Ithuriel: Inception (Chapter One)
Presenting original fantasy fiction from Robert Roach, this prose series features sword and soul hero Ithuriel in adventures placed in fantasy lands.
Ithuriel yanks his acquired scimitar out of the Sandeh warrior's chest. Around him, his assailants still litter the bridge.
The two men from Sandeh are dead. The "cousin" from Paarsin hasn't grown a new head, so he remains lifeless. The injured Paarsini is still rolling on the bridge's cobblestones in pain. He's cursing Ithuriel in his native language. And there's Orkus.
Ithuriel rushes over to the wounded man, looking down on Orkus with disgust. The big man kneels & wrenches his sword loose from Orkus' leg. After pausing to wipe his blade's gore on the potbellied man's tunic, Ithuriel sprints in the direction of home.
As he hurries toward his residence, Ithuriel notices unusual movements here-&-there. A warrior well aware of Aston's rhythms & its pulse, Ithuriel has seen these aberrations, but, having been lost in thought & reflection recently, the young man hasn't paid close enough attention to them.
Once the massive warrior plumbs his memory, Ithuriel is finally taking note of the anomalies he's been seeing all night—& since days earlier. Numerous 3-man (& woman) groupings of mercenaries have strategically occupied Aston's downtown. Obviously, some kind of assault, perhaps a coup, is underway. This means that his dad is in danger. To Ithuriel, avoiding these invaders & rushing to TzumÉ's relief is crucial.
Ithuriel smiles as a boyhood recollection instantly returns to mind. He realizes in this moment that having been willful & inquisitive as a child can sometimes be helpful as an adult. Ithuriel hurries to a nearby entrance to Aston's underground. To secretly traverse the city & run to his father's aid, the large man has chosen to rush through Aston's sewers.
As a boy, Ithuriel had embarked on a day-long exploration of Aston's sewer system. New to city management at that time, TzumÉ was refurbishing the infrastructure & had these schematics at home—where Ithuriel found them.
Shortly thereafter, the boy was gone. Missing.
Out of his mind with worry, TzumÉ searched their entire home for him.
Once TzumÉ had figured out where Ithuriel had gone, he & the city watch located his son. A "tanned hide" underscored to Ithuriel that such an adventure was a no-no. Ithuriel never repeated this kind of foolishness.
Nonetheless, it's because of that escapade that Ithuriel is now able to traverse the capital in total secrecy.
Though Aston's sewage system is well-kept, it's still a sewage system. Ithuriel ignores the smells & the vermin as he swiftly navigates the under-city. Having been much smaller when he explored the infrastructure, there are tight squeezes in a handful of spots for his grown-sized body.
Ithuriel emerges a block & a half from his family estate & tosses aside his dirty tunic. Two mercenaries, wearing feathers & armor that also identify them as warriors from Sandeh, stand in the shadows across the street from his residence. The two assassins' full concentration is on watching the open front door. Their single-minded focus enables Ithuriel to kill the sentries before they're aware that he's there.
Rushing through the front door, Ithuriel can hear the conflict's din. He follows the sounds toward the violent scene.
The large young man threads his home's hallways at top speed, coming into the formal dining hall. Obviously, the coup's leaders have put an even higher premium on TzumÉ's death—nine, not five, assassins are crowding the chamber.
Despite the room having three entrances, the attackers are limited to one route by which to assault TzumÉ. The statesman has knocked a large planter into the kitchen's doorway, preventing the assassins from easily reaching him that way. TzumÉ has tossed the hall's largest table & a bunch of the chairs into a pile, creating a barrier on his flank. This barricade forces his foes into a bottleneck. Two dead mercenaries are sprawled out on the floor. Three others are slightly wounded.
The assassins' backs are to Ithuriel, but TzumÉ is facing him. His dad—nicked & cut up a bit himself—smiles across the room at him.
In complete silence, Ithuriel picks up an overturned vase & pitches the heavy container at the closest would-be killer's head. The pottery breaks over the back of the woman's cranium, shattering this assassin's skull. Her death & her body collapsing to the floor announce Ithuriel's presence.
Ithuriel story elements are the sole property of Robert Roach/Hometown Productions ©2020
Words and illustrations by Robert Roach