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Thread: Residual Effects

  1. #11
    It's been a long time, but here's chapter 7. There are some parts in this one I don't like, but at this point I don't feel like sitting around trying to think of ways to change it.

    Chapter 7: "Yesterday's friends are today's enemies and vice-a-verse"
    SPOILER! :
    Colonel Gaines lowered his hand having given up on the handshake. Ryxor finally understood why he seemed so familiar. While he had only met the guy in person for the first time earlier that day, Ruaidhri talked about him on several occasions. In the short time he had talked to him in the bar, Ryxor realized he was exactly as Ruaidhri had described him: annoying and arrogant. According to the general, he had plenty of reason to be arrogant too. Ruaidhri once lamented that Gaines was better than him at actual combat. Gaines moved to the front door and kicked it open.

    “Where the hell are you going? I doubt it’s safe to be running around outside right now.”

    “There should be a ‘sir’ at the end of that.”

    Ryxor waited for him to continue. It took him a few moments to realize that Gaines was actually waiting for him to add that sir. “Where the hell are you going sir?” he asked in a sarcastically cheerful tone.

    “Back to the fort of course.”

    “But what about the mercenaries? Sir.” He paused before adding the sir like a last minute addition that he would definitely like to do without.

    “Relax. They won’t attack a man in uniform, not yet anyways.”

    “What about us? Auras is injured. Do you expect us to remain tight and wait for you to return?”

    “That’d be nice too, but you’re coming with me.” Ryxor gave him a doubtful look. “Stick close to me and you’ll be fine. Nothing strange about a soldier apprehending the criminals who broke into that mercenary headquarter.”

    “If going out in our regular soldier garb is such a safe bet, then why didn’t you tell me that back at the bar instead of sending us out in these worthless disguises?” Ryxor sounded genuinely pissed. Then again, it’s not as though he wasn’t earlier.

    “These mercenaries won’t attack soldiers, but you can bet they won’t hesitate to cover their tracks if one comes snooping around. Use your brain. Do I look like the kind of guy who would put his men in danger for his own personal amusement?”

    ---

    Aura awoke in a bed to surroundings he was unfamiliar with. He felt strangely renewed for someone who had just been shot. Upon checking the area where he had been hit, he found nothing but scars. Whoever had healed him was a damn good professional.

    “You have to Ratana to thank for that.” Auras turned to see Drex sitting on another bed in the room. He was back to his regular clothes.

    “I have you to thank as well. All the healing power in the world couldn’t revive a dead man.”

    “Just looking out for a fellow squad mate.”

    “Where are we?”

    “Frozen Shield. We were brought here by Colonel Gaines. You were unconscious at the time.” A question seemed to form on his lips, but he paused for a moment, unsure if he should ask. “Hey, Auras.”

    “What is it?”

    “Why did you jump in the way? I could have put a barrier around her just the same as I did for you.”

    “My body acted on its own. I guess that’s what comes with being a parent. Vincent Cytinin asked us to protect her. From one father to another, I couldn’t let him down. No parent can bear to see their child get hurt.” No real parent, at least.

    “Is that why you punched her moments earlier?”

    “Call it tough love. As a father, you need to know when it’s acceptable to cross the line and slap your child.”

    “Sure you do. By the way, you can stop giving me all of this advice. I don’t plan on becoming a father, now or ever.”

    “I suppose not. You don’t seem like the type to settle down.”

    “Glad we understand each other. See you down stairs after you change your clothes,” Drex said as he walked to door. “Ryxor and Hughes already brought Ratana up to speed on the current situation. Now it’s her turn do some talking.”

    Auras saw his clothes hanging on the wall. Someone must have brought them over from the inn. While he was changing into them, he realized that he was rather hungry. Near death experiences seemed to have that kind of effect. Food could wait a little while longer though. After he was finished, he found his way to the mess hall where the rest of his squad was sitting at a table with Ratana.

    “Thank you for what you did,” she said to Auras as he sat down at the table, a little reluctantly. It wasn’t hard to figure out that she wasn’t used to thanking people.

    “Can we get on with it now?” Hughes said rather irritably.

    “What’s with him?” Auras asked.

    “We were waiting for you,” Ryxor said.

    “For a long time,” Hughes added. While the interior of Frozen Shield was noticeably warmer than outside, it did little to improve the mood of someone like Hughes who was highly intolerant of the cold.

    Ryxor shot him an ugly look and turned to Auras. “You need to hear what she has to say as well.”

    “I’m sorry to have kept you all waiting,” Auras said.

    Without any further prompting, she began. “Believe it or not, the mercenary group my father ran is actually deeply connected with Oren’s mercenaries. A long time ago, they used to be the same group, but when the leader passed away, his two sons, my father and his brother couldn’t agree on the kind of jobs they should take on so they split.”

    “Hold on a minute,” Ryxor interrupted. “So you’re saying that Oren is your uncle?”

    “Yes. Even though they decided to go their own ways, they still remained in contact. I’ve been up here on several occasions. A few weeks ago, I came here just to visit with Oren. Everything seemed normal. Before I could leave though, Oren told me that he was to keep me here. According to him, someone he knew from the army told him that the king had decided that we mercenaries were a danger to the kingdom and that we were to be killed off. As you might have guessed, this soldier he knew was Vanen Travis.

    “I of course wanted to leave immediately and get back to my father. However, they wouldn’t let me and I eventually gave up when Oren told me that Vanen would get my father to safety. Unfortunately, he said that by the time his men had found him, it was too late. A squad dispatched by the king had already killed him. I think you guys can figure out the rest.”

    “Maybe I missed this part, but it doesn’t sound like you have any proof,” Ryxor said.

    “I don’t,” she admitted.

    “So then we’re just supposed to believe you? How do we know we haven’t been tricked? What if you try something when our backs are turned?”

    “Ryxor…” Drex felt that he need to say something, but he couldn’t figure out what. It was more than obvious to him that Ratana was telling the truth and yet, Ryxor wasn’t being completely ridiculous in suggesting that she might betray them. As he pointed out, she had nothing to back up her claims.

    Ratana sat there shocked. It almost looked as though she was about to cry when a spark ignited in her eyes and she did quite the opposite. “How about the fact that I helped out your friend? He would have died if I didn’t help him. Or what about the part where Eric tried to kill me? Why would he do that if I was on his side?” She angrily shouted it all out at once. There wasn’t a single trace of sadness or remorse in her voice. Just pure anger that said, “Don’t screw with me.”

    “You’ll have to excuse our fearless leader here. He can be pretty thick-headed and a downright jackass sometimes, but he means well,” said Hughes. No one seemed to take notice of it though. Ratana and Ryxor locked eyes as if they were in the midst of an intense staring contest.

    “For all we know, it could all be an attempt to deceive us. You might just be waiting for the perfect chance to strike.”

    “I’m telling you I’m not with the assholes that killed my father!” By now, they had attracted several onlookers from nearby tables. For all she knew, Ryxor was the one trying to trick her. They had yet to provide one shred of proof that Vanen was really the mastermind behind everything. What if the king really was planning to kill off the mercenaries and they were just going to use her to get to what remained of her group? She thought about laying that on the table, but it would get her nowhere. It was bad enough that they distrusted her, but a mutual distrust would be a big step backward. “Vanen’s the one who can prove everything. Let me come with you and help you catch him,” she said trying to calm herself down. The soldiers quickly lost interest and went back to eating and conversing with their friends.

    “We’re not taking you anywhere with us,” Ryxor said. “Go to the capital and seek out Luther Arendale. He’s a professor at the military academy. Ask him to take you to see a man named Brink Lowe.” The name seemed to come out of nowhere and surprised Drex. It was the first time he had mentioned the information broker in front of the rest of the squad let alone someone they had just met the night before.

    “And what does all of this accomplish?”

    “Explain the situation to him. He’s specialty is information. He can find the proof you need.” Both Hughes and Auras looked over at Ryxor with confusion. He could tell they wanted to know who this Brink Lowe was, but that would have to wait until later.

    “What do I do after that?”

    “The choice is yours. You can try and find us, but I doubt that you will. We’re not even sure where to go next. You should probably regroup with the rest of your mercenaries. If you can, persuade them to help out. Vanen’s gathering troops as you already know, and the only logical reason is an attack on Velvidyne and the king. When that happens, we’ll need all of the help we can get. They wouldn’t want me to tell you this, but our forces actually took quite a beating. There was a time when Agaron came quite close to winning the war.”

    Ratana became confused by that last part. If he didn’t trust her then why was he giving her sensitive information? “Fine, but don’t come crying to me when one of you ends up shot again,” she said at last.

    Hughes looked over at Auras who looked like he was getting ready to pass out. “You okay?” He asked more out of curiosity than concern. He knew Auras and he knew he was a tough guy. Between Drex’s barrier and Ratana’s healing, he probably felt like he had never gotten shot.

    “So hungry,” he managed to say. “Doing this in the mess hall was a bad idea. Can we eat now?”

    “I’m pretty hungry myself,” Drex said. The smell of food wafted by them and throughout the whole building.

    “Wait,” Ryxor said. “There’s one more thing we need to ask. Do you know anything at all about Vanen’s whereabouts?”

    “Sorry, I don’t. I’m sure Oren knows something though.”

    Ryxor looked as if he was deep in thought. “I need to go talk to the colonel. Enjoy your lunch guys.” They all watched as he got up from the table and left.

    “Speaking of the colonel,” Drex said, “does anyone else find that guy strange?” Auras didn’t seem to be bothered by it all. Ignoring the question, he left the table to go grab some food.

    “No, he’s not strange at all. There’s nothing strange about pretending to be a random soldier and running around doing grunt work when you’re a colonel,” Hughes said sarcastically.

    “What’s so odd about that?” Ratana asked. She seemed to genuinely not understand.

    “He’s a colonel. You know, a very high ranking guy in the military. Not quite a general, but still pretty damn high up the food chain.”

    “So? My father was the leader of our mercenary group and he always worked alongside everyone.”

    “The military operates differently from a band of mercenaries,” Drex said. “In the military, officers sit back and send soldiers out to die while they watch from a view.”

    “God, that sounds so awful.”

    This was the chick who was trying to kill us last night? You gotta be kidding me! Drex could tell by the look on Hughes’ face that he was thinking the same thing. “For someone caught knee-deep in a conspiracy to take over the kingdom, you sound so naïve,” Drex muttered.

    “What was that?” she asked, raising her voice in a threatening way.

    “Nothing. You know what? You remind me of someone I know back at the military academy.”

    At that time, Auras came back with a tray loaded with food and dropped it on the table. “Did I miss anything?” he asked as he sat down.

    The room was filled with the ambient noise of people talking about random subjects. The voices seemingly blended into an undecipherable wave. However, Hughes found that if you focused hard enough on a single conversation, you could pick up bits here and there. He was doing just that as the explosions went off and shook the building to its foundation.

    ---

    When the explosions hit, Ryxor was walking down the halls of the fort following the directions given by random soldiers as he sought out Colonel Gaines. Before he knew it, he found himself with his sword drawn and his feet running in the direction of the blasts. Upon making his way outside, he found himself in a warzone. Without giving it a second thought, he ran head on into the fray.

    Back in the cafeteria, the rest of Ryxor’s squad along with the other soldiers stationed at the fort who were enjoying their lunch sprung into action. Everyone dropped what they were doing and ran to their assigned posts.

    Hughes and Drex got up from the table they were sitting at. “Come on, we need to find Ryxor,” Hughes said.

    “How do we do that?” Drex asked.

    “Just follow the explosions.” He turned to Auras who was still sitting down and staring at the food on his plate that he had yet to eat. “What are you doing Mr. Second-In-Command? We have a job to do.”

    Don’t think about it. Do not think about it. I was only shot last night. I can go a little longer without some measly food. “Right,” Auras said at last. He stood up. “Let’s go.” The three of them ran out of the mess hall with Auras leading the way.

    They didn’t get very fall when they realized that Ratana was following them. “I’m coming with you,” she said.

    “Stay put. We can handle this,” Auras said without stopping. Ratana continued to follow them though.

    “I shouldn’t have to tell you that you could use my help,” she said back to Auras. “Besides, this has to be connected to Vanen. You can’t just expect me to stand by after what he did.”

    “We don’t expect you to just stand around and do nothing,” Drex cut in. “We expect you to go Velvidyne and see the good professor. You’re not needed here.”

    “Fine then. If you want to be like that, then I’m not going to follow you guys. However, I can’t just sit by and let the place that took me in get attacked. I just happen to be walking down the same hall as you as I go to defend it on my own.”

    “I don’t think she’s-,“ Before Hughes could finish, an explosion hit the hall they were in. Drex, Auras, and Hughes were thrown forward by the force of the blast. Ratana however was flung backwards. She got back on her feet and looked at the impassable debris in between her and them.

    “Talk about convenient,” Drex said as he continued on with the others. “I thought she’d never leave.”

    “Hey! Get your asses back here and help me clear this!” she shouted angrily at their backs. To her dismay, they completed ignored her and continued on. Left with no other options, Ratana turned around and set off to find another way around.

    ---

    From the moment he laid eyes on the attackers, Ryxor knew they were Oren’s mercenaries. They didn’t have big signs or anything like that attached them, but it was beyond obvious given the situation.

    Upon meeting one of the mercenaries in battle, it was clear that he was on a different level than the lackeys hanging out at their headquarters last night. Ryxor found he put up a better fight, but he still cut him down with relative ease.

    Ryxor turned to meet another attacker and brought his sword up to block the blow. Before the mercenary could strike again, he detached the short blade and dealt a blow to his torso. The assailant backed off surprised and covered the wound with one of his hands. Ryxor finished him off as he backed away.

    Another mercenary charged at Ryxor from behind. Before he could reach striking distance, a bullet caught him in the head and sent him flying lifelessly to the ground. “I see the party got started without us,” Hughes said. He ran up to Ryxor followed by Drex and Auras.

    “Where’s Ratana?” Ryxor asked.

    “Not here,” Drex said. “You worried about her?”

    “Not really, it just seemed like she’d have followed you guys out here.”

    “She tried to,” Auras said. “Unfortunately, the hallway collapsed and she was separated from us.”

    “Well, I guess it was either ditch her now or ditch her later,” Ryxor said. Hughes heard someone running up behind him. He turned just in time to see mercenary charging at him and blur out of the corner of his eye that turned out to be Auras kicking the mercenary in the head.

    “Luther isn’t going to help her is he?” Auras asked.

    “I doubt it. I just needed to come up with something to get her out of our hair.” Ryxor heard someone strike a barrier erected by Drex behind him. He turned around and dealt the finishing blow. “I figured she would try to come with us. Granted she would be extremely useful, we can get Vanen and that rat Oren without her. It’s the least we could do to repay her after what we did.” They all knew he was talking about Ratana’s father.

    “So did believe her story,” Drex said. Another group of mercenaries approached them. “Who are these guys anyway?”

    “Oren’s men.”

    “He keeps this up and he won’t have men left to aid Vanen.”

    “Speaking of that guy, where the hell is he? All he’s done so far is hide while others do his bidding,” Hughes said.

    “No idea. But I think we might be able to beat it out of these guys!” And with that, Ryxor charged in and attacked the nearest mercenary. The rest of his squad followed his example.

    Hughes fired his rifle at two oncoming mercenaries, taking one of them out. The other managed to doge his shots and rushed him with his sword. Hughes brought up his rifle and blocked the attack. He countered by hitting him in the head with the butt of his rifle, knocking him backwards and then he finished him off with another shot.

    Drex came at his opponent and as their weapons clashed, the mercenary looked in shock as his began to crack and fall apart from the force of the attack. He stared dumbfounded at what remained of his sword as Drex dealt the finishing blow.

    As Drex finished off his opponent, Auras punched another mercenary coming at him. He went down for the count. “Get down!” Ryxor shouted at them. He sent an arc of flames off his sword flying at several more mercenaries. The fire just missed the heads of Drex of and Auras and connected with its targets. They fell to the ground screaming as the fire ate away at them. Back at what used to be the gate to the fortress, another line of mercenaries poured in. “These guys don’t know when to give up.”

    “Charge!” It was Colonel Gaines who had finally gotten his men into order. Following the orders of their commander, the soldiers charged head on at the mercenaries. Ignoring the battle going on around him, he casually walked up to Ryxor’s squad. “We’ll take it over from here,” he said. “Take break and sit back and watch. You guys earned it.”

    The battle wore on for what seemed like hours. In reality, it may have been only just a few minutes. The mercenary forces began to dwindle, and it was becoming clearer and clearer that they had made a mistake. The initial attack had caught them all off guard but the soldiers had suffered minimal casualties.

    The battle seemed to be just about over when another man stepped in. It took only moment to tell that he was the leader of the mercenaries. “Oren,” Ryxor said. The flames on his sword danced with new life. Before he could make a move, a battle staff was thrust in front of him, blocking his path.

    “This one’s mine,” Gaines said.

    “You think you can take me on by yourself?” Oren asked.

    “With all due respect Colonel, you shouldn’t take this man lightly. Let us assist you in this fight,” Ryxor said. He wasn’t just being cautious. He wanted to beat up Oren as much as Gaines appeared to. However, he wasn’t about to defy an order from someone who outranked him. Not yet anyway.

    “Sit back and watch. Youngsters like you could learn a thing or two.”

    “Yeah, sit back and watch how those who go up against me get slaughtered,” Oren sneered.

    Ryxor let the flames on his sword die. “Fine. Give this guy hell for us.” Ryxor turned to face his squad. “Do as the colonel asks and stay out of this,” he said.

    From the many guns he had equipped, Oren drew out two semi-automatic pistols and started unloading on Gaines. For a moment, it appeared as though he was just going to stand there and take the wall of bullets flying towards him, but he brought up a barrier not unlike Drex’s that deflected them. Barrier still up, Gaines sprinted at Oren whilst all of his bullets were deflected. Before he could try anything else, Gaines was in his face and hit him hard with his staff.

    Oren stumbled back from the blow. “You bastard,” Oren said as he coughed up blood from the blow. Perhaps out of desperation, he tossed one of his handguns at Gaines who blocked it with his staff. He dealt another blow on Oren, this time across his face. This one caused him to drop his other gun and fall to the ground. Gaines stabbed his staff into the ground and brought out his own pistol. He kicked Oren’s out of reach and pointed his gun at him. Ryxor, Drex, Auras, and Hughes stared in disbelief. Gaines had defeated Oren in a matter of seconds.

    “Now, tell me something to keep me from putting a bullet in your head.”

    “Go to hell jackass.” Gaines kicked him in the gut. He let out a grunt of pain and moved his hands to cover the spot where he had been hit.

    “Not what I was looking for. Nice try though.”

    “I hate people like you with your smart ass comments.”

    Gaines pulled back the hammer on his pistol. “I’m not going to ask again. Tell me what you know.”

    “First thing you need to know is you’re all screwed.”

    “How so? We’ve got a pretty good handle on the situation if I do say so myself.” Gaines motioned to soldiers finishing off remaining mercenaries in the background. “Vanen’s going to have to do a lot better than ally himself with vermin like you.”

    “Funny you should mention that. He’s probably in Agaron as we speak.”

    “Agaron? Are those bastards trying to start something again?” Gaines motioned for Ryxor’s squad to come closer. “Did you guys hear that?”

    “Yeah, we heard alright. This is starting to get interesting,” Hughes said.

    “It got interesting back at Etaked Inn,” Drex aIS.

    “Where in Agaron is he?” Ryxor asked.

    “I’m not giving up anything else to you,” Oren said.

    “I don’t think you fully grasp the situation you’re in,” Gaines said. “You’re surrounded, not to mention the loaded gun pointed at your head, and your forces are entirely wiped out now.”

    “I wouldn’t be so certain about that. I’ve just been buying time.”

    “For what?” At that moment, a cannon ball hit the ground close by, knocking them all off their feet. Seizing the moment, Oren grabbed his gun and ran away, firing back at them as he did.

    “Shit!”

    “Forget about that worthless rat. Vanen’s your goal and you know where he is now. Get your ass to Agaron now.”

    “Yes sir.”

    As they started to leave, Ratana entered the courtyard. “Hey! Get back here!”

    Gaines gave them a look that said get going. He walked over and stopped her form chasing after them. “Now, now, Miss Cytinin. I understand you’ve been through a traumatic experience yesterday. A beautiful young lady like you needs to calm down and take it easy for a while.”

    She brought up her leg and kneed Colonel Gaines below the belt. “Out of my way!” She ran past him as he fell to his knees in pain, but it was too late. Ryxor’s squad was already through the smoking gate, nowhere to be seen.
    Last edited by SamuraiChameleon; 07-16-2011 at 05:57 PM.

  2. #12
    I am proud to present to you chapter 8. By far the longest chapter yet and my favorite chapter so far, I hope you guys enjoy it as mush as I did writing it. While I've got the majority of the story planned out, I made up this entire chapter on the fly with no planning for it ahead of time.

    Chapter 8: "Happenings under the night sky, past and present"
    SPOILER! :
    Lynn Garrison stood enjoying the view from her dorm room’s balcony like she did on many occasions. Her roommate and best friend Alice Redding still lay asleep in the early morning hours. She pondered their relationship. For the most part, she followed her around everywhere she went like the way sheep follow the herder.

    Truth be told, Lynn actually found her to be quite annoying when they first met during the opening ceremony. She came off as bossy (which she still found to be true) and she often seemed to ignore what others cared or thought. Her opinion of her quickly changed however. She soon realized that she was a very capable person fueled by a sad and deep conviction that stemmed from the death of her family during the war. It also became apparent that she did listen to others and was capable of caring for others than herself, especially when it came to Ryxor Borx and Drex Kozen. Despite what she said or did during their departure on missions, it was obvious that she was concerned for their safety.

    Nothing disturbed the cool morning air. Outside, the trees remained still as concrete. Suddenly, the wind began to pick up and a particularly strong gust headed straight for the balcony Lynn stood at. It rustled the curtains and flew past her inside as if it had a mind of its own and knocked a picture off Alice’s nightstand.

    Lynn turned to see Alice stirring in her sleep. Sweat dripped down her troubled face. She appeared to be having a nightmare. Shortly, she began to relax and the tension left her face. Coincidentally, the gust of wind ebbed away with the nightmare. Of course, it was no coincidence, Lynn thought.

    Everyone has energy flowing through them, some more than others. The amount of energy that flowed through Alice however was immensely higher than that of the average person. She had so much that it was more than she could control. Sometimes, it came in outbursts like the one Lynn had just witnessed. She noted however that in the time she had known her, she was getting better at controlling at. This was due in no small part to Professor Arendale who took it upon himself to give her special lessons in controlling it.

    Her thoughts shifted to the professor and of a day Alice did not remember. It happened years ago. Ryxor and Drex were there too. As it turned out, that day during the opening ceremony wasn’t the first time Alice and Lynn had met.

    ---

    Ten years ago, the war was long past its turning point and it was clear that Arabi was going to be the winner. However, Agaron remained stubborn and had yet to give up. War orphans like 14 year old Ryxor Borx and eight year old Alice Redding were a common sight.

    Ryxor sat on the bed in his room at the orphanage when Drex entered. Somewhere above the clouds that covered the sky, the sun was setting. “Hey, what’s up?” Ryxor said to Drex.

    Drex said nothing at first. He stared at Ryxor. “Are you really going through with this?” he asked.

    Ryxor got off the bed. “Of course I am!” He sounded excited. He bent over and reached under his bed. In his hands he held something covered in a sheet. “Check this out.”

    Drex grabbed it from Ryxor’s hands. He didn’t need to remove the sheet to know what it was. He could feel the cold metal of the sword he held through the sheet. As if to confirm his suspicions, he uncovered the sword and held it up to the light pouring in through the window. It’s the real thing, alright. “Who did you steal this from?” he asked Ryxor. There was no question of if was his or not. For one, orphans couldn’t afford anything nice whether it was clothes, food, or weapons. Then there was the simple fact that no one would sell weapons to a kid anyway.

    “Just borrowing it from the old man,” he said taking it back from Drex. The old man had to be the owner of the orphanage “Don’t sweat over it man.” After covering it back up in the sheet, he placed it under his bed again where it would lie until he needed it later that night.

    “You shouldn’t do it.” His voice sounded dry and devoid of emotion, but Ryxor knew him well enough to know that that meant he was worried. Normally, he was rather cheerful, more than you’d think appropriate for someone who lost their entire family.

    “Why not? Today’s the day I’ll finally kick his ass.”

    “He goes to the academy now. If you’d just forget about, you’d probably never see him again.”

    “Exactly. We can’t just let him go thinking he’s the best. If I know Vanen, he’s probably trying to push some poor students around just like he did to us.”

    “Then why can’t you just let them deal with it? It’s not our problem anymore.” Ryxor seemed to ignore him. Drex didn’t want to give up just yet, however. “What if someone gets hurt? You guys are going to be fighting with real weapons. This isn’t just a game anymore.”

    “Come on Drex, have a little more faith in me. Vanen’s the only one who’s gonna get hurt.”

    Drex had one more stop to pull. “This is illegal, you know. No one cares about a few war orphans, but Vanen’s a student at the academy, not to mention who is father is.”

    “Look, you’re not the one doing it. No one would ever think you’re involved in any way.”

    “It’s not me I’m worried about.”

    ---

    Earlier that day, the clouds that blocked the setting sun had only begun to form. Today’s gonna suck, Alice thought. She was one of those people whose mood seemed to match the weather. When it was bright and sunny, so was she. On rainy days though, she didn’t feel so hot. She and Drex stood outside the boarding house watching the sun disappear. That wasn’t why they were out there of course. They were waiting for Ryxor to return.

    He had gone to Velvidyne Military Academy, but it wasn’t because he was a student their or because he was interested in becoming one. As a matter of fact, he was still too young to join. The minimum age was 15, one year too old for Ryxor. The real reason he had gone was to pay a visit to Vanen Travis who was a student there. And the purpose of this visit was to challenge him to some kind of game, as usual.

    Ever since Vanen came to stay at the boarding house, he and Ryxor were always after each other’s throats. It was not some harmless friendly rivalry, that’s for damn sure. There were plenty of times when one played dirty and times when one of them got hurt. Most competitions ended with Vanen victorious. Ryxor got his fare share of wins in too though.

    Whenever Ryxor won, he made sure to rub it in Vanen’s face. Vanen however never reacted much to his insults and when he won, he acted just the same. When Vanen won, he wouldn’t say or do much at all. Whatever he did do somehow always managed to make Ryxor furious.

    Despite Ryxor’s hatred for him and Vanen’s belief that he was above Ryxor in every way, the two were actually surprisingly similar. The only real differences between the two were how they expressed their feelings, and their notions of what family is.

    While Ryxor came to accept Drex and Alice as a brother and sister, Vanen could never do the same. Perhaps it was because he had yet to experience the pain of losing someone. Maybe there was another underlying cause that he could never share with someone like Ryxor.

    “He’s never going to stop, is he Drex?”

    “Hmm?” Drex was spaced out when Alice asked the question. “You mean Ryxor?”

    “Yeah.”

    “Honestly, he’s the oldest out of the three of us and yet he’s the most immature.”

    “Who are you talking about?” They both looked up to see Ryxor walking over. He had finally returned. Drex looked him over. Something interesting had definitely happened. There was no trace of cuts, bruises, or anything of the sort. He may have simply backed out, but Drex knew better. Ryxor wasn’t the type to do that.

    “You. Dumbass.”

    “Come on, don’t use language like that. What if the old man hears you?” Alice hopped onto his back and attempted to tackle Ryxor to the ground. “Hey! Get off.”

    “So are you gonna tell us what happened or not?” Alice asked, anxious to find out.

    After struggling with his attacker for a moment, he succeeded in knocking her off. “Alright, take it easy.” Alice got up and brushed the dirt of her clothes. “Tonight I’m going back to the academy for a duel.” He sounded excited, but Drex didn’t. Alice looked mildly supportive however.

    “You mean where you stand back-to-back, walk 10 paces, and then turn around and shoot?” Alice asked curiously.

    “Well, neither of us can get guns, so no. But we’ll use swords!”

    “You mean actual swords? Cool!”

    “Shut up, don’t support him. There’s no way they’d use real swords. It’d be way too-,”

    “Of course we’re using actual sworrds,” Ryxor said, answering Alice’s question.

    It took a while for what he just said to sink into Drex. “Wait, are you serious?”

    “Of course!”

    ---

    Alice sat upright in her bed, sweat dripping down her face. At first, all she could hear was her own heavy breathing. Then she noticed the wind blowing past the curtains of the open window and rustling through Lynn’s hair who was standing in front of it. As the wind made contact with her face, it felt chillingly cool, and yet it calmed her down. The gust of wind calmed down and then died altogether, not instantly but fast enough. Suddenly, she felt overcome by feelings of sadness and melancholy.

    “I see you’re up again,” she said to Lynn.

    She turned around to face Alice and smiled. “You know me. I’m more of a night person. There’s always been something about the stars and the moon that fascinates me.”

    “No. That’s not it.”

    “What are you talking about?”

    “I had a nightmare. You were there, but you were different. You were younger. Professor Arendale was there too and so were Ryxor and Drex.” Lynn remained silent. “What happened back then? I don’t remember and they don’t want to talk about it.” Lynn walked over and sat on her own bed. Still, she said nothing. “I know something happened. After that, I… I could do things I couldn’t do before. Things with energy that just came naturally to me, and yet I could never have hoped to do them before that.”

    Lynn thought back to what Luther told her on that day. “She’s not to know what happened,” he said. “There will come a time when she’ll learn of the origin of her powers, but we’ll leave her be for now.”

    “I’m not sure I’m the best person to tell you,” she said at last.

    “I don’t care. The fact that you can even tell me is good enough. Just do your best please.”

    ---

    Alice and Lynn weren’t the only ones up that late at the academy, or in the city for that matter. As a matter of fact some parts of the city were quite lively, almost as much as they were during daytime. Whether you chose to live a night life in during such a troubling time didn’t matter at all though. Either way you’d be in danger. Whether or not you chose to hang out in an over-crowded bar or in a deserted back alley covered by midnight’s shadows, you weren’t safe. He too was a night person, and during the night, anyone was his prey.

    Matthew Thompson lay awake in his bed at the military academy. He stared up at the ceiling of the room in deep thought.

    “Hey, Matt, you still awake?” his roommate asked. He knew that he was, but asked anyway.

    “Yeah.” He thought for a moment if he should confide in his roommate. “I’m not sure if joining the academy was the best thing to do,” he said at last. His roommate was the first person he told it too. He hadn’t even mentioned it to his own father, though he suspected he knew his true feelings.

    There had been multiple times when Auras asked his son if he was sure it was what he wanted to do. Matthew would always answer with a stern “Yes.” While not entirely the truth it wasn’t exactly a lie either. He did admire his father and the things he did. He wanted to be just like him when he was little, but now he wasn’t so sure.

    “I’m not gonna bother to ask you why, but hey. At least for now you’re in one of the safest places you could possibly be. I hear living outside in the city is pretty dangerous now.”

    “Why? Did something happen,” he asked intrigued by what his roommate said.

    “You mean you haven’t heard? There’s a serial killer on the loose.”

    Suddenly, Matthew wasn’t so intrigued anymore. Things like that scared him, but he couldn’t stop himself now. “A killer?”

    “Yeah, I’m surprised you haven’t heard about it yet. You want me to tell you about the victims?”

    No. “Uh, sure.”

    “Extremely bloody. Extremely grizzly. The victims, that is. They say all of the bodies were brutalized beyond recognition. You want to know the worst part?” His roommate could tell that he had him now.

    “The w-worst part?”

    “According to the guys that examined the bodies, they must have really suffered. Tortured probably.” Matthew felt a chill go down his spine. He knew he’d never be able to sleep again until the perpetrator was caught. “And guess who he likes to go after.”

    “N-n-not s-students I hope.”

    “Hmm, maybe.”

    “What do you mean maybe? I thought you said we were safe here!” He realized how loud he was getting and made a notable attempt to calm himself down.

    “The killer doesn’t have any preferences.” Matthew’s roommate was clearly enjoying himself now. “It looks like he just goes after whoever he feels like. Maybe they all looked at him in a funny was at some point. Who knows? What you can bet on though as that once he targets you, you’re a goner.” He heard what was almost an audible whimper from Matthew. Whether or not he wanted to drop out of the academy was the least of worries now.

    “T-they’re gonna catch this guy right?”

    “Well, you’d think, but so far they don’t have anything on him. Hell, the killer could even be a she instead of a he. That’d definitely be interesting, don’t you think Matthew?”

    He didn’t care. He didn’t want to think about it at all. He just wanted to go to sleep.

    ---

    The thick clouds from earlier stayed around for nighttime, albeit you could no longer see them. Ryxor made his way to the academy, borrowed sword in hand. An underage boy like him could have gotten in a lot of trouble running around at night with a weapon, but it was a risk he was willing to take.

    The spot where Vanen and Ryxor agreed to have their duel was actually just outside the walls of the academy. Despite Ryxor’s numerous complaints, Vanen insisted that it’d be impossible for him to sneak into the academy at night. Eventually, he gave in and agreed to meet him in the back alley he now waited in.

    He expected Vanen to be either really late or not show up at all. To his surprise, he actually came not long after he had gotten there. When Ryxor heard the footsteps echoing down the alleyway, his first instinct was to hide. The closer the person got though, he realized it was Vanen rather than someone out for a stroll at night.

    “I didn’t think you’d show,” Ryxor said, coming out of his hiding spot.

    Vanen looked unimpressed. There wasn’t a single trace of emotion on his face. In his hand he carried a katana style sword still in its sheath. “I don’t want to waste any more time with your stupid comments. Let’s get this over with.”

    “Yeah, yeah, sure.” He reached back into his hiding place and grabbed the sword and removed the cloth that covered it. “Let’s do this!”

    Shout a little louder so everyone knows what we’re up to, Vanen thought. Despite Ryxor’s declaration, Vanen remained unmoved. He had yet to unsheathe his own weapon. “Ready when you are.”

    “What? Is that sword just for show? You think you can take me on with you bare hands, you’re narcissistic bastard?”

    “At least I still have a father, unlike you.”

    “Oh that does it. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!”

    And with that, Ryxor was off at Vanen’s throat. Before he realized it, his sword was locked with Vanen’s. Surprise registered on his face. Vanen looked him dead in the eye, still emotionless. What the hell? When did he draw it out?

    Vanen broke through and kicked Ryxor causing him to stagger backwards. He followed up with an attack with his sword, but Ryxor managed to doge it by jumping backwards. Ryxor went to attack, but before he could do so, Vanen did a horizontal slice that left a fine cut across his chest.

    “Amateur. You left yourself wide open.” Ryxor gritted his teeth in anger. Before he could retaliate, Vanen used a maneuver that sent Ryxor’s sword flying away from him. Vanen brought up his knee and hit him in the chest hard enough to cause him to double over in pain. While Ryxor was still gasping for breath, Vanen struck him over the back of his head. Ryxor fell to the ground defeated.

    Not wanting to accept it, he tried to get up but found he didn’t have the strength. “Don’t try to get up,” Vanen told him. “You took quite the blow there to your head.” Vanen grabbed his sheath and put his katana away and began to leave.

    “Get back here!” Ryxor yelled, still struggling to get up. “I’m not done yet!” Vanen froze in his place. For a moment, Ryxor thought that he had listened to him. Then he realized why he had stopped. Just at the exit of the alley, you could hear someone holding walking over with some kind of weapon.

    Before he knew what had happened, Vanen was on the move again with his sword out. He attacked whoever it was that was there, but what happened next seemed strange. Vanen took several steps back staring at the would-be assailant and then he turned around and ran past Ryxor. He tried to stop him, but Vanen just ignored him. Ryxor barely caught a glance of his sword which had blood on it.

    Ryxor wasn’t sure what had happened, but he was suddenly worried. Finally finding the strength to get up, he made his way to the person lying on the ground. The closer he got, the more he realized that they were lying in a growing pool of blood. Crap, Vanen freaking killed him. However, he soon realized that he was a she. He then saw that they were younger that he initially thought. Crap, what the hell am I gonna do? I have to do something don’t I? He turned the body over to get a look at the face. Alice’s blank eyes stared back at him.

    His eyes widened with shock. He had the urge to scream, but he attempted to hold it in. Oh my god! What the hell is this? What the… “What the hell is going on!!!?” He urgently put his hand on her neck and felt for a pulse. He found one but it was very feint. “Alice! Can you hear me?” There was no response. He was vaguely aware of rain drops hitting his head. “Alice? Please, do something if you can hear me!” She made no movement.

    “Damn it! What the hell do I do? There’s so much blood!” After trying to cover the large wound across her chest in vain, he picked her up and started running. He wasn’t sure where he was going, but he needed to find help. Damn it all! This is all my fault. She probably followed me here, and then Vanen… Suddenly, he felt the anger returning to him in full force. If she dies he’s a dead man!

    “What happened?” It was Drex waiting just outside the alley. Ryxor stopped at the sound of his voice. When Drex walked over, he realized immediately what he was holding. “Ryxor…” He was at loss for words.

    “It was Vanen. He attacked her.” Drex didn’t know what to say. “Come on! We have to find help.” He started running again with Drex in tow. It began raining harder. Water splashed up from the ground with each step they took.

    “Where are we going?”

    “I don’t know. The boarding house is too far away.”

    “I saw a light on in a house just down the street.”

    “All right. We’ll go there!”

    Luther Arendale was sitting at the table in his study reading a book when he heard someone pounding on the door of his house urgently. Who the hell could that be at this hour? He almost decided to ignore whoever it was. However, he gave in when they wouldn’t stop. He wasn’t prepared at all for what was about to happen.

    “What the hell do you-,” he began as he opened the door. He stopped when he saw the teenage boy holding a young girl who appeared to be dead.

    “Please, you have to help us! She can’t die! There’s gotta be something you can do.” Luther didn’t really have choice. He wasn’t about to turn down someone dying and tell them to try the next house. He motioned for them to come in and slammed the door behind him. “Follow me up stairs now!” They did as they were told and were led to a bedroom. He instructed Ryxor to set her down on the bed and leave while he got to work, but both he and Drex were reluctant to do so. “There’s nothing you can do now!” he shouted at them at last. “The last thing I need are some little brats getting in my way. Now wait outside.” Luther slammed the door behind them no softer than he did with the front door.

    What followed were some of the longest hours in either Ryxor or Drex’s life. By now they were both pretty tired, but they refused to go to sleep. Neither of them was until they had word that Alice would be okay.

    Sometime later, a door down the hall opened up. A small girl around the same age as Alice poked her head around the corner. By then, Ryxor who was almost asleep looked up to see what the noise was. He almost mistook her to be Alice at first but quickly realized it was not. Whoever it was noticed the blood covering his clothes.

    She crept out of the room and walked over to them like a cat. “What’s going on?” she asked them curiously. She seemed to disregard their appearances entirely. Neither of them gave a response. “My name’s Lynn, what’s yours?”

    “Ryxor,” he said.

    “Mine’s is Drex.”

    At that moment, the door opened up and Luther stepped outside. He closed it gently behind him.

    “Is she alright?”

    “Is she gonna be okay?” Both Ryxor and Drex jumped up instantly. All traces of sleep and drowsiness were gone.

    “Follow me down stairs,” he said. “Go back to bed Lynn.” Ryxor couldn’t help but notice that he sounded noticeably weaker and looked paler than before. After they were seated at a table in the kitchen, Luther made them some hot coffee. “That’s all I have unless you want water.” Neither of them so much as took a sip from their cups. It wasn’t that they didn’t like coffee. They just weren’t thirsty. All they cared for at the moment was Alice’s condition.

    “Is she gonna be fine now?” Ryxor asked.

    Luther took a long breath before beginning. “You boys know what energy is, right?”

    “Yeah, it’s our life force. People can use it do things.”

    “Well that’s partially correct, but do any of you know how our bodies produce energy?” They both shook their heads. “It’s a complicated process, but basically in each of us resides an entity. Let’s just call it your soul. The soul radiates energy. In other words, the soul is you source of life. Should the soul perish, you’re a goner. Using too much energy at once also damages the soul, permanently. One can also damage the souls of others by using their own energy. In addition to her severe wounds, this is what happened to your friend.

    “Her soul was almost damaged beyond repair. Were she in the care of lesser hands she very well may have died.” Ryxor and Drex’s face lit up almost immediately. She was still alive. “There’s more. Her soul was so badly damaged that traditional methods alone were not enough.” He paused for moment. “In this case I was forced to use a considerably dangerous method. I ripped out part of my own soul and transfused it with hers.” He stopped to let what he said sink in. When they didn’t say anything, he began again.

    “You.” He pointed at Ryxor. “You were the one that carried her hear, yes?”

    “Yes.”

    “I need to talk to you in private.”

    “What about me?” Drex asked.

    “Leave.”

    “No way! I’m not going until Alice is better.”

    “Leave this room,” he said irritably. “There’s a couch in the study and a blanket. You can sleep there.” Reluctantly, Drex did as he was told and left for the study.

    “What do you want with me?” Ryxor asked.

    “The stunt I pulled shortened my life span considerably.” Ryxor thought he knew where Luther was going.

    “I don’t have any money. I’m just an orphan. All three of us are.”

    “While that does come as a surprise to me, money is not what I’m interested in. What I want is for you to become my apprentice.”

    “What?” He was at a loss for words.

    “I know, you’re not the choice I wanted to go with either, but as is you’ll have to do.”

    “Apprentice? What are you talking about?”

    “I have at my disposal knowledge that I’m not willing to take with me to the grave, most of which was taught to me by a great man no longer with us.”

    “But why me?”

    “You didn’t notice? By the time I got to her, her physical wounds were already almost completely healed.”

    “How?” Again, he was at a loss for words.

    “It was you.”

    “But I didn’t do anything.”

    “In your time of need, your energy subconsciously poured out of your soul and healed her wounds. As I said before, they were only mostly healed. Not quite the level of genius I was hoping for in an apprentice.”

    “You’re wrong! I didn’t do a damn thing. It’s my fault Alice ended up like this in the first place.”

    “Inside you is raw untapped potential. Powers like the one you used tonight are rarely accomplished by untrained professionals. For a kid like you to accomplish it, you would need something truly traumatic to push you. In this case, it was the near-death of someone very dear to you.”

    Ryxor was silent for a long time. Luther stared at him waiting for a reply. At long last he got it. “If I become your apprentice, can I protect the people I care about it?”

    “Most definitely.”

    During the following days, Ryxor and Drex remained at Luther’s house. During that time, Alice began to wake up and come back to her senses. Her memory of what happened however was almost gone. Almost immediately, Luther began training Ryxor. Sometimes, Drex would watch and other times, he would hang out with Lynn. It wasn’t until the manager of the orphanage started looking for the three of them that they returned. Before they left though, Luther made Ryxor swear that he would join the military academy when he was old enough.

    On the day they left, Luther sat down at the kitchen table with Lynn. “She’s not to know what happened. There will come a time when she’ll learn of the origin of her powers, but we’ll leave her be for now. It’s best to let her live her childhood as normally as possible. However, I’m certain she will eventually enroll in the academy as well. When that time comes, you need to enroll too and keep an eye on her as best you can.”

    “Yes sir.”

    “How many times have I told you to stop calling me sir?” He seemed rather annoyed by it. They both went silent for a while. Luther could tell she was worried. “Don’t worry. I maybe weaker now, but I’m not gonna let the bastard who killed your parents get away. We’ll find him some day.”

    ---

    Alice could hardly believe what she was hearing. How could I block something like that from my memory? Now, she remembered it clear as day. She remembered getting Drex to go with her and follow Ryxor. She remembered a sword landing in front of her and picking up. She remembered the look on Vanen’s face when… Hold on. What she a remembered was an entirely different Vanen. One whose eyes were filled with shock, fear, and remorse over what he just did.

    “Then the reason you’re always up at night is because of me?” she asked.

    “Yes. I need to make sure nothing happens.”

    Alice felt horrible. She wanted to apologize, but she didn’t exactly know what to apologize before. “Lynn.”

    “What is it?”

    “Go to sleep. I don’t care how much harder I have to try. I’ll get strong enough so you no longer need to waste your time watching over me.” Alice lay back in her bed and fell fast asleep. Lynn stayed up a little while longer. A smile came across her face. She certainly did care for those around her whether or not she always showed it. Lynn did as Alice recommended and fell asleep.

    ---

    Elsewhere, the night wasn’t nearly as peaceful. There was a scream perhaps, but no one seemed to notice it or care. Out of the shadows, a dark figure walked out leaving a trail of bloody footsteps. They grasped a bloody dagger in one of their hands. Staring up at Velvidyne Military Academy, a thick smile formed on his face.
    Last edited by SamuraiChameleon; 07-17-2011 at 05:28 AM.

  3. #13
    I haven't check yet, but this is quite possibly the fastest I've written a chapter so far. Hope that doesn't mean the quality dropped or something like that. Also, I added some more people to the list of characters in the first post.

    Chapter 9: "Hanging precariously from the wall, the loaded gun has its safety off"
    SPOILER! :
    General Rivers rode in the horse drawn carriage in the seat opposite Captain Cyrus Irvine. For now, talks with Agaron had been completed and they were heading back to the military base established by Arabi. It was a peaceful and sunny day. The only noise Cyrus could hear was the continual rattling of the carriage as it followed the dirt road.

    Until then, they had only received minimal news about Vanen’s betrayal. Arabi’s network of telephone lines only went as far as Mishar. From there, any news had to be delivered the old fashioned way by horseback.

    What Rivers had heard disturbed him though. He only met the man himself a few times near the end of the war. From what he remembered, he wasn’t very sociable but he wasn’t the kind of person who would turn on his own people, not by a long shot.

    They were almost to the border when the convoy they were riding in was struck. Further down the road, the leaders of the convoy erupted into an explosion of cannon fire. “What the hell was that?” Rivers asked. He looked outside the carriage window in the direction of the explosion. Drilled for situations like this, the driver swerved off the road.

    Cyrus turned around and poked his head through the curtain separating the inside of the cart from the driver. He opened his mouth to say something when a bullet caught the driver in the head and knocked him off the carriage. “Oh, shit.”

    Cyrus scrambled through the window and attempted to regain control of the horses. At that moment, the only thing on his mind was the safety of the general. It didn’t bother him that he could end up like the poor driver. Just when it seemed like he had finally gotten control of the carriage again, they were struck with a cannon. The explosion blew off one of the front wheels and caused the carriage to turn over on its side. At the same time, Cyrus was thrown from it.

    Shaking off the effects of the explosion, he saw the horses that had gotten loose and watched them run away. “General!” He rushed back to the overturned carriage, but before he could open the door to check on the general, someone struck him over the back of his head. The last thing Cyrus remembered seeing was the smiling face of Eric Banes staring down at him.

    ---

    Ryxor sat in a chair at the local bar in Mishar, a town that bordered Squall Valley. Being so close to the only easy path between to the two kingdoms, the town had taken heavy damage during the war. Today, it was still in the process of being rebuilt. The bar where Ryxor was at was one of the only fully built buildings in the town so far.

    Squall Valley. I didn’t think I’d have to come back here so soon. Graduating from the academy just before the war ended, Ryxor saw little action but one battle he did fight in happened to be the most important one in the war. It was the one that caused Agaron to surrender.

    “Yo.” Ryxor turned to see the rest of the squad walk in with Drex in the lead.

    “What did you find?” Ryxor asked him.

    “It looks like Oren is telling the truth. Several people saw soldiers pass into the valley. One was confirmed to be Vanen.”

    “And another fits the description of my brother,” Hughes added.

    “Good work. Any idea where exactly in Agaron they were headed?” Ryxor asked.

    “Nothing,” said Auras. “Their presence was barely known here at all. The few people that did talk to them claim that they were tight lipped about their duties.”

    “All right. We head out now.”

    “But shouldn’t we wait until it gets dark? There’ll be higher chance of spotting us if we move during the day.”

    “We don’t have the time anymore. Besides, they already know we’re coming. We lost the element of surprise a long time ago.”

    Drex looked as if he just got an idea. “Damn, we must have just missed him when we were in Kazere.”

    “How do you figure?” Hughes asked.

    “Eric’s with them. Don’t tell me you forgot about our run-in with him.”

    “Of course I haven’t.” Hughes sounded rather annoyed by Drex’s remark.

    If that’s true… If only we’d chased after Eric. No. Can’t forget about Auras. None of us would have been willing to leave him behind. “That’s enough,” Ryxor said. “We need to get going.”

    ---

    Luther Arendale was in a foul mood. His search for Jon Durmont had turned up almost nothing new since the encounter on Cardinal Island. Since then, the information broker Brink Lowe had only turned up what Luther considered a grave insult: another note left behind by Jon.

    “My offer still stands. Please don’t let the teachings of our old master go to waste.” Not quite sure why, he read it over again. Every time he read it, it seemed to piss him off more and more. He crumpled up the paper the note was written on and tossed it on the ground. Smoke began to rise from the ball of paper before it burst into flames. Still not satisfied, he stomped on the ashes.

    Aside from Durmont, a few other individuals crossed his thoughts as well. He didn’t hold grudges against them like Jon, but he did have reasons for being angry with them. There was Ryxor Borx, his so called apprentice, whom he hadn’t really taught anything in nearly a month. There was Alice Redding who still required special lessons on taming the powers that she received along with a chunk of his soul. Now there was a serial killer on the loose and he was expected to waste time by taking part in the investigation. He stomped on the ashes and smashed them further into the floor each time a new name crossed his mind.

    He didn’t stop until someone knocked on his office door. “What the hell do you want?”

    “Sorry to interrupt you sir, but you have a guest.”

    “Tell them I’m not here.” Luther heard them talking to another person, but he couldn’t make out the words. What started out as a normal conversation soon erupted into an argument.

    “Don’t give me that crap!” he heard a female voice shout. He searched his memories to try to find a matching face with no luck. “I just heard him,” she said. It sounded as if the other voice was trying to calm her down. “I’m going in now.” She paused for a moment, possibly to let the academy staff member try to come up with another excuse. “I don’t give damn!” Suddenly, the door was kicked open and a young woman walked in.

    “I’m very sorry about this sir. I tried to stop her.” The other man walked in timidly behind her.

    “Good job.” He gave him a thumbs up. “And you wonder why you get shit for pay,” he mumbled.

    “What was the sir?”

    “Nothing, just leave.”

    “Yes sir.” With that, he closed the door leaving Luther alone with his guest.

    “Luther Arendale,” he said offering his hand. She ignored it and sat down at his desk.

    “I already know who you are you old fart.”

    Oh that does it. I don’t care about some crappy desk, but I’m not about to let you waltz in like you own the place and dish out insults! “Watch your manners lady.”

    “Watch yours you shitty old geezer! I’m probably not even old enough to be your granddaughter. Besides, you’re the one pretending to be not here when you clearly are.” Luther wasn’t exactly a stickler about his age, but he wasn’t even 50 yet.

    “I assume you’ve come because you need my help on some matter. Is this how you ask for help where you come from? Berate someone with unfitting insults?”

    “Don’t care. He said you’d help me.”

    “Who are we talking about now?”

    “Ryxor Borx.” At that moment, Luther felt a sudden surge of anger.

    “Do I look like his goddamn secretary? If anything, it’s the other way around. He should be out running errands for me.”

    “I wonder if everyone gets senile in their old age.”

    “What was that?”

    “I think you heard me just fine. Oh wait, I’m sorry. I forgot the elderly are hard at hearing too.”

    “I’m not that old you adolescent bitch!” They stared each other with angry eyes. Neither of them seemed to move a muscle. Seemingly out of nowhere there was a look of surprise on her face. “Look, I don’t know who the hell you are or how you know Ryxor, but this is going nowhere.” Luther sat down in the chair in front of his desk usually reserved for guests. “I’m ready for a peaceful conversion if you are.” He extended his hand again. “Professor Luther Arendale, head of Velvidyne Military Academy.”

    This time, she grasped his hand and shook it firmly. “Ratana Cytinin, leader of the Kazeri mercenaries.”

    Cytinin. Luther had heard that name somewhere. The ones who attacked Ryxor a few weeks ago?

    “What did you do just now?” she asked interrupting his train of thought.

    “Hmm? I countered your energy and balanced out the disruption you attempted to create in the natural flow of the room’s air current.”

    “…” She didn’t have the slightest idea about what he just said. When she saw that he was about to say something again, she put out a hand to stop him. “Never mind. We don’t like each other so let’s just get down to business.”

    “Hold on there, not so fast. First things first, you’re going to explain how you came to be here, and how you got on Ryxor’s good side after your men attacked him.”

    She gave a long drawn-out sigh. It was definitely a long story, once she didn’t feel like recounting again. She had taken up Ryxor on his advice and returned to Kazeri where sure enough, everyone was worried sick about her. After paying her respects to her late father who had already been buried, she brought them up to speed and then told them her plans.

    After once again telling about how she was tricked by Oren who forced her father to do his bidding and her encounter with Ryxor’s squad, she finally got to the task at hand. “So, this is what brings me here. As Ryxor pointed out, I don’t have a shred of evidence that proves my father is innocent. According to him, you know someone who can find the proof I need.”

    Luther considered what she was asking. Maybe not carefully, but he did consider it. He almost wanted to bring up why she was so intent on proving her father’s innocent when she herself was mostly in the clear already. However, he thought he knew the answer to that. “As sad as your story is, I don’t know why he told you that. I can’t help you.”

    “So the name Brink Lowe doesn’t ring any bells for you? I thought you said you were gonna cut the crap already.”

    It was Luther’s turn to sigh. That careless little shit… “Fine, I’ll make an arrangement for you to meet him. Come back later and I’ll give you the time and location.”

    “That’s more like it.”

    ---

    Nearly a day’s march later, Ryxor’s squad found themselves nearing Agaron’s border. Since the conclusion of the decisive battle, Squall Valley was now officially considered neutral territory. That didn’t stop Arabi from installing a number of checkpoints, which Agaron was in no position to argue against though. Before the war, the valley belonged almost entirely to Agaron. Arabi owned only the other end near Mishar.

    “What’s the plan now? We still have no idea where to begin our search,” Drex said.

    “We can check in with Arabi’s forward operating base. It’s not too far north of here,” Ryxor said. “I know someone stationed there who might be able to help us out.”

    “Who might that be?”

    “Could you possibly be referring to Cyrus?” Auras asked.

    “Yep,” said Ryxor, confirming his guess.

    “Who the hell is Cyrus?” asked Hughes.

    “Just an old war buddy.” As it turned out, Ryxor, Auras, and Cyrus fought together during the final battle. When Ryxor was singled out by General Ruaidhri to lead a squad after the war ended, he had filled out requests for both Auras and Cyrus. While Auras accepted, Cyrus had already been reassigned. Drex and Hughes who had recently graduated from the academy were then tagged on to complete the squad line up.

    “Hey Ryxor, not too far north right?” Drex asked

    “You mean the base? Maybe an hour’s worth of walking.”

    Drex sighed. “Man, I can’t wait till we get there. I feel sore all over.”

    “Really? I feel fine,” Hughes said.

    “You’re not human. You’re tired too, right Ryxor?”

    “Nope. Maybe you’re just out of shape.”

    “Yeah, screw you too pal. I know you’re with me at least, Auras.”

    “Sorry. I actually feel rather restless at the moment.”

    “What the hell? You’re like twice our age.” Unsatisfied with his utter defeat, Drex continued to talk. “I hate all this traveling, especially when you gotta go out here. Nature got shit for toilet paper.”

    “You could always use your thumb,” Hughes suggested casually. Ryxor looked at Auras and exchanged troubled looks with him before shaking his head.

    “Ok, shutting up now.”

    “What? Did I say something wrong?” No one bothered replying. Hughes seemed to genuinely not understand what the problem was.

    ---

    Luther Arendale walked up and down the rows of first year underclassmen at the academy. Every now and then he’d stop to examine an intimidated student and possibly ask them a question or two about the basics they should have had down already. Matthew Thompson’s eyes followed the professor intently as he stood at attention with his arms placed at his sides. He felt his heart skip a beat when Professor Arendale walked past him, but began to feel at ease afterward. Finally, the professor got down to the task at hand.

    “Tonight, you’ll all be getting your first taste of real experience. You’ll be assigned into groups. Under the supervision of an upperclassman, you will patrol the city until dawn.”

    Suddenly, Matthew’s anxiety was back in full force. A part of him was excited about it. However, the majority of his thoughts were on the tale of the serial killer his roommate told him about. He looked from the professor to the row of third year students who had volunteered for the task. He didn’t recognize anyone.

    Among the volunteers were Keith Grayson, Alice Redding, and quite naturally, Lynn Garrison. When Luther was focused on the first years, Alice peered down the row of fellow third years and briefly me the eyes of Keith. She turned back to Lynn who gave her a somewhat nervous smile.

    Two years ago when Alice and Lynn performed the activity together in the same group, things didn’t go so well. In short, Alice almost killed an innocent bystander with an energy attack aimed to break up a fight between two drunks. She hoped things would go a lot better this year as a supervisor. Those hopes would probably be ignored.

    “Any questions?” Luther asked. He waited a moment in the dead silence of the arena before moving on. “We shall now assign your groups.”

    After the long process was over, the arena began to fill with the indecipherable chatter of several hundred students.

    “Attention!” Luther shouted at the top of his lungs. Just like that, the voices died. In one thunderous clap, everyone placed their arms at their sides and snapped their feet together. “You are to report back here at twenty hundred hours. Dismissed!” With that, Luther left the arena and the chatter returned as everyone got to know each other. There were sighs of relief as friends got to stay together and sighs of unhappiness as other bid their friends farewell.

    Keith looked over his assigned group. “My name’s Keith Grayson and I’m going to be your supervisor tonight.” He held out his hand. The first year closest to him reached out and took it. Keith gave him a firm handshake.

    “Matthew Thompson,” he said. Matthew felt as though his hand had just been grabbed by concrete statue.

    ---

    There was no black smoke over the horizon as Ryxor and his squad reached the forward operating base in Agaron. As they quickly discovered, it was not due to lack of trouble. They reached for their weapons.

    “Be on your guard,” Ryxor said.

    Any smoke along with possible fires had already come and gone. The base was in ruins. Signs of a recent battle plagued the area. Marks left by explosions dotted the ground, which was also stained with blood. Debris from the base’s structures was strewn about all over the place. Despite the massive evidence before them, there were no bodies.

    “Well, I’d say this is a great start to our search for Vanen in Agaron,” Drex said.

    “Hey, at least we know we’re on the right track,” Hughes said.

    “Shut the hell up and finish sweeping the area for survivors,” Ryxor ordered.

    “What survivors? Don’t you remember? This is Rizuke all over again, man.” Ryxor knew Hughes was right, but he didn’t want to give up, not that easily. Auras extended a hand to Hughes. It was then that he remembered why Ryxor didn’t want to give up. His old war buddy was supposed to be stationed there.

    Something came loose in a building that was falling apart. All of them turned their attention and their weapons in the direction of the sound. Before any of them could react, troops clad in Agaron’s uniform jumped out from what seemed every possible hole. They were completely surrounded.

    ---

    Ratana made her way to the same pub that Luther had met Brink at some several weeks ago. On the way there, she admonished herself for not coming out to the capital city before. The place was a far cry from the small forest town of Kazeri. She found the academy and the palace particularly impressive, but everything about Velvidyne grabbed her attention. It was the night life that was foremost in her thoughts at the moment. By night, Kazeri seemed almost dead, but not the capital. It seemed just as lively as it did during the day.

    She was still in awe when she walked through the door of the bar. Luther had at least given her a description of Brink before sending her off to the meeting, but the place was extremely crowded. She wondered if she would even be able to locate him when she heard someone call her name from behind.

    “You must be Miss Cytinin. You have so many of the features your late father had, especially those eyes.”

    “How do you know about my father? I think I’d have heard of you if you were an acquaintance of his.” She looked more angry than flattered.

    “Come on, don’t make that face. What kind of dealer would I be if I couldn’t recognize my own clients?” She supposed he had a point. In truth, the memories Brink had of her father were taken from Ryxor.”Come now, let’s make ourselves comfortable. The night is young and I don’t care to stand around for the rest of it.”

    ---

    Keith’s squad got to work on the night long patrol. It wasn’t very long until Keith noticed that one of his charges, Matthew Thompson, was rather shaky.

    “Something wrong? You look like you’re gonna pass out,” he said to Matthew.

    He looked at the others in his group whom he had already lost points with. “Sir, is the story about the serial killer true?”

    “My name’s Keith you know. And what’s this about a serial killer now?” He seemed unfamiliar with the subject. “Oh, you probably mean that crazy son-of-a-bitch. No, it’s all true. I even heard a rumor that they were thinking about skipping over this patrol because of him.”

    Deepest fear confirmed, Matthew’s condition only got worse.

    “Relax. We’ll do fine. One, a group of students isn’t his thing. Two, you got me to rely on if he does show up,” Keith said, gripping his battle axe confidently.

    Neither of those points made Matthew feel better. Every person he asked about the killer after hearing the story from his roommate always said that nobody was safe. He targeted anyone. And one person couldn’t have possibly made him feel better at that point unless it were someone like Professor Arendale or the king himself.

    Currently, they were walking down one of the lesser traveled roads. However, there were still plenty of people about. This helped put Matthew at ease at least a little bit. The others in the group seemed to have their minds on matters other than the serial killer on the loose. Two of them seemed to know each other and were engaged in a conversation over a girl they both liked. The other appeared to be mildly bored with the patrol work they had been tasked with.

    “Thief! Thief!” someone yelled. Keith’s group turned in the direction of the noise when someone person ran past them and into an alleyway. “That guy has my wallet. Don’t just stand there, stop him!”

    “You heard the man,” Keith said. “We’ve got a job to do.”

    The group gave chase with Keith in the lead. They turned into the alley and followed it through to another street. Upon reaching the end, they looked to their left and right before noticing that someone was ahead of them running through the alley across the street. The perpetrator turned a corner and vanished out of sight.

    “That way,” someone in the group pointed. They entered the alley, but before they could reach the corner that the thief had turned, they heard an ear-splitting scream that froze them in their tracks.

    “What the hell… Keep moving! Someone could be in danger!” Keith shouted.

    Up ahead, the thief slumped against a wall holding a hand of his wound. “Please, don’t hurt me!” he yelled frantically. “What the hell did I do to you?” His assailant stood in front him. She licked the thief’s blood off the knife.

    “How much money was in that wallet you stole?” she asked.

    “What the hell? Are you some kind of twisted vigilante or something? All I did was take someone’s wallet! That’s not deserving of death.”

    His attacker grinned at him. “Hmm, now that you mention it, it might be fun to play one every now and then. Do you happen to know what the penalty for thievery used to be?”

    The thief knew exactly what it was. He shook his head back and forth. “No! Y-you can’t do that to me.” The assailant grabbed one of the thief’s arms. He tried to shake her off, but that only caused her to tighten her grip until it almost felt like his wrist was being crushed.

    “You’re a pretty smart man mister.” She put her knife up to the thief’s elbow.

    “That’s as far as you go.” It was Keith. He had his battle axe drawn and his group behind him. A thin, dangerous smile appeared on the assailant’s face. In one swift motion, the thief’s arm was gone. He let out a deafening scream and curled up into a ball on the ground as he tried in vain to deal with the pain.

    “Oopsy,” she said, playfully waving the dismembered arm around in a childish manner. “You startled me there and my knife slipped.”

    Keith felt the first years behind them cringe and reel away at the sight of it. Keith himself wasn’t feeling too well. “You’re a woman? How can you do something like this!?”

    “Me? I’m just enjoying myself on a night out on the town.” They gave another chilling smile and tossed the arm away. She started taking a few steps toward them.

    “Stay back…”

    “What’s wrong? You don’t want to play?”

    “I said stay back!” Keith charged forward at the serial killer, but missed. She skillfully dodged his attack and jumped clear over his head, landing behind him.

    “Oh now, look at that. I’m between you and them.”

    “Leave them alone. I’m your opponent.” Keith charged at her again, this time making contact with her blade. Despite the fact he was wielding and axe and she was using a small dagger, she seemed to have no problem matching his strength and even forcing him back.

    “It’s simply no fun for everyone else though. Besides, you might just last a little longer if you guys take turns.”

    ---

    Meanwhile, Alice Redding was with her own group. Suddenly, they heard a loud crash nearby. They looked at the direction of the noise.

    “We should probably check this out,” she said.

    ---

    “Ahhhhhhhhhh!!” Keith reeled back in pain and grabbed the left side of his face where the killer had delivered a vertical slash. “Crap. This isn’t…” He stopped to catch his breath.

    “Wow, I’m impressed. Most people aren’t in any condition to fight after losing an eye.”

    Wielding it in one hand, he pointed his axe at the killer. “Don’t get so cocky yet, bitch! I’m not done yet. Bring it on!”

    He dodged an oncoming attack and threw the axe at her only to have it miss and get embedded in the wall behind her.

    “You really are determined to get yourself killed now rather than later,” she said.

    “What are you talking about?”

    “Oops, I didn’t mean to say that. You know what they say! Ignore the ranting of a crazy person.”

    ---

    Alice turned the corner in the alleyway, but there was nothing there. A cat jumped down from an open window above them. She stared down at the cat and looked over at the smashed flower pot that was surely knocked down by the cat.

    “False alarm. It’s just a cat,” she said to her group. While the others began to turn and leave, Alice remained and took another look around. One of the group members came back.

    “Is something wrong?” they asked.

    “I don’t know. I have the strangest feeling that something’s wrong, but I can’t quite put my finger on it. Oh well, I guess it’s nothing. Let’s just carry on.”

    ---

    Hughes stood face to face with his brother. “Sorry about this little brother,” Eric began, “but I can’t let things like family get in the way here.”

    “Stop this Eric. I don’t know what the hell’s going through you mind right now, but this is madness. Look how many people you’ve killed! Do you even-,”

    Eric erupted with laughter. “Since when do you even care about me? Hey, are you even my real brother? The Hughes I know absolutely hates my ass!”

    “That’s not true.” Eric stopped laughing. “It doesn’t matter how much we fight and argue. You’re still my brother and I can’t just sit by and watch you betray your own people.” Eric drew one of his shotguns and pointed it at Hughes.

    “You never were good at making jokes, bro.” Eric hit him over the head with the shotgun. “See ya at Verlassen.” Hughes fell to the ground unconscious and landed next to the rest of his squad who had already been knocked out.

    “Are you really okay doing this to your own brother?” Vanen stood behind Eric.

    “Relax, I said I’d help you out by any means.” Eric put away his gun. “So how are things going on back at Velvidyne?”

    “Just great. They don’t even suspect that there’s a spy amongst them.”

    “What about Nasera? It doesn’t feel right to just let her run around without a tight leash on.”

    “I share your concern, but it’s out of our hands. I’ve been informed that she won’t be of any trouble yet and that’s the best we can hope for. We’ve spent enough time here. We need to meet with General Griffin.”
    ---

    General Ruaidhri entered his personal quarters and locked the door tightly behind him. “Shall we get down to business?”

    “Whatever old man,” said Den Keghart. He was seated in a chair. Arax Zabelle stood around looking at the room.
    Last edited by SamuraiChameleon; 07-19-2011 at 10:22 PM.

  4. #14
    You all know you're free to comment and critique this crap right? Even a simple "I like it," or "You suck," would be much appreciated although I think the later might be against the rules of the site. Anyway, chapter 10!

    Chapter 10: "Keep your friends close before it's too late"
    SPOILER! :
    Keith Grayson sat in his bed at the academy’s infirmary. He looked down at the eye patch in his good hand. He slowly removed his broken right arm from the sling that hung from his neck. He placed the patch over what used to be his left eye and tried to tie the ends of the strings together. However, his attempts only amounted to a painful struggle. The doctor on duty poked his head around the sheet that separated his bed from the one next to him.

    “Keep that arm of yours in the sling!”

    “Sorry. Uh, yes sir.” Keith did as he was instructed and stopped fiddling around with the eye patch.

    “By the way, you have a visitor.”

    Keith tried to mentally guess who it was before they showed themselves.

    “How’re you doing?” It was Alice. Not the first person he thought would visit him. Somehow, he wasn’t all that surprised though.

    “Oh, it’s you. Hey.” Alice was noticeably annoyed at his dismissive greeting.

    “Well, if I knew you’d be this happy to see me, I wouldn’t have bothered to come at all.”

    Speaking of which, you came here pretty damn fast, Keith thought.

    “And here I thought I was doing you a favor.”

    How the hell is that a favor?

    “Look. Sorry if I’m not in the best of moods right now, but I just lost an eye and even with accelerated healing, my face looks like shit. I used to look so good too. I don’t know how I’m gonna be able to pick up chicks now,” he said sullenly.

    Alice already knew the attack had greatly damaged his pride and jokes aside, it showed. She really did want to make him feel better, but wasn’t sure how.

    “Some girls find scars sexy,” she said, muttering the first thing that popped into her head.

    “What did you say?”

    “I said you’re absolutely pathetic! You almost died and all you can think about is girls.”

    “Huh, yeah. I guess I am.” Alice noticed him staring down at the eye patch in his hand.

    “Have you tried it on yet?” she asked.

    “You mean this?” He held it up to let her get a better look. “I tried, but it’s kind of difficult for someone with a broken arm.”

    “Do you want me to put it on for you?”

    “Sure, why not.”

    Alice took the eye patch from Keith. She brushed some hair that was in the way and got to work.

    “Geez, you need a haircut.”

    “What about you? Your hair’s insanely long.”

    “It is not! Besides, I’m a girl so it’s alright to have long hair.”

    “Even when you’re going to be in the army? Give me a break. Don’t come crying to me when you get your hair caught on barbed- hey! Don’t make it so tight.”

    Alice loosened it up a bit as requested.

    “Done.” She stepped away to see what he looked like.

    “So how do I look?”

    “I guess you look alright.”

    “That’s it? Just alright? It doesn’t make me look awesome or anything?”

    “Not particularly, no.”

    “Excuse me, but you have another visitor.” It was the doctor peeking around the corner again. This time it was Matthew Thompson.

    “How you doing there?” Keith asked as he walked over.

    “Was I interrupting anything? I could come back another time if you wanted.”

    “No, not at all.” Matthew stared at Keith and Alice with sweat running down his face. He looked extremely nervous and almost afraid. “Something wrong?”

    “No, it’s just…” Suddenly, he bowed over. “I’m so sorry! It’s all my fault you’re like this. If only I tried to help you sooner. If only I wasn’t so afraid! I’m so, so sorry. I’d understand if you couldn’t forgive me.”

    Keith wasn’t sure what to think of his apology.

    “Cool it man. If anything, I should be thanking you. If you hadn’t jumped in when you did, I’d probably be a dead man.”

    ---

    Hands bursting with energy, Keith charged yet again at his dangerous opponent. There was something different about him.

    An understatement if there ever was one.

    To the first years who huddled against the wall, he was an entirely different person. His carefree nature had entirely dissolved. This Keith was dead serious. He was an adrenaline fueled man somehow pushing himself to fight on equal terms with the person who had effortlessly cut out one of his eyes moments before.

    Matthew watched the two adversaries go back and forth at each other.

    What do I do!?

    He wanted desperately more than anything to help. His body remained frozen no matter how hard he tried to make it move. The gun he held rattled with the shaking of his hands.

    Keith struck another blow only to be forced back with a counter attack. He staggered backward covered in sweat and blood, not all of it entirely his.

    “This has certainly become interesting,” the killer said. “Unfortunately, I don’t see how you plan on staying conscious much longer with the way you’re wasting all that energy. Pretty soon you’ll end up like that poor guy.” She pointed at the dead thief who had perished due to blood loss.

    Damn it, I know that! I can already feel it begin to waver. This is real bad. She should be on the ground herself by now, but it’s as if I haven’t done jack to her. I’m finished if I don’t come up with something.

    She covered the distance between Keith and herself in the blink of an eye and kneed him the chest. He fell to the ground with a thud.

    “What happened to that speed of yours? All tired out now?” she taunted him.

    Damn. Is this really the end for me?

    She began stomping on his exposed right arm over and over again. Each time she extracted a painful grunt from Keith. She didn’t let up even after he felt the bones snap. Suddenly, there was an eruption of gunfire. All of the bullets missed, but they managed to grab her attention. At least momentarily, she turned her attention away from Keith and to the wielder of the gun.

    “Those were only warning shots!” Of course, Matthew was only bluffing. “If you don’t leave quietly, I’ll… I’ll blow your head off right here!” She let her dagger drop and embed itself in the ground next to Keith’s head.

    “Well well, look who finally decided to play.” A wicked smile crossed her face. “You have a notorious criminal cornered at gunpoint and you’re given them the chance to get away?” She began slowly taking steps closer and closer towards Matthew and the other members of the group.

    “Say back! I’m warning you.”

    “What’s wrong? I’ve been defeated.” She came ever so closer. Matthew squeezed the trigger and another bullet whizzed by her head.

    “Th-that was another warning shot! Don’t come any closer!”

    “So why don’t you claim your prize now like a brave hunter is supposed to.” She took another step forward.

    “Please…” Matthew was on the verge of tears when the wind began to pick up.

    The serial killer jumped back and a blast of razor sharp wind flew by where she was standing only moments before. It hit a brick wall, shredding it up. Ratana Cytinin stepped out of the shadows of the alleyway.

    “They just keep coming like lambs to slaughter,” the killer said mostly to herself.

    “W-who are you?” Matthew asked.

    “I came when I heard the shots. Incidentally, I happened to be in a nearby bar.”

    “Do you have a name or are you just the friendly enigmatic protector of the weak?” The killer asked her.

    “My name is Ratana Cytinin and I’m the leader of the famous Cytinin Mercenaries from Kazeri!”

    “Never heard of you.”

    “Why, you!”

    “Actually, I haven’t heard of you either,” said Matthew.

    “Whose side are you on?” She waved her lance at him in a threatening manner.

    “How does not knowing who you are make me an enemy?” Matthew asked frantically.

    Now that I think about it… “I’m letting you off the hook this time and this time only,” the killer said. She walked back over to Keith and grabbed her dagger. Without saying another word, she skillfully leapt over one of the surrounding walls and out of sight.

    “I must say. That was anticlimactic.” Ratana turned to see Brink walking toward them.

    “Now you show up! You useless sack of crap.”

    “What can I say? Fighting’s not really my thing. Besides, if you had all died, there would have been some juicy new information to get my hands on.” You could practically see steam venting out of Ratana’s head. Despite the terrifying scene, Brink managed to hold his composure. “Use your head. With some academy students dead, someone would really want some answers and the king would be a top candidate. Being the lone survivor to witness it with his own two eyes, I could have asked for top dollar.” He gave a deceitful grin. “But that’s all water under the bridge now. See you in a week Miss Cytinin.”

    ---

    “You have got to be the world’s shittiest leader! We’ve been ambushed nearly five times and now we’re gonna rot in some shit hole cell! Oh, and don’t even get me started on the other missions like that time in Lieuken with that crazy s o b with the scythe or that time in Aloquon when you made us charge at the guy with the Gatling gun!”

    Hmmm…

    “Insubordination will get you nowhere.”

    Where am I?

    “Screw you. I’m gonna kick your ass! Hey! Don’t swing away from me!”

    Hughes opened his eyes to quite the spectacle.

    “Where the hell are we,” Hughes groaned.

    “Verlassen Death Camp.” The voice came from the opposite cell. “I’m Irvine. Cyrus Irvine.”

    “Oh, you’re Ryxor’s friend. Why are you guys hanging from the ceiling anyway?” he asked to Ryxor and Drex.

    “That’s what I’d like to know!” Drex cried out. “Why couldn’t they just chain us to wall like you or better yet. Give me my own cell away from this guy!” He made another attempt to swing at Ryxor, but missed.

    Hughes took a look around. He was in one cell with Ryxor and Drex. Cyrus and Auras were in another one. All of the other cells were empty.

    “Where’s everyone else at? There weren’t any bodies back at the base.”

    “It would seem that they’re all dead.”

    “Why were you kept alive?”

    “I wasn’t at the base when it was attacked. I was coming back from the capital when my carriage came under fire. I believe the only reason I’ve been spared was because I was with the general. They seem to think I’m someone important.”

    “General?”

    “General Gat Rivers,” said Auras.

    “I take it this guy does something really important?”

    “You don’t know who General Rivers is?” Ryxor asked.

    “I can’t be bothered to memorize everyone’s name.”

    “There are a grand total of three generals, genius.”

    “And where is this General Rivers at?” Hughes ignored Ryxor’s comment.

    “That’s the problem. I don’t know,” said Cyrus.

    “You mean beside the fact that we’re chained up in jail cells, right?” Drex asked.

    ‘Well, naturally.”

    “You said this place is a death camp? I thought Arabi forced Agaron to close all of them down,” said Auras.

    “It was. Verlassen was in the process of being transformed into a prison for regular criminals, but the project was abandoned.”

    “By who?”

    “Alexander Griffin. That is no doubt a name you all recognize.”

    “…” This name was also unfamiliar to Hughes.

    “He’s the Agaron general largely responsible for starting the war,” said Ryxor.

    “And he’s still in power?”

    “Somehow, yes.”

    “This has been interesting and all, but I think it’s time we leave. Ryxor, stop playing around and bust out of those chains.”

    “I can’t.”

    “What do you mean you can’t?”

    “I can’t use my energy. It doesn’t work for some reason.”

    “Did you use up too much or something?” Hughes already knew that wasn’t the case, but he asked anyway. They had been surrounded and put down before any of them had a chance to fight back.

    “We think there’s something about this prison that prevents us from using any energy,” Auras offered.

    “How is that even possible?”

    “That’s a good question. I don’t think we’re gonna find the answer anytime soon though.”

    “Is there a backup plan?”

    “No,” Ryxor said. “The only thing we can do now is sit tight and wait.”

    ---

    Vanen sat in what used to be the desk in the warden’s office. Eric stood against one of the walls and General Griffin sat in a chair on the other side of the desk. The office along with the rest of the prison looked like it had seen better days. However, Vanen’s use of the place was probably no better than back then.

    “You’re sure they don’t know what’s coming?” Griffin asked. “I don’t want to lead my men into a pointless slaughter.”

    But you’d lead them to slaughter if it’d benefit you, Vanen thought. “Rest assured. Our spy informs me that they are utterly unprepared for an attack of this scale.” The general still did not looked pleased.

    “Right, the spy. How do we know we can trust him?” The general sounded skeptical.

    “I trust him with my life. The question is whether or not you trust us.” Griffin tried to read Vanen’s thoughts, but his face betrayed no information. He had remained stiff and emotionless throughout the conversation.

    “Fine, I’ll take your word on it,” he said, still not impressed. Vanen must have picked up on it.

    “As it is, the city’s attention is currently focused on a deranged serial killer who conveniently appeared recently.”

    “Right, conveniently. What about Rivers? That man is dangerous. Why have you kept him alive?”

    “Insurance. In the rare event that our forces are crushed, a hostage of significant importance will come in handy.”

    “What about those other guys you’ve captured? Those flunkies are of no importance to anyone, least of all us. When are you going to put them down?”

    “In due time.”

    “Due time? You know, I had my men gather a report on you ahead of time and I know you have a past with one of them. I swear if you try anything at-.” General Griffin stopped mid sentence. For the first time since he had met Vanen, he could see a trace of emotion visible on his face: anger.

    “This meeting is over.” Vanen stood up and slammed his hands on the desk. His tone remained as flat as ever though. “I believe you know the way out of what used to be your prison.”

    “Damn it Vanen, I don’t want to take the fall because you’re too busy playing games with old friends!”

    “Next we meet will be in Velvidyne, Griffin.”

    “That’s General to you, you ungrateful bastard! None of this would be possible without my help. None!” He stomped his foot on the ground as if to reinforce his point.

    “We know. The question is does daddy know? I wonder if he’d cut you off if he found out.”

    General Griffin had had enough. He wanted nothing more than to wrap his hands around Vanen’s neck and squeeze until his eyes popped out of his head. As much as he hated to admit it though, the planned attack on Velvidyne wouldn’t be possible without Vanen either. He made a silent vow to deal with it later. In the mean time, he swallowed his anger along with a bit of pride and stormed out of the office.

    “How’d it go, sir?” one of his men waiting outside asked.

    “Can it! We’re leaving.”

    “Uh, yes sir!”

    Eric watched them leave through a window in the office. He had said nothing during the meeting. As a matter of fact, he did absolutely nothing at all.

    “Is it really okay to ally ourselves with that sorry excuse for a general?” Eric asked.

    “Sometimes one must take help wherever they can get it.”

    “I suppose so.” Eric looked outside the window again. General Griffin was nowhere to be seen. “Who knew King Griffin’s son was so pathetic. Say, would you really put your life in his hands?”

    “Griffin?”

    “No, I mean the spy.”

    “Not a chance in hell.” Naturally, he wouldn’t stake his life on Griffin either.

    ---

    “Ruaidhri! Is what this report says true?”

    General Sykes barged into Ruaidhri’s office waving a folder in one of his hands. The report in question was about the progress Ryxor had made so far. It began with the incident of Vanen’s disappearance and ended with Ryxor’s intentions to go to Agaron. The detail that concerned Sykes the most was the possibilities of Agaron’s involvement.

    “Yes. Everything summarized in that report is one hundred percent true, at least according to Ryxor and his men.”

    “Then we need to prepare for war now!”

    “Don’t rush into this like a fool, sir. We have but one man of questionable character and background to back our claims. This same man is currently on the run and has yet to be apprehended.”

    “Then why didn’t you make them go after Oren instead letting them run off to Agaron?”

    “Vanen’s the one we want, not some mercenary. We get Vanen, we stop the whole plan dead in its tracks. Fear not though, I’m not completely neglecting the matter of Oren. I’ve instructed Colonel Gaines to search for him.”

    “The colonel? If I recall correctly, the report also mentions that it was his fault he got away in the first place.”

    Ruaidhri held his hand. At first, Sykes wasn’t sure what he wanted. He soon realized he was asking for the report and handed it to him. Ruaidhri placed the folder on his desk, opened it up, and flipped through until he found the page he was looking for. He began to read aloud from the report.

    “Colonel Gaines engaged Oren in combat and promptly defeated him. After briefly interrogating him on the spot, nearby cannon fire gave Oren a chance to escape.” He closed the report. “How would you block a cannon ball, sir?” Sykes said nothing. “I have the utmost respect for Colonel Gaines and I firmly believe that he will get the job done.”

    “Is this respect born from his accomplishments or your relationship with the colonel?”

    “I assure you I would never and have never put anything, not even the safety of my own family whom I wasn’t there to protect in their time need, over the safety of the kingdom and the king.” Ruaidhri’s voice was as hard and firm as solid rock.

    Sykes was at a loss words. Everyone who joined the army made sacrifices, but he had never known the extent of the one Ruaidhri had made. The words he just heard replayed in his head. He lost his family while away on duty.

    “Understood, sir. I’ll hold off any action for now.”

    He saluted Ruaidhri who saluted Sykes in return. When he opened the door to leave, he found Luther posed to knock on it. He stopped when he saw who he was facing and saluted.

    “Good evening sir.”

    “Evening Professor.”

    Luther stepped aside and let Sykes walk past him. He closed the door behind him after stepping inside.

    “You wanted to speak to me sir?” Sykes heard Luther ask through the door. For a moment he thought of eavesdropping on the conversation. He immediately decided against it and left.

    “I understand a group of students was attacked by the serial killer tonight.”

    “Yes sir. Only the senior student guiding the group was injured. I’ve yet to question him about it, but it would seem he protected the others from the killer.” Talking to Ruaidhri always troubled Luther in some way. Ruaidhri had supreme command over him, and yet he was younger by several years.

    “I see. In that case, he’s a brave man deserving of an award. How was he?”

    “He seemed to be doing fine. He was asleep when I arrived. He received a broken arm and he lost his left eye among numerous cuts and bruises.”

    “An eye you say?” Ruaidhri appeared to be troubled over the fact. “It pains me to see a young man like that not even in his twenties already carrying scars for the rest of his life.”

    “Yes sir. I think I fully understand what it’s like.” Ruaidhri looked over Luther’s permanently injured arm covered in bandages.

    “Are you ever going to tell me the story behind it?” Ruaidhri asked.

    “Sorry sir. Not today.”

    ---

    King Alistair Arabi heard loud urgent knocking on the door to his chambers in the palace as he tried to drift asleep. Already a difficult task, it was impossible to do so under the noise of whoever was at the door. He wanted to pretend he was already asleep, but he knew could not ignore it. He climbed out of his warm bed and made his way to door. He opened it to find his personal aid Curtis Rocer.

    “What the devil is it? It’s late Curtis.”

    “I’m sorry sir. There’s been another attack by the serial killer. This time it was a student.”

    All that noise just for this? I damn near thought you came here to tell me we were under attack by invading forces. That’s what the king wanted to say at first. It may not have been a daring attack, but the news was troubling all the same.

    “That no good psychopath is becoming more and more of a problem. Have we been able to determine anything at all about this guy yet?”

    “Actually, he’s a she, sir. The killer’s a woman.”

    “A woman?” The king was taken aback by this piece of information. The war, this mess with Travis’ kid, this female killer… Curtis could tell King Arabi was deep in thought.

    “This whole generation is cursed,” he said at last. “And it’s the previous one’s fault. Our generation, Curtis. Put every guard on alert. Put out a curfew and recall all students still wondering about.”

    “Already done sir.”

    “Great work. Keep me up to date on any progress made.”

    “Yes sir. Thank you, sir.”

    “And Curtis, get some sleep. How you can still run around at this late hour with such energy is beyond me.”

    “Yes sir.”

    “And stop calling me sir. I think we’ve known each other long enough that you can at least use my name in private.”

    “Yes Alistair.”

    ---

    Not even an hour earlier, Luther stood in the infirmary. The lights were out and four of the beds were occupied. Aside from the Keith, the only real patient, Alice, Lynn and Matthew also occupied a bed. He heard quite footsteps coming from behind and turned to see the doctor.

    “Why are they here? None of them were injured were they?” Luther asked quietly.

    “Not one scratch. They simply refused to leave.” The doctor replied in a hushed tone. Luther was reminded of the day Ryxor Borx showed up on his door step with a half-dead girl in his arms. They reminded him of Ryxor and Drex on that day ten years ago, refusing to leave their friend’s side.

    “I see. It’s alright for now. Leave them be.”

    “Sir!” A man in uniform ran in. It was the same person who had brought Ratana to his office.

    “Keep it down.” He saw the students sleeping.

    “Yes sir,” he said much quieter. “General Ruaidhri wishes to speak to you, sir.”

    “Alright. I’ll be there shortly.”

    The messenger left having done his job. Luther went to do the same, but he stopped to take one last look. He realized that they also reminded him of his self years ago when he refused to leave his dying master’s side.

    He suddenly remembered that day so many years ago. The day he was betrayed. The day his arm got messed up. The day he lost someone dear to him. The day he was asked to take care of that person’s daughter. It was the day his happiness ended and the day his struggle began.

    ---

    Brink Lowe walked down one of the many back alleyways in Velvidyne whistling a cheerful tune. News of the attack had already reached the king. According to an associate of his, the guards were going berserk and forcing everyone to remain indoors. It seemed a curfew had been put in place. Brink had already seen the effects first hand. He had just been to one of the now almost empty main streets.

    “You know, there’s saying all the smart people know that goes something like this,” he said aloud to no one. “Nothing goes on in this city without Brink Lowe knowing about it. Hell nothing goes on in Arabi without Brink Lowe knowing about it. But-,” he stopped.

    A shadow darted out of the darkness bearing a dagger and headed straight for Brink. The dagger appeared to go into Brink, but he jumped back brandishing his own dagger.

    “Why the long face?” Brink asked.

    The shadow looked confused. They did not notice Brink make any move to pull out a weapon. It was as if the dagger had appeared out of nowhere. Furthermore, it was made out of ice.

    “People like you and me are living in such exciting times. For instance, I’m the man who knows everything, and yet…” A mischievous smile appeared on his face. . “I don’t know why you’ve come to this city, Nasera Xaz, but I intend to find out. I get the feeling you’re here for more than killing, if you catch my drift.”

  5. #15
    All right, I've the next chapter done for a while now, but I can't post it for some reason. After messing around on the site, I think the problem is that the post is too long, which doesn't make sense since I had no problem with any of my other posts. I'll keep trying to get it to work, but for now I don't know what I'm gonna do.
    Last edited by SamuraiChameleon; 08-21-2011 at 12:52 AM.

  6. #16
    Your Friendly Ban Hammer-er Rio's Avatar
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    Testing...

    [UPDATE]
    It works for me. There is a limit to how much you can post. It's not set by this site itself but by the guys who run the servers where this site is hosted. Try posting what you have in smaller batches. Maybe that will allow you post your work.

  7. #17
    Thanks. I was actually thinking of trying that, but it sounded like a pain in the ass, but it looks like I might have to.

    All right.

    It's been a while, but I have a new chapter done. I'd like to say that the next one will be up soon, but I just can't make that kind of claim with school starting up. However, I promise I won't let this die. I know there probably aren't that many of you that follow this, but there's just no way all 290 views came from 290 different people. For those that care, do me a favor and keep checking back every now and then. Also, on another note, this chapter brings the story to over 100 pages!

    Chapter 11: “Prison rumble: The Banes brothers fight like the siblings they are” Part 1
    SPOILER! :
    Dawn crept over the land and poked its head through the barred windows of Verlassen’s cells. Cyrus Irvine felt its warm glow fall on him. He could feel the contrast between it and the cold hard bricks of the floor he lay on. It had almost been a week since he had been captured and thrown in that cell along with Ryxor Borx, Drex Kozen, Hughes Banes, and Auras Thompson who joined him not long after.

    The treatment they received from Vanen’s men was barbaric in every sense of the word. In their time at Verlassen so far, they had been given minimal food and water. They were beaten often and kicked around at every opportunity.

    And yet, somehow Cyrus kept his strength for the day that it would be needed. He knew that day would come sooner or later. He wasn’t the only one. Ryxor and the rest managed to do the same. They all knew there would soon come a time when they would no longer have to face brutal treatment at the hands of the enemy. There were all hardened men who weren’t going to give up.

    Like a genie granting their wish, that time had come. Cyrus woke up lying on the floor in the early morning hours. He knew immediately that something had happened. His captors had kept him chained to the wall. As his eyes opened completely and all traces of sleep dispersed from his vision, his attention focused on the cell door that stood open.

    He looked over his fellow prisoners who were still asleep. They too were unchained and lying on the floor. He reached for Auras, the person closest to him, and shook him awake. His eyes opened and he was about to say something when Cyrus motioned for him to stay quiet.

    The two of them crept out of their cell and ignored the others. They moved quietly through the surrounding area with Cyrus in the lead. Everywhere they checked, Vanen’s men were dead. Someone had been busy last night. By the time they returned to their cells, Ryxor, Drex, and Hughes had already woken up.

    “How the hell did you do this, Cyrus?” Ryxor asked upon seeing them come back.

    “I didn’t do anything,” he said.

    “Someone must have freed us when we were sleeping last night,” said Auras. “Whoever it was dealt with the guards too.”

    “Someone? Who? Anyone capable of doing this doesn’t even know where here,” Drex said.

    “Not to mention they just left us here,” Hughes said. “Don’t you think they’d have taken us with them if they were on our side?”

    “And that begs the question how the hell they friggin’ did it without waking us.”

    “Why they left us here is of no concern to us at the moment. We can’t say for sure they’re our friend, but they’re definitely Vanen’s enemy. There’s no way they would have freed us if they weren’t. What matters most right now is that we’re free. Cyrus, you seem to know the layout of this place.”

    Cyrus shook his head in agreement. “Affirmative.”

    “We need to get our hands on some weapons. I’m guessing this place has an armory. After that, we look for General Rivers and bug out. I think we’ve seen enough to confirm that Agaron is backing Vanen. We need to get this information to General Ruaidhri as soon as possible.”

    The group of five made their way through the prison camp with Cyrus leading the way. He opened a door into a desolate courtyard area. Their lengthy morning shadows stretched out to dirt, blood, and bodies. None of them were strangers to corpses having each made some themselves, but the gruesome sight still made their stomachs churn. There was even one body that had been impaled on a dead tree. Some people got used to sights like the one before them, but it almost never got easier.

    After crossing the courtyard and going through another door, they found themselves blocked by a locked door. Unfortunately, the room that lay beyond was the armory and the weapons they sought.

    “Hey Ryxor, why don’t you see if you can use your energy again,” Drex suggested after they gave the room a thorough search for anything useful.

    “I don’t think that’s going to work,” Auras said. “If the cells we were in were somehow energy proofed, then this room probably is too along with the rest of the prison.”

    “It’s worth a shot,” Ryxor said. There was a trace of weariness in his voice. He too had his doubts, but that weariness was coming from another source. He placed his hand in front of the lock and focused his energy to that point. The lock began to glow red hot. Flames popped up as it turned to molten liquid and slipped away from its spot on the door and fell to the ground. The door was now unlocked albeit burnt and smoldering where the padlock used to be. The feat was no cause for celebration however. The others could see that his face was strained. His breathing had also quickened.

    “What’s wrong?” Cyrus asked.

    “I feel like I just ran a mile,” he said.

    “Could this be an effect of the prison?” Auras asked.

    “Let’s not forget we’ve been nearly deprived of food, water, and everything else for the past week,” Drex said.

    “He’s got a point. That kind of stuff tends to drain away someone’s strength,” Hughes added.

    “Yeah, you guys are probably right,” Ryxor said. “I just hope we don’t run into anymore locks. I don’t think I have that much energy left to spare.” There was something else bothering him. As Cyrus opened the door to the armory, he pondered why he could use his energy now and not when he was in his cell. It was another mystery he’d have to shelf for now just like the identity of the person or group behind their escape. He just hoped he’d be able to dust them off sooner rather than later.

    There was another door on the other side of the room. To their dismay, the armory initially appeared empty except for a handful of rusted swords and bows. It wasn’t after they opened a moldy old chest tucked away in a corner of the room and found all of their gear that their hope was restored.

    “How old is this place anyway? Who the hell uses a bow and arrows anymore now that we have guns?” Drex asked why examining his weapon. Surprisingly, it was still in good condition.

    “I’m not sure,” Cyrus said. “I imagine General Griffin would know or perhaps his father.”

    “Who is his father?” Hughes asked while checking out his guns. To his dismay, there was no ammo to be found.

    “Magnus Griffin.”

    “And who is that?” Even without the question, the puzzled look he wore gave away his lack of knowledge.

    “King Magnus Griffin of Agaron.” Ryxor said it in a way that suggested it was name he should have known, and it really was.

    “You really…” Auras trailed off. His attention was focused elsewhere. The others noticed it as well. Before anyone had time to speculate on what Hughes had done during his history lessons at the academy, Drex brought up a barrier that blocked an oncoming shotgun blast from the open door way they came from.

    Outside in the courtyard, Eric Banes held one of his double-barrel shotguns out and fired another shot. By now it was too late and his targets had cleared the doorway. Drex could still feel the strain of using his energy when he pressed himself up against the wall.

    “It’s no fun when you hide!” They heard Eric shout from outside. He cracked open his shotgun and put in two more shells.

    Hughes rummaged through his clothing and pulled out four revolver bullets he had managed to hide on him the whole time.

    “I’ll deal with this,” he said. “You guys go on ahead through the other door and find Rivers. I’ll meet up with you when I’m finished here.”

    “Are you sure?” Ryxor asked.

    “He’s only one person. Have a little faith in me.”

    Ryxor didn’t want to leave him behind alone and probably shouldn’t have, but he knew who was out there. Hughes wasn’t going to back down from this battle and he wanted to do it alone. He sensed that much in the tone of his voice. The thing that persuaded Ryxor to make the call wasn’t what was spoken though. He knew he would never be able to look the man in the eye again if he kept him from doing this.

    “Just don’t get yourself killed,” he said at last. “Everyone else, move out. Cyrus, take point again.”

    “Yes sir.” Cyrus had only known Hughes for a short time and he didn’t know what was going on, but he could sense that the person out there was someone important in his life. He reached for the other door, which to his surprise wasn’t locked. They left Hughes alone in the armory to fight his brother.

    He set his empty rifle aside. It was down to his revolver, which wasn’t even fully loaded. Slowly and cautiously, he poked his head around the corner to catch a glimpse of Eric. He reared his head back inside as a shotgun blast flew by where it was a second earlier, but he had seen enough. Eric appeared to have only one double-barrel on him and furthermore he was injured. Hughes wasn’t the only one at a disadvantage.

    “Come on brother, I know it’s just you in there now. Come out and play like old times. I’m in a really bad mood and I think you might be able to help out.”

    ---

    The previous night at Verlassen, Eric Banes was in the warden’s office when the chaos started. Vanen had already left for Velvidyne along with most of the men they had gathered. Only a handful remained behind with Eric. Something was wrong, something was off. He could sense it. The tension was almost palpable.

    “What the hell are you doing? Get back to work,” one guard called out to another. The other stood facing the tree in the courtyard with his fly down.

    “Shut up will ya? Can’t a guy take a piss in peace around here?”

    “You should have done this when you were off duty. This is just being careless.”

    “Whoa, listen to you. I don’t recall you ever getting a promotion Mr. High-and-Mighty. Last I checked you had no authority over me.” The guard finished up with his business and turned to face his friend only to find that he was alone.

    “Hey, where’d you go?” There was no answer. The guard’s first response was to draw his sword, but he stopped with his hand on the sheath. He let down his guard, a mistake that cost him his life. Then again, it may have simply caused him to die faster.

    “Ha. Trying to tell me how to do my job when you’re the one playing games with me.”

    At that moment, a shadowy figure appeared at his side. It reached for the hand on the sword and twisted it around, breaking his wrist. The guard, unaware of what had happened yet, yelled out in pain. Then the figure drew the sword and stabbed it through him and into the tree. It slipped away as silently as it had came as the guard made his last breath.

    The shadow made its way through Verlassen’s corridors slaughtering anyone who came across its path. It stopped in front of what it was looking for: the prison cells containing Ryxor Borx and the others. It noticed that there was one more person there than was expected in the other cell. It reached for the lock to the cell and opened it almost effortlessly even without a key, and walked over to Cyrus who was beginning to stir awake. He looked at the unknown figure before him through drowsy eyes.

    “Who are you?” he asked in a whisper. “Did King Arabi send you to rescue us?”

    The figure placed a hand on Cyrus’ head.

    “Go back to sleep,” the shadow muttered. Before Cyrus knew what hit him, he began to feel overwhelmed with the sense to fall asleep. He did just that before long. After making sure he was truly asleep, the figure undid the chains that bound him to the wall. He then proceeded to do the same for the others, and then left the way he came. There was one more matter he had to settle before leaving the prison: Eric Banes.

    The shadow was backtracking through the courtyard when his target stepped out from behind the tree.

    “You know, I thought something stunk tonight,” Eric said.

    “Eric Banes. My master has ordered that I take your life as well as the life of Vanen Travis. You are no longer acting in his interest. Furthermore, he suspects that you have not been doing so for some time now.”

    “Yeah, yeah, I don’t give a damn what your master thinks.”

    “Is there anything you have to say for you actions?” he asked, ignoring Eric.

    “You just can’t take a hint can ya? Man, if Den were here, he’d have fried your ass already. At least I was generous enough to give you time to say your last words!”

    Eric drew his weapon of choice, a sawn-off shotgun, took aim, and fired, shattering the silence of the night that had been on the verge of disappearing for some time now. His opponent dodged the blast with lightning speed. Before Eric knew what had happened, he had his sword drawn and was moving into to attack. He fired his second shot, which he also dodged with little to no effort.

    “Did that really just happen?” Eric questioned in disbelief. “Tell me that didn’t just happen! You did not just dodge both shots!”

    Eric managed to dodge the elusive figure’s first attack by a hair’s width, and brought up his empty shotgun to block the next. The sword connected with his gun. At first it appeared that he was successful in blocking the attack, but then the sword cut through the gun and into his shoulder. Eric jumped back and put his hand over his injured shoulder. Raw anger mixed with the pain on his face.

    “Perhaps now you see how foolish you were to ever think of challenging us,” the man said.

    “You think you can win that easily!?” Eric gritted his teeth and stood up. “I’m not some chump you can spit on and then walk away from.” He formed his empty hand into a fist and squeezed until the knuckle turned white. “Bring the pain jackass!” Let’s see if you can dodge this.

    His opponent charged him, but rather than ready himself to defend against an attack, he stood there letting himself remain open. He sensed that something was off, but perhaps he didn’t care. Perhaps he thought that he was superior to this man in every way and completely disregarded any possible threat from him.

    He thrust his sword through Eric’s chest. Blood spilled out of his smiling mouth and by then it was too late for his assailant to do anything. Eric brought his second shotgun up to his chest and squeezed the trigger. The full force of the point-blank shot ripped through his torso and sent blood and guts flying out the other side. He flew back several feet from Eric and landed in a heap on the ground.

    Eric fell where he stood, his condition better off by not very much. He dropped his remaining shotgun and gripped the sword in his chest with both hands and braced himself for what was to come. He pulled it out in one try and coughed up more blood in the process. He quickly placed his hand over the hole in his chest and sealed it closed

    I’m no good at this crap, but I at least know enough to keep me from bleeding out. He knew he needed proper medical attention. Unfortunately, he also knew there was none to be found. What was left of the joke of an infirmary the prison had would not nearly be enough.

    “What are you doing? Why don’t you finish me?” His assailant stirred, somehow still alive. Eric turned his attention in the direction of his voice. He made a notable effort to stop himself from grabbing his discarded shotgun and wasting that second shot on a man he knew was already dying.

    “I’m not the merciful type, especially when it comes to assholes like you. Humor me and die slowly and painfully, would ya?”

    Eric forced himself up and walked slowly and carefully away from the dying man to scrounge up whatever medical supplies he could. They had brought a medic with them to Verlassen, but Eric wagered the person whose guts he just blew out had already killed them.

    ---

    During the time it took Eric to reload his shotgun, Hughes moved out of the armory and into the room he was previously in. Eric fired another shot as he dived for cover next to the door. Unlike Eric who seemed to be pulling ammo out of his ass, Hughes had a very limited supply. He had to be selective with his shots and accuracy was of the utmost importance.

    “Is this the best you can do? This cat and mouse crap pisses me off!” Eric yelled, his attention seemingly focused on the open doorway.

    Hughes looked to his right and up to the window on the wall just above his head. He needed a way to flank him, and he knew it was probably his only way. He crawled over, trying to keep his head down. He got up when he reached it only to find a loaded gun trained on his head. He ducked down as another shot destroyed the window and barely missed him. Hughes had had enough close calls. Lucky for him, Eric had just fired his second shot.

    He dived through the window prepared to fire, but there was no one there. His eyes moved back and forth as he quickly scanned the courtyard. The only place Eric could have ran off to was behind the dead tree. It certainly had a wide enough birth to hide a person.
    Last edited by SamuraiChameleon; 08-21-2011 at 09:04 PM.

  8. #18
    Chapter 11: "Prison rumble: The Banes brothers fight like the siblings they are" Part 2
    SPOILER! :
    Hughes approached with caution, but then Eric wheeled around from the other side, shotgun reloaded, confirming his theory. Hughes was the first to fire missing Eric, but he ended up hitting the shotgun causing him to drop hit. Hughes fired another shot in quick succession. Eric took cover behind the tree again and the bullet bit into its wood.

    Forsaking caution, Hughes broke into a sprint and converged on the tree. He realized the mistake of doing that too late though as Eric grabbed the revolver and punched Hughes in the face with his good arm. He fell back, relinquishing his grip on the gun.

    Hughes struck his hand through the earth and tossed a handful of dirt into Eric’s face. He fired off a shot in desperation, missing wildly. As he brushed the dirt out of his face, Hughes lunged for the shotgun and whirled around to face his brother. The next shot rang throughout the courtyard and seemed to go on forever.

    ---

    Cyrus, Ryxor, Drex, and Auras burst into the empty warden’s office ready for a fight, but they were only greeted with dead silence.

    “Damn it all!” Ryxor yelled. “He’s not here either.” The “he” he was referring to was General Rivers. They needed to get back to Arabi as soon as possible, but they couldn’t leave without him. So far, their urgent search had proved fruitless.

    “Calm down,” Auras said. “We need to think. Where haven’t we checked yet?” They all turned to Cyrus who knew the most about the prison. He was their only chance of finding the general, but every place he remembered and suggested turned out to be wrong. So far they had checked every cell block, the maximum security area, and now the warden’s office as well as every other random hole they found in-between. They were starting to get desperate.

    “There’s no where we haven’t checked,” Cyrus said. He felt bad for letting everyone down and it showed on him. “We’ve checked everywhere the general could be. At least, we’ve checked all the logical places.”

    “Well then maybe we’re gonna have to go through the illogical ones now,” Drex said.

    Ryxor looked as if the imaginary light bulb in his head just went on. “Hold it. Do we even know he’s still here? We got left behind, but we shouldn’t just assume that Rivers did to. We still don’t know who freed us or their motive for doing it.”

    The others looked disappointed. Not because of the situation there were in, but because of themselves. None of them had questioned it yet. It was indeed a very good possibility that General Rivers was no longer at Verlassen.

    “We have no way of knowing, do we?” Auras asked, the first to respond. “He could still be locked away somewhere here or he could have been moved days ago.”

    “So, what’s the next move, sir?” Drex added the “sir” on sarcastically. “We can’t turn this whole place upside down.”

    “I’m certain now,” Ryxor said. “There’s no way Vanen would let us run around like this searching for him. Vanen probably bugged out of here before the attack and he has Rivers with him.”

    “You really got a complex for that guy, you know? For all we know, he’s dead too. His men sure as hell got screwed in the ass.”

    “Use your head for once. How many bodies have we seen so far? Do you really think that was all Vanen had going for him? None of them were wearing the Agaron uniform either. It’s likely Vanen already moved out and took Rivers along with most of his men.”

    Drex had to admit. He had a good a point. “Fine then. I’m not the one taking the blame though if we come back and find his skeleton tied up in some random place we didn’t check.” For all his complaining, Drex was actually relieved that he wouldn’t have to run around continuing the search.

    Cyrus still didn’t look totally convinced. “I hope your right. We can’t afford to lose him.”

    “Alright that leaves one more question,” Ryxor said. “Where the hell has he ran off to?” Suddenly, it donned on him like a ton of bricks. Judging by the expression on the other’s faces, they had reached the same conclusion.

    “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” Auras asked.

    “That Vanen’s finally making his move and plans to assault Velvidyne? Yeah that’s exactly what I’m thinking.”

    ---

    A young Eric Banes waited in the underbrush of a forest, rifle in hand. He was absolute still and made not even the slightest noise. Finally, he sighted his pray. A deer came walking by. He made sure his rifle was loaded and ready for the fiftieth time and took aim at the deer slow and decisively.

    A shot was fired and the deer dropped dead. However, no smoke came out of the barrel of his rifle. He had not felt the kick from the recoil. The shot had not been his. Hughes walked out of his own hiding spot to collect his prize. He was soon joined by their father who was ecstatic over his son’s accomplishment.

    Eric stayed where he was and watched the scene unfold in disappointment and silent anger. He changed targets and aimed at his brother.

    You did it again. I don’t even exist in their eyes. It’s always about you. You damn well deserve this.

    He felt the tension build up as he steadied himself for the shot. His finger lay on the trigger and all he had to do was squeeze. But, he took his finger off and lowered the gun. He couldn’t bring himself to go through with it. At last, he stood up and walked over to the deer.

    “Ah, there you are Eric,” his dad said. “Look.” He gestured to the dead deer. “Hughes did it again.” He saw the sullen look on his son’s face. “Don’t worry about it. You’ll get one next time,” he said trying to bring up his spirits. Eric feigned a fake smile that paled in comparison to Hughes’.

    Hunting wasn’t the only thing his brother surpassed him in. Generally, he bet him in anything involving guns and marksmanship. As much as he hated to admit it, Hughes was real prodigy when it came to that stuff.

    Eric challenged Hughes to competitions in very much the same way Ryxor did with Vanen. Sure he won some of them, but Hughes dominated for the most part. He took every chance he could get to try and upstage the star of their family. When the time came, he signed up for the military academy without hesitation.

    ---

    Eric felt his grip loosen up and fade with the rest of his strength. He dropped the revolver and fell to the ground. It took a few moments before what had happened hit Hughes.

    “Eric!” He tossed the shotgun aside and ran over to his brother.

    I didn’t want this. Sure we didn’t get along, but god knows I didn’t want this!

    He held up Eric’s head in his arms. He coughed up blood as he tried to say something.

    “Don’t speak. Don’t do anything, just save you strength.” His life flashed before his eyes even though he wasn’t the one dying. He found his moments with Eric seemed to jump out the most. His searched his scattered mind for an answer. Something. Anything at all that could save his brother.

    “Ryxor! Drex! Where the hell are you? You guys know energy. Do something, please!” He set Eric’s head down as gently as he could, afraid that it would crack if he was too rough with it. He turned to go find them. It was the only thing he could think of. When he got up to leave however, Eric reached out and grabbed his arm.

    “Don’t.” It took a considerable amount of his remaining strength to speak even that one word. Hughes froze. He wanted to get help, but something stopped him from moving. He kneeled back down by his brother’s side.

    “Damn it. Why? Why goddamn it!? What was it all for? What the hell were you thinking!?”

    Eric thought about what he would say. He thought long and hard. He wanted to tell Hughes it was his fault everything turned out this way, but he couldn’t. He knew deep down that it was his fault. In the beginning it was stupid notions of jealousy. They eventually gave way to hate as they festered in his mind.

    He coughed up more blood. “Sorry,” he managed to say. Even know, he felt pathetic saying it. He knew it had to be done though. He had to make peace with his brother before it was too late.

    He felt something wet hit his face and then another. He realized that they were tears. He wondered why he wasn’t crying as well. He couldn’t feel one single tear build up in his eyes. The thought unsettled him more than he cared to admit.

    Hughes felt the grip give way and then drop altogether. At the same time, Eric’s ragged breathing stopped. He put his hand over Eric’s eyes and closed them. It wasn’t just because it was the proper thing to do. He didn’t think he could look into them one second longer.

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