Siraj part 1

Siraj - illustration by Dan Warren

Siraj’s mentor always touted that some days just don’t work out as well as others.

“By order of the Brother General of the Knights of the Order of the Tome, cease fleeing!” The old knight said in his thick northern accent.

Just like that, Siraj knew this was going to be one of those days. It wouldn’t be his first such day, far from it, but he knew only one way to keep it from being his last. Siraj dashed toward an alley. As if to punctuate his current feelings, Siraj forgot to look before he ran. He tripped over a beggar. Karngard was replete with vagrants. It was safer to live in Karngard as a beggar than in the Northland as a farmer. Siraj threw out an apologetic curse and scrambled back to his feet.

 “Stealing from a Brother Knight is punishable by death!” The old knight’s voice boomed like a thunderclap, surprising given the forest of a moustache his voice had to carry through.

Siraj didn’t know what got the Brother General so twisted. He hadn’t stolen anything, from him at least, and it hadn’t been much, just a canteen. Siraj hadn’t needed one; his leather canteen served him fine. But this one was dyed purple. Siraj liked purple.

“We will chase you all over the Northland!”

Like anyone wanted to stay in the Northland. Maybe the Pride, but they seemed to enjoy “protecting the world” and all the opportunities that gave them to fight Nor Azylon. And of course, the Knights of the Order enjoyed their haughty existence. They preached humility to the masses that lived in destitution, but if the Brother Knights ate the same porridge as the commoners, they did so with silver utensils.

“By my statair, I will have that lucky lock of hair for your penance.” Brother General said, guiding his two subordinates forward. They didn’t run, but marshaled forward like peacocks knowing victory was theirs.

Siraj threw a grin, if for no other reason than to chafe his newfound enemies, adding a flip of his black hair from his face, curling the white streak around his finger as if it held all the luck others thought he had.

The knight to the right, a golden haired young fellow, tossed a baton. Siraj ducked. He didn’t see the other one, tossed by the other flanking knight, until it caught him squarely in the shoulder, knocking Siraj to the ground. He clutched his right shoulder and flung himself into the alley. He should’ve chosen a different alley. Two more Brother Knights blocked the exit on the other end.

That would explain why the first three weren’t in a hurry to get at Siraj; they had reinforcements.

Siraj dashed toward the two hoping that they weren’t as adept at launching their batons–dodging in the alley would be thorny. Batons appeared in the knights’ hands, but they charged forward angling for a fist fight. Siraj picked up his pace like a bull building momentum. If he were bigger, it might’ve scared the knights. Instead, the bald one in the lead seemed to perk up with excitement. His enthusiasm showed that he’d been in a few scuffles, and given that he wasn’t scarred up, it likely meant the other fighters had taken the brunt of the disputes. Siraj roared, lowered his shoulder, and at the last possible moment sprung against one wall, kicked to land higher on the other wall, and rebounded still higher before leaping over the Brother Knights. Siraj hit the ground in a tucked roll and came to his feet at full speed.

Siraj smiled as he ran down the cobblestone, stroking his white lock of hair again. It felt good. He felt lucky.

Then he felt pain shoot down his neck.

The following clink of metal against cobblestone reminded him of the Brother Knights’ accuracy in using their batons as projectiles. He stumbled to one knee and his vision blurred. Fumbling on the ground, he picked up the baton and turned just as the bald knight caught him with a hard right and then Siraj went black.


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