At the city gates a throng of travelers were impatiently waiting for the inspections to be completed so they could enter the city before nightfall. It had been a busy day, with many new faces finding their way to the City of Andor’s Edge.
One of the busiest days this month, thought Gries.
He was a city guardsman who was tasked with inspecting the people wishing to enter the large city. It was a mostly thankless job, but it was one of the only options for a third son of a farmer.
“Hey Bren,” he called out to his colleague, “looks like we’re almost finished for today. We heading to the usual place afterwards?”
“And watch you pathetically hit on Francine again? Ha! I wouldn’t miss it for the world!” answered Bren with a chuckle.
“Ugh, don’t remind me,” groaned the unfortunate guard. “I don’t think she’ll ever talk to me again!”
Bren leaned on his spear after the two gate guards returned to their posts, he was thinking about his own failures at finding a good girl he could settle down with. It was difficult for a guard to woo a decent girl, especially when all the girls were too busy fawning over adventurers.
“I told you, she has a thing for that adventurer – Julias. Every time he’s at the tavern she starts acting all proper!”
Gries didn’t want to hear it, but he couldn’t deny it. If only I’d been an adventurer, he thought with an ounce of regret.
“Those damn adventurers, they are all cocky bastards!” he complained with a hint of jealousy in his voice.
“You’re just mad because you aren’t one of them! I bet you’d jump at the chance,” mocked his friend.
Gries didn’t seem too happy to hear that, mostly because it was true. He just didn’t have what it took to be an adventurer. It was dangerous exploring the unknown and fighting monsters on a daily basis. He could fight against men well enough, but monsters were another story, not to mention dangerous dungeons and unexplored places, which were essentially deathtraps.
The disillusioned guardsman looked out into the distance. There were no more travelers waiting to enter the city and night was fast approaching. The two of them would soon be relieved from their watch and then they would be able to enjoy a good drink at the tavern.
He idly gazed upon the horizon for a while before he asked his friend in a thoughtful tone-
“Do you think there is anything else for us out there?”
Curiously, there was no answer from his fellow guard. He shot a quick peek at him and noticed that he was approaching him in a sluggish manner. Gries turned towards him with a look of concern on his face.
“Bren, you okay?”
His friend continued to approach while mumbling something under his breath. His walk was unsteady and wobbly, almost as if he were drunk. Gries could just barely make out the sounds coming from his mouth as he kept drawing closer
“Nine-nine-eight,” he repeated incessantly.
The confused guard was becoming seriously concerned.
“Bren, what the hell is wrong with you?”
He approached his friend cautiously, not knowing what to expect. The stumbling guard had been fine just moments ago, so Gries couldn’t fathom what had brought on this sudden change in his demeanor. He reached out to the strangely lethargic guard, placing his hands on his shoulders.
“Bren, snap out of it!” were the last words he would ever say.
Bren thrust his spear upwards, right through Gries’ lower jaw, puncturing his skull and ending his life in an instant. As his blood gushed forth from the wound, Bren continued with a twisted smile.
Both their bodies fell to the floor in unison.