Copyright: White Wolf
Είδος: ηρωική φαντασία
Σχόλια: Exalted fanfic, έχει κολλήσει στο 6ο κεφάλαιο
The swords clashed, ringing loudly. His was a carved iron sword, crafted for a warrior of his class. Hers was made of red jade, one of the five magic materials, fitting her noble breed. They both retracted their swords. He tried to slash at her, but she was fast enough to parry his strike, positioning her sword vertically. Although its bulk was noteworthy, she was able to use it with ease. She was one of the dragon-blooded after all, an exalt, and her manipulation of essence allowed her to do so. It was time for her counterattack. She tried to stab at him, but he sidestepped, his sword parrying away hers. Mechanically he lunged at her, while her defense was open. But she was able to parry his attack with her off-hand weapon; a short sword made of iron and adorned with a silver hilt. Her eyes, flaming with passion, locked with his. She puffed, the reddish skin bathed in sweat. Her flame red hair were embracing her face and her red plate mail protected her slender body. Cathak Aisida was a worth opponent, trained by the best weapon masters in the realm.
But so was her opponent, Asset Rioneer. Born of a humble family, a former servant in a minor dragon-blooded house and a soldier, he lived a poor childhood. His father taught him the way of the sword since he was a little boy. He died in a battle somewhere in the north. He sworn to him he would be one of the best swordsmen in all creation. He did his best to, worked hard to afford permission in a military academy, was taught under a few tutors and joined the legions of the realm, as had his father. He exeled in melee combat and especially in the sword. But he would never hope to surpass the skill of the dragon-blooded: Exalted by the five immaculate dragons, these gods among men were the nobility of the Realm, an once vast empire now declining in power. Founded and being ruled by the Scarlet Empress for eight hundred years, stationed in a large island in the middle of Creation, it ruled the entire world. Today the empress has gone to seclusion five years ago. Since then, the Realm seems to boil, like a civil war is about to erupt. Last years that passed since then found him a legionnaire. The dragon he belonged to was sent to the south, to the city of Paragon, in order to provide stability for the subordinate city-state.
About a year ago his fang, the fiery eight as they were known, was sent to scout for a band of thieves, raiding the farms outside Paragon. It was one of the hot days of the southern continent, known for its hot climate, and they were scouting, when they fell victim to an ambush. Lightly armored outwitted and outnumbered, they were falling one after another. The rascals they were facing were untrained in the art of war and not disciplined, but their numbers were overwhelming. In the end only he was left alive, severely wounded in the leg. Around him lurked about ten bandits, like jackals waiting for their prey to pass away to feed upon it. But he was not going to just sit and die: He would take as many enemies he could. The bandits reluctantly closed in. He raised his sword and gripped his buckler. One of them tried to spear him with a crude weapon the immaculate dragons knew were he got it. He parried the strike with his buckler and lunging forward he impaled his foe with his blade. The remaining bandits stepped back, surprised he would not be an easy kill. All but one. A blonde-haired woman raised her sword in both hands charged him screaming. But he was faster, slamming his buckler in her face, knocking her out, while the straps holding his buckler broke. The bandits regained composure and started closing in again. He gripped his sword in both hands, sure he would die this day, lamenting he would not fulfill the promise he gave to his father. He fought hard, cutting the thread of many lives and taking one too many wounds in the process. In the end he was crawling on his knees, his sword broken and his lifeblood running short as it soaked the sand. The three remaining thugs closed in for the kill, when wet thuds and screams of pain filled the air. Reinforcements had arrived, killing off the surviving bandits. Being given first aid, his life was saved.
Later on, his wing's major, a fire-aspected dragon-blood called Cathak Nemekos, visited him. Impressed by his valor and his mastery in combat he made him a proposition he could not resist. He was to be transferred to his personal guard. He would be provided with a room in his manor, a better salary and a less risky occupation. He gladly accepted. His task changed abruptly, when his benefactor's daughter returned to her father's house after her strenuous training at a military academy. She was to be appointed to the army as an officer and he was to be her bodyguard. He could still bring to memory their first duel.
They both were in this same room, a place for battle training. She stood against him, armed in the same heavy armor and wielding the same weapons. "I heard you are good with the sword mortal" she said, "Want to prove your value against me?". He could do nothing but accept. Dread filled his heart, as he stood against her, his fighting skilled seriously diminished by that feeling. After a few fumbles and a couple of minor slashes on his body, she looked at him in with a sly smile and told him "You don't try your best. Let's make a deal. Beat me and you shall sleep with me." He was shocked by this straightforward approach that he didn't notice her tripping him. The next thing he knew was that he was on the ground, Cathak Aisida over him. "You don't think I am THAT unattractive" she mused, the same sly smile on her lips.
He stopped daydreaming as soon as Aisida's Daiklaive swung, aiming his head. He raised his sword to parry. The blades clashed. The power of the strike was too much for the blade to handle. The iron blade bent under the force of the jade artifact to the point it could take no more pressure. It broke into fragments. A tiny one hit him in the face, scarring his right cheek. Her sword stopped right above his head. "Seems like I've won again" Aisida said "And I owe you a sword…"
"I cannot beet her" though Rioneer as he strolled in the market. Dusk was approaching and he had to buy a new sword. The business was dying down as the sun began its declining course. Usually the market was crowded with people, but not right now. The traffic was bearable. But not the quality of the swords he had found at the moment. When your life depends on your sword, he mused, you better have the best possible.
His thoughts wandered back to Aisida. Yes, she was attractive to say the least. And a worthy adversary. If only was she not Exalted, then they would be an even match. But her magical sword and her channeling of essence allowing her to enhance her abilities made her far superior than him. He still wondered whether or not would she keep her promise in case he beat her in a duel. He thought it would be unlikely to, since she was already engaged to a young diplomat named Pelleps Encanti, an air-aspect Exalt.
"You look a fine warrior," said a man that stood before him, just like he came out of the thin air. "I bet you would like to see what I have to offer you." The man was average height, his cloak hiding most of his face and his cape his body. His voice was that of a young man and his movements smooth and steady. Probably he was a warrior too. He somehow seemed familiar to Rioneer.
"Come on, follow me," the man urged him "you really have to see this." Grasping Rioneer's arm, he shoved him inside a deserted alley. There, opening his cape, he pulled out a sword. It was an unwieldy construct, crafted from a material that looked like it was made of gold, yet it was not. It had the size of a greatsword, yet he somehow knew it was one handed. Its straight blade was sharp, almost too sharp, its hilt was adorned with representation of lions. Reluctantly he reached for it. The merchant, if he was such, let him take it. Rioneer's hand froze just above the hilt. He slowly lowered his hand, touching it, his fingers slowly griping it. Then a flash of bright light blinded him…
He was under a very bright sun. He wore a heavy armor (Something he eschewed, since it decreased his mobility) and wielded the same sword. In front of him stood a man, surrounded by the brightest halo imaginable. He was aflame in a radiance of pure sunlight, majestic as no man he had even seen, even more than any of the dragon blooded, whose anima flared in their aspect element. The man, were he a man and not a god, reached for him, touched his forehead, where he felt a strong burning sensation, and told him in a voice that made him shudder with reverence "You are Exalted Rioneer Asset to serve the Unconquered Sun." Thousand of memories run through Rioneer's brain, in a chaotic pattern, memories of an age long passed, when the true chosen of the gods ruled. The golden age of the Solars.
He blinked in disbelief, as the chaotic vision he experienced faded away, the man nowhere to be seen. The sword was still in his grip, too heavy and unwieldy for someone to use. In curiosity he swung it. It slashed the air, its edge sharper than everything he'd ever seen. He swung again and again, each swing progressively easier. He felt the sword warming up in his hand. Soon it was as easy to use as a normal sword. Or ever better. Then, for the first time, he noticed the night has fallen. That and the strange light he emitted. It looked as though it came from his forehead. Reflexively his left hand went up there, touching a warm spot. His eye caught a glimpse in a piece of broken glass that was thrown there. On his forehead something shone: An image of a dawning sun. He felt the pangs of panic rising in him. Instictively he knew he must hide this mark. He cloaked his head with a ribbon of cloth that was tied to the sash given to him along with the sword.
Soon he felt the light fading away, dimming to invisibility beneath its cover. The night had fallen and he knew he needed a drink. His steps led him to a tavern many legionnaires frequented. It was called "The laughing squirrel" and was stationed in one of the notorious neighbourhoods in the city of Paragon. A two-story building usually packed with soldiers, offering them spirits, smoke and the occasional drugs or prostitutes. Upon entering the derelict tavern, a cloud of smoke, mixed with the smell of sweat and alcohol hit him. The tavern was not full. The cutdowns at funding the legions had reduced both the number of soldiers and the wages of the remaining ones. At the bar was a big man, Thousand Ox his name, due to his great strength. His large biceps were adorned with many tattoos. He was the owner of this place and said to be a member of the guild, the mighty merchant organisation that ruled trade all over creation. Waiting the customers were two waitresses that one could consider pretty had he drink one too many of the drinks served. Considering the customers, he could see few known faces. Most were men, with the odd woman sitting at their midst.
One of the waitresses approached him, teasingly waiting to take his order. He could not tell whether she was after money or pleasure. His good looks had made one too many women desire his company. He was tall, lean, agile, his hair an uncommon red, his skill at arms unsurpassed, at least considering the mortal standards. Rumors had it that in fact he was the offspring between the union of a dragon blooded and a servant, his exalted blood running pure in his veins. Probably what just occurred to him was his exaltation, the moment a dragon blooded reaches maturity. Maybe one of the Immaculate Dragons had chosen him. But, no matter how little he knew about religion, he was certain there was no Immaculate Dragon named Unconquered Sun. Deep in his thoughts, he passed by the waitress and went to sit at the bar. He ordered a mug of ale and paid with some silver pieces, still oblivious to his surroundings.
"May I join your drink" aid a female voice, dragging him out of his trance. He raised his eyes. She was a soldier of the legion, her skin chocolate brown, her hair black, her eyes brown, her muscular body leaning against the bar. Without waiting for his permission she sat by him. Quietly she sipped some ale from a mug she was holding. He, still pondering upon the situation he was facing, paid her no attention.
"You look worried Rioneer" she told him surprising him. She probably saw it in his face, because she was quick to add, "I bet you don't remember me. I am Arrowcatcher Merlen. We have met this place before."
"Sorry, but I did not," he said. A recollection of their meeting flashed in his mind. "Are you of the Purple wolves?"
"Looks like you remember me. I am off to a mission tomorrow afternoon." She said in a bitter voice. "Are you off to somewhere to?"
"No, it's just something personal. I don't want to discuss it." He added hastily.
"Neither do I." She replied "I just want to relax."
The small talk that followed made him forget his worries. She was originating from the South, something her dark skin proved. Her great grand father was a famed martial artist who could catch arrows in mid-air, thus her family name. She joined the legions to continue the valorous family tradition. And to get rid of an irritating suitor.
After an hour or so of chattering and one too many drinks being drunk, she was leaning against his shoulder. "This girl need some company tonight. Will you be that one?" she said half-drunk.
Watching Merlen, Rioneer could only think of Aisida. It was no use lying to himself, he lusted after her. Or even loved her. Compared to Merlen they were both so similar, yet so unlike. They both were strong women, living by the sword, following a family tradition in warfare. But looking at Merlen's body, lying fast asleep by him, he could not but notice the scars on her back. She had many fights and many injuries, while Aisida had no real war experience. For Merlen war was to survive. For Aisida to prove herself. They both had an irritating suitor. Merlen ran away, Aisida was honor-bound to marry him. Aisida was what he thrived to be when he was younger: A heroic champion, wielding his sword with honor and valor. Merlen what he had become after his first real battle: A true survivor, striving to make it to the next day. He had to stick with Merlen, because life was not fair. Aisida was for those chosen by the five elemental dragons. And he was not. Thinking of this, he fell asleep.
In his slumber, he had the weirdest dream. He was clad in the same outfit as in his previews vision. Now, he was standing against a group of young soldiers, all of whom wore jade armors. They were not against him, but under his commands. He was their superior, their general, their ideal. They wanted to be as strong as him but could not, because he was chosen to be their superior, chosen by the gods themselves.
"Rioneer wake up"
Merlen's voiced pierced through his slumber, reaching his conscious and pulling it out of his strange dream. He woke up, the rays of the sun illuminating the room. He was in the guestroom he was given to him by Cathak Nemekos. It was luxurious for a soldier, having a not so hard bed, an adequate closet and a window providing it light. Merlen was lying by him, covered with a sheet. She caressed him gently, then stood up and started getting dressed. He could do nothing but follow the intricate patchwork of scars on her body: Her fang was known as one of the most ferocious ones and every member had at least a dozen scars on his or her body.
Then a gentle knock on his door took his gaze away from her. Aisida had opened the door, the look on her face awkward. She and Merlen looked at each other for a moment, then Aisida was quick to apologise and asked Rioneer to meet her at the training room in half an hour and then rushed out of the room.
Soon both lovers were dressed and ready to part. Rioneer had to go for training and Merlen to a mission.
"Goodbye," he told her, "perhaps we shall meet again when you return".
Her lips formed a bitter smile and she kissed him goodbye then left the room.
Rioneer went for his sword. The mysterious golden sword he was given the previous day and he had forgotten up to that moment. To his surprise he didn't find it. In its place there now was an ordinary slashing sword, it's edge sharp and its point wicked. He took it and donned it, pondering whether or not the whole incident was dream caused by alcohol, like the other dream he saw his commanding of Dragon-blooded troops.
He had to clear his mind of this. A long day awaited him.
"Someone would expect you to be tired" remarked Aisida, a smug look on her face.
"Guess I am not" answered Rioneer, parrying one more of her slashes. He was feeling lighter than ever, his body more agile than usual. Too agile he would add. His use of the sword was better too. Not much, since he was one of the best mortal swordsmen in creation, but enough to consider his skill the human maximum. He felt his sword lighter, easier to manipulate. His pacing was much better, his endurance better too. A tough challenge for Aisida.
"Seems like you shall pick up women more often," she said followed by an attempt to stab her opponent with her Daiklaive. Rioneer was ready to parry both her physical attack and the attack in their battle of wits. His sword swept away the jade blade, as he pointed that picking up women made his less motivated to win.
His verbal counterattack struck true, because it was followed by an irritated comment Aisida made. According to it, his being a mortal did not allowed him to beat her.
Rioneer felt a rush of rage rushing through him. Her arrogant comment made him wanting to want him, to harm her so it would prove her wrong. He was not worse than her, just not born of a Dragon-Blooded Dynast. He had struck true at the verbal fight and it was turn for a physical hit. He focused all his senses to his sword, he felt part of his essence to merge with it, enabling him to use it better. Aisida was raising her Daiklaive to slash vertically at him. He took his time, waiting for her to attack. She lunged at him. He raised his sword wielding him in two hands. The two weapons clung and then the jade sword was stopped by the iron one. Before Aisida had a chance to react the sword was moving forward, its wicked point aiming at her neck. In vain she tried to parry with her off-hand sword. The moment it connected to Rioneer's sword a small drop of blood was tickling down from her neck. The skin of her neck was punctured by the sword, this indicating her defeat.
As Rioneer recalled their match, he could not but believe it was some sort of a dream, a life-like fantasy of him being superior. He was standing there in the bathroom next to the training room, a towel around his waist, the slave bringing him some steaming hot water to wash off the sweat from training. It was a standard procedure for him and his mistress to bathe after training. The bath consisted of four smaller rooms, divided by brick walls and having curtains. He was about to start washing, when he noticed the curtain opening. It was Aisida, paying him a visit, as always not knocking or telling anything. She was also wearing but a towel tied high just bellow her shoulders. Most probably she had run out of soap, as she usually did when she paid him a visit.
He turned against her, watching her coming closer to him, the thought of her slender body comelingly covered underneath the towel arousing him. She came in front of him and pushed him against the wall, the towels they wore falling, his from surprise hers deliberately. She kissed him tenderly, then gazed him in the eyes and told him: "I am a person of honour and I keep my promises."
Life could not be better Rioneer mused. This day had been the best in his entire life. He opened the door to his room, the taste of Aisida's kiss still on his lips. But what he found in the room surprised him. The sword he was given was lain his bed. But most weird was the fact that next to it sat the merchant who gave it to him.
"Who are you," he dared whisper, both frightened and frustrated.
"The point is who are you" he replied.
"What do you mean?" Rioneer said, his flesh creeping.
"Have you noticed something weird," he asked "a mysterious light? Dreams? Your being better at things?"
"Yes," answered Rioneer, trembling "Do you know what it is?"
"Simply" the man relaxed back "You've become one of us. What people call an Anathema."
Έχει και δεύτερο μέρος που είναι στα σκαριά. Περιμένω απόψεις.
Edited by Nihilio, 02 Μάρτιος 2008 - 21:27.