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The Adventures of Larson and Garrett - Infestation By AaronDennis Characters: 11379

Updated: 2017-12-29 12:02


Infestation

Larson and Garrett Adventure the Third by Aaron Dennis

Published by www.storiesbydennis.com July 2015

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned or distributed in any form, including digital and electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without the prior written consent of the Publisher, except for brief quotes for use in reviews.

This book is a work of fiction. Characters, names, places and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to any actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Larson and Holden traveled from town to town, from city to city, and helped all those with a true need, or cash, or both. They felled the roaming bandits of Shun 'Ahd, they cleared Grover's Cave of a cloud of giant bats, they wiped out the undead trudging about Leerak's tomb, and then, after five, long years, a great calamity sent Larson spiraling into deep depression.

Larson and Holden had been hired by a powerful family of merchants who ran the city of Dragonhead. Although their backdoor shenanigans consisted of shady deals involving drug smuggling, black market sales of magick relics, and high end prostitution, the job the two mercenaries had undertaken seemed to be a rather valorous deed; Larson and Holden were supposed to dethrone a black hearted noble named Gregory, Lord Fultheim, a disreputable individual known to fund a gang of bandits that terrorized the city's outskirts.

The bandits, who had called themselves the Wicked Five, were five brothers in league with Lord Fultheim. While the nobleman funded their raids, they provided him child slaves whom were whisked away from their parents during those raids. These parents were mostly honest, hardworking folks, but one family was related to the merchants of Dragonhead, and when the parents of siblings were slain during a shipping run from Dragonhead to Bethelhoss, and the children were brutalized and sold to Fultheim, the head merchant, an old man named Enrique Rulasio, hired the newly arrived Larson and Holden to kill the Wicked Five, steal into the Fultheim hacienda, rescue all of the children, and bring the still living Gregory before old Rulasio.

Things took a turn for the worse when Fultheim seemingly allowed himself to be captured. During a snowy night in the month of January, Larson and Holden towed Lord Fultheim by ropes secured to his wrists down the long, canopy covered road from the Fultheim hacienda to Rulasio's second home, a small cabin out in the wilderness near Mount Oros. Unbeknownst to the mercenaries, Fultheim had discovered Rulasio's plan, sent an assassin to the cabin to kill Rulasio, and wait for the arrival of Larson, Holden, and himself. As soon as the three entered the cabin, the assassin blew a poisoned dart from his blowgun. The first projectile struck Holden's throat, but the second dart merely bounced off Larson's field plate.

Staring wide eyed through the slit in his spiked helmet, Larson honed in on his attacker, let go the ropes binding Fultheim, pulled the great sword from his back, and chased the killer through the cabin's backdoor. Unfortunately, the assassin fled into the snowy mountains, and rather than giving chase, Larson stormed back into the cabin. Fultheim had fled, too, but Holden lied twitching on the ground. The young warrior knelt by his friend, pulled the dart from his throat, took his hand, and tried his best to placate the dying man.

"Larson, Larson, " Holden coughed.

"Don't talk, old man, " Larson whispered. "Save your strength. I'll carry you back to Dragonhead and to the healer."

"No, " Holden choked as tears flowed from his eyes. He mustered a brave, caring smile and spoke. "Larson, this is way it has to end. Finish the job. Don't look back, and never let your guard down."

Larson cried, too. It was the first time he had ever cried tears of grief. Nothing in his life—not his father's disappearance or his brother's—had ever emptied him so thoroughly of life. His throat tightened, his chest swelled, and his stomach churned.

"Please, Holden, please don't die."

"It's all right, kid. It's all right. I've had a good run. Only one regret. A man can't ask for more. Promise, " he choked and wretched as spasms rocked his body. "Promise me, " he gagged and wheezed.

"What is it?" Larson sobbed.

"Fight…all of them."

"Who?"

"The, the wicked."

Holden grew still. He passed away with a smile of peace on his aged visage. Larson shivered with a twinge of sadness that ran straight from the universe and directly into his heart. His body shook from within, and facing up towards the cabin's rafters, he shut his eyes shedding more tears before erupting with a violent scream. The Gods themselves acknowledged his pain.

****

Following the death of Holden, Larson spent the better part of a month—and an immense portion of his vast wealth—bribing every tavern keeper, corrupt, city guard, rival merchant, and noble-loathing, indentured servant. His goal was to learn the whereabouts of both the assassin and Lord Fultheim. Upon gaining access to that information, Larson found them—and a handful of bandits—holed up in a series of caverns up high on Mount Oros. In late February, Larson avenged Holden's death, returned to Dragonhead, paid restitution for his botched job, and even managed to incite the authorities into action; they imprisoned the entire Fultheim family. Justice was served, but it left the young fighter with a bitter taste.

While Larson had never aban

doned his quest to find his missing father and brother, he had run into a wall years ago. The last and seemingly useless bit of information involved some men in white garb. It certainly sounded as though the man seen with those in white fit Largo's description, but where they went was as much a mystery as who they were; monks of Bo' Shed, God of Serenity, wore white garb, and so did the priests of Odra, God of Diligence, but then again, so did some of the other non-religious factions.

Immersed in fulfilling contract after contract, he had little time to ponder his family's wellbeing or their unspoken predicament. Holden had consoled him once by saying that wherever they were, Larson would eventually join them. They were either dead, which although sad, it was an inevitability in one way or another, or they were alive somewhere, and that if that was the case, something Holden very much believed was true, then some unseen force was whisking the Ross men away, and Larson would join them in that effect. Ominous as that sounded, he half expected to vanish himself, and wake up in a dungeon somewhere with his family, which at least meant some form of closure. To date, he had not been whisked away, and drowning in self-pity, he visited many a raunchy tavern and bordello where he was usually recognized as Holden's apprentice.

Being recognized had its perks, but also its detriments. One of those detriments was that every saddened widow, jilted lover, want-to-be adventurer, and half-wit lunatic—who thought he saw a vampire—pressed Larson to go and solve their problem for free. Holden had told him to help people. His father had told him the same when he was a boy, but for the first time in his life, the young mercenary had no drive. He was a zombie in field plate; a steel man with a sword strapped to his back, a helmet with a brass horn in the center, a great deal of money, and too much free time on his hands.

****

One day, while swilling ale in the city of Fargo with his helmet by his elbow and his long hair tied back in a ponytail, he wiped amber droplets from his beard. Straining to listen to a young, foolish man, who was claiming there was treasure in Atjibur, Larson shook his head. Judging by the extremely large, blonde headed, na?ve man's proclamations, the mercenary came to understand that Atjibur was an abandoned temple deep beneath Mount Lod where the former cult of White Wraith used to worship Golguhaar, God of Destruction. Larson had read in a library in Coal Hearth that he was one of the old Gods that had been defeated before the Second Age, but as Gods never die, so long as someone worships them, the cult of White Wraith begged for his resurgence. They had failed when some of the mountain elves—tired of sacrifices and ritualistic nonsense—bolted through Lod's extensive caverns, destroyed the magickal entrance to Atjibur, and sealed the worshippers away forever. The young man, however, seemed unaware of that tale and made claims that Atjibur was a dungeon laden with treasure. Larson laughed openly, and that drew attention.

"What's so funny, mate?" a stout, dwarven patron asked.

Larson shook his head, ignored the patron, and called out, "Hey, boy!" The patron shrugged, returned to ogling the tavern's comely singer, and paid no more attention to whatever was taking place. "Hey, " Larson called again, and many turned to look at him. "Blonde boy with big dreams." The young man turned. He was a bit slack jawed and taken aback, but gave his attention and pointed to himself. "Yes. Come here."

The young man excused himself from his friends or whoever the patrons were. They appeared disinterested in his story anyway. He ambled over towards Larson, accidentally bumped a chair with his immense physique, and came to the warrior's side. Larson scrutinized him. He was tall, as tall as Larson, and in his prime of twenty, he was over six feet. The young man looked to be about fifteen, as old as Larson was when he killed the wolf of Pallisade. The young man was also a bit soft around the midsection, but had large shoulders and powerful arms and legs. He was a soft-looking brute if that was a thing.

"Yes, Sir, " the young man asked.

"There's no treasure in dungeons, " Larson said with condescension.

"There is, too, " the young man rebutted. "Adventurers get their fortunes in dungeons all the time."

"Don't be stupid, " Larson spat and chugged his ale. He slammed the stein onto the counter. "Dungeons are old constructs, and I mean old, a lot of them thousands of years old, and they're picked clean. All that remains is traps, piles of corpses, or in the best of scenarios, some bandits mount their raids from them."

"But not Atjibur."

"Even Atjibur, " Larson sighed. "Do yourself a favor, son, leave adventures to the adults. There's no need to round up a team of friends, or worse yet, a bunch of mercs who care only about their money. You'll get yourself killed. There's nothing but death in Atjibur."

The young man's face fell apart. He sighed, and his eyes glossed over. Larson eyed him with disgust, but it wasn't really aimed at the boy, it was aimed at himself for having shattered the young man's dreams. Better to wizen him up now when he's young, or he'll get his fool self killed.

"Hey, " someone else called. A thin, blonde man, who appeared about Larson's age and wearing a beautiful, white, silk shirt, a black vest, and black pants sauntered over. He had a rapier hanging off his waist. Fine features and clean fingernails gave him the look of nobility. "What's your name, boy?"

"Um, Darrell Dude, " the young, blonde boy answered with an upward inflection.

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