman and Ezra alone.

Keeping herself in a murky shadow, the woman silently studied the boy who looked up to her with eyes full of hope and fear.

“Put that badge away and don’t show it to anyone,” her grave voice thudded like a brick.

“But I’m just looking… want to find…”

“Not a suggestion, boy.”

Another heavy silence. Elsewhere, the tavern was returning to its usual level of noise and bustle.

“Come on, I’ll feed you,” her voice finally let some warmth through. “I’d tell you to turn around and go home, but I know it won’t do any good. You wouldn’t be a Haley if it did.”

Lord Kuerich

Posted in Ezra Haley by erdaron on July 26, 2011

Aside

Man, what if I actually put one of these categories into a full story. That’d be something.

Enter

The heavy door creaked and swung open before Lord Kuerich. His tall, gaunt stature and movements, so precise they seemed mechanical, gave him a marionette-like appearance. His manner was exact and deliberate. Commanded, the guards left and closed the door behind them.

Ezra could just barely see him in his side vision. He tried to turn his head, but the restraints and the searing pain in his neck stopped him.

Slowly, gracefully Kuerich walked into Ezra’s view. He set down his doctor’s satchel. Something sharp and metal clanked inside. Then he carefully sat down and directed his gaze at Ezra. Kuerich was stretching, savoring every moment of the long pause.

Panic was rising in Ezra. He could feel it come up from his stomach. A churning, suffocating ball of fear was filling his chest.

“My name is Kuerich. What’s yours?” He sounded polite and gentle. He gathered his hands, leaned back in the chair, and smiled.

“Ezra… Ezra Haley…” Words came with a struggle.

“Right. Pleasure to meet you, Ezra.” Kuerich continued to smile and leaned forward, studying Ezra’s eyes. His expression was focused, as if he meticulously studied an artifact rather than a living person. His long fingers vaguely traced over Ezra’s facial features in midair.

“Are you frightened by me, Ezra?” The boy said nothing, and Kuerich smiled even wider. “You are rather frightened. That fear… this panic.” He pointed at Ezra’s chest. “It is quite alright, though. You have every right to feel this way. I am a frightening creature.”

Kuerich sat on the edge of his chair, leaning even further forward, just inches from Ezra, his long fingers almost touching the boy’s face. Ezra shut his eyes, tried to sink himself into the hard back of his chair.

“My my my…” Kuerich mumbled to himself and stood up. He closed his eyes for a second, and began to slowly gesture, speaking quietly in an ancient tongue. His fingers left traces on the air, lines of thin black smoke. In a few stroke, he wove a symbol. Its lines solidified for a moment, and then the symbol dispersed.

Smoke began to pour out of the sleeves of Kuerich’s robe, pooling around Ezra’s legs, climbing up his body. The boy struggled helplessly in his binds.

“Time to rest, young Haley,” Kuerich uttered. Ezra began to lose consciousness.

Ezra Haley

Posted in Ezra Haley by erdaron on July 10, 2011

Aside

Actually, a DnD character I wrote up a long time ago. Kind of rewriting from memory.

Such dice

It is a cheery morning drenched in bright sunlight, and there is a loud knock at the front door. Both the mother and the elderly maid move to get up, but the young boy is quicker.

“I’ll get it!” his voice rings, and his feet rush across the creaky old floors.

He grabs the heavy iron handle on the door with both hands, and puts his full weight into pulling it open. Sunlight pours through the doorway, silhouetting a dark figure.

“Ezra Haley?” asks the figure grimly. As the boy’s eyes adjust to the light, he can see a heavy black cape draped over the man’s shoulders. A wide-brimmed hat covers his head, set low over the eyes. Under the cape, the boy can make out thick straps and rivets of leather armor. Within the folds, the dull glimmer of heavy brass pommels of two swords, one at each hip. Everything on this man, including the rough skin on the face, looks worn and weathered.

“Yes… yes sir…” the boy answers unsteadily.

“This is for you, then.” The man hands the boy a small box wrapped in an old, oily rag. It’s heavy in the boy’s hands, and it smells of something old and terribly familiar. He weighs it carefully, feels its texture. Then the shock clears from his mind. The smells connects to a memory. The memory connects to a person, that connects to other memories and certain unresolved facts of the boy’s short life. A sequence of events snaps into shape in his head. He looks up at the stranger.

“Is this from my father?”

“Yes. On his passing.”

Presumed passing.”

“Not presumed, lad.” With that, the stranger turns around sharply and in one easy leap mounts his horse. Before galloping off, he gives the boy one brief look over the shoulder and slightly tips his hat.

Ezra turns around. His mother, pale as a sheet, is leaning on a stair railing, hand over her mouth, eyes red and welling up with tears. The maid rushes toward the boy, offers to take the box for safe-keeping, but he yanks it away from her. “It’s dad’s,” he says sternly to no one in particular.

Contents of the package.

A small wooden box, not three inches across, with a hinged lid and a spring-loaded latch. It’s made of stained fine-grain wood and features a simple relief of a castle on the top. A dragon hugs the sky above the castle. The box is quite old, and shows its age – there are scratches and dents on its edges.

Inside, wrapped in a piece of soft leather is a steel badge in the shape of a five-cornered star. Its dull gray surface also has lots of small dents and marks on it. The front side features the same castle as the wooden box, sans the dragon. The words “Serene Castle Officer of Justice” circle the castle.

On the reverse side, a short verse is etched into the metal.

Through ice and fire
Pursue without tire
A shoulder for the weak
A voice for the meek