Rise of the Ravenborn
I opened my eyes and lo, I was in chains. My perplexion at my dire situation quickly gave in for greater confusion.
I looked around, my mind circling around unstable thoughts as I remembered my brief awakening. The room or, strange, rustic shack, in which I was now held against my will was almost dark. A torch lightened the room in dim light, hurting my eyes but it was enough for me to know that my feet were chained to a pole in the wall behind me. Strange moisture covered the ground, making it uncomfortable and utterly icy for my weak body, and the stench coming from it was from something I did not dare to ask what it was.
I focused my hindered sight on my hands and feet; even with the poor golden light of that torch, I could clearly see the paleness in my skin, one that I was not aware of. My body felt lighter despite my bondage, and my hair was clearly longer and silkily, perhaps due to the mud.
What was happening? Where was the dark alley with the evil prick? Where were the street lights--an assurance that the world was still spinning-- and the passing of vehicles on the road? What was this new body?
The wooden door with iron locks opened slowly, but as it moved, a group of people, perhaps twelve in all, rushed in with utmost care. I could not see their faces due to the light creating perfect shadowy figures. The little light I had was greatly reduced due to the number of people there.
One of them came to me, the first of them. As I was about to utter words, I was welcomed with a strong punch. I could sense from my previous experience with punches that this one was not intended to knock me out. The hit sent my head against the muddy ground, splashing its moist dirt against my mouth, nose, and eyes.
"What? What? What? What? What?" I thought.
"So what do we do with this... this monstrosity?" The attacker said.
Despite my feelings, thoughts, and overall nerves spiraling out of control, somehow panic took me and I managed to utter words.
Another hit. The man stomped me to the ground again, its boot on my head and pressing down. I felt like I was going to die right there.
"That's enough Gunthax" One ordered.
After a few seconds, he removed it and my head rose instinctively as I gasped for air, coughing and crying.
"Is this really necessary?" Said the same person.
"It seems he won't be able to speak in a while," One of the observers said, "We are safe."
"What do we do, Priest?" said another person to the previous one, "To find a cursed child in this time and era..."
Cursed? I cleaned the mud from my nostrils. What the hell were they talking about?
"Are you certain this is one of them? He looks weak and unable to even wield a sword... I hardly doubt he could even wield a cooking knife now" Said the person who had stopped my beating.
"With a hair as dark as that one, body as pale as the moon, and eyes as light as those? Look at them! They look like they reciprocate to the torchlight by gleaming blue!"
"Still, it's just a boy, no older than my own son, I've never seen this zealously, Priest Jazax, not even in a Noad raider."
"Noads pillage villages and sack our goods, yes. However, no Noad tribesman comes as close in danger as a Ravenborn, you've read the lore, chieftain Kerax, you know what the Chantry did to them and why."
"Yes, but we have not seen an accursed one in what, two centuries? Is it really necessary to jump into these harsh contingencies?"
"My, how doubtful hath thou become chieftain!" said the alleged priest, changing his tone to an authoritarian shout, as if he preached a sermon, "You might govern this village and the neighboring woods, that much I respect; do not dare step into the boundaries of my jurisdiction, for I, and I alone shepherd the souls of this area."
The chieftain nodded.
"I was simply voicing my concerns, O priest".
I could detect small undertones of cynism in his voice. I remained with my face down so as not to instigate more punches from the dickhead still standing next to me.
"Now that his mouth and limbs have been weakened, he can surely perish under the bonfire. Gunthax, would you please?"
Did he say bonfire?
"N-no..." I cried, "wait... I..."
The big man, Gunthax, grabbed me by one arm and pulled me towards him, and hit me in the belly. I lost my breath again, then he simply dragged me across the ground into the exit, mopping the mud with my body, It was not clear, but I could feel my blood drooling from my mouth at this point.
We came out, there was a commotion outside. My eyes were already distorted from the torture yet I could still distinguish my surroundings. There were people; dozens of them. Men, women, and children, all clothed in rags I had only seen in the books I've read about the Middle Ages, perhaps the Early Era? I could not see well, but little it did matter as my eyes diverted towards my destination, a massive bonfire that towered over the nearing houses. The mob did not cry for death, not did they asked for my execution. No... I could hear their voices:
"Is this the kid?"
"Look at him, he doesn't look that menacing to me..."
"Yes but those eyes... look at how they glow! The priest must be in the right here..."
"Are we seriously doing this?
"What's gotten into the priest?"
We arrived at the threshold of the fire's heat, my pale skin quickly turned red and it ached.
Why was I receiving so much misery? Why was I being punished so severely? Gods of peace and contempt, why was I being punished for simply helping a woman in need?
My heart sunk in my own depressing thoughts as I forsook my life, abandoning all possible catharsis from a small spark of heroism. Fine, if this was my fate, so be it.
Huh? What is this? What am I saying?
My lips betrayed me, uttering words of despair, seeking aid. They were not strong enough to be heard, but they were there. How pathetic could I possibly be?
"Please... I beg you"
I could not even enunciate well, my lungs hurt as I did. Why bother? No one could possibly hear me.
Gunthax had finished tying me to a pole, it was horizontal, so to introduce me into the fire like meat into a small furnace. I was hanging with my two hands and feet tied to the stick, hanging like a hunted animal.
This was it.
Gunthax and others moved me towards the fire.
Screw you, new, disgusting world. Whoever decided to transport me here, like in those Isekai stories from the light novels I read so much back in the safety of my bedroom, obviously sought the worst possible body and world for me in order to mess with me.
I could feel the flames already.
"Burn that monster!" the priest ordered.
Gunthax complied, preparing to thrust me into the inferno.
I was ready to die.
"STAY THIS MADNESS!"
My eyes, drawn to the new cry, looked at the new arrival. A young yet strong man sporting a thick cape made of beast hide, sporting two big arms and silver hair. Unlike the shadows in the shack, he shone like a beacon to me. He rushed to my side and pushed Gunthax away violently, sending him away. He then punched the other two men subsequently in a dash my eyes were barely able to perceive. In a clean and swift fighting gesture, the men fell into the ground unconscious.
The crowd went silent. My thoughts stilled as I became absorbed by this figure, my savior.
"It's Aquilax!" shouted an attendant.
The crowd erupted in murmurs. The one called Aquilax stood between me and the rest of the world.
"Y-you!" said the priest. "How dare you?"
"Son! Do not intervene!" said the chieftain.
"Cowards!" He interrupted, "How dare you? How dare you allow this lunacy? Don't you see that this person suffers?"
"Person?" said the priest, outraged, "How can you call this... this thing a man?" He turned towards the chieftain, "Kerax! You fool! Tell your son not to meddle in the rites of the Chantry!"
The young man, Aquilax, unsheathed a short sword and pointed it at the priest's throat.
"T-this... is... blasphemy!"
"Aquilax!" shouted the chieftain, rushing towards his son, hand gripping his own blade, "Stay your sword now!"
"I will not father. I'm sorry, but I have tolerated this rite enough. This man here has not done anything but to fall unconscious on a pond."
"You were the one who knocked him unconscious, cub!"
"Yes, he did stare at my sister his skin bare, but that does not account for a painful death in a bonfire! You know better, father!"
"I-I..." Kerax hesitated.
"Outrageous!" said the priest. "I will not have this, that creature will perish today, lest we will be condemning the world!"
"Silence!" commanded Aquilax, "If he is not welcomed here, I shall take him to scout with me until he heals, he will be able to walk his own path then and there!" declared he, boldly.
"I will not allow this heresy! Guards! Guards!" cried the priest.
Five men wielding spears and shields on their backs arrived, pointing their weapons at the young Aquilax.
My excitement at this scene filled me with renewed vigor, albeit faint.
Aquilax remained collected, his blade still aimed at the priest's throat, threatening to slice it.
The man in clerical ropes of red and white smirked at the young man, reassuring his position, however, it did not last long. Suddenly, the priest looked appalled as a dozen more men unsheathed their swords and pointed them towards the priest guards.
"No! He is the one in the wrong here!" said the priest, stepping back, his expression now panicked.
"Priest Jazax, hear me!" begged the chieftain, "It is not wise to instigate the people against Aquilax, he has protected our woods from Noad incursions for two winters with more than perfect results, our warriors follow him, do not plunge our village into chaos!"
Disoriented, the priest answered with a condemning expression for the chieftain, then one for the boy challenging him.
The priest frowned, lifting his hand. His guards withdrew their spears, followed by the warriors.
"I will not accept this, young man!" He declared, "A Ravenborn is not a simple savage you can handle with your strength, no matter how blessed it is by the gods."
"Your comment has been duly noted, priest Jazax, you have made the right choice."
"I did not make any choice!" He said, quick-marching towards his house, followed by his guards, "The Chantry Council will hear from this treachery!"
Once the elderly man in refined clothing called Jazax was gone in a sea of rants and curses, Aquilax finally turned to me. I glimpsed at his face for the first time. He bore a scar on his left eye that whited out his pupil. However, that did not remove any piece of the fairness I saw in him. Some of his forelocks even seemed dyed in a delicate teal. I broke in tears, for he looked back at me with a gentleness I had not received in my literal small time in this world.
"Nywin," He called.
Another figure appeared this was the same girl I had glimpsed at the pond.
"Sis, take care of our guest, make sure the boys take him to camp."
"Are you sure, brother?"
"As sure as the sun rises every day."
"Sheesh, aren't you the poet?"
The girl turned to me.
"Don't worry lad, if brother gives you a second chance, then so will I. You are in good hands."
That was all I needed to hear to finally give in to exhaustion and injuries.