Jake was about to reply to what Sham had told him of the Blackpond woman, in some level he wished he had been the one with the woman’s life on his hands, it would probably end in saving them all the future trouble he was sure she would cause them. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t that easy. Before he managed to utter a word however, a man spoke up; the mercenary Jake had spotted when he entered the Inn, for some reason Jake had completely forgotten the man and obviously he had been having quite a bit of fun watching the whole commotion between them and the assassins. He listened to the man’s words with an amount of interest he hadn’t shown anyone in quite a while. This was good. He had that psycho’s actual name now, as well as the name of someone who could possibly give him some answers. He wouldn’t have believed any stranger this quickly, wasn’t for the fact that he had heard similar things from several people in Blackpond… All of them convinced Hastings hadn’t killed the King. All had vanished without leaving a trace.
Jake was going to ask some questions, but this was interrupted as well as two men entered the Inn and another fight broke out; this time between the man who had addressed them and the two other men. Jake didn’t move; the guy seemed to be handling himself pretty well on his own.
As the fight was over, Sham pointed out to him that something was going on, and with only one glance outside the Inn, he saw what she did; something was definitely wrong.
Sheila had heard the commotion and walked back into the room. Jake simple looked at her and gave a half smile, pointing at the two new men on the floor. “Those aren’t mine, and I have to run. Is Shadow still where I left him, or did you move him?”
“He’s still there.” She told him. “Did something happen?”
“I don’t know yet. Sorry about the mess.” He said, walking out and running to the small stable in the back of the building, finding the horse he had left there the night before and riding out in the direction everyone else had gone.
When Jake rode from the plains he made sure to go around the forest and not through it, while he would usually welcome any excuse to take down an assassin or two Annie had told him to hurry her letter to Newhaven, so he took a longer, yet safer, path to the city. He only came to know of who was camped there in the morning, through the whispers of the black guards roaming the halls. He thought he’d have the time to pay a visit at some point later, but apparently he was severely mistaken. He rode in to where he could assume there was once a camp, to find a funeral pyre being built there. He didn’t bother to ride any further or even dismount; he simply spotted a familiar face amongst the working men and questioned him.
“Allan, what happened here?” He asked the man.
“Uh, I’m not sure Jake. Things were just in a mess when we got here, but for what I understand there was some sort of coup, amongst the Salamanders. We looked for survivors, but there was none and Grim…” The man stopped talking as he saw the look on Jake’s face, changing what he was actually about to say to: “There were no survivors.”
Jake looked around and could spot the movement of bodies being carried, lined up, and prepared for the pyre, but he quickly looked back to the man he was speaking to. “I see…” He mumbled, lowering his head and stroking his horse’s neck to calm the animal down. “... And the Captain?”
“She was here moments ago, so was Sham, but they already rode back to the city.” Allan informed. “She didn’t look so good, you know?”
Jake sighed at the obvious statement. “I’m sure she’s not.” He replied. “Thank you for the information.” He said, turning his horse back in the direction of the city. Before riding off, he lifted his head and added. “Make sure someone retrieved Grim’s sword. A Knight’s weapon shouldn’t be left lying around for scavengers to find.”
Jake rode off back to Newhaven not really paying much attention to his path and finding himself reaching the castle stables in what seemed to him like record time. As he dismounted he finally took a long deep breath, pressing his forehead against Shadow’s snout momentarily before leaving the horse and making his way into the castle, and through some little known passages, until he found himself in one of the towers.
Sitting on the window ledge, looking down at the city, he started thinking back to his days of training when he heard the younger members of the Black Guard discussing amongst themselves, in loud and excited voices, how many armies would be necessary to bring down ‘War’. While at first Jake laughed at those exaggerations, he thought maybe he’d heard them enough to partially believe them… Out of everyone he had considered a friend in his life; Grim was one of the few who he had never imagined being found dead in the woods. He still wasn’t sure he actually believed it happened, it didn't feel real.
After a long moment of silence, a familiar chuckle reached Jake’s ears and he sighed, turning to face the smiling figure of Luckas. “What are you doing here, you little vermin?”
“Awe, Jakey… I love you too.” Luckas replied, with a small giggle. “Have you finally decided to dump the redhead and run away with me?”
“Shut up Luckas, I really don’t have any patience left to deal with you right now.” Jake muttered.
Luckas stood from the little wooden bench he had been sitting on, hiding whatever he had on his hands on the insides of his jacket. “Now, now… Don’t be that way. You don’t want to wake up naked and tied to a tree like last time you were mean to me.” He said, with a faked tone of innocence in his voice. “Come on Jakey, tell your old pal Luke what’s the problem.” He said walking over to where Jake was sitting and landing a hand on his shoulder.
The moment Luckas touched him Jake stood and struck him in the face, activated his enlightenment and pushed him against the wall, pressing his forearm firmly against his throat, causing him to suffocate. “You are NOT my friend! You don’t the meaning of that word, you worthless piece of junk!” Luke really couldn’t breathe right, but Jake could tell he was trying to say something even so. “You can’t talk, you can’t see my eyes, and you can’t break free. Don’t even bother; you’ll breathe if I decide to let you go. I may, or may not let you go… In other words: I own you. How does it feel?” Jake muttered out to him. Luke had stopped fighting for air, and was now holding a slightly satisfied grin on his face.
After a moment or two, Jake released his hold and Luckas dropped to his knees, coughing as he tried to catch a breath. Slowly tough, he began to chuckle. As he regained his breath the chuckle turned into full formed laughter, and soon enough the room was filled with the sound of manic laughter. Once able to speak, coughing slightly, now from all the laughing, Luke stood up and started to applaud. “Wow! That was fantastic, Jakey! I almost thought you were going to kill me there. I’m disappointed though, it didn’t last very long, but you will get there! We’re not so far apart you and I.”
“I’m nothing like you, you freak!” Jake shouted at him.
“Oh, you’re not? Why are you not in the plains, or in the desert with that girlfriend of yours?” Luke asked, a chuckle still escaping him. “I’ll tell you why: Because that’s BORING, that’s why! You had to go to Blackpond, you had to go where everything is twisted and broken, you have to go where the oddities are see what makes them tick! You can’t sleep if you don’t, you can’t breathe; it’s just meaningless!” He shook his head, still smiling. “The difference between you and me, my dear old friend, is that I don’t bother to pretend I’m doing it for some random cause. I don’t pretend I don’t enjoy myself with these little mind games we all play. I’m honest, and you are a liar. A damn good one too, because I think you actually believe yourself, but a liar nonetheless.” Luke stated calmly. “Now, don’t be shy, show yourself. Let me see what’s going on inside that pretty little head of yours.”
Jake deactivated his invisibility knowing full well that he was an idiot for letting Luckas ramble on and distract him. The little freak was going to go through his thoughts now, which is something he had done at least twice before. The moment Jake was visible Luckas caught his gaze and there was no escaping it.
Once done going through Jake’s thoughts Luke grinned. “Jake, Jake, Jake… Why is it always a redhead the first thought on your mind? First the blind one, then her mother… Weird, but who am I to judge? And now there’s a different redhead, I see… Lamya, is it? I’ll have to meet this woman, she’s managed to get further into your head than I have ever been, in only one conversation… Wow, if I was actually capable of such I could really fall for a girl like that!”
“Screw you.” Jake said, sitting back down by the window, it was almost dusk now. The pyre would be lit soon.
“Too bad you didn’t get speak more to Alex… He seems like a very interesting man.” Luke stated simply.
Jake caught his words and stood up slowly, turning to face Luckas. “Alex?”
“The man at the inn, his name is Alex. He is a… Salamander. I passed their camp on the way here.” He said absently.
“Luckas... What do you know about him?” Jake asked with a slight frown.
“Oh, it’s Luckas now? Not vermin, or maggot, or freak?” He chuckled. “Can’t help you there. I didn’t play with him… And I think I seriously freaked him out, or might have been more because of the girl that brought me to him.”
“Scars all over, slightly psychotic… Really fun, but not my type. I don’t think I caught her name.” Luke stated with a shrug, beginning to grow bored of all the questions. He started to walk out. “Have fun at the funeral.” He stated, leaving Jake with a lot more questions to answer.