Roland’s Crusade (Short Story)

Roland enters a poker game…but has more than games on his mind!

Roland’s Crusade (Short Story)

Roland sat with his back against the wall. He sighed as he shifted in his seat. With his cloak covering his face he began tapping his fingers against the chair. “Will you stop that?! You move as if you were a child!” exclaimed a voice. Roland stood up and faced the group of men with his fist clenched. “Which one of you spoke?” Puffs of flame escaped his mouth as his eyes burned red. His question was met with silence. The young rogue pointed at a burly man carrying a large claymore. “Was it you?” The man promptly shook his head. “Or was it you?” This time he pointed at a frail elderly fellow who kissed his teeth. “Oh, how great this cowardly person must be. To only speak anonymously amid a crowded room. I reckon he has a split between his legs and no apple to speak of. I mean that voice did sound a bit feminine.” Laughter filled the room.

Roland took his seat once again where he began tapping his fingers furiously. The metal door swung open to reveal a short man wearing a giant red top hat and blue pointy shoes. “Let’s see who is next…ahh yes. Roland Lamont, Jasper Convene, and a Mr. Von Goulash.” A man dawning a gold and black cloak with star earrings stood up. While holding his hands at his hips he spoke. “It’s actually Baron Von Goulash sir. It would please me very much if you tried that again.” The dealer cleared his throat. “I suppose…that wouldn’t be a problem. Baron Von Goulash please come in.”

The three players entered the room to view the aftermath of what had transpired previously. In the middle of the room was a large circular table where cards and poker chips could be seen sprawled on top. A large bulbous man could be seen covered in blood eating a pastry. Across from him laid the body of one of the lads that had entered previously. His throat was cut in a crude fashion. The jagged blade was still stuck inside. Jasper covered his mouth as he approached the table. “W…what…what happened here?” The bulbous man spat on the floor. Cherry sauce leaked onto his shirt as he spoke. “He was a cheat. I don’t tolerate swindlers, shysters, and above all cheats! Now let’s play some cards.” Jasper grasped the neck of his collar as he took a deep breath. Baron Von Goulash sat down with a large smile on his face. Roland pushed the body of the cheat aside and sat down. “The game is Morrow City hold up. The buy in is five thousand lion dollars. With an additionally two thousand allowed. Play a fair game and you won’t get your throat slit.” Said the dealer.

Roland began grinding his teeth. After the first deal Roland glanced at his cards and smirked. “All in”. Jasper bit his lip for a moment before folding. “Haven’t you ever heard of a gentleman’s game? What kind of scoundrel plays in such a manner?” Said Baron Von Goulash. Roland licked his lips. “I didn’t come here for a gentleman’s game I came here to win your money. Make your play Baron Von whatnot” Baron Von Goulash began to turn red. He took a sip of wine before folding. “I rather not…for cards are a game like fine wine. Slow to the taste will make not waste!” The bulbous man dawned a vague expression. Several moments passed while the two men stared at each other. The dealer was the first to break the silence. “Master…Master Vaughn…do you fold?” With swift justice Vaughn slapped the dealer across his face. “How dare you speak my name in front of these nobodies!” He slammed both his fists against the table. “Get me my two thousand! I call and I raise two thousand. That is a total of seven thousand in case you can’t count rogue!”

Roland smirked and reached for his coin purse, dropping it onto the table. “Seven thousand. Feel free to count it…my numbers ain’t so good master Vaughn!” He said with a grin. Vaughn winced. He dropped his cards revealing a straight flush. Jasper widened his eyes while the baron took another sip of wine. “Open your hand boy!” Said Master Vaughn. Ignoring this slight Roland opened his hand to reveal a royal flush. “Sorry master…it looks like you came up a little short.” Vaughn stood up and walked towards a large grey cabinet. “You think you’re funny huh? Do you know who I am?” Roland nodded. “Yes…you’re the man who just lost seven thousand lion dollars.” As Vaughn opened the cabinet he began to rummage through its contents.

The dealer widened his eyes while backing away from the table. “Sir Roland…please take your winnings and go. I don’t want any more trouble.” The rogue removed his hood and began to lean back, placing a foot on the table. “I’m quite comfortable where I am.” Baron Von Goulash scoffed. “You are about as bright as you look. Everyone in the underground knows Master Vaughn is the most ruthless host in the city.” An eerie expression crossed the young rogues face. “So ruthless that he would kill a twelve year old girl for spilling ale on his new leather boots.” Jasper gasped. “I heard about that…he cut off her foot before making her walk across the bridge of spirits. Then he shot her in the back with a crossbow. But what does that have to do with anything…kids die all the time.” Roland shrugged.

“Nothing I suppose…except that little girl had a brother…and that brother had a friend. Now that friend came to me and what can I say…I’m a sucker for a sob story.” Master Vaughn emerged from the cabinet dawning two golden crossbows. “You can very well join that foolish wench in the grave.” Master Vaughn aimed at Roland’s throat as he pulled the triggers. In one swift motion, the rogue dodged the projectiles landing in front of Vaughn. He removed his dagger and held it at the man’s throat. “Now…this is the part where you beg for your life.” Said the rogue. “Wait…wait…I got money!” were the last words he spoke as he drew his final breath.

 

“Tis a sad man who lives life without gold, but an even sadder one who only lives for it.”

          Roland Lamont

Jarvan’s Will ( Short Story)

Would you give up your left hand to gain the world in your right? Jarvan finds out! In this epic short tale.

The Oakwood door creaked as he pushed it open. Jarvan Hartengale V walked into the room where his brother sat. “So…he’s dead.” Said Jarvan V. Jarvan Hartengale VI stood up before kicking the chair across the room. “Ya…he’s dead!” Jarvan V inched closer to his brother with his palms out. “Did you read his will already?”.

Jarvan VI picked up a piece of parchment and threw it in his brother’s direction. “Read it for yourself. Father was such a vagabond, I’m surprised he even bothered to write one.” The older Jarvan glanced over the parchment with pursed lips. “Well? What do you think? That old fool finally showed us his hand in death!” Jarvan VI began pacing back and forth. “Well it says here that he believes neither of us deserve to be king. He says that I am too cold, calculating, and stubborn. But he also says that you are too rash, immature, and likely to die a swift death on the battlefield. I mean…he wasn’t wrong in his assessment…as usual.” Jarvan VI slammed his foot on the ground causing sparks of light to emit.

“Me? Likely to die a swift death on the battlefield? I am the guild’s pride and joy. He is the one that up and let himself die a miserable death, worthy of the cunt that he is! Enough about father, this talk is beginning to upset my soul. What do you suggest we do next?” Jarvan V grimaced but remained silent. “What? You’re upset that I called him a cunt? He disliked both of us equally yet you were ever the doting son. What thanks did you get for your dedication and commitment?” Silence swept the room as Jarvan V continued to glare at his younger brother. While his eyes burned yellow the temperature in the room began to rise.

“Fine…fine…I take it back. He wasn’t a cunt. Happy now?” Jarvan V softened his posture. “I will be happy when this ordeal is over and done with. I suggest we let the people decide.” Jarvan VI began to laugh uncontrollably. “You will let the people decide? You do realize they love me more than words can convey. While you…brother… you are about as loveable as a pet rock. About as malleable as one at that!” The older Jarvan raised an eyebrow. “You mistake love for your antics and generosity with love for you as a leader. I believe the people will see that I am the one most suitable to lead them to greater prosperity and glory.” The younger Jarvan smirked, his eyes gleaming. “Very well! It shall be something the common folk call an e-l-e-c-t-i-o-n.”

 

Struggling to breathe Jarvan V began to loosen the knot around his neck. The bag that covered his face tightened with each attempt. High pitched laughter began to fill the room. A squeaky voice murmured. “I wouldn’t do that if I were you…” Jarvan raised his hand displaying an obscene gesture. “Shut your mouth and unleash me at once!” The voice began to chuckle to himself. “I suppose even the cool, calm, and collected Jarvan Hartengale V has his limits. We will unleash you soon enough. We just have a few questions for you.” Jarvan stood up pulling on the chains that bound him. “I will not answer any of your questions while this bag covers my face. Nor will you get any answers of me while these chains restrain my hands. Above all I will not answer questions to a peon such as yourself. I wish to speak to your leader.” Whispering could be heard throughout the room.

A deep booming voice could be heard amongst them. “You are as clever as the people make you out to be!” The shackles dissolved in a flash of purple sand while the bag shriveled into a tiny speck. Jarvan surveyed his surroundings. He was trapped in a cursed circle which formed a barrier around him. Outside the circle he could see thirteen robed figures all dawning blue cloaks with a swan insignia on their chest. “Who are you people and what do you want from me?” One of the figures stepped forward. “We are the Swan Guild and it is not what we want from you…but what we can do for you!” Jarvan’s face manifested into a grotesque scowl. “I am in no mood for riddles, speak with purpose or hold your tongue.” The robed figures began flapping their arms about akin to a bird. “Spoken like a true Lion. We believe your guild has the potential to rule this world…with the right assistance of course. I mean first we would have to make you emperor.”

Jarvan stepped forward pointing at the robed figure. “You have not answered my question sufficiently.” The figure inched closer. “The Swan Guild is a guild unlike any other. We perform a special kind of magic.” The figure threw a gold coin inside the circle. “Bask in the glory that is the Lion Dollar. Our prized possession. A gold coin which will signify the reign of the mighty Lion Guild. Whether you will be at the helm of this guild during its prosperity is up to you.” Jarvan bit into the coin. “You mean to use this small piece of gold as a medium of exchange for goods and services?” The robed figures began flapping their arms once again. “Yes! Yes! You understand…for swan’s sake you understand. We have heard about those Lion eyes of yours and how they let you see things that others cannot, but we weren’t sure if the rumors were true!” Jarvan remained silent. “Ahh, yes. I suppose you want to know what the cost for our allegiance is. A better question is, what are you willing to part with to gain the world?”

Jarvan V stroked his beard for a moment. He began to pace back and forth. His eyes burned bright yellow as they threatened to engulf the room. “I am willing to do what is necessary for the good of my people. With me as their emperor I can lead them to greater prosperity, security, and joy. I am willing to give what you wish to take.” The robed figures began to clap their hands together. “Very well said. Is that your final response?” This question was met with silence.

Jarvan V awoke in his bed chambers to an unusual amount of silence. He turned to his side as he grasped the empty bed space beside him. “No…not her!” He rushed to the bathroom where he was met with emptiness. Getting dressed in haste he placed his gown on his person. As he ran down the stairs beads of swear began to pour down his brow. Jarvan Hartengale VI blocked his way with his spear. “Brother, I do not know how you managed it…but the people have chosen.” He lowered to his knees. “I pledge my spear to you for as long as I breath air on this earth. I pledge the spear of my children and my children’s children, for we will forever be under your command.” Sweat still pouring across the emperors face he dropped to his knees. “What the gods give with their right hand they take with their left.”

The End

 

“What the gods give with their right hand they take with their left.”

Jarvan Hartengale V