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|This is the seventh chapter of my story, Harnesser, and involves a great battle and such. Read on.||
Dreams and Nightmares
Eldon sat hunched over against the side of a big stone building, his old wool cloak the only thing keeping him warm. His head was burried in his knees, his eyes pointed down at the dusty ground below him. A small clay cup lay on the ground beside him, a few coppers inside.
Staring down at the ground, Eldon saw two booted feet drift into his view. They stopped, kicking up dust, and turned towards him. Slowly, Eldon raised his head to look at whoever the feet belonged to. Standing there was a tall man, his face pasty white with bloodshot eyes and the tips of his black moustache drooping down past his chin.
Slowly, the man bent down to look Eldon in the face, and a sadistic grin spread across his face. The man reached out and put his hand on Eldon's forehead as Eldon could only watch in horror.
Memories flooded out from Eldon's head. He felt as if his mind was splitting open as consciousness slowly drifted out of him.
The leopard lounged peacefully on a branch of huge tree, overlooking the savanna. Below him, on the ground, lay four other leopards, the rest of his tribe. They were in his care, entrusted to him was the responsibility of their safety and wellbeing. And he intended to take care of them.
Far in the distance could be seen a herd of antelope, prancing along, oblivious to the danger so near. The leopard lithely got down from his tree and in a flash took off at a run towards the herd. Within no time he was upon them.
Jumping up on top of a darting antelope, the leopard sunk his teeth into its meaty neck. The antelope flailed wildy, trying to throw the leopard off, but its efforts proved futile. Before long the once vibrant antelope fell to the ground. Life had escaped it and it had no become mere leopard food. Blood dripped from the leopards fangs.
Warwick bolted up in his bed, eyes wide and his head drenched with sweat. The dream had seemed so real, as real as life. He had been that leopard, felt his muscles strain as he ran and tasted the antelope's blood when he made the kill. Fearfully, Warwick ran his tongue through his mouth and over his lips, trying to see if the blood was still there. He quickly realized that his fears were simply immature; it was a dream and nothing more, not reality. But he could have easily been fooled...
Flashes of light from outside drew Warwick's eyes to the window. He quickly got up and staggered over to look and see what was going on. Peering out the window, he saw, in the distance, bolts of lightning and fire. A battle.
Warwick tried to pivot on his foot and begin running at the same time, and wound up just tripping and falling on his face. Without skipping a beat, he bounced back to his feet and ran to Tasara's room. As soon as he stepped out the door of his room, his skin began to tingle. He recognized the feeling immediately. It was what he felt when he first got close to a Corrupt. He doubled his speed running to Tasara's room.
The tingling got worse, soon turning to full pain as he approached Tasara's room. He threw open the door, almost breaking it at the hinges. Tasara was lying on the ground, a huge gash in her forehead, her face and clothes covered in blood. Standing directly over her was a man, whose white skin littered with brown blotched and deformed patches led Warwick to immediately recognize him as a Corrupt. The Corrupt was stooped over, and arm outstretched, slowly leaning to touch Tasara on her forehead.
"No!" yelled Warwick, scanning the room frantically for some way to save her. He could not attack it outright again, he had failed miserably the last time. He saw an armoire in a corner of the room, and hefted it up over his head. Taking advantage of his strength, Warwick threw the huge piece of furniture at the Corrupt.
As he had suspected, on impact, the armoire shattered, pieces of wood flying everwhere in the room. Unexpected, though, was the Corrupt's reaction. Slowly, accompanied by varying cracking noises, the Corrupt turned his head, revealing sunken, soulless eyes, staring at Warwick.
Tasara took this moment to roll away from the Corrupt. She struggled to her feet, tears in her eyes obscuring her vision. Crawling backwards, still on her back, she got herself up against a wall and struggled to her feet. Still managing to hold on to consciousness, she grabbed a Whisp from the air around her and began to focus. Tendrils of fire burst forth from her palms, wrapping around the Corrupt, merging into a single, thick tendril. Having completely entwined the Corrupt, the tendril finally found its way to the Corrupt's mouth, and forced itself in, down its throat. Soon, all of the flame had disappeared down its gullet. The Corrupt began to twitch uncontrollably, but the twitches soon turned to spasms and blotches of charred flesh began to appear across the its body. The blotches spread and, soon, all that remained of the monstrosity was a pile of ash and a few scraps of tattered clothing.
Tasara staggered forward, stepping over the pile of ash, and collapsed onto Warwick, blood still streaming from the open wound on her forehead, her entire body plastered with sweat. Warwick gently lay her down on the floor and began to inspect her wounds.
Varn crouched behind a barrel in the street, Reyde beside him, with an obviously angered look on his face. The street was deserted save for the conflict going on in front of him. Almost a dozen Corrupt stood on the street, receiving various blows from a group of four Mindlings and a Harnesser. The Harnesser, a man with black hair and hazel foreign eyes, was not wearing what Varn had usually seen male Harnessers wear. They normally wore a powder blue silk shirt tucked into loose black pants, but this man's garb was completely different. Varn would not have recognized him for a Harnesser if not for his constant grabbing at the air for Whisps, and the emblem on his back. The man was decked out in an exorbitant scarlet cloak with a huge collar that stretched up backwards from the cloak and tied around the waist with an extremely dark red cord, almost black. On the back of the cloak was the Harnesser emblem, but unlike on Tasara's cloak, it was wreathed in flame. He would make a point of asking Tasara about it.
One huge thing that Varn noticed about the man was that the only spells he used somehow involved fire, and that said spells were of immense proportion, extravagant displays of flame and ash. Before long, the Corrupt were all gone. Or so Varn thought, for just at that moment, a scream came from off to Varn's left. The scream was more terrifying than Varn could ever imagine. It seemed not only to be heard in his ears but also in his mind, shattering all other thoughts to make itself bigger and more frightening. Varn clutched at his ears and joined the scream, and from around him he could vaguely hear other voices joining as well.
The horror slowly began to wane, until it was gone. Varn risked opening his eyes and saw Reyde, as well as the Harnesser and the Mindlings struggling to his feet. Lying on the ground was a Mindling, in a crumpled heap. The Mindling slowly turned its head, and Varn looked in horror at its white skin, with the telltale brown blotches of a Corrupt. Hearing a sound from upon a roof, Varn looked upwards and strained his eyes to see what was there.
A man, with pasty white skin and a black moustache, tips drooping down past his chin jumped down from a rooftop, landing almost right atop the fallen Mindling. Before anyone could move to stop him, the man had gathered the Corrupt Mindling up in his arms and had taken off towards the city gates. It occurred to Varn that this man must be a Corruption Mage, because no normal being could touch a Corrupt without being ripped to pieces.
The Harnesser man lifted his hand to pluck a Whisp out of the air and set forth a huge wave of flame towards the Corruption Mage. Without even looking back, the Mage made a mighty sweep of his sword, dividing the wave in half, and kept running. Before any more action could be taken, the man was outside the city, holding a silver ball up into the air.
Somthing in the sky shimmered into existance, which Varn recognized immediately as the Zephyr. A tunnel stretched down from the Zephyr, which the Mage jumped into. In a few seconds the Zephyr had shimmered back out of existence, leaving them alone once again. They had held their ground and protected the city, but they had not won the battle. Zephid's dark forces now had a Corrupt Mindling in their control, a fact not to be taken lightly.
Back at the inn, Tasara was just regaining consciousness. Warwick had moved her into her bed after cleaning up the blood and bandaging her head, and was now sitting on a tiny stool, waiting for her to wake up, feeling not happy at all. It was evident that a battle was going on outside, and instead of being a part of it like he always was, he had stayed back playing healer. He disgusted himself.
Warwick stood up and moved closer when he noticed Tasara's eyes beginning to flicker open.
"Finally awake. Can you take care of yourself? I want to get out and join the fighting," Warwick said gruffly.
"There is no point to leaving," Tasara said faintly. "The only enemies out there are Corrupt, and you know that you could not fight them."
"I fought the one here pretty well. Saved your life," Warwick replied, his annoyance rising.
"You distracted it for mere seconds. It was luck, no more," she replied.
"I don't care. You're awake and seem well, so I'm going to go do what I can out there." With that comment Warwick turned on his heel and stormed out the door.
Still full of anger at being stuck out of the action, Warwick burst into the common room and bolted to the door, knocking down various tables and chairs as he went. Before long, he was out of the inn and was rushing down the street towards where the battle was taking place.
Warwick soon arrived at his destination, having passed by many houses and shops along the way, all of them walled-up, windows and doors bolted shut. Warwick arrived at the battle just in time to witness its end. Four Mindlings and a man in a scarlet cloak stood there, facing down a single Corrupt, though the bodies of many other Corrupts littered the ground. The one final Corrupt, in an unexpected act, turned from its focus on the Harnesser to a Mindling standing behind it and did something that Warwick had not thought Corrupts could do. It leaped, moving at a blinding speed, towards the Mindling. And it connected. Warwick saw what happened next because he was some distance from the scene.
The Corrupt managed, in midair, to get a single finger touching the Mindling's forehead. Time seemed to stop, the Corrupt just suspended perfectly horizontal about five feet off the ground, arm outstretched and index finger pressed against the Mindling's forehead, the Mindling standing completely still, his eyes glazed over and his face twisted into an expression of unimaginable terror. All those close by were frozen. Then the scream began. A piercing scream emanating from the doomed Mindling, boring into Warwick's mind and ears, causing searing, intense pain.
It took time, but the scream finally stopped, leaving Warwick crumpled on the ground, holding his ears and twitching, the pain still fresh in his mind.
|Harnesser Chapter 1||Harnesser Chapter 5|
|Harnesser Chapter 2||Chapter 6|
|Harnesser Chapter 8|