The Jarth Fendwyr Kidnapping
NOTE: This story contains descriptions of torture and child death.
The Tragedy Of A Child Kidnapping For RansomThe Fendwyr family is well-known for the altruism as well as their wealth. The family of jewelers and gemstone dealers are one of the wealthiest in the Kingdom of Orsholon, yet also one of the most humble. Their magnanimity and generousity was applauded not just in Orsholon, but around the world as well. This, unfortunately, made them a prime target for unscrupulous scamsters and those with evil intent. Such was the case of the kidnapping of Jarth Fendwyr. Jarth was the son of Jai and Nsiria Fendwyr, the current leaders of the family. In 1199 ATG, Jarth was attending elementary classes in the Nobles District. The daily routine was fairly simple. He would be taken to school in the morning, accompanied by a member of the Royal Guard Of Orsholon. The family's stature in the world was such that the King was glad to assign a few guardsmen to protect the Fendwyrs. At the end of the day, the guardmen would meet Jarth at the school, and accompany him home, and guards were stationed outside their home around the clock. On the fateful day, all seemed to be going as usual. Jarth was accompanied to school. And as always, the guards waited outside the school. At the morning break, chiclren were released into the fenced in play yard, and as always, Jarth went with the rest of his class out into the yard. The details of what happened next are not clear, but when the bells were rung for the class to return to classrooms, Jarth was not amongst the students. At first, it was assumed he was just playing games as many students often do, trying to duck out of class or play a bit of hide and seek. After all, Jarth was only 7 years old. But after a search of the play yard was completed and Jarth could not be found, the guards outside were alerted. The school was locked down, and a thorough search began. Jarth was not found. The Fendwyrs were ntotified and rushed home to meet the guard. Shortly after the guard arrived, a wagon drove past the house at high speed, dropping a crate off the side without stopping, and continued to race away before they could be followed. A note tacked to the box read "Fendwyrs - Open Immediately or Sacrifice Your Son." Guardsmen carried the crate to the door, and inspected it before allowing inside. Finding nothing of note, or any outward sign of danger, they opened the crate and found inside an ornate oval frame, containing a single pane of clear glass, a window of sorts.
The "Portal"As the group stood looking at the frame, the glass began to darken and take on the look of fog. The fog swirled until an image began to coalesce onto the glass. What they could see was a masked figure standing over Jarth, who was tied into a chair. The 7-year-old was crying from fright, tears running down his face. The masked figure spoke. "You have done well, Fendwyrs, to keep your son's heritage a secret. But not well enough. I know that he is Nuvolycan. He is also too young to control his impulse to change. But you know that as well." The masked figure continued. "We demand 2 million gold pieces to return your son to you alive. No, you have no reason to trust us, but you so have the intelligence to recognize that your son is of more value to us alive than dead at the moment. " "The demand is simple: pay the ransom, or watch your son die." As the masked figure finished speaking, they raked a sharpened claw along the child's arm, just enough to draw blood. The blindfolded child yelled out in pain, and as he did, his body began taking on the feline characteristics of a Nuvolycan with feline traits. And as he did, you could see him weaken slightly, slumping a little in his chair, letting out a mournful sound. "You know what happens, don't you? Every time he feels intense pain, he changes. And everytime he changes, he loses life force. At his age, he can't take more than three changes without recovering. A fourth change and he dies. Count this as the first. You will receive instructions on how to pay the ransom." And with that, the glass fogged, then became clear again. Mrs. Fendwyr sobbed, while Mr. Fendwyr pleaded with the guardsmen. "What can we do?" he asked. The guardsmen were at a loss for words. This had happened under their watch. A guard captain arrived shortly thereafter and gave his sincerest apologies to the grieving parents. He then whispered something to one of his men, who promptly left the room, mounting a horse and headed off in the direction of the Orsholon Academic District. "I have sent for someone who may be uniquely qualified to assist us. I hope you will forgive our failure to keep your son safe" the captain explained. The individual he sent for was Hargus Hurryhouse, "If anyone can help us, it will be Hurryhouse. Hopefully, he is in the city and will be willing to assist us" said the captain. The Fendwyrs had heard of Hargus; indeed, it would be unusual if someone hadn't. But they were very wary of involving him. How did they know he wasn't part of this plan? And what could he possibly do? They sat in the drawing room of their home, waiting for the next shoe to drop. That time would come soon enough, as the glass in the frame began to fog over again, and the masked figure and young Jarth reappeared. "Have you begun arrangements?" asked the masked individual. "N..n...no, not yet...we are working on it. It is a large sum." replied Mr, Fendwyr. "Perhaps you are not taking this seriously enough" said the masked one, and followed it with another scrape of a claw down the arm of young Jarth. He screamed out in pain, and the family watched him change again. Mrs. Fendwyr let out a cry as the change completed and she saw her son slump over in the chair to which he was bound. "He's not dead...yet. But he's changed twice in the last 4 hours, and has not had rest. He cannot take more than another change without being drained of life. I trust you understand that I am deadly serioud about my claims." Mr. Fendwyr nodded. "Good. I will give him the night to rest. By morning, it would be best if the money was ready." And with that, the images disappeared once again.
Hargus Hurryhouse arrived in the evening, just after dusk. His companion, Fazius Argenta beside him, they entered the Fendwyr home and introduced themselves. After getting a complete rundown of the day's events, Hargus and Fazius excused themselves to the foyer for a moment, then returned. "From your description, I believe I know who this individual is. My friend and I believe this masked individual may be Bellatrix Delacroix, Hargus and Fazius departed and the captain of the guard remained until he was relieved by another captain, who brought word from the king. The king would supply the gold for the ransom, as the kidnapping happened under the guard's watch. The gold would be delivered wherever it was needed by guardsmen. While this comforted the Fendwyrs, the reality was that they did not need the assistance with gold - they were more than wealthy enough to cover the ransom. But the support from the king was appreciated. The Fendwyrs would not rest that night.
The next morning, the Fendwyrs sat in front of the glass, waiting for another message. They would not have to wait long. Shortly after sunrise, the glass fogged, then cleared. And again, they saw the masked figure of Bellatrix Delacroix looming over their son. "Do you have the gold?" She asked, moving a claw to just above the child's arm. "Yes. We need only know where to take it." replied Mr. Fendwyr. "Good. That much gold is heavy, so I doubt you have a cart sufficient for it. I know the Guard and the king have been helping you. That is of no consequence to me. They will undoubtedly bring you the gold in a sufficiently armored and equipped cart." Delacroix continued. "You and your wife will bring the cart yourself, and I will bring your son. Take the cart to the road that heads south just before the Royal Forest. Continue down that road until it enters the forest. We will meet you in the forest. You have three hours. Come alone. If we see anyone but the two of you, you will never see your son alive again." And with that, the image faded away. The Fendwyrs immediately got up, grabbed their coats and headed for the door. As they opened it, they saw the cart - and Hargus. He turned to face them, and raised a hand. "Wait before you rush off. Delacroix is vicious and untrustworthy. Their word is worth no more than the dirt under our feet. I don't trust them, and neither should you. You should have someone there to make sure your son is returned." The Fendwyrs immediately rejected the idea. "She said alone - we will not risk our son!" They would not accede to Hargus' suggestion. They waved off Hargus and the guards, climbed aboard the wagon, and began the journey to the meeting place. They were followed by guardsmen who kept an eye on the cart until they reached the turnoff point on the other road. This was agreed to given the immense quantity of gold being carried (more than six tons). As the Fendwyrs moved off the main road, they saw the forest begin to close in on them. As they drew nearer to the meeting point, the canopy of trees seemed to tighten, almost as if a tunnel had been craved from the trees. They entered the forest and came to a small clearing, as instructed. And there, in the road, were Delacroix and the Fendwyrs' son. Jarth looked weary and weak. "Well done, Mr. and Mrs. Delacroix. As you see, your son is alive. And I see you have brought the gold as requested. Remain seated, and my associates will verify the contents." As Delacroix spoke, a group of hooded individuals emerged from the thickets, and approached the vehicle. "I know that you were accompanied until the main road branched off. I expected it. But it was good you did not bring them here. You will dismount the cart, and won't have far to walk back to the guards." The thugs motioned for the Fendwyrs to get off the cart, and stand to one side. The thugs boarded the cart, and drove it off across the clearing and into the woods on the other side, disappearing into the dense growth. Delacroix had not moved, her left hand wrapped around young Jarth's upper arm. "Your donation to my cause is greatly appreciated." And then, Delacroix paused, an evil smile spreading on her face. "It is unfortunate that you had to bring in outside help. Particularly Hurryhouse." Mr. Fendwyr pleaded "But we didn't! The captain of the guard brought him in, we refused his help! Please! We've done as you asked...let our son go." Delacroix looked directly in Mr. Fendwyr's eyes. "Let him go? Very well." And without breaking her stare, Delacroix took a long fingernail and dug into Jarth's arm, and dragged it down, leaving a deep bloody scratch. The young man screamed in agony, and in front of the anguished parents, the young man began to change. As his body started to morph into it's feline form, he writhed in agony. But it was over all too quickly. The change completed, and their son lay still. And hid body began to change back to its original form, as would happen in death. Mrs. Fendwyr let out a cry of pain and agony that could only be that of a mother watching her son die. The scream reverberated across the clearing. And Delacroix's smile grew wider. Just then, into the clearing appeared a large silver dragon and by his side, Hargus Hurryhouse. They charged forward in an attempt to flank Delacroix. But she calmly held up a hand. "You have a choice, Hurryhouse. The boy might still be saved. So, take me, or take the boy. Your choice." Hargus paused. He knew there was a chance to save the boy. He could get Jarth back to Orsholon and to the Medical Academy. But he'd have to be quick. As Delacroix moved away from the boy, Hargus ran in, staring her down. "You are evil incarnate". "Yes," she replied. "Isn't it delightful?" And she ran off across the clearing. Hargus nodded toward the dragon who wrapped his wings around Hargus and the boy. "Make your way to the Medical Academy. We wil do whatever we can." And with that, the dragon, Hargus, and the boy, vanished.