Excerpts from the Past
Immortality—dazzling idea! Who first imagined thee! Was it some jolly burgher of Nuremburg, who with night-cap on his head, and white clay pipe in mouth, sat on some pleasant summer evening before his door, and reflected in all his comfort, that it would be right pleasant, if, with unextinguishable pipe, and endless breath, he could thus vegetate onwards for a blessed eternity? Or was it a lover, who in the arms of his loved one, thought the immortality-thought, and that because he could think and feel naught beside!—Love! Immortality!
Heinrich Heine, "The Hartz Journey" (1824 Earth Standard)
I walk into the Hanging Horse Inn. The silence that follows lets me know that they know why I am here. I walk over to the far corner and stand in front of the two poachers.
“Look who is here Joebe our little friend from the woods” Trag says softly wiping his mouth “you punk owe us some money it took quite a bit for the healer to put me and Joebe back together. Had to give him your sword and bow with the quiver just to pay her off.”
As I am looking at them I feel a hand slap me on my back and turn to look at the dwarf standing next to me. “This is the lad you two fought in the woods?”
Joebe leans forward with a sneer. “Ya so what, Beornze?”
“I thought you two were idiots when I met you now you just proved me right. Let me introduce you properly this here is Jair ser Marwoleth. He is the finest human hunter in this area. He is also the son to the Witch of the Deep Wood. He has learned to fight from every race in this town. The Luy’cain elders have made him part of their pack. The Kaire send their young to him to train in the woods since he knows those woods better than them. He has saved many lives in this town and at least 3 of them are in this bar including me.” That sword you traded off is the only one of its kind. I went to Darkholme with the materials it took him a year to find. 13 master craftsman a month to complete. If you had tried to sell it to any dwarf they would have turned you away because they know the true price of that sword.”
As Beornze talks I hear the door open and I see a lady in a cloak slip in and look around and start towards me. I nudge him softly. The dwarf looks up at me and then turns as she approaches and then turns to the two. “This is how well he is known.”
She stops in front of me and pulls her hood back. Her delicate features on display for everyone. The Sidhe Lady bows her head to me and says softly in her native tongue. “Master Marwoleth these items found their way into my possession and I thought you would need them back I hope in the future you will remember this and look favorably on any help I might need in the future.”
I nod my head in return whispering in elvish “Riedesh I will remember this and I will be sure to let my mother know so that if you and any of yours needs our help we will be there.”
I accept my sword back and slip it onto my belt and then strap my quiver to my leg and clip the bow to the back of my belt. Bowing to Riedesh I turn to Beornze and nod to him. “I would suggest they leave town as soon as they are able I am off to take care of Lasret for his betrayal and I will not take kindly to seeing them again.”
He looks at me with a serious glint in his eyes “You are going after him? What have I told you about stupidity and fighting for revenge?”
I look at him and in a dead voice tell him “He has betrayed me, a friend, and his clan. He brought back the antlers off my kill and then claimed the Primes daughter”
Beornze looks shocked “Rena wouldn’t do that not to you boy I have seen the way she looks at you and follows you around please tell me you are lying.”
I shake my head and look at him sadly “he moved while I was unconscious and in a way that I wouldn’t be able to say anything that have already gone through the claiming her father probably pushed her into it thinking he was some great hunter. But now I have called him out, I head to the arena now to face him if he is honorable, or I will walk through the Den killing anything in my path to him.”
Beornze look at me sadly and nods before walking away. Riedesh looks at me and shakes her head before saying “I will meet you there you are bringing me a lot of work.”
I nod and turn back to the two poachers and say “you get lucky this one time if I meet you again I might not be as nice.” Turning I walk away.
Outside of the inn I stop and look around. I start walking knowing they will follow me and either wait to act until I get where I am going or try to pull me into an ally along the way. I keep moving slowly making it to the arena. Just outside the arena door she steps out of the darkness and I stop to look over my childhood friend. Darklis le Grave stood 1.5 meters tall, she hated always looking up at people, but I had always told her it was cute and she would blush. She embodied beauty in my eyes her hour-glass figure wasn’t big like some women but she had curves in all the right places. Her hair was a stark contrast to mine where mine was as white as moonlight hers was as black as the night she wore it many fashions over the years that I have known her but right now was just plain gorgeous. Her hair was up in two opposite of each other slightly off the side and back of her head her long hair rested around her waist. She always could catch my eyes but being childhood friends I thought of her as my sister.
Looking her up and down I give her a soft smile. “My mother didn’t tell me you were in town, Dari.”
She frowns at me “Imagine my surprise when Modura and I were sent on ahead of the caravan to tell your mother we are coming for a visit and when we get there you’re gone and your mother is worried about you getting into trouble. So we rush here only to find out from Rena you have made a very fine mess in the Den. What’s going on?”
“Sorry Dari but you may want to get the story from Rena I have to get inside and get started” I tell her softly as I feel my face harden at the thought of Rena.
I start to walk past her slowly and she reaches out and stops me. “What is going on this isn’t like you. In all the time I have known you have never challenged anyone to a duel. What did Lasret do? Damn it Jair talk to me!!”
I look her in the eye “I will tell you everything after the Duel or you can go up there and ask Rena and get the story while you watch.”
I move past her into the arena and see the Prime and elders standing in the middle as Lasret stands off to the side. Moving up to them I bow slowly to the Prime. “Sorry for the wait I had to reclaim my weapons. Has he chosen his weapons?”
The Prime looks over his shoulders at Lasret. “He thinks he can beat you in hand to hand. If he wins he wants you to renounce your claims and leave him and his new mate alone. He is not the brightest crayon in the box as you humans say but it is yours and his duel. What is your price if you win?”
I look at Lasret “If I win you tell everyone here the truth. Then accept voluntary exile. You walk away and never return.”
Lasret laughs and nods “You are going to lose Jair. I have learned a lot since we last fought as cubs. And I am stronger you will never beat me.”
I nod slowly before turning and walking over to Darklis in the audience and ask her to hold my stuff while we fight. She nods and watches as I take off my weapons. “Jair what are you going to do?” she asks softly
“I am going to break his arms then his legs and then his ribs until he begs for me to kill him and then I will break every other bone in his body until he can’t function then I will walk away and leave.” Looking at Rena, then I look at Darklis “after this I won’t have much of a reason to come back to this town. If they need my services they can come to me.”
I pull my shirt off not thinking and hear a couple gasps. Looking up I see Mon’ta, Rena, and Darklis looking at me. “What?” I ask confused
Darklis looks at me and says “Your chest where did you get all those scars?”
I blush and look down “I forgot Dari you haven’t seen me without my shirt in a long time. Well I got this while I was training in the forest. I run in the forest, I fight in the forest, I train in the forest. I have fought the Spider Bears, Kagels, and even a Screamshaw.”
I see most of the people around us looking now. That’s when I notice the crowd has gotten larger. The Elemental Consortium, the Sidhe Prince, even the Pack is here. I hand my stuff over to Darklis before nodding to her and walking back to the center. The Prime looks at us both and says “Last chance?” shaking our heads he nods and walks away to the stands before yelling “BEGIN.”
I see Lasret bare his claws and rushes at me with a wicked gleam in his eyes. I close my eyes and feel the darkness awake and watching for how I will react. The voices begging for blood to be fed. I clear my head and move. The stillness marking my mood. He swipes at me as I move under his arm. Grabbing his arm with both of mine I spin and using both mine and his momentum I throw him straight down into the ground I feel the crash through him as I hold his arm. I reverse my grip and sit down on his back I feel his arm snap as he screams out in pain. I roll away and come to my feet slowly.
He is bellowing in pain before his eyes focus “You’re wearing something on your legs what is it are you cheating?” he slowly regains his feet his left arm dangling at his side.
I shrugged “I thought you would want me to wear them they keep this fight fair. If you want I will remove them?” I raise my pant legs showing the weights there.
“You’re wearing weights to hit me harder take them off.” Lasret growls.
I look over at the Prime who is slowly shaking his head. I kneel over and start to remove the weights. He takes this opportunity to rush over and he lines up to kick me. I hear Darklis scream at me. Then I am rolling through the dirt to the far side of the arena and Lasret is stomping on me within a second after a few good kicks and stomps he steps back laughing. “Call it old man. I told him he couldn’t beat me.” He laughs to himself as he turns and walks away.
I groan feeling the damage. Then smile at how little damage he actually did. I slowly sit up and remove the weights before setting them aside. Climbing to my feet I hear murmurs in the crowd as they see me stand. A Kaire elder sitting nearby whispers “Stay down boy, too much more damage and you might not make it out of this in one piece.” I smile and shake my head.
“Lasret is that the best that you can do? Hit someone while they are complying with your rules down on their knees not looking at you? Where is the honor in that? You must be no better than an honor-less cat you know the ones…. The ones that are betrayers and murderers.” I call out to him smiling as he turns around.
He rushes at me again this time I step under his right arm and as I wind up to kick him in the stomach I notice him pulling his arm down to cover his stomach. I make contact with his arm and he gets thrown back by the kick and roles across the floor.
I look his direction as he lays on the ground his right arm shattered from the force of my kick. “You should have had me keep the weights on. They aren’t there to hit you harder they are there to help me train. Without them I move too fast and jump to high. It is nice to relax my muscles a little though. Thanks for letting me take them off.” I smile as the darkness relishes in the pain taking it away from me. I look him over watching him shakily getting to his feet.
All of a sudden I feel a burning sensation in my back. I look over my shoulder as I see the fletching sticking out of my shoulder. I roll to the side as another arrow flies through the air where I had just been. Racing over to toward Darklis I am surprised when Lasret all of a sudden steps into my path a knife in his teeth as he lunges at me before I have a chance to change my path. I pull my knee up as his knife buries itself in my left shoulder. The full force of my knee slams into him and slams him across the arena into the far wall. I get to Darklis as everyone is moving looking for the archer. I grunt in pain as I lift my arms and grab my sword. “Dari, get everyone out of here the arena is surrounded. Make sure the VIPs are safe.”
She looks at me with a pained expression and nods. “Be safe.” She whispers
I turn and rush back to the center of the arena pulling the knife out of my shoulder and pulling the arrow out of my back. Standing in the center of the arena I look around. Lasret is laughing with blood dribbling out of the corners of his mouth. He coughs and says slowly “I got you, those two poachers got me what I wanted to get you out to the forest alone. Then you got lucky and we had to bring you back but this time they will kill you and you will be forgotten I will still have my honor and standing. And the viscount will be rid of you with me and Sage taking over the clan the viscount and the clan will take over this area.” He coughs again and smiles at me “just die already”
‘Kill Him’ the thought comes from the darkness resonating inside me like a bell. ‘Kill Him and take his end accept my gifts’ the thoughts come again. I draw my sword slowly walking toward Lasret. Feet storm in surrounding the arena floor. I feel the energy rushing into me as I walk. The chill in the air becomes a frigid wind. Standing in from of Lasret I see him shudder in fear. I start to raise my sword but am stopped ‘No, Not like that, killing him like that won’t do you any good’ images appear in my head and I nod. I sheath the sword and reach to Lasret. Closing my eyes I feel his strand and reach into him. The scream of pure terror erupts from inside him as I say “Look Lasret your string. The thread that holds you to this life.” Pulling it out of his chest so he can see it. His eyes widen in terror as I open my eyes the red engulfing the black in my eyes. I look into his eyes as I tighten my grip and rip the cord all the way out of his body. He screams before collapsing on the floor dead.
I look at the glowing thread in my hand. It starts to wiggle before wrapping itself around my pinky finger creating a tattoo of a tiger wrapped in a ring around the finger.
An eerie laugh fills the arena before I realize I am the one laughing. Looking around I see a dozen men looking at me with wide eyes everyone else had fled the arena. I draw my sword and one of the men rushes me which starts all the others. My swords meets theirs as I move through patterns taught to me by the Sidhe. Strength I have learned from both the Earthen and the Kaire, help my delicate movements become powerful blows. In a matter of minutes the barely trained men are laying on the arena floor dying. I see Joebe and Trag standing on the upper floor of the Arena watching. They turn and disappear before I can move.
Excerpts from the Past
You can be a king or a street sweeper, but everybody dances with the Grim Reaper.
~Robert Alton Harris (Human)
Modura and Darklis rushed into the arena with a group of assorted warriors. The Prime and his Warriors followed quickly on their heels. While I stood staring up at the night sky all around me the dead bodies, beheaded and torn to pieces. The sight before them stunned them. Since the Eternal Deaths disappearance it took a lot to kill anyone and here I was standing among a bloody mess of bodies. I look over at the Prime as they get closer. “I am sorry My Prime.” I look over at Lasret “he told me something disturbing before he passed and you won’t believe me when I tell you.”
All of a sudden a grey with white spotted male Kaire I recognize as Loken ser Gras, Lasrets’ father, rushes over to his son. He looks over his son and whispers “He is dead… How is this possible? His body is whole and intact?” He turns to look at me.
‘Don’t tell anyone you don’t trust with your life.’ The whisper comes in my mind. I shrug my shoulders slowly. “It was too hectic. I can’t tell what happened during the fighting. I was just trying to survive.” I turn to the Prime “Lasret implicated your son and himself in a plot arranged by the Viscount. To overthrow you and the elders and take over so they could side with the Viscount and lead the clan to follow him. With the Clan with him they could overthrow the Pack and the Elemental Consortium easily. The Sidhe wouldn’t take sides and the Viscount could name himself King.”
I watch as the Primes’ face hardens. He turns and says “We return to the Den, leave the traitors body to the crows. Alpha find my son and bring him to me before the matriarch.” He turns his head slightly toward me and nods slowly before stalking off.
I start to turn to Darklis and am surprised when Loken steps up to me growling. “We will have a talk again later in private about my son you have many answers to give.” He storms off after the prime.
Darklis looks at me, and I see the fear there. Turning around I walk away. Slowly I pick up my stuff from where they lay. Disappearing into the forest, I start heading back to my home. Coming to terms with what I just lost. The look in Darklis’s eyes was too much for me, she must hate me now.