The pain never truly faded away…

The screams continued to echo, even after time seemingly has forgotten the horrors that transgressed…

It leaves a mark that can never be removed, from the body or the soul…

Igstanpur, a port city that resided in the western peninsula of the Principality of Angshar, considered the “Pearl of  Golden Kingdom”. The city was always busy, the streets filled with bazaars and marketplaces for the many traveling merchants from across the open seas. Some of the merchants even hailed from the Almari continent, even fewer from the Burianos Archipelago, the vast majority were travelers from neighboring kingdoms or nations that made regular allegiances with the Angshar royal family.

It was another day of commerce and trading, various merchant stalls were lined with everything from fruits to exotic lands, cuts of fresh meat, prepared foods, textiles and fabrics, pottery and jewelry. In the larger, more permanent shops, one could sometimes find a purveyor of harder to find objects, magical items or scrolls perhaps, or even things blacklisted by the Principality as taboo. Magic itself was heavily regulated within the city, inquisitors roamed the streets in armor and under cloth.

Zeke wanted to avoid the inquisitors, he tugged the edges of the cloak tighter over his form. The dark brown cloak denoted a lean and tall figure beneath, the cowl was extended over his face. His face was not an issue, in fact with the exception of the eye patch over his right eye, he looked like any normal, young human male. Blonde hair and fair skin, his left eye was as emerald as the leaves from the exquisite royal gardens. A good omen, the nomads use to say. The young man arrived in Igstanpur several days ago to fulfill a work contract, the contractor, unfortunately, was rather difficult to locate it seemed. The only clue was some strands of fine red hair. A rarity in this particular region, probably in the entire Zon continent.

Some street-rats scampered past Zeke, he had nothing of value so any pickpockets would have been sorely disappointed with him. At a glance, he managed to catch one of the children pilfer a ripened apple. No further than 3 feet, an inquisitor snatched the unsuspecting boy by the wrist and lifted him at least a foot from the ground. The boy ferociously struggled, but it was already too late. Another clad in armor appeared behind a corner, it was a setup to catch easy prey.

None of my business, he thought to himself. I continued to walk past the inquisitors and left the boy to his fate. The boy’s cries and tears did not ease the departure from what many considered a daily occurrence. Sorry kid, tough luck.

Down a narrow street and through some small ghettos, Zeke found himself in a large open-air cantina. Large makeshift tents alleviated the patrons from the harsh sunlight, the young man found a decorated bench and took a seat. A small lizardfolk approached with a platter of dried fruits and hard breads, it poured a small sliver goblet with what looked like the local wine. The scaled creature retreated to some unknown hovel or den that was far beyond Zeke’s sights. The young man carefully lifted some of the dried fruit off the platter, care to not undo the elaborate concealment. The fruit was rather sour, and the wine even tasted bitter. A cloaked patron sat on the bench behind him, their backs almost touching, Zeke adjust his posture only to notice the new patron lean in closer to him.

“Don’t be so obvious, everyone here can tell you’re hiding something. So, are you looking for a place to hide?” A woman’s voice, deep in timber, that carried a weight of experience behind her words.

“I’m looking for someone, supposedly a job contractor,” Zeke replied softly, he avoided looking at her direction.

“I may know a few, did this contractor leave a description?”

Zeke retrieved a bit of the red hair he had kept in his belt pouch, a warm breeze began to descend on the makeshift cantina. The mystery woman did not answer for a few moments until she finally parted her own cowl to reveal long fire red hair that fell down past her shoulders. She had purple eyes and soft fair skin, there was a look of worry and yet anticipation.

“Who are you?” She muttered, her eyes darting along Zeke’s concealed form.

“I was given the contract by a half-elf named Elias, you know him?” Zeke tried to remain composed, indeed this mysterious red-haired woman was striking but he needed to be sure.

“Elias is an old friend, I was expecting him to be here. But if he sent you, you must be someone he can trust.”

The sound of panicked screams and a group of five armored inquisitors burst through the crowd towards the cantina. They began searching the vicinity until they pointed towards Zeke and the red-haired woman’s direction. Not good. They unsheathed the blades from their hips and frantically made their way past the booths and benches.

“Friends of yours?” Zeke remarked.

“No, hope you’re good if Elias sent you,” the red-haired woman tossed the cloak off to reveal an intricate display of leather armor with what looked like various daggers and short blades, there even some baubles attached to her waist, and plenty of pockets. Her stance portrayed a great level of skill and confidence, her demeanor already shifted to a much sterner look than before.

Zeke followed suit and parted the cloak, dark brown leathers and black boots, he was not as full inventoried as the woman but that didn’t meant he was defenseless. He pulled the cowl back to reveal his human face, underneath the eye patch were some residual scars but they had healed many years ago. Finally, he drew a blade with his left hand, making sure to keep his right out of view, and took a defensive stance to the approaching guardsmen.

“The name’s Zeke, I would like to know the name of my potential employer,” he cracked a grin at the woman.

“Leila, Leila Vistrani”

— To be continued —

Read the next chapter! 

Check out the rest of the Subject Zero storyline & other Anthologies from the Land of Magic

Alright guys, this was our first go at the Anthology from the Land of Magic! Basically a bunch of short stories using NPCs and various other snippets I had written years ago for the setting. I wanted to flesh it out for everyone to get a feel for what we hope will be a fun experience for everyone involved. I will be posting sometime this week a commentary about why I am doing this while Team BAJA is still playing their Season 2 games and what I have plans in the future regarding this featurette. For now, a huge THANK YOU to all our followers and fans, I really appreciate your viewership and subscriptionship. If you want updates please subscribe via email or follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Please help us out, we want to keep doing this sort of content and future content in the future and every little bit helps pay for the small things that we hope will improve your experience, we have a donate button and check out our Amazon store for your D&D products and supplies. You still pay the awesome Amazon price and services but a little comes back our way. Please also like and comment down below. Thanks again and we hope to see you guys soon!