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Breaking of Bonds part 4

28 Apr

By Alicia Steen and Nathan Steen

 

Synrn. Phoenix Tower: Dark Moon, Jeshrun. Year After Shadow Two Thousand One Hundred.

“It will be a dark night.”

From the top of the Phoenix Tower all of northern Dark Moon is normally visible, but tonight all is covered by a thick cloud that rumbles with flashes of red-orange flame. It has not reached the Phoenix Tower, but if Fortress Dark Courage should fall, we may well be next.

“They will need reinforcements,” General Tetze says grimly beside me.

“We wait here for the cloud to disperse,” I answer. Tetze glances a disbelieving look he hasn’t used since we first met.

Nevertheless, he says quietly, if not calmly, “There won’t be anything left, if indeed it disperses at all.”

All the wolves and phoenix from the RedStone are here, patiently preening or lounging about. Until their time arrives, they prefer not to waste energy. “We wait,” I repeat firmly with an unyielding expression Tetze knows better than to argue with. “We cannot restore what is lost until the occupying force has been removed.”

Tetze remains silent, trusting my judgement from years of practice.

We wait.

 

Ecalai. Northern Forest: Dark Moon, Jeshrun. Year After Shadow Two Thousand One Hundred.

The dark fortress looks as foreboding as Ecalai thought it would. Much of it is a ruin, no doubt the result of countless battles that had been fought here. The heart of the fortress, however, still stands, and from it the clouds of shadow are rising to darken the night sky. Ecalai walks through the ruins toward that tower. Even here he can catch echoes of the shadow’s invasion of Dark Moon. The sound helps him focus on his goals, though he needs no reminder. He knows all too well what is at stake.

Upon entering the tower at the fortress’s heart, Ecalai is hit by the strong presence of the deep darkness that dwells here. Shadow pours from the walls in a never ending river, seeming to thicken the darkness. It is as if the dark fortress itself were alive and bending its will against all who walk within. Ecalai has to rely on his magical senses to find his way because the darkness here is so deep.

“Well, well, well, look what we have here,” a familiar growl says.

“I’m surprised you have the courage to face me again, Ramuel; especially after you ran away in Jeshrun Below,” Ecalai replies.

“Don’t flatter yourself, Ecalai. You only waste your breath.” Ramuel’s voice seems to be moving but Ecalai can’t tell where the Nightbringer is or what he is doing. “Can you feel it, Ecalai? The shadow is growing. I know you saw it. It brings back old memories, doesn’t it?”

“Don’t act as if we are old friends, Ramuel. You know nothing of me or my past.”

“Deny it all you want, but you know you’ll never escape from the horror of that day. No matter where you try to run you will always be forever trapped in your past.”

“Nagaster’s fate is long behind me. I’m here now to put an end to your stalking in the shadows for the sake of all Jeshrun.” Ecalai still can’t get a fix on Ramuel’s position.

“You can’t lie to me, Ecalai. I was there that day when Nagaster fell. I saw the shadows as they streaked forth toward an unsuspecting nation. I saw the fires as they blazed high into the night sky. I saw you desperately trying to save all you cared about, but was ultimately unable to save a thing. The memory of what happened is burned into your mind; you are unable to escape the guilt and the pain.”

It is true. Ecalai has never been able to forget the flames that raged, and it has driven him subconsciously ever since.

Ramuel’s smug speech continues. “Jeshrun will fall in exactly the same way, and again you will be confronted with the horror of your inability to stop it.”

“Enough of your taunting, Ramuel. I will save Jeshrun from Nagaster’s fate and I will also destroy you for standing in my way.”

“Yes, just try to beat me,” Ramuel sneers as Ecalai finally catches a glimpse of a shadow directly in front of him. “You can struggle if you want, but for someone like you it is impossible to defeat me. In the end you will fall into shadow before you even have a chance to scream.”

 

Vytria. Blue Soul, Jeshrun. Year After Shadow Two Thousand One Hundred.

When the dark clouds rolled in, chaos truly reigned. Instead of rain, fire and grey gryphon fell from the sky. The shields on the ships of Blue Soul provided no defense against the manifestation of shadow’s power, and the sea soon became a graveyard of shattered hulls.

“Nevermore.”

My wind stills, causing me to fall to a watchtower of a nearby ship. I pick myself up, and there, on the ship’s bridge, is a thin figure clad in a black cloak with the hood pulled low over his face. The ship’s crew attack him with various blades from all sides, but he doesn’t seem notice any danger.

“Nevermore.”

The crew falters; then one by one collapse onto the wood. From here I can’t tell if they’re dead or just sleeping.

The figure raises his head toward me.

I blast all the wind I can muster in his direction. Sails rip, wood splinters, but when my wind passes he is standing where he was, his cloak only slightly more tattered than before. The only change is his hood has fallen onto his shoulders, revealing an unnatural pale face and an expressionless glare. The kind that immobilizes you by the force of it.

Fire crashes into the ships around me. Blue Soul’s ability to dodge is greatly reduced while this dark wizard holds my focus. Unbidden, my memory flashes back to my last night in the village of my previous home.

What am I supposed to do? Just like then, my wind has no effect.

 

Cyran. Cliffs: Dark Moon, Jeshrun.

I can do nothing but stand and watch as chaos descends around me. This shadow seems to fill every crevice until there is no room for my healing to do its work. I stare across the sea and view similar struggles from one end to the other.

A sense of strange magic pulls my attention to a particular blue ship. Vytria is struggling against what can only be a dark wizard. There is no other explanation for the way he seems to erase her wind.

This is something I can do.

“Vytria!”

 

Ecalai. Northern Forest: Dark Moon, Jeshrun.

The dark fortress shakes to its foundation as Ecalai and Ramuel fight within. Ecalai is so focused on Ramuel that he loses track of time. When his thoughts try to recapture the hours, his exhaustion tells him how long he has been fighting. Ramuel, however, shows no signs of growing weaker. His strikes are just as strong as they were when the fight started, as if the shadow itself were feeding him energy. The fight appears to be in Ramuel’s favor, but Ecalai is not finished yet.

“Haven’t you learned by now? You can’t stop the shadow. There is nothing you can do but fall,” Ramuel says.

“I won’t fall to the likes of you. I am not finished here until I cut off the shadow from its source.”

Ramuel laughs. “The shadow’s source? Your ignorance is laughable and always has been. Shadow doesn’t have a source, it merely is. This fortress is but a temporary dwelling place of the shadow’s power, one that very soon will not be necessary. If you destroyed the fortress it would make no difference. Shadow will spread over Jeshrun and the land will belong to the darkness for the rest of time.”

“Not while I stand here. If nothing else I can make sure you never live to see any victory the shadow might gain.”

“I think not.” Ramuel turns his head as if he were listening to something. “It has been fun, Ecalai, but my job is finished here. I would love to stay, but the shadow calls and there are other things I must attend to before long. Don’t worry, though. I’ll find you and again and someday finish where we left off.”

“Wait!” Ecalai shouts as he dashes forward to stop Ramuel from leaving, but he is not fast enough. Ramuel is already long gone. The fortress grows silent, and Ecalai realizes that shadow has left the fortress as well. Ecalai pounds the wall in frustration.

He has failed.

 

Vytria. Blue Soul, Jeshrun. Year After Shadow Two Thousand One Hundred.

“Vytria!”

Cyran? Blessed light, Cyran is riding a gryphon. He jumps from its back onto the ship’s bridge, staggers a little, then launches himself at the dark wizard.

“Vytria, remember!” Cyran continues his offensive, while the dark wizard parries every attack.

“Nevermore,” the dark wizard speaks again in his monotone. Cyran is less than impressed.

“Oh, shut up.”

Remember? Oh yes, the tree…

 

Vytria. Guardian’s Tree, Nilonian Empire. Year After Shadow Two Thousand Ninety-Three.

We had recently discovered a hidden spot in a clearing of the forest, and were spending yet another afternoon there. For some reason the lone tree in this clearing has me fascinated, though at a glance it appears like every other aging tree.

“Hey Cyran, there’s an inscription here.” Deep in the bark, near the root, are words I haven’t noticed until now.

Cyran doesn’t move from his healer’s journal. Dry reading, if you ask me, but he enjoys it well enough. His enthusiasm for my find is implied in his tone. “What’s it say?”

I look closer.

“To my words, young daughters, listen well:

He who fears abandons trust,

So chose well whom you fear,

In him alone place your trust,

And he only shall you fear.

My words, young sons, remember well.”

 

Vytria. Blue Soul, Jeshrun. Year After Shadow Two Thousand One Hundred.

“I remember!” How could I have forgotten?

Cyran smiles while his eyes darken with anticipation. “The Ancient of Days is much scarier as an opponent than this guy, I trust.”

“Naturally,” I reply. Cyran strikes at the dark wizard, only to be blocked yet again. “You can’t get through either?”

Cyran throws me a withering look, truly scary if I didn’t know him.

“Nevermore.”

Cyran blocks. The dead sleep effect of the dark wizard has no effect on him. “What he said.”

I nod and turn my attention to focusing my wind.

I take a deep breath. Words aren’t strictly necessary to activate magic, but the right words can lock the mind in place. “These lands belong to another. Your words have no place here.”

“Nevermore.”

My winds threaten to falter, but I ignore that concentrate on gathering them. “These seas belong to another. Your words have no place here.”

Cyran starts his own chant. A verse we learned when we first came to Jeshrun. My winds gather into a gale as his voice rises.

“When darkness clouds sight,

When shadow drains the warrior’s might,

All hope abandoned, yet one remains,

For strength abides in ancient light.”

Cyran adds his strength to my winds, and I blast the dark wizard with a whirlwind. His voice is drowned in the gale.

The next moment sees the dark wizard gone for good.

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3 Comments

Posted by on April 28, 2016 in Cyran, Dark Moon, Ecalai, Synrn, Vytria

 

Tags: , ,

3 responses to “Breaking of Bonds part 4

  1. Tia

    April 28, 2016 at 7:42 pm

    I held my breath the whole time and had to stop reading several times just to breath

    Like

     
  2. Charlie

    April 28, 2016 at 9:11 pm

    This is getting really good if there would be a combine story Fyron would do the trick in this war. Dormak and Althaiha would join the battle this shadow dragon I hope there’s is a way to beat him and his minions great work again and if you didn’t get my message on FB happy birthday SMILE

    Like

     
  3. Tia

    May 6, 2016 at 4:03 pm

    I needed this ❤

    Like

     

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