- a crimson-tinged buckler
As if faded from untold age or some quirk in metallic quality, the shield's eahnor base merely hints at the vivid hue it must once have held -- only specks of vibrant carmine sear through the otherwise bland pale crimson metal. Finely polished silver runs around the edge of the buckler. The sole adornment to the piece, four letters split by a symbol have been burned into the leather strap. You also notice a small enchanter's glyph.
There appears to be something written on it.
In the Common language, it reads:
VL & LD
+33, unbalance flares
- remove buckler
As you quickly unfasten the intricate knot system that binds your crimson-tinged buckler in place, it seems to float into your hands once the knots come loose.
- wear buckler
You sling your crimson-tinged buckler behind you, its weight settling lightly against your back as you carefully fasten it into place via an intricate system of knots.
Through smoke and raucous noise, you focus on a young boy standing just over an older man. The older man holds a hand of cards, his expression one of pure concentration. As he pushes a stack of silvers toward the middle of the table, he puts his cards face down on the table, just near the edge. He watches, almost gloating, as the other members of his table throw their cards down into the middle, giving up their stake. Triumphant, the older man nearly shouts with glee as he pulls the winnings, a stack of silvers and a crimson-tinged shield, toward him.
As they walk from the table, the young boy looks up at the older man and says, "Papa, how can you be so happy? The cards were from your sleeves!" The old man quickly turns on the boy, his hands grabbing the boy's arm tightly, squeezing and turning with such force that the boy cannot help but cry out. The old man snarls, "Don't you dare ever say anything about that. You wanna eat or what?" He slaps the boy across the face and then yanks him out the door, which slams shut on you.
Cold, chilly rain pelts down as you sense a young boy drifting into the corner of your vision. He walks slowly, head held down, hands stuffed in threadbare pockets. The boy's face is gaunt, as if he hasn't eaten in days. Aside from his almost ghostly appearance, the boy's clothing looks somewhat odd, his back bulkier and more squared than is normal, though as he shoves his hood off, a crimson-tinged shield peeks out, its weight settled tightly against his back.
Passing a street vender, one of the boy's hands snakes out, pilfering a piece of rotting fruit. As he turns round the bend, the boy quickly sticks the fruit into his mouth, practically gulping it in one bite.
Your vision is hazy, but through the dim fog of smoke, you hear the tumble of dice hitting the table. They rattle and clank, their motion stumped by their hard edges. Cheers and jeers, accompanied by fierce mutters and violent swearing, drown out the end of the roll, its numbers obviously deciding the fate of someone or another. What was once a gaunt boy now appears to be a well-fed young man whose features are slick and eyes are shadowed with a keen sense of his surroundings. Within that, however, a cloud hangs over him, much akin to a sense of shame, though any tavern-goer would quickly dismiss this as an underhanded bluffing expression meant to earn sympathy.
The young man grabs the dice and rolls once more, then pulls his winnings toward him. The clank of the beer glasses pounding against each other drowns out the remainder of the scene.
As the scene comes into focus, the young man is sitting at a table, his game cards this time, a deck of which he deftly shuffles before dealing them out to the other players at the table. Standing behind him, a young woman rests her hands on his shoulders, her innocent expression clearly not invested in the method of the game, but instead on the fortunes of the young man she accompanies. She is obviously smitten with him, her expression filled with adoration.
The young man appears focused, though his concentration wavers slightly as he looks across the table to find the old man -- his father -- pulling up a chair. His father clearly does not recognize him. The young man's jaw clenches tightly only for a brief moment.
As the game progresses, the eyes of the young man are intent and alert. A sizeable stack of silvers sits in front of him, and he shoves them all toward the middle, going all-in with his winnings for the night. Although confident of his success, he seems somewhat guarded, and his eyes flit toward his father.
The cards go down, the young man wins -- but as he moves to take his winnings, the old man reaches across the table and yanks the young man's coat in such a way that spare cards -- and a ring box -- escape from the sleeves.
The old man lunges across the table, pummelling the young man with his fists. In a desperate panic, or simply pure reaction, the young man reaches behind him, and with a crimson-tinged shield in hand, rams it at his father. The old man quickly slumps to the ground, his gasping breath clearly his last. You feel faint, and the vision passes away.
Blurry white at first from snowfall, the young man repeatedly raps on the door of a small, quaint cottage. It seems he has been there for some time. His clothes are not well-kept, and his eyes are somewhat bloodshot, though he stands tall and has recently shaved. He turns away, clearly giving up. Just as he is about to round the corner, the door opens. The young man falters, then takes several steps back toward the cottage.
In the doorway stands the young woman who accompanied the young man to the card game that ended in chaos. Her dark curls fall loosely about her shoulders, and her delicate face still holds innocence, though a sense of heartbreak seems to loom all about her.
The young man takes another step toward her, though his eyes remain on the ground. He is quiet for a moment before looking up at the woman and speaking in a quick, rapid monologue. "My love, I am so sorry. It was my last game, my last one ever, just enough to take care of you for such a long time. And then, you see, my father -- my father -- it just ... it went wrong. I... I don't know if you will ever be able to forgive me, but..."
The young woman turns, bending to retrieve something from inside, then hands a crimson-tinged shield to him. "I know this meant something to you, something important. I kept it for you. But now... I don't want to know," she whispers.
She closes the door, and the young man is left out in the cold, shield in hand. Snow silently falls, covering him in white, and he soon vanishes from sight.