Author Topic: Sword of Destiny; Sword of Despair  (Read 1611 times)

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Forgotten_Bard

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Sword of Destiny; Sword of Despair
« on: May 27, 2010, 05:01:33 AM »
Chapter 1: Warrior of Ice and Steel

A long wail of wind ripped its icy fingers across the Northern Plains and sky.  A world drenched in white and gray and nothing in between.  The anvil of the world; sturdy, unyielding and forging the toughest creatures across the continent.  A place where a good day is composed of a blizzard by day and clear and frozen skies by night.  The last place where remnants of a chaotic age linger and drag their existence across the centuries, undying yet not quite alive.  The last known home of the Nedren, an old and backwards branch of humanity, bent to the old ways and uncaring of what the world truly holds.  A superstitious lot that leap at any scent of "evil."  Or so it is believed.

Deep within the frozen wasteland are the Neverbourn Mountains, spiraling peaks that charge up from the surface like crooked fangs as they try to rake the very heavens away.  Like the rest of the plains, nothing is natural about these large towers of rock and frost, and nothing that lives within its paths is filled with good intentions... or even a mind to think past driving instincts of blood-lust and dark magic.  Frozen Chaos.

A pack of creatures dragged their twisted bodies across the snowy hills, creaks and groans rumbling from their body though they make no sound of their own.  Deformed shapes that look vaguely human, if one was to squint at them while half drunk of Dwarven Ale.  In fact, the only human qualities are the skeletal structures resurrected by ancient magic.  Bound to ice and rock and whatever they can attach to themselves, Ice Wretches are neither beast nor being but an entity.  No soul, no life, or quality to claim as their own, yet fearsome when provoked.  One Ice Wretch alone can cause a Champion to falter or lose his life if his footing isn't perfect.  No normal man is even capable of landing a blow.

Yet from the snow drift arose a solitary figure, rising high above the Wretches as they groaned and creaked at what disturbed them.  A man of skin as darkly colored as ashen snow, white eyes piercing before him, yet not blind to all the world.  Across his shoulders is a fur pelt, draped back like some crude cape as his bare chest is only covered by the frozen straps that keep the pelt close to him.  His waist is still buried deep in the snow though his right hand reaches for the barely exposed hilt, all six fingers wrapping about the familiar grips and yanking the sword free of its sheath.  A body solid with muscle and appearing to be almost as unmovable as the very mountains.  His left hand held neither sword nor buckler but was bare and open, stretched out like an offered welcome to the closest wretch as it creaked and groaned, its archaic mind awakening to the fresh meat before it as it raised its head to the sky, cracked jaw bone now a split mandible sheathed in ice as its silence called into the howling wind.  Its body sizing up its foe before leaping eagerly for the blood.

The left hand snapped around, palm resting on the bare forehead as thick fingers wrapped around its skull and squeezed, knuckles growing white as bone and ice split and cracked until the head was no more and the beast fell apart where it was.  By then the remained of the pack had awoken to their ancient blood-lust and began to charge on their own, mindless and without tactic, save to overwhelm the warrior.  But this warrior wasn't normal as left hand drew back and right crashed down in an arcing sweep, the blade carrying all the weight of the swing as it crashed through one wretch and bit into another.  A practiced hand released the hilt for the barest of seconds as it rotated around and seized it once more, ripping the weapon free as left hand lashed out, a closed fist crunching through what looked like the mutilated rib cage of a wyvern as thick fingers seized its spine and tore it free, holding one end as what remained of the skull dangled on the other, turning it into a makeshift mace as he spun, shattering it with another skull in one deft swing out.  Right hand raising high as his grip loosened and fingers spun around, until he seized the blade in a reverse and swung down with full force, the blade crashing down like a steel spike clean through the last charging beast.  The howling wind called to him in the silence.

Cold eyes glanced around him as the remains of an entire pack lay at his feet, and not a scratch to be found on his own body.  His right hand slowly fingered the pommel of his sword before tearing it free of the corpse and sheathing it back at his side.  His left arm flexed as he pushed himself from his bedding spot, and snow fell from him like sheets.  His right hand drifted up to check a red cloth tied around his left arm, below the shoulder, and fell away.  Gaze shifting towards the Neverbourn Mountains then away towards the southern horizon.  The ky was clear save the gray clouds swirling far to the east.  The morning was clear, which meant the night would be terrible.  Yet that was no concern of his as he took his first step, and then another, his steps carrying him away from his home and down into the continent.  He had a task he must accomplish and nothing would stop him from finishing what had been started for his honor.  Nothing.

*****

"Hold there.  Hold there, drat you!"  Captain Simfer steadied his horse which shifted footing beneath him with unease at the crowd around it.  "Blasted animal..."  The mutter was low and away from the ears of the patrol he lead through the streets.  It had hardly been a fourth hour and already second shift was drawing close.  Not far behind him grumbled Sargent Armien and a particularly troublesome soldier by the name of Livingston.  Lesser noble blood the lot of them yet with absolutely no service to his majesty and unskilled in combat.  Yet he always ended up being the sitter for the two.... That wasn't right.  The Sargent was a good man, though he usually let his blood get in the way of his judgment and Livingston used it to his advantage whenever a girl even tried to shy away from him.  That only left him to do their jobs right, a man born to no house but the son of a skilled general and military family sworn to His Majesty and the Blood Heir.

Seven shifts down and only three more till the shutting of the gates, though any fool coming in at this hour usually meant he was up to no good or meant more than was intended.  Yet none escaped his watchful eyes, even if they did slip past the less than perfect notice of the other two.  Which was why, when a lone shadow began to take shape out of the woods his eyes narrowed as a hand drifted to his saber.  His hardened silence shook his acquaintances out of their calm relaxation and into alert squinting fools as their eyes tried to adjust from watching fire light to twilight.

"Hold!  Hold in the name of His Majesty!"  The standard warning, which usually just ended up in scaring the damn buggers off instead of being captured.  Yet this form didn't stop and as it approached it began to shape in to a man, a large one by stature.

Whispers of his men were a small reminder of their presence, though he knew better... unfortunately Armien didn't as he heel his horse out in front of the Captains, his poleaxe rising up before lowering into the charge position, his horse whickering and shifting step beneath him yet giving no real trouble.  Blasted nobles and their steeds.  "By order of the Night Watch and His Majesty, I order you to halt and give name before I run you through!"

Oh real smooth... Not the fool will definitely run off...  But he wasn't.  Simfer grew uncomfortable and could feel Livingston's eagerness behind him to finally do something.  Nudging his horse out jerkingly he stopped level with his Sargent and began to draw his sword and stopped as the man could be vaguely be distinguished.  The pale skin and strange garb setting warning bells off in his head as he quickly leaned over, left hand seizing Armien by the shoulder and jerking the man to look at him.  "Stay your weapons..."  His Sargent gave him a questioning brow and he nodded back at the approaching man, "He's a Nedren."

The words sank home as the other almost dropped his poleaxe in surprise.  Unfortunately for them all, Livingston didn't here that comment, or chose to ignore it as his horse rocketed past them both, his lance lowered for the charge, his right hand gripping the reigns as he closed up.  The Nedren halted mid stride, going completely silent and Simfer felt a chill raise across his neck as he could almost feel the sword slide from his sheath.  The horse was almost upon him then and nothing could stop in coming disaster, his eyes snapping shut the the shrieking wail of the horse as its front legs were cut out from under it, topping its rider forwards and having the weight of the beast crash atop his armor, crushing in the breastplate and burying the man in horseflesh as the blade spun around once more, severing the head of the mount before its horrible shrieks could call into the sky.

Simfer could feel the shock rolling from his Sargent and he felt his own hand tremble as the Nedren returned his sword to rest at his side and continued to approach, stopping just before the guards completely silent, yet showing indication of even registering he killed one of the Night Watch, a lesser noble or one of the King's Watch.  Without waiting for either Simfer or Armien to gain their voices back he raised his right hand and pulled a strange cloth from his left arm, the faint shimmer of gold drawing both their attention to the strange image.  It appeared to be a serpent with two forelegs and a barbed tail, the head looked almost to be that of a serpent though the snout and nose were curved with a slight point, almost like a horse, and two horns extended up from a spiked frill.

"Vipent..." The word came out so soft it could have been exhaled and Sargent Armien jerked to look at him.

"Like the one His Majesty the Price has?"

Simfer could only nod, "Not the same for i have never seen one without four legs but that head is unmistakable.  Sound the Horn of Arrival... I don't know what this Nedren wants, but his actions suggest he is on a quest, and we can't hold any death at his hands...  And the fact he has a mark of the Vipent disturbs me...  I tell you now Armien... Tell no other guard this, for I fear that something grave is in the future..."

He regarded the one who stood before them still and he turned his horse around slowly, glancing over his shoulder into that frozen face, "If you understand at least what I say, then follow me..."

Simfer paid no mind to his Sargent as he raced off to follow orders.  In fact he was so lost in thought he didn't realize the Horn had been sounded or where he was until he was before the very palace, and the assembled Guard shifted to let him and his guest pass.

Something was troubling his mind... and it wasn't the death of a lesser noble or soldier, or even the Nedren himself, but he could feel a chill in the air.  A chill that would freeze his soul if he let it.

*****

"I present to His Majesty, King Aldern, Captain Simfer and his Nedren guest."  The herald's voice echoed in the silent court as only a few spare guards populated the wide expanse.  All the leading nobles asleep or too far gone to be summoned as quickly as needed and it was only great fortune His Majesty was studying in his private Libraries at the time that is was even assembled.

"What of Prince Morgan and the Seeker Morbin?"

The herald gave a low bow, "If His Majesty will forgive their lateness they will arrive within moments, unless you wish them gone?"

"No... I think they should be here, very well, you are dismissed again..."

"Your Majesty..."  The herald flourished another, even deeper bow and departed out the doors leaving Captain Simfer to stand as he was, feeling the eyes of the guards on him, and the looming presence of the Nedren behind him.  His eyes were dropped down to the foot of the throne, just at the stairs, yet he could tell he was not the focus of His Majesty's interest."

"Simfer."

His heart leaped to his throat yet he kept calm, "Yes your Majesty?"

"You are dismissed, and go tell that damned second cousin of mine to stop blowing the Horn before he awakens every person in the city."

Regret stung Simfer's mind but he couldn't ignore orders, "Yes your Majesty..."  He gave a bow, not as deep as the Herald's own but good enough for royalty as he rose and left back the way he came, yet even the distance from the Nedren didn't calm his nerves.

King Aldren sat on his throne calmly, left arm resting across his lag as his right elbow rested on his arm rest and fingers lazily propped his head on its side as he observed the one before him.  "Guards..."  He spoke without warning and me smiled as he watched them jump, "You may leave us..."  He gave a wave of his hand and he could tell, like Simfer, they wished to protest yet they bowed stiffly and left the room, yet they would hover at the door for any call.  Sadly, where a Nedren was concerned, either being in here or out there would matter little.  Instead, he shifted resting his head from his right hand to his left as one of the side doors opened and Prince Morgan and the Seeker slipped in.

"Father..."  Morgan bowed low while the Seeker remained motionless, for he was tied to the Circle of Wisdom and no Kingdom.

Aldren regarded his son then waved him off, "It seems we have a Nedren with the mark of a Vipent on our doorsteps and.... From what I have heard, that fool Livingston tried to hinder the quest he is apparently on."  He watched Morgan flinch as Livingston was a childhood friend to the boy.  "Grim matters aside, It seems he hasn't spoken a word which leads me to believe he speaks perfect tongue, though he may understand us now..."  He lowered his left hand and sat strait.  He looked to the seeker, "I can give no orders to you, but might I suggest attempting to establish terms..."

The Seeker only tilted his head towards the King, his face passive as his eyes matched the other.  Aldren longed to stare him down but he forced his eyes to divert for a second as the bald man smiled.  "Oh course, if it is only a meager request and not a demand from His Majesty Aldren..."

King Aldren kept the frown out of his features but he could only assume that hooked nose meant more than an ugly face.  He remained silent as the black robed man scuttled before the Nedren and bowed and began to speak in that language few know.

"If it pleases the Holder, you may speak the High Language before those who mean less..."  Morbin smiled as he heard Prince Morgan suck in a breath as the King obviously frowned.  Only the Prince knew what he said but it felt good to stretch his holdings and show that no power held him down.

'Do you claim to speak as my equal?"

"Oh, Morbin you fool!"  The prince called to him and his mind registered the translation, his eyes growing wide as his body shook, feeling those white eyes examine over his whole body.  His eyes darted to the back doors as the muffled sounds of guards drew them open and rushing into the room.  Tough he had little to look at as his head was forced forwards and he felt his throat being cut off, his body screaming at him as he was lifted off the floor by his neck.

"Stay your hands!"
"Morgan what the hell is going on!"
"The Nerdren is looking for his equal and Morbin is put to the question."
"In real terms Morgan!"

Morbin's mind registered the voices but not the names or what was going on as he tried to swallow.  Anyway he went he was doomed, so he tried squirmed to draw out an answer to escape. "I am of the Circle of Wisdom to guide those of equal footing, yet not one for the task at hand but I-"

The voice and room went silent in an instant with a crack and then a dull thump.  Guards stood shocked at what they saw, Morgan stood, eyes half turned as an arm tried to hide the sight from before him and King Aldren felt himself age a few more years in a moment.  At the feet of the Nedren was Morbin, though Morbin was no longer himself.  In one motion the Nedren had used his left hand, and just his left hand, to seize the keeper by the neck and drag him into the air and then, with terrifying speed, with thumb and forefinger pressed to either cheek, his head was twisted around faster and further than a human head was intended to go.  Now the Seeker lay looking at the ceiling while laying chest down on the tiles.  The shock was so great he had no idea what Morgan was doing until it was over.  And he wished he caught it sooner.

"I am Prince Morgan and Ambassador of the Kingdom, Soldier of the guard and son of his Majesty Aldren.  Keeper of the Vipent and speaker of the Pure tongue.  I am your equal."  The prince stood there as the Nedren regarded him and he suddenly remembered to pull lose his right sleeve to reveal the mark of the Vipent on his wrist and suddenly the tense moment slipped away.

"Let us be equals Morgan and never use the language of animals to address each other as such again.  I am Rodrick, born of Ice and Steel and Keeper of the Vipent and all is not as it should be..."

Morgan swallowed as a cold lump filled his gut. "What is coming?"

Rodrick's white eyes seemed to gaze through his own as if he were glass, "The Dragon Wake is coming..."
« Last Edit: May 28, 2010, 01:47:13 PM by Forgotten_Bard »
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Forgotten_Bard

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Re: Sword of Destiny; Sword of Despair
« Reply #1 on: June 13, 2010, 04:24:17 PM »
Chapter 2:Rage of Winter's Past

Ice swept winds cut through the snow choked skies like chilling knives.  The land froze as the foul storm sucked all the life giving heat from it in a slashing fit of ice shadows.  So obscured, the Northern Plains, that no living thing could grasp but a few meager inches from it, lost to total blindness in the gray and white.  A cold beyond normal cold.

Through a barren patch of ice and snow struggled a lone figure, his black cloak whipping about him with deadly snaps of the loose fabric as it pressed against him so flesh still felt the burning sting of clinging ice against it.  Puffs of breath barely escaping lips as it was forced back against numb and white snow freezing over ice crusted skin as icy blue eyes seemed frozen open.  The man was beyond shivers as his whole person seemed like one giant figure frozen together.  Only his legs seemed active as he sluggishly placed one foot in front of the other, struggling to drag his body forwards.

All at once, that inner flame of life burned too dimly to fuel his movement and as one his body fell forwards, black collapsing in white as it was slowly buried.  A tired and numb body watching the slow burial that would slowly suffocate him.  Everything seemed sluggish...  A hand jerked him out of his dying slumber and dragged him upright as a second hand steadied himself.  Another pair of eyes gazed into his, deep green and intelligent as he watched lips move but head no sound.  Who was this man?  As the question swam through the thick and slow contents of his current state he son realized he was being taken off in some direction.  In this storm, who could tell.  He felt his feet move beneath him and that was enough as everything seemed to go back to a deep black...

Upon waking the first thing he felt was warmth on his face as eyes slowly rolled open to the clear and pure burning of a fire.  He blinked and moved his stiff arms to his face, brushing what ice refused to leave off as he looked at his hands and tried to flex, though the ice still seemed thickest on the rest of his body as he wormed his way about the fire to try and melt his frozen body.  Looking around it was clear that the other man was gone so he settled his head down and watched the fire.  Taking notice it was a deep aqua blue, produced no smoke, and seemed to burn on its own without a fuel source.... Magic.  It had to be magic, since no other strange wonders existed in this new world.... Could he be the one?

He ignored that and closed his eyes, focusing on the warmth so his body shivered awake and out of the freezing death that once enclosed it.  Somewhere along those lines, he fell asleep.

Waking up a second time, he found another figure sitting across the fire, also dressed in black as he was.  HIs body shivered as he rose up into a sitting position, his body equally warmed and slightly damp from the melted ice yet he had no issues as he adjusted his cloak about him and sat up.  Slowly his words drifted across in the strange tones of the perfect tongue,
"May we speak as equals here?"

The other man nodded before he responded,
"We may, and may I ask, as an equal, how did one such as yourself make it here?"

He adjusted himself again, getting rid of what water her could from his clothes "I am one of the recently announced High Magisters, I came North for I heard of another... One who seeks to help unite the feuding lands.  Could you be this man?"

"I might be...  But what of it?  Many have tried to do as you claim but none have succeeded... What makes you different?"

He looked at his hands and blew into them as a deep green fire circled his hands and he set it into the aqua blue flames, turning it a brilliant emerald color.  "Cause i too do not need words to produce my magic... And it so happens my strengths are in Emerald Flows while yours seem to be Aqua Waves... I have such need of rare magic..."

The man opposite him shifted a bit,
" You have caught my interest...  What is this plan..."  He looked at the other with a bit of confusion.

He smiled,
"Moragon, you may call me Moragon, and if I could acquire yours...."

The man nodded to Moragon,
"I am called Dremerin... So, Moragon, what is this plan you have?"

Moragon smiled and he leaned closer to tell his new partner, Dremerin, his grand plan to unite the lands.  Outside the storm slowly washed away to another clear and open night.
A letter, a word
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A sentence, a paragraph
...
A page, a story
...
A book, a novel.
...
They all mean so little when you can't take time to put your soul into the work.

Forgotten_Bard

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Re: Sword of Destiny; Sword of Despair
« Reply #2 on: June 16, 2010, 02:04:56 PM »
Chapter 3: The Forest of Unicorns

"oi, get off me ya lazy fool!"  One of the guards shoved another who stumbled into Simfer's back, almost knocking him over if he wasn't already braced for anything.  A metal gauntlet rose to smack the helmet of the other with, what would be, the back of his hand.

"Dorgan!  Bromsfeld!  If I have to give the two of you another warning you are taking the rear position!"  Both guards straitened to attention but he kept walking forwards without looking back, shaking his head slowly, his helmet still tucked under one arm as his other hand rested on the pommel of his shoulder.  His eyes locked forwards on the back of the Nerdren and Prince Morgan.  He didn't like all this, quests and the ends of worlds but least of all the two words that froze his warrior's heart solid.  The Dragon Wake...  Such things were before his time, before any of theirs, but the scars on the land had yet to heal from them, and to say they would return again?  That was not something he enjoyed anymore than letting the prince run around with a brute of the north.

Watching to the left and right only the immobile and thick trunks of trees passed them.  A dense forest that few dared to travel into for fear its magic would ensnare them and keep them away from home and family for the rest of their lives.  Like the plains of the north, this place was carved of old magic, enhanced for not death, but life, and protecting that life with passive yet deadly illusions, a maze to those of harm and a safe way for those of pure intentions.  At any moment, a single though could shift their course and never again would they see the light of day, as the canopy branched above into a thick cover that only the barest of rays of light slipped through... and this was the safe path.  For deep within this forest was a green field where rumor had it that the mystical horned horses grazed and roamed, unicorns which were of flesh and blood and not story book page.  Yet few have dared enter the forest, let alone returned to say they saw such beasts...  And now they had to enter to get a horn from one of these creatures?  Without impure thoughts?

Simfer was against it in the beginning, of the whole idea, and letting the Crown Prince leave from the Palace even if it was with seven of the best hand picked guards in the city.  As Captain of the Guard he was in charge of such things and, as such, was one of the seven... He just hoped the other six knew what this all meant.  And not just guarding the Prince and following the Nerdren, the fact that this quest might be the very last desperate act to save the land.  The bigger picture always terrified Simfer and this was far to big for any mortal band alone.  "To collect the horn of one of the sacred horses, traverse through the land of immortals and attain the Emeraldian Sword, Gather the laughter of the elves and appear before the Circle of Wisdoms in three weeks time...."  Such things were for myths and the past, not now... not his time.

Yet here he was, all in all he kept following and kept his mouth shut, what could he say to the prince after he already took up the quest?  When they camped for the night he would-  His thoughts paused as he stood alert.  Dorgan and Bromsfeld both stiffened as well as the five remaining slowed to a pause, each one putting a hand on his weapon as Simfer began to don his helm, eyes locked in the shadows as he slowly pulled his sword free.  Each soldier drawing as he did, as he took a step off to the side a hand moving to part the foliage as a large hand seemed to enclose and swallow his forearm and pull him away, turning him to look at the Nerdren who only shook his head and released it.  Prince Morgan slipping back to his side, "The elves have been watching us for some time...  Rodrick says they are trying to identify if we are a threat of a friend.  No one is to top walking... we are near them..."

Simfer watched the Prince pick up pace to match the Nerdren and began to slide his sword back into sheath at his side.  "All soldiers sheath sword, there is no threat..."  He breathed the words out as right hand pulled helmet from his head and placed it back under arm.  Such things... just were not right...

***

Simfer watched the scene from the edge of the forest.  His mind seemed sluggish at understand just, exactly what he saw...

Before him stretched not tree or bush but small hills and fields of grass and small ponds of water as dozens, no, hundreds of Unicorns moved about it slowly.  Some were white, others gray and a select few black, though their colors didn't amaze him or their numbers, but the simple fact that they existed.  He could never dream such beasts still walked the earth, though he never saw the terrors of the Northern Plain so who was he to judge?  But now came the hard part... how to approach one and take its horn?  Even the tales and rumors said they were very protective and wary of humans... and that horn wasn't just for show.  It was magic-imbued and could pierce the toughest skin or thickest armor... They had no defense against it... And they had to take one?

Simfer signed to his men, fanning them out to slowly approach a young looking foll, each setting his helm and sword in the grass as they approached slowly and steadily.  The closer they drew, the more of the Unicorns that lifted their heads to watch their approach.  Simfer was no more than an arm's reach away and froze as the foll snorted, and anther larger unicorn moved in front of its path.  This was undoubtedly the mother, and she lowered her head to him and raised it in one curving motion so he could see the horn clearly.  his hand raised for them to freeze and slowly back up.  One step after the other until the Unicorns seemed to ignore them once more.

"Prince Morgan, this task will be harder than..."  He stopped speaking as the Nerdren passed him, approaching faster than their slow creep and drawing close to the large white beast.  It snorted and stamped its hooves, moving its head once or twice though the Nerdren seemed to ignore it.  It snorted once more and then charged.  Or tried to...  In one smooth movement the Nerdren spun around the rearing head as a thick arm wrapped around its neck as he pulled it around and dropped, dragging the creature with him as his other hand came up and seized the horn, keeping the head steady as he best down slowly, as if to say something in its ear.

"It's the Perfect Tongue, Simfer."  Simfer looked over as Prince Morgan joined him, "It is above all beasts and creatures and they are compelled to listen..."  The prince raised his hand to point as the Nerdren continued to speak and the horn shimmered, falling away into his grasping hand.  "It is said the Unicorns will freely give their horns to honest men, and kill those of foul intentions...  it seems they forgot to leave out the part about speaking to them in the perfect tongue...."  The prince rested a hand on his shoulder before moving slowly towards Rodrick, who let the hornless Unicorn up to run back with her foll.  Simfer moved to retrieve sword and helm and looked around to see the pair walking through the unicorns, the creatures parting before them.

"Don't lose sight of the prince."  He gave the order hurriedly as he rushed to follow.
A letter, a word
...
A sentence, a paragraph
...
A page, a story
...
A book, a novel.
...
They all mean so little when you can't take time to put your soul into the work.