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Thread: Residual Effects

  1. #1

    Residual Effects

    The current title of the story this thread is mostly dedicated is Residual Effects, and it's open for change. You don't have to read any of the background stuff to understand the story, but it will help. Every now and then I may post other unrelated things.

    Background:
    After a certain incident, the kingdom of Agaron declared war on the neighboring kingdom of Arabi to the south. As the long and bloody war came to a close, the final battle took place at Squall Valley, a region roughly in-between the two kingdoms. In the end Arabi emerged victorious. The victory was short-lived though. It came at a high cost and the spoils of war were not enough to satisfy most. Facing probable threats of uprisings and revolutions, General Ruaidhri formed an organization under orders from King Alistair Arabi. The goal of the organization was as follows: Dispatch groups to discretely prevent any and all threats before things have a chance to get out of hand. These groups consist of highly trained individuals. When one squad goes missing and Ryxor's squad is assigned to find out what happened, he knows that trouble in on the horizon.

    World Info:
    Guns exist, but the technology is limited to bolt-action rifles, shotguns, and semi-automatic pistols. They're are also some-what of a rarity and hard to come by. As a result, most people uses swords and other weapons.

    People are also capable of performing energy abilities. They can harness their own life force and manipulate it to accomplish a number of things ranging from healing, creating barriers, and setting things on fire (it's basically magic). Some are more adept at using energy than others, and most people have a natural affinity to a certain use since birth. While it's possible to learn how to use it in other ways, it's definitely easier for people stick with their natural abilities. And of course, using too much at once can result in death.

    Although the story kind of has a medieval setting, it does have technologies more advanced than that time period such as electricity and telephones.

    Animals and the like are realistic. There aren't any dragons and unicorns running around.

    The Main Characters so far:

    Ryxor Borx
    Age - 24
    Fighting Style - He wields a sword in combat as well as fire energy that he often combines with his sword attacks.

    Drex Kozen
    Age - 19
    Fighting Style - A user of barrier energy, he also wields a weapon he calls Sword Breaker. In the hands of a professional, it's capable of smash through both weapons and light armor.

    Hughes Banes
    Age - 22
    Fighting Style - Though competent in hand-to-hand combat, his forte is guns. He has both a revolver and a rifle.

    Auras Thompson
    Age - 36
    Fighting Style - He prefers going in without weapons. Instead, he wears gauntlets that amplify the power of his attacks.

    Vanen Travis
    Age - 25
    Fighting Style - His weapons of choice are two katanas.

    Eric Banes
    Age - 28
    Fighting Style - Like his brother, he uses guns with his preferred weapons being sawed-off shotguns.

    Den Keghart
    Age - 22
    Fighting Style - Den uses a short sword combine with electrical energy.

    Arax Zabelle
    Age - 20
    Fighting Style - She wields a multitude of daggers that she can throw with great accuracy.

    Luther Arendale
    Age - 49
    Fighting Style - Using almost no conventional weapons, he's capable of wielding energy to levels few can match.

    General Ruaidhri
    Age - 45
    Fighting Style - Rather than specializing in just one, he knows how to use several kind of weapons and fighting styles. He's also known for his strategies.

    Andy Gaines
    Age - 40
    Fighting Style - He uses a special staff not only to enhance his natural talents with energy, but also as a blunt weapon.

    Ratana Cytinin
    Age - 19
    Fighting Style - She wields a staff and can user energy to manipulate the wind. She's also a competent healer.

    Oren
    Age - 43
    Fighting Style - He's well versed with all kinds of firearms.

    Alice Redding
    Age - 18
    Fighting Style - She's considered by some to be a prodigy when it comes to energy attacks albeit she often has trouble controlling it. When all else fails, she falls back to her more conventional sword.

    Lynn Garrison
    Age - 18
    Fighting Style - She often takes on a supportive role in combat with her weapon of choice being a sword concealed in a walking stick.

    Keith Grayson
    Age - 18
    Fighting Style - His usual weapon is a battle axe, but he also uses other kinds of weapons from time to time.

    Brink Lowe
    Age - 27
    Fighting Style - Though capable of defending himself should the need arise, he prefers to run from battles. He claims to be a natural with any kind of weapon.

    Now that that's out of the way, here's the story.

    Chapter 1: "The beginning of something special, something life-threatening"
    SPOILER! :
    Four armed men walked down the dirt road as the sun approached the highest point in the sky. Coming all the way from the capital, they were now nearing their destination, the town of Rizuke. Their job description sounded simple: Stop any possible rebellions before they happen. However, things were never easy. Especially on this particular assignment. Another squad, a better and stronger one, had already been sent out to this town. They were told to report in a few days ago and yet, they haven’t been heard from since leaving the capital. It’d be a safe bet that the perpetrators behind this incident were formidable opponents, and it didn’t take a genius to figure out it wouldn’t end well. What no one would be able to guess was that this event would help further a plan that had already been set in motion before the war even began.

    ---

    “Did you know his father is Van Travis, the famous general who vanished during the war?”It was Drex Kozen who asked the question. It had been asked to no one in particular, but it was Ryxor Borx, the squad leader who answered.

    “You mean Vanen? Yeah, I know. Why does it matter?”

    “Just curious. Hey, Hughes. What about your brother Eric?” By some stroke of fate, Hughes’ brother was a member of Vanen’s squad.

    “What about him?” Hughes asked back.

    “Aren’t you worried about him?”

    “Not one bit. He can take care of himself.”

    “But they haven’t been heard from in several days. What if something serious has happened? Doesn’t that make you concerned?”

    “Nope. Not sure how I’d react if we found them all dead. I’d probably stand over his corpse and say good riddance.”

    “Man, you’re that cold told your own – “ Auras Thompson, the fourth member of the squad put a hand on Drex’s shoulder. Drex was about to ask what he wanted, but the look in his eyes said it all. Shut the hell up. He wasn’t sure if Auras was concerned for Hughes or was just annoyed himself, but he took the hint and quieted down. The guy doesn’t know when to keep quiet, Ryxor thought to himself. He’s been like that as long as I’ve known him.

    By now they could see Rizuke on the horizon and what they saw wasn’t pretty. Smoke could be seen rising up into the sky. By the time they reached the edge of town, the smell of smoke mixed with the smell of burning flesh. They searched the buildings that still stood for survivors, but none were found. The entire town had been decimated and burned down to the ground.

    “This whole thing stinks,” said Ryxor.

    “Really, you think?” said Drex.

    “I’m not talking about this, smart ass.” He gestured to what remained of Rizuke. “Where the hell is Vanen’s squad?”

    “For now, we can only assume that whoever did this has also taken them out,” said Auras.

    “But who did this? Vanen was no pushover, and we’ve yet to see a body that could have belonged to him or anyone in his squad.”

    “Maybe they got burnt to crisp like almost everything else?” It was Hughes who made the suggestion.

    “Maybe. But that brings up another problem. All of this smoke, and the guys over at Stronghold didn’t notice a single thing? I find that hard to swallow.” Stronghold was a nearby military fort. “Our next move should be the fort.”

    “But what if that place got destroyed as well?” asked Drex. It was definitely possible and it would certainly explain why they hadn’t made a move yet.

    “We’ll figure it out when we get there. Let’s move out. There’s nothing we can do there, and the more time we waste, the farther away those responsible get away.”

    ---

    The march toward Stronghold had been a short one. The smoke from the smoldering town of Rizuke could still be seen behind them when the fortress came into sight. Hughes looked back at the town and then turned to face the fortress. It stood still in perfectly good condition.

    “And sign number two that something is off,” he said. The guard raised his weapon as they approached the gate.

    “Identify yourselves,” he ordered.

    “At ease soldier. We’re here on General Ruaidhri’s orders.” Ryxor held out a paper signed by the general confirming what he just said. The guard lowered his weapon.

    “I see. Go on ahead.” Ryxor thought he’d take a moment to study the orders. Instead he gave them the ok without evening giving it a second glance. The squad looked around after stepping in beyond the gates. . All of them except Drex had passed by the fort at least once in the past, but it was the first time any of them had been inside. Ryxor motioned for a nearby soldier to come over.

    “I need to talk with the commanding officer here. Where can I find him?”

    “His office is set up in that building over there.” He pointed behind them.

    “Thank you. We’ll be on our way now.” As they walked over to the officer’s office, Drex leaned closer to Ryxor and started talking in a hushed voice.

    “This whole place seems off. They’re out and about like nothing’s wrong when a whole town not even a mile away is up in smoke.”

    “You don’t think I didn’t notice that?”

    “If you’re one step ahead of the rest of us, then what’s your plan?”

    “I go ask the guy in charge some questions while you guys stay quiet and don’t do anything that would attract attention.”

    “That’s it?”

    “Did you see that guard’s reaction when I showed him our orders?”

    “What reaction?”

    “Exactly. He didn’t even bother to look at them. Don’t you find that strange? If four armed men not even dressed in uniforms approached your fort, wouldn’t you want to see some proper identification first?”

    “You think these men are responsible for Rizuke?” Drex asked.

    “I’m saying they are responsible.”

    “You think they also took out Vanen’s squad?”

    “Possibly. We can’t tell for sure yet.”

    “If they actually killed them, then they gotta be stronger than your average guy,” said Hughes “I can’t imagine Eric going down without a good fight even if he was ambushed.”

    “Is it really a good idea to get separated if these guys are so strong?” Drex asked.

    “I’m willing to bet they won’t try anything until we are separated. Besides, we still don’t know for sure that these guys did kill them. We only know that they’re involved.” By now they had reached the door to the office. The guard outside watched them talking, but couldn’t make out what they were saying over the other noises going around the fort.

    “Hold it right there,” the guard said. Only one person is allowed in at a time. The rest of you have to wait outside.”

    “Very well,” Ryxor said. He motioned for the others to do as they were asked while he stepped through the door. The commanding officer stood behind behind his desk staring at him. Ryxor offered him his hand. “Ryxor Borx. I’m here on orders from General Ruaidhri.”

    “Nash Morrow,” the officer said, ignoring Ryxor’s hand gesture. “How can I be of help?”

    “I’m looking for Vanen Travis. He was supposed to check in at this fort a few days ago, but the people at the capital haven’t heard a word. What do you know about this matter?”

    “No one bearing that name has showed up here in a month, let alone a few a days ago. If he’s gone missing, I don’t know anything about it.”

    “Are you sure you haven’t heard of anything at all?”

    “I’d tell you if I had. Is that all you wanted to ask?”

    “There is one more thing I’d like to ask you. It’s about the town that used to exist west of here.” He saw Nash put his hand on the handle of his sword. Ryxor got ready to grab his own weapon.

    Outside, Auras stood over at a corner of the fort examining the ground. Hughes had asked to see the dungeons beneath the fort and Drex was off somewhere else. Why was this spot dug up recently? Auras thought he knew the answer to that question when there was a loud crashing noise inside the officer’s building. He turned just in time to see a man fly through the window. At that moment, everyone dropped what they were doing. Two guys nearest him had their weapons drawn and pointing at him while the rest were focused on the building. The door was kicked down from the inside and Ryxor walked through the open doorway. Flames began to dance around on the blade of his drawn sword.

    “Auras! Take care of the rest of these buffoons while I beat some answers out of our new friend Mr. Morrow.” Following his cue, Auras sprung into action. He punched the guard in front him in the face so hard he heard his nose break. The other guard charged at Auras, but he grabbed the one that was down and spun around just in time for him to get stabbed by his own friend. He disarmed the guard still standing before taking him out, and then tossed the sword into another running up to help out. He gave Ryxor a thumbs up as the remaining guards approached much more cautiously.

    Hughes was down in the dungeon when the fighting broke out up top. One guard was leading the way with two more brining up the rear and Hughes in the middle. Geez, I thought I was a visitor here, and yet they’re acting like they escorting a prisoner. When the sound of fighting reached down there the guards drew their weapons. Only one of them has a gun. The man with the gun fired away at Hughes, but the bullets never made contact. Instead, it appeared as though they hit an invisible barrier in front of him.

    “What the hell?” One of the guards said. They heard a rush of foot steps behind them and turned around to meet their attacker face to face, but were too late. Drex was upon them and smashed through both of them in one strike. Hughes whistled as they fell to the ground. The remaining guard took several steps back, but it did no good. Hughes pulled out his revolver and pistol whipped him across the face causing him to drop his weapon. Hughes put the barrel to his head and pulled the trigger. It was all over in a matter of seconds.

    “I doubt these weaklings killed Vanen. They aren’t even prepared to deal with energy users,” said Drex. He looked over at the one Hughes killed. “Well, I wouldn’t have pegged you as the cold-blooded type.”

    “C’mon. Let’s go help out the other two.” Hughes ran past him, revolver still drawn.

    “Fine then, ignore me.”

    ---

    Up on the rampart, Nash jumped at Ryxor but he blocked the attack. As their swords made contact, Nash’s began to melt. He jumped back and tossed it aside, and pulled out his pistol.

    “How the hell is your sword still fine!?” Nash shouted.

    “Unlike yours, mine is made out of a special metal that can take temperatures far beyond that of steel.”

    “Can you spill the beans already, man?” The voice came from behind Nash. Drex was sitting on a crate. He shifted his attention from Ryxor and pointed his gun at him. “Careful where you put that thing. Someone might get hurt.”

    “How did you get up here and where the hell are the rest of my men!?”

    “Dead or dying.” A gunshot went off in the background. Hughes reloaded his revolver as he and Auras made their way over.

    “Damn it! This isn’t happening!” He shouted frantically, pointing his gun at Drex and then back at Ryxor.

    “Drop it,” Ryxor said. “You can tell us what we want to know now or we can have a little chat after we break both your arms.”

    “Shit.” Nash tossed his gun to the ground.

    “All right then,” said Drex. He hopped off the crate carrying some rope. He brought it over to Nash and tied his hands behind his back. “Shall we talk things over in your office? “

    ---

    Drex sat behind the desk while Auras and Hughes looked through everything. Auras turned to Drex who looked like he was enjoying himself.

    “Well? Are you gonna help us or just sit there?”

    “Oh, right.”

    “Now, tell us what you know about Vanen and Rizuke,” said Ryxor. Nash was up against a corner of the room.

    “The people that hired me have him and his squad captive.”

    “Where?”

    “Odikai. A town northeast of here. It’s less than a day’s journey from here on foot.”

    “And?”

    “And what?”

    “If that’s all you’ve got then you’re of no use to us.” Hughes pulled out his revolver and pulled back the hammer.

    “Wait! There’s more. The people that hired me are from Kazere. They’re a band of mercenaries led by a man named Oren.” Kazere was a town in the mountains to the west on Arabi’s border.

    “What else?”

    “They’re the ones that destroyed Rizuke. They’re also responsible for clearing out the soldiers at this fort. My men and I weren’t hired until after that. After making us bury the bodies, they told us to pose as the soldiers and deal with anyone who came snooping around.” Ryxor motioned for the others to follow him outside.

    “Don’t think you’re off the hook yet. We will kill you if you try anything,” Ryxor told Nash before leaving.

    “What’s the plan Ryxor? If that scum is telling the truth, Kazere and Odikai are in two completely different directions,” said Hughes.

    “Yeah, I know. You and Auras stay here and watch over our friend. Contact Ruaidhri and give him an update. Drex and I will head out to Odikai and see what we can find out there. If he’s telling the truth, then we need to get to Vanen’s squad before it’s too late.”

    “All right then, let’s get this show on the road,” said Drex.

    “Wait,” Auras said. “Do you really think splitting up is a good idea? “

    “No, I don’t. But we need to make a move and I’m not about to leave a prisoner by himself.” There was a moment of silence before anyone spoke again.

    “Be careful. I can’t put my finger on it, but there’s still something that’s got me worried,” said Auras.

    “Yeah, the feeling’s mutual.”
    Last edited by SamuraiChameleon; 07-19-2011 at 03:42 AM.

  2. #2
    Okay, here's chapter 2.

    Chapter 2: "Lives of students ordinary and non-ordinary"
    SPOILER! :
    Earlier on the same day that Ryxor’s squad made it to Rizuke, Alice Redding and Keith Grayson stood in the middle of the arena face to face.

    “I won’t go easy on you just cause’ you’re a girl,” Keith said.

    “I won’t go easy on you just cause’ you’re an idiot,” Alice said. Professor Luther Arendale stood on the sidelines. His left arm hung limply at his side wrapped in bandages. The story behind it was a closely guarded secret.

    “I said greet you’re opponents, not harass them. Remember, this is a training match only. You stop before executing a potentially fatal move, not after. No energy attacks either. That means you Alice. Get ready.” Luther paused for a moment. Both Keith and Alice glared at each other while waiting for the word. “Begin!”

    And with that, they were off at each other’s throats. Alice did a vertical attack with her sword, but Keith dodged to the side followed by a counter attack. Alice brought her sword up and blocked it. Then she gained the upper hand and forced him back. She came forward with another attack, this one barely missing Keith’s stomach. Alice continued her push forward with Keith still on the defensive. They locked swords again and fought to gain control. At that moment, the handle of her sword began to freeze over in ice.

    “Crap!” She broke contact with Keith and jumped back.

    “What’s the matter? Is this too much for you?” Keith taunted her. She quickly glanced at her handle. The ice was no longer there. He didn’t notice it. He would have called the match he noticed.

    “You think you’re in a position to taunt me? Bring it!” She acted pissed off, but in truth she was more worried than angry. It had nothing to do with Keith though. The only emotion he evoked from her was the anger. What had her worried was the ice. Before she realized it, Keith was upon her. She put her mind back to the battle and parried his attack. She thrust her sword and stopped just centimeters away from Keith’s throat. He stared at the point of the sword and could feel its lust for blood. Or was that her lust for his blood? He had a feeling it might be the second one. “You’re dead,” she said with a satisfied smile. Luther began clapping at the conclusion of the battle.

    “Well done. Both of you deserve it, and you can put you weapons away now.”

    “Yeah Alice, you can put your sword away now. You know, the one that’s still in my face,” said Keith in an annoyed tone. Alice relished the thought of going through with stabbing him before lowering it. Luther walked over to both of them.

    “That’s enough for now. You’re both dismissed.”

    “Yes sir,” they both said simultaneously. Keith walked away, but Alice remained standing near Luther.

    “Is there something you wanted to ask me?” Was there something? Alice thought about it, but couldn’t decide.

    “No. I’ll be on my way now.”

    “By the way, you’re getting better at controlling your energy. You only lost control of it once this time and you were much faster at regaining control.” So he did notice after all.

    “Thank you sir.” She walked out of the arena, her mind still on what Luther told her. She was foolish for thinking that he of all people wouldn’t notice. His mastery over energy was unrivaled. It was no wonder why the army sought him out. In the end though, his arm kept him from seeing active duty, not that it mattered to him. Alice could tell that he was troubled by his own personal problems a great deal more than the problems of the kingdom. The reason why he stayed at the academy as a professor was unknown to her.

    “Did you get chewed out by the professor?” Alice was pulled out form her thoughts. Keith was leaning up against the wall with his hands in his pockets.

    “What are you talking about, loser?”

    “I think you know.” Rather than fill in the blank, Alice just stared at the smug look on his face. She couldn’t see what herself looked like, but she knew her face didn’t appear pleasant either. When it was apparent she wasn’t going to answer, Keith continued. “The energy you used during the match. If I managed to detect it, I’m sure he did.”

    “Even you noticed it?”

    “Don’t act surprised. I don’t have the kind of ranks you get, but I’m not some third-rate student either.” In truth, she was moderately surprised. Then again, maybe she was just being conceded. Assuming the conversation had ended, Alice continued on her way. “Hey wait, where are you going?” Keith started walking after her.

    “My room. What else do you want?” He wasn’t exactly sure. He was just in the mood to talk.

    “Hear any news about your friends yet?” He had to be talking about Drex and Ryxor.

    “Nope.” That simple answer didn’t satisfy him.

    “Want to go out later?” As much as she tried to hide it, the question made her blush a bit.

    “What the hell!? Why are you asking these weird questions all of the sudden? Are you trying to ask me out or something like that?”

    “What? Hell no. Why would I or anyone else for that matter want to be your boyfriend?”

    “Fine, I guess so.”

    “I’ll stop by your room later then.”

    “Yeah.” And with that, they went their separate ways. In truth, it really did mean a lot to her that he kept quiet about what happened (even though Luther found out anyway). There were things like this that she liked about him, and yet there were plenty of other things about him that pissed her off. She didn’t dare say any of this to Keith, of course.

    ---

    Lynn Garrison stood at the balcony of her dorm room at the military academy. From there, she had one of the best views of the capital Velvidyne. There were only a few other places that rivaled it, and it lost out to the palace of course. She was still enjoying the view when Alice walked in. She turned to greet her.

    “How’d it go?” Lynn asked. She thought she already knew the answer, but had asked anyway. No, she knew for sure what the answer was.

    “I won of course,” Alice replied in confirmation. “Hey Lynn, do you have any plans for later”

    “No. What’s up?”

    “I’m going out later. You should come to.”

    “I guess so.”

    From the moment the met during the ceremony when they first joined the academy, Lynn and Alice had become best friends. However if some random person looked at their relationship, chances are they would liken it to a boss and a loyal follower. It’s not that any of them had intended to turn it into something like that. It was just the way their personalities were.

    ---

    The sun had already reached its highest point in the sky. By now, it was setting back down and the shadows were creeping out. Not that it mattered in this particular part of town. Here, the buildings were so large and close together the sun never quite reached the ground. A young man strolled down one of the narrow alley ways and entered one of the many taverns around the area. At this time of day, it was nearly empty. The lunch crowd had already left, but the dinner crowd had yet to arrive. They were bound to start trickling in soon though. For now, there were less than a handful of customers. The man walked up to the one with the bandages covering his left arm.

    “Brink Lowe.”

    “Why, fancy meeting you here Professor.” He was obviously exaggerating.

    “Skip the pleasantries and sit down. Let’s get this over with.”

    “Why be in such a hurry? I took the time to come out to this lovely part of town. Let’s have a round of drinks first.”

    “Shut up and tell me what you found.” Luther was usually the cool, calm, and calculating type. It was likely a combination of Brink and the matter of their meeting that that caused his anger to rise.

    “Geez, people like you are so boring and so easy to read. I don’t even have to use tricks with you.” For starters, there was that. Brink had a rare ability even among energy users. He could read other’s minds. There were limits though such as having to make physical contact.

    “I didn’t come here to get my palm read.”

    “Oh, but of course not. You came here for the information. Not the guy who mixes business with pleasure, are you?”

    “Stop fooling around. Where is he?”

    “Sorry to disappoint you, but I don’t have anything on his location.”

    “Then why the hell are you wasting my time?”Luther wanted to reach out and strangle him.

    “I was able to track him down to a little island in Osizar, but it was empty by the time I got there. He did leave this note though.” Brink pulled out a piece of folded paper and passed it to Luther.

    “Where exactly did you find this?”

    “It’s one the paper. Wouldn’t want to spoil it for you, now would I?” Luther held the paper in his hand. He wanted to read it, but decided he should wait and put it in his pocket. “However, if you man stays as crafty as he has been up to this point, he’s no longer anywhere near that island.

    “How much do I owe you?” At that moment, the door to the tavern opened. Luther could see three familiar students out of the corner of his eye.

    “This one’s on the house. Truth be told, this guy’s really something. Not only did he know where to leave the note, he knew who would discover it. In other words, he knows you’re paying me to find him. Just make sure you tell me how this all ends and all the exciting parts in between.” Brink stood up and put his hand on Luther’s shoulder.

    “Well, I guess this concludes our business for now. By the way, the bond between teacher and student is a strong one, isn’t it?”

    “What did you say?”

    “I wonder if those precious students of yours know the truth.” Luther stared at Brink. The smile he wore was sickening. “See you around Professor.” And with that, Brink left the tavern. Luther didn’t need any kind of mind reading powers to know that Alice and the others were staring him. They had definitely heard the last part of that conversation, and he was sure their curiosity had been piqued.

    ---

    “What!?” General Ruaidhri sat in the communications room with the receiver of the telephone up to his ear. Auras was on the other side of the line and he had just broke the recent turn of events to Ruaidhri. “And those two just went off on their own like that?”

    “Yes sir.”

    “You should have waited for backup or at least called here first. We might have already lost one whole squad to god knows whoever these people are.”

    “My apologies sir. The lines at the fort were damaged and had to be repaired first. Should we pursue them?”

    “No. What’s done is done. Besides, we can’t leave that prisoner unattended.”

    “Any orders?”

    “No, just stay put for now. You go after Ryxor and Drex after the backup arrives. After you’ve regrouped, report back here to the capital at once. This is far bigger than we initially thought.”

    “Yes sir.” Auras hung up. Ruaidhri however wasn’t quite done. He had at least one more call to make.

    “Operator, patch me through to Frozen Shield.” It was another military fort. This one was near the vicinity of Kazere to be exact. “Hello? This is General Ruaidhri. I need to talk to Colonel Gaines. Is he available?”

    “What is it Ruaidhri?” Despite the difference in rank, there was no “sir” added on. These two men had a long history together the likes of which had roots stretching back to the war when none of them bore the ranks they had now.
    Last edited by SamuraiChameleon; 07-16-2011 at 06:53 PM.

  3. #3
    Chapter 3: "The sun sets on act 1 and the lives of the puppets"
    SPOILER! :
    The sky dropped down behind the distant horizon to the west and with it, the sky changed from a blazing red to a deep blue. Ryxor and Drex followed the path to Odikai with only the moon and the stars to light the way. From the time they left the fort until now, there had been no sign of trouble. The odds of things staying like that were very low though. Neither of them had spoken in quite some time, but Drex finally broke the silence.

    “Are we there yet?” Ryxor just stared at him. “Are we almost there yet?”

    “Stop acting like a kid.”

    “What?”

    “You know damn well we won’t get there until tomorrow.” Ryxor was rather annoyed at that moment.

    “Geez, I was just trying to lighten the mood. What happened to you?”

    “What are you talking about now?”

    “You used to be so easy going before we joined the academy. Now you always act like you got a stick up your ass or something.”

    “I grew up. When are you going to?”

    Drex was going to add more to the conversation, but then they both froze.

    “Something’s not right.”

    “Yeah, I know.”

    At that moment, a bolt of lightning struck with no warning. During the split second it hit, Drex managed to create a barrier around both of them. However, the bolt was far stronger than he had anticipated and both of them were sent flying. As a result, Drex was forced into a tree. He fell to the ground where he made no movement, let alone an attempt to get up. Ryxor was much luckier and landed in a patch of grass. Unlike Drex, he was on his feet in no time.

    “Drex!” he shouted. He wanted to run over and check on his condition, but something told him not to. Whoever did that was still nearby. Two shadows emerged from the nearby trees. One of them belonged to a man, and the other was a woman. The man spoke.

    “Ryxor Borx. We knew someone would be sent after us, but we weren’t expecting you.” He sounded rather content with himself. Wait a minute, I know that voice.

    “Shit. What’s up Den? And Arax. We’ve been looking for you guys.”

    “Look no more. We’re right here and ready to kick your ass.”

    “You seem to be forgetting something. Where the hell are Vanen and Eric at?”

    “Afraid I can’t say. Maybe I’ll tell you just before we finish you off.”

    “You know, I wanted to believe that you were all actually being held captive somewhere. I wanted to believe that you were still on our side, even you Den. Even though you guys going rogue was the only thing that seemed to fit, I just couldn’t believe it until now.”

    “How touching.”

    “Now what the hell is Vanen planning?”

    “I’m afraid I can’t say.”

    “I guess it’s come to this then.” Ryxor drew his sword and covered it with his fire. It cast a bright glow around him.

    “You think you can take us both on? What a laugh!”

    “I think I stand a good chance if I take one of you out pretty fast.” Easier said than done. As confidently as he had said it, Ryxor had no idea how was going to take on both of them. Maybe one, but two was overkill. “Sorry Arax, but you’re weaker.”

    Before she could say something in response, Ryxor charged strait toward her. She managed to dodge it and threw a handful of daggers at him. However, he dodged and blocked them all.

    “Attacking a lady first? You have no manners at all.” It was Den. He shot another lightning bolt at Ryxor. This time, he was more prepared. After dodging it, he continued his assault on Arax. She tossed dagger after dagger at Ryxor as he advanced, but to no effect. She brought another dagger up to block the incoming attack, but it did no good. He easily broke through her defense and kicked her square in the chest. The kick sent her sprawling to the ground. She wasn’t quite finished yet though. She recovered from the fall and was on her feet again with more daggers at hand.

    “Bastard,” she said under her breath.

    “Oh, so I finally got you to talk. How many of those daggers do you have?”

    “Hey, didn’t I tell that isn’t polite?”



    Den came at Ryxor from behind. He forgot about Arax and shifted his attention to him. He dodged the initial attack and countered with his own, but missed. Every time Den attacked with his short sword, Ryxor chose to dodge it rather than block.

    “What’s the matter? Don’t be shy.”

    “You think I’m that stupid? Our swords are made of metal and both of them are good conductors of electricity.”

    “I see your brain managed to grow since last time,” Den taunted.

    “Shut up and die.”

    “Now, just how do you plan on getting to me if you can’t make contact?”

    “Like this!”

    Ryxor struck his sword into the ground. From it burst a stream of fire that headed straight for Den. Part of his clothing got burnt, but Den dodged most of it. He ran toward Ryxor determined not to let him get another attack like that off.

    “Damn it!” Ryxor shouted

    When he tried to pull his sword out of the ground, he couldn’t do it.

    “I’ll take back what I said about your brain.”

    “Crap, crap, crap. Come on!”

    He could feel the sword getting looser. Den was almost on top of him. And then, he managed to get it out, but one second too late. He didn’t have enough time to dodge the oncoming attack. Instead, he brought his sword up to block it. At that instant, electricity shot through his body and he was unable to move. It was only after Den backed off that he realized there was dagger protruding from his side. He fell to the ground in pain, trying to pull it out.

    “And that’s that,” Den said with a satisfied smile. Ryxor reached for his sword but Den kicked it away. “I don’t think so.” He turned to Arax. “Good work.”

    “Shut up,” Arax said coldly.

    “Even your own subordinate doesn’t like you,” Ryxor said through clenched teeth.

    “You still seem to be so lively. I guess we’ll have to fix that before we take care of Drex.”

    “Like hell I’m gonna let myself die by your hands!”

    From the moment he had fallen, Ryxor began charging up his energy. Now, he was ready to release it in one big blast. It was until he was ready to unleash it did Den or Arax realize what he was up to.

    “Son of a… get back!” Den shouted.

    At that moment, the area around Ryxor was engulfed in flames. He kept it away from where Drex had gone down. Other than that though, everything else was fried to a crisp. Still conscious, he looked around but caught no sight of Den or Arax. He didn’t know what happened to them and he didn’t care. Before moving, he gripped the dagger that was still inside him. He readied himself for what was to come, but still yelled out in pain as he removed it.

    He got to his feet and went over to where Drex was. He lay there unconscious from hitting the tree. There was a chance Den and Arax were still nearby. If they came back, they were both dead. They couldn’t stay put. Ryxor grabbed Drex and began carrying him away from the area. His side throbbed with pain with every step. The more he moved, the more he felt like he was going to pass out. I used too much energy in that last attack. Damn it all!

    Despite all that had just happened, there was still some luck on their side. Not too far away lay an inn. They had been heading there to spend the night before Den and Arax attacked. He hoped he could still make it there. He focused on putting one foot in front of the other. Still, he could barely manage to do just that.

    Somehow, he made it. On the verge of collapsing, he held out just long enough to get through the door to the inn and collapse on the floor to the surprise and shock of the owners. They dropped what they were doing and rushed over immediately.

    “My god! What happened?” one of them said.

    “Don’t worry! We’ll get you some help!” the other said.

    After knowing that they were finally safe, Ryxor let himself slip out of consciousness. It’s not like he had much control though. He would have done the same even if he had stumbled upon a den of cutthroat thieves.

    ---

    Back at Stronghold, a line of cans were placed on a crate. Bang! There was a metallic sound as a bullet hit one of them and sent if flying off the crate. On the other side of the courtyard, Hughes had his rifle drawn. He took aim and shot another can off. Auras walked up as he shot off yet another one with perfect aim.

    “What are you doing?” he asked.

    “Target practice. You want to join in?”

    “No! Stop messing around.” Hughes shot another can off the crate.

    “What’s the problem? We’ve got nothing else to do except watch Nash and he isn’t exactly going anywhere.”

    “I don’t care. This isn’t the time to play games.”

    “Unlike you, I don’t have the patience of a statue. Sitting around waiting for a day get’s way too boring.”

    Meanwhile, Nash sat in the corner of the office building. Smoke began to rise up in the air as the ropes keeping him bound began to burn. Did they really think I’d go down that easy? I bet they never thought I’d hold back in the previous fight and let myself get captured. Man are those bastards in for a surprise! After he got his hands free, he rubbed away the soreness and got to work on his legs.

    When he stepped outside, Auras and Hughes were still arguing. Their backs were turned away from the building and from Nash as he crept closer to them. In his hand, he clutched a dagger. It’ll have to do, he thought. I’ll just grab the big guy and-. Auras grabbed his wrist and twisted it around until there was a sickening snap and Nash dropped the dagger.

    “Ahhhhhhh!!!” Nash screamed in pain.

    Hand wrapped around his neck, Auras pressed him up against the nearby wall.

    “How did you-,” Nash was cut off before he could finish.

    “Did you really think we were that stupid?” Auras answered his unfinished question. “What else do you know?”

    “I already told you everything I know.”

    “Wrong answer. Hughes, give me your gun.” Hughes did as he was told

    “What do you need it for?” Hughes asked.

    “A little target practice.” He pointed the revolver at one of Nash’s feet and fired. He let out another scream as he handed the gun back to Hughes.

    “Tell us before we have to move on to some more interesting body parts.”

    “Bastard,” he said in a harsh voice.

    “Was that a ‘Shoot me again?’” Auras jokingly suggested.

    “No! I’ll tell you!”He stopped to catch his breath. He found that being shot in the foot wasn’t the most pleasant experience. Neither was having your wrist broken. “I lied about Odikai. The only thing your friends will find there is a trap.”

    “What kind of trap?”

    “We have an ambush set up near Etaked Inn. I’m sure by now though they already ran into it. You’re too late to do anything.” He let out a low laugh.

    “What else have you lied about?”

    “The men that hired me really did come from Kazere, I swear.”

    “Is there anything else that might have slipped your mind?”

    “No. That’s I all know. I swear.” Despite his claim, Auras didn’t ease up his grip. “Well, are you just gonna stand here or are you gonna check up on your friends?”

    “Gun.” Auras held his hand out to Hughes who once again did as he was asked.

    “Wait! I told you everything I know!”

    “And you’re sure about that? You’re not leaving anything out this time?”

    “No!” he shouted.

    Auras stared into his face. He could see the fear over the fact that he might die reflecting off of his eyes. He felt bad about torturing him and even worse about what he was going to do.

    “Sorry, but as you suggested we can’t just stand by and do nothing. We’re also not willing to risk leaving you here by yourself.” Auras pulled the trigger, ending Nash’s life. He let go, letting the body fall to the ground. He looked over at Hughes and tossed his gun back.

    “Let’s move out.”

    “Right. Just so we’re clear, I don’t like following your orders.”

    “Yeah, well I’m second in command. Deal with it.”

    “I know. I was just saying though.”

    ---

    The following day at the inn, Ryxor lay around in a bed. The inn keepers had been nice enough to let him and Drex stay free of charge. His wound had only been patched up, but it wouldn’t fully heal for quite a while.

    On the other hand, Drex was doing much better. He had regained consciousness and was completely fine aside from some cuts and bruises. Currently, he was walking around the inn somewhere.

    It was a bright and sunny day outside. A small breeze rustled the tree branches and the grass. Other than that, it was completely quiet. Drex stood just outside the inn looking at nothing in particular. He wasn’t exactly standing around enjoying the pleasant breeze though. He was standing watch in case Den or Arax or anyone else tried something.

    Ryxor was still lying in bed when the attack happened. Nothing seemed out of place until he heard the gunshot go off outside. He wanted nothing more than to stay in the bed, but he forced himself to get up. He could still feel the pain in his side where the dagger had been. If he wasn’t careful the wound was liable to reopen. He stepped outside the room and found himself in a hallway.

    The first time he entered the inn, he collapsed shortly after and was carried to the room he just left. As a result, he didn’t know which way led where. He made up his mind and chose a direction at random when he heard another gunshot. It suddenly occurred to him that he didn’t have a weapon on him. Where his sword was he didn’t know. It definitely wasn’t back in the room.

    When he rounded the corner at the end of the hall, he was struck by a fist. The assailant held him up into the air with one arm and tossed him back down the hall.

    “I guess that fight last night did a real number on you. This will be a cinch,” the man said with a smile on his face. Ryxor looked up at his attacker. Who he was he had no idea. The assailant pulled a gun out and pointed it at Ryxor. He felt his heart jump up into his throat when he heard the loud bang from the gunshot.

    The man dropped his gun and blood began to seep through his shirt. He stumbled forward. Someone pressed a gun up to the back of his head and fired again. Ryxor looked up to see Hughes walking over to him. He gave Ryxor a hand and lifted him back up to his feet.

    “You look like shit,” Hughes casually said. He took off his rifle and handed it to him.

    “Sorry, but you’re in no condition to fight.”

    “Really.”

    “Find yourself a vantage point and cover us.”

    “Where’s Auras?”

    “Outside helping Drex out. Come on, let’s go.”

    ---

    Outside, Drex and Auras were fighting off the assault of mercenaries. Thus far, they had managed to hold out. While struggling with one of them, another approached Drex until a bullet caught him in the face taking him down.

    Hughes walked out of the building, revolver drawn. Where Ryxor, was he didn’t know. Hughes had suggested a second story window that overlooked the front of the inn where the fighting was taking place. Due to his lack of knowledge of the layout of the building, he was having difficulty finding it.

    Shortly after joining in on the fight, Drex, Auras, and Hughes had taken out almost all of the mercenaries. Seeing the lack of success his men were having, their boss stepped in. He was an extremely well built man wielding a giant flail.

    “Do I have to take care of this myself!?” he shouted to no one in particular.

    “Whoa, this guy looks tough,” Drex declared. “Why’d he have to wait till now to come out?”

    “Yeah that’s right. All three of you stay grouped together right there.” The leader ran up to them and swung his flail at them with surprising speed. They were even faster though and all three of managed to dodge it.

    Hughes unloaded on him until he ran of bullets in the chamber of his revolver. However, he positioned his flail in front and blocked all of the shots. After that, the leader came after Drex who was closest. The two of them collided with colossal force. With the help of his barrier energy, Drex managed to repel the attack.

    Auras moved in to help out, dodging another attack from the mercenary leader’s flail. He landed a kick on him, but it wasn’t very effective. Facing the threat of another attack from the flail, Auras was forced to step back.

    At that moment, it appeared as though they had him surrounded. However, he was still full ofvigor even after swinging around his huge weapon. He was certainly a big a step above his grunts. At this rate, the fight could have dragged on.

    With all of his focus on the others, Ryxor had a clear shot. He had finally found his way to that window. He took aim and fired. The bullet hit the leader square in the chest, causing him to drop his flail. It made a huge a thud as it hit the ground. However, the leader still stood his ground even after taking a bullet.

    “Now’s your chance! Take him out!” Ryxor shouted from the window.

    Auras ran up and attacked his legs followed by Drex who hit him at full force with the Sword Breaker putting him down for the count. Ryxor left his spot and ran down to get closer. Hughes still had his revolver trained on him while Drex and Auras backed off.

    The large man didn’t move a muscle. They would have thought he was dead if he hadn’t started coughing up blood.

    “Who the hell is this guy?” Drex asked. The man answered back.

    “My name is Vincent Cytinin.” Talking caused him to cough up more blood, but he went on. “I run the mercenary group.”

    “You mean the one we just destroyed?” Drex asked, joking.

    “There are more. You didn’t kill all of them.” It looked like he had died after saying, but then he added, “Not here. They’re somewhere else.”

    “What are you talking about?” asked Auras.

    “They’re at Kazere.”

    “Kazere? Do you know a man named Oren?” It was Ryxor who asked. Hughes looked over to see him standing next to him. He handed back his rifle.

    “Yes. I know that son of a bitch. Please believe me. I-,” he coughed up more blood. “I didn’t want do this.”

    “What are you talking about?”

    “That man has my daughter. At first I refused his offer, but then he forced me into it using her.”

    “What man?”

    “Please. You have to help her.” He started coughing even more.

    “Hey! What man? Was it Vanen?”

    Vincent finally gave in to his wounds. Ryxor picked up his lifeless body by the collar of his shirt.

    “Answer me damn it! Don’t die on me before you get to the important part!” He felt someone put their hand on his shoulder and looked up to see Drex.

    “Forget it. You can’t beat information out of dead man.”

    Ryxor realized he probably looked rather ridiculous right then. He let go of Vincent and let his head fall back to the ground.


    So far, I've been working at a fairly fast past I think. However, I have school starting tomorrow and that's probably about to slow down.
    Last edited by SamuraiChameleon; 07-16-2011 at 06:54 PM.

  4. #4
    One Thousand Member Matt's Avatar
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    “Unlike yours, mine is made out of a special metal that can take temperatures far beyond that of steel.”
    Kay, I know I did this exact same thing in one of my stories, but people don't say stuff like that. [/hypocrite] "Wouldn't you like to know?" followed by one of the four examining the sword afterward would be a bit better. And now for another hypocritical critique: speedy introduction. You know who your characters are, what they do, what they think, etc., but readers don't. You do a good job of letting their personalities come through in context and dialogue, but they're introduced all at the same time; four fantasy names, plus towns and generals and such, can get pretty bogged down.

    Somehow, this story feels familiar. If I could write adult characters without getting bored, I'd probably write stuff like this. The way you write just kinda clicks with me. It's not a "DUDEYOU'RETHEBESTWRITEREVER" click, but I at least know I can keep reading. Kay, now onto chapter 2. . . .

    EDIT: Chapter 2 finished!

    From the moment the met during the ceremony when they first joined the academy, Lynn and Alice had become best friends. However if some random person looked at their relationship, chances are they would liken it to a boss and a loyal follower. It’s not that any of them had intended to turn it into something like that. It was just the way their personalities were.
    Let this be known more slowly. Lynn follows Alice, never the other way around. Lynn agrees to everything Alice says. Lynn does unnecessary, but kind things for Alice.

    And:

    “I won’t go easy on you just cause’ you’re a girl,” Keith said.

    “I won’t go easy on you just cause’ you’re an idiot,” Alice said.
    I know this exchange is used a lot in fiction, but I still like it.

    Chapter 3 time. . . .
    Last edited by Matt; 04-26-2011 at 08:30 PM.

  5. #5
    Glad to know you like it, and thanks for the advice. Anyways, here's chapter 4.

    Chapter 4: "The eye of the storm: the worst has yet to come"
    SPOILER! :
    Following the battle at Etaked Inn, Ryxor and his squad returned to Velvidyne on Ruaidhri’s orders. It wasn’t like they had much of a choice though. With the only other option being to march to Kazere in search of Vanen’s squad while their leader was injured and there were all inadequately prepared, returning was the clear cut winner. Upon making it back, the first item on the list was a debriefing of their mission. They weren’t too long into this “debriefing” though before it became clear that they were just getting chewed out by Ruaidhri.

    “You all know Vanen could hand your ass to you, right?”

    “Yes sir.” Ryxor answered for his squad, but they were all present.

    “And you suspected that someone beat the shit out of this guy that could hand your ass to you?”

    “Yes sir.”

    “And rather than wait for backup, you decided to split up, decreasing your chance for victory, and go after this guy who was probably way more than any of you could handle.” It was more of a statement of what happened rather than a question. His other questions were too.

    Ryxor let out a sigh before answering. “Yes sir.”

    “What the hell were you thinking!?” Ruaidhri practically exploded. He sounded like he wanted to kill them all. Unfortunately for him, that wasn’t an option.

    “Well, we-,” Ryxor started, but was quickly cut off.

    “Wanted to play hero and rescue Vanen? Or maybe you just wanted to one-up him this time so you could rub it in his face.” He was obviously being sarcastic, but there was a history behind them that made the suggestion sound faintly plausible. “I don’t want hear it.”

    “But sir, think of what we found out!” Drex said.

    “Did you discover what Vanen’s plans are?”

    “No, but-,”

    “Did you learn anything other than that he has allies at Kazere, which you already learned at the fort?”

    “No but,-“

    “Can it! I don’t even want to hear it!” Drex shrank in his seat. He had never seen the general so angry before. Ruaidhri looked like he was about to yell at them again. Instead, he somehow managed to cool himself down.

    “It was a mistake sending you guys out on this assignment. You have too much of a history together. I have no idea what I was thinking,” he said in a calmer tone.

    “Sir,” Ryxor said.

    “What is it?”

    “Are you taking us off this assignment?” He felt like the answer would be an obvious one, but couldn’t help but ask anyway.

    “For now, there is no assignment. The only lead we have is Kazere and as you well know, we have soldiers stationed nearby. Colonel Gaines will contact us if he or his men notice anything.”

    “The colonel?”

    “Yes he’s the officer in charge up there. Got transferred after the war around the same time I got promoted to general. He definitely wasn’t too happy about that decision.” The general smiled as he reflected on what appeared to be a fond memory. Then he continued on. “As of now, you’re on leave. Take the time to rest and heal up. Spend time with family or whatever the hell you got to do. I’ll contact you when we hear anything form Gaines. Dismissed.”

    All four of them stood up and saluted Ruaidhri.

    “Yes sir!” they all shouted in unison.

    ---

    Ryxor laid down in a room at the infirmary as a doctor tended to the wounds he had received. The doctor immediately got to work on the knife wound. Ryxor meant no disrespect to the inn owners, but they had no idea what they were doing when it came to the field of medicine. He was thankful he was back at the capital in a real medical facility with a real doctor who knew how to use healing energy.

    “You should consider yourself lucky. I’m amazed no major organs were hit. This wouldn’t have been so simple if any were.”

    Ryxor, whose mind was elsewhere, was brought back to the infirmary room.

    “What did you say?”

    “I said it’s amazing none of your major organs were hit. I don’t know the full report, but I doubt you would have made it back here to receive proper treatment, especially if the liver had taken damage.”

    Now isn’t that odd.

    “Yeah. I guess I lucked out there.”

    “All right, that’s all taken care of,” the doctor said after he finished attending to the wound. “It’s more or less good as new, but don’t overdo yourself. Take it easy for a while.”

    “Got it.” Ryxor sat up and put his shirt back on.

    “Hey, doc.”

    “What is it?”

    “Do you happen to know where Luther is?”

    “The professor? He’s not here right now.”

    “Oh, thanks anyway.”

    “Damn it, where could he have gone?” Ryxor asked himself as he left the infirmary.

    It wasn’t until they were half-way back to Velvidyne that Ryxor finally remembered where his sword was. As luck would have it, he had left it after the battle with Den and Arax. By then, it was obviously too late to turn back and search some random field for it. Luther was the man he wanted to see about the matter, but it seemed that his horrible luck persisted.

    Speaking of luck, there was the matter of his knife wound. Arax was a professional. There was almost no way she could have missed her mark, especially when it was in the process of being electrocuted. In the end, Ryxor guessed that he had used up all of his luck at that moment. Thus, the predicament with his sword was to compensate for keeping his life. Yeah right. As if I believe in luck anyway.

    ---

    Drex and Auras walked side by side as they entered the academy. The two had headed out there almost immediately after the debriefing. However, they only acted as if they just noticed that the other was right next to them.

    “Do you also have business here?” Auras asked.

    “I’m going to see a friend. How about you?”

    “My son is a student here.”

    “Like father like son, eh?”

    “I don’t think he actually wants to do this sort of thing. I insisted he do whatever he wanted to, but it would seem he did indeed choose to become a soldier because of me.”

    “What about your own father? What kind of job did he have?”

    “He was a poor drunk who forced me to join because he wanted to leech off the benefits I would receive. Of course, most of those benefits ceased to exist during the height of the war.”

    “Oh, I had no idea. That’s… uh, that’s unfortunate to hear.” At the moment, Drex actually felt kind of sorry for Auras. He wanted to say something more, but couldn’t find the words. Then they came to a fork in the hall.

    “Well, I’m heading this way.” Drex indicated the path leading straight ahead, having decided to put the conversation behind them.

    “Goodbye.”

    “Yeah, see you around.”

    Auras was leaning up against the wall to the side of the classroom door when it swung open. Students began flooding out from inside. When the specific student he was waiting for came through the doorway, he put his hand on his shoulder. Matthew Thompson spun around to see his father standing there.

    “Oh, hey dad. I didn’t know you were back already.” Perhaps due to fear of embarrassing himself in front of the many other students still around, Matthew spoke in a calm tone that belied the happiness he felt for seeing his father again.

    ---

    Drex knocked on the door to the dorm room three times and waited. He soon decided forgo patients and knocked again shortly after.

    “All right, I’m coming!” He heard a familiar voice call out from behind the door. A moment later, he was face to face with Alice.

    “Yo.”

    “Drex! When did you get back?”

    “This morning. You have time for a walk or something?”

    “Of course I do.” Alice looked back inside the room to Lynn who was sitting on her bed. “Want to come with us?”

    “But what about our next class? It starts in a few minutes?”

    “Oh right, I forgot about that. Just make up and excuse for me.” The response came to her as quickly as if someone had just said hi to her and she was saying hi back.

    “But are you sure it’s such a good idea for you to skip class again?” Lynn asked, concerned.

    “No worries! I have the utmost confidence in your ability to make up excuses,” she said as she left with Drex in tow. Lynn stared at the open doorway, which was now empty.

    “So where’s Ryxor at?”

    “The infirmary.”

    “All right then. That’s our first stop of the day. Oh wait, why’s he in the infirmary?”

    “Being treated for a stab wound. You know, the usual stuff that happens when he gets cocky and over does it.”

    ---

    Ryxor knocked on the door to Luther’s office at the academy, but there was no response. I guess he really isn’t here. Whatever he was up to must have been important. Ryxor knew from experience and bad memories that he wasn’t the kind of person to screw around.

    After trying to get in contact with Luther, his next stop was someone who he strongly disliked.

    ---

    “Like teacher like student, eh Ryxor?” Brink asked from a bench at the park. Ryxor was sitting on the bench leaned up against the back of Brink’s.

    “I’m not quite sure I know what you mean by that, Brink.”

    “Both you and your former teacher claim to dislike me and yet you both always seem to end up turning to me for information.”

    “Just what exactly did Luther ask of you recently?” Ryxor ignored his comment.

    “Sorry, but I don’t share information on my other clients. It’s bad for business.”

    “Moving on. What do you know about Vanen?”

    “Ah, yes. He seems to be quite popular at the moment.” Ryxor was about to ask who else was interested in him, but stopped himself. “As you already know, he’s been very bad lately. Going by just the rumors, he went rogue and destroyed a whole town. But I’m sure you already know that much.”

    Damn, he’s good. How has he already about that? It was then that he realized where Brink’s hand was positioned. He sat forward, breaking contact with it.

    “Now can you tell me something that isn’t from my head?” Ryxor wasn’t even looking at him, but he knew that he was smiling.

    “He must have something big in store. My sources say he’s been shopping around for troops.”

    “We already know that.”

    “Ah, but Oren’s mercenaries aren’t the only people he’s looking in to.”

    “Does he have other allies already?”

    “Unfortunately, I couldn’t find that out. This was the best information I could put together under such short notice.”

    “What about Oren? What do you know about him?”

    “Let’s just say Vanen will be using his services at a rather generous discount. It would seem the two have some kind of history.”

    “Don’t know. You didn’t ask for information on him. Let’s consider that extra tidbit as a bonus for a returning customer.”

    “Whatever, freak. Is that all you have?”

    “I do have one other thing to add. That Vanen sure is an interesting fella. They say he has a powers stronger than mine, and yet he chooses never to use it. It makes you wonder what he’s trying to hide.” Brink stood up. “Well, goodbye for now. It was great to see you again.”

    Ryxor turned around to shake his hand. Go jump into the deepest hole you can find and die, he thought as their hands touched.

    Ryxor was about to get up and leave as well, but decided to stick around after Brink left. Now he could finally enjoy the scenery of the park. As much as he tried to take in the sights around him though, his mind kept wondering back to what he had just learned.

    Vanen was looking for troops. He apparently knew Oren who led the mercenaries in Kazere, and it was likely they were already on Vanen’s side. What the hell are you planning? He was lost deep in thought when someone called out to him.

    “Ryxor! Over here!” He looked up to see Alice followed by Drex.

    “Hey, it’s been a while.” It was more of an automatic response. His mind was still thinking about Vanen.

    “We’ve been looking all over for you.” Ryxor just sat there, his attention focused elsewhere until Alice stomped on his foot, bringing him back to the park.

    “What the hell was that for!?” he yelled in pain.

    “You were ignoring us!”

    ---

    Hughes stood outside his parents’ house thinking of how to break the news.

    “Hey Mom! Hey Dad! Eric turned traitor and sent some guys to try and kill me.” Several people passing by turned to stare at him as he tried to rehearse what he was going to say. “No, that won’t work at all. Not one bit.” He continued standing there. “Screw this.” And with that, he knocked on the door. He could here footsteps grow louder and louder and then the door opened.

    “Oh Hughes! You’re back!” His mother reached out and gave him a big hug. “Well, come inside.” His mother shut the door behind him.

    “Where’s Dad at?”

    “He’s in the other room.” His mother was leading the way when Hughes stopped her.

    “Listen, there’s something I have to tell you guys.”

    “What is it?” His father had apparently heard everything and had put down whatever he was doing. He now stood in the doorway of the other room.

    “It’s about Eric.”

    “Did something happen?” his mother asked. They didn’t even know about the “disappearance” of Vanen’s squad, which he was a part of. He as well as others out on the special assignments was restricted from sharing information with anyone, family members included.

    Yeah, you could say something happen, Hughes thought to himself. I have to tell them. There’s no way I can hide it. But how do I say it?

    “Eric’s… well, something happened and… it’s hard to explain, but…” He kept pausing trying to find the right words. He seriously doubted even the most cunning orator could find an easy way to break the news he had to give them.

    “I think this time he’s gotten himself into something serious.” Hughes paused for a moment. “He might even need my help on this one. I’m not sure how or when, but I promise I’ll make sure he comes back home.” There was a long and awkward pause. Ah, what the hell am I saying? We’re not even on good terms. He would never accept my help and they know that.

    “I guess you can’t speak of the nature of what trouble he’s in,” his father said.

    Hughes forced out a small laugh. “Yeah, know how it works. Sorry about that.”

    ---

    The air smelled salty and the sound of seagulls squawking could be heard. Ryxor, Drex, and Alice stood by the railing overlooking the harbor. On the walk over, Ryxor and Drex filled her in on the recent turn of events. Ruaidhri wouldn’t have approved, but then he didn’t need to know about it.

    “Damn it! If only I were a year or two older, then I could probably go with you guys,” Alice admonished.

    “Yeah, or you could have just replaced Ryxor or Auras,” Drex added.

    “Hey! And what do you have against Auras?”

    “Nothing in particular. Me and that guy just don’t click. They said they base the squads after who they think would work best together based on our time at the academy, and then they go ahead and place him on our team.

    “He seems to get along fine with Hughes and me. Have you ever stopped to consider that maybe you’re one who needs to be replaced?”

    “Of course! I stopped considering it though because it didn’t make any sense.”

    “Don’t be such a smart ass.”

    Alice started cracking up. She held her hand over her mouth and tried to stop herself, but found it impossible.

    “What’s so funny?” Drex asked.

    “You guys never change. You still get into arguments all of the time just like back at the boarding house.”

    “Now that brings back memories,” said Drex with a warm smile on his face.

    “It brings back bad memories,” Ryxor said.

    “What’s the matter? You don’t miss the place?”

    “Did you forget how we all ended up there?”

    “And once again, you killed the mood.” For a moment, they all fell silent.

    “There’s no way I’ll forget,” Alice said in a somber tone. “There’s no way I could possibly forget the war or how it got my parents killed.” Ryxor and Drex chose to remain silent, but they knew what she went through.

    All three of them lost their family members in battles during the war. Now, each of them considered the other two the only family they had. They all met at the boarding house and felt drawn together due to their similar stories.

    “That bastard’s going down,” Ryxor said.

    “And back to your primary obsession,” said Drex

    “He always thought so high of himself, like he was better than us and nothing we did would bridge the gap.”

    Vanen was also a resident of that same boarding house, only he was there under different conditions. At the time, he was too young to join the army. His mother died some time ago, and his father was always out on duty because of the war. He had no other relatives to look after him, and so his father placed him under the care of the boarding house. Obviously, he left and joined the academy as soon as he was old enough.

    When Vanen first started living at the boarding house, Ryxor had tried to make friends with him. He soon found that the task was an impossible one, and that Vanen was anything but the kind of person he wanted to get to know. During the years they lived together, they held a bitter rivalry toward each other.

    “You can’t pretend you don’t hold any animosity toward him.”

    “Alright, I’ll admit it. The guy was a complete ass. However, I’m not the one that picked him out as a rival, and I’m not the one who’s obsessed with beating him.”

    “This isn’t an obsession.”

    “Then what would you call it?”

    Ryxor thought it out long and hard. In the end he had to admit that he couldn’t think of any other way to word it.

    “Fine. Let’s say I’m obsessed. Why does it even matter? What he did is unforgivable.”
    Last edited by SamuraiChameleon; 07-16-2011 at 06:54 PM.

  6. #6
    It's been awhile, but here's chapter 5. I can't make any promises, but I'll try to get the next one done as soon as I can.

    Chapter 5: "Like teacher like student, rivalries run deep"
    SPOILER! :
    Alistair Arabi was in the middle of the meeting with his generals. There were three of them in total, but only two were present. Those two were Ruaidhri and Kyle Sykes. While Sykes had been a general for quite some time even before the war broke out, Ruaidhri had only been promoted after Van Travis went MIA during the war. His disappearance was something still widely debated.

    The remaining general, Gat Rivers, was currently conducting negotiations at Agaron, the neighboring kingdom they fought during the war. Rather than let the war drag on in their homeland, Agaron had surrendered at the conclusion of the decisive battle at Squally Valley on the border of two kingdoms. Gat was now in the process of milking the rival kingdom for the hard earned spoils of war while simultaneous trying to build up relations to prevent future wars. An unenviable task.

    Aside from the generals, Curtis Rocer was also present. He was the king’s personal aid. While arguably an important man whom the king would occasionally turn to for advice, he was currently involved with grunt work and menial tasks such as bringing in drinks.

    Alistair listened as Ruaidhri delivered his report on Vanen. He had already read it in advance, but was having Ruaidhri read it again. It’s not that he needed to be reminded about it. It was mostly for Sykes who had yet to hear anything about what was going on.

    Quite frankly, the whole situation had him worried. A squad of elite soldiers running around destroying entire towns wasn’t the best remedy for a kingdom that had just been through a war. It was only a matter of time before word got out about what really happened at Rizuke. Thank god Vanen was thorough when he wiped out towns, he thought with a sense of dark humor. There should be almost no witnesses.

    There was only so much more people could take before they gave up on the current ruler. Every day now, Alistair saw and heard reminders that he might not remain king for much longer. For the time being though, it appeared that his own generals had not yet given up hope. Aside from rebellion or a staged coup, the generals had the power to exile the king. The process would require all three of them though, and while he wasn’t too sure about Gat after assigning him the role of negotiator, he knew Kyle and Ruaidhri were still with him.

    “And that concludes my report,” Ruaidhri finished.

    Alistair looked over at Sykes. “General Sykes?”

    “I agree with Ruaidhri,” said Sykes. “We know for sure that he needs troops for something, which is why he’s in Kazere. The local mercenaries there haven’t been any trouble so far, but they do have a record of not supporting us. The big question is what his plans are. If he does indeed plan on launching a revolution, he’ll need more than one band of mercenaries. We can’t rule out the possibilities that he’s also looking elsewhere for troops, or already has other troops hidden somewhere.”

    “Curtis.”

    “Yes sir?” He looked up with excitement in his eyes over the prospect of finally getting a say on the matter.

    “Another glass of water, please,” Alistair said. Any trace of excitement left in Curtis died after the king held up an empty glass.

    “Yes sir,” he said in a sad tone.

    Alistair continued on the matter at hand as Curtis left the room. “We can’t take any chances here. We have to assume that Vanen is planning to attack. For now, we can’t have the army make move. If Vanen gets wind of it, he may back out and wait, and we can’t allow that to happen. We need to rely on covert operations and small groups for the time being.” Alistair paused to let what he just said sink in. “Any questions or objections?”

    Ruaidhri spoke up. “I’m worried about sending Ryxor’s squad in again. I think they should be replaced with another squad.”

    “We can’t do that. I’m well aware of what happened in the past, but we have to place our faith in them for now. They’re the best people we have available at the moment and they’re already familiar with the situation.

    Curtis came back in with the glass refilled and set it on the table to next to Alistair. “There you go, sir,” he said. He picked up the glass of water and lifted it up to his lips to take a sip.

    “Is they anything else?” he asked.

    “No sir.”

    ---

    The continent on which Arabi lay was divided into five regions. There were the three kingdoms. There was Arabi, Agaron which lay to the north of Arabi, and Osizar, a kingdom made up almost entirely out of islands that were to the east of Arabi and Agaron.

    Off to the west, there once lay another kingdom. What was once that kingdom was now nothing but frozen wastes dotted by small settlements. This kingdom is known as the Frozen Kingdom. What it was once called and the story of its demise have been long forgotten.

    Even further west was another group of islands known as the Free Islands, named for their lack of a ruling power. The islands lay too far out of the way for any of the kingdoms to attempt to annex them. Instead, a number of criminal organizations competed for control over them.

    The Frozen Kingdom or the Free Islands. For Luther Arendale, it was clear as day that Jon Durmont had been hiding out in one or the other. He had spent years searching those two regions for any sign of him and had found none. There was a time when had given up hope of having his revenge.

    Then he joined Arabi’s army, and through the contacts he made in the army, he came across a certain information broker who went by the name of Brink Lowe. Luther soon developed a deep hatred for that man, but he supposed he had to thank him. If not for Brink, he probably never would have learned that he had been searching the wrong places. As it turned out, the person he sought after for so long was on an island in Osizar.

    “The man you hired did well to track me here to Cardinal Island, but I’m afraid I can’t reveal my exact location, at least not to someone I don’t even know. But of course if you came yourself, that would be an entirely different story.” That was the contents of the note Jon had left for Brink to find. Luther read it once more as he left the boat docked at the port town on Cardinal Island.

    Durmont was clearly toying with him. If he had wanted to reveal his location to Luther, why had he waited until now? It was clear that something was amiss, that there was a reason that he decided to come out of hiding, but Luther couldn’t put his finger on it. For the time being, he had no choice to but to come out to the island. Fake or not, it was his only clue.

    Luther had never been to the island before, but he had heard people talk about it. The island, which was located in the middle of the Osizar Kingdom, was also the biggest and most populated island. It even topped the capital island. Shortly after setting foot on the island, he already felt overwhelmed. The port town itself was nearly as big Velvidyne, not to mention that there were several smaller settlements further inland.

    His first stop was one of those inland towns. According to Brink, he had found the note in a place called Crane Town. Judging by the map he had bought, he could reach it before nightfall if he hurried.

    The trip over was uneventful. Every now and then, he ran into fellow travelers, some of which were kind of enough to offer their greetings to him as they passed each other by. By the time he reached his destination, the setting sun gave off a brilliant orange glow.

    After arriving in town, Luther stopped by the local inn and paid for a room. He had the feeling that if there was something to be found, he could look for it tomorrow. It wouldn’t disappear overnight. He went up to his room, exhausted from the trip there.

    ---

    The following day, Luther set out to continue his search. From asking around town, he learned of the exact building that the note came from. No one gave any valuable answers when he asked about strangers in town, but it would seem that a house was recently abandoned by its owner. According to people who lived nearby, the owner fit Jon’s description.

    At first glance, the house appeared to be completely ordinary. Luther must have searched the whole place several times before coming to the conclusion that it was just that. An ordinary home with nothing hidden.

    The rest of the morning went in a similar fashion. He combed the town with a fine tooth comb and found nothing. By noon, Luther gave up the search and returned to his room at the inn. Upon opening the door though, the man he was looking for was sitting on his bed.

    “Long time no see Luther!” Jon shouted happily.

    Without hesitation, Luther sent a ball of hot flames flying at Jon who jumped out the window behind the bed, which was now up in flames. Luther followed suit and jumped through the flames with arms over his face to protect his face. He landed in an alleyway behind the inn and gave chase.

    “Durmont!” he shouted in anger. At the moment, he didn’t have the slightest idea what he was up to and he didn’t care. The man he had searched for was finally in grasp and he wasn’t about to let him get away.

    Jon grabbed a container of water lying in the alley and sent a burst of energy into it causing it to reach boiling point and tossed it Luther. Without slowing his pace, Luther froze the water before it could reach him. The ice fell the ground and shattered as he ran passed it.

    Eventually, the alleyway lead to a dead end, but Jon skillfully hopped over the wall blocking his path. Not bothering with any fancy tricks, Luther blew the wall up and ran through the newly created opening. Jon turned around to see Luther grab the collar of jacket. He managed to slip out of it though and used his energy to bring forth a powerful gust of wind that caught the jacket Luther was still holding, sending him off balance. He recovered quickly and continued his pursuit as Jon led him down one of the main roads.

    Jon weaved his way around the many people passing by as he tried to lose Luther in the crowd. To impatient to deal with so many people, Luther brought up a gun and fired it into the sky causing most of them to scatter.

    “Oh my! When did you start carrying something like that!?” Jon shouted back at Luther.

    Luther aimed his gun at Jon’s back and fired away only to have the bullets burst into flames before they reached their mark. Trying a different tactic, Luther loaded the next bullet with energy and fired at the building ahead of Jon. A deadly blast of fire erupted from the spot where the bullet hit, threatening to incinerate anything in its way.

    Jon stopped just in time however and avoided the fire. The path in front of him had been cut off though. He turned into the building followed closely by Luther. He ran out the back door, but Luther fired another energy-loaded bullet that hit door, sending it flying off its hinges and strait at Jon. The door collided with him and he was sent sprawling to the ground. Luther emerged from the empty doorway and pointed his gun at Jon who was just standing up

    “Move and I will kill you!” Luther shouted. Jon let himself fall up against the wall of a building in sitting position.

    “Oh really? Man, you’re getting out of shape. If you were still the old you, I’d be dead already.” Jon talked in calm tone despite his position.

    “Don’t kid yourself. I wouldn’t have held back if there weren’t so many people around.”

    “Right.”

    “Before I kill you, tell me what you were planning.” Jon could almost sense an aura of anger emitting from Luther.

    “Come on, you know I’m not the type of guy to spill the beans, especially considering who I’m working for now.”

    “What do you mean?”

    “Let’s just say my new employer is a very powerful person. However, I’m not quite sure where his head is at sometimes. You see, he’s had his eye on you for quite some time. In fact, I’m embarrassed to admit it, but he was quite disappointed when he only got me and not you.”

    “What the hell are you talking about?”

    “He sent me to try and recruit you, hence why I left such an obvious trail here for you. It’s times like these when I can’t understand his line of thinking. He thought it’d be best to have me do it and yet here we are.”

    “You can tell your employer I rejected his offer when you see him in hell.”

    “Well, this went well. Sorry, but I have no intention of letting you kill me. Oh, and do consider my offer.”

    Jon sent a burst of energy into the wall he was sitting against, causing it to blast open, sending dust and debris into the alley. Luther shielded his face from the blast, but it was too late to do anything by the time he recovered.

    “Damn it!” He ran into the cloud of dust after him but it was too late. The man he had been hunting for years had gotten away.

    ---

    Several days later, Luther returned to Velvidyne. Naturally, he had continued to search Crane Town for Jon before leaving. He didn’t see hide or hair of him though after the confrontation. He had vanished as mysteriously as he had appeared. Shortly after his return, Luther found Ryxor knocking on the door of his office at the academy.

    “What the hell is it?” Luther asked impatiently as he opened the door. Ryxor stood there staring at him. He could tell right away that something unpleasant had occurred during his trip. “Oh, it’s you. Come on in.”

    The door was closed behind him as Ryxor stepped inside. “I don’t know where you’ve been the past few days, but it looks like you weren’t away on vacation.”

    “No, I wasn’t.”

    “Was it about that ‘old friend’ of yours?”

    “That’s none of your concern. Besides, you didn’t come here to talk about where I’ve been, did you?”

    “Nope.”

    “That’s right. You came here because you need me to do a favor.”

    “Yeah… How should I put this?” Ryxor couldn’t decide if he should just come out and say it.

    “Well, what is it?”

    “I lost the sword you gave me. Do you have anymore?” He braced himself for what might happen next.

    “Yes, I do,” Luther said in a calm tone.

    A look of surprise slipped onto Ryxor’s face. “Oh really, that’s great! Can I-“

    “No.”

    “But, why not?”

    “Do I look like I own an armory? You’re a soldier now. I’m sure the army will be happy to lend you a new weapon.”

    “But they don’t have anything that can withstand my own attacks. Even if they did, that kind of high-grade equipment wouldn’t be available to someone like me.”

    “Obviously. You don’t think I know that?”

    “Then why won’t you lend me one of yours?”

    “I already did. Go find it,” Luther said while smiling.

    “This isn’t a laughing matter. I don’t know if you’ve heard yet, but my current mission I’m on is extremely dangerous. I need to be at my best.”

    “Your best? If you need to rely on some sword just to be at your best, then why are you even on this dangerous mission?”

    Ryxor had nothing to say back. He just stood there staring at his former teacher. He was about to turn around and leave when Luther got up from his desk. He walked over to chest while grumbling about random things and opened it up. After digging around, he fished out a case and bought it back to his desk where he set it down in front of Ryxor. Ryxor eyed it over like a curious child.

    “Well, open it.”

    He did as he was told. The latch on the case creaked open. Inside rested a beautifully crafted sword. Ryxor lifted it up into the air and watched it shine in the dim light of the room.

    “Are you okay giving something like this away?”

    “Of course not, but you won’t leave me alone if I don’t.”

    “I can get by with the army’s standard gear if it’s really too much for you to part with.”

    “I don’t care. I don’t even remember the last time I used that thing.” Ryxor didn’t know the story behind the sword, but it genuinely soundly like Luther could care less about it.

    “What does this switch do?” Ryxor asked indicating a button in the handle of the sword.

    “Press it.”

    As he did so, there was a metallic clank that came from the sword. Part of the blade along with half of the handle came undone. What used to be one sword were now a long sword and a short sword.

    “Don’t you want to test it out now?” Without warning, Luther leapt over his desk and came at Ryxor.

    “Hey!” Ryxor brought up both swords to block the oncoming attack. To his surprise, Luther wasn’t attacking him with another sword or even a dagger. Ryxor’s blade crossed with Luther’s bare hand which was covered in fire.

    “Never let your guard down.” Luther sent him flying backward through the door and out into the hall with a kick.

    “Oww…”

    “Take the case to. I have no need to hold on to it.”

    The sound of footsteps echoed down the hall. Ryxor turned to see Hughes walking toward him.

    “There you are. We have new orders to leave for Kazere at once.”

    “Vanen?”

    “Possibly. My brother’s been spotted.”

    Luther stepped outside holding the sword’s case. “Here,” he said handing it to Ryxor. “Oh, and by the way. I’m not one to talk, but don’t let things like revenge or a rivalry cloud your judgment.”
    Last edited by SamuraiChameleon; 07-16-2011 at 06:55 PM.

  7. #7
    Chapter 6: "The mountains offer more than one way to trap you in permanent sleep"

    SPOILER! :
    The season hadn’t changed to winter yet, but it made no difference. In the mountain town Kazere, it snowed all year long. Ryxor Borx walked along one of the snow covered roads, breathing in the icy mountain air. He had just parted with the rest of the squad whom he had stay back in their room at the local inn. Now, Ryxor was making his way to a bar to meet with one of Colonel Gaines’ men.

    Ryxor took in the sights of the town as he walked by them. Although the majority of its residents appeared to be mercenaries, it was quite the normal, peaceful town. He noticed several children playing together. Too bad all of this is going to change soon, he thought. It was almost certain that Vanen was somewhere around and hell was likely close behind him. Ryxor saw firsthand what happened to Rizuke.

    He shook the memory of smoldering buildings and burnt corpses as he came to a stop in front the bar. Once inside, he found that it wasn’t much warmer. The building provided little relief from the freezing weather outside. Ryxor looked around and spotted the man he was looking for and took the seat next to him. He waited for the man to say something, but nothing happened.

    “I’m here about that assignment,” Ryxor said after deciding to break the silence.

    The man looked up at him like he hadn’t noticed him until then. “Excuse me? What the hell are you talking about?”

    Ryxor took a long pause before speaking again. “I’m the chicken from the moon. I seem to have lost my eggs. Can you help me find them?”

    A smile came across the man’s face as he struggled to keep himself from laughing. “Ryxor Borx?”

    “Can we get on with this already? I said that idiotic passphrase.” Ryxor was clearly was not as amused as his informant was.

    “Yeah, yeah. You know, you really need to lighten up.” He stopped to take a sip from his beer.

    “You need to take your work more seriously. You shouldn’t be drinking on the job.”

    “Come on, I’m a professional here. I wouldn’t do anything dangerous.” Ryxor simply stared at him. He wouldn’t take what he said with a block of salt, let alone a grain. “Anyway, those mercenaries are definitely up to something. They’ve been meeting up much more frequently than usual. However, there wasn’t anything too out of the ordinary until his right-hand man showed up.”

    “You mean Banes?”

    “Yep. He was spotted going into their last meeting.”

    “And where are these meetings taking place?”

    “In their headquarters. It’s right smack dab in the town square. The word going around the mercenary group is that there’s going to be another meeting tonight, and your squad is going to be there.”

    “I doubt they’ll let anyone go to these meetings. I assume you have an answer to that little snag.”

    “No worries there. We already prepared some disguises. They should be in a trunk under a bed at your room in the inn.”

    “What do you mean by disguises? These guys don’t exactly where uniforms.”

    “And yet it’s so easy to spot someone who doesn’t belong such as yourself. Anyone from around here can tell that you’re not.”

    Ryxor looked down at his clothes and then at the man he was talking to. While both were designed to keep someone warm, they were made in very different styles. “Point taken. Is there anything else we should know?”

    “It’s likely those meetings aren’t open to low ranking grunts. That’s as far as those disguises will get you by the way. After you get into their headquarters, it’s up to you find a way to infiltrate the actual meeting.”

    “Got it.” Ryxor was about to get up and leave when his contact started talking again.

    “One more thing. If you get caught once you’re in there… well, It’d probably be similar to playing roulette with a fully loaded revolver. In other words, your chances of surviving aren’t very high.” He seemed to be in a good mood despite the fact that he was talking about the possibility of them dying.

    “Right. Thanks for the tip.”

    “Don’t mention it.” There was something strange about this man. Ryxor was sure he had never seen him before. And yet, he seemed vaguely familiar.

    ---

    Ryxor sat on his bed at the inn as he went over the details of what he had just learned from the man at the bar. While Auras and Hughes listened intently, Drex, who was busy looking over his mercenary clothes, gave the impression that everything he heard went in one ear out the other.

    “Are you paying attention?” Ryxor stopped to ask Drex several times. While Drex responded with a quick “yeah” or “yes”, he never looked up. After Ryxor finished, he asked if anyone had anything to add.

    “What about that guy’s daughter?” Drex asked, finally setting down his change of clothes.

    “Hmm?”

    “You already forgot? That guy that attacked us back at that inn said something about his daughter being kidnapped.”

    He had in fact forgotten about it. His had plenty of things to worry about without a damsel in distress further complicating matters. After they had gotten back to Velvidyne, he didn’t even report it to Ruaidhri. He thought he knew what the general would have said about it if had mentioned it.

    “That’s not important. Our target is Vanen.”

    “But we can’t just ignore her!” Drex sounded genuinely upset. He had tossed aside the clothing that had held his interest through the actual briefing.

    “We don’t even know if there was ever any kidnapping,” Ryxor defended his position. “Everything that guy told us could have been a lie. Furthermore, Gaines’ men have seen or heard nothing that indicates they have any hostages at all.” Despite what he said, there was a part of him that asked, “What if he was telling the truth?” Ryxor could understand why Drex was getting upset, but they simply could not fail.

    “Is there anything else?” Ryxor asked. Drex stared at him with a look that said “what the hell is wrong with you.” Although Auras stayed quiet, it was clear that he was uneasy about the order to ignore any possible hostage as well. Hughes however gave the impression that he just didn’t give a damn.

    ---

    That night, Ryxor’s squad left the inn and made their way to the mercenary group’s headquarters.

    “Oh I can’t wait to meet the guy who decided to have this thing at night. It’s damn cold at here!” Hughes was rather uncomfortable with the weather. He didn’t like it during the day and he sure as hell wasn’t enjoying it at night when the temperature dropped even further.

    “Stop whining. Mercenaries don’t whine, especially about the cold,” Drex said.

    “Will you two shut it?” Ryxor snapped at them. Auras continued on silently ignoring the others’ bickering. Oddly enough, he wasn’t all that embarrassed to walk around with them.

    The trip over was uneventful. No one looked twice at them and they passed by without any incidents. After arriving at the door, they were stopped by the doorman. Though hesitant, he still let them through. The doorman didn’t recognize any of them obviously, but he quickly dismissed his suspicions on them being new members. He was either an amateur at his job or he wasn’t being paid enough to care. It made things easier either way.

    “Doesn’t anyone think that four new members who appear out of nowhere and show up for that meeting seem strange?” Hughes asked.

    “It would seem that this hall is always open to members. It’d be impossible for anyone to discern the real reason we’re here,” Auras said.

    “Now, how do we find out where the meeting is taking place?” Hughes asked.

    Drex was already ahead of him. He walked up to the nearest mercenary and simply asked him. “Hey buddy, where’s the meeting taking place?”

    The mercenary looked him over before responding. “It’s past the double doors at the end of the hall,” he pointed out.

    “Thanks.”

    “Ah, but if you’re asking questions like that, chances are you’re new. There’s no way they’d let you in on the meeting.”

    “Thanks the tip. See you around.”

    “Don’t mention it.” The mercenary walked away. Before Drex could move, the rest of squad was behind him. Ryxor smacked him over the head.

    “What the hell was that for?!” he angrily shouted at Ryxor.

    “Don’t try anything like that without warning us. What if he caught on?”

    “Would you relax? He didn’t catch on and now we know where the meeting is. Besides, how were we going to find it without asking around? Were you planning on checking every corner of this place yourself?”

    Ryxor supposed he had point. It could have taken quite a bit of time to search such a large place. “Whatever. No more stunts like that though.”

    Without further delay, they proceeded to the supposed location of the meeting. All the noise and clatter of people talking slowly faded as they walked further away from the main hall. When they first arrived outside the double doors, it didn’t appear as if anything was going on. The room beyond the doors sounded dead silent.

    “Auras pick the locks,” Ryxor ordered.

    “Wait a minute. I thought you said not to try any stunts like this?” Drex asked as Auras got to work.

    “This is different. We don’t have a choice now.” That was Ryxor’s rationale, but Drex wasn’t following it. There had to be something else they could do. What if the meeting was taking place right behind those doors when they barged in? He thought about bringing this up, but decided against it. He didn’t feel like arguing right now.

    The doors unlocked with a click. Slowly and cautiously, Auras opened the door. Just as they suspected, the room was completely devoid of life. There wasn’t anyone holding a meeting of any kind in there.

    “This room has ‘trap’ written all over it,” said Hughes.

    “It’s possible we were simply given the wrong directions, but I agree. We should keep our guard up,” Auras said.

    “If we’ve walked into a trap, then it’s already too late. We need to keep moving. Search this place for clues,” Ryxor said.

    The room appeared to be someone’s office. In front of the back wall was a desk. A bunch of papers were strewn across the top, but none of them had anything interesting written on them. Against one of the walls was a bookshelf. Like the desk, its contents appeared to be quite ordinary. It had many books that one would expect to find in the office of a mercenary group.

    “It doesn’t look like there’s anything here,” Drex said as he finished examining the desk. “What the hell are we looking for anyway?”

    “Something fishy, obviously,” Hughes offered.

    “There’s nothing ‘fishy’ about this room. It’s just a normal office. It doesn’t even look fit enough to be the stage for a trap!”

    Ryxor stood there listening to the complaints of his men. It certainly did appear that the office was a dead end. He wasn’t ready to throw in the towel just yet though.

    “We need to keep searching. Sweep the room again for anything at all that looks out of place.”

    “Screw that. It’s obvious there’s nothing here. We’re just wasting…” Drex didn’t get a chance to finish. The bookcase fell forward with a crash revealing a hidden room. A young woman wielding a lance jumped out from inside and immediately attacked.

    She went for Hughes who happened to be the closest, but he jumped backward, dodging the attack. All four of them drew their weapons and pointed them at the girl who stared back with eyes glowing with hatred.

    “You bastards! You’ll pay for what you did!” she shouted.

    She attacked Drex and their weapons clashed. “What the hell did we do?” Drex asked while locked in combat.

    “You know damn well what you did!” she snapped back. Ryxor stepped in to backup Drex. She retreated to dodge his oncoming attacked, but returned it with her own. Ryxor set his sword ablaze in preparation for the assault. However, the flames blew away in a gust of wind. With the absence of the flames, their weapons made a loud clang as they made contact before breaking away again.

    “An energy user?” Ryxor asked. He repelled the attack and brought series of swift stabs and slashes all of which she blocked or dodged. Auras caught her off guard while see was busy dealing with Ryxor and sent her sprawling backwards against the wall opposite the hidden room. All four them had their weapons trained on her.

    “Drop it,” Hughes said with his revolver pointed at her head. Begrudgingly, she did as she was told and let her lance fall to the ground.

    “Who are you?” Ryxor asked.

    “Ratana Cytinin,” she said bitterly.

    “Well, she doesn’t look much like a hostage,” Hughes said sarcastically.

    “Something seems off,” Drex said. “If they were working with Oren the whole time, why would her old man bother making up a bogus story about…”

    “Don’t you dare talk about my father!” she shouted. “I’ll make you pay for killing him!”

    “Wait a minute, how does she even know he’s dead?” Auras asked.

    “I didn’t captors shared that kind of stuff with their hostages,” Hughes said.

    “They told me all about what happened!”

    “Who are they?” Ryxor asked calmly.

    “That’d be me and my friends.” The familiar voice came from a man who was standing in front of the double doors. Ryxor’s squad turned to see Eric Banes standing there.

    Damn it. How did he slip inside without being noticed? “You finally showed yourself. Where’s your boss at?” Ryxor asked. His personality changes to that of someone you didn’t want to screw around with, which what it always did when the subject of Vanen was brought up by him or anyone else.

    “I’m afraid I can’t say.” He turned to face Hughes who had moved his gun from Ratana to his brother. “So it’s come to this. How long’s it been since we last saw each other, brother?”

    “Eric.” That was all Hughes could say. He couldn’t think of anything else.

    “What happened in here anyway? The daughter of the revered Vincent Cytinin couldn’t manage to kill four measly rats?” Just like that, he went back to the situation at hand.

    “What are you…?” Ratana stared at Eric questioningly.

    “Sorry, but we no longer have a need for you.” Eric pulled at a sawed-off shotgun, and pointed it at Ratana and squeezed the trigger. Acting on his instincts, Auras jumped in the way, intended to use himself as a body shield. The sound of the shotgun going off echoed through the room as the shots made contact with Auras and sent him flying off his feet.

    Ratana’s eyes widened as she stared at Eric and then at one of the men of was responsible for her father’s death, and for saving her life. Hughes lost it and started firing at Berix who skillfully dodged all six shots.

    “Come on; don’t make me kill my own brother!” Eric shouted in a sadistic tone.

    At a loss for words, Ryxor charged in at Eric as well. Drex ran over to Ratana and grabbed her hand. The resistance she put up was non-existent. He made a gesture to the stack of papers scattered on the desk.

    “Use your power!” he shouted at her. After her mind manages to process what was going on, she brought forth her energy and created a gust of wind that picked up the papers and sent them flying at Eric who was in the midst of fighting Hughes and Ryxor. “Grab Auras and let’s get the hell out of here!” Drex shouted.

    The light bulb in Ryxor’s head went off and a smile crossed his face. “Nice move,” he said under his breath as he picked up Auras. “Come one Hughes! We’re have to fall back for now!”

    Usually a more laid back person, the fire in his eyes had been ignited by the appearance of his brother. He wanted to stay behind and beat the shit out of him. However, he did as we was ordered and backed off.

    Ratana grabbed her lance as Drex pulled her up off the ground. Ryxor grabbed Auras’ unconscious body and carried him on his back. Hughes kicked the double doors down as the papers encircling Eric began to fall away.

    The five of them burst out of the room with Hughes leading the way, followed by Drex who was dragging Ratana along by her hand, and Ryxor who was carrying Auras. Halfway down the hall, Ratana’s senses must have fully returned as she broke away from Drex’s grip.

    As they emerged into the main hall, they came face to face with a crowd of mercenaries. Drex imagined that they were probably pretty damn confused as they saw the five of them run out, but that wasn’t the case. In fact, it was far from it. They had been alerted to their presence, probably by Eric, and they were all eagerly ready to attack.

    Drex and Hughes immediately set out to carve a path through all of them. Ratana joined in as well, not that she had much of choice. It was barely a few minutes ago when she thought she had everything figured out, but then everything was turned upside down. She didn’t have a good grasp on what was happening, but she intended to beat it out of Ryxor and the other after they got out alive.

    The group managed to hold off their attackers, but they could feel fatigue setting in. For every mercenary they cut down, it seemed that there were at least two more to take their place.

    After reaching the exit, they found that it wasn’t much better outside. The town was controlled by the mercenaries for the most part, after all. It seemed as if there was no end to them. After fighting one particular group of mercenaries, they slipped inside an alleyway and dropped to the ground exhausted and out of breath. Ryxor carefully laid Auras down before sitting down himself.

    Ratana looked over at the entrance of the alley as another group of mercenaries ran by. “What the hell just happened?” she asked.

    “Now is not the time,” Ryxor said in a hushed voice.

    She glanced over at Auras who lay unconscious. She could see a dark red spot on his torso where he had been shot. “Is he…”

    Ryxor cut her off. “He’ll be fine.”

    “But he was shot at nearly point blank with a shotgun!”

    “Quiet,” Ryxor said.

    “Luckily, I know a few tricks,” Drex said.

    “Are you talking about energy?”

    “Bingo. In the split second he was shot, I was able to create a barrier that partially blocked the bullets. As you saw, he still took a hit though. The bullets broke through the barrier, but it slowed them down quite a bit. I can’t say for sure, but I’d say they didn’t go in very deep.” The noise of another mercenary patrol passing by could be heard outside. They all stopped talking until the patrol faded away. “Won’t be able to say for sure though until we get him some medical attention, which of course we can’t do until things have quieted down.”

    Ratana moved closer to Auras and put her hands on the wound.

    “What are you doing?” Ryxor asked.

    A soft light came from Auras’ gunshot wound. “I’m healing him,” she said.

    “Well, there’s more to you than meets the eye. Most people who know how to use energy only bother to learn one specific application. I wouldn’t expect someone like you to know how to use it for both healing and fighting.”

    “What the hell is that supposed to mean?” She asked angrily.

    “Calm down. It was just a joke.”

    "My father was the one who made me learn how to heal.” She finished up healing Auras. “I don’t get. You guys seem like nice people. Did you really kill my father?”

    “We were manipulated into attacking each other by Vanen,” Ryxor said. “The fact remains though. We did indeed kill him and nothing we say or do can change that. If you decide to declare us as your enemies, we can’t help that, but prepared. We won’t just sit by and let you kill us.”

    Ratana stared down at Auras’ chest as it moved up down, slowly with each breath. There was nothing but silence and the sound of men scattering about in the cold. Out of nowhere, her fist flew hard into the side of Ryxor’s face. Hughes aimed his revolver at Ratana’s head and pulled the hammer back. The punch had broken the freezing night’s silence, but Ryxor wasn’t the least bit surprised. On the contrary, it would have been surprising if Ratana hadn’t hit him.

    “I’m fine,” he said as he motioned for Hughes to lower his gun. Hughes was about to comply when the sound of footsteps began to echo down from the other end of the alley. Ryxor and Drex got up, ready to fight them off with Hughes when one of the backdoors of the buildings swung open. They turned their attention to the open doorway.

    A familiar face stood just inside. “Well, what are you waiting for? Get in here.” Hughes and Drex dropped their guard when they saw that Ryxor did. Once they were all safely inside, they waited for the footsteps to pass.

    “You seem to have a great deal of luck on your side, Borx,” the man said. “It’s a good thing I happened to be passing by.” Ryxor didn’t buy that for second.

    “And who is this?” Hughes asked. It was the soldier Ryxor had met at the bar for the information.

    “This is…”

    “Colonel Gaines. Pleased to make your acquaintance,” he said, cutting off Ryxor. The colonel held out a hand in greeting, but everyone just stared at him. “What? Do I got something between my teeth?”
    Last edited by SamuraiChameleon; 07-16-2011 at 06:56 PM.

  8. #8
    For those who may care, I am still working on this albeit at a really slow pace. I thought I'd have more time to work on it during the summer, but a lot stuff came up including but not limited to a visit from one of my best friends who moved to North Carolina (I live all the way on the west coast). I hope to get another chapter up some, but in the mean time I thought I'd share this idea I came up with while listening to Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin. It's quite off topic and has nothing to do with this story at all, but I didn't feel like making another topic.

    After an accident he can’t remember, the main character is sent to another dimension where judgment is passed down on lost souls before they are sent to either heaven or hell. The story is about his attempts to escape back to the real world, his encounter with others who haven’t come to terms with their deaths (and one in particular who plays a central role), and ultimately his acceptance that he may really go on to the afterlife, that is if he can come to terms with the regrets of his life that continually haunt him throughout his time in limbo. In the end, his harrowing decisions will be the final factors of whether or not he makes a return to world of the living, climbs the stairway to heaven, or rides the highway to hell.

  9. #9
    One Thousand Member Matt's Avatar
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    Maybe you should listen to Stairway to Heaven and Highway to Hell on a repeat playlist while you write. This idea sounds familiar (and no, not in the "I'd write it" sort of way again). I'm tempted to say Dante's Inferno or something like that, but my memory just isn't working right at the moment. I'm getting books confused with games, and now I've got song titles involved.

    Also, with this type of "three choices" story, too many authors screw it up and pretty much reveal which of the three the character will choose, just based on a) their writing style, b)the tone of the story, and c) the writer's ideals.

    Point B is a good place to confuse readers, but don't go into it heavy-handed. Changing tones is effective in a story where the character has to make a huge choice in the end.

    As for that final choice itself, you'll have to establish that all of them are equally challenging to choose from. Just presenting heaven, earth, and hell is gonna have a fairly obvious solution if you leave the three as they're commonly depicted.

  10. #10
    I left out what this idea is intended for, and thus it can be misleading, and I apologize for that. This is actually an idea for a video game where the player is left to make the decisions that ultimately determine their fate. I agree with you though. If I decide to turn this idea into just a story, it wouldn't be too hard for readers to predict what the ending will be based on the things you mentioned. I will take care and keep your suggestions in mind.

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