|Bane of the Invaders
Author: Notori PM
Eight years after the Sarygan invasion the refugees of Ethaea continue to live in hiding, still severed by the grudges of their civil wars. Little do they know, the hope for peace they once had will soon be reborn. It's time to rise up once again.Rated: Fiction M - English - Adventure/Drama - Chapters: 8 - Words: 29,093 - Reviews: 2 - Favs: 1 - Follows: 2 - Updated: 02-14-12 - Published: 07-31-11 - id: 2938588
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: This is my first published original story. It's an exploration and beta version of a story that will surely be edited to fix any plot holes that may come up. Of course I'll do my best to avoid them in the first place but it's the first story in a while that I've written with no clear outline, so we'll see how it goes. Hope you enjoy it!
And just FYI: There are gay, lesbian, and hetero relationships in here.
Thanks for beta-ing Rev!
Bane of the Invaders
So… I am to live…
A woman's voice resonated throughout her consciousness. Her world was nothing more than a blur of white mist for the time being as her very form was slowly manifesting. She had come from nothing, floating aimlessly in the time and space of another plane. For the first time in eight years, the woman's senses tingled with life. Alone in her existence, she took her first breath of misty air.
A light rain poured over the vast desert, the small droplets tinting the brown earth below. Dust quickly turned to mud, and could be heard in the distance as it crunched beneath the boots of men. Clad in mail and leather, a trio of scouts marched along their patrol route towards a figure in the distance. It was still the stones and the occasional twig crushed underfoot that seemed loudest, echoing through the rainfall to the woman's ears. The group was closing in on her quickly, but she could neither run nor fight - only listen.
"She's alive," one said, kneeling down beside what he had been certain was a corpse. The woman felt the touch of cold steel against her shoulder as she was gently shaken.
"Hey, can you hear me? How did you get out here?" he questioned, but did not receive an answer. He frowned, worried, and removed a blanket from his pack to cover her naked body.
"Come on," another said, kneeling down as well to scoop her up in his arms, "We need to get her out of this rain, who knows how long she's been lying here."
Who are you…? She asked, but the words would not leave her mind, How long has it been…?
To the far north, a different trio of young men were dashing through a sewer system. Their simple hand-made footwear could hardly hold up against the grime they had to run through, but it was going to be worth it. Each carried a woven sack of goods, mostly food, over their shoulders – stolen from the city above them.
"Hey Krel!" one called to the leader of the group, "They aren't stopping! What do we do?"
The eldest of the three, a fit twenty-eight year old with short black hair and bright green eyes, quickly glanced behind them to see a squad of armed city guards still chasing them along the soppy concrete ledge. His brow furrowed and he looked back ahead, the exit just barely out of reach. With a heavy grunt, Krel turned on his heel and tossed the bag he was carrying to one of the other two.
"Go on ahead! I'll slow them down!"
"But-" they skid to a halt and looked to their leader's back.
"These guys are nothing," he removed the pair of swords from their harness on his back, swinging them around effortlessly in each hand, regardless of their hefty size. He looked behind him for a second, grinning deviously.
"Come on guys, you know I'll be coming back for both of you," Krel winked at them, but refocused on his approaching foes after hearing their pace pick up again.
"You damn bandits!" one of the patrolmen yelled, arming his sword and shield, "Stealing from hard working Sarygans!"
"Heh," green eyes looked down at his weapons, watching them shake with the increasing rage pouring from him, "There's no such thing!"
Following his mighty shout, the young man charged towards the squad and slammed both of his blades into the wooden shield, forcing the guard to his knees as splinters rained down on him. Krel continued his attack with an acrobatic flip over the other man's back in order to land behind him and swipe cleanly at the two henchmen. They each were prepared to block one attack, but neither anticipated that he would continue to spin, getting multiple chances to knock them back on their feet just enough to slip into the main waterway; unfortunately leaving them stuck in sewage under the weight of their own armour.
"You!" the lead officer growled, "You must be one of those savages from the old land!"
"That's right!" Krel spat back, raising one of his swords to deflect an incoming attack, "I'm a proud Jibari!"
The screech of metal against metal echoed loud in the stone pipe.
"I don't need anyone's permission to kill you, scum!" the guard yelled, thrusting his sword straight for the warriors abdomen, but was left with shocked eyes.
In a single slash, Krel had knocked the weapon from his hand and smashed it into the wall and shards of broken steel fell to the floor.
"That's the difference between us… I guess," he spoke sombrely, towering over the man who was once again kneeling before him in silence.
"I do need someone's permission to kill you..." Krel continued, slamming the flat edge of his sword down onto the Sarygan's shoulder and leaned in closer, "… But you killed her!"
Then in a display of raw power, he flipped his wrist around the hilt and lifted the sword high for a split second before stabbing it down into the guard's collarbone through his torso. There was no more than a few seconds of garbled painful moaning until the soldier fell onto his side. Krel looked down at the blood pooling around his feet, grimacing at all this man stood for.
"Captain!" one of the others cried, finally having made his way to the edge and looking back to Krel, "You're a monster!"
"I don't have the time to waste with grunts like you," the warrior replied and harnessed his weapons, "I have to protect my people."
Still waterlogged, the remaining guards had no chance of catching up to the fleeing bandit. And once he turned one of the many corners, he was surely lost. Krel was still in the midst of his escape, racing as fast as he could towards the light at the end of the tunnel. With a hard shove, the grate came off its loose hinges and allowed him to run out into the open fields, the farmlands, and further along: what remained of his homeland.
He took a moment to catch his breath, looking out to the horizon. Night was falling, and the orange glow of the sunset lit up the grass in a less than pleasant light. Krel's eyes squinted as he held his gaze over what was formerly the Noceian countryside. As much of a dislike as he had gained for this place before, it had actually gotten worse.
"It even looks dusty with the Sarygan's here…" he muttered aloud before taking some quick steps down the ledge, following the water's path just long enough until he knew to turn. There was a small patch of forest left between the Jibari basin to the west and the farms of Noceios to the east, a division that had only grown since the recent invasion of Ethaea.
Ethaea: a nation once divided by centuries of civil war which had ceased to exist eight years ago when Saryga had invaded. The desert nation to the south took full advantage of the weakened country, brought about by the warring of Jibar and Noceios, two provinces fighting for their rights to the capital. Now scattered across the territories, the remaining Ethaean's sought shelter wherever possible.
Krel treaded silently through the forest, reminiscing over the guard's words and becoming even angrier. He couldn't bear the thought of Sarygan's so readily calling this land their own, so shamelessly. It was as if…
It's as if it were for nothing… he finished with a sigh.
But just like that, there was something that lifted his spirits back up to normal. He approached a group of approximately seven people who were all sitting around a fire, talking happily with each other and eating. A smile pulled at his lips and softened his heart, a part of him wishing he could watch this scene forever, but another just as happy to see the boy who approached him.
"Krel! You're back!" he cheered, practically tackling the warrior with his hug.
"Hah! Of course!" he patted the fluffy blonde mop on the boy's head, "You're far too special to leave, James."
And the words were too true. Krel then looked over to the other familiar set of eyes, those of James' older brother Amit, and Krel's best friend… a brother in arms from the past.
"I see you kept everyone safe and sound while I was gone?"
"Heh, this encampment is too tiny to need two guardians, I did just fine," Amit's dark features always gave the impression he was brooding, but really he was just as concerned for the well-being of these people as Krel was.
These three shared a history that probably other Jibari could relate to. A makeshift family of people brought together by circumstance. Amit was James' biological brother, but the completely opposite skin tones made it clear that they did not share the same father. And when their mother died, the latter was protected from the world's harshness even more so. That guardianship was a trait that both Amit and Krel admired in each other, and was why it was promised years ago that should Amit fall in battle, Krel was the only person he entrusted the care of his sibling.
"We got quite a bit didn't we?" the black haired man noted as he sat beside his friends and took a bun from the open sack, "This should do us for a few days… by then we'll need to move again also."
"Less and less of this country is becoming safe for us."
"Lorytia! Lorytia!" a small child bounced up and down beside the woman, cheerfully pulling on her skirt for attention.
"Yes yes I'll play a game with you," she replied with a kind hearted giggle, smiling and taking the little girl's hand to walk over to where the other children were anxiously awaiting her.
In this worn down shack was another side of the refugees, the remaining Noceians. Like the Jibari, they were kept in many small groups to avoid detection, but this one was special. Those lucky enough to have made their way to the care of Lorytia and her two remaining guardians were the safest of all. No matter what they had been through, that woman's gentleness comforted them. And no one feared being taken with Lorenzo standing watch at the door.
Ever the quiet one, Lorenzo was a loyal and strong fighter who was believed to have been touched by death and therefore made aware of its presence and able to use its power. Such things were just speculative notions of the legendary nature, perhaps brought about by his pale features and lack of behaviour showing any real emotion. Nevertheless, he could always be trusted.
Atop the wooden structure was the woman's other guardian, a younger boy by the name of Kune who dwelled in shadows. He commanded the darkness to bend to his will, and as such was the perfect person to protect this small base at night. But like his comrade, he hardly spoke unless spoken to; choosing to be alone in thought rather than spend time with the people inside.
"Lorytia," an older woman approached the leader of their little group, "Don't you think it's time for them to be going to bed?"
"Aww!" the children whined in unison, but seemed to calm when it was the younger woman who led them to their sleeping mats.
"Come now, since you've all been so good I'll tell you a story," she smiled at their little faces lighting up with joy.
After a moment or two of tucking them all beneath a large blanket, Lorytia began her tale of heroes, inspiring each and every one of them to be the same when they grew up. Her angelic voice was the only thing that could make them forget the horrors they had seen, if only for a short while to get their much needed sleep.
You definitely are a descendant of Ultarius… Lorenzo mused as he watched.
The moonlit face of the fainted woman started to move subtly, the natural glow illuminated the finishing touches of her features. Her eyes, a rusty reddish brown in colour, opened slowly and took in her surroundings.
I'm not outside anymore…
While she still felt tired, it was no more so than waking up after a very deep sleep. She leaned up into a sitting position, ruffling her long black hair before looking down at her palm. Her fingers moved just as they always had and appeared to be unharmed in any physical way. She was wearing a simple one piece robe, loose with long sleeves and made of light wool. Looking further around the room, she noted the bed she was on as well as the well constructed stone walls of this room. It seemed to be a private area, a single room with enough amenities to care for someone living alone, but this place seemed bigger than a simple house.
With a light groan, the woman stood up from the bed and walked over to the nearby window. She pressed a hand against the glass and stared out at the view before her. Rows and rows of streets could be seen from how high up she was. Everything had been built of either wood or stone, but it was cramped together to fit as much as possible into a small area. Despite it being night time, many lights were still on and her sensitive ears could hear bustling people below.
This is… her nails scratched against the pane, but before rage could overcome her there was a creak from behind.
The woman turned to face another, who for some unknown reason was smiling at her.
"Ah, you're finally awake! I'm the nurse assigned to take care of you," she said sweetly, "You were found in the desert. Do you remember at all how you got there?"
Dark eyes glanced back out the window and she expelled a dreary sigh.
"… I don't remember," she lied.
"I'm sorry that was all the clothing we could supply for you, you weren't found with any belongings…" the nurse trailed off, aware that her tone was making her pity more and more obvious.
"I don't have any belongings," the woman said tersely, "This is enough."
"Oh… well, I will send a meal up to you, and a doctor should be in shortly to check up on you."
Doctor…? What is-
"Wait," she saved herself, "A meal would be nice… but I would like to sleep until tomorrow."
"Certainly, you will not be disturbed, guest."
"Could you tell me one thing though?"
"… Where is this?"
"This is Rejor, the first new city built after the war ended. It's one of the central trade hubs, maybe you'll remember now?"
Before either could say anything more there was a hard knock at the door.
"Nurse!" a male voice boomed from behind the door, causing the woman in question to jolt to attention somewhat fearfully.
"C-coming!" she called back and rushed to the door where, as it was slightly opened, the 'guest's' eyes could see at least two guards outside.
And this nurse just said more than she should…
Meanwhile, back at the forested encampment, the group of surviving Jibari were sleeping under the stars. For now it was Amit who was keeping watch, seeing nothing for most of the night until a flicker of light in the distance caught his attention. He focused harder on it and more seemed to come into view. These were torches. A few minutes passed where it looked as though whatever group this was would end up walking past them, but in the end it seemed that their trajectory shifted back onto them. The man jumped down from his spot perched in a tree and walked over to the other guardian.
"Get up," Amit said gruffly with a light kick to Krel's shoulder to wake him.
"Eh…?" the sleepy one mumbled and rolled around, pulling the body next to him – one of the thieves he was with before – into a closer hold.
"A Sarygan patrol is coming this way, wake up your boy toy and let's move."
"Damn it," he cursed and sat up, rubbing his aching head and looking down at the naked man to his side before giving him a light pat, "Hey hon', we gotta get up."
"But Krel…" he whined groggily, wrapping his arms around the one said warrior was using to lean on.
"Seriously," Krel stood up, pulling his limb free and looking to the glowing lights in the distance.
"Seolo, start packing things, we have to move."
He hadn't meant to be harsh, and would surely make up for it later, but this was yet another midnight escape from being hunted. Krel's protective instincts were taking over and more than anything he would make sure that they all got to safety tonight. One by one they woke the others and rolled up their blankets. Quiet grumbles of exhaustion were muttered in the dark as the group was led away by Amit and James while Krel waited for everyone to be ready and took up the rear position.
He frowned and looked once more at the approaching patrol before giving in to his fatigue and following the rest deeper into the woods.
There was another escape to be had in the city far to the south. The mysterious woman who had been found only half alive in the desert just that day was regaining strength at an extraordinary rate. She was determined to get out of what she now believed to be a cell. After another look out the window she deemed her room was too high to jump from, which meant an escape from inside – something more complicated but certainly not impossible.
She looked down at her hands again, curiously observing the familiar way which her whole body felt. No matter what had happened to her, it seemed that she was in the same physical condition as she remembered.
Good… time to get out of here… she grinned and swung an open palmed swipe to the small table in the corner of the room.
To her delight, the wood broke apart easily and ceramic dishes fell to the floor, completely obliterated by that one motion. She looked back at her hand, which now appeared larger and thicker than before with nails growing long and pointed like claws.
"Hey! What's going on in there?" one of the door watchers called before pulling on the handle which, to his surprised, opened as if it had not even been locked this whole time.
"What the hell-?" he could hardly finish his exclamation before he was leapt on by the woman who was proving herself to be extremely feral.
Without hesitation, she bit down hard onto his trachea and clamped shut the passage of airflow. The man quickly sunk to his knees and fell onto his back, the sound of clanging metal and painful groaning enough to alert his partner of his need for help. The latter came in just a moment too late and saw his friend completely overpowered, struggling for no more than a few seconds before his windpipe was completely torn from him by the woman's sharp teeth.
Crouched in a quadruped stance, she glared up at the other guard and snarled with bestial energy. He readied his sword and shield, eyes fixated on the blood and flesh dropping from her mouth. Someone who just moments ago appeared too weak to walk had been able to kill an armed man so easily, it was frightening. But he held his ground, ready to defend against another attack, although broke his concentration for a split second when he heard the woman make a strange noise… a chuckle?
The guard grimaced and took a step forward, about to initiate confrontation but quickly found himself flat on his back with the wind knocked from him. She moved too fast for him to see her knock both his legs out from underneath him, and quickly met the same fate his partner had. It took a little bit for the garble moans to subside, but eventually the room was drenched in silence.
The woman got to her feet and breathed deeply, wiping as much of the mess away with the blanket she had been given. There was still a lot left on her clothing, but luckily it could not be seen so easily in the darkness. She shook her head in a habitual canine manner, accompanying the behaviour with a soft rumble in her throat before looking out the door.
Two obstacles were down… now there was a whole castle to go.