Author: WarriorArnelle PM
"We will find her. No stone unturned, no question unanswered." This Ibadar of Elmcourt promises his twin Sarin when they witness their sister's kidnapping and the slaughter of their entire patrol. Sheer luck saves the twins, and now they have sworn to bring Dylena home safe. But the game is bigger and the stakes are higher than they know, and there are no second chances.Rated: Fiction M - English - Fantasy/Adventure - Chapters: 17 - Words: 51,038 - Reviews: 50 - Favs: 5 - Follows: 6 - Updated: 03-06-13 - Published: 01-22-13 - id: 3094387
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Okay, so, to avoid any confusion, I have (obviously) gone back and added a prologue, which I hope will make a few things in future chapters a mite clearer. Also, I have split what was Chapter Two into two chapters. It was far too long on its own, so... Last but not least, please keep in mind that this whole thing started as a role play, and as such is still extremely rough around the edges. I have made edits to the first few chapters, so comments on the revised versions would be greatly appreciated; and, please, do leave feedback on the later chapters, as well. Those haven't even been touched yet, and I need to know how I can edit them to have the best result.
The wind howled through the trees as dark purple clouds rolled across the sky. Lightning danced between them as thunder boomed in the distance. There was no rain yet, but the air was wet enough with the promise of its coming to keep most of the villagers indoors. Here at the edge of the forest, it was wisest to stay inside during storms like this. After all, everyone knew what sort of creatures ran about in great storms such as the one on the horizon.
A single solitary figure, however, stood just outside the village walls; the harsh wind grabbed the edges of his black cloak and threw them aside, revealing the plain clothing and leather apron of a blacksmith. One hand slipped out and snatched at the hood just as it began to slip, keeping the figure's face shrouded in shadow.
Not that it particularly mattered if its face was hidden or not; everyone in this tiny village on the outskirts of Farew Forest knew Maira's son. The young man was known for standing out in the open when a storm approached and for vanishing during the worst of them, only to reappear once they were over, soaking wet, his clothes covered with blood. The villagers had long since learned not to ask where he went, just as they had understood the unspoken suggestion that they not ask where the blood came from.
Jashak was not known for possessing an even temper, after all.
Dark green eyes stared out from under the black hood as Jashak watched the approaching storm. He was to go visit his Master and lord tonight, and maybe this time, he would receive his reward. He'd already made the sacrifice Lord Lyr demanded, and he had burnt the remains. All that was left now was to wait here until the Master summoned him to present his bloody hands, to prove he had done the deed.
The dark-haired young man sighed, searching the skies for the sign he'd learned many years ago to love and obey. Lord Lyr had come long ago, demanding blood and burnt offerings from the villagers, all in exchange for greatness and power beyond their wildest dreams. Over the years, they had made the sacrifices, one young child every month, chosen at random. Sometimes, if a child could not be procured, a willing sacrifice was taken. Jashak had been serving the Master ever since he was little more than a child, but… Even he had never seen even the slightest hint of the power they had been promised.
He was beginning to wonder if they ever would.
He was jerked from his rather uncharitable thoughts by a great crack from the depths of the forest, followed by a rumble of thunder so loud it made the very earth shake beneath Jashak's boots. That was the sign. Shaking his head to shove those thoughts out of his mind and casting a quick glance back to make sure he wasn't seen, or worse, followed, Jashak set off into the forest, his feet easily finding a trail only a Chosen of Lyr could follow.
Around him, the trees groaned under the fierce power of the wind; he had to dodge branches and other debris ripped from the trees and thrown down to earth by the storm. Jashak swallowed hard. This was not good. The fury of the summoning storm reflected the Master's mood. Judging by the storm's strength, Lord Lyr was livid.
Oh, no. This was most certainly not good. 'But,' he added silently, calling up all of his courage, 'there's nothing for it.' He had been summoned, and if he didn't appear before Lord Lyr soon, it might just be him up on that altar, waiting to honor the Master with his own blood!
He rushed down the trail as quickly as the overgrowth would allow a human, and just as the first raindrops fell, he arrived at his destination: a cave marked by a lightning-scarred tree. As the rain started falling faster and harder, Jashak slipped between the tree and the cliff face, entered the cave, and threw his cloak off. After lighting the torches and the wood left on the altar, he knelt, his bloody hands held aloft on display for Lord Lyr's inspection. And thus, he waited.
The gentle rain turned into a torrential downpour as he knelt there, head bowed. The thunder grew louder with each passing moment, and still Jashak waited, ignoring the way the uneven stone floor ground into his knees and the aches that sprang up in his back and arms. Finally, after what felt like hours, he felt the biting cold on his hands that announced Lord Lyr's presence. Keeping his eyes down, Jashak greeted him carefully, remembering the fury of the storm. "Good evening, my lord." He was not at all surprised when the cold on his hands shot through his entire body; he went stiff all over, only just holding the scream he could feel from escaping. He was right; Lord Lyr was most definitely not happy.
"And what, pray tell," he snapped, his voice grating on Jashak's ears like metal screaming as it bent in ways it wasn't meant to, "is so good about tonight, human?" The young man winced and stayed quiet; when Lord Lyr was in this sort of mood, it was better to not say anything and just let him rant. And he did just that, hissing "I will tell you! Nothing, you worthless fool! And do you know why nothing about this night is good?"
It took Jashak a moment to realize the Master actually wanted an answer. "No, my lord," he said finally. "I do not."
"Of course you do not." The cold retreated from Jashak's body, and he heard Lord Lyr start pacing in front of him. He was curious- even agitated, Lord Lyr rarely paced- but knew better than to raise his head. He had seen what happened to the last one, the poor fool. Death on the altar of Lyr was far kinder than what had become of him… Jashak shook his head slightly, forcing his attention back to what Lord Lyr was saying, catching him in mid-thought, "… too weak now. There's not enough power in human blood. I need more!"
"And where am I to find this power, my lord?" he inquired softly, "If the power released from spilling the blood of a human child will not sustain you, what will?"
Lord Lyr was quiet for a long time, so long that Jashak wondered if he had even been heard. After a few more minutes of silence, broken only by the sounds of Lord Lyr's footsteps, he whispered, "My lord?" The sounds of pacing stopped, and then,
Jashak blinked, glad his lowered head hid his shock. "What?" he blurted, adding a hurried and belated, "My lord," when he felt that biting cold touch his hands again.
"Dragon's blood, you buffoon! That would have more than enough power!"
"But my lord," the young man argued, fearing he'd just signed his death warrant, "there are no more dragons. All the legends say they died millennia ago!"
The cold reached for him again, and he held his breath. But it didn't come to steal life; freezing fingers gripped Jashak's bearded chin and forced his head up until his dark green eyes met the gold, reptilian gaze of Lord Lyr. His entire body screamed at him to flee, but he found that he couldn't even look away, let alone move.
"The dragons live still, stupid human. They wear a different skin now, but they yet live." He paused and tightened his grip on Jashak's chin, nails like claws digging into his face. "They appear human, but you will know them thus: they will have strange hair and eye colors, perhaps even unnatural among humans. They will be tall, slender, and yet far stronger than that appearance would lead one to believe. I will give you the power to see them, and to hold them captive, and this is what you must do once you have them." He stopped then, his eyes- the only feature Jashak would remember- staring straight into the human's soul.
Shivering from cold and heart-stopping terror, Jashak managed, "M-m-my l-lord? W-what m-m-must I d-do?" Lord Lyr's snakelike eyes snapped with dark amusement, and he smiled cruelly.
"Bring me their children, their precious young ones. The younger they are, the stronger their power. Do what you like with the others. Make them fight each other to the death in my name. Spill their blood slowly, make them die in agony. I will receive all the power from them I shall ever need." He paused, a smirk playing in his eyes. "Who knows, there may even be enough left for you." Lord Lyr released Jashak's chin, and the man bowed low before him, almost prostrate before the Master.
"It shall be done as the Lord Lyr commands."