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|The sixth installment in the Harnesser story, and quite a fun chapter to write. It introduces the Mindlings, a sept of psychics in my world.||
Kettarn was the biggest city in Uradan, even though Kebbleran was the capital. The city stretched over many miles, full of dark wood buildings, all with thatched little roofs. In truth, it looked more like a village than a city, despite its huge size. People wandered around, generally having a good time. Men just back from work stumbled between the many taverns and bars that littered the streets.
The reason that Kettarn was such a large city was that it was the closest city to the border between Uradan and the small nation called Shetht Domar, and as such it was an important center of trade and tourism. Even looking into the distance, one could see the tips of the mighty towers in Sheth Domar poking over the horizon. The nation of Shetht Domar was really just a city, but a city that stretched for a hundred miles in every direction, massive beyond scale. It was a remnant of an age long past, how far back it was built remains unknown, but it is thought to be at least 10 000 years. Varn hoped that that was where Tasara was taking them. He had heard many stories about Shetht Domar and had always wanted to go there.
Sitting on her crystal throne in Feara, the capitol of Fairheil, Searia the Duchess of Thought pondered what she had just seen. She had just had a vision, and an exciting one at that. She had seen a group entering the city of Kettarn, three men and a Harnesser woman, and she felt great potential from one of them. She felt that this person could be one of the most powerful mindlings in ages, far stronger than even she, but she did not know which one of the four it was. She intended to find out.
Searia closed her eyes and reached out to Kettarn, searching for any of her Mindlings there. Within a short time, she had found two, named Uralf and Yorra, sitting in a tavern only a few streets over from the group that had just entered the city. She told them to go investigate, and they obeyed.
Varn stepped into the huge city of Kettarn, led by Tasara, with his two friends behind him. Tasara's eyes looked bloodshot, she was obviously exhausted from all the traveling that they had been doing. Varn suspected that, for once, they would be able to stay in a city long enough to rest and maybe have some fun. The two men standing in front of him showed him that he was wrong.
The men sharply contrasted with the people around them, who were wearing rather dull shades of brown, and who wandered about their buisness drearily. These men would stand out in any crowd. They wore long flowing yellow cloaks, embroidered with eyes, sewn with blue thread. As Varn's eyes scanned over their garb, every eye seemed to follow him, looking him straight in the face, evalutaing him even. Varn stared up at the men's faces, and gave a jolt when he realized that they also did not have any pupils. Blank eyes, devoid of any pupil, just white and an iris, stared back at him. No expression could be seen in those eyes, they were completely unreadable. Even so, the men's hair was even more astounding. Their heads were shaven completely bald, save for long bangs at the front and a thin tail of hair extending from the back of their heads, reaching down to their waists. Varn recognized them immediately as Mindlings.
Mindlings were always the secretive mystics in stories, as commonly the villains as they were the heroes. They were masters of the mind, their abilities honed from an early age, even from birth, to give them unnatural powers. Some Mindlings could alter the world around them at mere thought, bringing houses down on unsuspecting victims or even stopping an opponent's heart, without ever even blinking. Other Mindlings knew everything that you knew, everything that you thought, and could just as easily implant their own thoughts into your head. Equally frightening were those with complete control over emotions: they could change your mood from ecstatically happy to homicidal in an instant, infusing you with hate, causing you to attack your own friends; or just as easily subdue an angry enemy, turning his aggression into bliss, therefore eliminating all threat.
In unison, the two Mindlings cocked their heads to one side and stared at Varn and his group. The one on the left, the only thing making him look any different from the other being his slight addition of height, spoke up first.
"I will be blunt, because I have no time to waste. I have been informed by her grace, Searia Vocé, the Duchess of Thought, that one of you may have an aptitude for-"
"I do not care what your Duchess has informed you of, these three are my Whispers, and I don't mean to let you take one away!" Tasara interrupted.
"I would appreciate it if you would let me finish. One of your party may have aptitude as a Mindling, though we know not which one it is. We will relieve you of all three, they will be taken to Fairheil for testing. When we have discovered which one has the aptitude, the other two will be returned to you, if you wish." the taller Mindling continued.
Tasara was breeming with anger, "I will not allow you to take even one of them away! They are under my care now."
"Very well. I see that you chose not to cooperate, so I must use force," he declared, maintaining a calm that Varn thought was unbelievable.
"So be it," replied Tasara.
Suddenly, Tasara's body became completely rigid, her arms pinned to her side by some unseen force and her head thrown back, eyes staring up in fear. One of the Mindlings must be doing this to her, but by looking at them, Varn could not tell which. Both just stood there, equally calm, as if what they were doing took no effort at all.
From behind him, Varn heard a roar, as Warwick charged forward at the two Mindlings. The taller one's head snapped over to look at Warwick as he hurtled through the air towards them. The Mindling did not even blink, but Varn thought he saw a glint of annoyance flash through his eyes. Varn watched in horror as, suddenly, Warwick's face turned a brown, wood colour. The colour spread quickly down Warwick's body, soon every part of him looked as if to be made of wood. Varn's fear multiplied as he realized that Warwick was no longer moving, his entire body frozen, just a wooden statue, trapped in an expression of hatred.
Despite Warwick's now unmoving, expressionless state, his momentum kept him flying forward, and he crashed right into the two Mindlings. Tasara took that moment to break free of her invisible bindings and reach for a Whisp. Within seconds a fireball was streaking across the street from Tasara's hand toward the Mindlings, as they still struggled to their feet. The fireball, however powerful it looked, dissapated as soon as it came within a foot of the Mindlings. Varn was sure that he could see anger in their faces now.
In a seemingly impossible movement, the taller Mindling floated to his feet, and immediately performed a double backflip, landing him directly on top of the closest building. It was only now that Varn noticed the dozens of people who seemed to have gathered around to watch the battle.
Grasping another Whisp, Tasara matched the Mindling's feat by leaping forward, flying upwards towards him. The two clashed on the building's roof. From what Varn could see from the ground, the two were moving at unimaginable speed, sparks flying and pieces of ember falling to the ground as the two matched blow after blow. Soon, Varn heard a scream of triumph from Tasara, as the Mindling was hurtled backwards off the buidling, coming to land painfully on the ground, his back bent in a way that must have been broken. Tasara leaped down after him, landing gracefully a foot away, and a spear appeared in her hand. In a fluid motion, the spearhead came to point at the Mindling's neck.
The Mindling lying on the ground groaned, and with a snap and a few crunches, his back twisted back into a regular positon. He was panting heavily, sweat dripping down his face. Tasara was no better, her usually straight hair was now plastered against her head, soaked with sweat.
"I admit defeat, for now," began the Mindling, "However, do not assume that you have seen the last of me, Uralf the Battlemind does not give up!"
"You Battleminds seem to get weaker every time I fight one," Tasara sneered.
Varn realized two things at this point. For one, Warwick still lay on the ground, as still as a statue, and appearing to be made of wood; and two, The other Mindling had just stood and watched for the entire time. He voiced his thoughts.
Tasara looked over at him, "The other Mindling didn't fight, because he is a Telepath. His abilities lie elsewhere. But as to the matter of Warwick, I suggest that you right that this instant," the second comment was directed at Uralf, still lying on the ground with Tasara's spear to his neck.
"Of course. I never intended to hurt him, I just believed it necessary," replied Uralf.
Tasara withdrew the spear from its threating proximity to Uralf's neck. Varn could see Tasara resisting the urge to kick Uralf as he got to his feet. The Mindling rolled his head around on his shoulders, getting out any crinks. Varn glared at him, he should have been helping Warwick.
"Ouch," said a voice from behind Varn. Varn quickly turned around to see Warwick getting to his feet, back to a normal shade of peach, "What happened?"
"All shall be explained later," said Tasara, sparing a last glare at the two Mindlings before she grabbed onto Varn, Warwick and Reyde and began hauling all three farther into the city.
The inn that Tasara brought them to was a small one, in a rather beaten down section of the city, with not even a sign declaring its name. Tasara explained that she wanted to keep a low profile, in case more Mindlings came searching for them.
The inn itself was pretty beat up. The windows on the building looked as if they hadn't been washed in months, most of the paint had fallen off and the hinges on the door were covered in rust, making the door difficult to open. The inside was no better: huge stains on the wood floor from spilled drinks; tables with broken legs propped up with books to make them level, truly a sad sight.
The innkeeper rushed over to them as soon as they entered, a grateful look on her face. It was obvious that not many people came to this inn, so it was understandable that she was excited at having customers.
Uninterested, Reyde wandered off over to the bar to grab a drink, though he wasn't surprised to find no bartender there, and the drink shelves completely empty. Sitting down on a bar stool, he thought back to the encounter with the Mindlings. Which one of them did they think had the potential to be a Mindling? Reyde thought that it couldn't possibly be him. Thinking back he could remember no signs: he'd never accidently moved something by just thinking about it, he was horrible at reading other people's emotions. Warwick didn't seem the type to use his mind; he'd probably never admit to having any powers of the mind, he always focused on improving his body. Reyde came to the conclusion that it must be Varn, it was the only solution that made sense. He made a mental note to ask Varn about it later.
"I've gotten us rooms for next to nothing," said Tasara. Reyde had not even noticed that she had approached him. She continued, "I'm sorry that we can't stay here to explore the city, but Mindlings should not be taken lightly. We will leave in the morning for Har Evahn. Sadly, Harnessers and Mindlings do not get along well, and since Har Evahn is a nation run by Harnessers, Mindlings are forbidden to enter. We will be safe there until we find some way to get away from the Mindlings." Giving Reyde a sympathetic look, Tasara stood up, patting Reyde on the shoulder before walking away. It looked to Reyde as if they wouldn't be able to rest for some time yet.
|Harnesser Chapter 4||Harnesser Chapter 1|
|Harnesser Chapter 2||Harnesser Chapter 5|
|Harnesser Chapter 3|