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The Mercenary of Jhelom
The city of fighters and mercenaries, Jhelom lies on an archipelago south of mainland Britannia -- an island frontier town filled with swords for hire. Our spotlight tale this week focuses on one such mercenary, and a brief visit to the famed Dueling Pit of Jhelom.

 "Greetings! I am the man known as Raptor. Alexander Stormraptor. I was only a young boy when I took up my fascination with combat. I worked hard with my swords, but I did not want to become a paladin for my royal father's army. So I escaped from my royal lifestyle, and traveled in search of a city in which I could hone my growing skills. I walked in the shadow of Castle Britannia, along the sandstone walks of Trinsic's walls, beside Vesper's shallow canals.
"And then I came to Jhelom.

"Maybe because of the sound of pounding of metal from the ever heated forges. Maybe because of the constant brawls and duels taken to the streets. Or maybe because of the ever-flowing traffic of ships, docking to unload their exotic goods. Somehow I felt connected to the place known as the 'City of Valor'. The streets are filled with warriors and adventurers. Some are scarred battle veterans, with a lust for blood and ale. Some are newly trained, hoping to put their first notches in their freshly forged swords. A warm, tropical wind always lets my cloak flutter as I walk the streets, letting my boots click at every step.

"I enter Deadly Intentions, my favorite armory, and nod at the blacksmith. He knows me well, and he also knows my weapons well. I hand over my broadsword, damaged and cracked after slicing through an Orcish Lord's ringmail and hitting its tough bone. I look about while waiting for my repairs. Blacksmiths are working at their trade, warriors looking at the newest armor and weapons in stock. The smith returns my sword and I pay him a generous fee for the fine repair. I step over to the headquarters of the Brothers in Arms, and talk to the fighters about the latest news. Then maybe to the Adventurer's Needle to let one of the more beautiful woman tailors patch a rent in my tunic. And then to The Horse's Head for lunch. I order some wine and ribs, and read the bulletin boards on the latest news on upcoming fights and so on. I finish eating, but before I leave, I see a woman. A woman with vivid gold hair, and the look of a battle hardened veteran. She is an acquaintance of mine, one of my former employers, a woman named Lauren Shadowcat. I walk over to her with some unfinished business on my mind.

"'Have you heard of the term, 'soldier of fortune,' Lauren?' I ask.

"She glares. 'What do you want, Stormraptor?'

"'My money,' I reply bluntly. 'The agreed payment for the successful recovery of stolen supplies for your guild. I recovered those supplies two weeks ago.' I lean into her face. 'I didn't go to the trouble of fighting a gang of brigands for nothing. I want my money.'

"'I don't know what you are talking about, Alex. Get outta here.'

"'Want to take this to the Pit?' I ask.

"She slams down the goblet of wine. 'My pleasure,' she says grimly.

"She takes the lead, and we stride down to the Jhelom Dueling Pit. We stand in the middle, dust shifting around our feet. She draws a bow, and I draw my sword. Instantly she sends an arrow toward me, which I dodge as I begin a run toward her. She is amazingly nimble, and I find that she cannot be caught easily. And then an arrow catches me in the side, and I am thrown back onto the ground. She rushes in for the kill, drawing a katana. Recovering, I slash my sword up, blade clashing with blade. I flip over, back on my feet, and slash again. The fighting is fierce, swords clashing, pulse rising, and adrenaline rising. Then, I feel a crushing of bone underneath my blade, and Lauren falls to the ground.

"I stand, waiting, as she tends to her wounds. She looks up, and shakes her head in disbelief. Finally she draws a pouch of gold coins, and hands it over to me. Without a word, I walk to the Pit exit, but before I can leave, I hear Lauren call out behind me.

"'You may be a great mercenary, Stormraptor, but has it ever occurred to you that you will never uphold the Virtues?'

"I turn around. 'Have I not shown you Compassion, by letting you live? Have I not shown you Honor, by defeating you in a fair fight? Have I not shown you Justice, by taking from you what is rightfully mine?"'

"To that she replied. 'Yes, but you taint those Virtues. Couldn't I say that your Compassion is strictly that which may benefit your coffers? You cannot show Honor by greed, and you cannot deliver Justice if it is for personal gain. I say I have upheld the Virtues. I have shown you Sacrifice and Honesty, by paying you your rightful fee for your services.'

"'But I could say that you showed neither, for you dishonestly withheld the money from me before you were forced to pay,' I said.

"She did not reply.

"'But would you say that we both fought Valiantly?' I asked finally.

"She nodded.

"'So there you go. At least we uphold the one Virtue that is most important to us.'

"And so we left it at that.

-Alexander Stormraptor, Mercenary Extraordinare, Master Warrior, Proud Resident of Napa Valley

Join us next week as we continue to Spotlight your tales of the cities and towns of Britannia. Be sure to keep an eye on FYI for future spotlight topics, and send in your stories and tales of adventure!

Published: October 2000
Please Note: Some dates are estimates as exact dates were unavailable.
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