Leo and the Dagger

By Andrea Radius • All Rights Reserved ©

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Once again I found myself stealing what I could since I had ran out of the food Fanarel had packed for me a while ago. The bad news was that I had already heard people talk about missing provisions from their shelves to the local guards. Worse still was that I had heard rumors that some of the merchants had protection contracts with the Treasure Hunters, a rogue organization of thieves and assassins. It was a matter of time before I fell into a trap, it was a good thing I wasn’t going to stay here much longer.

I was hiding in Caidrecy Banceed, the forest that looks perfectly normal during the day but glows soft silver at night, never allowing darkness to filter through its mighty trees. I found a decent camping location close to the port town of Garann to sneak in and take what I need. I spent most of my time hiding in the docks, waiting for someone to hire a ship out of Andal’Rel.

Living in an island has its benefits, but when it comes to being on the run it can be a real struggle to get out. The only way to leave Andal’Rel is by boat. This is problematic because sailing out on your own accord is frowned upon. You are looked on as a traitor; therefore, it’s not every day that you see people leave. Once you make the decision, you are pretty much stuck in whatever part of Arion you settle for. I personally couldn’t care less about this retched place, so that was just fine by me.

While everyone in Andal’Rel is tall and fair, I was born different. Every elf in here is considered blessed by something depending on the color of their hair. Most of them have yellow hair, like piss, and believe they were blessed by The Creator. Then you have those with other colors blessed by various meaningless things. Last, you have those born with hair as black as ebony like I was.

I and those like me are believed to have been cursed by the Overlord of the Void, ruling the Abyss with chaos, horror, and pain. We are the monsters hiding under the beds and inside the closets of children. We are destined to bring suffering and dishonor to our families. That is unless we are abandoned or sacrificed. We are called gemcys, meaning “cursed” in Old Andalarian.

Much like anyone else would have, my parents abandoned me when I was young. Luckily, I was found and raised by a simple man who lived in the wild and didn’t care for other people’s blind beliefs. He taught me everything he knew and even gave me a name. However, he died when I was young and I had to fend for myself most of my life.

Many have tried to kill me and many more have beaten me up before I managed to get away. My body is fragile and small because of the cruelty I had to endure and so I can’t apply the hunter skills I learned when I was young. I taught myself how to move and steal without being seen, and how to quickly hide if I was ever spotted. I learned to survive within my limitations.

One day, everything changed. A man saved me from certain death and took me under his wing. He was High Arcanist Varonien and my Master. I did everything he asked of me, even pretended I was a fool. I didn’t like the idea, but I wasn’t going to argue with someone who was taking good care of me. Besides, it wasn’t hard to do since no one wanted to even be near me. When someone did approach me, it wasn’t for long. Being under Master’s care meant I was protected, so others opted to ignore me since they couldn’t torture or kill me. It was a pretty nice deal.

Then, just like that, everything changed again when Master was slaughtered in his home. I cried for longer than I cared to know and I even felt my sanity wanting to leave my mind. I had lost myself in despair when Fanarel came for me and gave me a new purpose.

Fanarel… that man gives me the creeps even when I just think of his name. That man killed countless guards in ways so cruel I can’t begin to describe. I still wake up shaking and afraid with nightmares of the bodies he dropped. Even so, Fanarel was loyal to Master and came to my aid when Master was dead. It is this memory that drives me to perform my task flawlessly to honor Master after everything he’s done for me.

Tonight, everything would change again for me either for better or worse. Finally, someone had hired a smuggler to leave Andal’Rel from the port of Garann. For the longest, I was afraid smugglers only worked from the cliff east of the Fort of Nyllys. That would have been a terrible location for me since I had no way of getting provisions whenever I needed them. I would also had to climb down the cliff to reach the boats, where I could be seen by the guards at the fort and the smugglers. Not to mention the fort was days away and on the other side of Caidrecy Banceed. I was glad whoever was paying for this voyage decided Garann was a more comfortable departing location.

I decided to wait patiently for the ship to be loaded before I snuck in. Once they were done, I could just make my way inside and hide behind the crates of whatever they were loading. Hopefully it wasn’t anything that smelled terrible, but beggars can’t be choosers. I was also hoping for one passenger and one smuggler. The more people in a ship, the higher the chances I would be found aboard. I did have poisoned darts with me and I wasn’t afraid to use them, but my task was very important and I’d rather not raise any flags.

There were a handful of ships docked, some of them being prepared for fishing the next day. The one I would be boarding was almost ready. Two men were carrying crates and sacks and they seemed to be working faster than everyone else. They wanted to leave tonight.

A third man approached the docks and stood in front of my ship. The other two stopped loading and went to greet the newcomer. That must have been the one who hired ship, which means I probably didn’t have much time to board.

I moved quickly from crate to barrel to post and made my way to the ship without being seen. Before anyone realized that someone was sneaking in, I was aboard. I quickly headed to the ship’s cargo deck, which was left open, and found a cozy corner to hide in. I had to rearrange some crates, but unless you were looking for someone in there you couldn’t tell there was a hallow place in that corner with me inside.

I made myself as comfortable as I could. I knew I had to be tired, but I was too excited and alert to rest. Before the ship started to move, I decided to check my knapsack one last time. The tools and supplies Fanarel had given me where still there, all of them unused except for a few lockpicks. I also found the rations I had been gathering in preparation for my journey. Most importantly, I saw Master’s journal. Fanarel had tasked me with recovering it and keep it safe with me outside of Andal’Rel. He had also ordered me to kill anyone who had read it, which I didn’t have to do.

Master had developed a code for writing important information he didn’t want others to find. He had taught me this code and ordered me to memorize it so I would never need to write it down. Fanarel had to have known this code as well and was aware that this journal had been written with it. He must have told me to kill anyone who had read it as a precaution, but I suspected he did because the man was a cold-blooded killer. In any case, no one that had come in contact with the journal was killed by me.

When I got to the outpost in Roas’Kalim, everyone was out looking for an escaped prisoner. I had run into complications when I found the journal moved from the evidence chest, where Fanarel had said it would be. I eventually found it in the sleeping quarters being used by a captain for the night. I wasn’t going to sit around and wait for several guards to return to the outpost and find myself outnumbered, so I just took the journal and left.

I heard footsteps above me, so I put the journal in my knapsack and waited. I also reached inside my shirt for the simple lock I kept hanging from a chain around my neck. Whenever I got nervous, I held on it to it for luck. It felt like a lifetime was going by before the ship finally started moving, but it wasn’t long after the soft waves rocking the ship made me sleepy. All the anxiety I had been accumulating since finding out about this voyage had taken its toll and I couldn’t help to close my eyes and let sleep take me away.


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