22 August 2018

In Praya, just as in any other world, family traditions are very strong. The craft, that is inherited from father to son or from mother to daughter, is not only a profitable, but also a laudable business, no matter what kind of business it is.

In Stalker’s family all men were mercenaries, solitaries with incredible powers. Some people attributed them to the mystic practices, others to the oddities of faith, while there were those who believed that the power source is in the family crossbow. Must be an artefact! Otherwise, how did the wonder-workers from this family manage to get down things that could be hardly ever seen in the total darkness?

Anyway, the truth could not be found on the surface and it wasn’t actually that needed, since the obligations under contracts were satisfied by the mercenaries nice and clean.

Stalker’s father, the experienced and skilled fighter, has been wandering around the world searching for adventures, glory and gold for many years. He settled down in a distant village in his later life and was about to put up with the fact that the family business would die together with him. However, his wife brought him a child, a son. And it would seem that the old man should’ve been extremely happy, however, he had already been too tired and wounded to bring up a good successor.

In spite of the father’s stringent interdiction, the mother told small Stalker about their family’s deeds. About the creatures they were overtaking alone, how they were rescuing different Lords and Ladies from troubles, how the boy’s far ancestors one day had even built a castle and were thinking of transferring their knowledge and skills not only to the family members, but it went awry. Inspired by the colourful stories, Stalker decided to become worthy of his family and was practicing sneakily, creating a shooting-range at the far border. There he was practicing his skills and later started to get away for hunting alone.

When it was the time to leave the ancestral house, the young man spun a story about his plans to devote himself to the craft and become a journeyman with one well-respected man of business. The unconscious father had sent the son into his journey, promising to wait for him at home until he returns after the end of his study, while the mother was crying, seeing him off and begging not to risk his life. Stalker was implacable. He wanted to make his father proud of him, to show him that the craft of his life did not die, no matter what.

Leaving behind a few kilometres along the old tract, the man turned to a narrower path. In a day the traveller reached some small town, where the announcement board was full of not only trivial notices, made by peasants, but also featured some interesting contracts. This is how Stalker’s professional life started, leaving lots of scars on both his body and soul.

The years rolled by, things were changing just as the people, who he had to hunt for and finally, there came the day to return home. Stalker tied together all of the most precious (as he thought) trophies, fastened them to the saddle, took a purse, tightly filled with gold and was hoping that the people’s talks about his heroic deeds had reached his father’s village.

Stalker’s journey was very easy, which turned out as a nice surprise to him. And only by the very ancestral house he started feeling that something was going wrong. There were voices coming from the parents’ house and he had to strain his ears to hear that they were talking about that same old story about the magic crossbow, which his father still owned. The old man was holding for the family halidom as if it was his own life and didn’t want to give it at any price. Stalker was hoping to pay off from the annoying strangers, however, his appearance led to a sudden outcome – the young boy, who was interrogating the elderly man, got so nervous that he pulled the trigger. The sheets on the wide bed turned red.

Stalker remembers what happened next only by bits and starts. The scoundrels did not need any witnesses. If not for the rich experience in fighting, as well as the close-range combat, Stalker wouldn’t have survived. He was countering strike by strike, disarming or killing bastards one by one until his hands unconsciously did not reach the crossbow, that very crossbow that his father was defending at the cost of his life. Through the window Stalker saw that the hustle and bustle gathered the rest of the gang members, who did not see their friends return, around the house.

The outburst of rage, which helped Stalker to handle heaps of wounds, brought him Prime energy, filling him with new power. The old father’s crossbow in his hands had lightened the room with an energy flash for a moment and then went out, thus transferring its power to the decent (from the object’s perspective) owner. Now this crossbow was just as simple as all other crossbows, but for Stalker it was much more precious than many things in this life.

Overtaken by the insanity, the crossbower slaughtered all the enemies. Besprinkled by the enemies’ blood he returned to his father’s bed. Stalker took the old man’s dry hand and swore to punish anyone, who would dare to insult, humiliate or even hurt those, who were unable to stand for themselves.

Stalker buried his father in the place where his own shooting-range was. He visits his parents’ graves several times a year, telling them about all the things that happened to him while he was away.

In spite of the massacre that happened in Stalker’s house, there still have been many of those willing to get the artefact in Praya. Stalker himself was killing all greedy bastards he met on his way, while having mercy on those, regretting their greed and vanity. They all could not understand that the power was not only in the mysterious energy of the crossbow, but that this power was also the result of long practice, principles and experience.

He was always performing his contracts with particular care and honesty. Some of them were carrying him away to the most distant ends of Praya, while others brought him to Lords and Ladies’ feasts with wine. And who knows where else will the wind of change bring Stalker next…