The Tale of Kouldris the Redeemed

This is not a story of how things happened,

But how they could happen.

So keep your blades sharp,

and your bows strung.

The Blue Moon tavern was packed to the rafters with the citizens of Varrok and the adventurers of Runescape. The fire glowed and crackled in its hearth, beer tankards rose merrily and contented laughter rung about the place. Outside it was freezing cold, one of the worst winters in living memory, but inside the building there was warmth and happiness. It was day off for the palace servants, and they wanted to spend their hard earned wages. The people were happy. Except one.

In the corner furthest from the fire a tall figure was slouched against the thick wall. He wore a dark green cloak, with its hood concealing his face, a hardened leather jerkin over an olive shirt, green trousers covered leather chaps and tough knee length leather boots. On his arms were dull steel vambraces, shoulder guards and worn gloves. He had a fearsome long sword, nearly two-thirds his length around his waist, along with numerous pouches attached to his belt. There was an unspoken agreement between him and the other drinkers. He sat as far away from them as he could and they sat as far away from him as they could.

Although nobody knew, his name was Kouldris and he was in trouble. His life had never been good, but he seemed to have things sorted out. The criminal gang had given him a roof over his head and gave him the chance to prove himself. He was the rising star in their ranks, an expert at stagecoach ambushes and attacking travellers, doing quite well for himself. Although he had pangs of guilt sometimes, he had ignored them. Until that one night where everything had gone wrong. He was now a wanted man by the Varrok City guard, The Blood Wolves, his own gang and about seven other criminal rings. But this was not what was now bothering him. He was well into his pint and his conscience was nagging him.

'You can't remember the last time you did a good deed. Not One. You are a criminal. You have brought misery upon yourself and others. You have wasted your life. '

His train of thought was by a gust of freezing air, as a party of men arrived. They were a rough lot; five in total all swaying on their feet. Daggers were barely concealed in boots or at sides and their bodies were covered with scars and tattoos. Behind them, one dragged a small girl, who was sobbing quietly. They slumped towards their stools, one dragging the girl in clad in rags behind. She resisted for a second and the man beat fiercely her around her head.

"Move dam you, slave, move!" he roared in her tiny ear.

The drinkers looked up, but decided that it wasn't worth it and so resumed their talking, ignoring the scene before them. She fell crying and the drunk stood over her and drew his dagger.

Not one good thing in all your life, Kouldris's conscience reminded him.

"Little girl, little girl…" he said in a mock, soft tone.

"Get up before I draw your guts out, you piece of filth!" he roared now to the cowering pile of misery. The dagger came up.

Time to change Kouldris thought to himself.

" Let her go." He hadn't shouted the words as he stood up, but silence slowly spread through the tavern.

The drunk straightened up and his cronies gathered around. More than one dagger gleamed in the firelight now.

" Wots it ter you mate?" the man spat.

"Let her go or you will die." Kouldris spoke quietly and calmly, but slowly draw his sword as he talked. It was five feet of gleaming steal. He drew it slowly so it gave the perfect sound as it came free and he held it like he knew how to us it.

"You gonna mark us with that spike eh, mate… cause thers a lot of us mate…" the drunk swayed as he spoke, and Kouldris could see his eyes darting, from him to the other drinkers, calculating whether they were going to join in. Kouldris knew they would not stir to protect him and knew that when the drunken thug worked this out he was finished. Kouldris made up his mind.

Although he was well out of swords reach, suddenly lunged and the thug, in panic jumped back and went sprawling on the floor. His companions growled and menaced their blades. Perhaps that was not such a good idea, Kouldris thought.

"That was a dumb move mate, you'll pay for that. Get I'm, lads!" With a shout the thugs barrelled towards Kouldris. Despite his banter, Kouldris knew that he couldn't afford to kill these men, not with a price on his head As well as that, the pleasure of the kill that Kouldris usually associated with fighting was gone. These were bad men, but they did not deserve to die, Kouldris thought. So as the leader came at him with a powerful over arm lunge that would carve down onto his head, Kouldris parried the blade an inch from his face and threw the leader to the ground. He could hear the thug's head crunch as he went down. The second came on more wearily now, jabbing his dagger forward with short, expert stabs, but Kouldris was no honourable dueller, so he kicked the man in the groin as the sword met the dagger. The thug screamed as he hit the ground. The third thug now looked worried and waited to see what this grim stranger would do, so Kouldris picked up and empty tankard and lobed it at the mans face. The man desperately brought both hands to cover himself and as he did, Kouldris dived, sweeping the thugs legs out from underneath him. They sprawled on the ground, helplessly. The man tried to bring his dagger around, but Kouldris grabbed is wrist and locked his arm, stopping the blade. The thugs other arm was around Kouldris's neck, squeezing the air out of him, so Kouldris delivered three hard punches into his face until the pressure eased. He rolled off the man, stamped on his fingers for good measure and retrieved his sword. Only then did he realise that there were two men left.

"Disappear. Quickly." Kouldris said, slowly raising his sword again. The men took one look at the demon that had effortlessly reduced three of their friends to moaning lumps of quivering fear and ran for the door. The room was silent. He then knelt by the girl who was looking at him with fear in her eyes.

"Go," he said, "Go, you are free".

"Thank you." She whispered, before running for the exit.

He was just about to straighten up when he heard a rustle behind him. He tried to turn around and suddenly with a lance of white-hot pain the dagger burst through his chest. Kouldris's leather armour could stop glancing blows, but the dagger sliced through it as if it wasn't there. An unbearable torrent of unimaginable pain welled up inside him and tore at his insides. Kouldris clutched at the wound as though he could tear out the horrendous agony that until now Kouldris never even thought possible. His blood flowed freely from the wound and an inhuman growl escaped his throat and he dropped his sword on the ground with a dull thud as Kouldris struggled to stay up. Swaying slightly, the thug leader came into Kouldris's view. Keeping his eyes on Kouldris, he slowly bent down and picked up the sword. Still keeping his eyes on Kouldris, he placed the sword on his knee and slowly, steadily, began to bend it. The metal creaked and groaned, as it was put under stress it was not forged for. The thug grimaced as he applied more pressure on the sturdy blade and suddenly, with a dull clang, Kouldris's sword, that had seen him in ambushes and gang fights for years, snapped cleanly in half before his eyes. The thug dropped the two halves of Kouldris's blade and sniggered.

"Tha one's a worm. Take im away, lads."

Kouldris was dimly aware of being grabbed from behind and hauled out of the tavern. Dumped outside in the gutter, Kouldris's sight began to fade, and he began to loose feeling in his arms and legs. So this is it. At least I saved the girl. That was good … Kouldris's vision blacked out completely.

"Rise, Kouldris."

Kouldris could feel his body slowly rising until he was upright, but somehow, his feet were not touching the ground. He knew he must be dying.

"You shall be healed."

Kouldris heard a clatter on the ground. The pain seemed to have gone.

"Open your eyes."

Was someone talking to him? Kouldris opened his eyes. And closed them. And opened them again. In front of him, crowned by brightest light was Saradomin! Saradomin the divine, Saradomin the holy, Saradomin the wise, Saradomin the benevolent, the mighty and the merciful. Saradomin the eternal. Kouldris was on his feet and when he looked down, the dagger was on the ground! He looked at his chest to see a huge gash in his armour and…

Kouldris dropped down on his knees, mumbling prayers that he had learned in childhood and only know had any real meaning. Everything around seemed blurred and insignificant. Saradomin spoke unto Kouldris, and only then did Kouldris sense the majesty, calm and infinite wisdom that was the voice of Saradomin.

"Kouldris. You have committed untold deeds of grave evil. Yet this night you have acted with selfless care and great bravery. I have chosen you to carry out a holy task. The minions of Zamarok are massing on in their tunnels and caves, in their lairs and strongholds and on the edges of the world. The hour is near and you shall gather about you all that is good and right. You will be my holy warrior, my chosen servant."

Kouldris's mind was reeling. He, the orphaned, gutter scum, chosen by the great one, to fight the forces of evil? He could think of nothing to say.

"Lord… my sword is broken." He stammered.

Saradomin smiled upon Kouldris.

"Truly you are a warrior. Very well."

Then His voice rose to a magnificent crescendo of unparalleled perfection that Kouldris knew could shake the world.

"Kouldris. You are my champion of righteousness and purity. With this holy sword you shall conquer!"

At these words, the whole world lit up. All Kouldris could see was the brightest light in creation. Holy choir filled his ears and in front of his eyes, all he could see was a great sword. As he reached forward and grasped it, the light and the beautiful music faded. He was standing in the alley behind the Blue Moon inn, holding a sword above his head in salute. He lowered it and was amazed. It was forty four inches long, with an eight inch handle, which seemed to be made from some kind of silver. The pommel was inscripted with holy text, as was the center of the blade. And it was the blade which drew Kouldris's attention. It was razor sharp, and gleamed, even in the semidarkness. The blade metal was bright blue. Runite. The strongest metal known to man. He grinned at it turned towards the tavern. That brute was still in there, slugging down ale amongst the terrified drinkers. Kouldris wanted to see the look on his face when he walked in, the terror the thug felt when the holy blade was pulled from its scabbard. He grinned and strode towards the back entrance.

But then, he stopped. He wanted to put his rune blade to the mans filthy throat, he really did. But it seemed, somehow, wrong. Kouldris battled with himself. But that was not how he should do things now. Saradomin was his master.

"Good." Came a voice in his head. "I am proud of you. But the hour is near. Evil stirs in the barbarian village. You shall find the first holy task there."

Not sure whether to say anything, Kouldris sheathed his blade. Then something caught his gaze on the ground. It was the crook's dagger. Crude and dirty, it lay there, covered in his blood. Without thinking, Kouldris bent down and placed in his boot. The man who appeared in Varrok's main street was a very different one from the one who walked into the Blue Moon Inn. He walked with purpose.

There was work to be done.