Before you read: This fanfiction takes place in the world established in the video game, Fable: The Lost Chapters.
Fable 104, Chapter 1
Doumeki Shizuka was a Hero, and while not a particularly famous one, he was known well enough. The people had taken to calling him the Archer, and he was easily told by the ebony longbow strapped across his back. He was tall and slim, and cut an intimidating figure in the murky night. His dark leather made him almost invisible then, and his exceptional stealth was undeniable.
It was in the middle of his twenty-second year that a small band of merchants hired him out to scout ahead of their group, and clear their future campsites of pests and bandits. The quest kept him away from the guild for two weeks, but supplied him with a tidy some of gold so he didn't much mind. One night as the moon rose, a cold rain began to fall, and fog blanketed the ground.
Doumeki wasn't overly fond of rain, and the damp fog reached his knees. He stumbled upon something peculiar while seeking cover: a path that wasn't on his map. The Archer weighed his chances- a bandit camp, or a lonely hut? Knowing his luck, the former for sure…
But even as he stood, undecided, a mischievous raindrop slithered into the neck of his shirt and teased a shiver from him. He decided then to take his chances, and wished for the best. Just in case, though, he unsheathed a darkly shining obsidian cleaver and gripped it tightly in both hands as he ventured further down the path, and around the bend.
It was a very short trail; at the end of it stood a small house. Firelight spilled from the windows, looking warmer and more inviting than anything he could remember seeing. A booth was set up near the door, and was draped with a deep purple cloth. A leaning fence framed the property, excepting where a large, thorny bush grew. A few feet beside it, a dried garden occupied the space behind the house.
Doumeki loosened his grip on his weapon. Surveying the clearing curiously, he approached the cottage and tried the door. It was locked.
He frowned at the doorknob in his hand. Locked? He hadn't even considered that. Gods, but the rain-
Then the Archer realized. He clearly heard the sound of falling sky water all around him, but-
It wasn't raining in the clearing.
Not at all.
Releasing the handle as if it burned, Doumeki stumbled away from the house. A witch! By Gods, he'd walked right up to a witch's home! That was not the way to live a long and healthy life.
Doumeki, turning, decided that he'd rather deal with the rain.
But the mysterious road and the home at the end of it were both in his thoughts the next day as he traveled with the merchants. He did his best to fend them off, but it was like swatting mosquitoes while wadding through swampwater: tiring, irritating, and largely ineffective. They just kept coming.
When he received the second half of his pay at the end of the two weeks, he finally gave up. This was not something that he did lightly. Besides losing a battle against his own head, he was putting the rest of himself in very serious danger of being hexed by a disgruntled caster.
This was foremost among his thoughts as he once again found himself journeying down the short, unnamed road. Even as his feet brought him steadily closer, he cursed the curiosity his grandfather had always told him would hasten his deathday. Halfway around the bend he drew to a halt, shook himself hard, and spun on his heel. Stupid.
What, by the Gods' light, was so alluring about a lonely witch's hut?
His resolve to shut the book on this annoying puzzle lasted, unsurprisingly, for the length of his return to Bowerstone. It was in the pub there that he discovered the name of the clearing and lone structure from a woman whom he suspected of untoward intentions. Bending over his shoulder in a way that drew the eye to her impressive cleavage and flashing a smile that virtually dripped seduction, she scrawled the name in a whirling hand: the Rose Cottage. That same night he rose out of bed after a sleepless hour, suited up, and departed for the clearing.
The Rose Cottage he found completely untouched, a fact that somehow surprised him. The inviting glow was gone from the windows, though the door was still locked. Doumeki shifted, mildly unsettled.
He left a few minutes later, grinding his teeth, golden eyes flashing angrily in the occasional bolt of skylight that came through the canopy.
After that visit, he didn't return for almost a fortnight. When he did, he determined that he would stay until something happened, something to shed an enlightening ray on this whole gloomy business. Stay until the door opened, or, or…
He stood firmly in the middle of the clearing for as long he could content himself with watching the portal. Which, as it was, wasn't very long. Doumeki could be surprisingly impatient at times. He stomped down the path, until he was sure he was out of sight from the house's windows, and promptly cut across and into the woods.
Standing behind a tree twice the width of his waist, the Archer watched as, less than five minutes later the door opened, and what stepped out was the last thing he had expected.
It was a fox.
A true behemoth of an animal, whiter than fresh snow and reminiscent of an amount of quicksilver he'd seen once. Nine tails swirled lazily behind the animal.
Doumeki guessed that the tops of the thing's ears cleared his hips, easy.
The fox's nose twitched rapidly as it scented out the area, lingering at the spot where he had stood. Its muzzle followed his trail down the path for a short distance, not even making the bend, before it, with a sneeze, turned for the cottage.
A light, accented voice that surprised the Hero with thoughts of autumn breezes and cracking fires came from the barely opened door.
"Me'mios lezhwarei, Mugetsu?"
Doumeki's eyes narrowed at the foreign words. He'd never heard anything like them before.
The fox pressed its long nose through the split, and the door opened. The wizard stepped out.
But it couldn't be a wizard. The man was plainly too young to possess the experience necessary for one of the title. But he certainly wasn't a witch, and the spark in the air about him suggested greater power than which a common hedgewitch could claim.
So he was a warlock, then.
That decided, Doumeki moved on to observe other things. The jars in the warlock's arm, for instance, or the alien grace he displayed as he walked to stop before the booth. Flat, dark blue eyes swept the woods that ringed the clearing, hardening as they passed over the trail.
His appraisal complete, the warlock knelt and buried one hand in the thick fur around the fox's neck. He said something in a low voice to the animal, and the throaty, scratchy sounds again struck Doumeki as extraordinarily exotic.
The warlock laughed, and the Hero was still analyzing each lift and dip to the titter when a glob of fizzing, hissing blue powder struck him full in the face, and the world fell away.
I'm jumping the gun a bit on this one, but I'm having trouble finishing, and I'm hoping this will help get the ball rolling again. I will post links to a map of the game world and part of the Wikipedia article, if you haven't played the game and want to read up a bit on it : ) Also, I'm posting chapters according to where I've left little "--" time breaks, so some updates may be pretty small.