Let us rewind to the early 1900s, back when it all started.
No, the title is not a mistake, this is the third format, it's all explained here.
Disclaimer: The actions of characters in this fic do not reflect my personal views.
Chapter I. A Hundred Years Ago
Rain hammered down on the streets of Stagtide, turning the dirt roads of the small town to mud. It was dusk in late autumn and a lone figure trudged through the street. Over one shoulder was a large bag and over the other was a pickaxe that shimmered in the yellow light shining from the fire in the street lamps.
The figure turned down an alley, a shortcut home. He reached a small house in one of the backstreets and pushed open the door. He hurried inside and forced the door shut against the wind.
"Jason, is that you?" A rough, man's voice called from the kitchen.
"Yeah dad!" Jason called back.
From the direction of the kitchen a well built man appeared wearing an apron that was most definitely too small for the large drerkek. Jason's dad grinned at him, "Good day, son?"
Jason nodded and placed the sopping wet bag down on the floor with a loud thud, "Yeah, should be set for the week."
"Good job, dinner's in ten minutes, you'd better change, you're soaked and muddy."
Jason obliged and quickly went upstairs to wash and put clean clothes on. Once he'd changed he sat down at the dinner table and waited quietly. Not long after he'd sat down, Jason's mother also joined him at the table.
She smiled at him warmly, "Good day, Jase?"
Jason nodded, "Yeah, I managed to mine into a cave which was rich with metals."
“That’s great honey," she placed a gentle hand on her son's, "we really appreciate you doing this, you know. Ever since your father's back gave out."
"It's alright, mum, I actually enjoy it. It's peaceful down there." Jason reassured his mother. A few minutes of peaceful silence later Jason's brother, Markus, walked in. Markus was five years older than Jason, but his leg didn't allow him to work in the mines like Jason did.
About ten years ago Markus had been in an accident during a junior drerkek's jousting tournament. He'd broken his leg in such a way that he couldn't walk without the aid of a stick and had to have a special splint on it for support.
Markus still helped out, though. He was a baker and would bring in a small amount of money by selling cakes, bread and other baked goods that he made. As well as being a baker Markus would help out in the forge on days when his leg hurt too much for him to walk to the bakery.
"Hello, Mark." their mother said warmly.
"Hey mum, hey Jase." He replied as he sat down. Markus was small for a drerkek and had accidently been mistaken for a human once.
"Hey." Jason replied.
"Good day in the mine?" Markus asked.
Jason nodded, "Yep, I was just telling mum that I found a cave."
"Cool!" Markus said with a grin.
It was just then that their father walked in with a steaming pot. He placed it down then went to get bowls from the kitchen, when he returned he ladled hearty portion into the bowls and handed them to his family. Jason eagerly ate the hot stew, it warmed him to the bone after the long, hard day of work he'd had.
As the family ate they shared stories from their days. Jason's mother talking about a particularly annoying customer in her shop. His father talked about an interesting customer with hair the colour of grass. And Markus told them about a woman who'd put in an order for an outrageous wedding cake
Jason listen to his family's stories, commenting every so often, but mostly staying silent.
They were just finished with dinner and their mother had gone to the kitchen to retrieve a cake Markus had made for their dessert when there was a loud knocking at the door. All three of the Guude men looked at the door, "I'll go." their father said as he stood up.
It was gone nine at night, who could be calling on them at such an hour? They certainly weren't expecting visitors. He watched as his father pulled open the door. Lightning flashed, illuminating the two men stood in the pouring rain.
"Who are you?" Jason's father demanded.
Their faces were now lit by the gas lights in the house. One was an older gentleman, he looked to be in his late forties, early fifties. The man next to him at long white hair that was drawn back into a pony-tail, assumedly to keep it out of his eyes given the rain. That wasn't the most notable feature of the man though, he also wore a mask over the lower part of his face, concealing his mouth.
The older man spoke first, "Hello, are you Bryant Guude?"
"Yes, what's it to you?"
"My name is Joseph Greenwood, my companion here is Etho. May we come inside, don't want to let the cold and rain into your nice warm house." Greenwood's voice was sharp and cold, that of man who knew how to get his way.
Bryant conceded and let the two men in. They both unfastened their rain coats and hung them up. Under the raincoat Greenwood was very well dressed, he clearly didn't ever find money an issue. Etho was wearing form fitting, layered clothes and had two swords hanging at his hips.
"Now, which one of you young men is Jason?" Greenwood said as he stepped into room where Markus and Jason were sat.
Jason’s mother walked in with the cake and placed it on the table, "Bryant, why are these men in our house?" She asked coldly.
Bryant was about to answer his wife, but Greenwood answered for him, "Ah the lovely Evalyn. We're here to speak with your son, Jason," he turned to look at Markus, "which is clearly not you, you're a little old to be Jason." He glanced Markus' walking stick, "Not to mention too problematic for our needs." He looked at Jason, "Ah, yes, you must be the fabled Jason Guude."
"What do you want?" Jason asked, his voice coming out stronger than he'd expected.
"I wish to make a deal with you."
Greenwood went to open his mouth, but got interrupted, "How do you know my son's name?" Evalyn demanded.
"As I said, he is fabled; his reputation preceded him; I had only to ask those I know who the finest blacksmith on Athose was and they me directed here."
"If you want the finest blacksmith you want my father, not me." Jason said, confused.
Greenwood just shook his head, "No, I want you. Not only are you younger and will therefore last longer, but you have the combined skills your both your parents, whereas your father has only his skills. You're the one I wish to join my order."
"Order?" Markus spoke up for the first time, "As in a society?"
"That's right. I am forming an order known as The Order of the Sphinx and I require a blacksmith with knowledge of clocks and any other skills of that ilk."
Jason's mother tinkered with clocks in her spare time, how Greenwood knew this or that Jason had taken a liking to it also was unknown to him. He wasn't sure he even wanted to know.
"What do I get out of it?" Jason asked.
"Fame, fortune, honour and anything else you desire," Greenwood grinned, "only good things, my dear boy."
Jason considered it. Greenwood's promises were attractive, but, "I'm needed here." Jason said, "I will not abandon my family, not for all the money in the world."
There was a soft expression on his parents' faces. His father's hardened and he turned to look at Greenwood, "You heard my boy, he has turned down your offer, now scram."
Greenwood bowed his head, "Yes, I feared blood would get in the way of this proposal." He said darkly, "Etho."
Jason had completely forgotten the other man, he'd been so silent. But now he sprung forward, drawing his swords. He was quick and nimble and easily held a sword at the necks of both of Jason's parents. Greenwood waved a hand, binding Markus down to his chair.
"Now, Etho here is a trained assassin with the strength of a thousand. I wouldn't move if I were you, he could slice your heads right off of your shoulders before you'd even blinked." Greenwood hissed.
"Let my family go." Jason said through gritted teeth.
"Come with me and I will tell my minion to step down."
"Don’t go with him, Jase!" Bryant said, it was followed by a hiss of pain when Etho moved his blade slightly and drew blood from his neck.
"I have to, I can't let you die." Jason replied. He turned to Greenwood again, "I'll go with you if you let them go."
"Very good. Come on." He went to the door, Etho remained where he was.
"Tell him to take the swords from their necks." Jason said.
Greenwood shook his head, "No, not until you're out of that door."
Jason went to the door and pulled on his boots and coat, "Let's go then." He said angrily.
The older man pulled open the door and lead Jason out into the pouring rain. They were only a few steps away when Greenwood waved a hand. Gold, shimmering sparks swarmed the pair and just as the last part of Jason was being teleported, he heard the screams.