Fan fiction:Bane Hero of the North/Chapter 8

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Bane Hero of the North is a fan fiction piece by Bane, originally posted on The Dark Library. The fiction series was recovered on April 14th 2010. You can find more information on Bane:Hero of the North article.


Chapter 8: The Mage[edit source]

Bane sat back on his chair, resting his back against the support, thoughts of the last week drifting to him easily as the ale began to take hold. It had been more that seven days ago since his escape from the dreaded Necromancer’s tower, a place he had gone to steal a great object called The Tiger Jewel. He had been hired by the master-thief Travin earlier that same night; a man who had claimed he needed strong men to help him steal the Jewel. It had been a nightmare, for what happened Bane had not expected at all.

Bane had come face-to-face with an ancient enemy of man himself, the undead. The resurrected remains of the long departed, with no memories of who they were or what they are, the only thing they craved was the flesh of the living. His skin crawled, his blood ran cold at the very thought of them.

The escape from the tower was unexpectedly easy, for no one tried to stop them from leaving the grounds of the Necromancers gardens either. Travin had escaped earlier with the Jewel, and had left the group a rope to climb down so that they could escape also. Bane had known this because he had been given a vision by the demon Horthis, one such being who seemed to watch Bane’s every move.

Why had Horthis shown him the way out of the tower? Did the demon honestly believe that Bane was to play a role in the survival of mankind itself? Bane had followed the way shown to him by the demon-thing, leading his companions Kabana and Balkin with him to safety. Travin had hidden himself in a hedge, waiting for survivors to emerge from the window. He had been relieved to see Bane for Bane had the strength to hurl the hook over the wall.

Bane was slightly angry that later that night Travin had hidden the Tiger Jewel from sight, claiming he would need it one day, and that day was not today. Bane had not even set his eyes upon the very item he had risked his very life for.

It was then he started to examine the tavern he found himself drinking in. The Goat’s Head was a large tavern, much bigger than the Dog, the one Travin owned and much larger and glorious than ones back in his homeland. It had a great space; the bar ran its way across the left hand side of the room, shelf’s of labelled liquor and ales sitting neatly upon them behind the bar. Large tables found them scattered across a great floor, a large fireplace burning ferociously, spitting its disgust at a small crowd of people to the north of the room. Large chandeliers hung from the ceiling, rocking slightly from the faintest of drafts. To the Right was a staircase, leading up to bedrooms.

The Goat’s Head was a popular place to be in Galmnor thought Bane, for one with a lowly social standing, for thieves and murderers or for the general poor. It was crowded this night, the innkeeper employing dancing girls and serving wenches aplenty. Bane would take up the offer he had from the dark haired girl at the bar, she was a pretty one he thought, after he had finished drinking of course.

Then he felt suddenly cold; he got the feeling someone had spilt a drink down him. Turning from his seat he noticed the man who had poured his ale over the barbarian. The man was tall and dressed in the typical City Watch style of purple clothes and bronze hauberk. Long red hair flowed down his box-like facial features; a long red beard flowed from his chin and hung across his breastplate covering the sign of Galmnor. Bane stood up slowly, a look of anger stretched across his face.

“Apologise.” He asked in a calm tone, his eyes scanning for any threat around him. The man leaned back, hands on his waist and laughed.

“For what? I spilled my drink, it happens in taverns.” The man’s tone was disrespectful, and although the man was a ranking officer in the City Guard Bane held nothing but contempt for the man. The tavern’s crowd quietened, expecting a fight.

“Do not make me ask you again.” This time Bane stepped forward, the red-haired man reacted by stepping forward also. Bane’s hand flashed to his sword hilt.

“Now hold on there barbarian, there will be no blood shed in here. Especially when it is Captain Willem’s.” Bane turned towards the voice, it was the tavern owner.

“Perhaps you should settle this by playing a game of ‘Slice’?” Bane turned back towards Willem, still ready to plunge his sword into the man’s ribs. It was then the audience began to chant ‘Slice’.

Willem appeared to relax, an easy smile spreading across his face. He walked towards Bane and placed his hand on the barbarian’s shoulder.

“Are you afraid to play the game barbarian?” Bane did not like this man he decided but did not want to look like the weaker man by simply killing him when a game of ‘Slice’ would be adequate.

“I will play.” Bane said, shaking his head as the audience cheered. Bane turned around and watched the audience clear a space for the game at the far end of the room, besides the fire. The tavern owner began to set the targets up.

Bane had played the game before with his mercenary employer Konrad while in Kath-Amor. He had been a natural at the game. ‘Slice’ was a very simple game, not hard to understand. The participants would be given a set of throwing axes or knives, usually six for a short game. The participants would then have to launch all of the axes or knives at separate targets, which depended on the amount of weapons per man, generally six axes would mean six targets that were spread out against a wall. The winner would be the one who threw them the quickest and was most accurate. Simple. For Bane it had been for he was used to such activities in Kamidia, where axe throwing was common during the hunt.

When the game was set up Bane walked over to the throwing line, drawn out by chalk, to stand besides Willem and the tavern owner. Bane looked about him and could see the excitement written on the faces of the crowd. People were busy chatting to one another about who was going to win the game while other people were betting coin on it.

“Who will throw first?” Asked the small round tavern owner, his face reddened as Bane turned towards him.

“Let Willem throw first.” Bane said calmly, stepping back and gesturing towards the axes that had been placed on a table’s bench. Willem nodded and smiled. The man was applauded by the crowd, an applause that Willem seemed to soak up and enjoy. The man walked over to the axes, his hands hovering over the first two. The tavern owner raised his voice, to quiet the crowd so that Willem could hear him.

“Are you ready?” Willem simply nodded. With that the tavern owner blew the customary whistle to begin the game, and began counting.

Bane watched Willem move. He was impressed for the man was tall and drunk yet he could still move as quick as a panther, his hand-eye coordination obviously unhindered by the ale. The man’s actions were a blur; his accuracy and speed would be hard to beat.

Once Willem had stopped throwing, and had sent of six axes off towards their separate targets the tavern owner called the time and the number of axes that had found targets. Bane could count five, the sixth barely missed at all.

“Five out of six in five heartbeats.” Willem stood back, exhausted from his efforts although happy. His smile broadened as the crowd booed Bane.

“Don’t blush barbarian.” Willem said as Bane passed him to get to his set of axes. Don’t blush! Bane shook his head once more, trying to calm himself down. Anger would not help him now, only a calm mind would.

Bane’s hands hovered over the first two axes, his mind clear of everything except his task, the crowd noise and his hatred for Willem discarded. The tavern owner’s voice hit him and Bane nodded. He was ready.

Bane’s movements were fluid, much more so than that of Willem’s. His hand’s drifted onto the third pair before anyone had realised, the first two had hit their desired targets. Bane worked quickly for he knew he had to finish it within five heartbeats. To the crowd Bane was amazing. For his height and weight they had expected Willem to win yet now, as the barbarian finished up and his numbers called did they had come to respect him, the barbarian stereotype erased from their simple minds. They cheered.

“Six out of six in four heartbeats. We have the winner!” Some members of the crowd became angry, the ones who had lost in the bets who had chosen Willem. Other members cheered while others just ignored the event now that it was over, preferring the company of their drink once again. Bane did not smile over his victory, instead angry and agitated by the man Willem he turned to leave, to find some other tavern to drink the remainder of the night in.

The dark haired girl smiled briefly at him while collecting tankards, a smile that he returned. Perhaps he should go and talk with her, find out when she finished up for the night. Bane began a slow walk towards the girl only to have a hand grab at his arm, one that swung him around. It was Willem and the man did not look happy. Bane had just made a fool out of him. His face was red with anger.

“Do not bother me. You have lost now go away.” The man went to draw his sword but Bane was quicker, his blade piercing Willem’s ribcage and lungs before the red-haired man could draw his own blade. Willem attempted to curse but only a spray of blood found its way out of his open mouth. Bane pulled his sword free and made a quick exit. A robed figure began to follow him, out of the tavern, one that remained hidden in the shadows.

Farkum had been shocked at the display he had witnessed within the Goats Head, even more so when he had seen the man who did it, the barbarian that had been haunting his dreams for the past month. He had gone to the tavern because of his dreams, one that showed him the taverns sign every night, something that he could not avoid.

He had tried to analyse his dreams, going through them day after day. He was sleeping in his bed, which would be the start, and would suddenly awake to the startling sound of birds from outside his room’s window. He would sit up and walk to his window to peer out from it. He would then see a figure riding in the streets below, a tall figure on a white steed. Fear would hit him then, as he rushes back to his bed. The figure would then proceed to bash his way through his bedrooms door to reveal his identity, the form of a barbarian. He seemed to ignore the spells that Farkum would cast at him, walking through fireballs, getting ever closer to him until finally it would end.

The barbarian would say something ‘here is your payment’ calmly and the last thing he would see before waking up was a sword arching its way towards him.

Farkum did not know why he was so afraid of this man, or even know why he followed his dreams to the tavern for he was a powerful mage under the direct command of the Duke himself, Duke Ferol, the man in charge of Galmnor. All he knew was he felt compelled to do it.

As soon as he had seen the barbarian at play in the game he watched called ‘Slice’ a cold sensation had run its way across his spine. He had known what it was, fear, something he did not like and something he had been unaccustomed too since his studies in magic began over 20 years ago, when the empire of Westmarch had first began to develop.

Now, with the object of his fear before him, teasing him Farkum decided that he had been shown these visions in his dreams for the purpose of preserving him. Something high and powerful wanted him alive. He would have to follow the barbarian, place a location spell on his so that he could find him tomorrow without much effort.

As soon as Bane had killed the officer Willem and had left, Farkum had gathered his robes about him and had followed him, certainty in his mind. Had not the barbarian killed one of the Duke’s loyal guards? The man was heading towards the western part of the slums, possibly to retire for the night in an inn located in that area.

Stopping suddenly when the barbarian turned, Farkum was sure he had been spotted and that the barbarian would come after him. Farkum however had remained still; his dark robes fell about him so that he was one with the walls. When the barbarian had turned to walk once more Farkum was relieved and began his location spell.

Undecipherable ancient words poured in a whisper from his mouth. His hands reached within a small pouch connected to his pelt. He took out a yellow powder and threw it above him and sent his hand forward, outstretched index finger pointing towards the barbarian. The powder burned suddenly, evaporating, leaving traces of white raw magic glowing on the wind. The spell had worked. Tonight he would put a plan into action, one that would hopefully kill the barbarian.

“Hurry up in there man?” Called Bane as he banged on Eldric’s door hard. The evening had proved disastrous thought Bane as he spied the surrounding alleys and streets. He had been followed, he knew that but by whom? Was it a friend of Willem’s seeking revenge? No matter, Bane could no longer detect his presence.

Then the door opened, Walkin’s head poked out from it. He smiled briefly.

“Oh its you…” He whispered, pulling back the door so Bane could enter.

“Who did you think it was?” Walkin shrugged his shoulders. Bane looked about in the room he was in. It was nothing like he remembered it was like the previous week. Since Walkin and his family’s arrival to Eldric the healers house, they had changed it completely, bringing in there own style, cleared away was the healers personal items, in its place were the families. Walkin noticed the look.

“Eldric has taken his stuff to his own area of the house, the rest is ours he said. He is a kind man.” Bane nodded.

“A generous one.” Bane said, pulling up a seat and resting his forearms on the table before him. Walkin strolled to the tables opposite side and pulled up a stool.

“Where are your wife and children?”

“They are around somewhere, it is a large house.” Bane nodded, not sure how to continue with polite conversation. “You look agitated Bane.”

“I have reason to be. I just killed a man, perhaps my judgment was a poor one but I can not change it now.” Walkin sat back.

“Who was he?” Walkin asked out of curiosity for he had not seen Bane kill before with regret hanging over him afterwards.

“An annoyance, one which stopped me from enjoying the company of a fine woman. We played ‘Slice’, I won and he was not happy. He thought I made a fool of him so he went for his sword and I was quicker. He was also a Captain of the City Guard by what I could tell by the insignia on his breastplate.”

“You killed a guard? Did people see you?” Bane nodded. “Were you followed?”

“Yes I believe I was but I saw nobody, perhaps the ale had made me jump at shadows.

“You idiot! You can’t go around killing people like that, especially those who could have us hanged easily and without trial!” Bane shrugged his shoulders and did not meet Walkin’s gaze.

“What am I suppose to say, my way of life is different to yours…” Walkin leant back and faked laughter.

“Different! Killing a man is ones choice, not a way, not a tradition Bane. There are other ways to win my friend, ways that do not include the shedding of blood. If you had been followed perhaps the nights guard will be told.”

“And then I would fight them! Do not lecture me on the ways of life Walkin. I have only been on this earth for a mere 18 summers and already I can hardly stand man and his ways. You people call us savages but you do not see us offering human sacrifices to the gods!”

“You still don’t see it do you. Your actions tonight could be the death of you, and if you were found here by the City Guard what then? Would not myself and my family be hung, Eldric too. For what Bane, a drunkards mistake. Think twice before you act next time!” Bane was angry now, he had come here to talk and sleep not be shouted at by someone who could not even wield a sword properly. He stood up and made his way towards the door. He opened it and strolled out slamming it behind him.

Bane moaned as a beam of sunlight hit his prone form. He stirred briefly and tried to look at the window but couldn’t as the sunlight hurt his sleepy eyes. He lay back down on the bed and smiled. He had a good nights sleep at Travin’s inn the Dog. He had gone there after his argument with Walkin and was allowed to sleep there free of charge. Travin was not in that night; the bartender said something about Travin going to a meeting. Apparently Kabana and Balkin were staying in the inn but had retired to their rooms before Bane’s arrival.

Bane shook his head; he should get up he thought for the day was just beginning. Perhaps Travin had some work for him to do, work that would pay well just like the Tiger Jewel job had done. As he got up and buckled his sword belt on he opened the door. Travin’s familiar voice drifted slowly towards him, up the stairs to his left. Bane began his walk down the small corridor leading away from the rooms and began a slow decent of the stairs. They creaked madly beneath his weight.

Travin was indeed talking to someone, a man that Bane instantly disliked the look of, he looked like a mage or some priest of some kind. Travin was dressed in his usual wear, red jacket and trousers the same smile Bane and anyone else who had ever met him was use to on his face. The tavern was empty, save for that of the robed figure sitting opposite of Travin, arms hidden but crossed over his chest. The man looked afraid when Bane looked at him in his eyes. The robed figure scratched at his chin and rubbed his cold grey eyes briefly, breaking the barrier he had made by crossing his arms.

“Morning Bane, I see your up nice and early, not like Balkin and Kabana ‘ey.” Bane smiled and walked over to the bar, leaning against it.

“This is Farkum. He is our friend and he wants us to help him with a job. The pay is extremely good mind, care to hear the proposal?” Bane’s ears seemed to pin themselves to the back of his head at the mention of extremely good pay. Walking closer to the pair Bane picked up a stool and sat down.

Bane was forced to duck once again as the ceiling dropped before him. He had been forced to walk like he had done in the underground dwarven city, something he truly did not like. The other companions save Kabana and Travin could walk at full height most of the time, Balkin being most at ease out of the group although found it hard to walk through the bile that made up the floor.

Bane began to question just why he had gone on such a mission in the first place. Was gold really worth or this hassle? They had been travelling through filth and darkness for hours. Then he thought of his reasons for venturing forth to the civilised lands. He wanted adventure and that was what he had been getting since his arrival. This job Bane held no love for, even hated more than the previous Tiger Jewel escapade. This time he was a priest’s toy, an expendable one.

The man called Farkum was a strange one Bane thought as he remembered the words that flowed like water from his mouth. The man claimed he was a weak mage and priest of the Horadrim Brotherhood. Apparently he was after something that had been stolen from them years ago, lost to the underground tunnel and sewage system below the City of Galmnor, a Golden Ball the size of a carts wheel.

It was an object his Brotherhood needed desperately before a certain night, a night that was closing in shortly. Bane knew little about the night, except that it was supposed to be a time when the evils of the world, bad spirits and the like roamed the mortal realm.

Bane looked back to his companions, two of which he had only recently met before entering the tunnel system through Farkum’s home. Chiana was from the silky deserts of Aranoch, her tanned supple frame caught Bane’s eye more than once during the trek through the badly lit tunnels, her strange mismatched silken clothes flowing against her like her dark brown hair. A thief out of necessity she claimed.

The second was called Aldron and was from a small village called Silver-Lake in Westmarch. He appeared to be of a high upbringing for the profession he had chosen, his stature and pose like that of a noble. Bane had spoken to them little.

“Are you sure the map that mage gave you was correct?” Asked Balkin, one hand against the cold walls for balance. He slipped again on the filth at the tunnel floor and cursed.

“Yes Balkin my clumsy companion. The mage said it was not completely accurate, it just tells us of its last location. We will be paid if it is not there anyway so do not worry yourself over such matters.”

“Clumsy! You got me walking on a sludge covered floor man!” Balkin continued to grumble and mumble for several minutes afterwards, slipping around as if the floor was ice.

“Its not that bad, you should travel through the sewers in Lut Gholein!” Balkin grunted, ignoring the comment from the girl Chiana.

The conversation went dead as soon as Travin stopped and raised his right hand. Bane carefully made his way up front taking a grip on his sword. He could detect nothing in the darkness however, but kept his sense alert.

“What is wrong Travin?” Bane asked, trying to listen to any sounds that were present. He could hear a dripping noise coming from further down the tunnel.

“Nothing, I am just curious as to why we have doubled back even though I have followed this map exactly as it is shown? We should be nearing the last location of this ball soon anyway.” Bane did not know what Travin meant, how could they have doubled back, surely he would have noticed it otherwise.

It did not take the group long to find the location marked on the map after the brief confused stop. Up ahead the tunnel glittered a fabulous gold colour, illuminating the walls as if they were made from pure gold itself.

Bane led the way into the room, carefully stepping over the rats that scurried across the floor. Bones of dead men lay on the floor in crumpled heaps and briefly the barbarian stopped and eyed the remains suspiciously, not certain whether or not they would spring to life and attack him.

The Golden Ball was indeed in its right place. It sat glowing like a star on a blue pillow mounted on small-decorated stone slab. Bane noticed that the room’s walls were guarded by a series of stone statues each the size of an average man, something inhuman about their faces unnerved the barbarian. They held curved swords that looked to be an ancient cousin to the scimitar in hands that were crossed over their chests. It was then that Bane spoke, hesitation in his voice.

“Look at the statues?” Travin nodded and began to study them keenly. Aldron stepped forward pointing towards the glowing ball.

“It is just sitting there, why could the man not come and get it himself?” Bane turned towards Aldron and pointed towards the scattered remains of the dead.

“I believe there is something very wrong here.” Bane nodded at Kabana’s statement. Already the man had his sword out. Bane followed suit feeling much safer with sword in hand than without one.

Bane watched the statues closely as Travin made his way towards the orb. Surely such a thing would weigh a ton. Travin turned towards Bane and began to talk in a whisper as if he thought he was being watched by some unknown being.

“Farkum told us it would be heavy, Bane you should be able to lift it though, he said that you should do it.” Bane shook his head.

“I will not touch the ball, not yet until I know what is here, I feel something, a bad spirit.” Travin appeared annoyed by Bane’s words but did not stress his anger. If Bane felt something was wrong here the barbarian would know. Besides he himself had wondered why they had doubled back yet appeared as if walking in a straight line.

Bane looked towards Chiana, she was scared but was hiding it better than some men he had seen in the civilised world. She gave him a quick smile, as if assuring him that she was fine. It was then that Aldron’s voice broke the silence.

“Why are we just standing here? Look, I bet the things as light as a feather.” Aldron began to walk towards the orb; Chiana managed to grab the man’s arm but could not get a grip.

“I will take it!” He said wrestling his way past Chiana towards the Gold Ball. Bane did not hesitate with his words.

“Do not touch the Ball yet. Check it for traps of some kind first.” Bane’s words seemed reasonable to Aldron who nodded his head. Bane continued to talk.

“I would like to know what killed these men that lay about this place.” Aldron began running his hands over and below the slab, trying to see under the orb for spring traps that could end all their lives. He couldn’t and decided it was safe. What did the barbarian know anyway, all it was was a ball? His hands touched the orb and suddenly the light died. No longer were the walls a brilliant gold colour. Bane could still see, his eyes adjusted to the gloom quickly. It was then he witnessed a rumbling sound, as if they were inside a volcano about to erupt. For some reason Bane kept his sight on the statues that lined the wall which suddenly began to move, all of them.

“Lets get out of here!” Cried Balkin as a stone behemoth jumped at him, its swords raised for the strike. Bane sprung into action leaping over the downed form of Balkin. His sword flashed upwards clashing against the stone golems sword. Bane heard Aldron scream, turning he could see his life had been strangled out of him by one of the golems.

Turning back his attention on the beast he now fought Bane kicked out at it with his boot. He made impact but did more damage to himself than the stone and he cursed his stupidity.

The second sword of the beast came in a quick arc towards him; Bane winced as he expected the sword to smash into his unprotected side. A clang could be heard but Bane felt no pain. Looking to his left he could see Balkin struggled against the beast’s sword with the haft of his axe, his face was reddening with the effort he was putting into it. Bane slid his sword out from under the golems and ducked its attack sending his own sword crashing into the beast’s chest. Stone was chipped nothing more.

Bane began to question his efforts. It seemed as if the stone golems were invincible, his sword and strength behind did little in terms of damage. What could be done about it?

“Bane!” Chiana’s voice sounded desperate and turning he could see why. Travin and Kabana were fighting back to back against two of the golems while Chiana was pinned against a wall, her knife would be useless against the creatures. Desperate now, Bane took hold of the beast with his free hand. He put is strength behind his arm, his sinewy form rippling with the effort. Inch by inch he began to push the creature back. He then gripped it tighter and placed his shoulder onto the golems chest in an attempt to rip the arm off. Before long and with sweat staining his brow the creature gave way, the impossible possible; he had ripped its arm off.

Bane was angry now, the battle-rage creeping on him like a panther hunting for food. His vision swirled the colour of crimson, all thoughts of his own safety fleeing his mind. Chiana cried out again and Bane leapt forward like a gazelle; his grace his people’s hidden talent.

The leap took him over to the girl and onto her opponents back. Bane let out a roar and wrapped his giant arms around the creature’s head, tearing it from its place. It fell to the ground, Bane smashing away at its back. With his fists and sword hilt.

The image scared Chiana. Bane was more animal now than ever before, drool ran down his chin, blood from his own hands and body coating his upper arms. She had heard of the savageness of the barbarian people but had never thought much about it; she always believed them to be a misunderstood people. Now she knew the truth.

Bane began to calm when he looked up to see Chiana’s pale face. He suddenly felt ashamed of his actions and lowered his head once more before standing before her.

“We should leave.” The girl nodded.

“I agree with you completely barbarian, perhaps we should dash.” Cried Travin, who rushed past him, Kabana at a slower pace his face and sword still pointing towards the golems in front of him.

Looking about him Bane could see that everyone was generally fine, except of course Aldron, who lay besides the alter. Balkin had finished off the golem Bane had torn the arm from and Travin was already making his way out of the room, towards the tunnel that would lead them home.

Farkum paced about his fireplace, his eyes constantly looking towards the hatch that led to the sewers, where he had led the barbarian fool to his death. He had planned well in just a day. His magic had worked on the stone beasts, they had killed his enemies before and he hoped would again. Then why was he so afraid?

He looked about his large dinning room. Small torches burned away on the walls, purple banners and large painting the room’s decorations. The grand table stretched into the darkness at the far end, he would be dining here tomorrow, and some members at court his guests. He smiled to himself forgetting the barbarian momentarily. He had gone far since his teachings in Westmarch two decades ago under the tutelage of his old master. Now he had the fame, the glory, the big house and life itself. A noise made him jump, breaking his thoughts up. It had come from the sewer hatch.

He began to sweat, which he tried to wipe off with the sleeve of his robe. Then the hatch opened and the stench of the sewer strong in the still air. A man walked from its shadows, from what he could tell it was the leader of the group of thieves.

“Hello there, sorry we couldn’t get your orb, stone giants and all!” He graceful walked towards the mage.

“Your…alive?” Travin nodded. Farkum’s heart began to race. “Is the barbarian dead?”

“No I’m not dead mage. For that inconvenience I will reward you. Here is your payment.” Bane’s calm voice sent the fear of god into Farkum. They were the words he had heard in his dreams. His head turned away from Travin and could see the object of his terror stride up the stairs from the hatch and towards him, gleaming sword in hand. He tried to talk but couldn’t, the words seemingly caught in his throat. Farkum’s eyes widened in horror as the barbarian sent his sword crashing down through the air, an attack aimed for Farkum’s head.

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