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Sergius Aurelius

He is just another peasant. At least that's what he thinks.

0 · 215 views · located in Medieval Fantasy

a character in “The Crossroads of Power”, as played by TheFinalOne

Description

OPERATION JAZZ

Final Report

August 28, 1944

START
.
.
.
...it worked perfectly. The subjects lost all their...
.
.
...not working as planned. Jazz not stupid...
.
.
...aborting the program...
.
.
.
END


OPERATION JAZZ

Application: Günter Rall

June 1, 1943

START
.
.
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...pilot of unmatched...
.
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...parent kept detailed...
.
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...hundred pages missing...
.
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...best for Subject...
.
.
.
END



8:12 pm, Jun 14, 1947. Off the coast of Normandy Beach; aboard the "Van Stol" England bound Dutch Enterprises cruiser.

The rain crashed upon the dirty aisles of the ship, rendering them cleaner than any one human would have. The ship moved ever so slow, as if second guessing its journey. Perhaps, going to England was not the best idea.

Inside one of the many crowded room lay two men, and a young boy. The boy looked out of the window into the darkness, his eyes gleaming in hope. His country may have lost but not him. His future lay before him, in the beautiful land of England. He would be rich one day. Everyone would respect him.

"Once upon a time," the eldest spoke with a melancholy voice, “I used to fly planes.”

The kid looked at the old man. The man had small bag, much like all the others on the trip. They were all running away; some from the devastation, some from the devastators. The kid smirked, "Ya, old man. I'm going to believe that."

The old man smiled at the kid. He removed a badge from his pocket and held it in his outstretched palms. "Do you know what that is? ‘The Iron Cross’. I got it for destroying a hundred planes."

The kid took the medal and studied it curiously. Looking back at the man he deduced that the man was no more than thirty, yet he seemed to have a glittering medal. "You are German?"

"Günter Rall, at your service," another smiled escaped the man. "Juventus?" he asked in Italian. The boy looked up in surprise, "How do you know?"

"The way you speak, the way you move reminds me the Italian Third Battalion. They were the best, weren't they?"

"Hell yea!" the kid punched the air, "My father was in the third battalion. He also had a medal, for great service in the army." The boy's smiled from ear to ear. Günter had seen the boy's dad before. It was mere luck that the kid was in the same room as Günter. But Günter knew so many army men that sharing the same room with someone he knew wouldn't have been that difficult. He looked at the boy's face; the same hyperactive eyes.

The boy stopped smiling and gave the medal back to the man, reluctantly. "But we lost. You killed so many traitors. My father killed so many traitors, but still we lost." The boy looked outside and peered into the darkness. Günter smiled.

"Do you know why we lost?" asked Günter. The boy turned his attention back to the room. It was small for two people and three was really squeezing it. Günter sat near a corner and the other man in the adjacent corner. The boy too sat down. Lately, he hadn't felt very strong. Food had been meager and on top of that it wasn't how mother made it. He missed his mother and father. "Why?"

"Because we lost track of what we were supposed to do. We only wanted our beloved Poland and Austria back. But war is just like greed. You cannot stop at just one victory. The adrenaline rush compels you. You just want to kill more traitors. Being a Nazi never meant hating all Jews, just the rich ones. That was Hitler's goal. He felt that all Jews stole all their money from the Aryans, even though a lot of Jews were Aryans. Being a Nazi is about caring for your fellow Germans and our Italian brothers and sisters. After the first war, they took from us all they could. And some more.

"Around the time you were born, both the Germans and Italians lost a lot of money. So much so that people couldn't even buy a loaf of bread. Look at us now, meager food, no place to sleep... Even worse than this. One day when you meet your mother ask her how many nights she went without food so that you could at least something to eat. Ask your father how many times he went without food just so your mother would get to eat enough. This angered every German and Italian. Just some years before that we had lived so nicely and then suddenly, gone. Everything." The boy had a sadder face.

"So when Hitler came along we thought, yes, this is the man who would bring us to former glory. And he did to some extent. Alas! Instead of focusing on improving the lives of his fellow Germans and Italians, he went on a Jew manhunt. The rest is too bad for a sweet child like you to hear."

Günter sensed anger beside him and smiled. It was working. The boy looked angrily at his hands. "Those bastards. I don't want to go to London anymore. Those bastards."

"Now, now. Anger is not good. Not even a little. But we cannot stop this anger can we? So focus it. Focus it, my dear friend. You will find your purpose." The boy looked quizzically at the old man. What was with the sudden cryptic message? But he was feeling angry.

"I need to go to the bathroom." The eldest man stood up and left. The boy looked at the badge the old man had left on the floor...


EISERNES KREUZ
Hero to the Villains, Villain to the Heroes; Demon to the Angels, Angel to the Demons.
"One set of fools think I'm good because I'm anti-Semite and the other set of fools think I'm bad because I'm anti-Semite. I'd say I'm anti-Semite because I'm anti-Semite."







Description


Image
Full Name
"Günter Rall."

(Whenever he remembers the day he was asked by his seniors to surrender and that they had lost, imagine this playing)

Spoken Name
"Kreuz, Gunther or Günter will do."

Title
Recipient of the prestigious "Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords, and Diamonds!", ex-Inspector General of US-Occupied Germany and Ace pilot.

Sex
Male

Age
"I maybe thirty four. Soon to be thirty five." August 4, 1913.

Appearance
No one knows who this guy is. One day, after the war ended and the Fourth Reich was just beginning to gain momentum, he just made his entrance out of thin air. At first they (the henchmen only; he never bothered with this Fuhrer bullshit) were skeptic that he was the Günter Rall (mostly because he was unwilling to show his face). But the moment he showed them his iron cross, all doubts vanished.

He stands at 5'10'' and is quite thin, akin to pilots of the time. He is military trained so thin doesn't mean wiry but that his muscles are not pronounced.
Costume
The only reason he wears a costume is because of his hallucinations (see Mental Weaknesses). His costume includes a mask and a leather biker shirt, with black pants. The headgear contains a black face mask, black goggles and a torn black fedora mask. But even if has hallucinations, why does he need a mask. Only he is affected by the hallucinations, right?

You see, he has a master plan, a final solution; and so he does not want to take any risks. But since the arrival of Wraith, he realized the need to speed everything up. And that requires him being a multiple place at one time, which is another reason to hide his face.

If you ever walked across a subway, you would never notice him if he has his mask off. He had never been one to attract attention to himself, until one night when he realized his masterpiece. Now, his mask serves as a distraction tool. The henchmen, an integral part of plan, like how his mask looked like the ones Agents wore in Auschwitz. Yes, it does not have the gasmask part of it and he has replaced it with something more manageable but it wasn't the breathing apparatus half that made the mask iconic; it was the dead black eye covers that reeked of death; that would send shivers down the spine of any Jew in Auschwitz.

Equipment
9mm pistol (Walther P):- Being the great German ace pilot, it would look very odd if he traveled around with some heavy weapon; so he uses the pistol instead of the Gewehr 43 rifle.
One vial of a liquid of unknown origin:- Exactly one vial which he was given by a man on a boat ride. He kept this in a safe vault in bank but has forgotten the details.

+=====+

Mentality


Personality
"A man is not made by his genes but by his experiences."
Truer words cannot be said Günter here. He spent much of his time under a charismatic pilot, Hans Gruber. Hans was more charismatic than a pilot and was never jealous of Günter's achievements. He loved Günter and everyone else under his command equally and treated them with respect; and they all loved. Whenever Günter remembers his early years, he laughs at his younger self. He was so very shy even when he no reason. He had the looks to woo any woman, yet. Yet, he shaked and shivered where on a date. When uglier were creating their spawns, he still hadn't kissed a girl. His friends teased him and being the shy man he was, he shrivelled up his shell more. Until; until, he met Valerie.

Most women wanted more out of him, but she never. She was the exact opposite of him but in a good way. She understood him better than he did. He went along at his own pace and she respected his privacy. Soon, relative to his pace, they were married. But still the shyness lingered on. Whatever was remaining was removed by Hans. What did it take? One glass of beer. Günter was a changed man. He realized how much he was missing by stopping himself from speaking out. Everyone wanted him to talk, everyone loved him. So why should he stop himself? Why shouldn't he express himself?

But no one told him over expressing himself was good. He loved women didn't mean he could visit whorehouses, especially not when his wife was pregnant. Realizing Günter had changed for the worse, Valerie left him. That brought about another change. At first he was shocked. Why did she leave him? Didn't she like the new him? Then came frustation. He didn't know what to do next. He had no clue where she living now. He wanted to see his child. Then came anger. How dare she leave him? How dare she take his child away. He searched for a full year before finding her. But before he could make his move towards her, came acceptance. She was with another man, but she wasn't happy. She hadn't left Günter because she didn't like him, but because she felt he was not the role model for their child. He realized it too. A father who spent his time with whores instead of his family would never be a good father. He has been spending his time since then thinking about his child and her, hoping one day he would become normal enough to be worthy of talking to them again.

What is normal, you ask? Not whore-loving around, for one. Respecting everyone, helping people, the works. One may wonder, how does he change his behaviour? Yes, that is something he has enjoyed over the years, an innate ability. One moment he could be idealistic, the other moment he could be cynical (though he cannot control this ability very well). This allows him to resonate with many people. He is a relentless focused manipulator. How else could he steal the Fourth Reich's henchmen for himself?

He is supportive and sympathetic towards his henchmen. He understands their need to want to slaughter those Jew bastards and their wishes to live in a pure Aryan world. He is a good listener and will often advise his henchmen (there are four of them at the time) on how to proceed to kill them Jew without the stupid vigilantes or the dumb Police catching them.

All in all, pretty normal.

  • Primary Motivator: 'Order'. His current life goal is the fulfillment of the final solution.
  • Emotional Disposition: 'Calm'. "Anger destroys judgement." Even though he is calm most of the time, the sight of a rich Jew angers him to no end. Hopefully with practice he will stop stopping the progress of the final solution so he can kill the Jew.
  • General Outlook: 'Bleak' since the end of WW2 but starting to become more 'Confident' since the final solution started giving favorable results.
  • Integrity: 'Deceitful, Manipulative'. He has better things to do than caring for somebody's sense of control over their lives.
  • Impulsiveness: 'Deliberate, Focused, Steady, Thoughtful'. "If you are focused and deliberate while flying a plane, you die. Same goes for living on the dangerous streets of London."
  • Boldness: 'Vigilant' when fighting with words; '[/b]Daring[/b]' when fighting with s-words (swords, shooting, sex).
  • Flexibility: For the most part, he is pretty flexible, like deciding how to kill a Jew. But when it comes to the final solution, he is relentless and intractable and will not accept any basing of the plan.
  • Affinity: In reality, he is 'Uncaring' towards anyone's problems. But he does listen to the gripes of his henchmen, and even advise them. After all, these henchmen are essential cogs in the machine that is the final solution, and they need to be kept well-oiled (metaphorically).
  • Comportment: 'Courteous' for the most part, even towards Britisher, Russians, Americans, French, communists, Jews, Israelis, etc, etc, etc. Keep in mind, the Courteous part of him has a few low tolerance.
  • Interactivity: 'Loner'. But will play the part of a 'Listener' when needed.
  • Disclosure: Never had any need to say anything. Everyone who has to know who Günter is, knows who Günter is.
  • Conformity: Orthodox in religious aspects, halfway between Mainstream and Freethinking in most other things (that is, halfway between 'kill all Jews' and 'A Jew a day').
  • Sense of Humor: None; though will laugh at any joke the teller of the joke laughs at.

Alignment
Neutral Evil. He will never kill anyone necessarily nor will follow any rules he deems will hamper is final solution's progress.

Likes
  • Quiet time:- He may have learned the hard way how behaving normal is the way to go, but since Valerie left him, some amount of shyness has returned and with it a need to have some "me time".
  • Thinking:- It is easy for him to get bored. Listening to the propaganda on the radio and reading the propagandist newspaper articles only achieve more boredom. Perhaps that is why he listens to his henchmen.
  • Whores:- Even though he has given his all in this final solution of his, his love for women doesn't decrease. It takes a lot of effort to not go on a whore-loving spree when the prostitutes are so cheap.
  • Music:- What better than having nothing to do while waiting for the completed phase in the final solution to take effect? Listening to Mozart while having to do while the completed phase of the final solution to take effect. Definitely, Mozart.
  • Reading Mein Kampf:- La Bible of the Pure Aryan.
  • Reading in general:- Many of Günter’s friends believed that book that weren’t made by German, with the exception of the Bible, should be burned. Günter, of course, finds the idea ludicrous. Why burn books? Especially when books tell a lot about the author. In every book, the author is basically telling us what he hates and what he loves and his vision of the future. Right here, you have a book that is telegraphing everything you need to identify people like him, and you want to burn it?
  • Football:- During his military days, when stationed away, football was the only real respite from the harsh realities of not killing traitors every second, so he spent his day kicking the football around. A centre-forward, he was.
  • Planes:- The thrill of air blowing in your face and of planes exploding, can never be matched. Men always wanted to fly. And now he gets to kill airborne traitors. Perfect as perfect gets.
  • Coca-cola:- “Bloody addicting.”

Dislikes
  • Rich Jews:- “There was a time when Rome trembled at the sight of Aryans. There was a time when the poorest of Aryans were the richest of men. Then the Jews came along and spoiled everything…”
  • Beer:- “Yes, I’m Aryan. And no, I don’t like Beer.” Can you really go back to beer, when you get crates of Vodka in supply?
  • Captain Auschwitz[/b]:- “You’ve got to be kidding me. This is the glorious future Hitler talked about. A masked idiot?” The superhero comics and the vigilantes donning Captain Auschwitz’s armor never sat well with him.
  • After 1940 Hitler:- “We elected you to give a secure future, not send us in battle.”
  • Britishers:-“Eternal scums.”
  • Americans:- “Now that the war is over, I must wonder what they will do. Start a war with someone they shouldn’t, I’m sure.” He considers Americans as residual Britishers.
  • Communists:- Yes, he feels the way USSR is ruled is the most perfect way to go about business but still after shooting down hundreds of Russians and seeing many of his friends getting shot down, he cannot see them as anything other than enemies.
  • The idiot General stationed at Normandy:- “Even a rich Jew wouldn’t be fooled by bloody plastic tanks.”

Fears
The only thing Günter Rall genuinely fears is that he will not be able to complete the final solution, a fear that has only really affected him since the arrival of Wraith a few days ago. Wraith's highly trained soldier nearly killed one of his henchmen when he tried to challenge them to a fistfight. Since then, the progress has slowed do owing to the cowardly 'I'm not into this anymore' attitude of the henchmen.

Views
  • Racism:- “I don’t see a need to kill any black or brown or non-Aryan white creatures as long they stay away from our lands.”
  • Sexism:- “If she does not compromise her duties as a loving wife and a caring mother, all is welcome.”
  • Christianity:- “Something to hang on to when life is no longer fun; when shit gets real.”
  • Other religions:- “When you look at it from a skewed point of view, they teach the same things; love kindness, hatred for homosexuals, which is all fine and dandy. But the journey to the promised land is as the important as the destination, and Christianity offers the best journey.”

Mental Health
Günter Rall cannot remember many details of his life between the age of fourteen and eighteen. It is mostly a blank with some hazy memory of some important events. He never figured out why it is so but he isn't in the need of that information so he hasn't pursued it. He also has Anger Management problems caused by the sight of a well-off Jew.

Relationships

WOLFGANG

Age
Mid 30s
Description
Wolfgang has the same built and accent as Günter Rall, so along with Amadeus, acts as a body double to Günter.
History
Born in a poor family, Wolfgang realized the need to get stronger if he had any chance of surviving the world. At the age of 1, he began challenging and killing men, starting from his father. He also took his defeated opponent's wife as his own, again starting with his father. A few of success later, he was caught. When WW2 ended, he was allowed to leave (most because there weren't enough constables and wardens to control 'petty criminals'). He came (read: was sent) to Britain where he joined forces with the Fuhrer only to later join Team Günter.
Personality
With the oratory skills of a buffoon, the physical strength of a bull and the tolerance for nonsense at exactly zero, he is not one to be trifled with, at all. He is dominant and compulsive, two things Günter hates about him. But he can get the work get done, something a man of Günter's training, to be as skinny as possible to fit in a cockpit, finds difficult in.
Equipment
FIREARMS, FIREarms, Firearms, firearms, and lots of ammo (and a poor quality protective vest).

AMADEUS

Age
Late 20s
Description
Like Wolfgang, Amadeus has the same built and accent as Günter, and serves as Günter’s double. Unlike Wolfgang, he is not a master at murdering people.
Personality and History
God must have wept when a man of Amadeus’ oratory skills, IQ, and mastery over languages joined the wrong battle in the fight of good versus evil. From a young age, Amadeus enjoyed screwing with people’s head, an art which went to screw him. One of his target’s father turned out to be an important man in the SS, and Amadeus became a scapegoat in a major scandal. He was sent in jail, where he met Wolfgang.
Later he was, like Wolfgang, sent to London to supposedly be tried. He managed to talk his way out of the situation and later was approached by Günter who became the first man to defeat Amadeus in a word fight (by offering him a vital position in the progress of the final solution).
Equipment
A knife and his mouth.

[Relationship with PCs under construction.]


Sexuality
Straight as straight can be; his affinity towards whores is well known. He hates homosexuals and homosexuality, which he considers unnatural and against god’s will. If he finds a homosexual and he has the time, which is rarely, he will proceed to shoot the homosexual.
While he does not mind experimenting on his partners, he does not like it and so will rarely do it.

Mental Strengths
What are their non physical strengths? Are they good talkers? investigators? Good people persons? Do they have any non-combat skills? Where did they learn them?
He can be a good people person if need be; a good listener with sound advice and a sympathetic voice. He is also deliberate in his action, taking his sweet time to make decisions after going through short term and long term consequences of the actions. He had been like this and would have remained a slow decision maker if he hadn’t joined the air force. In times of battles and when conversing with seniors, quick thinking is an essential skill.

Mental Weaknesses
Rich Jews. Very rarely will he not go out of his way not murder a rich Jew. He has quite the anger management problem. He also is fixated following his final solution ‘to the T’. He is too stubborn to change the plans of the final solution and as such moves around the short comings of the plan.

He always rarely imposes himself on others. That job is reserved for Wolfgang. Also, he is not strong enough to do it himself.

He suffers to frequent illusions (hallucniations) but they are real to him. They usually only warp how he looks in the mirror (more muscled and a slightly different face cut than what it actually is. It makes him look less Aryan and more British and so he avoids looking at a mirror and talking to his henchmen without his costume on) or what a rich Jew is saying.

+=====+

Physicality


Physical Strengths and Weaknesses
Once, many years ago, he had won a fistfight with a local henchman. Two days later, he was beaten up by that henchman’s friends. Since then he has been reluctant to fight. Rest assured, when there is no other option he will fight in way that can be classified as ‘on the line between daring and reckless’.

Because he is not a great fighter, he always try to strike first and strike hard, wanting not to extend the fight because the longer the fight goes the slimmer his chances become.

The only firearm he has learned to use is the 9mm pistol (Walther P). It is a quick and ruthless, unlike Günter, gun which destroys opponents by the truck load (“best weapon for close combat”). He is very good with it at close quarters. His skill decreases exponentially as distance increases.

His endurance for body damage is perhaps his greatest physical strength. He will feel a knife wound just as much as the next person (perhaps a little more), but his chances of surviving said knife wound.


Physical Health
He is, of course, is good physical health, by normal standard. If judged by the new reduced standard for fitness passed by the London Authority for Malnutrition, he is in great physical condition.
As for diseases, no. The final solution requires him to be in good shape for the inevitable fight against the opposing forces.

History


Reason
Why did your character choose to become a hero or a villain? Did they even have a choice? What led them to where they are today? Include how long your character has been a costumed hero or villain. Max of six months.
What do you when you do when look at the poor state the world is in? You see death, despair, hatred, pestilence, war, plague, rape, torture, homosexuals, rich Jews, communists etc; what do you do? You improve the world, get rid of all the bad things; that’s what you do.
Günter has been a costumed villain for about five and a half-six months. Wolfgang joined up with him four months ago and Amadeus around the same time.

Home
Where does your character live? Do they store their equipment elsewere? Remember, your character is not Bruce Wayne. Most of London is stricken with poverty, and if you're out fighting crime at 2 in the morning, it'd be very hard to hold down a full time job. Live within your character's means.
Günter’s main apartment is in the City of London, which is a part of the city of London. Apart from that he also has apartments in different areas, most just shanties whose tenants ‘disappeared’. Two of his henchmen run a small scale protection, prostitution and alcohol (selling cheaper stolen and adulterated alcohol) racket which pays for a lot of bills. Unfortunately, since the arrival of Wraith the business is threatening to slow down. Luckily the business is far away from Wraith’s region of control, but still the people are likely to start getting bolder and stop using Günter’s protection services.

Nationality
“German.”

Faction
What faction, or factions, does your character belong too. List and describe them here. You can make up a minor one if you want. Supervillains may or may not have a following or a gang. If you do, don't overdo them. If your character is not a member of any specific faction, put N/A or independent.
Team Günter

Team Günter comprises of six people. Günter; his two body doubles, Wolfgang and Amadeus; the two racketeers, Adolf and Lukas; and two spies, Rafael and John (both teenagers). The spies usually join a group that Günter wants to target or is planning to, and find out the weak points.
There are a few associates of Team Günter. Henchmen of the Fourth Reich are all friendly with the ace pilot and so are the members of many smaller neo-Nazi groups.
Amadeus runs a small network of informants, mostly beggars and low-level henchmen.

Bio
I merged the personality and history section to better explain Günter’s past. Please refer to it.

So begins...

Sergius Aurelius's Story

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THE CROSSROADS OF POWER




Sergius looked up at the sky. Like all the thousands of days he had spent alive, today's sky remained blue, and cloudless, all the way from the mountains to the each to the azure seas to the west. "Stop procrastinating and help me load the boxes," shouted his father, a merchant; a trader in silver. Serguis' father was well built and was half a foot taller than Sergius who just reached six feet.

Sergius sighed and picked up a box near his father. It was extremely heavy but his old man, who was thirty eight, didn't complain so he had no argument. This is more boring than that crop harvesting work Edmond does. Sergius spat once on the ground and picked up another box. He loaded into the the cart and moved aside for his father. Ahead, the horses neighed impatiently. Why don't you do this, you dumb horse?

Sergius wiped the sweat of his brows as the last of the crates was hauled onto the back of the cart. "The town of Midwestern in Rud'bul," his father spoke and hurried back as a light drizzle started. Sergius looked up at the sky but failed to see any clouds. Great, just my luck. The cart started moving and the light drizzle stopped. Midwestern was ten days away. One of the carts made contained food and other supplies for Sergius.




As the day wore away the cart slowly moved on the main road. The road that connected two main port cities by road; Calaghan on one side of the continent and Reminis on the other. Sergius' town was built along the road. As the cart slowly moved towards its target, horses tiring in the sweltering heat, Sergius saw many carts go past him towards Calaghan.

He reached the Forest of the Monsters, as the locals called it. He crossed the halfway mark of the forest by mid afternoon. No monster, no demons and no killers. With so many merchants and soldier travelling through the road, surely monsters were too scared to attack a carriage.

For the first time in an hour there was no other cart in sight. Sergius was all alone. A chill went through his spine. The horses moved along, oblivious to their surroundings. Stupid Allegri and his stories. Allegri, their village bard and dunce, often sang about these woods and and the monsters that dwelled within. The draugr, an ancient undead who could shoot lighting from his hands. Or the grok, a large serpent who could swallow a man whole. Many men remained in its stomach for months, half digested but alive.

Suddenly a large dog appeared before the cart. As it barked furiously Sergius lost control of his cart and his horses. The horses rushed towards the dog as it disappeared into the forest that covered both sides. "You idiots, stop!" Sergius shouted as he pulled on the reigns to no avails. The cart ran from the end of the road into the trees. Luckily the trees were near enough that the horses could go no further "Idiots," he spoke with disgust as he jumped off the cart.

The wheels of the cart were stuck in the mud besides the road and the front end was wedged in a tree. Oh great. This is exactly the place I wanted to get stuck. Draugrs, here I am. He thought in disgust as he wondered how he would remove the front end stuck in the bark of a tree. The horses neighed but he spat at them.

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Part 1: The Forest of Monsters


Sergius held the front end of the cart, a large iron beam that kept the horses from straying, and started tugging at it. Come on, you stupid thing. The horse next to him, a stallion by the name of Hershey, turned his head towards Sergius. Wait till we get home, Hershey. I'll shut your mouth forever.

He stopped tugging. "Stupid tree, stupid dog, stupid life," he muttered and looked at Hershey's partner-in-crime, a smaller white horse name Albino. The horizontal iron bar that wedged far too much inside the tree for him to take it out using brute. The cart was angled downward; though it was not angled by much, it out the entire weight of the carriage on the tree.

As he waited for another cart, hopefully filled by massive friendly trolls, a man crept up from behind Sergius; Sergius only noticing him because Albino neighed; he greeted Sergius. "Greetings," said Sergius. Oh great. I forgot my knife at home. Oh well. I was the one who wanted bandits. Now here they are. I'll be killed here and stupid Allegri will turn me into some monster myth- Wait, did he just greet me?

Sergius studied the man. He looked like a commoner trying to make a living and to live long enough to... Why did we live, again? He studied the man who seemed alone. Where are his bandit friends? Why does he not have a rapier? As Sergius' mind raced, thinking of a million billion question, he realized he was just staring at the man. But before he could speak the man spoke, "What are you doing in this forest?"

For a moment Sergius was too surprised to say anything. What the hell kind of question is that? What am I doing in this forest? Really? You are standing in the biggest road in the country and that is what you come up with? What am I doing in this forest? What do you think I am doing? I'm standing near a cart and there no dead bodies around. I'm a bloody merchant, you bloody dunce!

"Uh, I'm stuck here. I was travelling on the way to Ridgeway in Rud'Bul but then my cart got stuck," Sergius pointed at the cart. Sergius realized that the man may not know where Ridgeway is. In reality, Sergius didn't know either nor did have any plans to travel there. But everyone, even a dunce, knows Midwestern is where merchants go to sell silver. Last thing Sergius wanted to tell is that he had silver in the cart. If one said the word silver in the Forest of Monsters, bandits stopped doing whatever they were doing and run to the capture the man who said the word; at least that's what Allegri says.

"You know Ridgeway. It is where the castle of the King is," Sergius said and began tugging at the iron post again. He was telling the truth. It was a month from here, according to his father. It looked good from the outside; a clean and tidy place, the whole town. But his father had felt as if the town was rotting from inside.

"Hey, I could use some help," Sergius said to the man who stood behind him.

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"Stupid horse. Couldn't you have done that earlier," he murmured at the horse. The cart was out of the edge of the road. Hershey neighed at Sergius as he got up. Wow... that was interesting. I'm amazed of how powerful Hershey is. No wonder his father used him instead of an ox. He spat on the ground and turned his attention making sure his cargo was not damaged, and remained hidden.

As he inspected the cargo he noticed all he dirt on his pants. Oh great, exactly what I needed. What else is on offer today, dearest God? He brushed off as much dirt as he when someone spoke, "There. I have helped you." Sergius looked at the man. Seriously? Did you help me? Or was it this bloody horse here, angered by me? Luckily, the horse decided against trampling Sergius. Most likely Hershey just wanted to enjoy Sergius' bad luck.

Albino was looking at the other man, with an uncertain glint in his eyes. He helped, Albino. No need to look all suspicious. I am sure he just wants me to give him some money for his help and he'll be on his way-"Since you are going to Red-- to Ridgeway, may I uhh... Join you?Or not. That was a interesting proposition. Help a man who helped him. Would Sergius do that? More importantly he didn't even know where Ridgeway was. Just his luck that the man wanted to go the town he named out of his ass. That's what you get for lying, dear Sergius.

"I would have helped you but I don't enough food for the both of us, nor enough blankets to keep us alive at night," Sergius said. It was the truth. His father had given him just enough for the travel to Western. How was he supposed to help a man without putting himself through all the trouble?

As he waited for an answer, maybe some kind of offer, Sergius thought of his mother. Many years ago she had give him a locket, which he has worn everyday, without fail. One day when he was playing outside she had called him inside. When he came inside, he noticed she had a tense look on her on face. She gave him the locket, "This will keep you safe from the monsters."

Sergius felt the locket; it was weird. It did have a proper chain but the main part of it was cut in half. It looked like a gemstone of some kind. Old Allegri had told him how many of the natural caves near the old mines had these gemstone. The gemstone on the locket was cut superbly except where it was crudely cut in half. Oh mother. What monsters do you speak of?

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Sergius wondered why he thought the man would offer him something. Or importantly he wondered why he was still talking to the man. He was truly the weirdest man Sergius had ever met. His clothes were in tatters and did not fit but then which commoner/ peasant, much like Sergius, could hire a tailor and did not use hand-me-downs. One side glance while they were removing the cart had revealed how the man did not know what to do. Peculiar indeed.

Karad? What an interesting name. For a moment Sergius thought where he had heard that name. Then it struck him; the town next to his own, a sister town, was called Karad. The man spoke again, "Food is not an issue. The forest is here and many wild creatures roam about, all quite edible. As for blankets, I need none." Sergius smiled a little.

This man was the worst actor ever. Surely he was a bandit acting like a normal guy. But where were his friends? Probably they were like Hershey; sadists. They were enjoying his bad acting. The moment Sergius made a movement to get out they would strike. Suddenly, Sergius was aware of the noise in the forest; turns out it was only birds scared most likely by that idiot dogs. Or where they scared by the bandits? Or by the Draugrs?

"My good friend, you seem to be new," Sergius played along, "i understand it is mid afternoon now and we are all warm but the nights are cold." Sergius hoped he could drill some sense into the man. But the guy seemed so out of place. As if he didn't belong here... Why did he not ask any other carts for help. He did seem of the type would need information spoon feeding.

The man continued, "I see you are a mere merchant of some kind." Sergius looked at himself. Did he look mere? He did not know. The man changed his tone from confused to arrogant, completely catching Sergius off guard. He was in a forest he was scared of; a man stood before him who was most likely a bandit and still Sergius was caught off guard. Great. I should have expected lunacy when I expected Draugrs

"Yes, my friend Karad. I'm merely a merchant. And what might you be?" he asked Karad. "On my travels, I have seen many a large mansion and castle in which powerful, rich nobles live. Surely not a life you would ever touch, nor see." Ouch! Did he just stab me in the heart? The man's words stung, more so because it came from a man who looked more haphazard than him (except for the hair), but Sergius realized that they were the truth. He would never really see any such riches. One had to be born into riches.

"But, would you ever wish for a life of such luxury and abundance?" asked the man. So here it was. The offer. Sergius did not expect this. He was hoping for a few silver coins in exchange for getting the man to the next town. What now? Of course, every man wishes for luxury and riches; and women. But what should he do now?

Sergius got in the driver's seat of the cart and got it into position to leave and spoke, "My friend. I will leave you to the next town. If you can do have money or something worthwhile, buy some blankets there and some food that might last. Else I will be forced to leave you there." Ya right, like some commoner would know the secret to riches and give it away...

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Instead of getting on the cart, the man insisted that Sergius should help. "I'm a mage," the man said. A mage, eh? I wonder what great you have? I'm sure you can blast me in the air, or burn me away, or whatever Mr. Tattered Clothes Sergius wondered if this Karad had been touched by the God; if the man had been touched by the Gods.

"Yes, good for you," said Sergius. He was seriously thought whether to allow this man to travel with him. But then the man spoke again, ""I see my words fall flat. You do not believe me, human. But I shall be blunt - I require your help and, should you choose to aid me, what I have told you about can be yours in return." Wow, this guy is seriously out of his mind

Sergius felt something. It was his locket. For some reason it managed to cut him near the chest. It was a fine cut, hidden under his shirt; unseen by anyone. But it did stung. Sergius wanted to rub it but that would only aggravate the whole thing. How come suddenly after so many years of wearing it did it sting now? Stupid locket, stupid man. For the second time in a few minutes, Sergius found himself cursing about his life.

Karad continued, "People like you are destined to a life of labour. If you are even slightly tempted by the riches and power of the nobles - and I know you are, like every human - then you shall take my offer. It is a fairly simple matter and the result shall be that I shall get what I want and you shall change your life around."

Sergius was really at patience's end here. One sentence he insulted him, he talked about. What is up with the guy? He really didn't need hear this nonsense. All Sergius wanted was to get back home to Sarah. Oh well, this will take sometime, wouldn't it?

"I seek a certain man, you see... A king. You, having lived in this society for your entire life shall know how to go about getting close to this person. That is what I need you for."

"Listen friend, I don't think you have any idea what you are talking about. Do you realize what you are saying? You want to talk with a King? Never going to happen" said Sergius guiltily. He waited for a while and then said, "Fine, get on. And while we are moving tell me what you plan to give me." How could he leave a madman on the middle of the road?

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"What I want?" wondered Sergius. Why was he even thinking of this? This retard who sat besides him was nothing more than a scammer. But if we could get anything he wanted what would he want? Riches? Power? Women? Eternal life? Or something mundane? Eternal happiness, maybe. What was so important in this world that he would place it before everything. What was the thing heart would love him for choosing? Love probably. Or maybe friendship?

For the second time today he thought of his mother. He hadn't seen her today. She had gone to the market in the next town over to buy vegetables for the entirety of the next week. It was his father who had cooked the meal for him today and given him enough money to survive the journey. Until now, he didn't even think about his father. Why? Why was he so attached to his mother, who would become sad whenever she saw his face? Had he done something wrong?

"My friend," he started but something stopped him. The road kept going through the forest until it had brought them to its edge, a large prairie spanned before them, thick green grass covering most of it. There, in the distance was a small village, plumes of smoke rising from the chimneys of its houses. They had reached the place Sergius was going to get rid of this man. Now, that seemed unlikely.

This was a disaster. They had come to far before noticing the plume. Any second, some bandit who was busy killing and raiding would look their way. Oh! Sergius was royally screwed. He had precious cargo in the back of the cart. The mines near the village had yielded much silver this year. This was the entire yield his family had managed to gather. Easily worth enough to keep them alive for a few week. Life in the mines was never simple. Actually, life in general was never simple. And now life was going to go away from Sergius.

One of the bandits signaled his friends and a group of four came towards the cart. So this is the reason no cart had passed them in a while. He saw some burning carts from the corner of his eyes. "Kid, what are you carrying?" asked a burly man. "Time to do your magic," Sergius said quietly to Karad. Somehow, he found humor while taking his last breaths.