The following day, Vaurotha found himself rather lost. His mind had tricked him into thinking it was the day of the arrivals.
Instead, it was another day of training.
Not that he was overly bothered; he enjoyed training, especially with his friends.
But he was still unsure what to do. Most of the day he settled for sparring – occasionally with recruits outside of his circle of friends – or landing blows on the training dummies.
He also managed to get some archery practice in.
It wasn’t until evening, around the time that Hala allowed them to go to their beds, that something more interesting occurred.
Vaurotha had remained outside training for a while after the rest had gone to their beds. He was well aware that he would be too excited to fall asleep, knowing that the Kingdom’s allies were coming to Doomuron, so he decided to train until he was exhausted.
He landed continuous blows on the training dummy, his muscles beginning to complain.
‘You try too hard,’ Hala said from nearby.
Vaurotha turned, panting slightly. ‘Captain.’ He saluted. ‘I didn’t see you.’
Hala smiled. ‘Evidently not.’ He looked at the marks in the dummy. ‘Do you ever stop?’
‘Usually, yes. But tonight…I don’t know. Something feels odd,’ Vaurotha replied, walking to sit on the bench in the armoury.
‘You’re exhausted. That’s what’s odd,’ Hala laughed. ‘But seriously. What’s wrong?’
Vaurotha shrugged. ‘Sorry captain, but I don’t know. I feel…empty, somehow.’
Hala sighed, and sat down beside the half-Elf. ‘Interesting. Look, Vaurotha. Everyone has their weaknesses, and if yours happens to be a void in your heart, then you must learn to defend, or hide, that weakness.’
Vaurotha raised an eyebrow, mildly confused. ‘Captain, I –’
Hala held up a hand. ‘Don’t worry. I know I don’t always make sense. Just –’ He clapped a hand on Vaurotha’s back. ‘Just don’t let this emptiness weaken you.’ He stood up. ‘Now, if you’ll excuse me, I grow tired. It’s late, y’know.’
Vaurotha smiled. ‘Good night, captain.’
Hala smiled, and then passed into the darkness around them.
Vaurotha sighed, and failed to notice Malri approach in the darkness.
‘I couldn’t help but overhear your conversation,’ he said, making Vaurotha start slightly.
‘Oh, Malri. What are you doing up?’
Malri sat down beside him. ‘Couldn’t sleep.’ He looked up at the wall and smiled. ‘Have you ever seen the city? I mean, really seen it?’
‘No,’ Vaurotha replied, curious. ‘What do you mean?’
‘The second highest point in this city is that wall,’ Malri explained, pointing at it. ‘From there, you can see the entire city. From the Great Tower, I would suppose you can see into the nearby towns.’ He chuckled. ‘Want to see what I mean?’
‘I – I suppose so. But how are we meant to get up there? The walls are off-limits to recruits.’
Malri grinned. ‘Follow me.’ He stood up and walked to the wall.
Vaurotha hesitated, and then followed him. It was a short walk, and they got there rather quickly.
Malri turned to Vaurotha. ‘You can either take the roof of the barracks, or just climb the wall.’
‘We are going to climb. I know you’ll be able to do it. You’re an agile, dextrous, person.’
Vaurotha stood, waiting to see what Malri meant.
He didn’t have to wait long. Malri flashed a smile and leapt at the wall. His hands closed around jutting stones and into crevices.
Vaurotha saw how little effort Malri seemed to make and sighed. There was no way he could match that.
Once the former assassin had pulled himself onto the top of the wall, he turned a called down to Vaurotha to follow.
Vaurotha scanned the wall and reached out a hand to check the surface.
‘Hurry up!’ Malri shouted.
Frowning, Vaurotha jumped at the wall, and just managed to grab a brick that was sticking out, and then another as his arm started to give in.
He took a deep breath and pushed at the wall with his feet, and found a crevice, which he used to pull himself up further.
Eventually he reached the top, but slipped down just as he grabbed the battlement.
He was sure he was going to fall all the way back down, but he was suddenly gripped by the wrist and pulled up.
‘So close,’ Malri laughed, dusting himself off.
Vaurotha forced himself to his feet and looked out at the city.
Malri was right. There was a good view from here.
The moonlight bathed the city in a soft, white glow, with orange mingling with it from the lit lamps of the city.
The grey buildings seemed alive, and he could see the people enjoying themselves, including the courtyard of the Purple Rose off in the distance.
From here he could see the slope of the city. At the bottom of the slope, on the same level as the walls, the Poor District, the darkest area of the city, as the City Watch preferred to avoid such a risky post. A number of the buildings looked rundown, even from the distance Vaurotha was at.
Up the slope from the Poor District, surrounded by a small wooden wall, hardly more than a fence, was the Main District. He could see the market square, and again his eyes were drawn to the Purple Rose. There was a column of thick smoke bellowing from a blacksmith’s, and the sound of laughter and fighting from a few taverns. Looking further around himself, he saw the Temple Square, made up of eight Temples – one to each God – and a small area of grass with a round shrine at its centre, where the statues of Loketas and Zeldaria could be found.
The Main District was much brighter than the Poor District, even at this time of the night, and Vaurotha felt he could bask in its glow. He would have looked longer, but he wanted to look at the Rich District.
He scanned the area from the Purple Rose, seeing a few taverns, but more homes. There were stables for non-military horses, and a marketplace, where more expensive and hard-to-find items could be bought.
The Rich District was the brightest area of the city, and Vaurotha just wanted to stand and gaze at its splendour.
Malri, however, didn’t seem entirely willing to let him.
‘You know, I’ve been here a number of times in the past, and I always enjoy the view,’ he said, leaning on the battlements.
Vaurotha flashed a quick look at him, and then looked back out to the city. He moved his glance just beyond the city walls, and then noticed a few small camps about a mile or two away. The allied armies were close.
Malri stepped in front of Vaurotha, obscuring his view. ‘You know. Getting down may be more difficult.’
‘For you, maybe,’ Vaurotha grumbled. ‘You know how to climb.’
‘Just the advantage of being an assassin,’ Malri laughed, before stuttering a little and adding, ‘Former assassin, anyway.’
Vaurotha raised an eyebrow and moved to the edge of the wall, over the top of the barrack. He glanced at Malri, and then jumped down, landing in a slightly painful crouch on top of the roof, and then rolling safely down.
Malri clapped from on the wall, and then jumped straight to the ground, landing in a roll. Standing upright he said, ‘Impressive.’ And then he walked away, into the small building.
Vaurotha grunted, following him a few moments later.
Once inside the building, he looked around to see everyone else was asleep, so took extra care not to make any noise as he made his way to his bunk.
And as he laid his head on the hard, hole-ridden pillow, he thought of the Kingdom’s allies, who were arriving the next day.
Hey everyone. Here's an extract from Doomprince to enjoy (also to show I'm still writing). It's quite long, but I hope you enjoy it.
Kyle J Durrant
This section of the website is dedicated to my updates regarding the progress of writing, world-building and, ultimately, publishing.