Chapter I - The Silent Ones
"What did you do for you to deserve such suffering and death?"
A female voice said as she knelt beside a lifeless knight's body, her voice slightly shaking from rage and disbelief. She inspected the corpse's armor, it was intact, unbent, and mostly undamaged except for the leather straps keeping the steel plates together. The opposite can be said for the dead knight's body which was horribly incinerated, baked within the steel husk covering it, and the dead man's skull charred black. Needless to say, he did not die quickly, he was burned alive, a horrible death, and he can longer be identified, save for those who truly knew the torched knight.
"Helga, we should head back to the barracks and get some rest, it's almost midnight." a familiar voice said from her back, it was her commander. "He was brave and did his duty as well as he could, now it has ended," the man said, a knight in his forties, as he bowed down and tapped his mailed hand on the kneeling knight's shoulder.
Helga Rosewood rose and signaled for the body to be taken to the Temple in the northeast part of the city for proper burial rites. The laborers lifted the body and as they did, a part of his burned flesh took to the wind, ashes flew with the kind breeze of the night. Helga and her commander proceeded to walk. "He was burned," the young knight muttered under her breath, still shaking ever so slightly.
The veteran knight heard Helga and looked at her, he noticed the anger through her eyes but ignored it and proceeded to look forward once more, as they were still walking. "Aye, he was," he said as if declaring it, "by a Silent One undoubtedly." He noticed the young Helga look at him quickly and briefly but she too proceeded to look forward once more. The veteran knight noticed this, he continued to walk with her, moments later he proceeded to ask, "Rasper, was he named?"
"Rasper Manrow, one of the finest knights I've ever known and a friend," Helga replied as the wind blew somewhat harder, hard enough to send her short golden locks flying with the wind, like the dead knight's ashed flesh. "He's dead, torched, and on his way to the temple to be buried. His sword was still sheathed, if he had his blade drawn, I'm certain he'll still be standing, his ability with the sword and shield remains unmatched by most, even now."
"I concur…" the veteran knight said, but he choked on his words. He stopped walking and found himself looking at Helga's fierce blue eyes.
Helga stopped, one step ahead of her superior, "What is it?"
"He was a great warrior, but with a tendency to lose his temper when he fails to get what he wants."
"What do you mean by that?"
"You do know he's famous here in Prontera not because of his ability to swing a sword, no?"
"I've heard rumors."
"I believe them to be true."
"How can you even say that? Tell me you aren't thinking of-"
"Aye, I'm thinking it right now," the veteran knight interrupted as he looked at Helga's eyes sternly, his black hair and rugged beard made his calm face flare up, like a face of a fierce knight in battle, "Rasper Manrow is no honorable man, he is known to extort coin from unwary people."
"I know it, I've had my eyes on him for about a month now. Make no mistake though, Helga, what happened to him is still a crime and I am set to find out who did it specifically. Now walk with me again!"
Her commander started walking, now with a faster pace, she followed and muttered under her breath again, "Murderers! Scum!"
"Helga, your mind isn't sound because of the rage you're feeling but the people who we suspect to have killed him aren't savages."
"Apologies, but assassins should-"
"No, Helga, not assassins. Sages," the veteran knight sighed, "You really aren't thinking straight right now."
"Yes, the Silent Ones are sages, assassins never burn their enemies alive."
The two knights continued to walk through the dark streets of the Capital, no one has said a word to each other yet. Helga Rosewood took her steps with her head down, shamed by the fact that her blind rage clouded her mind, and a clouded mind is no use to a knight when strategizing. One the other hand, the veteran knight walked with his chin proudly raised, a true commander and a prime example of an ideal knight with a sound mind, sound body, and sound steel. They continued walking, as if patrolling the city, but for Helga, the silence was deafening. She wanted to speak, but feared that she might say something incorrect again, she stayed her tongue.
As they came near the northwest part of the city, the barracks, the veteran knight spoke, "I feel compelled to tell you…" The two knights continued walking, Helga instinctively faced her commander and they stopped a few paces from the barracks entrance.
"The Silent Ones are sages, but not ordinary ones."
Helga's eyes and face show a strong hint of confusion, and her eyes widened out of curiosity."
"It is said that they can vanish in plain sight and remain hidden so ably that a company of wizards and priests will have an even easier time looking for an elite assassin in hiding."
"Are you saying that," Helga grasped the hilt of her sword standing ready, "he might be here?"
"Most likely, now hands off your sword. You wouldn't want one of them setting their eyes on you."
Helga heeded her commander and stood down, "They can set their eyes on me, I'll set my steel through their belly," Helga said in a menacing tone which made her commander smile and nod.
"I know you will, but we need to have a plan if we ever hope to catch them."
Helga nodded in agreement, clearly calmer than before.
"They might as well be murderers, but they are sages still, and if we are to find them, find out what they're after," the veteran knight paused and continued, "then we best keep our minds open and clear and allow ourselves to see through their eyes."
Helga, once again, nodded in agreement.
The veteran knight looked up the dark sky before the two of them entered the barracks. "Rest now my child," Gallard Rosewood told the young knight, her daughter.
Helga nodded weakly, touched by how her father's voice sounded so sweet that moment. They parted ways, her father went to his chambers, and she went to hers.
As soon as Helga was inside her room, she started getting off her armor's straps. Starting from the gauntlet, to the epaulets, then the breast plate. As soon as she was finished with those, she sat down her bed to remove her greaves, and then she stripped the remaining tunic of leather. She was a young lady of nineteen years, and a fine one. Her golden hair, blue eyes as cold as ice, and fair skin reflected that of her mother who died birthing her. Some say her looks are unfitting for a knight, as combat is not a fitting role for a beauty like her, a ripe young woman. Her father, Gallard Rosewood even thought so, the smell of leather and the sound of clashing steel is not fit for her precious daughter, or so he thought at first. Gallard Rosewood may look to be a brutish knight, but he was also wise, he knew that if her daughter is to survive, truly survive, then she must be able to protect herself and others even should hard times come, and he knows that they will come.
Helga finished removing her armor, and in place of leather and steel plates, she wrapped herself in fine cotton and mantle, a fine tunic that made her look like just another commoner, a very fine commoner. She laid down on her soft bed, her head bouncing lightly from the pillow below her head and neck, and she tried to close her eyes.
Time passed by, and her eyes still closed, but she is far from asleep. The thought of these so called Silent Ones kept her awake, the more she thought of them, the more her blood rushed up her head and she felt light headed after a while, small droplets of sweat formed on her forehead and her neck moistened. A cold gust of wind entered her open window and filled the room, and she felt blissful, her mind cleared and the sweat on her head and neck dried up. Helga's eyelids slowly shut, but before falling into deep sleep, she muttered as if expecting them, "Nightmares."