Over a decade ago, when I first made my home in Brazil, I gave fantasy fanfiction writing a try. Although I enjoyed the experience, I found that I’m not an excellent fiction writer, and I lack the detailed knowledge of medieval-style weaponry that helps in writing this sort of story.
My stories were originally posted on a site I maintained via Tripod, and I’ve reposted one of the stories, Hag’s Hovel, a couple of times since then on this blog. As it appears that I never posted “The Eyes of Darkness” here, I present it now for whatever it’s worth.
Note that at the time of writing, Stephan Michael Sechi was the rights-holder to The Atlantean Trilogy RPG system, and gave express written consent via email to me to write the fanfiction.
Based on The Atlantean Trilogy fantasy RPG system, copyrights held by Stephan Michael Sechi.
This is a work of fiction. All the characters and events portrayed in this short story are fictional, and any resemblance to real people or incidents is purely coincidental.
Copyright 2002 Adam W. Gonnerman
The eyes betrayed her. Pointed ears and ashy-gray skin were the only other features that set her apart from humanity, and they could easily have left her classified as one of some unknown race of elves. True, she was somewhat more muscular than the average human girl her age, and unsettlingly grim-face. This latter characteristic seemed native to her, not the result of a hard life.
Indeed, life up to this point had been anything but easy, and this moment she now faced was one whose arrival she had both expected and dreaded since early childhood. She had learned too much too soon about the harsher realities of the world. Sweaty black hair clinging to her face, neck and upper back, the fierce adolescent confronted the man she believed would rape her, if he could.
Though armed, a battle-axe at his side and the hilt of a two-handed sword showing over his right shoulder, his hands were empty and half closed in front of him, as though he would grab her at first chance. Human, his beard was short and scraggly. His face was weathered and creased, like old leather. Days and nights out-of-doors and exposed to the elements evidenced themselves in his rugged visage. The armor he wore was of studded leather, and his small metal shield, replete with gashes from numerous battles, bore a crude design of a warthog. In the darkness, colors and further details were impossible to make out.
Realizing too late her mistake in entering this dead-end alley, she had hoped to elude the one she’d noticed tailing her only a couple of blocks back. Seeing him now up close, she vaguely recognized him as having been one of the patrons at the Lame Pig. Working in the tavern’s kitchen since she was nine, she had been sent out among the rowdy, thieving outcasts that frequented the establishment to work as one of the bouncers when her developing body made her too clumsy to remain in the narrow cooking area.
Proving herself big enough and strong enough on more occasions than she could remember, new challengers were never lacking at the seaport pub. Unusual though it was for a woman – in fact, a mere girl – to help provide security for a bar, she did her share along with Frothos to maintain order and break up bar fights. Ordinarily, the big fellow would be accompanying her to the hostel they called home, but this was payday, and he had a favorite call girl he wanted to find.
“It’s your eyes that drew me,” the man suddenly declared in a low tone. “I’ve seen those eyes in hundreds I’ve slain.”
Yanamari remained silent, pulling out her mace and making ready for the fight. Hadn’t he said it outright? He’d killed others, like her. The message seemed clear.
“Was it your papa, or your mama?” In the half-light of the full greater moon she thought she could make out a sneer. She remained mute, scanning for weaknesses. Still, the question cut her somehow.
“Can’t speak?” His Sanadarian was heavily accented, yet she couldn’t identify his nationality. “Why don’t you come with me?”
Provoked, Yanamari broke her silence. “What do you want? I have no interest in you.” Her voice cracked as she spoke, causing her to wince. She couldn’t show fear, not now.
“But I have an interest in you. Your eyes are likely not your only mystery, eh dear?”
“Go find a prostitute. She’ll give you what you want, and has eyes more interesting than mine, I’m sure.”
“You mistake me, I don’t want a whore. I want a companion.”
She laughed despite herself. “A companion? You’re drunk, asking me for marriage!”
The man drew a little nearer, lowering his hands slightly. “Not marriage either, precious, but almost as good. You come with me, and I free you of this place. No more Lame Goat….”
“Lame Pig,” she corrected.
“…no more drunks trying to grab your ass, no more Port Regna. Come with me, and I teach you my trade.”
“Your trade? What trade could you ply that would interest me?” She mocked, but inwardly, she was intrigued.
“Bounty. I am Gilreth the Brazen, known far and wide for my ability to hunt down my prey.” As he spoke, he opened wide his arms before returning to a crouched position, now with his hands on his knees. “You come with me, and I teach you to track, to hunt, to waylay or kill. The gold is good, real good. My last bounty brought in more than you’ll see in a thousand days of bashing heads.”
She shook her head and waved her mace slightly from side-to-side. “So what do you get out of this?”
“And what does that mean, exactly?”
“It means you come with me, you travel with me, you learn with me, you bed with me….”
“Of course! Men are the same the world over! I’ve seen pirates and thieves, warriors and warlocks, and the story is always the same. It ends in the bed. You think you’re going to fool me into staying with you this night, you think I’m a stupid, gullible girl who’ll gladly skip off to some inn with you, but I tell you I’d sooner cut off your manhood and throw it in the harbor before I’d let your greasy hands touch me!”
“Yet again, you misunderstand me. And I have such a disadvantage. The eyes are portals to the depths of one’s being – or so an old mage once told me – but yours are impossible for me – or any man – to read.”
“My eyes again! You say you’ve killed others like me, and you expect me to travel with you?”
“Like you? Never! In my youth I slew scores of goblins, large and small. When my infantry days were over and since my bounty hunting days began, I’ve had occasion from time to time to eliminate a goblin that was in my way. But never did I bring low one such as you.”
Defiant, she declared, “I’m no goblin!”
Wordless moments passed. Yanamari was bent forward slightly, mace before her, expecting the assault to begin at any moment. She figured there was no way that this tenacious man would merely give up. Unexpectedly, Gilreth began to chuckle and slowly arose from his crouched position. He asked, “Do you even know what you are?”
The question stung, biting with the force of years of mockery, insults and insinuations. “Goblin-girl,” they called her when she was very small. Never having seen a goblin, she always hated the name and knew it was meant to hurt her. A little older now, she’d still never seen a goblin, but had heard plenty of descriptions and understood its loathsome nature.
The bounty hunter leaned forward slightly, shaking his hands at her, and asked “Who was your mother?”
“A common whore! Understand? She was a prostitute!” she yelled bitterly, her voice carrying and echoing down the alley and out into the vacant streets.
Holding back tears and feeling rage swelling uncontrollably within, she practically growled, “Of course!”
“Then it was your father!”
Resisting no longer, Yanamari swung out and caught Gilreth off-guard, bashing him in the left shoulder with her mace. He bellowed in outrage and pain. ”You are a stupid girl, if you think you can best me in single combat!”
Gilreth was right-handed, and Yanamari had hit him in the left shoulder. Too late, she realized her error. He reached behind his back, and from somewhere pulled out a blackjack. Without a word, he advanced.
Yanamari drew back, raising her mace defensively as the bounty hunter stepped quickly to her left. This was only a feint, Gilreth dodging right at what seemed an impossible speed for a man of his size and weight, swinging the blackjack at Yanamari’s head.
Her world went dark in a painful reddish flash.Coming to, daylight making the searing pain in her head even more acute, she realized that at least a few hours had passed, if not more. Opening her eyes and raising up too swiftly, her head swam and nausea overcame her. Twisting to the side, she vomited violently.“My dear, being waylaid doesn’t seem to agree with you.”
The voice was Gilreth’s, “the Brazen.” Her heart sank as she realized he had taken her prisoner.
“Why don’t you leave me be? I want nothing of you!” she choked.
“None of this would have happened, if you hadn’t so foolishly attacked me.”
You’re the one who stalked me from the port to my neighborhood.
You’re the one who chased me into an alley!”
“And you, precious, took the first swing.”
The nausea had passed, and the agony in her skull had turned to a dull but terrible ache. Finally, finding strength and words, she said, “I’ve never bedded with anyone, and I’ve no interest in you! Try what you might, but you will suffer.”
“No doubt,” he smiled. “But my intention is for you to come along willingly.”
With a forced laugh, she tried to stand up. Everything seemed to spin for a moment, and she sat back down heavily.
“Your head’s injured. Wouldn’t be a good idea to stand up right away.”
Making a show of ignoring him, she tried to take in her surroundings. Slowly turning her head, she squinted in the bright light of day that came flooding in through a window next to the crude cot she was lying on. The room was simple, unadorned to the point of crudeness. The only furnishings were low table with a washbasin, the cot she was in, the stool on which Gilreth sat and a latrine bucket to the side of the bed. A small rat in the corner sat on its haunches, sniffing the air and apparently contemplating the two larger occupants. The surroundings were somewhat familiar, those of a tavern like the one where she worked.
“Rented a room?”
Grinning, “Just for a few hours. Told ‘em you were sleeping off a drunk when we came in.” Considering her for a moment, he picked up his backpack and opened it, rummaging around for minute. “The bashed head is your own fault, but I have something here that’ll help dull the pain.”
“Don’t want anything of yours,” Yanamari mumbled.
Pulling out a small red flask with a rounded bottom, he held it out for her to see.
“Not even if it cuts the pain?”
“If I take it, you’ll say I owe you. I don’t owe anything to filth.”
“This one’s on the house. The next one would cost you,” he said, almost sounding cheerful.
Yanamari laid back, but again the sun burned her eyes and aggravated her headache. Groaning, she brought her arm up over her face to shield her.
“It’s the eyes,” began Gilreth. “You probably don’t go out much by day, do you?”
No response. Yanamari felt too weak even to argue, and was sick to death of this subject.
“I’ll leave the potion here, next to the cot,” she heard him say. “You need water. I’ll be right back.” Footsteps, and the door opened and closed.
What luck, she thought. Grabbing up the potion, then waiting for the wooziness to pass, she yanked out the cork with her teeth. The bittersweet smell of the contents almost making her feel nauseated again, Yanamari briefly considered the possibility that it was poison. Dismissing it as impossible, since he could have easily killed her earlier, she downed the thick liquid in one gulp and turned to escape through the window.
At first, she felt lightheaded. Figuring that this was an effect of the medicine, Yanamari continued to investigate the window, looking for a way to shimmy down to the busy street below. The pain in her head, she realized, was not subsiding.
Behind her, the door to the room opened and a confident voice called out, “Gilreth the Brazen would miss you, my dear.”
At the sound of that name, a strange feeling overtook Yanamari. Looking toward the door, she remembered the intrigue she had felt earlier at this man’s offer. Gilreth, framed in the door with a metal water pitcher in his hand, stood smiling broadly at her.
What an incredible smile, the girl thought.
How kind of him to get water for me, and how generous to invite me along with him…and I’ve treated him so badly.
This latter thought created an anguish so great that she wanted to cry.
“Now, now, no need for sadness. Gilreth is here. Does your head still hurt?”
Looking into the eyes of the man she now loved so dearly, so completely, she nodded.
“Then, here’s another potion that will finish the job.”
Pulling another, oblong blue flask from his pack, he handed it to Yanamari. Unquestioningly, she pulled out the cork and drank it down. This time a soothing coolness came over her, and the soreness in her head and body seemed washed away.
Offering her water, she drank from the pitcher, not taking her eyes off of Gilreth, her beloved.
“Will you come with me now?”
Overwhelmed with emotion, Yanamari could only nod eagerly.
“Your eyes betray you, darkling. Black with white pupils. What it must be like to be a netherman’s daughter…of goblin stock. You travel with me now, beginning this day.”