Hello everyone, I'm Kiryienka, formerly known on the forums as Scatmaster111. A few years ago I would frequent the RPing and Fan Art sections of these forums, participating and moderating a few RPs and writing a story called 'The Minecraft Theory', which reached 13 'chapters' before its unfortunate discontinuation.
I put chapters in quotes because they were barely that. I undertook the task of writing that story when I was 12, which, when I looked back at it last year, was apparent in the rush and simplicity of the story. So I decided, "Hey, I was a top student in English in high school, and I'm now a university student. Surely I'm capable of writing a better story now." So in November last year I started writing Silent Raven, a story which, at least according to plan, will have no ties to any other previously existing works. I have been writing during downtime between my classes in a notebook. I started back on the forums recently, and I feel this is something that will help me keep motivated to not disappear again anytime soon, so here is the first chapter, enjoy. Leave any criticisms below, good or bad.
Chapter 1 - Completed
Chapter 2 - In Progress
Chapter 3 - Not Started
Chapter 4 - Not Started
More to be added as the story progresses.
Chapter I: The Zaro Festival
As I sat at my table sipping my half-decent tea, it was difficult to reflect on the events over the past year or so. Our region of Arohai was always at odds with Zaranum, in their militaristic campaign to take land and expand their borders. Many protested in thought or in speech, but when all-out war commenced, many of us were reluctant to join the fight.
The war started 8 months ago. Zaranum had us outclassed both in numbers and training, and Arohai was eventually forced to surrender. Now in a few days, there would be what had been called the Zaro Festival. It had been promoted to be a celebration of Aran and Zaran unification, but in reality it was likely just an attempt to placate the opressed Arana still living here.
My name is Korin, or just Ko. I was one of the fighters in the war, but I was relieved of duty early after I was left with partial paralysis in my left arm after an accident. I recovered somewhat, but my fine motor skills never returned. Now I lived alone in a small house outside of Cathera, Arohai’s former capital. This was where the festival would take place.
I pulled on my robe, shouldered my sheathed sword and headed out to Cathera. I always refused to live within the city after the war, but my job forced me there. I was a hired mercinary, and some would say a pretty good one. I preferred captures but if the pay was good enough a kill was never off the table. The police would even contract me every so often, in return for my ‘non-arrest’. I’m still convinced that they wouldn’t have followed through on their threats, but it was better to let them think they were in control.
As I rounded the corner into the alley which served as my ‘office’, I was greeted by a happy voice. “Korin, my friend! I was beginning to doubt you’d show up at all!”
“Always good to see you, Jesper, and you needn’t worry; I haven’t missed a day yet.” Jesper was a close friend of mine, as well as an informant, occasionaly collecting jobs for me. “To what do I owe the pleasure?”
“I’ve got work for you, and it’s a high-profile case. Straight from the former Aran king.”
I was taken aback by this. Why would he of all people want a mercinary? “I presume this is a kill mission?” I inquired, the only possibility entering my mind being a coup.
Jesper read my thoughts well and quickly cut my suspicions short. “I know what you’re thinking and no, this is not a hit, nor does it directly connect to the Zaran royal family.” Good, any conflict I can avoid with them I will. “This is a bit different from most tasks you’ve completed so far.”
Normally I wouldn’t take a job from someone of such high standing, but in this case my interest was piqued and I allowed Jesper to continue. “The former king, Sir Rohan, witnessed his daughter being kidnapped last night. The job is a rescue operation.” He handed me a set of papers. “Here is an illustration of the victim, as well as appearance descriptions, though not very detailed, of the assailants, of which three were seen.”
“I’ll do it,” I responded, “however, make sure that Sir Rohan knows how much this is worth.”
“Don’t worry about it. He’s already assuring that whatever your highest pay has been, he’ll double it.” Jesper let out a bit of a chuckle, but he quickly became serious. “Korin, make sure you be careful. Whoever did this is either confident or crazy, and it’ll be hard to deal with either.”
“I will get by, don’t worry. I’ll see you again soon, friend.” I decided I wouldn’t take any more jobs for a while, as this one was likely to take most of my focus. With the documents safely tucked into my coat I made my way straight home. Besides wanting to study the information further, and formulate a course of action, I also skipped breakfast and was famished. Some toasted bread would be sufficient as I read and re-read the papers.
The descriptions of the kidnappers were not terribly helpful - all three of them wore white, faceless masks and black hoods to keep their identities well hidden - so the only thing I could really use was the information on the victim, Lyra. Red hair and grey eyes was a striking combination, one I hoped would be memorabe enough for someone to recognize.
The general lack of information became more troublesome as I realised there was only one lead, that the three escaped in a black carriage through the Southeast Passage. There were only a very few settlements near the gate, but the assailants already had a headstart of a day, which greatly widened their range of potential locations. I already lived outside the East Passage, so once I confirmed my route south, I prepared my provisions and saddled up my horse.
“Ero, Arana, ero,” I quoted softly to the horse named Arania. Her previous owner was Zaran, and she was trained using the traditional Zaran language. I never learned to speak it fluently, but I managed to pick up the phrases I would need, and words such as ‘ero’, meaning steady. Aside from providing faster transportation, Arania also hadn’t had a training run in a few days so it was good for her to stretch her legs.
The first settlement I visited, and the closest to the Southeast Passage, brought no luck. Nobody had seen anyone in the past few days matching the descriptions of the masked men or of Lyra. This continued for the next two settlements, by which time it approached nightfall. I retired Arania to the stables and rented myself a cheap overnight stay at the local inn. The Zaro Festival was due to begin the day after next, so I had determined to return to Cathera for it, in the hopes that the masked men, or associates of, would show up once more.
In the morning, as I looked out my room’s window I was met with the sight of several guards patroling, seemingly looking or waiting for something. I got cleaned up, took up my sword and went outside. It was not long before a guard approached me. “Well, if it isn’t the Silent Raven,” the guard half-mocked. Over time I built somewhat of a reputation, and this was one of the aliases I was dubbed. The guard continued, “What business do you have here, Korin?”
“What do you mean? Is a man no longer able to travel where he pleases?” I retorted. Most guards and police would quit at this point but not this one.
“A man may travel for leisure or bread. This place is no getaway, so I presume the latter is the case. What’s your job, Raven?” I was forced to make a lie on the spot, but thanks to the presence of Arania, I was quickly able to create an alibi.
“I am here on business, but not work. I am looking for a groomer for my horse. I would look in Cathera, but with the festivities in preparation I’d have a hard time getting around.”
The guard finally conceded. “Very well, but watch where you tread. You are lucky that you are not at the top of my priorities today.” He seemed irritated inside but his exterior held its poker-face as he walked back to his section. To prevent any further conflicts, I retrieved Arania and headed back towards Cathera. As this was one of the further settlements, it was late enough when I reached the town to think about rest for the night. After a deep sleep I woke up to see a paper on the table in the room.
I searched my things quickly before reading the paper. Somebody had to have broken in, as none of the doors or windows were opened before. None of my personal possessions were stolen, however the case documents were gone. I grabbed the paper and read the large print:
Stop searching. You will find us very soon with patience.
I was concerned for the rest of the day. Somebody involved in this knew that I was investigating the case. I tried to figure out how I was detected for some time as I walked the crowded streets aimlessly, until I was interrupted by screams and commotion from the market. I ran straight there to find a dangerous scene. At the top of the town hall, a woman with red hair and grey eyes, with tears on her face and a knife to her throat.