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|chapter 2 of my epic Deathblade||
I am not what they think I am. Those people who look at my position so longingly. They cannot know what it is like. To be a Guardian…and the most powerful one for a century. It is not pampering and excitement, a life of excitement to be envied.
It is constant danger, constant pressure. The training sucks the breath from one’s lungs and the stability of one’s mind. For one must be trained with the use of every weapon evil can throw at one. This includes swords as well as spells. Spells such as only the most powerful dark sorcerers use. One must train oneself to block off one’s mind with a firewall from intrusions. Intrusions in one’s mind that twist one’s memories and burns the happiest of souls.
Then from the minute one becomes a full Guardian they are marked by all the spawn in the world, nay the universe. One is constantly fighting to preserve peace and put down tyrants. One is fighting constantly, never stopping, always aware, never sleeping, barely eating…
They can never know.
-from the personal diary of Terrane Malendrace
Itoro found Lucas pinned to the tree. He pulled the knives out and studied them, then threw them away in disgust. He stood the semi-conscious Lucas upright. He shook his son into a drowsy state of alertness. Lucas stared into his eyes unbelievingly. He shook his head and looked again.
“Am…” he stuttered, “Am I dead? Have I gone to heaven? Where are the Gods? And the Angels?” He then noticed the long gashes and cuts covering Itoro and himself, the blood-soaked clothes they were wearing, and the beaten up old forest path they were standing on. “Why have our wounds not been healed like it is said?”
“Son, you are alive…” Itoro said, confused. “Why did you think you were dead? That I was dead? I am obviously not, as I am standing right in front of you.”
Lucas’s eyes glistened, as he knew it was a miracle. Would this hallucination just go away? Would he feel anything if he swept his hand through it? “Terrane said you were dead. Said he killed you.”
“He came through here? Did he give you these cuts and burns?” Itoro demanded furiously. “Which way did he go? We can catch him and bring him back here for execution!”
“ Yes it was him,” Lucas said distractedly. “But he got his fair share of cuts too. Then he pinned me to this tree and just… disappeared. But he said you were dead!”
“I almost was. It was Arthur’s healing powers that saved me. Which reminds me. Arthur wants to speak with you and your three friends in private. I am to lead you to the sanctuary below the church. Jacob, Hsoj, and Erin are already there. On the way, you must tell me everything that transpired during your ordeal with Terrane.”
The alter was solid gold, the church large and spacious, with room to rightly be called an Abbey, for the priests lived there as well as their apprentices.
By the time they had gotten to the sanctuary, Lucas had told Itoro everything about the battle and they were beginning to discuss it. Itoro led Lucas into the church and to the alter.
The alter was solid gold, the church large and spacious, with room to rightly be called an Abbey, for the priests lived there as well as their apprentices. He slid the alter aside to reveal a trapdoor. Lucas noticed him wince in pain with the effort. The alter was solid gold, the church large and spacious, with room to rightly be called an Abbey, for the priests lived there as well as their apprentices. Light filtered into coloration by the stained glass cast beautiful patterns on the sandstone flood and the silken red carpet.
“I shall mentally go over what has transpired in my mind.” Itoro said with wonderment. “We shall speak more of this later, but I believe that his ‘God-blessings’ and ‘prophecy’ was all rubbish. Right now you must speak with Arthur. I am told the conversation is of utmost importance.”
Lucas opened the trap door as his father left the church, depositing a Caler in the funds box. He climbed down the ladder into the dark, dreary blackness of the hidden sanctuary. When he reached the bottom of the descent, he saw that a single torch lighted the small, stone-made chamber. The other three children sat in wooden chairs facing Arthur, who was standing in front of them. Lucas saw that there was still an empty chair and sat down, thankful to be off of his feet.
Arthur turned to them, his face gaunt and his hair ragged. He pulled his hood up, and it shadowed his face, so that only his mouth, chin, and flowing white beard were visible. He seemed worried and doubting, and he wore an expression none of the children had ever seen on his weary face, tired from the trials of too many years in a long-lived life.
“You four shall decide the fate of us all. Each of you carries a burden that you alone can lift, burdens that I would not wish on anyone. You are the saviors of this Age, and no matter what, I shall love each of you in life… and in death. I so wish that I was not the bearer of these tidings, but the doom of our time will be decided over the next three years. An old man like myself knows not the strength of the youth, but you are the strongest of them all. I wish I did not have to watch my beautiful daughter ride out into such peril while I must stand aside and merely watch.
“You have all heard the legend of the Guardians from me. I am the one who has told you this because I am the only one that can tell you. It is told only by Guardians for they are the only ones that know it. It is a story that, sometime in the Second Age, the Church of God felt was unnecessary and blasphemous. At the time, there were two churches, the Church of God and the Church of Caricom, each worshipping their respectful deities. But then they merged in the Third Age and formed the Church you stand in now. The legend was forgotten in that time, however.
“It was handed down by the diminishing guild of the Guardians, for they were now the only ones who knew it. For the Guardians were now a guild, Dai-shen having no known children. He made himself chaste so that no immortals would befall the same corruptive fate as Hellran. Now there are only a handful, seven, pure-hearted Guardians. An Elf, a Cadoroc, a ranger, a traitor, a prodigy, an exile, and myself, the Master Guardian. For I am a Guardian and the most powerful, though the traitor and the prodigy will both surpass me when their fates are fulfilled.
“It is your destiny to regain glory to the Guardians. You must hunt down the traitor and fulfill the prophecy. I must step aside so that you may accomplish this task. But I leave you with two items; advice and a gift. First the advice; seek out the exile in Vaultite, always accept help from good friends, and stay pure of heart. Now for the gift.”
He held out his hand toward Lucas first and it shone a bright red. The light seemed to leave his hand. It hovered in the air for a moment then shot into his chest. He was enveloped in the light, then his body absorbed it. “To you I give the gift of Fire. For this you know already the word of power.” Lucas remembered the words Terrane had spoken when using the fire spell. He spoke them and a fireball appeared in his hand.
“Imagicine!” he yelped, surprised.
“Yes,” stated Arthur calmly. “This is the gift I give each of you.”
He then repeated the process with Erin. Hers was a purple light, the word of power taught being “Alamengera”. When she used it, a great gust swept through the room, ruffling their clothing.
Jacob’s spell-power was of the color blue. Arthur taught him the word “Balasara”. When he used it, a great wave arose in front of him, and he found he could control it anyway he wished.
To Hsoj he gave a white power. Except that this light enveloped him and his sword. “When you speak the words Natasar Calandra, your sword will be given the power to cleave down any evil. He spoke the words, and his sword shone with the same white light, strange runes suddenly etched into it reading “Natasar Calandra..
“When you train yourselves more with discipline and purity, you will be able to use these spells simply by speaking the words in your minds. I must leave now. I bid you all a very fond farewell. I go to be with my ancestors.”
He muttered some words they could not hear. The wall disappeared. Arthur stepped through it. As the wall began to reappear, he turned to them and said; “Now I face my final trials.”
“He told me… that this day came for all Guardians. When they had to face the ancestors-Caricom and God Salicar- to be accepted into the Etherrealm. We should not grieve for him… we will see him soon…” She broke down in tears for a few minutes. Then she got up face resolute, and spun on her right foot toward the entrance and exit. “Let us be rid of this place.”
“Wait!” Hsoj yelled after her.
“What?” she asked haughtily, fire showing in her eyes.
“We need to decide whether to leave discreetly or tell our parents,” he stated simply.
“Discreetly,” Lucas said immediately. “Our parents would only hinder us or stop us from going completely. I have been planning it since he told us we had to go. We must eat at Erin’s house, then wait until nighttime and cut four horses loose of their stables. We ride through the forest, not looking back and not stopping except to defend ourselves. It will take a few hours to get to Vaultite, and I know the way.”
“Why must we cut the horses?” asked Hsoj.
“Because that poverty-stricken horse master Jorrel the horse-master will do two things that may seem extraneous but will hinder our quest. First, he will overcharge us, thinking we are mere children and do not know the price of a good warhorse. Second, when interrogated, he will easily reveal information of a purchase for the right price, and would have to record it in the merchant logs anyways. Have I proved my point?”
“Yes,” Hsoj sighed, conceding the point.
They ate in silence in Erin’s small cottage. They savored it, knowing it very well might have been their last meal that wasn’t a mixture of hardtack and dried meat, though they were bringing whatever food they could comfortably carry on horseback from the house.
When they were done, it was well around ten o’clock at night. They left the house in silence and crept toward the stable. The rusty hinges creaked in protest as the door slid roughly open. They heard an odd sound and Lucas strung his bow but then realized it was only the content snore of the drunken horse master. Lucas nearly laughed as he put his bow back over his shoulder and drew a small knife.
He walked by the stalls and picked the four best horses, all silky white, gray or brown. They saddled the horses and rode off with all speed into the forest. They did not know the names of their steeds, but would come up with their own during the great travels that would follow.
They rode into the forest and encountered very little for the first hour or so. Then they heard a howl. A horrible, piercing inhuman shriek that shattered the dark stillness of the quiet night.
“Wargs!” yelled Lucas, all too well acquainted with the monsters. Another screech was heard, and this one sounded as if it had been issued from the bowels of Pasolar itself. They all drew in their breath, and Lucas whispered, “We must make haste out of this forest.”
They ran down the path with all the speed they could get out of the frenzied horses without killing them, and soon began to see dark shapes behind them. As they became clearer, Lucas turned in his saddle and strung his bow.
The Wargs were all being driven by Orcs. The ugly green- and purple-skinned humanoids drove the giant wolf-like monstrosities mercilessly. When they could see the frenzied killjoy sketched on the first Orc’s face and the blood thirst of it’s Warg’s eyes, Lucas shot, his arrow biting flesh and spilling blood out of the Orc’s forehead. The Orcen blood was as black as the starless night sky, but showed a stain as the corpse was thrown onto the path and trampled by his own mount. Lucas had to loose three more arrows to bring the Warg down. When drawing the arrow for the next Orc, he shouted by some instinct the word “Gantelaga!”
The arrow was limned with bright red flame in an instant, but did not burn. However, the Warg’s fur did. “You see?” Shouted Lucas over the grating snarls of the savages, “They bleed and burn like anything else!”
Hsoj looked back to retort but gasped when he saw an Orc saddled to a creature more horrific and evil than any Orc or Warg. It was so skinny that the bones of its ribcage showed, and looked like a furless, red-skinned dog. Its huge teeth were razor sharp, and flame spurted from its huge maw.
“Demonhound!” Hsoj yelled.
Lucas took it out with ten arrows, and then was wide-eyed in horror as he reached for another. He had only five left!
“Flee! I am almost out of arrows!” He yelled, and then whispered under his breath, “Burn! Gantelaga!” He created a wall of fire as far across the forest as he could without using all of his life-energy up.
He turned back around and found himself looking at Jacob’s stopped back. “Why are you not riding you-” he stopped as he looked in front of the other three. There, gathered, on the path in front of them, were at least thirty Warg-riders and twenty un-mounted Orcs, along with, what Hsoj guessed was a tribal chief astride a demonhound.
“Ishnak caroga seeno chook calo toru fostenar?” The chief asked gratingly. He had a long beard and bore a huge great sword. His armor was plated and spiked, leaving no opening, and was completely black. He also wore a long, decorated headdress, marking him as a shaman.
“Let us pass or you all shall die!” Stated Hsoj, drawing his sword and speaking the ancient word to align it with the magical glow that would add to his significant swordsman skills.
“Ishnak caroga seeno chook calo toru fostenar?” The chief-shaman asked more forcefully, then added viciously. “E maco carosha chook calo menodar. Keera somoda koon asona, shein!” The other Orcs laughed heartily at this statement.
“Cansen alo tarug!” Lucas stated, knowing a limited amount of the Orcen language.
“Weesh?” Asked the Orc. “Cansen alo sand Goru!” He leered at Lucas.
Lucas cursed under his breath. “They are asking their ruthless God, Goru, if they should let us pass. Oh, and Hsoj, he says he either wants to cut you in half or cut you some laughs. I could have misinterpreted that. And Erin, he told them to ‘Leave the woman for later.’ You know what that means. If you are captured, throw yourself on a spear.”
“Ha ha,” Hsoj said flatly.
“Goru carsola…” the Orc spoke after a series of clumsy dances and stupid chanting, “Nenoda orusa!” He charged forward. Lucas killed his demonhound, practically ripped it apart with his remaining arrows, but the chieftain merely stepped over the dead thing’s head and began running, great sword drawn. “Maco poro zantu chook caloso fier!”
Hsoj intercepted the blade with his own and turned it aside the others watched in awe as he deflected two more such swings of the huge great sword. His blade shone in the dark night as he used its magical energy to stab through the iron-plated armor. It came out slightly blackened with Orc blood.
The Orc looked stupidly at the gaping hole in his chest. Hsoj took the opportunity to lop his head off. The corpse fell, lifeless, to the ground, still spurting blood out of the halved neck.
“Bando ish dack! Bando ish dack! Yelled one Orc. Then they all charged, enraged by the death of their chieftain, and the four companions dismounted their steeds. “Nenoda orusa shacka!” yelled another Orc. He fell burning to the ground. The Hunter’s Hawk claimed a Warg-rider, and Jacob cleaved another’s leg off so that it was thrown into the dust along with its rider.
Several Orcs were lit up with fire and burned alive, screaming as they hit the ground. The dirt burned to ash, consumed by the hungry flames. An Orc got too close to Lucas and found his arms gone the next second.
Whenever an Orc came near Erin, she would knock them down with a gust of wind and kill them n some bloody way with the sharpened edge of her short sword. She may have been merely fourteen, and she may have been a woman, but she was far from helpless.
A Warg was charging Hsoj. It was so close that he could smell it’s rancid breath and see the blood thirst in the eyes of the crazed Orc driving it. He threw his sword forward, and it embedded itself into the neck of the Orc, who dropped the reigns. Hsoj grabbed the reigns and flipped himself up into the saddle. With a grunt of disgust, he pulled his sword out of the Orc, pushed the dead thing out of the saddle, and drove the Warg toward the horses, which the Orcs were getting to.
Bodies of the filthy Orcs flew as Hsoj charged into the mass. The night was lit up as the magical energy bursting from his sword leapt back and forth, left and right, into and out of Orc bodies as he began his slaughter.
When he was finally astride his horse, he saw Lucas pick up an arrow, stab on Orc in the chest with it, then shoot the final fleeing Orc in the back of the head. They all mounted their horses and rode off into the night.
They rode like demons out of the forest. When they finally emerged from the thick tangle of dark trees, they found themselves on a huge, snow-covered plain. The path was lazily winding eastward across the shining white plains. The Jorh¾n River was a thin silver band in the distance.
These were the Great Sar´cshÃd Plains, home of nomads that braved the open land, where the only water was the Jorh¾n River, and the only food the wild bison that grazed there, but were scarce this time of year.
“We have a four-day ride ahead of us,” stated Lucas. “There will be no refills for our water skins until we reach the Jorh¾n, for Vaultite is nestled gently in one of it’s many winding bends. Until then, drink and eat sparingly. The horses are larger and will consume more than us. Oh,” he cast a disdainful eye on Hsoj, “AVOID confrontations. Human nomads are smarter than stupid mutated Elves. And there could be Riaran here, avoid them at all costs.”
He turned and rode eastward across the lightly blanketed plains. The snow silently crunched under the light fleeting hooves of his small gray Roan. The other three followed Lucas, riding into the rising sun and the blood red of the sky this sunrise.
Blood had been spilled that night, yet it was the most beautiful sight they had ever seen.
As the rode across the whitened plains, Hsoj began to look longingly at Erin. All their lives they had been but the closest of friends, but now… Now he felt like there was something more for them than just good friends. Her beautiful face told no lies, held no secrets. Her shimmering blue eyes reflected perfectly the sunset this day.
His pondering thoughts were interrupted by a light crunch, different than that of a horseshoe in the snow. Lucas held up his right hand to signal a stop. They all brought their horses to a standstill and listened intently.
“We camp here tonight,” Lucas whispered.
“What of the danger that must be nearby?” Hsoj demanded. “Have you not heard the footsteps?”
“It would be much more dangerous to continue. Now dismount.”
|Prologue||Deathblade Chapter 3: Natural Selection|
|Deathblade Glossary||Deathblade Prologue|
|Deathblade Chapter 1: Murderous Urges|