And Stay Out!

Caleb Williford

AND STAY OUT, RAT!” the innkeeper yelled as Jone was hurled onto the cobblestone street by the large man, whose arms could compare to the trunk of a tree, and stature could be mistaken for a tree itself. This was probably the tenth place that Jone had been thrown out of in just the span of the past week, each stay lasting less than the previous one. He had managed to barely get by, scraping together some money from odd jobs and stealing a bit here and there just to stay alive. Being a poor young man with nothing but his pack, he had achieved the pity of many innkeepers and bunkhouse masters to stay a night or two at a time and even earn a little money, but it didn’t take long for them to notice that he was not of their kind and he would be kicked out on the rough streets; being an elf in this far away land did not promise a fair or just life. He didn’t choose to live here, he was taken from his home land across the sea, the Republic of Girika, land of the elves, and put on a boat at birth to be shipped to the disgusting port city and capital of Tsogthia, Goyan, to be raised as a laborer. 

As Jone rose from the ground and picked his belongings up from the muddy stone street, he looked out across the bay and beyond that, wondering how different his life would be if he weren’t in this situation. If he could have stayed in his birthplace across the water and been raised by his people, people who were kind to all and hardworking, people who were familiar. This was all a far-away dream, a dream that had died the minute he was put on the laborer ship as a baby and had his ears cropped to appear more human-like. His ears being cropped didn’t change anything, though; anyone close enough to make out his features could tell by his snow-white hair and his sharp jawline and his risen cheekbones that he wasn’t of this land. All the things that point out I don’t belong, he thought to himself. He could not be given to a family or rely on help from the local government, this area was run by dwarves, greedy miners that despised other races. Jone began to jog down the slick street to find a cover from the ever-present wind and rain, courtesy of the rough seas and port. He had nowhere really to go to hide from the harsh weather; he had been everywhere in this city, getting kicked out of every place he found, from the slums and warehouses of the south to the large, elaborate houses in the north. 

Jone had never really considered himself to be a real thief for most of his life; sure he did take a bit of food here and a scrap of silver there, but anyone would if it came down to life and death. It wasn’t something he liked to do, but he had to for his survival. As he walked through the streets of the upper class section, with no intent to stop here as they were filthy rich and had no time to associate with street trash, Jone was approached by a dwarf. The dwarf wasn’t full-blooded, he did have human blood in him somewhere down the line, making him taller and broader than the average dwarf miner or warrior that dominated the city’s population. By his attire and his crest, he came from a rather wealthy family of successful miners. He lived in the northern region of Goyan and he brought Jone to a considerably large house, filled with considerably-priced items and trinkets worth a lot of money and some were even enchanted with special properties, judging by their markings. He was a very respectable man, so he decided to allow Jone to come off of the streets and into his extravagant home for the time being. The conditions were that Jone had to do jobs around the house and stay away from the other rooms in the home. As long as he did these things, he would have a place to stay and a spot at the fairly large table. His house had many rooms with tall ceilings and was refreshingly warm when compared to the cold and rainy sea weather. 

The third day of Jone’s stay, the master of the house was out running errands and meeting with other wealthy people of the city, so Jone had the whole house to himself for a couple of hours. While he still had his duties, Jone had a little more time this day to explore the many rooms of the two-level house that he would otherwise not be allowed to go inside by orders of the master. He made his way up the wide staircase leading to the second floor and went down the hallway, past the shelves and artwork on the walls along with weapons and other objects worth a small fortune to the room directly above the room he was given. He was most ambitious about this room because it was the only room the master made clear that he would not enter, no exceptions. Jone did not know what the room could possibly hold that would match the master’s instructions, so he tried to pull the door open using the brass doorknob. To his surprise, the treasured room was not locked and the large wooden door swung open quite easily. Inside, shelves upon shelves were crammed full of little odds and ends and weapons and armor, with a majority of the objects having a faint glow or a faint sparkly aura to them. So this must be the magic room Jone thought to himself, eyeing the items surrounding him. While the objects were all magic in some way and had special properties, nothing looked too out of the ordinary, it all looked like odds and ends from a castle armory or blacksmith shop. 

Jone walked down aisles and aisles of these shelves, nothing in here looks worth being locked up, he thought. He neared the end of the final aisle and turned the corner, coming into a space that opened up at the far end of the room. This space had the heads of giant beasts and skulls framed up on the wall as well as glass cases containing skeletons and complete sets of ancient-looking armor. Jone made his way to the glass cases, taking in the sights of the centuries-old cracked skulls and the various sets of royal dwarven armor, dating back multiple generations. At the very center of it all, Jone found a gold-colored showcase with a glass door on the top and lined with velvet on the inside, a beautiful presentation piece for weapons of high value. The most peculiar part was what the golden case held within it; an ordinary-looking sword that would belong to the common folk as means of protection. Upon closer inspection, Jone noticed that the sword appeared to be made out of solid silver or a similar metal and had an expertly carved hand-guard, in which the carvings were lined with solid gold. The short sword would definitely be worth a good amount of money to the right buyer, who would most likely melt it for the materials, but it didn’t seem to be worth the trouble to put it in such an intricate display case. 

Jone was getting ready to halt his inspection of the sword and find something else that was easier to conceal that he could stuff in his pack before departing the master, but he noticed something else about the sword. Along the length of the blade, from the top of the hilt and then stopping a little bit before the tip, were etchings depicting a great dwarven battle from the past. The etchings were excellent craftsmanship, but even more curious was that the etchings seemed to be moving–almost like the blade was made out of a liquid substance and then encased in the metal of the sword. Jone knew this was just an illusion and that it meant the sword possessed high-power magical properties, much more powerful than what the local wizard could do. He realized that this weapon was from long ago and it was made to be used in battle; to conquer your enemies. This was exactly what he needed to escape the depths that he was at in his life and he could rise up against the unfair treatment against elves and find his way back across the sea. Jone looked at the case, knowing he must have this sword, whatever it takes, and pulled on the little metal knob. The lid did not budge. He looked at where the lid met the display case and discovered there was a spot for a key. Of course he would keep this locked up, he thought. 

The top of the case was made of glass, so Jone decided to look for something that he could use to smash the lid. Of course, this would leave a big mess and would most definitely ensure that Jone would have to leave and be stripped of his belongings and the stolen, but it was a risk he was willing to take if he could manage to start an uprising or at the very least, sell the sword for a good amount of money. He scanned the large room for objects that would be best fit for smashing a display case lid. His eyes landed on a carved stone sculpture, large enough to have a bit of weight but light enough that he could carry and lift over his head. He picked the sculpture up, a carving made out of mountain stone of a dwarven miner with a solid gold pickaxe, and went back to the display cases. Jone lifted the piece of stone and brought it back down swiftly, smashing the glass and just barely missing the blade of the sword in the case. He left the cracked sculpture in the broken case upon the red velvet and picked up the sword. It wasn’t a heavy sword that required both hands, but a rather light sword that would be paired with a shield on a battlefield. He measured the sword’s balance and swung it around a few times before he heard a door slam downstairs. 

After a few tense moments, the master found that Jone was not on the first level of the house. “Elf-scum! I knew I shouldn’t have left you alone here in my house!” the master screamed as he made his way towards the staircase. The large man scaled the staircase in two steps and in four more, made his way to the doorway of the trophy room. Jone had no time to react as the master was stronger and faster than any person he had ever met. He stood in the doorway of the room, the only exit as the room had no windows. He spotted the sword in Jone’s hands and became more hostile, pulling his own sword from a sheath at his waist; challenging him to a fight. He charged Jone, sword in hand, and readied his arm to swing with intent to strike him down. As this was happening, Jone positioned himself and stood his ground, and the blade in his hand began to softly hum as the etchings in the center of the sword began to glow and a ball of light emerged right before the man struck him…