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Five men were deep in the mines of Lehigh, the focus upon one man; William.
“I don’t see what this has to do with anything. This errand is foolish and irrelevant!” Will said impatiently.
“Look, if you want to be in the House of Smith, then you will eventually have to do this, and the emperor always looks first to this house. You know that, of course?”
William nodded to the head House Recruiter, Havven.
“Yes, of course.”
“Then you will go down there,” Havven said pointing to a fortress that was built into the wall with two armored guards standing at the entrance doors, “and act as if you would like to join the house of Adaimee, and while you are in there, take the Scroll of Agility. The ninth Scroll of Life. House Smith will have power over all the Fields of Lehigh. Every tribe, house, guild, and city. Even the emperor will be nothing to us.”
“I can do that.”
William began to descend the path to the building, and he soon was at the doors.”
“What business have you with House Adaimee?” A guard in full armor with the house signet on his right breast asked him.
“I wish to join the great house of power.”
The guard seemed to be eyeing him up and down, studying him to know if he was what it took to be a member of the current house of power.
“I will let you in. You will go down the stairs, and into a door on your right. It is the office of Skarlite Adaimee. He will tell you what you need to do.”
The doors opened and William hesitantly stepped through. It was for the moment a deserted corridor, hollow with tiled floors sending his echoing footsteps reverberating off the walls. There were the stairs directly in front of him as the guard said they would be, and so he trusted that the door would be at the bottom then as well.
There it was, a wooden door with the house signet painted upon it, the name Adaimee ran through the picture. He knocked and waited.
William walked through, somewhat nervous.
“Who are you,” Skarlite asked; a man of very sharp features, a muscular build and within a full suit of polished steel armor; clearly a leader.
“I am William Tucket, son of Jeff, son of John, and House Adaimee appeals to me.”
“It appeals to most, but that doesn’t mean that most are accepted.”
“I understand, but I am apart from most.”
Skarlite looked at the scrawny seventeen-year-old boy and laughed.
“Maybe not in a good way, being apart for the reason of being a boy, and not a man. You don’t have the right build to fight for my house.”
“Not fight; spy. I may not be big, but muscle would only slow me down…I think. I’m fast, faster than any of your men, I’m willing to bet.”
“Willing, but not old enough.”
“Give me a chance.”
Skarlite raised his eyebrows.
Skarlite placed his hands behind his head and leaned back.
“Alright. I’ll send you to Rovin Galspire. He’ll train you and get you in shape for what you’ll need to be doing. I’m not so sure we need to spy on other houses, but I’m sure they’ll be spying on us. Learn their traits, these spies, and see if you can’t apprehend some of them. Rewards are given of course, if you’re one of those people who need some motivation to get anything done.”
Will shook his hand.
“Thank you, sir; you won’t regret this. I promise!”
“Right, well go straight out of this door and take the stairs down and just ask one of the guards to show you to Rovin. Oh, and you’ll be needing this.”
Skarlite slapped on a pin that was a silver star, the points painted red. It was the house signet.
“What’s this for?”
“So people will know you have the right to be roaming our fortress. Eventually you’ll be getting a complete outfit but for now. We’ll also have sleeping quarters for you by the end of the day.”
Will walked out of the room, thinking the situation over. It was this easy to join, and the people here a lot more likeable than House Smith. Suddenly Will walked back into the room.
“You know, I think I could help you with some spies right now actually.”
Skarlite looked up again.
“Really, how so?”
“To tell you the truth I came here today to steal the Scroll of Life in order to be accepted by House Smith, but after I saw the hospitality here, I decided that House Adaimee would be a far better choice. There’s five men waiting for me in the overhanging, overlooking the fortress.”
“Yes, really. They’re not even heavily armed either.”
Adaimee leaned back in his chair thinking the situation over.
“I should ban you from this house for your original intentions, but your honesty leads me to believe I deserve to put at least a sliver of trust in you.”
Will looked at him pleadingly.
“So I will. Now let me be. I shall assemble Kwin, the captain of my forces.”
Will nodded, and left the room once more. He took the stairs outside the study as instructed and asked the nearest guard for Rovin.
“Ah yes,” the heavily armored man replied. “He’ll be found in the library. Or at least that’s where he usually is at this time of day.”
“And where might the library be?”
“Continue down this hallway and there will be a small set of stairs that are rather broad compared to the others in the fortress. The door has Adaimee Library written on it.”
“It would seem Adaimee has a lot of buildings, surprised that a library would be among that list.”
“Yes sir, as the leading House, we are naturally required to have everything necessary to steady ourselves well ahead of everyone else.” The guard lowered his voice to a whisper. “Especially if we one day want to rule all of Lehigh.”
Will raised his eyebrows to show interest where there was none.
“Well I thank you for your help.”
He moved on through the library doors and made his way over to an older looking man who sat in deep study over a thick leather-bound book.
The man looked up.
“My name is William Tucket and I’m here for my duties. I’ve just been welcomed into the guild and I was sent here, to you for what I should do.”
Rovin gave a little smile.
“Well I’m thirsty. Your first task is to draw me a glass of water from the surface well. Did you see it? When you made your way here?”
“Yes, I believe so.”
“Even if you did not, it is rather simple to find, and hard to miss.”
“Then I shall be back as soon as I can.”
“Yes do hurry, my throat is very dry.”
Will hurried out and began ascending the stairs and then the winding trail and finally through the iron door at the top of the underground fortress. The sun burned his eyes as he climbed through and to the outside where the sky was bright blue and the sun marked noon.
“Well I’ll be damned. Will, glad to see you accomplished our task.”
Before Will could say a word he was dealt a hard blow to the ribs. He doubled over and fell to the ground. Squinting, he managed to see that it was the five from House Smith. They began to kick him and beat him. He lay there helpless.
“This is what you get for failing our assignments. Hopefully you’ll take this as a lesson not to do it again.”
“Let him go!”
The leader of the five men turned to see a short man with his arms folded across his chest.
“And if I don’t? Am I supposed to think that you’ll do anything about it?”
“It’s your own loss if you don’t,” the man replied.
Laughing, the leader from House Smith walked up to him and gave him a hard shove. The smaller man drew a sword and hit the man square in the face with its hilt before the glimmer of steel caught their eyes. He lay on the ground unconscious.
“Who are you?” One of the men asked.
“I am Robin the Quick, and you might find it a wise decision to take your leader here and leave.”
“There’s only one of you!” One of the men screamed, as if it were his battle cry.
Robin nodded his head towards the men’s backs.
“Just I…and those four.”
The other four generals walked forward and stood before them, tall and fearless.
“I take your advice and leave you with this boy.”
The four hurried off with their leader slung over their shoulders. Samuel hoisted Will to his feet.
“Thanks,” he gasped.
He was panting rather heavily as they helped him to his feet.
“What was that all about, anyways?” Ben asked as he peered after the four still at a full sprint.
“I betrayed them, but for a good reason.”
“There’s never a good reason for betrayal,” Stoleworth said. “What is your reason?”
“A Scroll of Life.”
“A possible exception to the rule!” Robin said with a smile.
“You men aren’t from Lehigh, are you?”
“Then you would not understand when it is right or wrong for betrayal, since that is how we survive here in this land.”
“Where are we anyways?” Samuel asked.
“Just outside House Adaimee.”
“What is House Adaimee?” Ben asked.
“The greatest House Power in Lehigh. Come, and you shall see.”
“Then the recruiting for our own army begins here,” Stoleworth muttered.