Zan's Story Time Corner

Alright, I guess I'll use this thread to post some non-RERN related stories. Here's the first, based on a rather expansive D&D session. It isn't finished, but I think that it is pretty good.

Starfire Requiem: Warning, this story contains some profanity, a bit of violence and implied sexuality. Feel free to comment, alright?

The Unicorn's Horn Tavern, nestled within the hustle and bustle of Seed-Ni, was unusually full. Patrons, their faces bright with eager anticipation, packed the common room and all struggled to find a place closest to the darkened stage. They waited with hushed voices for the show to begin. They had seen this spectacle every night for the past week, but tonight was special. The last show. The Grand Finale. There was surely something spectacular about to happen.

A murmur ran through the crowd as a man walked onto the stage. He was extravagantly dressed, though some would call him needlessly flamboyant. He wore a rich silk shirt in royal blue with matching slacks. His vest was a deep crimson that matched his long flowing cape. Upon his head he wore a ridiculously large brimmed hat of crimson felt with a royal blue feather that seemed to sprout from the band. His hands and feet were garbed in leather gloves and boots, respectively, and were dyed crimson to match. He raised those hands and twin pillars of sapphire flames erupted behind him to light the stage and throw his shadows across the room. He was the Magician and he was ready to perform.

The crowd stood in silent awe as the Magician created an arc of energy and ran from one hand to the other. This arc he fashioned into a circle and placed it in the air where it floated four feet off of the stage. Then the Magician began to incite words of power, mere nonsense that was only used to add mystery to his works, and as his words reached their pinnacle and his voice the crescendo, sparks of crimson and blue flew from the ring and its center turned glassy. It formed a liquid pool within the ring of energy and from that pool emerged a beast of sapphire flame.

The crowd roared with delight though the Magician caught some screams of fright as the fiery beast formed into a tiger that stalked the stage in front of him. He flicked his wrist and a whip formed of crackling energy appeared in his hand. He snapped the whip once, twice, thrice, and the tiger leapt into the ring to disappear from sight. With a snap of his fingers, the whip vanished and a clap of his hands caused the ring to fold in on itself until it too was gone.

The crowd clapped wildly and screamed for more. The Magician, though tired, was happy to oblige. He removed a knife and a piece of wood from one of the many pockets hidden within his clothes. Impossibly fast and incredibly accurate, the Magician created a small wooden mouse. He then took another piece of wood and formed a wooden cat. He placed both figurines on the floor and stepped back.

His hands worked deftly, lines of energy playing back and forth between his fingertips. He formed two spheres of flame and with a gentle puff of air, the two spheres flew from his hands and entered the figurines which abruptly came to life. The mouse ran by the cat and the cat gave chase all along the stage, invoking thunderous applause and laughter from the crowd. However, the Magician was far from done. Right as the cat caught and consumed the mouse, the cat too was consumed by a dog formed of sapphire flames. The crowd oohed and awed and the Magician prepared his final trick.

He began by tracing in the air and where his gloved fingers moved a trail of blue flame followed leaving runic markings flaring before him. Once he had completed six runes, he slapped them all with the palm of his hand and they flew to different corners of the room. He then repeated the process several times until flaming runes filled the air above the crowd. The Magician interlaced his fingers with the thumbs connected pointing towards him and his connected index fingers pointed towards the roof.

"Zanous!" he shouted.

A true word of command that caused the runes to explode creating little sparks of light. An indoor fireworks show that granted him another thunderous ovation. The Magician swept off his hat to reveal his shoulder length brown hair tied in a tail, and not a small amount of sweat, and bowed low. He replaced his hat and, with a sweeping motion, the magic fires behind him and the runes exploding runes above, died as quickly as they had appeared to once again leave the room in darkness. The Magician stepped backstage to find the innkeeper waiting for him.

"Zan, Zan, Zan!" shouted the innkeeper in a cheerful voice. "That was your most spectacular performance yet. Why, we've made more money in the week you've been with us than we have all year. More money tonight than we have the rest of this week. Are you sure you won't stay for longer?"

"Alas," came the Magician's, Zan's, reply. "I cannot. As I have told you I am called away on business and I must leave tonight."

"I know. I know." The innkeeper sounded generally disappointed. "Can't blame me for tryin' though. The great Zan Espial brings in quite the pretty penny. However, say you'll come back? Next time you are in Seed-Ni? Would you return?"

"I'll tell you what. If time allow then I'll return. It is rare that I get paid so well for my skills." Zan smiled as he hefted his coin purse.

"Ah yes. Here's your earning for tonight." The innkeeper said as he handed Zan a bag of coin. "Plus a little extra doing such a great job."

With that, Zan said his goodbyes and made his way out of the tavern. He had lied to the innkeeper. He still had business to take care of in the city, but it wasn't the kind that he was known for and he didn't need any innkeeper poking his nose where it didn't belong. Being a travelling magician could be profitable, but it just wasn't profitable enough.

Zan found himself in the seedier side of Seed-Ni. Refuse littered the streets and, try as he might, he was unable to block the horrible stench of decay that assaulted his nostrils. Distressed moans escaped the lips of the huddled masses and Zan shuddered at the memory of once being one of the destitute.

If Zan could have had it his way, he would forever avoid such places. However, his true lin of work required Zan to do many tasks that he would rather avoid, especially where his partner was concerned. Zan hated the dark side of his secretive life, but he knew the importance of his work and he held the hope that, using his connections and his cash flow, he would eventually discover the truth of his past.

An inn stood before him. Destitute and dank, the Cresent Moon was a vast contrast to the luxury and finery of Zan's previous lodgings. Zan only knew the name of the inn through his contacts. The sign that held the inn's name has been smashed long ago and no one had felt the need to replace it. Few in the city knew the name, but Zan didn't think that anyone really cared to learn either. Inside this rat infested hovel was Cain, Zan's partner, and one of the people that Zan detested most in all of Schat.

He entered the building and scanned the common room. The lighting was dim and it flickered like candle light, flooding the room with strange, eeiry shadows. A thick smoke from pipes and cigars filled the room with an acrid odor. Thugs and brutes gathered in the corners of the room, leaving the center tables oddly empty. The barstools in the front were loaded with drunks and a shifty-looking bartender kept the drinks flowing with a greedy look in his eye.

Zan almost gagged as the atmosphere of the common room collided with the air from outside. His senses reeled for a few seconds before he grew accostumed to stench. All eyes turned toward Zan, in his flamboyant robes and over-sized fedora, but they immediately looked away. The denizens of the underworld of Schat knew of the extravegantly clad magician. They had heard of his prowess and these dregs had no intention of becoming involved in his business. Zan ignored their reaction, pulled his magnificent, plummed fedora over his brow and swaggered nonchalantly towards a small table in the back of the room.

Seated at the table was a hulk of a man with a terrible visage. Dressed in all black with a huge sword resting comfortably by his side, Cain was not a pretty sight. His black hair was cropped short and his eyes were like pools of ink that seemed to draw a man in with their ferocity. His nose had been broken countless times and was now more that a boulbous mass with twin holes that flared when he breathed. A viscious, angry red scar ran along the entire left side of his face, from forehead to chin, barely leaving him with his left eye intact. His mouth was a thin line that was locked in a perpetual scowl. His only other expressions where rage and a sinister smile that usually came just before and after a kill.

Zan hated the man with a passion, but he respected his abilities. Cain had been born to be a bounty hunter and his skills with a sword where what had led Zan to pair with the hulking brute to begin with. He hated Cain, detested him and his methods, but he didn't want to cross him without a strategy and a "Plan B".

"Well," Zan smirked in his most off-hand manner as he settled into the chair opposite Cain. "What's our job for today, Cain ol' pal?"

"Don't give me any of your shit Espiol." Cain's voice was a deep, gravelly rasp much like what Zan imagined Death would sound like. "You are over an hour late for our meeting and what the hell did I tell you about wearing that riddiculous outfit around me?"

Zan was irked and he wanted nothing more than to blast Cain with a sphere of white hot flames, but he kept his head. Cain wasn't his supervisor nor his employer. If anything, Cain was merely a go-between with the bounty hunters guild. However, Zan had let Cain pick the bounties and decide what to do with each one. After all, Zan didn't really care about the bounties as long as he got paid and he didn't feel like dealing with the guild himself, but Cain was overstepping his authority. Zan wanted to put the sick bastard in his place, but he knew this wasn't the time or the place. It would be stupid to goad the dangerous man into a confrontation just yet.

"Look, I was stuck working at an inn. As you know, this is my performance outfit. I was running late and just didn't have time to change. Forgive me?" Zan put on his most winning smile, but it was only because he knew it would anger Cain.

"Whatever...Just watch yourself you cocky bastard."

"Heh...Now, I'm a little tired from working the inns, so could we get to the specifics of this new bounty?"

"Fine, but if I see you wearing that stupid hat again we're going to have a problem." Cain spit a load of black gunk onto the floor and removed a rolled up parchment from his pack. "The mark is a renegade student from some military academy out in Parthanage. Name's Talbain, Ren Talbain. He is wanted on seven counts of murder and suspicion of treason."

"Alive or dead?" Zan asked, though he knew the answer didn't matter. Cain always prefered dead and he had thousands of excuses to make the bounties fit that description.

"Either." Cain said with a sadistic smirk.

Zan shuddered on the inside as he took a peek at the parchment. It contained a detailed description of the mark along with that of two other people, a man and a woman. It also listed the bounty price in large, bold script.

"Two thousand gold?" Zan whistled aloud. "This kid must have pissed someone off a whole lot with these murders. I've seen serial killers with a smaller bounty. But what's this about his companions?"

"Heh...Hahahaha." Cain's laugh was like the bark of a dying seal. "They're nobodies. The girl is the mark's cousin. She's some sorta priestess of Katryana in Andalora. She's supposedly a healer of miniscule skill. The other guy is some kind of martial artist. Not sure how he is related. Maybe a boyfriend or a family friend. Anyway, they're no concern. Not even an official bounty, but if we take them back alive we'll get a hundred silver each. They're wanted for questioning regarding the suspicion of treason."

"Sounds good enough to me. Anything else or are we done here?"

"The rest of information is on the back of the parchment. These three were last seen boarding a ship bound for Viktoria. We'll meet them there. We'll travel seperately and meet in Viktoria two days from now to plan. They should arrive one day later. One last thing, this kid is young, but he's a proven killer. The victims were his classmates, killed in cold blood. He slaughtered them all with a dagger. You screw around and he'll take you down hard."

"Yeah, yeah..." Zan shooed off the warning for what it really was, Cain already planning his excuse for killing the kid and maybe killing Zan as well. Zan would be ready for anything.

Zan rose from the chair and tipped his hat toward Cain in a mocking gesture. He gathered up the parchment and slipped it into one of his many pockets. With a final mocking wave he left the inn and headed back to his inn to gather his horse from the stables. He would leave tonight for Viktoria. He had many plans to prepare.

Name: Renalus "Ren" Talbain

Occupation: Student at the Vandaltha Military Academy in Parthanage

Hometown: Andalora, Parthanage

Crimes: Seven counts of murder, suspicion of treason

Description: Eighteen years old, male, half-elf, five foot ten inches, one hundred and fifty pounds, lean muscular build, blue eyes, medium length silver hair.

Last seen traveling by ship to Viktoria on the continent of Austral with two companions.

Name: Marion Talbain

Occupation: Priestess of Katryana at the temple in Andalora

Hometown: Andalora, Parthanage

Relation to Wanted Individual: Cousin

Wanted for questioning in Renalus Talbain's treason charge.

Description: Nineteen years old, female, human, five foot four inches, ninety seven pounds, small build, blue eyes, long brown hair.

Last seen traveling to Viktoria by ship.

Name: Kel Archairis

Occupation: Unknown

Hometown: Unknown

Relation: Unknown

Wanted for questioning along with Marion Talbain.

Description: Approximately twenty three years old, male, human, six foot, one hundred and seventy pounds, thin athletic build, green eyes, medium length black hair.

Last seen with the Talbains on a ship heading for Viktoria.

Each description was accompanied by a hand-drawn picture that was supposedly an exact likeness, but Zan held his doubts. It was a far too often occurance that the drawn depiction looked nothing like the bounty. Atleast these three would be traveling together. That would make them far easier to spot as they disembarked from the ship.

"Speaking of ships..." Zan still didn't know which they would be arriving on. There were four ships coming in from Parthanage in the next two days and his mark could be on any one of them.

Zan sighed and rolled the parchment back into its tube and placed it in on eof his belt pouches. There was no need to worry about it now. He had the estimated arrival times of each of the ships and it would be no trouble at all to stand watch at the docks. Besides, he might even be able to pick up some quick coins from the rest of the travelers coming in with a little magic show or two.

He opened the large glass door of his room at the Imperial Inn and stepped out onto the balcony. The lights of Crown Street Plaza were a beautiful sight to behold and even this late in the evening he could still hear the hustle and bustle of the Viktorian citizens below him. It was too bad that such a beautiful and cultural location was owned and controled by the Red Dragon Syndicate. Of course, the mafia wasn't all that bad. At least they kept the area free of beggars and the diseased, allowing Crown Street Plaza to remain a dominate center of commerce for all of Austral.

A cool wind blew across the balcony, caressing Zan's naked chest. It was refreshing after his long, uneventful trek along the Regi highway from Seed-Ni to Viktoria and the hot bath that had washed away the day's sweat and grime. His undershorts billowed as the coastal wind picked up and Zan took in a deep breath of salty sea air.

Zan's mind regressed to another time that he couldn't quite remember. A time where he had spent his days on a ship traveling the seas and his eyes seemed to glow with an iridescent blue light. A time where his body was covered in protective runes and his skills in magic and sword-play were only equalled by those of his companion, a dark haired man with glowing green eyes and fierce longing for the love that he had lost. Zan too pined away for something that he had lost. He didn't quite know what he longed for, but he knew he would find it once again and then no one would be able to take it away from him.

Zan could have spent hours on that balcony, breathing in the chill salty air, but a knock on his door broke his fanciful daydream. He stepped off the balcony, musing of these memories, these dreams, that were not his own and opened the door to his room.

A blushing young maid stood at the door holding a tray of wine. Zan was confused by her embarrasement, but then realized his state of undress. A slight smirk crossed his face as he accepted the wine that he had ordered before his bath. He set the wine down and took two glasses from the cabinet in his room.

Zan turned back to the serving girl with a seductive stare. Despite his charm and wit, his lack of memories and his odd depressions kept him from making any true friends. His life was a lonely one and sometimes a man just needed a woman's company to make him feel whole. This girl was young, maybe eighteen or nineteen, but she was no less a woman and quite pretty if not beautiful.

"And just what is your name, beautiful?" Zan's voice practically oozed with charm and charisma.

"Co...Cordelia, sir." She was blushing profusely, her cheeks a rosey red that served to intice Zan all the more.

"Well, Cordelia...How would you like to partake of this wine with me?"

"Sir...I...I couldn't. I'm but a serving maid. It would be unseemly."

"Come, come...I am but a man and you are a fine young woman. What is unseemly about two people sharing some wine while taking in the breath-taking view afforded by my balcony?"

"But I...I must get back work."

Zan could see the yearning in her eyes, the need causing her breasts to heave and her lips to become moist with desire. He had her. She was in his power. He cursed himself a sinner and damned himself to hell for using his skill and charm to seduce a girl for his own pleasures, but his brain rationalized his actions with the knowledge that he would pleasure her as well. He went in for the kill.

"Hush now, my pretty young thing."


"No more words, beautiful Cordelia. Come. Join me on the balcony."

Before she could protest again, Zan grabbed her by the hand and led her into the room. His lips met the back of her hand and moved up to the nape of her neck. He slid the door shut with his foot and continued to lead her futher into room, his lips drawing her as much as his arms did. Perhaps he wouldn't partake of the wine after all...There where far finer things to taste.

The early morning sun bathed Viktoria in its golden light. Droplets of morning dew and sea spritz glistened and a cool breeze brought the salty smell of the ocean up from the harbor. The sounds of a city coming to life could be heard coming from all directions. Zan smiled as he took it all in. Viktoria was truely a wonderful city...It was too bad his wanderlust wouldn't allow him to stay.

Zan raised a small glass to his lips and let the cool, refreshing pomegranate juice dance in the back of his throat. He savored the taste before swallowing with a satisfied breathe. It was rare occassion for him to have pomegranates and he stared at the glass, taking in the deep crimson color and reliving passionate memories of the night before.

Zan turned away from the window and gazed at the still slumbering form of Cordelia, a slight smile spread across the girl's face. He hoped that she was having a pleasant dream and dearly wished that it was not of him.

"Best forget about me, dear girl." Zan's voice was soft and choked with a strange emotion that he could not place. "I'm not the man for you."

He sighed and turned back to the world outside, his mind now deep within his own thoughts. Cordelia was good. Not skilled in the least, but that same lack of experience gave her an innocent wonder that had driven Zan wild. Alas, he could never stay with her. He was a wanderer by nature, a loner destined to prowl the land until he found the one thing that he needed above all else. The only problem was that he didn't know what that thing was or even the way to go about finding it.

Cordelia was a city girl and, as much as he enjoyed Viktoria, Zan could never stay here nor could he force her to leave with him. This was a one night thing and it was best if it stayed that way. There was no point in hurting the girl or his own heart any more than necessary. He sighed once more and proceeded to get dressed. The first ship arrived in an hour and he needed to be at the harbor to spy on the passengers.

He slipped on his blue trousers and his blue silk shirt, followed by his red silk vest and his black leather boots and belt with his sword and pouches. He tugged on his gloves and threw his red cloak over him. He ran a quick brush through his shoulder-length, dark brown hair and checked himself in a mirror. Satisfied he went once more to the bed and kissed the sleeping Cordelia on the forehead, a soft smile on his lips. He removed his customary hat from the bedpost and placed it on his head, giving it a slight tug with two fingers to ensure its proper place.

He waved a silent goodbye to the young woman in his bed and left the room for the harbor. It was early, perhaps six in the morning, but already the shops of Crown Street Plaza were full of merchants selling their wares and throngs of customers who had come from miles around to see the unique trinkets for sell. Zan smiled once again and marveled at the possibilites of holding a show in the plaza. The money he could make...A sudden feeling caused him to stop. Something was wrong.

Zan dodged to the left as a solid fist swung by, the air buffeting Zan's ear. Zan turned to face his advesary and saw Cain readying another punch. The fist came, like a blacksmith's hammer, but Zan was ready. He dodged to the right and caught the heavy hand in midstrike. He twisted and pulled, throwing Cain over his hip to land hard on the cobblestone floor. The monster of a man rose, a growl escaping his cruel smirk. Zan decided to head him off before this escalated.

"Woah now Cain, what the hell is this about."

"Grrr...I told you about that damn outfit."

"But, I wasn't going to meet you. I'm heading to the harbor to watch for Talbain."

"It doesn't fucking matter. I told you I don't want to see you wearing that anymore. So get the hell back to your inn and change."

"But the bounty..."

"Will be on the second ship. He'll arrive at ten. I've already confirmed it with my contacts. Now get the hell out of here before I chop that hat in half with my sword...And your head with it." He loosened his sword in its sheathe to emphasize his words.

"Fine, whatever. What is the plan for the take down?"

"My contacts overheard that the three of them are planning on staying the night here after resupplying. They'll leave in the morning and that is when we'll strike. I'll send you a message via contact later tonight. I'll be doing the reconnaisance this time around since I don't trust your skill in subterfuge. Now, you've gone and pissed me off. I'm going to the tavern to get some beers before they arrive. Get the hell out of here and change...Got it?"

"Yeah...Sure. See ya around Cain old boy."

Cain grumbled and growled under his breath, but left Zan in the Plaza to go and get drunk. Zan laughed softly and channeled a few bolts of energy that jumped between his fingertips before dissapating as he clenched his fist. Cain would learn his place...Sooner rather than later.

The evening sky was blood red with the dying sun sinking below the waves. It was a warm evening with little wind blowing from the coastline. A few twinkling stars were breaking through the crimson sky, waiting for the darkness to come so that they may flourish. All in all, the night held a sense of foreboding that had Zan on edge.

The magician had spent the day preparing for the arrival of Talbain and his companions, not bothering to give Cain the satisfaction of him even returning to the Imperial Inn. He had been using the vantage point of the rooftops to keep an eye on the harbor and, as he suspected, Cain hadn't returned from the tavern at all that day. It didn't really matter though as Zan had taken the liberty of bribing the innkeepers of all of the hotels with vacancies. It was busy work that kept his mind off thinking of new ways to humiliate Cain.

After bribing the inns, Zan had spent his time practicing a few spells that would come in handy within the next twenty-four hours. The rooftops were excellent for privacy and concentration. The hustle and bustle of the streets below where still there, but Zan could drown them out by concentrating on his skills and, after stripping off his cloak and shirt, not even the heat could bother him. He went into a few combat routines with his sword and the few martial arts moves that he knew to train his body as well as his mind. Then came the pain.

His chest felt like it was burning and an intense throbbing blasted his skull. Zan fell to his knees, clutching his head, as strange visions flared in the back of his mind. A man with glowing green eyes and jet black hair was carving flaming runes in the air with his fingers. Zan had no idea what these visions meant, but he recognized the man as the same one he had seen when he was on the balcony. Black hair and glowing green eyes...Flaming runes of power...What did they mean?

The pain stopped and Zan lay on the rooftop, exhausted. He rolled onto his back and wiped the sweat from his brow. He had never had a vision that strongly before and never before had they been so frequent. Why now and what did they mean? Zan had no idea, but he was determined to find out.

A shout from below followed by the clash of steel on steel drew his attention from his musings. Zan climbed to his feet and peered over the edge of the rooftop. There was the bounty, Renalus Talbain, with his cousin being confronted by Cain in a drunken rage. Both men had swords drawn and Cain looked like he was about to charge.

"Damn drunken fool," Zan cursed. "Can't even follow his own plan."

He ran to the drainage pipe, prepared to slide down, but he caught a shadowy figure in the corner of his eye. A lean, athletic man stood staring over the rooftop where Zan had just been. He had shoulder length black hair and he was wearing a black, sleeveless martial artist gi with bandages wrapped along his arms from shoulder to fingers. Zan couldn't see his face, but the description from the parchment came immediately to mind. This was Kel Archairis, Talbain's other companion, but why was he on the rooftops and not helping Ren with the fight with Cain?

Well, no matter his reasons for being on the roof, Kel was fast and Zan could tell that the man held a warrior's skill. He tossed the bundle of his shirt and cloak to the ground and drew his rapier. He would have to be swift and sure to bring down Archairis without killing him. A ripple of energy cascaded across his fingertips and he prepared a lunge to take the distracted man offguard.

"I wouldn't do that if I were you..." Kel's voice was soft, but firm. It held a mysterious quality that stirred something within Zan's memories. Just who was this man?

"Oh, and why is that?" Zan asked, his usually cocky smirk driven to an uncertain frown.

"Because, I would hate to have to kill you, Zanallen." Kel turned to face him, his iridescent green eyes glowing in the growing darkness.

The pain started anew and Zan dropped his sword to clutch his burning chest. He screamed in agony and fell to his knees once more. The burning intensified and Zan felt faint. He collapsed to the floor and panted for breath as sweat poured from his brow.

"Wha...What is going on...Who the hell are you?!?!"

Zan's cries fell on deaf ears. Kel had turned away to view the fight below. Renalus had the upperhand in the begining of the fight against the drunken Cain, but now his lack of skill was showing. Cain's sledgehammer attacks with his sword were draining Ren's strength and the young student turned warrior was being driven back.

"Hmph...Time for me to step in." Kel raised one hand into the air and extended his index and middle finger which began to glow with an eeiry red light. He sliced the air with quick, chopping motions, leaving crimson afterimages that hung in the air. An unidentifiable word left Kel's lips and the rune flared to life. He slapped the rune with his palm and the flaming symbol shot towards Cain from the rooftops and smashed into the drunken warrior, knocking him unconscious.

With a wave of greeting to Ren and Marion, Kel turned and stalked towards Zan. The pain was lessening, but Zan was still immobilized with the burning in his chest. He looked up at Kel, fear of the unknown in his eyes. Who was this man and why did he know him? And more importantly, what did he know about Zan?

"Do not worry, Zanallen. The pain will pass soon and you will be on the path of learning the truth of who you are. We'll speak more of this on the morrow."

With those final words, Kel vanished from Zan's line of sight and the pain exploded once more, causing Zan to slip into unconsciousness on the dark roftop.

A soft warmth played across Zan's outstretched fingers and his addled mind brought forth memories of Cordelia's curly raven hair. He unconsciously ran his hand along the length of soft hair and he felt a playfull shift in response. A moist tongue ran along his cheek, a small nibble met his ear and his thoughts returned to the previous night with his young maid.

"Oh Cordelia..." He sighed.

A soft mew was his only response and, startled, Zan opened his eyes to see a silver furred ferret nuzzling his cheek. He hastely climbed to his feet, causing the ferret to tumble into a roll with a playfull mew, and stupidly gazed at his surroundings. He was on a rooftop, clad in only his trousers and boots with his unsheathed sword laying inches from where he was laying. The rosy sun was cresting the horizon, banishing the darkness with tendrils of light.

"What the hell is going on?" He directed the question at the silver ferret that was staring at him strangely. "What am I doing up here?"

The ferret answered with a plaintive mew of concern and climbed up Zan's leg to rest on his shoulder, rubbing against Zan's neck in an almost comforting manner. Zan chuckled softly at the affectionate creature, but he had no time for games. He lifted the ferret to set it back on the rooftop, but the silver beast scratched Zan's chest as it passed.

"Ouch, stupid thing."

He shooed the ferret away with a threatening boot and inspected the scratch. It was only a small red line, not even breaking the skin, and Zan turned back to regard the ferret, but something else caught his eye. In the very center of his chest was a blue rune of intricate design. He tried to wipe it away, but it began to glow with an azure light as soon as his fingers brushed the surface of the rune.

Zan braced himself for pain, but instead he was overwhelmed by strange sense of familiarlity. He knew the meaning of the rune on his chest. It was his name, his true name. He mouthed the meaning.


The memories of his encounter with Kel on this very rooftop came flooding back to him. He remembered the pain coursing through his chest. Could that pain have been what caused his name rune to appear on his chest? Just who was Kel Archairis? The rune ceased to glow and Zan shrugged off his revery. He still didn't know what had happened with Cain's battle against the wanted man, Renalis Talbain, and he would need to canvas all of Viktoria if he wanted to find Kel to get some answers.

He quickly finished dressing and mounted the drain pipe to slide down to the street below. The playfull ferret tried to climb on him once more, but he pushed it away and reached the street, drawing incredulous stares from onlookers. No matter, Zan had never been one for stealth anyway. He rushed along the street towards the closest tavern, searching for one of Cain's contacts to get some information, not even noticing the golden eyes that stared at him intently from the windowsill of a nearby building.

Several blocks away stood the Eclipse tavern, a rundown establishment full of shifty characters that doubled as an inn for those with little money or little love for the law. One the second floor was a poorly furnished room inhabited with two very worried looking individuals. The young man paced the room back and forth, his sword drawn, while the girl sat on the bed, her legs shaking nervously.

"Damn it!" The man cursed aloud. "How did they find us, Marion? We were so careful and now...And now we have bounty hunters on our trail!"

"Calm down Ren." Marion tried to calm her brother, but the nerviousness in her voice betrayed her emotions.

"But that man tried to kill me! Why is everyone after me? What did I ever do to deserve this...?"

"Don't worry. Kel is out there scouting the area. That bounty hunter won't be back for us any time soon and Kel will find us a way out of Viktoria tomorrow."

"I should have killed that bounty hunter when I had the chance..."

"No Ren. Don't talk like that. Kel's spell knocked the man out. If you would have struck you would have killed a defenseless man. You are not a murderer."

"It was self defense Marion! He attacked first! He wanted to kill me for a reward!"

"He was drunk and and he wouldn't let you explain, but that is no excuse for commiting the crimes that you have been charged with. Katryana did not wish that man's death and the will of the Goddess of Fate is paramount."

"Does your goddess wish that I be hounded day and night for a crime that I didn't commit!?" Ren spat venomously.

"Ren! Do not question the will of Katryana so. She is your goddess as well as mine. Your fate shall soon become clear and believe me when I say that Kel and I will always be there for you."

"I know...Damn it I know! I'm sorry Marion...I just..."

His words were cut off as the door swept open silently and a man clad in darkness slid through the entrance. The man threw off a large black cloak, revealing his emerald green eyes that shined with an inner light and the white bandages that wrapped around his arms from shoulder to fingers. The man ran a hand through his thick black hair and slightly smiled as his eyes caught Marion's.

"Kel!" Ren practically shouted as he ran towards the enigmatic man. "What did you find out?!"

Marion stood up as well, with a quiet grace quite unlike the energetic rambling of her cousin. She smiled shyly as she looked at Kel. She found the man handsome and he was a great friend, but she didn't know his feelings and hesitated to change their relationship at this crucial moment in their lives. Still, she knew she couldn't hide her feelings forever and sooner or later the mysterious Kel would know of her emotions and she would know of his. She was certain of this. It was fated.

"Kel! Answer me damn it!" Ren shouted aloud.

"Calm yourself Renalus." Kel turned his gaze from the calm, beautiful burnette to regard her platinum haired cousin. "I have spent the night scouting the area and have found no trace of pursuit from the bounty hunter. My spell rendered him unconscious and I doubt he was in any condition to track our movements when he awoke. We are safe here until we can acquire passage to Seed-Ni and beyond."

"Fine, fine. Are we traveling by land?"

"Yes. I feel that is the best course of action. However, there are more pressing concerns than the presence of one weak-minded bounty hunter."

"More pressing...What is more pressing for us than a rather large man with a rather large sword trying to kill me?!"

"Ren!" Marion scolded once more. "Allow Kel to speak."

"Thank you Marion." Kel smiled once again at the beautiful priestess before turning his gaze to encompass the girl and her distraught cousin. "I have found someone of interest to us."

"An ally?" Marion asked.

"Perhaps. Or a great enemy. He has always been an unpredictable one."

"Then why risk it? Let's just leave now and forget this "unpredictable" man." Ren was anxious to put as much ground between himself and his pursuers as humanly possible and he was determined to get that point across to both Kel and Marion, but they seemed to refuse to acknowledge his earnest pleas for escape from Viktoria.

"Hush," Marion cried. "Kel, is this a man a friend of yours?"

Marion was generally interested as she had never before met an aquiantance of Kel's, let alone a friend. Despite having known him for many years, Kel was practically as much of a mystery to her as he had been when he had first come into her life when she was but a girl. Perhaps meeting one of his friends would give her more of an insight into the mind of the man she had grown to love.

"He was a friend...Once." Kel's voice faultered. He was unsure of his words, Marion realized. She had never seen him this way before. "But now...Who knows? I have not seen him in many years and I am afraid that those years have been hard on him. He may not know himself as well as he should...And if this is true he may be an enemy far more terrifying than anything you could imagine. I must be wary when I approach him again."

Ren started to protest again, but a loud squak silenced him. A falcon had perched on the windowsill. It was a large bird with jet black plummage except for the underside of its wings which were silver in coloration. The falcon peered intently at Kel with almost human intellegence shining in its golden eyes.

"Jayden, my friend." Kel called out to the bird and it flapped across the room to land on his outstreched arm, the bandages somehow protecting the man's flesh from the bird's razor talons.

Jayden tilted his head toward Kel in a familiar manner and to Ren it seemed as if the bird was whispering in the man's ear. Jayden made a sound much like quiet laughter and scratched a feather with his beak. Kel nodded as if understanding and lifted his arm. Jayden took off through the window and rose to the rooftops.

"He goes to feed." Kel told Ren.

Ren realized he was staring incredulously and shook his head. Many times over the years had he seen the strange man "speak" with his bird, but it still amazed him. He didn't understand how Kel could interpret those shrill squaks as anything more than bird noises. Perhaps it was just more of the man's stange magic, but, regardless, Ren was in no hurry to find out the truth of Kel Archairis.

"Jayden has brought us news of my "friend"." Kel spoke once more. "It is almost time for my meeting with him. Await my return while I figure out whether we have found a powerful ally or a deadly enemy."

With those words, Kel waved farewell and threw his cloak over him once more before walking out the door.

Zan rushed down a dark alleyway a few blocks away from the Hunter's Mark. The Red Dragon Syndicate prevented a bounty hunter guild from being built in Viktoria proper so Edmund Vincente, the owner of the Mark and a retired bounty hunter of impressive skill, filled in the void by having his inn and tavern double as a bounty hunter headquarters and safe haven. By all reports, Cain was at the Mark right now, resting from his hangover as much as from his injuries.

Of course, those reports had been hard to come by. Zan's usual informants, contacts formed and maintained by Cain, had little to say to the flamboyant young magician turned mercenary. Zan almost believed that they had been frightened of him. In fact, most everyone he had passed by on the streets today had shied away from him and Zan had no idea why. He chocked it up to his disheveled appearance and ran on toward the Hunter's Mark. He needed to find Cain and they needed to discuss recent events and the change of plans.

He slowed as he came in sight of the Mark, the stone building in surprisingly good condition despite its location in the poorer section of Viktoria. A vagrant huddled against the wall of the alley reached out a hand to beg for some coin. Zan reached into his pouch to pull out a few coppers, but stopped when he saw the look of terror on the man's face as the bum stared at him. Zan started to ask what was wrong, but the beggar scrambled to his feet and sprinted out of the alleyway, screaming about ghosts and demons. Curious and kind of worried, Zan felt his face with his gloved hand, but everything seemed normal. He would have to find a mirror after he spoke with Cain.

He pulled the huge brim of his hat lower to hide his face and walked into the inn. He could feel every eye in the room staring at his and he guessed there to be atleast twenty well armed bounty hunters in the room. Zan merely angled his face to the ground and walked towards the back of the room. He didn't need any of these armed individuals freaking out like the beggar in the streets. Zan knew that many bounty hunters were like Cain, too many weapons and not enough brains.

The bartender, a man Zan recognized from description as the son of Edmund Vincente, handed Zan a shot of a golden liquid. The magician tried to wave it away, but the man just laughed and handed him a mug full of a floathy brown ale.

"Yer Espial right?" the bartender said in a gruff voice. "Outfits a dead give away. Cain said ye'd be coming to see 'em. The shot's fer you, on da house, and the mug's fer Cain. I was bout ta deliver it meself, but you can do it since yer here."

Zan merely mumbled in reply, downed the shot and took the mug in his other hand. The bartender pointed to a wooden door behind the bar and Zan walked through the door to see Cain sitting in a chair. The big man was shirtless with bandages wrapped around his chest and a smaller bandage tied on his upper left arm.

Cain noticed him and waved him over to sit in the chair. Zan complied without a word, still hiding his face and still worried about the reactions he had been getting all day. Cain took the mug of ale and downed it in one gulp. He belched loudly and turned to regard Zan, a curious expression on his face.

"Where the hell have you been? I could have used a mage in that battle. The damn boy just nicked my arm, but I could have taken him easily even as drunk as I was, but he had some help. A damn fireball or something smashed into my chest, burned me up good, but the salve they got here is working wonders."

Zan, absorbed in thought, merely mumbled once more, causeing a growl to escape Cain's throat.

"The hell is wrong with you? No quips? No foolish remarks? I'm the one's been blasted with fireballs and you're the one sulking." Cain laughed. "If I didn't know any better, I'd say you were hiding something." With a quick movemen, he snatched the hat from Zan's head and threw it across the room. An even quicker movement had him off his chair and against the wall. "By the gods!"

"What?!" Zan shouted, desperate now to know what was wrong with him. "What the hell has everyone been staring at all day?"

"Your eyes...They're glowin'! You look like some kind of damn ghost."

Zan saw a mirror in the corner of the room and he ran to it to investigate Cain's claims. His eyes were indeed glowing, a fierce blue light the same color of the glowing rune on his chest. It was a soft glow, like that of a cat's eyes reflecting lamp light, but it was a glow nonetheless and it seemed so unnatural and unearthly coming from the eyes of a normal human man, magic or no magic.

"What the hell did he do to me?" Zan asked softly.

Cain caught the retorical question and asked a follow up of his own.

"Who? Who is he?"

"Kel...That Archairis man who travels with our mark. I fought him on the rooftop above where you and the boy where fighting."

"You fought him?"

"Well...I tried. All he had to do was say my name and my chest felt like it was on fire. I passed out and he was gone when I woke up. I ran around town trying to figure out where you had gone, but everyone seemed scared of me and I could barely get any information at all...And now I know why."

"Yeah, your eyes are glowing like you've got a lightning bolt trapped in your head."

"Heh...Glowing eyes."

Zan's worried mind traveled back to his "fight" with Kel. That man's eyes held a glow as well. An emerald green glow that flared with some kind of inner strength. The man had also used some kind of rune spell to attack Cain and now Zan had glowing eyes and a rune on his chest. What the hell was happening to him?

"I'm going to find out."

"What was that?" Cain asked.

Zan forgot all about discussing plans with Cain for capturing Renalis Talbain. He forgot about the bounty all together. He had to know what Kel Archairis knew. He needed to know what was happening to him and to hell with anyone who got in his way. He grabbed his hat to hide his glowing eyes and walked out of the room with Cain bellowing for him to stop. He paid no heed and dashed out of the Hunter's Mark.

Zan would find Kel Archairis and he would make him talk.
Has anyone even read this? Damn kids with their short attention spans.
I intend to fully read through this... eventually. From what I've skimmed thus far, I can say that it's good stuff.

*stamps seal of approval*
Yay! Approval! It is kinda long, though not even close to being finished; however, if you like fantasy stories, it tends to be a fairly fast read.
Bumping....'Cause I would like some feedback before I start work on the next segment.
Ok, here goes!

Paragraph 10 — I am warmly reminded of a scene in the second Dragonlance Novel, where Raistlen the Mage performs similar acts and the tavern keeper responds similarly. The piece in Dragonlance was done marvelously and I must say that you did fairly well here yourself and I congratulate you. However, while it's all fairly interesting, it's not necessarily exciting. There are those with tiny attention spans and even they enjoy a good piece of writing. Perhaps I could suggest starting with some dialogue, or even a combat scene? Starting in the middle of things is a great way to grab the audience's attention, the hook and all of that, and even a little fast paced dialogue does the trick well. But I apologize, I'm judging fairly early into the game. You must excuse me.

Paragraph 13 — A minor note. I believe that in paragraph 13, the line "If time allow then I'll return," that the word allow should have a 'S' at the end. I could be mistaken, as I'm not entirely familiar with the more archaic forms of speech, but it seems a little awkward, as does the sentence before that, "I'll tell you what." That period just seems to stop the train of thought. Of course, I have a problem with overusing my commas, so again I could be wrong.

Paragraph 17 - "However, his true lin of work..." there's that tiny spelling error in the word, I believe 'Line' was what you were going for, yes? Again, minor things all around. I can't really comment too much on the plot itself since I've not gone to far. Yuck, on a side note though, I think I can see why some writers grow to hate their editors.

Paragraph 18 — "The sign that held the inn's name has been..." You've been in the past tense up to this point, so I'm going to assume the word has should be had. Again, nothing major there.

Paragraph 19 — Nothing to fix here. I simply want to remark on the scene. I like how you built the bar; you paint an excellent picture of the shady area, something I rather envy, as physical description really appears to be my weak point. (Correction, after reading the paragraph again, I noticed a strange thing. "The lighting was dim and it flickered like candle light..." Like? This is an interesting thing here, simply because you leave it unexplained. I'm not sure if this was intentional or not, but I'm left with two ideas, either A. That it actually was candlelight, or B. It was something that replicated candlelight. The second option intrigues me, I wish you'd go on to explain more, but it's simply a passing thing. Lastly, does candle and light go together or not? I'm not sure myself, but my word processor wants to do it so I'm going to assume it is one word.)

Paragraph 20 — Applying to the senses, excellent. Nothing gives the audience a better feel for the scene than simply applying to the 5 senses. The smell could have been a passing thing, but you went on to explain and thus imbed it into the mind of the audience. Wonderful, I'll make a note of that myself. Quick note, "...he grew accostumed to stench," has an error and something I'd like to remark on. "Accustomed" is the word I believe you were looking for, and "He grew accustomed to stench," comes off as a little awkward. It just doesn't feel right. I'm not sure about how appropriate it is, but it seems that if you put the word "the" before stench, it comes off a little less awkward. Tiny side note, I just learned what a fedora was today, and even used it to describe my GU Character, so the presence of one here gives me a chuckle.

Paragraph 21 — "His nose had been broken countless times and was now more that a boulbous mass..." Another misspelling, the word is "Bulbous". Also, "His only other expressions where rage and a sinister smile that usually came just before and after a kill." Replace that with "were" and it should be fine.

Paragraph 22 — "Cain had been born to be a bounty hunter and his skills with a sword where what..." Again, you used the location where rather than "were".

Paragraph 34 — Oh man, I love this selection. "Cain's laugh was like the bark of a dying seal." That is fantastic! I was a little appalled and a little amused, but over all I felt, and that's what matters! When people start feeling things, anything, for the characters, you're doing your job right. Awesome.

Paragraph 36 - "The rest of information is on the back of the parchment." Doh, another tiny mistake. Let's adjust that sentence slightly. "The rest of the information..."

Paragraph 38 — No technical mistake here, but I wanted to mention that you used the word inn twice here and right next to each other. Diversity is always welcome in writing (I know, I'm a hypocrite, I've used the word 'awkward' like 7 times now) so just replace one of the 'inn's with tavern, or bar, or something like that. Better yet, give it a name, make it personal.

Paragraph 59 — Phew, had to count all those tiny things in between, heh. Again, tiny error, you mashed together two words. "Atleast these three would be traveling together." Just put a space in there, no biggie. Man, if I'm going to go so in-depth on this stuff, I should charge for editing services. I kid! C'mon, don't take things so seriously, heh.

Paragraph 61 — "Zan sighed and rolled the parchment back into its tube and placed it in on eof his belt pouches." Yup, another mini-error. Kill that 'E', that'll do.

63 — I'll just be referring to paragraphs by number now, save me three seconds of typing. "The Imperial Inn" is what you use here. Is that the name of the inn or are the Imperials a specific force? Are you simply using the word Imperial as a synonym for majestic? Again, this goes back to my earlier comment on naming the Inn. If that's what you've done here, maybe make it come around a bit sooner, and maybe address that concern over what use Imperial is undergoing here. Let's face it; Fantasy fans have simply gone through too many Imperial forces to just throw that word around lightly. Good work on naming the local sights though, gives the area character. Another error detected, shoot it down soldier! "It was too bad that such a beautiful and cultural location was owned and controled by..." Jam an extra 'L' in there to make it "Controlled" and that marine will shape up just fine. (Bear with the ridiculousness; I need some deviation to keep things interesting.)

64 — "His undershorts billowed as the coastal wind picked up and Zan took in a deep breath of salty sea air." No, seriously, his undershorts? First and foremost, uh, I realize that you're going for a kind of laid back and joking manner for your main character, but that's no reason to make him a clown. I just can't take that paragraph seriously after reading that. Well, that and Microsoft Word says that 'Undershorts' isn't a word. If You're running off my advice though... kill that passage. Shoot it dead. A joking hero is good. A silly hero is ok. A ridiculous hero... Well, I can't say it won't work. Look at Naruto.

66 — A nice scene, especially after that little vision in 65. "There's just one problem. "Zan could have spent hours on that balcony, in his undershorts, breathing in the chill salty air, but a knock on his door broke his fanciful daydream." Okay, that's not actually in there, but the fact is that that is what he's doing. It just really kind of ruins the moment, y'know?

67 — "A blushing young maid stood at the door holding a tray of wine. Zan was confused by her embarrasement, but then realized his state of undress." Oh, you sly devil, so that's what it was all for! Still, is it worth ruining the flashback for this small bit of levity? I'm not sure I can say so. Well, that, and there's that misspelling. "Embarrassment".

79 - ... I... Well... Hmm. It's really hard to remark on that now that I've seen the whole scene. This all worked together to do some very important things, those beings further definition of the main character. This reveals two important things, that one, he's apparently a bit of a ladies man, but more importantly that he's waging a sort of inner war with his emotions and his conscience. Very good work, inner conflict is often the strongest kind. Another thing that it implies is this, he must have had reason behind his actions. Why stand out on the balcony wearing practically nothing in chilly weather? Does he simply enjoy the feeling, did he forget or not feel like properly dressing himself or, most intriguing of all, did he expect or even plan the following events? It's an interesting idea and I congratulate you for it. However... I still stick by my earlier remarks. The 'undershorts' thing absolutely killed the flashback, it killed it dead. The thing is, I don't know how to advise you on this. If you could just make the flashback scene work well and make the maid girl scene work well, that'd be best, but I don't see what to do. I'll leave that one up to you, chief.

81 — "He savored the taste before swallowing with a satisfied breathe." Ah shoot, wrong word here again. That's breathe, as in to take several 'Breath's. Still, I'm not sure you'd even want to use the word breath here as it's a little, well, for lack of a better word... awkward. *Gunshot* I think the word 'Sigh' would work better here. Your call though. Well, it's all been your call up to this point but... well; it seemed the right thing to say. I wouldn't want things to seem awkward. *Kapow*

84 — More character development here, we really start to get a real feel for Zan's overall character, like we're putting the pieces of a puzzle together. Granted, I'm speaking for all readers, but I think observant readers will agree with me. We see that Zan is a bit selfish, perhaps the first flaw we've seen in his character. This is a great move, as the 'perfect' characters that you see so often are not only unrealistic, they're boring. Another good move.

88 — While we've had a little engrossing dialogue, this is our first action scene. We clearly see who is the superior fighter here, considering Zan was caught off guard and still managed to overcome Cain. A brief scuffle, but it's one step closer to having defined relationships between characters. And let's not forget, action scenes are exciting, and an audience loves excitement. (Just don't get too much of those fight scenes. Ever read 'Steel and Honor'? A perfect example of too much fighting.)

89 — And Zan's reply is... calm? "Woah now Cain, what the hell is this about." The period at the end almost says that he was expecting it. Either that or it was completely unintentional. I'd like to ask you to look this over carefully, as how he responds to this may have a very direct impact on how he is seen by the audience. Is he calm, as if expecting a betrayal from Cain? Is he questioning, concerned for his own safety and perhaps even that of his ally's? Or is he demanding, almost shouting for the sudden attack? The small stuff matters y'know.

96 — More character development, my favorite! Is Cain so impressed with his own skills that he thinks he can go into a mission inebriated? Does he know he can take his alcohol well? Or is he all bluff and bluster? More development, the words 'Reconnaissance' and 'Subterfuge' both indicate that Cain is more than an angry, drunken, sadist. You don't pick those words up by being street smart.

98 — "Zan laughed softly and channeled a few bolts of energy that jumped between his fingertips before dissapating as he clenched his fist." Well first off, 'Dissipating' is what we want here. Second, it comes off as a little awkward. *Ping* You might want to consider rewording it. Also, why? Why is he doing this tiny flaunting of power? Does it amuse him? It seems he's already amused by Cain's behavior. Maybe I'm overanalyzing again, but the passage just doesn't seem right. Of course, the most obvious thing is that he's threatening Cain, but then what's the point since he doesn't see it? Is Zan simply reminding himself of what he's capable of? More thoughts.

100 — Zan hasn't seen Cain come back from the tavern. Good thought inspiring work here. Is Cain lying face down in the bar, plastered? Or has he moved without Zan's notice and is already scouting out the area? Or worse yet, is Cain betraying Zan, making the first move to finish their relationship? Good setup here. But what does the end mean, bribing the inns and all that? How did he bribe them, why? He said to keep all vacancies closed, so that makes our thoughts turn to the fugitives in our story, but could it instead be some way of saying that he knows that Zan is plastered and out of the action, knowledge given to him due to a liaison between he and one of these bribed inn keepers? I'm not sure whether you'd want to clarify this or not. It's often good to keep the audience wondering.

104 — Well, we know Cain's state now anyway...

106 — With all this foreshadowing about a man with black hair and green eyes, here comes a man with black hair and a covered face. Is it the man? You let the audience think that perhaps this is the individual, rather than having Zan think the idea himself. Excellent, let the audience form their own conspiracy theories! It keeps them interested!

110 — Shock! Enemy revealed! Okay, not as big of a surprise as I would have hoped, you could have dragged that out a bit more, but it'll do.

115 — Or maybe not? Zan isn't making the connection just yet, but there are plenty of green eyed, black haired individuals out there, I'm sure. Maybe this is some kind of illusionist or enchanter? Ooh, more fun stuff. Screw with people's heads. Of course, that's just me having fun with the situation, heh.

120 — "He hastely climbed to his feet, causing the ferret to tumble into a roll with a playfull mew, and stupidly gazed at his surroundings." Let's switch those out for 'Hastily' and 'Playful', respectively.

127 — "The rune ceased to glow and Zan shrugged off his revery." Again, let's switch that out for 'Reverie'.

128 — "The playfull ferret tried to climb on him once more, but he pushed it away and reached the street, drawing incredulous stares from onlookers." There's that darn double 'L' again. Let's kill that second 'L' and be done with that. Beyond that, there's one thing left that I have a tiny issue with, but it's probably only personal. The word 'Reached' here, well, I just don't like it. I reach with my arm to get a glass. How about, arrived at, or descended into, or slid down to the street. Reached just seems... what's the word? Awkward. *Ta-Chick* And hooray for foreshadowing! You do foreshadowing pretty well, not to obvious and just vague enough to keep you guessing.

131 — "Marion tried to calm her brother, but the nerviousness..." Let's switch that out for 'Nervousness'.

143 — It took me this long to realize that we've switched to the perspectives of the fugitives! The back and forth conversation is really easy to get lost in, although it's pretty easy to keep track of who's saying what. You just kind of forget that it's not Cain and Zan we're worried about anymore; we're seeing things from the other side. It just so happens I love seeing things from all sides, so I'll support this full heartedly.

157 — Ah, and here we see our golden-eyed friend from earlier. Seems our friend Zan is under watch. Our earlier foreshadowing comes to fruition. However... "Ren started to protest again, but a loud squak silenced him." It's such a strange word, huh? Anyway, it's actually 'Squawk'.

161 — "He didn't understand how Kel could interpret those shrill squaks as anything more than bird noises." Another misspell! Kill it! 'Squawk!' *Jayden rends a squaks for 2d4 damage.*

166 — Foreshadowing again! Why can't I pull this kind of stuff off? Note to self: Foreshadow.

167 — "He could feel every eye in the room staring at his and he guessed there to be atleast twenty well armed bounty hunters in the room." Erect some blank space between 'At' and 'Least' and this passage is good to go. But look at that last sentence, saying that Cain is, well, less than gifted in the area of cognitive thought. In other words, he's a dee-dee-dee by Zan's standards. Does Zan have high standards, or was that sight of Cain's intelligence we saw so long ago a simple fraud, a red herring, all that good stuff? It opens up more possibilities.

168 — "The magician tried to wave it away, but the man just laughed and handed him a mug full of a floathy brown ale." Hmm, I think you wanted 'Frothy' here. I could be mistaken of course.

169 — Yeah! Put that accent in there! Nothing like a little diversity to flesh out a story!

176 — Apparently no foreshadowing there. Or if there is, it's very discreet. Is Zan a ghost of a man, having adopted a new persona due to... well, whatever? Nonetheless, we discover what the beggar's problem was.

188 — Woah, just like that? He drops everything at the tip of a hat? I understand he's been having some freaked out visions and this must all be pretty scary, but no inner debate, no inner struggle, just, "Yeah, screw pissing around, I'm finding out what's what no matter what." That's three 'what's by the way. But seriously, it seems a little abrupt. He doesn't ask anyone else for advice, he just jumps at the chance. Personally, I would have let the tension build up more. Throw some more of those cool vision foreshadowing incidents at else, let him encounter Kel casually, but don't just throw him into the mess, it just seems anti-climactic.

...Holy crap. 188 paragraphs. I finished it. You do not want to know how long it took me to do all of this. I mean, wow. I... yeah. I hardly even realized what I was doing after a while, I just did it. Well, I hope I helped out at least.

In finishing, your description is good and I love the use of foreshadowing. You've got some issues with misspellings, word misuse and verb tense agreements, but that's all standard stuff and easy to screw up with so no real problems there so long as you fix 'em. Beyond the mechanical stuff, the only problems I have are the anticlimactic finish and the undershorts scene. I might suggest jumping into Cain's head, although that's more because I think he's the most interesting character rather than anything else. Characters with flaws just seem more human, and Cain has a lot of flaws. Plus, there's just so much to speculate on. Ren the renegade (coincidence?) is probably my 3rd favorite character, right under Zan, simply because he too is human. Kel appears as your standard 'Gandalf' archetype, the wizened wizard who knows more than you and he intends to keep it that way. The female cleric... Well, apparently she bored me as I can't even remember her name. Shucks. Yeah, develop more on her, get some meat on her story bones.

Good work man. Now read of my challenge in the general forum. Do it. Please?

Oh, and expand on this, that too. I like to see things finished.
Thank you! Thank you! I knew I could count on you Tom. The spelling errors, yes...My current computer is crap, with nothing but a word pad for writing, and I tend to get too caught in the story to go back and check it for errors. So, I greatly appreciate the time and energy you spent in going through this for me. As for the undershorts...Perhaps I'll just make them pants. The other stuff, I'm going to have to run through the story again, including what I know is going to happen in the future, and see how I can work things.
X.X; Hm. If I ever finish reading this, I'll let you know.
(Glad that I could help. Although looking over my post, I see about 5 spelling errors myself. How embarassing... Ah well, I did what I could to help. Again, glad to be of service.)