Author: Twilidramon PM
Loaño Ishida is probably the weirdest girl you'll ever meet. Insane jokes, crazy schemes, and so far, nothing special about her. Until, however, two new kids enter and change her whole perspective on the World and the things in it... Believable or not!Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Humor - Chapters: 789 - Words: 2,045,971 - Reviews: 1,770 - Favs: 130 - Follows: 56 - Updated: 04-26-13 - Published: 10-09-08 - id: 2581873
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
749: Cooldown Effect (Part 2: The Mortal Swordsmith)
Nikolai wandered about the resort. He'd woken up to find Loaño gone and a note on the dresser that explained she was out exploring and that she would see him later. He could see it in her eyes that there was something heavy on her mind; he didn't mind giving her the space she felt she needed – but he wished that she would tell him what was going on.
He already had it planned out in his head – there was a restaurant in the basement of the complex that served the best food in all of Eurasia. He would take her there so they could grab a bite to eat and then head out to do something relaxing. There were hundreds of things to do in this place; they were sure to find at least one that would calm their nerves.
It felt so strange to be fighting Gods one moment and the next be swept off to a place as lovely as this for relaxation. He wondered for a moment how everyone else was handling it – he, for one, welcomed the break. For once it felt like nothing could touch them. They had defeated Gods! Nikolai was sure he'd never felt more accomplished in his life.
Nikolai followed the river that ran through the complex for a long while, unsure of where he was going. He didn't want to get lost, but so long as he had the river at his side he knew he would be able to find his way back. Despite the numerous amounts of staff members that this resort had, everything was still and quiet; tranquil. It put Nikolai at ease.
He stopped walking and bent down to touch the river. It felt cool, clean, and refreshing. Little fish swarmed to his fingers to nibble at them. He pulled his hand out and they scattered. He knelt down before the water and looked into it, staring at his reflection.
Nikolai stared at his reflection for a very long time, thoughts running through his head. He remembered looking into a mirror a long time ago and Soldiad tearfully telling him that he looked like his father. There was pride in her voice and also sadness… but now he knew that there was also fear there – because she was the only one who knew what Anatole Nyx had become.
And I killed him, he thought. I killed my own father…
Of course, he wasn't completely sure about any of that. That night on the gondola dock had been so fuzzy that all he could remember was slicing his hand open and kissing Loaño for the first time. She hadn't been expecting it, but it'd been such a sweet kiss… and so strange. He knew that she'd never been kissed before – he could tell by the way she behaved when he did it that night. Her lips were tight and awkward, but they'd been soft and sweet. He wondered if Elves were all like that.
He shook his head, pushing the thoughts away. He forced himself to try and think of what really happened between himself and Solace that night. It was all a confusing tangle of hands and blades until finally Solace… stopped moving. Both of their hands, he recalled, had been on the hilt when Shinri sank into Solace's heart. He wished there was a way to really know for sure who had done it.
Maybe Tarot knows, he thought. She is a Goddess of memories, after all… maybe she can look into mine and figure it out? Of course, after the incidents following, Tarot had closed the case. She didn't seem all that interested in figuring out the truth. Nikolai wasn't sure that he wanted her to – what if it really had been him? He would be a murderer. Tarot would probably feel obligated to lock him away.
Perhaps that was why she'd never looked.
Nikolai stood up and ran a hand through his hair. If he let it bother him, then he would never let it go. It had been so long since then… and so much had changed.
He sighed and decided to start walking back down the river. His body was still tired from the fighting, though he didn't so as much of it as some others, and his feet were beginning to throb.
"There you are, Lushy," someone said, relief in their voice.
Nikolai stopped walking and sighed, looking up. Coyote sat up on the balcony there, looking down at him with Thief's narrow head poked through the railing.
"I told you not to call me that, Coyote," Nikolai growled. "I hate being called that."
Coyote sighed. "Sorry; I just wanted to get your attention," he confessed.
"What are you doing here?" Nikolai asked, confused. "Aren't you supposed to be watching some renegade Titans, or raising some army?"
"My army is raised and I have Apollo babysitting the Titans," Coyote replied. "As a… punishment. He still isn't completely in my good graces just yet. Anyway, I came here for two reasons – one of which has to do with you."
"I know, I know," Nikolai sighed. "I owe you… for helping me."
"You don't owe me a thing, boy," Coyote yipped back. "I told you that. No, I'm not here to collect any sort of dues here… I'm here to talk to you. More specifically, I'm here to tell you a story."
Nikolai raised an eyebrow. "A… story?" he repeated questioningly.
Coyote flicked his tail and then pulled his head out from the railings. He hopped onto the rail itself and then leaped down, landing just before Nikolai, flicking his tail to and fro. "Yes; a story about Shinri."
"There's… a story behind it?"
"Well, I do recall mentioning that there was… of course, you went unconscious soon afterward so I don't blame you for not recalling completely," Coyote replied. "But, yes – there is a story behind Shinri's creation. Since you own the blade now I figure you should know of it."
"I remember you saying something about a smith finding some weird metal and then making weapons," Nikolai recalled, "but the rest is kind of fuzzy. I was paying more attention to not dying than what you were yammering about, sorry."
"No need to apologize," Coyote insisted. "I do tend to get carried away with my… yammering… at times. It's a flaw of mine – and I've been seeing a lot of those lately. Anyway; I do enjoy telling stories, so if you have some free time on your hands I don't suppose you'd want to listen?"
Nikolai stuffed his hands into his pockets and replied, "Sure; I can do that."
Coyote wagged his tail. "Great!" he replied. "Now, Nikolushka, have you ever had a God tell you a story before?"
"Uh… no," Nikolai replied.
"Then you're in for a real treat!"
Coyote looked into Nikolai's eyes. Nikolai, no matter how hard he tried to look away, found himself locked. Coyote's eyes began to glow, and Nikolai found himself transfixed. The world around him began to blur and change, and he finally found the strength to close his eyes.
When he opened them, he was in a different place. It was beautiful and strange all at the same time, and Nikolai had no idea which one was what it was supposed to be. Bright colors patterned the sky, and yet the ground seemed normal. Before him was a building that looked like a blacksmith's shop from long ago. Smoke rose from every opening as someone inside slammed away at metal.
"Where the hell am I?" Nikolai wondered.
Where doesn't necessarily matter, Coyote chuckled from every direction. The most prominent, however, came from Nikolai's own mind. When doesn't really matter either – just that it was a very long time ago.
Nikolai took a breath. Loaño had told him before that Coyote was especially flamboyant when it came to showing off – he supposed that this was an example of that sort of behavior.
"Is this the smith?" he asked.
Why, yes – how observant! Coyote laughed. As you can see, he's hard at work…
"So… where does this metal come from?" Nikolai wondered. "Is he working on it now?"
No, Coyote replied. He hasn't found it yet. This smith was known as the best in the land, you see – if anyone could smith weapons and smith them well, it was him. They say that one who got the weapons for their armies from him would most definitely be guaranteed victory! How silly, right?
"Weapons don't make the warrior," Nikolai mused. "But I suppose people were superstitious in… whatever era this was."
People are always superstitious, Nikolushka, Coyote chuckled. That never changed.
"So he's a success," Nikolai surmised. "What does that have to do with the metal he finds?"
Some say found, some say gifted, Coyote said, yawning in Nikolai's ear. Whichever term you choose depends on you. But one day the smith was walking in the woods – it was a pastime of his to walk between his creations.
Nikolai found himself in the middle of a thickly wooded area. A massive tree grew up just before him, colored differently from all the rest. Its leaves were a dull, silvery color and its trunk was a dark gold. All the other trees seemed to shrink in its presence, as if the tree was making them cower into submission. The smith stood before the tree, looking up at it reverently.
He called it the Tree of Gods, Coyote whispered, because there seemed to be a branch for every God that was ever known. He would come here from time to time to think about what his creations were doing, out there on the fields of battle…
One day, the tree spoke to him: "Beneath my roots you will find a material. This material can be used and shaped in any way you wish, faithful smithy, for peace or for war. We gift this to you because you have never used the trees of this forest, nor the wood of this tree, to fuel the flame that shapes the metal you bend."
The smith was awed by the talking tree. So he went back to his shop and returned with a shovel. He dug beneath the tree and found a strange metal, enough to make a handful of blades – or enough to make hundreds of lovely trinkets. It glowed and shimmered with a light that the smith had never seen, even on the finest steel he had worked with. So he returned to his shop to work it into whatever he pleased.
Nikolai watched this very action unfold. The smith dug beneath the tree and found a hunk of metal that looked like silver ore flecked with gold and diamond stars. It was dazzling to look at – probably worth a fortune in this era, and priceless in the present day. Nikolai tilted his head at the motif of the stone, and the motif of the tree.
"Wait…" he began. "The tree… and the stone… It came from -"
Coyote cut him off by changing the scene back to the smith's forge. He clicked his tongue and chuckled, I'm not done with my story yet~ Be patient, boy!
The smith planned to make a necklace for his wife using some of the metal – but he was interrupted by an order. A commanding colonel wanted a new sword to ride into battle with; to give hope to his men. The colonel saw the metal that the smith was working and demanded his blade to be made of this, paying handsomely. The smith made the order – a lovely rapier. The colonel rode off happily.
He was about to return to his work on the gift for his wife when a hunter approached him, begging for some new arrowheads. He, too, saw the metal and demanded they be made of this – also paying the smith well. The smith crafted two-dozen arrowheads out of the metal for him, and the hunter went off happily.
Nikolai saw an image of the colonel in period clothing holding up a shimmering rapier, and a huntsman bearing a bow with glimmering arrows. Though the metal was flecked with different materials, the finished product looked similar to steel.
Ten more time this happened to the smith – and ten more weapons he made: a bastard sword; an axe; a longsword; a spearhead; a cestus; a cutlass; a falchion; a bolo; a hammer; and lastly, a pike.
Finally, the smith declared that he would make no more weapons from this metal. He had enough left of the metal to make one of two things – the necklace for his wife, or another small weapon. The smith set to work creating the necklace.
An image of each weapon appeared before Nikolai, all of them grand and terrifying, glowing eerily with some untold power.
But thirteen weapons the metal made and the thirteenth you possess – so one more must needs be made…
One day, the smith returned home to find his wife and children slaughtered. Within the heart of his wife was struck an arrow, pointed with a glimmering metal. Each wound he saw was worse than the last, and the smith was struck by grief as he saw what his weapons had done – for it was his weapons, and those who held them, who had slaughtered his loved ones… much like they had slaughtered so many more.
So the smith turned to his metal and created the final weapon – a dagger. With the dagger, he hunted down each and every last one of his weapons, killing their wielders and dragging the truth from them. Each man that he had made weapons for was opposed to the other, and their hatred bred the plot to destroy him so that he could make no more weapons for their adversaries to use against them.
The smith gathered the twelve weapons used to murder his family and destroyed them. Then, carrying the dagger, he returned to the great tree that had granted him the metal years ago.
"What have you done?" he demanded to the tree. "Why have you cursed me so?"
"We did not curse you," the tree replied. "You have cursed yourself. Each of those twelve men you could have refused – just as you could have refused to make weapons for tens of wars before this. You could have refused to retaliate. Peace was within your grasp, smith, and instead you bred war."
And so the smith took his own life beneath the tree, Coyote lamented, using the dagger that he had used to steal the truth from so many others. The beings within the tree blessed this weapon to drag the truth from those who were pained with it… and if they refused to bring the truth, it would take their soul instead.
A traveling thief found the blade not long after that. He had honor enough to bury the smith – but he took the blade as his own… and so the legacy of Shinri began. It passed from person to person throughout the years, until it found itself as the heirloom of the family known as Nyx. From there, it passed onto your father… and from him unto you.
There, my story is done! Coyote laughed. Anything to say?
"That was a cruel Trick," Nikolai growled, clenching his fists.
A Trick? Coyote chuckled. My, my, you are clever. Yes, it was a Trick – but not played by me; it was played by my sons.
Nikolai shook his head. "Altaïr I could see doing something like this… but AA?" he grunted. "That I do not believe."
Coyote sighed and said, as the world began returning to normal, This happen for a reason, Nikolushka… When he was young, Azrael was quite fond of playing Tricks on people… but they were all for a reason. In fact, I've never known my firstborn to do anything without a reason behind it.
"What justifies that, though?" Nikolai demanded.
Coyote seemed to shrug before he replied, I don't know specifically, but Shinri saved your hide. Without my sons orchestrating the creation of the Thirteen Godslayers, your life would be a lot different. Now… if you're done here… I have one other task to perform.
"And that would be?"