This is pretty long, so bare with me. (I tried attaching it, but it didn't work) Postive responses please!
Edit: I've tried getting rid of the errors (Shy­&) if you see any, let me know.
The world is not made up of what you see. Beneath the world, there is the Veil, which no human has ever seen. When you see the Veil, you become more than human.
This is my tale of three brothers, who were once known as Aaron, Nathan, and James. They each have a story to tell, and I’m going to tell it.
He did it. He was on top of the world. After all this time of exploration and adventure, he, James had climbed where no one else had climbed before. But James knew his time was nearly over. He could feel it in his bones, and his heart. The cold had sapped him of his strength, and he was going to die. He had climbed to the top of the world, and what did he expect? Congratulations? No, he had done this for himself, and he would stand proud upon this mountain. James looked around, watching the white clouds that were below him. It was getting hard to breathe, and his body had gone numb a long time ago. James felt his vision grow blurry, and finally dark, while his body pitched forward and fell to the ground. And so James died.
Aaron was laying on his deathbed, surrounded not by family, for he hasn’t seen his brothers since they had gone their separate ways, and he had no children. His flock surrounded him, the lost souls who he had shown the light. He had devoted his life to his lord, to God himself! And now he was going to his place at his lord’s side, in Heaven, amen. Even in his old age Aaron had spread the faith with a conviction few could match. But his age had caught up with him, and he had been bed-ridden for three years. Aaron felt his death approaching for many years now, and he had no regrets. Well, maybe one, but that door had closed a long time ago. Aaron felt his heartbeat slowing down, and his mind was fogging. He died listening to the priest above him: “Dear Lord, who thou art in Heaven…”
Nathan was in trouble. He had gotten into a lot of things, and trouble was one of them. Why hadn’t he paid his debts? He had the money, but there had been that tavern, and he was thirsty… No, no more excuses. He had been putting off his payment on purpose, and now he was going to pay. The debtors had probably hired assassins, and judging how much money he owed them, good assassins, and he was going to die. Even before an arrow hit him full in the back and sent him sprawling onto the ground, Nathan knew this. Now lying in the mud, blood pouring from his back, Nathan hoped it would be quick. And what if it wasn’t? He was too weak to fight back, even without an arrow sticking out of his spine. Nathan felt his life slowly seeping out of him, and by the time two figures stepped out of the shadows to interrogate him, Nathan died.
Nathan was swimming in darkness. The black surrounding him was absolute, and Nathan was afraid. Was this the afterlife? He thought. If so, he would go mad before eternity was over. Then Nathan felt power rushing through him, and in the alley where he died, life breathed through him once again.
Aaron was surrounded by light. Pillars of lights in front of him, behind him, around him. Is this Heaven? He thought. Aaron basked in the light, for a eternity, for an instant, before he felt life within him once again. Amazing his mourners, he arose from his deathbed looking fifty years younger.
James stood before a field of roses. The sky was in twilight, and the roses seemed to be singing. Singing? Yes, a sweet, slow melody was drifting all around him, and James could only stand and listen. He felt warm, and life rushed through his cold body, and the ice surrounding his body melted. He got up, eager to explore the world again.
So the three brothers each found the Veil, and received untold powers. Aaron was able to manipulate the world around him, and could do things others would later call ‘magic’. Nathan became strong and swift, and no human being could stand before him. James was able to manipulate the Veil, able to disappear and reappear somewhere else at will, which he referred to as ‘blinking’.
Mel’zing mentored the brothers, helping them grasp their newfound abilities. At Mel’zing’s forge Aaron and Nathan staged their arguments on life and after-life.
“All a man has is his life. To throw it away for an ideal is a waste.” Nathan would say, shaking his head.
“What if all that man has is his faith? To give away your life for God is the ultimate sacrifice!” Aaron would reply, with a smile on his lips.
“There is nothing after death. Only darkness!” Nathan would be close to yelling out.
“How can you believe that? That life is a mistake without reward?”
“I have seen it! Life must be cherished, for there is nothing after!” Nathan would pound his fists into the table, which would cause everyone in the forge to look up. Nathan would look embarrassed after this, because telling someone what you saw when you ascended was taboo. Both brothers would agree to disagree, but this argument came up constantly.
It was at Mel’zing’s forge that Aaron forged Dawn, a sword that glowed with an internal light. Not to be outdone, Nathan forged Night, a jet-black sword with a mind of it’s own. Nathan slew Mel’zing, and tried to flee.
James Caught up with him quickly, while he was trying to make his getaway. James appeared silently behind Nathan, and asked him “Why did you do it Nathan?”
Turning, Nathan glanced at the sword at James’ hips. “I cannot explain James. I feel so… so bloodthirsty. I needed to kill him. NEEDED too, do you here me?”
“I cannot let you get away. Aaron will be here shortly.” James replied with a shake of his head.
“I do not want to kill you as well James.”
James pulled his sword from its scabbard. It was an ugly thing, of a quality that didn’t come close to Night’s. James merely repeated what he already said. A mad gleam came to Nathan’s eyes, and frankly, it scared James greatly. If Nathan had gone insane… no, leave the what ifs for later.
The fight did not last long. Nathan was a swordsman of no equal, and James barely knew how to wield a sword. Outfought, James merely tried to delay Nathan’s escape, but even in that he failed. Wounded, James fell to the ground, and the mad gleam in Nathan’s eyes faded.
“I hope, in time you can forgive me brother.” Nathan said, turning to leave.
“I cannot! Justice shall be done!” James replied with what was left of his strength.
“So be it.” Nathan left, and went his separate ways. Aaron waited a little longer, until James was healed, and he also left. And so the three brothers went their separate ways.
I watched the world change, as my two brothers started what will be later known as the ‘Brother’s War’. I watched villages burn, and men die in the name of their faiths. Whether it was for God, or for freedom, I watched these men kill for ideals that are not their own. It sickens me.
The Brothers’ War
Time past, civilizations arose, and empires fell.
Two armies, impossibly large, marched into position. They literally stretched to the horizon, and I knew who commanded them. Like bright golden suns, Aaron’s army marched to a stop atop a tall hill. Nathan’s black hordes slowly lumbered forward with none of the discipline or regalia that Aaron’s had. Both leaders, along with their generals, mad their way to the center of what would be called ‘the kill zone’.
“The great lord A’roshin has agreed to talk to Natingo’sh!” Bellowed Sabeth, one of Aaron’s generals.
“I did not come to talk to an underling. Aaron show yourself!” Nathan responded in kind, and his voice could be heard across the hills. From across the campfire, Aaron stepped out of the shadows and into the light.
“I’m sorry I’m late Nathan, but there was no reason to yell.” Aaron said boldly. Obviously flustered, Nathan searched for answer.
“You know what I want Aaron. These men do not need to die for our ideals.” Nathan rasped.
“Why? These men are willing to die for their faith, are yours afraid of death?”
“Hiding behind an army? You coward! Fight me!” Nathan placed his hand on Night’s hilt.
“I have more than an army behind me Nathan. I have God. What do you have?”
“I have this!” Nathan leaped into the air and pulled Night out of its scabbard. He slashed downward, and Aaron barely had time to dodge the blow. He pulled out Dawn, and the general’s were forced to cover their eyes, its light was so bright. Spinning, Aaron struck, but Nathan easily blocked the blow. Caught off guard, Aaron stepped back, attempting to ward off Nathan’s rain of blows, each faster and stronger than the last. Aaron could see the mad gleam in Nathan’s eyes, and it frightened him. Using the campfire, Aaron put flames in between them, hoping to get some distance. Nathan leapt over the flames however, and Aaron had to keep blocking each and every blow, with no time to think.
This is Aaron, now: he’s nervous, he’s desperate, and he’s realized that Nathan has the upper hand. What can he do? He doesn’t have time to think; no time to breathe, and Nathan keeps on coming. What can he do?
This is Nathan, now: he’s lost in the see of bloodlust, and he’s holding nothing back. His vision is getting red. He feels hate, more hate than he’s ever felt rush out of him, and he realizes he wants Aaron dead. In fact, he’s never wanted anything more!
Aaron is running out of tricks. He has thrown everything he has at Nathan, but he keeps coming. Aaron has reached his limit, and he knows it. What’s even more frightening is Nathan does too.
“Is this it? Are you ready to die Aaron?” Nathan says with a leer. He rushes forward and feints a cut at Aaron’s legs. Aaron falls for it, dodging, and doesn’t realize until too late that this is it I’m dead, and Night slashed sideways, cutting across Aaron’s chest. Blood poured out, a lot of blood, and Aaron falls to his knees, defeated. Nathan swings Night, and Aaron’s head falls to the ground. Slowly, as if his body couldn’t believe what happened, it fell forward.
“It is done.” Nathan looks around, and demands of Aaron’s generals, “Which of you has the courage to fight me on the battlefield? Will it be you, Sabeth son of Magith?” Nathan turned, “Or will it be you, Tal’noth son of Ronin?”
“I will” came a voice in the night. A hooded figure slowly walked to the center of the camp.
“And who are you?” Nathan leered. The cloaked figure pulled down his hood, and the generals began to whisper among themselves.
“James…” Nathan whispered, “Why would you fight?”
“To see justice done. You are the murderer of Mel’zing, who was a father to us, and now Aaron, our brother. I find you guilty of murder. With this army, I will finish what should have happened so long ago.” James said calmly.
Laughing, Nathan asked, “And how will you do that? I am stronger than you, and this army’s courage is gone. Without Aaron, they are nothing!”
“Men are not as weak as you suppose.” With that James turned and walked away. Aaron’s generals quickly picked up his body and hurried to catch-up.
Courage is found
With the defenses prepared, James stood alone. He had seen the dismay on the men’s faces when they had carried Aaron’s body to the top of the hill. James had asked all the generals to go prepare for battle. Even they looked pale and shaky, and this worried James greatly.
“How do I get these men to fight?” James asked the funeral pyre behind him.
“Without you, their courage is gone. You were their shining light, their guiding star. By the Veil, how can we win?”
James looked of the millions of soldiers in this army, and prepared to speak.
“Soldiers of A’roshin, hear me.” Many faces looked up at him. “A great and terrible night is coming. The forces of darkness are staged against you, and they are powerful. A murderer who goes by the name of Natingo’sh, who was A’roshin’s brother, and is mine, leads them. What will you do when this dark flood arises? Will you run? Will you allow darkness to swallow the world?” James paused and pulled Dawn from its scabbard.
“You are the flames of A’roshin, and you will find courage in this dark hour. Your faith is strong, and you fear neither pain nor death!” As his voice rang out, thousands, no hundreds of thousands lifted their spears and slammed them down. Thud. Thud. Thud. More soldiers joined in. Thud! Thud! Thud!
“You are the light in the dark! No matter where you came from, no matter what you used to do, none of that matters now. You are the flame against the dark, and if you fail, everything you know will be gone! Will you run, or will you stand and fight?”
The roar of approval was deafening.
The Night is Long
The night was dark. There was no moon, as if it was trying to avoid seeing the bloodshed that was to come. The ground shook at the enemies advance.
“Light your arrows!” James commanded.
Thousands of archers lit the tips of their arrows, and quickly got ready to fire.
“Fire” James said calmly. Thousands of arrows launched, piercing the darkness of the night. Then they fell upon the enemy. Thousands yelled as flaming arrows engulfed them.
“Continue firing!” Then enemy surged forward and they closed the gap between the two armies. The Flames prepared their spears and took the charge head on. Spears gutted soldiers while swords cut off limbs. What strategy could there be, other than to attack, attack until only one army still stands?
“General Sabeth take command of the main forces. I am going to take the cavalry on a counter-attack.”
James led the cavalry to a river that ran alongside the battle. These millions were willing to die, and dying they were, thousands at a time. James turned his horse around and faced the men.
“What happens in life echoes into eternity! There will come a day when the courage of men fails. A time of wolves and shattered shields! This day we fight for the world as-is!” The sun began to rise over the mountains. “We fight until the red-dawn! And the sun rises!” He pulled out Dawn, which glowed in the twilight. “Charge!”
Seeing James pull out Dawn, the men cheered and their courage was lifted. When they charged, it was a glorious sight to behold. The sun rising behind them, and Dawn in front of them, their faith was unshakable, their fears gone. The ground trembled in their wake. The soldiers of the horde had fear in their eyes. Before the lines met, James sent power into Dawn, and it’s light brightened. The horde was forced to cover its eyes, and the lines met with a roar. Swords swung, horses trampled. Many men were killed, but there were plenty more.
The cavalry was forced to retreat when they had gotten too far into enemy lines. Any further and they would be surrounded. So James ordered them to pull back.
On the hill, James surveyed the battleground. Dead men were piled on top of one another and burned. At sunrise the enemy attacks began to slow, and finally stopped at noon. But they left their corpses. The men were dismayed at all their dead comrades. After many hours of work, corpses still remained. Then they heard it, a roar in the night. Something big was coming. Then he saw them. Their white tusks, sharp enough to gore a man, their four legs, able to crush a man under foot. Elephants!
“Archers, take them down!” Sabeth ordered. Thousands of shafts flew through the air, but the elephants kept coming. With arrows sticking out of their hides, the elephants ran faster.
James yelled out, “Do not fear, men of A’roshin, if you find your courage in a desperate moment, you can turn the tide of history.”
A Desperate Moment
As the elephants charged, James raked his mind for a way to beat them with few losses. He had enough men to stop them yes, but there would be far to many casualties. James called up Tal’noth captain of the cavalry.
“Take the cavalry and charge the Elephants.” James ordered.
“Yes sir! Was the earnest reply, but Tal’noth glanced down at the elephants in fear.
James put his hand on the mans shoulder and said, “Tal’noth, do not fear, the enemy shall be defeated. But before that happens, you must find your courage, or more men will die.”
Nodding, Tal’noth spoke. “I will do my best sir.”
When the elephant drivers saw the cavalry, they turned away from our main force to face them. Tal’noth sounded the charge, and the cavalry surged forward. They quickly closed the gap between themselves and the enemy. When they struck enemy lines, all hell broke loose. Tusks gored men and horse alike, huge legs crushed men, and swords hacked at gray hides. Blood flew everywhere and the elephants went into a rage, throwing their heads back a forth to gore as many as they could. After what seems like an eternity, the cavalry brings them down.
As the sun rose, James remarked, “Hope comes to men.”
James told the war-weary general to prepare for battle. They rebuked the idea, saying the army was too tired to fight. James called it nonsense, and pointed toward the rear of the army. Let them fight. They’re eager.
To See Justice Done
It was a bloody day. Men charged forward and died for causes that were not their own. The fact they did it willingly sickened James, but he new that until the battle was done, he needed these men. And so the lines kept marching, throwing more men to the front lines, each eager to replace the man before them.
The combined might of A’roshin and Natingo’sh were thrown against each other and the ground shook in their wake. Blood flowed freely, and soon was a river, bright red in the daylight. Mountains of dead were raised, with fresh soldiers fighting their way through the dead.
The battle raged on, and Nathan joined the battle. It was a terrible sight to behold. Nathan was a force of nature, smashing his was through soldiers like they were made of paper. And he was enjoying it, if his laughter was anything to go by.
“Have you come to kill me James?” Nathan said mockingly.
“Why fight me James? All you have to do is walk away. Go wander the world some more.”
“You are a murderer, and I am here to see justice done.”
Nathan lifted Night, which was covered in blood. “Maybe this will make you think otherwise.”
Nathan slashed downward, but James disappeared. He reappeared behind Nathan, and pulled Dawn from its scabbard. “How do you expect to hit me? I can just blink away.” James asked.
Roaring, Nathan swung Night again, which James blocked to the side. Nathan kept coming, but James merely blinked farther away.
“You won’t be as easy to kill as Aaron, will you?”
James lifted Dawn and closed his eyes. Though Nathan could not manipulate the Veil, he recognized when someone was. Cautiously, Nathan lifted Night, wary of any attack James may make. Suddenly, James opened his eyes and Dawn burst into flames.
“No, I won’t”
The battle was furious. Nathan was the stronger, but James could not be touched, blinking this way and that. Spinning, exchanging blows, this was how two master swordsman go to war.
This is Nathan, now: He’s met his match. No matter how hard he tries, he cannot hit James. The anger is swelling inside of him and he directed it at James. But it didn’t matter.
This is James, now: He feels cold. He doesn’t hate Nathan, but he needs to see this done before he dies. He cannot allow this murderer to live. But just as he cannot be touched, he cannot touch Nathan either. James realized that he needed something new. Something like setting Dawn on fire. He couldn’t do that before. Dawn was no ordinary sword, and James could feel it. Why would Aaron, a master ‘magician’, forge a sword just for a glowing blade? He wouldn’t. Dawn was a conduit connected to the veil, and James could feel its power. Dodging another blow, James knew he would have to use Dawn as it was originally mad for.
James Probed Dawn with his mind and there it was, a connection with the Veil. James felt a surge of power flow through him, and it felt good. Twisting away from Nathan, James pointed Dawn at him. Dawn’s glow began to brighten, until a cone of white-hot light shone from the tip. It engulfed Nathan. When it was over, a scorched and burnt Nathan stood before him. Amazingly he was still on his feet. Night hung loosely from his fingers and finally fell. When Night hit the ground, James said, “It is finished”. Nathan fell to his knees and fixed a gaze of pain upon James. When James Stepped forward to administer the killing blow, Nathan spoke, his voice cracking “James, please kill me with Night. Set me free.”
James sheathed Dawn, and picked up Night. When he did, he felt a curious sensation, as if Night was trying to tell him something. Then James knew: Night was bloodthirsty. James stood in front of his kneeling brother.
“May the Veil be good on your soul brother,” James said with infinite sadness. He swung Night. Before he died, Nathan saw a field of roses.
“So beautiful.” He said. And his head came tumbling off his shoulders.
The battle lasted for three days. Leaderless, Nathan’s horde threw themselves upon their enemies, but the Flames discipline and courage was not to be denied. In the end, millions had died, and their corpses littered the ground as far as the eye could see. A top a hill, two pyres were burning. James looked over the survivors of this epic conflict. So few, He thought.
“Look around you, soldier of A’roshin. This is what happens when you follow ideals that are not your own. Remember this for the rest of your lives. Go now back to your homes, and may you have piece.”
With that, James blinked away, and the astonished soldiers slowly dispersed.
And so the brothers’ war ended.
The Pit Fights of Guandanama
Time past, civilizations arose, and empires fell.
The Grand Coliseum stood in the center of the city. It was a testament to human engineering and architecture. Hundreds of feet tall, it was built for one reason, Pit Fights. The stadium could fit thousands comfortably, and the betting booths were always open.
At one end of the pit, a brute stood. Easily two meters tall, this muscle bound barbarian held his great axe over his shoulders and tried to survey his opponent. Hidden in his cloak, the other merely stood calmly, his face hidden by his hood.
“Place your bets! Fifty to one against! Place your bets!” yelled out the betting booths.
The unmistakable sound of the gong rang out, and the match began.
The barbarian lifted his axe and charged. The hooded one pulled a sword from its scabbard. The crowd hushed when they saw it’s jet-black blade. Undisturbed by his opponents headlong charge, the cloaked one easily side-stepped the brutes overhead blow, and so quick the eye could not see, cut off one of the brutes arms. To his credit, he did not yell out, but he dropped his axe a fell backwards. The barbarian said something the crowd could not understand, but the cloaked one seems to understand.
“Who kills me?” asked the brute. In answer, the cloaked one pulled back his hood.
“My name is James.” With a mad gleam in his eye, James pulled at the brute’s hair so his neck was exposed. James sliced Night across his opponent’s throat. Blood gushed out, and James seemed to savor the sight. Then the gong sounded, and the moment was over. The crowd roared, but James felt hollow inside.
Inside his small living quarters, James sat cross-legged with Night rested in front of him. He left Dawn next to the door, for he never uses it in the pit-fights. Even without touching it, he felt Nights thirst for blood. James knew using Night was changing him in ways he couldn’t understand. Every time he used it was a blur in his memory, as if he wasn’t truly in control. Maybe I should get rid of it… No, he couldn’t. Night made him powerful, and he had never felt this good before.
“Who is this man?”
“We don’t know sir. All we know is he is called James.”
“When did he begin pit fighting?”
“Three seasons ago. He hasn’t lost since.”
“So to it he does.”
A knock at the door interrupted James’ meditation. James opened the eye slot and asked what the man wanted.
“You’re scheduled for a match tomorrow.” He said.
“Yes. You’ll be fighting six ex-legionnaires. Try to make it entertaining.”
“Thanks for letting me know, Meeks.”
“No problem. Just try not to die.”
“No worries, I don’t plan too.”
James did not bother with his cloak. He would need total mobility today. He picked up Night and its scabbard around it. Upon consideration, he grabbed a second, shorter sword on his way out. On the way to the pit, he met many guards and most nodded to him, and a few said good luck.
When they called his name, James strolled into the pit and waited.
“And the challengers, the Blade-scouts of Zelio!” a voice rang out. Six well armed and armored men quickly made their way into the pit. Each held a spear, and a round shield, along with a short sword along their waists. Their armor was golden, with a closed fist painted on their chests and shields. They showed no fear; they were veterans and had seen death first hand. Unfortunately for them, James has seen Death’s face, and spit in it. There would be no mercy.
The gong sounded and the six gladiators quickly moved to surround James. No one made a move to attack. James moved first, though few could see it. James quickly cut open one of the gladiators’ throats, and the other five attacked. Two thrust their spears at his back, but Night cut through them like a hot knife through butter. James spun to his right and cut off a gladiator’s hand. Screaming, the gladiator fell back, which allowed James to stab the gladiator next to him. The other two pulled out their swords, and James smiled. A mad gleam could be seen in his eyes. Startled, the gladiators hesitated, and that was all James needed. He rushed forward, and Night split the first in half from neck to navel. Spinning, he thrust his short-sword into the other’s face. Unable to move quickly enough, the sword entered his eye and exited through the back of his head. He dropped, and James let the short-sword go with him. Still screaming, the last gladiator was losing consciousness, which James helped by chopping off his head.
“He’s good. Too good. No one is willing to bet against him.”
“What shall we do?”
“I want him assassinated. Tonight.”
“And if he escapes my lord?”
“Then we don’t need to worry about losing money anymore.”
James had many friends among the guards, and it wasn’t long before he knew about the assassination attempt. He gathered his meager possessions, and prepared to leave. He carried Dawn over his back, and grabbed Night. Bloodlust took over him. More to kill? James fought against it, but Night’s essence had corrupted him. James let the bloodlust take over, and his vision ran red.
They came quickly, and in great numbers. It did not matter. The first through the door took a shuriken in the eye, and the others paused before rushing in. Instead James rushed out, and Night feasted in blood.
Unable to stop his advances, many guards merely let James pass. Some tried to fight, and James ended their lives quickly. He knew where he was going, and no mere mortal was going to stop him.
“Sir, we have reports that James is headed this way.”
“Prepare the escape passage. We need to leave quickly.”
James appeared before the door that would lead him to the game-master. He was the one who scheduled fights and he was the one who profited from them. James drew power from the Veil, and blew open the door. But the room was empty. Paper was everywhere, and chairs were overturned. Someone had left in a hurry. James found a passage behind a wall, and he heard people running down it.
“Here I come.” He said with mad glee.
“Sir, I think he’s following us.”
“Can you hear him?”
“I thought I did.” A slice through the air, and blood filled the air. The assistant’s body fell, and the game-master shook with fear.
“Oh gods no!”
“I have come for you, game-master.” James said, with a chuckle in his voice. He stepped forward, and towered over the pale man.
“At least make it quick.” The game-master pleaded.
“I don’t think so.”
The game-master’s screams could be heard in the coliseum above, chilling the souls of many.
James had to leave. Torturing the game-master had unleashed even more of Night’s bloodlust, and James was sick of killing. He fled into the night, and into the wild. What he did not know was that later, life once again took hold in the game-master’s body.
He found the village not much later. A village of war-like barbarians, who tried to defend themselves. It did not matter. James was a force of nature, a wind of blades and he slew all he could find until he came upon an infant in its crib. James placed Night onto the young ones stomach, which woke up the little one. Gazing up at him with wide eyes, the baby placed a hand on Night, which was still dripping with blood. Kill it, Kill it quickly! Came Night’s voice in his head. James found he could not do it. Looking into those innocent eyes was like drowning himself in his sorrows, and James realized what he was about to do. Sickened, he threw Night to the ground and could feel its rage at what he refused to do.
“No, I won’t do it.” James pleaded.
You will! Night commanded.
“No longer shall I submit to you!” James yelled.
We shall see.
A battle of two minds ensued. It lasted millennia, it lasted a second. Both combatants raged and fought until one mind was broken, and the other tired.
James lifted Night and walked over to the infant’s bed. James lifted Night and thought we’re done. He sheathed Night, and walked out of the hut. Frightened village looked at him, and he looked back with infinite sadness. Then he spoke.
“Do not worry honorable villagers. I have been freed of my curse, but not before slaying many of your friends and family. To repay this debt, I swear to protect you and your descendants for as long as you may wish.” Kneeling, James bowed, “You shall be safe from any enemy, this I swear.” An older looking man walked forward and touched James’ forehead.
“We accept this payment, Gorgimora, you will protect this village for as long as we wish.”
“Gorgimora?” James asked.
“Murderer.” James once again bowed his head in shame.
“For as long as you may need me, I swear.”
The End of an Age
Time past, civilizations arose, and empires fell.
The village of Amnor has been at peace for hundreds of years. They know nothing of war, they had no worry of invaders, and they did not need to expand.
Gwen was a young woman of the Amnor village. She did her chores, listened to her parents, and went about doing her business. But life felt empty. What was her purpose in life? Why was she here? But her parents couldn’t help her. They told her not to be so curious. Indeed, didn’t curiosity kill the fuju bird?
Every night an elder would gather children around a fire and tell them stories of ages past. Though she was too old to believe such tales, she liked to listen to them anyway. The elder was telling one of her favorites, about a monster that had slain half the village, but the elders had managed to bind it to the village and it’s inhabitants, forcing it to protect them for all-time. After the story was finished, everyone went home, except for Gwen. She had too many questions. So she went to the elder and asked some.
“Old one, could some of the stories be true?” She asked eagerly.
“Each story has some truth in it. Some more than others.”
“What the one you told tonight? About the monster?”
“Why do you want to know?”
“I’m just curious.”
“Meet me tomorrow, and I’ll tell you everything you need to know.”
Gwen couldn’t sleep that night. Why had the elder asked her to wait? Gwen wondered what the elder had to say. She imagined many things before falling asleep.
When Gwen met the elder the next day, she was full of questions. But she respectfully gave the elder her absolute attention when he spoke.
“You wish to know more about the story of the Gorgimora?” Gwen didn’t recognize the name. It felt familiar however.
“Yes elder, I do.” She said.
“What do you wish to know?”
“Is the story real?”
The elder sighed. “Some parts of it.”
“The monster is real, and many did die before it was tamed.”
“When did this happen? What did it look like?”
“One question at a time child. It happened many generations ago. As to what it looked like, I cannot say.”
Gwen eagerly continued her questions. “Does it still protect us?”
“Yes, the monster still protects us.”
“Where is it?”
The elder sighed, and shook his head. “I was afraid you would ask this. In truth, I do not know for certain. Only suspect.”
“And where do you suspect it is?” Gwen asked.
The elder sighed again. “At the base of the mountain, to the south. But if you must go there, tread carefully child.”
It took Gwen half a day to walk to the mountain. When she got there, she was surprised to se a hut, and old one at that, at the base. She slowly made her way toward it.
When Gwen opened the door, a deep voice rang out.
“Who goes there? Speak quickly!”
Gwen looked around, but her eyes had not adjusted to the darkness yet.
“I am Gwen, daughter of Dianna. I come from Amnor.” She said nervously.
“Your shorter than what Amnorians used to be”
“I’m young, but most men are only a little taller than I am.” She said defensively. Then a torch began to burn, and she could see a cloaked figure. The cloaked figure got up from its chair, and she realized how tall he was. Easily a foot and a half taller than she was. He was the tallest person she’d ever seen!
“Sir, do you know the story of the Gorgimora?” Gwen asked.
“I have not been called that in a long time.” He lowered his hood, and a handsome face was shown. “But I guess I deserve it.”
“But you’re not a monster at all!” Gwen exclaimed. “You’re human!”
“Believe me, I wish I was only human.”
“But the story is generations old! How can you still be alive?”
“Twenty-five generations, just so you know. It’s a long story, and not one I’m going to tell to a strange Amnorian girl I just met.”
“So you killed half our village?”
“But how did the elders tame you?”
He roared with laughter, “Tame me? I wasn’t tamed. After my curse was lifted, I put myself in the village’s service. You have his eyes too.”
“What curse? Whose eyes?” Gwen asked. He pointed at a sword hanging on the wall.
“That sword has caused more pain than you know. Your eyes are the same as the infant I… never-mind; it’s a story for a different day. Gwen realized she didn’t even know this person’s name.
“What is your name?” she asked.
“So you protect my village?”
“I do, until I am not needed.”
“And when will that be?
“When your village is nothing but shadows and dust.”
When the sun began to set, Gwen realized how late it was.
“I have to get going if I’m going to get home by morning.” Gwen said.
“Nonsense. I’ll take you home right now.”
“Close your eyes.” She id, and felt James take hold of her hand. She felt an eerie feeling crawl up her spine, like she was falling, and James told her she could open her eyes. She saw she was in the center of her village.
“How?” was all she could ask, astonished.
“It doesn’t matter. I’ll walk you home.” Gwen pointed out her families hut and they walked to it.
“Here’s where I take my leave.” James said.
“Wait, how did you do that?”
“If you come back tomorrow, maybe I’ll show you.”
“I’d like that.”
Nodding, James stepped back, and disappeared. Awed, Gwen stumbled to bed, even forgetting dinner. She thought about what she saw and learned. This did not keep her awake for long, and she was soon dreaming of things she couldn’t comprehend.
Gwen woke up early to get all of her chores done quickly. Her parents asked what, or who she was in a hurry for. Could it be the tall young man she walked home with last night?
“If you must know, yes I’m going to see him today.” She said. Where does he live? They asked, we haven’t seen him before.
“He lives at the base of the southern mountain.” She said. Horrified, she heard her parents mutter, ‘Gorgimora’. They told her to be careful.
“Come back for more?” he said.
“How did you do that last night?”
“It’s hard to explain. Sit down, this could take a while.” Gwen sat and listened to what James told her about the Veil, strange powers, and conflicts of ages past. When it was over, her head was spinning from all the new information.
“Does anyone else know about this? Have you told anyone else?” She asked him.
“You’re the first person who’s tried to get to know me, not just judge me for past deeds.” He said.
“Can you help me see the Veil?”
“I can try. Do you think you can handle it?”
Gwen smiled, “Bring it on.”
James knew he couldn’t ‘teach’ anyone how to see the Veil. But he could attempt to show her. He told her to hold his hand again, but she didn’t need to close her eyes. Then the world ripped away.
Awestruck, Gwen said, “It’s beautiful!” It was very beautiful. They seemed to be floating, even though there was ground to stand on. It was a place of paradoxes, and it was magnificent. Below them, Gwen could see a field of roses.
“Had enough?” James asked, and it seemed like he was far away, even though Gwen could see him floating next to her.
“I don’t know, it feels so weird!”
“Try lifting your arm.” She tried, and found she could not.
“Use your mind. Nothing is physical here. Focus!”
So they worked on and on until Gwen could move without thinking.
“Time to leave.” James said.
“Will you teach me how?”
“I don’t know if I can.”
So they held hands, and went back to the world. They appeared once again in the center of the village, and walked to Gwen’s family’s hut.
“So I’ll see you tomorrow?”
“Lean forward” Gwen said.
He did, and she gave him a quick kiss.
“I have to admit, that was surprising.” He said. Gwen smiled, and went into the hut. James smiled back, and disappeared.
The next day, James taught Gwen how to manipulate physical objects using the Veil. Gwen was able to lift a chair after a few hours work, and she was very proud of herself. James gave her a warning about misuse of her powers.
“People are afraid of things they don’t understand.” He warned.
“But I’ve lived with them all my life!’ She retorted.
“Do you think that would stop them from hurting you?”
“What should I do?” He leaned forward and kissed her.
“Stay here with me, learn what I can teach you.”
“I love you.”
Shortly afterward, Gwen became pregnant, and it was the greatest time in James’ long life. But alas, it could not last.
The Lord Marshal
The Lord Marshal was a cruel but powerful man. He commanded legions of soldiers, and he held the world in his fist. For he was the puppet-master, and these people were his puppets. He has seen the Veil, and does not doubt his destiny.
“Sir, a village has been sighted, north of the Golem Mountains.”
“Send a scouting party.”
“Right away sir.”
Five well-armed men on large black stallions rode into the village, and they frightened the villagers. The lead rider spoke.
“By the Lord Marshal’s command, you are hereby subject of the Nevrinaal Empire. You must come with us for cleansing.”
When no one spoke, he grew angry. “Come with us or die!”
“How are Aaron and Nathan?” Gwen asked.
“Sleeping, as you should be.”
“I’ll be fine. You worry too much.”
“Because you don’t worry enough.” James said. A buzzing began in his ears. Not now! He thought.
“I have to go. The village is in danger.”
Gwen sat up in the bed, “Is there anything I can do?”
“No. Stay and rest. I’ll take care of this.” James then leaned closer and kissed her.
“If anything should happen, you know what to do.” He said.
Gwen nodded, with pain on her face.
“Stay safe for me.” She said.
“Of course. What could happen?”
A cloaked figure appeared before the scouts. Startled the riders fought to regain control of their horses. The lead rider regained composure first, and began to talk.
“Who are you?” he demanded.
“You need not know who I am. Leave now or die.”
“I will ask you a similar one: Convert or die?”
“Neither. Leave now, and there will be no bloodshed.”
Anger, the rider pulled out his sword. “Convert now, or fall forever!” In answer, the cloaked one pulled out a sword. Before the rider could yell to charge, a shuriken was embedded into his brain. He slumped forward without a sound.
“Anyone else?” James demanded. The four other riders hesitated, and pulled out their swords.
“So be it.”
James threw his second shuriken at the rider to his right, who fell as silently as the first. The others charged and swung their swords. But James chose not to be there. He blinked to one’s side, and gutted him. He jumped and landed on another’s horse, and slit his throat. He shoved the twitching corpse to the ground, and faced the last rider. James charged, and their swords met. And it was over.
James told the villagers to flee, and he waited for the attack that was to surely come.
“The scouting party is still missing sir.”
“We believe so sir.”
“Send some soldiers. Teach these villagers a lesson. And send some soldiers to the mountains as well; make sure the villagers’ haven’t already run away.”
They came in great numbers, with weapons and armor. It did not matter. James was the Gorgimora, the murderer of hundreds. He was a rain of blades, and soldiers died at his whim. But there were so many. When they were all dead, James did not feel fulfilled, but hollow. A great pain tore through his heart. Screaming, James fell to his knees. Gwen!
James appeared before his hut, and was saddened. Dead men lay everywhere.
“Gwen!” He yelled, and ran into his hut. More dead soldiers lay on the floor. James looked about, and saw her. Crying, James ran forward to her broken body. She had been slashed and stabbed, and her eyes were blank. Looking up, James ran to his children’s cribs and stopped. There were two bloody mounds in the cribs. Screaming, James fell to his knees. He raged, and the Veil shook in his anger.
He strapped Dawn to his back, and pulled Night down from the wall. Time to go a-killin, he said to it. He could feel Night’s joy, but it didn’t try to take over. It didn’t need too.
He killed, and killed, and killed. And the soldiers kept coming. He had attacked this castle, appeared before the doors, and now he was killing. He slaughtered the enemy wholesale, death on legs; he became all he could be. He has lost control and doesn’t care, for none of these lives mean anything to him, they are vermin ready to get stomped on. He cuts his way through, Dawn in his left hand, Night in his right, and he stops before a large door. Here! His mind says, and he blows through the door.
“You!” James yells out. Sitting on the throne is the game-master himself, looking younger and crueler than ever.
“Yes, me. You may come to like me James.” James felt a presence trying to take over, much like when Night would take over. No!
“Yes! You will serve me!” The presence once again assaulted James’ mind. It was getting hard to think. One last chance, he had to make it count. James concentrated, and a large rose appeared before him. He dropped his swords, and gripped the rose. Blood began to pour down it. His blood.
Looking up, James saw amusement on the game-master’s face.
“Kill me with a rose will you?” he said, laughing.
A bright light began to emanate from the rose. Fed with the power of James’ blood and the Veil itself, the bright light began to expand.
“I’ll see you soon Gwen.” James whispered.
The light exploded, and James was no more. The castle and all of its inhabitants were destroyed, and the Veil itself was torn. The Veil, feeling the death of the last ascendant, closed itself off from the world forever.
The Age of Immortals ended.