Wednesday, December 1. 2010
The room was warm. Raw magic sparked, lighting up dripping walls. They illuminated a work table lined with bones and cured flesh. An array of knives sat in one corner, gleaming and unused. Heparan sat in his favourite chair, a forgotten book in his lap. He stared expressionlessly at the doorway. A drape had once hung across it, keeping out the draft of the tomb. Every once in a while Heperan would mutter to himself or raise a hand to draw idly in the air. The air that shimmered with rising heat. On the floor in front of him glowed ancient runes. Heparan sank a little deeper into his chair. One by one the runes faded. He was losing.
The intruder still stood in the doorway repeating the same request he'd asked an hour ago "I'd like to know about Tatula."
Tuesday, November 30. 2010
Continued from Training IV
The chain resisted his magic but eventually snapped.
The last of the prisoners slumped free from his restraints. Hel propped him against the wall. He squinted at Hel dully but showed no signs of life. Hel had checked his heart beat three times. He slung the man's arm around his shoulder and led him towards where the other two survivors sat.
One watched them, a smile on his lips “Hey Jack, you're alright now, eh?”
Hel set Jack down, putting a thin blanket around him. The talkative survivor leaned across and patted Jack on the shoulder. He was the prisoner who'd cheered them on. An old man named Ambrose he'd identified some of the other prisoners, including Jack.
“He'll be alright now sir, won't he?”
“It's Hel. He'll be fine once we get him fresh air,”
The third survivor stared sullenly at the floor. She'd not spoken a word since Hel had pulled her off the necromancer. Despite the situation Hel couldn't help but notice her features. Beneath the layers of grime and malnutrition lay a very pretty girl.
“Hel?” Ambrose had a troubled look as he considered the name.
Hel grinned wryly. “Yep, only to necromancers though,”
Ambrose chuckled. “Were you a demon I couldn't care. Anything's better than those monsters,”
“The ghouls? They're down,”
Ambrose shook his head and pointed. There on the other side of the pit Darken stood. His back was to them and he was speaking to a black robed heap. Hel could not make out the words but the tone was unsettling.
“They're not human, Hel sir,”
“What do you mean?”
“The things they were doing to us, to me,”
Ambrose took a deep breath. “They had a... a tube with...”
The woman whimpered. Hel immediately leaned down, patting her shoulder comfortingly.
Ambrose shook his head again, wearier than he'd been a moment ago. “I don't want to think about it Sir Hel,”
Hel was still looking at the woman. “It's ok,”
“They made us watch! They'd wake us up each time! It was-” The panic rose in Ambrose's voice
“It's ok. You're safe,”
Hel noticed Jack was sobbing quietly. He left the girl and awkwardly patted the man on the shoulder.
“Everything's going to be fine,”
“It's alright Jack. The Guild's come see? Just like you said they would,” Ambrose said, his voice quavering. Hel hovered between all three, unsure of how to comfort them. The sorrowful moment was broken by a howl.
Continue reading "Training V"
Tuesday, October 5. 2010
Continued from Training III
The torch burned out. Darken flexed his fingers. Fire traced its way down his arm before settling on his hand. It lit up a dark hole in the side of the mountain. Tracks led to and from, many tracks. Darken took a step inside. Hel hovered in the entrance uncertainly.
“Coming?” Darken whispered.
“Yeah, just a second,”
Hel fumbled with a tinder box. Sparks flew from his efforts and he caught one, willing it to grow. When he opened his hand there was a small flame wavering in the palm of his hand. He unwrapped his iron next and with a chant of shaping wound it around himself as armour. His flame died with the shift in focus and he had to relight it.
“Right,” He said finally.
Hel took a step inside. The night slipped away. The air chilled. The passage was dry and musty. Ancient stone slabs were laid out beneath his feet. The walls shivered at his touch. Darken took slow cautious steps, passing his lit hand through the air. Hel followed, mystified. He tried to reach out with his senses but the stench of decay that had soaked the village was thick here. Everything seemed to burn with energy. After a few paces Darken stopped short, touching something in the air. Hel squinted. “What... is...?”
“Defences,” Darken replied, tracing invisible lines.
There were footfalls from behind. Hel turned, metal forming a blade in his hand. Nothing.
“We can pass now,”
Darken led the way.
Continue reading "Training IV"
Monday, September 27. 2010
Continued from Training II
There was a yell from outside. Hel was on his feet, knife in his hand. He looked around groggily. He could hear muffled voices. They sounded angry. He grabbed at his cloak. Darken was curled up in the opposite side of the room. The bailiff’s house was a mansion compared to the huts. Herod had kindly allowed them to sleep in his front room. There were no beds and it was creepily filled with memorabilia of his dead wife. Hel went over to Darken and kicked him. Darken jerked awake. The voices came again from outside.
Hel was watching the door. “Sounds like,”
Darken wobbled upright. Slowly he began to dress. Hel pulled open the door. The damp night air filtered in. There were flames in the distance.
Darken was adjusting his hat. “All in good time,”
Hel strode over to Darken and grabbed him. “Now!”
Continue reading "Training III"
Monday, September 13. 2010
Continued from Training I
Darken heaved himself onto a boulder and wheezed. Hel took the opportunity to gaze back down the path. The track stretched out beneath him, lined on each side by dry stone walls. Now and then sheep bleated across the rolling hillside. The air was damp with the promise of rain. The scene soothed Hel's aching feet. A hacking cough from behind him jarred him from his lull. Darken had inhaled a lungful of rust back in the fight. He still suffered the after-effects, wheezing and coughing up blood. The bandits on the road hadn't helped. Hel waited for him, secretly glad for the respite. They'd set a pretty hard pace and Hel had been surprised at his companion's endurance.
Finally Darken stirred from his perch.
"Ready to go," His voice remarkably steady.
"Thought I was gonna have to order a carriage,"
"Oh, it's not much further now, another hourglass or so and we'll be there,"
Hel surveyed the landscape again. "You out this way often?"
"Once or twice. Why?"
Darken followed Hel's gaze across the misty fields. He couldn't quite see it.
"We can enjoy it indoors. Come on,"
Continue reading "Training II"
Monday, August 23. 2010
"And this circle means we can't hurt each other?"
"Damage will be restrained,"
Hel didn't look convinced. "So... this puny circle will somehow keep you from melting me into a little puddle how?"
"Once your person suffers damage the circle will activate and extinguish magic in the area. First blood. The Order uses them all the time,"
"That makes me feel so much better,"
Darken sighed at the younger man. "Humour me,"
"Aright,” It occurred to him that the damage the circle might detect could be someone dying. He couldn't understand why Darken had been pushing for this duel for so long. The man was trustworthy and yet... Hel didn't trust him.
He cast off several things he didn't need. Waterskin, raincloak, gourds of mercury and saffron. He checked his armour and fingered the ball of iron in his hand reassuringly. Then he strode into the circle and took up position in the centre. Darken doffed his waistcoat and followed, wearing a charming smile.
"Now, we face away, take five paces away from each other and turn back,"
"And then I fuck you up?"
"Yes, then you... we both say ready and then... are you ready?"
"On three and go,"
The two turned away stiffly and marched away from each other. Hel purposely checked his stride, keeping the paces short. The closer he was the sooner he could grab Darken's arms and twist them behind his back.
Hel twirled hurriedly and yelled "Ready!"
Continue reading "Training"
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