Pirate: The Legend of Chenbeard
Chapter One: Dirty Work
Release One: Pages 4 - 7
CHENBEARD RAN UP to the group of pilgrims that were approaching the stream and upon reaching their group he dropped to his knees and began to plead with them, "Sirs! Please excuse this ragged man and take pity on him," he said, his strange brogue vanishing instantly to be replaced by perfect Common. "My companion and I were waylaid by bandits and she managed to escape them by hiding near the stream. They've taken all of my clothing and possessions and though I don't much care for the loss of my material wealth, I would like to beg you desperately for a set of robes to wear. Without them, I fear I will be unable to enter the holy city and my pilgrimage will end here in failure. I have little doubt that the Gods have sent the bandits to punish me for some of my past wrongdoings, but I hope that you can be my salvation and grant me a second chance to complete my journey."
The pilgrims murmured amongst themselves at first, clearly unsure if they should trust this ragged stranger, and eventually it was the oldest of the pilgrims that chose to approach him. This man looked to be the leader of the group and though his hair was silver and thin upon his scalp, his eyes shone with wisdom and strength. "We will aid you stranger, for it is the right thing to do," he smiled and turned to one of the younger pilgrims, giving him a signal, which probably indicated that he should pass a set of robes to Chenbeard. The young man immediately acknowledged the Elder's gesture and began rummaging through his backpack, searching his assortment of items for a spare set of robes. "We are truly sorry for your loss my son," said the Elder, turning back to face Chenbeard, "and though I would like to offer you more assistance, a spare set of robes is all we have to give you. I am certain though that those torn-rags that you are wearing are a sign of the hardship you've endured to get here and that is why I chose to believe in your tale."
Chenbeard made a show of looking over himself, smiling sheepishly, "actually sir, this was simply what they left me when they stole my robes, pack and donation gifts. I am at least thankful they did not leave me naked to catch my death of cold." He spotted the man removing a second pair of robes from his backpack and smiled, "no need for that brother, my companion did not lose anything of hers; however she has become rather shy and does not wish to reveal herself to humans anymore." Haze took the cue from that statement and quickly poked her head out from a set of rocks which she had hidden behind once Chenbeard approached the pilgrims. She then made a show of squinting at the group, before vanishing once more behind the rocky outcrop. Chenbeard smiled wryly and shrugged his shoulders, "I do apologise for her staring, she is not used to seeing humans and I'm afraid she has seen the worst of them so far."
The Elder shook his head as his eyes filled with pity, "bandits are a disgrace to us all my son. I am truly sorry that your elven friend has had to witness the worse of humanity. It is good to see however that you are both unharmed, for the bandits in these areas can be very violent."
Chenbeard nodded in agreement, "Aye, I give my thanks to the Goddess Valshera and her son Tumond that I remain alive and whole." He smiled again and decided to banter with the Elder a little more, "I am actually a devotee of the Valsheran temple in Kushan and if it is not too personal a question, might I inquire where your group is from?" He turned momentarily to bow and thank the young man who handed him the robes, before returning his gaze to the Elder as he awaited his response.
"Blessings upon you in the name of Zen, my group and I are worshippers of the God of Knowledge from the southern fringes of the Galbin Coast. We have come here from the town of Gongag, it has been a three week journey" replied the Elder, clasping his hands together.
"Peace be upon you brother," said Chenbeard, mimicking the traditional greeting of a worshipper of Zen, "I have had some dealings with the children of Zen, may his knowledge guide your path with wisdom and grace."
The Elder's look of satisfaction and joy would have been difficult to miss, given the way that he now beamed at Chenbeard upon hearing the mention of his deity's greeting. His mannerisms immediately became warm and all hints of suspicion vanished from his face. "Anyone who knows of our ways is a welcome friend. Tell me, would you like an escort into the city?"
Chenbeard grinned and shook his head, "I will have to politely decline your offer elder, for I believe it is best if I go through the gates with my companion. They say it is better to walk one's chosen path, for knowledge can only be understood when it is whole and complete."
The Elder laughed out loud and clapped a hand on Chenbeard's shoulder, "you are truly wise in the teachings of Zen brother and were you not already dedicated to Valshera, I might ask you to join me in the clergy of my town. Peace be upon you brother, and hopefully we shall meet again under better circumstances."
"Knowledge be with you Elder," said Chenbeard bowing one last time and bidding them goodbye, before he hurried back toward Haze. He waited until they were out of sight before he attempted to speak with her, but she immediately cut him off.
"All this time," she whispered, staring at him, "all this time you could speak properly?"
"Oh aye, I can speak common just fine lass, but really I prefer not t' do so. I mean, is there a reason I should be speakin' in common?" replied Chenbeard with a grin. "Look, me theory is pretty simple. No one is gonna remember a new mercenary what speaks in common just like everybody else. I'm sure they're more likely t' remember ya, if ye have somethin' that sets ye apart from the rest. Now this brogue of mine might sound a mite foolish at first, but eventually, when our name is known, everyone will identify me as the man who speaks with a strange accent."
"Strange is right," muttered Haze, "I can't believe it, all this time you could speak perfect common, and might I add noble common, and here you are pretending to be some uneducated clown!"
"Is it better t' show yer hands at the start of a game, or t' keep it hidden till ye've got the enemy where ye need 'im? Intelligence can be a double edged sword Haze, it's never good t' be too smart around those that want t' sink ya. Learn that if ye want t' live in this sort of world," said Chenbeard, giving Haze a quick wink as he began to strip off his shirt. Now that the pilgrims were gone, he was eager to get into the robes and enter the city. The sooner they found work, the better.
"Rowr! You're looking good for an old man," said Haze, taking her time to admire him as he got out of his ragged tunic. Chenbeard glared at her, "I know we're kind of standin' out here in the open, but couldn't ye at least act like a normal girl and scream or maybe slap me or at least turn ye back t' give me some privacy?"
"Hey, it's not my fault you started stripping off your clothing right in front of me. Did you say, 'Haze turn around will ya?' or did you simply start taking them off," asked Haze, mimicking his brogue fairly accurately. That made Chenbeard laugh.
"Okay lass, ye win this time," said Chenbeard, as he laughed hard and tried to stop. "Are ye going ta keep staring at me now or will ye actually turn ye back while I get me slacks off?"
"I'm going to stare of course," said Haze, choosing stubbornly to face him as she shot him a playful grin. "What's the matter Chenbeard, afraid to show me the kind of sword you're carrying?" She smirked and decided to make a cruel jest, "or perhaps it's because you're only carrying a wee little dagger and you're afraid I'll laugh at it."
Chenbeard shrugged and dropped his slacks, standing completely naked as he turned the robes over in his hands, trying to find the right way to wear them. "There, are ye satisfied now? Besides, I've got nothin' t' be embarrassed about around a brat who still smells of her mother's milk. Best not jest with yer elders, we tend not t' care so much about embarrassing you young'uns."
Haze blushed and turned her face away slightly, though she kept her eyes fixed on him, "you're not old," she muttered under her breath.
"I'm old enough t' be ye father, now ye can either keep starin' at me or ye can help me figure out how t' wear these blasted robes. These Zen fellas are great scholars, but they're utterly shite at designin' clothing," Chenbeard let out a snarl of frustration as he gave up trying to figure out how to put them on.
"Here, I'll do it," said Haze as she reached for the robes. She immediately noticed a set of buttons that Chenbeard had missed and popped them open. "I see, this is more like a elven dress. You just remove these buttons in the front, then drop it to the ground, put your feet in and pull it all the way up and wear it like a normal tunic. Then put your buttons on and you're all set."
"Now if they'd just put a set o' instructions on these things, I'd be pretty happy," grumbled Chenbeard as he did as Haze instructed and finally managed to wear the robes. He noticed that they were extremely comfortable and great for movement, not to mention that they came with a built in set of undergarments. "Alright, I retract me previous statement, these Zen fellows make pretty damn good robes," he grinned, "they're rather supportive if ye catch me drift."
"This time, I don't think I want to know," said Haze, making a face and sticking out her tongue.
"Oh, what's this then, brave elf girl got the jitters after seein' me willy?" snorted Chenbeard as he slapped her on the back, "guess that'll show ya not t' try and play yer games with me. Now then, let's get goin', I have a feelin' we're about t' get lucky with this city!"
-Chen Yuan Wen, 4th August 2012