He heard the sea far before he saw it. The waves crashing against the beach were almost louder than the thunder that seemed to echo it. He took a deep breath, and paused.
In person, the leviathan was far worse than he ever imagined. It was huge, the body alone was easily as big as a house. Three vicious heads that looked like someone bred a crocodile and a shark loomed out of the ocean. It was far from shore, but even twenty feet out, it seemed huge.
This had to be the stupidest thing he had ever done in his life. He shoved the sword that he made himself into the sand, and shouted a single word.
All three heads seemed to turn to him at the same time, and it swam leisurely over towards him.
By the time it was close enough, he was suddenly doubting how wise this was.
"Well, well. Look what we have here." The middle head hissed out.
"Looks like a little human is trying to play hero." The one on the right responded.
"Yes. Unfortunately for it, we have eaten things larger than it in a single bite." The left finished.
"Why have you left your prison?" Werner asked loudly, hoping his voice would be able to carry over the thunder and rain.
All three heads seemed to laugh, and it got closer, leaving the water to reveal a huge body, similar to an alligator, but brighter. Its bright blue and green scales shimmered dangerously, each looking about the size of Werner's head.
He knew the bright coloring was supposed to warn of its poisons, and he had to hope it didn't decided to just breath on him. He had to hope it would be amused enough to let its guard down.
He squeezed his eyes shut for a moment, before moving them to lock with the head in the middle. The two heads on the sides were said to be able to kill by just breathing on something, but the middle one, well, wasn't.
It bent down, the side heads stayed stretched up towards the sky.
"Why would we stay?" It hissed.
"Why would you leave?" He countered.
The middle head laughed, the other two seemed to echo its amusement, but stayed back.
Werner's mind absorbed that.
It wanted to talk, and then eat him, but most likely, it did not consider him a threat. Which meant it wouldn't be on its guard like it should be. He was careful not to let his own down.
The middle head got closer, and huge red eyes stared into his own. He could reach out and touch it, it was so close. He locked his own eyes on their eyes, and was careful to keep his eyes open, even if the rain splashed in them a few times.
After about a minute, it broke off the contact, and he mentally sighed in relief, blinking a few times now that it was allowed.
"I have been expecting you for a long time, little, delicate flower. Should I, the master of the seas, command my tides to come and swallow you up?" The middle head asked, giving him a good view of the three rows of sharp, deadly teeth in its mouth. "It is my right, as the seas master to be in my home, among my thousands of spawn."
Werner's eyes widened. "They are all dead!" He hoped they were. Its children would have gotten large in the last few hundred years.
It tilted its large head. "For now." It agreed. "The humans have, as always, been cruel to my kind, and my kin. But that does not mean I have not continued to grow stronger and larger every day. Even in that prison I was cursed to. I am sure my brethren are the same. Stronger, larger, and wiser than ever."
"I wouldn't ever think that someone like me could ever defeat something as magnificent as you." Werner told Calder. It would be easier for him to think of the monster before him as nothing more than a thing, but it wasn't. It had a name, and it deserved to hear its name. He imagined that it would have been torturous to be locked away, unable to do more than simply watch as humanity changed before his very eyes.
That didn't seem to stop his burning need to kill it before it harmed his brother or any of those that found themselves under his reign.
"Ah, but you do." It hissed lowly. "If you believe, as you say, then you would know that I will take your life."
"I wouldn't be surprised." He admitted. That was true. He was expecting to fall in this battle, and had made his peace with it. If it made it so his brother was able to survive, then it worth it. That didn't mean he was just going to roll over and die. He had a few tricks to try before just giving up.
He would beat this thing, or, at the very least, weaken it enough that his brothers army would be able to deliver the final blow.
"You come willing to your demise?" Calden asked, seeming both amused, and curious.
That was good. That meant it was falling for the illusion he had learned. He ducked slightly behind the sword which was currently in the shape of a large stone to anyone who wasn't him.
He conjured another illusion, this one he gave his voice, and his body. It stepped away from the bolder, leaving Werner to chain together a few others. He needed to make himself invisible. That was easier said than done. First, he had to make the light bend around him, making it so that eyes could not see him. Then, he had to erase his footprints in the soggy, glutinous sand. It seemed to try and drag him to its depths with every step, but the marks wouldn't be there. Then, he had to make the rain still look like it was falling, and not just hitting an invisible creature. That was just what he had to do for him, not for the illusion of himself. Calder was starting to look bored, and he desperately tried to find a way to keep it focused on what it saw, and not on what he was.
"I may. But I must know, first, how the rest were wiped out. How did such powerful creatures, the ones like you, suddenly become only seven?"
Calder tilted its head at the illusion. He knew his voice would be bouncing a bit, he had to speak to make the illusion do the same. But it was only the barest of a whisper on his side, which would have turned into a shout out of the illusions mouth. He was careful to keep his concentration evenly split as he circled around, trying to figure out some sort of weakness that he could use. It wasn't easy, but while Calder was indulging his illusion by a story he had heard before, granted not from this side, he found something. There was a single dark brown spot under its neck middle neck, where the three heads seemed to meld together.
Something kept drawing his eyes back to the spot, even if he tried to dismiss it. Somehow, he knew that was where he needed to hit. That figured out, he backed away from it, and switched back with his illusion. It was exhausting to try and keep so many things going at the same time.
Its head seemed to snap towards the beach, and it laughed. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw what the other was laughing about. He assumed it thought that he was just a way to keep it still long enough for the cavalry to arrive, but his plan was slightly different.
While it wasn't watching him, he moved. First, he moved the metal from the ball he had made earlier. It took less than a second to respond to his call, and he moved it, causing thick bands to hold all three heads to the ground. Then its legs were forced down. His fingers twitched, and the legs were taken out from underneath it. Calder was screaming now, trying to escape, but it wasn't moving without his permission.
Another twitch, and Calder's middle head was being strained backwards, revealing the spot that he had noticed earlier. He got closer, and realized that it was a missing scale. It normally wouldn't do much damage, but he wasn't normal, and neither were his weapons.
His hands wrapped around the sword, yanked it up, and shoved it through that plain spot. It went in smoothly, and he tried not to think about anything but the job. People were getting closer, but they would be too late to stop him from killing Calder.
His powers rushed through his body, and he gasped. Illusions could be powerful, but this, this was something completely different. Something rushed through his veins, and seemed to stop behind his eyes. It was time.
While the sword was long, it wouldn't be long enough to reach the organs. But once the metal was inside, he could guide it to its target. His mind was focused completely on the metal. He could feel it, touch it, and control it. It was his.
He felt it dig through muscle towards the heart, where it exploded outwards. Apparently, ancient creatures that tried to eat him didn't get along with his sword. Who knew?
One second, the leviathan was rearing back to attack, and the next, its blood was shoving past the scales and towards him. He was shocked to find his power latch onto it, but didn't question it, and directed it towards an empty part of the beach.
His hair was sticking to his face as water ran down. Of course, there was iron in blood, not much, but apparently there was enough for him to be able to mold. He reared his hand back, and spun his fingers. The iron from the blood, as well as the metal from his blade came rushing towards him. It spun around him, and he easily molded it back into the shape of a blade.
The blood sprayed him, but it was missing the poison, which was being absorbed by his blade, and seemed to be little more than the blood of a human. Except that it was thicker, and slightly darker. The blood oozed from the wound, even as the heart stopped beating.
He examined the blade, and raised an eyebrow. It had changed. It was about three times as wide, and heavy as hell, he couldn't help but notice. He wrapped the strip of leather around the handle, and sighed to himself.
He couldn't believe he had just done that.
The rain let up, and he shoved his sword in the sand. It took a few seconds, but he got it back to normal. He undid the metal bonds that were holding the now still beast, and breathed out. Part of it went towards the sword, little flecks of blood, iron, and poison seemed to absorb almost instantly. It glowed for a second, and he just hummed to himself.
He breathed again, and the metal ball went back into his bag. Maybe he would use it to craft again. Maybe he would do something better than it was before.
Something came over and squeezed him tightly, stealing his breath away. That thing was quickly followed by something else, that picked both him and the other thing up. It took everything he had to keep from calling the metal to come and protect him.
He somehow knew that attacking the thing that was stifling his breathing was a bad idea.
"Let me down!" He protested. He had to blink a few times before the weird feeling of his power backed away enough for his common sense to take over again. He inhaled though his nose, seeing as his mouth was mostly being blocked.
Citrus and stone.
That was the dominate scent. It just so happened to be one he knew well. He tried to pull away enough to see what exactly was holding him, but the person wasn't letting him go very far.
Dark brown eyes were heavily shadowed, and blood shot. There was worry and relief in those eyes. His own softened.
"I'm fine Jay." He mumbled. A flash of fiery red caught his attention next, telling him that Rankin was the thing that reached him first.
His eyes glanced around, and sure enough, a few steps away, was the dark haired, light eyed Keenan, who was glaring at him. He wouldn't let himself flinch back, and met the glare straight on with a raised eyed eyebrow.
Keenan sauntered over. "Well, well, what have we here."
Rankin let him go, and sent an exasperated look over his shoulder. "Quit trying to stab him with a glare, Kee, it won't work."
While Rankin was dealing with his partner, Werner turned his attention to his.
Jarlan didn't look very happy with him. The darker man reached up suddenly, and smacked him soundly in the back of his head.
Jarlan shoved him back, and he fell on his butt. He was glad that the sword was still resting near the leviathan and not strapped to his back. The elder wasn't done yet, and yanked him back up by his tunic.
"If you ever do that again, I will find a way to bring you back and make every single person in Blood on the Blade hand you things until your bawling like a baby. Do I make myself clear?" Jarlan's deep voice made him shiver slightly. The older man was really, really mad. He had to be to threaten him with something like that.
Werner knew how to deal with an angry Jarlan though. He made his eyes wider, and hunched down slightly. "Yes Jarlan."
Jay smacked him again. "I'm not letting you out of my sight for the next month."
The other was fighting back a smile, and Werner knew he had won. "Yes Jarlan."
It was weird. Jarlan was back to normal, or so it seemed, but now he seemed really uncomfortable.
"Um, you should know Keenan was the one who figured out where you were going." Jarlan was scratching the back of his head, and that by itself was enough to make Werner's hackles rise.
Instead, he took a deep, calming breath, and turned to look around him.
There had to be at least fifteen hundred solider waiting behind them. Well, it was more like they were behind three people that he wished to never see again, that happened to be waiting for him to turn his attention to them.
The first was a rather uncomfortable looking knight. Mather, decked out in full knights armor at that. His helmet was tucked to his side. His black hair was slightly ruffled, and his hazel eyes were bloodshot. The knight looked tired, but would live.
Next was a man he knew as Landric. His hair was starting to clump together and fall down the sides of his face in thick curls. He was also in heavy armor, with a sword by his side.
Before he moved his attention to the next, his eyes widened. His sword. He needed to get his sword and make sure it didn't feel like stealing any souls. He turned, and walked towards the corpse. He couldn't help but chuckle.
He was sure that the others thought he was losing his mind, but as soon as he realized what he was seeing, the words Saif had threatened him with earlier had flooded his mind.
That sword you have is cursed. You will be dead by the end of the week. Mark my words, what you have discovered was best left for those long buried to know. You will be running and hiding for the rest of your life.
He may have a cursed sword, but he wasn't the dead one. He was the one causing the death of another. He was sure that he could run and hide for the rest of his life, but he was also sure that he would spend a good amount of time fighting and protecting too.
A hand touched his shoulder, then pulled back.
He grimaced. This was the one person he didn't want to see.
"Turn around, Werner." The voice told him. He sighed, rolled his eyes, and did as he was asked.
To his surprise, his brother gripped him in a tight hug. Darius was clinging to him like he was a lifeline. His twin brother buried his face in Werner's neck.
He wasn't really sure how he was supposed o react, and his eyes shot to Jarlan, who looked just as uncomfortable as he felt. Werner's eyes widened.
Jarlan just nodded.
The ass had told his brother where he was going.
Jarlan had snitched on him, to Darius of all people.
Darius' grip tightened on him, and Werner, very, very carefully, lifted his arms to rest on his brother.
"Don't ever do that again!" Darius choked out. "You… you could have died Werner! I've already lost Ash, and who knows if we'll see mom and dad again. I'm all you have left, and you're all I have."
Werner wasn't exactly sure what to make of that. He had to wonder what the other saw. Did they see the illusions? Or were they even sure what happened? For all he knew, the only thing they saw was the leviathan fall over dead and start to explode in a way. Yeah, that was probably all that they saw.
"I…" Werner wasn't sure what the other wanted to hear.
"I know you don't like to lie. Promise me that you won't do that again! Promise that you won't go after something like that again!" Darius clinched his tunic tighter, and Werner knew he was in a bad place.
He hated to lie, and he knew that he would do this again, if he had to. If his brother tried to go after the others without him, he would do it. Easily.
He wouldn't even feel badly about it.
"Only if you promise not to go after them without me."
Darius backed away a step, and ran a hand through his hair. "I have an army Werner."
"And I have this!" The ball of metal was summoned from his bag. He lifted his hand, and twitched his fingers, separating the large ball into what could be thousands of sharp, deadly shards. Another twitch, and it melted together again, swirling into a ball of molten metal's of different types.
He squeezed his fist shut, and yanked his arm back. The metal went back into the bag, narrowing as it went through the mouth of the bag.
"I can do things I shouldn't be able to do! I can manipulate metal with my mind! I can create illusions strong enough to fool the senses! This world has destroyed what little normalcy I had at home!" Werner reached up and yanked at his redish locks. "I can do this for a reason, Darius, and until I can go home, I will use this to do what I can. This I can do. This I can understand! Don't call yourself my twin when you try and keep me from the only sane things I can do in this fucked up world!"
Jarlan got closer to him, and he took a deep breath, trying to calm himself. Once he was sure he could speak without yelling, he locked eyes with his brother again.
"What kind of older brother would I be if I let you try and fight things that can easily kill you?" Darius asked.
"I don't need an older brother to protect me anymore! I need a brother who can trust me to know what I can and can't do." Werner told him. He needed someone who would trust him more than protect him. He could easily protect himself. He had learned how to out of necessity, but trust, that was another story all together.
Darius wanted to argue, but, to his surprise, Mather came over and joined them, giving the other soldiers a look. They all turned away and started talking amongst themselves.
It was strange, but somehow, he knew that Mather was to Darius as Jarlan was to him. It was weird how Mather and Jarlan avoided the eyes of the other, and obviously didn't want to be there, but stayed for them.
"Fine." Darius agreed finally, glancing over his shoulder and meeting the eyes of his guard. "You can come with us. Maybe we'll be able to bring more men home with you and your…" He trailed off, glancing over Werner's shoulder.
He followed, and froze. Botolf, Rankin, Keenan, even Helice and Aldora were waving happily at him.
Keenan smirked, and rolled his eyes.
"We've been together for months. When you joined our group, you became one of us. We protect our own, flower." Jarlan muttered in his ear.
"Flower?" Darius asked, perking up. Werner groaned, and ducked his head.
That was the last thing he wanted to deal with. Darius was insufferable enough without knowing that a large group of people all called him Flower.
Once more, he cursed Erasmus for calling him that of all things.
Jarlan was happily sharing with his brother the lovely nickname, and Werner groaned.
He was almost positive that by the end of the night, they would be sharing their nicknames for him with each other. Werner had to admit, he wasn't looking forward to either of them realizing that Salix was a type of plant.
Werner bumped into Darius, then Jarlan, and smirked.
As soon as he was far enough away, he called for both of them, jiggling Jarlan's money pouch and Darius' signet before taking off in a sprint through the crowds of soldiers.
He knew he would be dead when they caught him, but, for now, at least they weren't coming up with even more ways to make his days worse.