This is the ongoing story of our hero Tibicus. Follow the links below to read up on the previous episodes!
The weather in Tibia was so bad, even deathlings were wearing rubber boots. Streets were empty and deserted and even Edgar-Ellen had sought a dry shelter and announced his ballads and poems from there, much to Grof's regret. It had rained a lot in the last few days and the soil could not absorb any more water.
Rain gutters were filled to the brim and large, deep, muddy puddles shaped the streets' scenery. The shutters of most houses were closed tightly, protecting the inhabitants from the heavy raindrops that incessantly drummed against the exterior walls or burst on the wooden gables of the houses.
It was very early in the morning when Tibicus disembarked in the harbour of Thais. An icy wind blew through the streets, so cold and strong, it felt like it was whipping scars into his face.
But Tibicus did not care.
His fur cape could have protected him well from the cold wind but he had sold it. Sold it to get the ransom together. Sold it to get his most valuable possession back. He had sold it because even though he went through hell, the gold had not been enough.
The rain had soaked him from head to toe in no time. His drenched clothes stuck to his skin, restricting his mobility while the cold spread relentlessly through his body. Yet, he set out straight into the south-east of the city. Rushing past the small flats of the Sunset Homes and the Guild of Paladins, Tibicus knew only one destination.
Meanwhile, Fridolin had made himself at home in his estate. The burning torches flickered on the walls and provided the room with both light and warmth.
His old beechwood table creaked and groaned under the weight of the gold he had spread on it. Everything had gone according to plan.
Satisfied, he took a gold coin from the table and flicked it into the air with a devilish smile. What a genius he was.
Before he could catch the spinning coin again, however, his victory celebration was abruptly interrupted. Splinters and broken wooden plates burst into the room as the entrance door was torn out of its hinges with a single kick. Right up, freezing wind invaded the room and caused the flames of the torches to dance wildly back and forth.
Fridolin looked with horror at the man standing in his demolished door frame. The suns had not yet risen leaving the man's face wrapped in darkness. But those bright red eyes that fixated him from the black shadows, thirsting for blood, he knew only too well.
"YOU...You are the traitor! Of all people it was you!" Tibicus entered the house and stepped into the light of the torches.
"T...T...Tibicus... What... What bri... What brings you here?" Fridolin was barely able to phrase a full sentence.
"Shut up! Just shut up, you filthy worm! I trusted you for many years. I even invited you to my home. And you? What are you doing? You dishonourable parasite betray me like this?" Slowly but steadily, Tibicus moved further towards the paladin.
He had entered the blood rage again, no doubt. But other than at the yielothaxs, this time, he had kept control over his mind. His muscles were tensed to the point of bursting and thick, throbbing veins stretched threateningly across his arms.
Even before Fridolin could escape his fearful stiffness, Tibicus had already grabbed his throat. Fridolin felt his eyes popping out of their sockets under the pressure of Tibicus' grip. Blood was accumulating in his head and he already began to turn blue.
Desperately flailing around, he tried to free himself from the grasp but the knight continued to strengthen his grip. Fridolin noticed how his own strength left him more and more and he began to lose his balance.
In sheer desperation, he tried to punch Tibicus, to hurt him, even to scratch him. Anything that would have loosened the grip around his throat but there was no way that he could have gotten past that heavily protected breastplate.
Weakened by the oxygen deprivation, he sank to his knees in front of Tibicus. Panic-stricken, he looked into the hateful eyes of his tormentor, well aware that his end had come.
His plan had been flawless. How could Tibicus have found out about him? What had given him away?
It was absurd that those were his most concerns in the face of death. As if answers to those questions were of any help in his current situation.
But Fridolin had already accepted his fate. His lacerated fingers left nothing but bloody stripes on the steel-clad breastplate of Tibicus and he had no more strength to defend himself. Still gasping for air with fainting attempts, he felt the black breath of imminent death slowly restricting his field of vision.
However, Tibicus was far from being done with him. At one go, he lifted the dazed paladin up, hurled him in a powerful swing through the air and let him crash on the floor. The paladin was moaning and groaning. Racked in excruciating pain he was kneeling on all fours desperately trying to pump fresh air back into his lungs.
"What's the matter, Fridolin?" Tibicus mocked. "Of the once so proud paladin, all I see is a despicable pile of misery, coughing and wheezing on the floor. Your weakness disgusts me."
In the meantime, he had grabbed the paladin by his collar and belt and lifted him over his head. Like a beetle lying on its back, Fridolin was helplessly at the knight's mercy. Tibicus smashed the paladin into his table with full force. The gold scattered all over the room as the table loudly cracked and collapsed under the falling weight of Fridolin.
"Where is it? Where is the hat?" Tibicus shouted as the paladin desperately tried to crawl through gold coins, smashed wood and splinters towards the broken entrance door.
He quickly learned that his attempts to escape his ordeal were useless when the point of Tibicus' sword mauled the floorboard right in front of him. Being able to see the small veins which were burst by the preceding strangulation in his eyes on the highly burnished surface of the weapon, he realised how close to his head the sword was plunged into the ground.
"Tell me! NOW!" Tibicus seized him by the neck, dragging his face even closer to the razor sharp blade of the sword.
The paladin was coughing and panting, but no matter the pain and threads, no words passed his lips.
"You know, dropping your head into the blade right now would be a matching death for a two-faced rat like you. You HNNGH..."
Two bolts hissed through the air and drilled deep into Tibicus shoulders. Driven by his blood rage he had completely neglected his protection and sharpness.
Due to his little defense, the impact force of the bolts threw him backwards against the wall. The two projectiles pierced through his flesh like a hot knife through butter and their tips anchored firmly in the wall. Tibicus had become immobilized at a stroke.
Propelled by anger and aggression and despite all the pain, he tried to tear himself away from the wall but the bolts stuck way too deep.
Who dared to interfere his interrogation?
When he saw two figures enter the room, his heart stopped for a moment. He was not prepared for the scene waiting for him.
Those two paladins belonged to Beefo. One of them collected Fridolin's powerless body over his shoulders, the other one hastily picked up the scattered gold.
Tibicus was pinned to the wall and every attempt to free himself only made him lose more and more blood. Yet, he was flailing and kicking around, spitting poison and bile, but the two of them only had a weary smile left for his insults.
They were long gone, when the loss of blood caused Tibicus to faint. They were gone and took his only chance to get back his hat with them. They were gone, leaving him here to die.