The Ladrón Mentiroso posts are written by Bruce Arbuckle for the writingforums.org Role Playing Game: A New World. Part I. The First Sand.
The year is 1557. In a world where anything is possible, a group of adventurers have set sail to open new trade routes to the East. But what they have discovered is a New World, with new rules.
Ladrón Mentiroso (known as The Reverend) – Part Two
Mentiroso was collecting shells by the waters edge, when the commotion broke out. A wounded man and something bound to a log, were brought out of the jungle by a group of near hysterical men. He observed the scene. He noticed that Pello, the bard was staring off into the jungle. He seemed to be looking at something, but Mentiroso couldn’t see anything. The bard then looked over to the men and told them to bring the injured man to his fire.
Mentiroso established the creature bound to the log was dead, and therefore of no risk to his personal safety, before he wandered over to examine it more carefully. The bard had began working on the injured man.
“What an abomination!”, Antonello appeared beside him. The creature, some kind of giant cat, was full of metal – some of it piercings, other bits bolted on to its jaws and claws. For sport, some kind of religious ritual or just sadistic pleasure, Mentiroso couldn’t tell. But he didn’t like it.
“I think we can assume we are not alone”, he said peering down at the beast. “Quite delicate metal work. Shame we lost our blacksmith, his opinion would have been useful”, he looked over at the wounded man by the fire. “Do you trust the bard?”
“As much as I do you, Reverend. I’ve known each of you the same amount of time.”
“Quite”, Mentiroso looked up. “It’s just, he’s no more a doctor than I’m a… than I am. What’s he going to do sing the man a song?”
“He seems to know what he’s doing, Reverend. But if you think you can do better…”
“No, thank you sir. I have always found my skills lie elsewhere.”
“Well, best leave the bard to it, then.”
“Yes, well it’s your funeral”, Mentiroso looked back over at the wounded man. “Well his, at any rate.” Antonello – clearly having lost his sense of humour – left his side to join the bard.
Mentiroso stood back and said a few words of prayer to the Makers, just loud enough for the others to hear. He stared out into the jungle. If there was one of these beasts out there, there could just as likely be ten. For that matter, he didn’t particularly fancy bumping into whatever had mutilated the poor creature. Ar the edge of the jungle some trees moved. There was no wind: there was something there. He almost called out, but instead he watched carefully. There it was again. It was the same area of jungle the bard had been looking in, just before he started playing doctor.
Mentiroso began walking towards the jungle, trying not to draw attention to himself. A branch moved, and this time Mentiroso caught sight of a creature. It looked just like a… well, his belief in sprites and faeries was as strong as his faith in the Makers. That is to say, non-existent. But whatever it was it definitely wasn’t human. A monkey of some kind, no doubt. The creature made eye contact with him and fled. As it disappeared into the jungle something dropped onto the floor.
Mentiroso weighed up risk to himself over his curiosity. The later won. The creature didn’t look capable of torturing a cat, over-sized or otherwise. He moved carefully to the edge of the jungle and peered into the dark undergrowth. He could see no movement. He looked back at the group of men, surrounding the wailing man by the fire. No one seemed to have noticed his absence. He began searching the jungle floor, nervously looking around to ensure the monkey didn’t return.
He had almost given up when he saw something under a bush, several feet away. It appeared to be glowing blue. He checked behind him, again. The men were still concentrating on their writhing companion. He lunged quickly to the bush and grabbed the object, before retreating to the relative safety of the jungle edge. His back to the men by the fire he opened his hand to examine the object. It was as hard as stone, smooth as glass, blue as the sea. He looked closely at it. There were two white lights trapped within, swirling around, moving continuously.
An ear-piercing scream from the man by the fire, startled some birds from the tree tops and Mentiroso almost dropped the stone. Then silence. The object in his hand pulsated, swelled somehow. It felt as if something had forced its way into the stone. Or had been dragged in. He peered into it. There were now three lights spiraling within.
“Reverend?”, Mentiroso almost dropped the stone a second time. “Have you found something?”, it was Antonello.
“Why, yes”, he said, deftly secreting the stone in his pocket and exchanging it for another object. It was not the first time he had used pickpocketing skills on himself, he was pleased he had not lost his touch. He turned to face Antonello. “I found this shell, here. Curious, it should be so far away from the sea. No?”
Antonello took the shell and looked at it closely. “Not really”, he said, throwing it to the ground. “Come on. It appears your skills are required after all.”
Mentiroso turned to follow Antonello back towards the group of men, standing heads bowed, hats in hand, around the body of the man. He stopped. He thought he heard something. It was a voice, but somehow intangible, inhuman. He turned back to the jungle and listened again. He thought he could make out a single word, echoing through the trees: “Thief!”
Mentiroso shrugged and started to walk back towards the huddle of sad and frightened men. He had been called worse.
Written by Bruce Arbuckle
Published (as BritInFrance) on writingforums.org on 23rd November 2012
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