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Of A Fool Living in the Land of Bretonnia.

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Of A Fool Living in the Land of Bretonnia.

Post by Adrassil » Thu Feb 01, 2018 1:43 pm

Author's note: Alladhiir was a character I created for a RP tournament on Astronomican.com quite a few years back. He turned out quite popular as wins were done by voting on the victor. I would've won most of my fights but my opponent voted for himself in one, which wasn't very sporting. (I voted for him and his character was completely OP, but he proved a fun challenge, actually) I found I liked him too, so I wrote this and one of his origin.

ENJOY!


Once again the court was filled with the deafening roar of laughter as the jester told yet another tasteless joke.

The horrible, rough throaty bellowing from the Marquess and his knights made Alladhiir Alkanthos close his eyes and sigh through clenched teeth.

The young Elf stood watch from the shadows, his thin, armoured arms folded over his chest, his enchanted shield slung over his shoulder, his sword of striking sheathed at his hip and standing as far from the festivities as his duties as a bodyguard would allow.

Marquess Falciate sat at the head of the long table on his overly ostentatious wooden throne, and laughed the loudest of all. He was once said to be one of the greatest swordsmen in Bretonnia, but those days were long since past, now a bulbous man, his rolls of fat wobbled and the throne creaked and rocked each time he announced his amusement in a horrible, "haww...haww! HAWWW!" accompanied by piggish snorts. Falciate had long ago exchanged mastery of the blade for the skill of politicking, to such heights that many an Asur noble would be envious. He treated the people under his rule with cruelty and contempt, over working and over taxing them but kept up the facade of a perfect affable and kind leader to the other nobles of Bretonnia and the king.

Alladhiir couldn't help but wonder how that chair had held together for so long.

With this thought, his attention slowly wandered to the woman sitting just down from the marquess. It was just as much a mystery how the marquess had sired such a beautiful young woman. Maiden Genevieve looked as unamused as he felt, her thin heart shaped jaw laid in the palm of her hand, her elbow leaned against the table, staring off into space.

He looked for as long as he dared, by Asuryan she was beautiful even when bored, then his eyes began to linger down.

It was then that Genevieve's attention suddenly snapped straight to him, making Alladhiir flinch away in fright, blushing like all hell.

The roaring laughter from the Marquess and his knights finally died down and all attention was back to the jester, Alladhiir's included, now thankful he had a distraction from Genevieve's stare.

The Jester leaped, the bells hanging off his costume jingling with the jump, his fingers gliding over the strings of his Lute.

"And then duke Dio'tavli said to his mistress, "that is not me knee, that is me wife!"

The hall once more was riotous with laughter, the marquess's "hawww, hawww, HAWWW!" above it all.

Alladhiir placed his face into the palm of his hand and shook his head with contempt, using it to further avoid Genevieve who still stared at him.

This new jester was Falciate's latest flavor of the month, he was utterly unafraid to tell jokes about the rest of the Bretonnian nobles, which Falciate loved, the dirtier the better and especially if they were of the current king; Louen Leoncoeur.

The spite Falciate held for the king was strong, so much so, that Alladhiir could not help feel the Marquess in one way or another was behind a botched assassination attempt on the king last year. But in all honesty Alladhiir didn't care, the pathetic plotting and politics of kings and nobles was of no interest to him, he had left Ulthuan to escape that and if fate would allow it, escape it forever.

"I was travelin' one day!" exclaimed the jester suddenly, abruptly bringing Alladhiir out of his reverie. "I was travellin' to Guisoreux from Moussillon one day and y'know what I saw on the road?"

The inevitable roar of, "WHAT!" enveloped the room making Alladhiir involuntarily flinch, despite mentally preparing for it.

"T'was one biiig, big! Big! Big! Stopped line of knights as far as the eye can see! So's y'know what I do? I go off the road, I walk into the forest, I walk around through the trees! I walk and walk until I spyyy!"

He paused to jump again, kicking his feet out and jingling the bells on his costume.

"The great king Louen Leoncoeur himself and y'know what he was doin'? Surrounded by twenty of his knights, he was squatting! Squatting! Taking a great big crap! And there it was was, on his arse, a gigantic boil!"

For some reason quite beyond Alladhiir, the Marquess and his knights burst out laughing at that. It took a few seconds for the laughter to die down before the jester could continue his joke.

"The largest boil I have ever seen!" he exclaimed, "bigger than my head!"

They laughed again, a few knights as drunk as drunk can be had their foreheads against the table, their bellowing muffled into the wood and smashing their fists hard against the surface.

It would have went on longer if it wasn't for the Marquess shouting out suddenly for silence.

He had to roar it out a few times before the knights finally stopped all attention directed to Falciate.

"I!..." the Marquess trailed off, wobbling drunkenly in his chair, "I have...an...announcement...to make!"

It was then Alladhiir noticed that Genevieve was looking at him, with what seemed sorrow in her large brown eyes.

"I have finally...After, much, much, much. Much strife and toil! Much...strife and toil!"

Alladhiir couldn't help but roll his eyes, he'd met simple Empire militia with better speaking skills than the marquess. He grimaced and gazed slowly over the room, finding to his bafflement that every one of the knights sat with mouths agape and eyes as wide as saucers, utterly enraptured by the marquess's every word.

"I-I-I!" carried on Falciate. "I have, I have...Finally, finally. After much strife and toil..."

The Asur prince let out a barely audible groan and face palmed again so hard it connected with a entirely audible, clang! And sent sharp pain coursing through his forehead.

No one heard it, which he noticed as he looked back up, finding only Genevieve looking at him, still with that sorrowful expression.

His teeth clenched with the pain, Alladhiir raised his hand to his forehead as he felt blood running down his nose.

"Much, much, much...much..." Falciate's sentence wandered off, as his head fell onto his chest and his eyes slowly closed, then began to snore, loudly.

The Bretonnian knights sat silent for a few seconds, their mouths still drunkenly, idiotically agape. Even after the past few years under Falciate's employ Alladhiir still couldn't even begin to comprehend how the Marquess held so much respect and sway over his knights. Humans, it had be humans even after decades living amongst them, they still confused him. Well that was also true during his life in Ulthuan with his kin, but that was only because he was always head high in books, or practising his sword play.

Eventually, the Knights gave up their silences as they started to share confused glances at one another and hushed conversation began to start amongst them.

The only person at the table not sharing in the confused conversation was Genevieve, who was still staring at him, still with that guilty look.

Alladhiir did his best to keep looking away, to act that he hadn't noticed her, but he was about as good an actor as he was at socializing. Utterly terrible.

The hushed conversation started to amplify, the knights began to laugh and yell.

It was then that Falciate abruptly awoke, his snores transformed into snorts and he yelled at the top of his lungs; "I!!"

Making Alladhiir and everyone, Genevieve included, flinch with fright.

"I have an announcement to make!" Falciate roared again, making Alladhiir groan again. "That after much, much strife and toil I have finally found for my beautiful, beautiful daughter! The perfect suitor!"

Alladhiir's heart swirled, he unfolded his arms as his eyes widened and yelled out despite himself, "what!?"

But his yell was drowned out as the knights of Falciate let out a deafening roar of approval.

A cold pain echoed through his very being, causing Alladhiir to clench his teeth and look to Genevieve, who was now looking down.

Then the knights began to bang their mugs on the table and yelled over and over, "who! Who! Who!"

Falciate wobbly stood up from his seat, raising his hand for silence and immediately he got it.

"The eldest son of the great Duke Viotolli!" Exclaimed Falciate with great glee.

The announcement was met with another great roar of approval from the knights, but Alladhiir felt physically sick. Viotolli was the very powerful Duke of Brionne, marrying Genevieve to Viotolli's son was yet another play for power by Falciate.

Alladhiir looked to Genevieve again and his heart sank as he saw her expression of utter despair, this wasn't about him being too foolish to ever try anything with her. It was as clear as day that Genevieve wanted nothing to do with the son of Viotolli. That soon she would be deep in a miserable, loveless marriage just for her father's insatiable lust for power.

He knew this wasn't uncommon, for Bretonnia or the Empire, but that didn't make him not feel for her, she didn't want this and he didn't.

Alladhiir clenched his teeth, his heart pounding in his chest, and he glanced from Genevieve to Falciate again and again, back and forth, back and forth.

He had to do something, he had to say something. His shoulders shook as he slowly worked up the courage, public speaking was never his strong suit, nervousness always overwhelmed him, but now, now was the time to face up.

Alladhiir opened his mouth to yell out at the top of his lungs, but it died in his throat, as the laughter began, an insane high pitched cackle which echoed over stone and straw.

Everyone fell silent and looked to the laughter's source. At the end of the table stood the jester, his shoulders bobbing as he cackled. Making many of the knights glance at each other, whispering in bemusement.

Absently, Alladhiir gripped the strap on his shield and laid his hand on the hilt of his sheathed sword. He didn't like this, he didn't like this at all.

"Good! Good!" Exclaimed the jester, his voice suddenly hoarse and throaty. "That is good!"

Falciate, still standing, barely glared down at the Jester, "What is so funny," he asked. "What is so good?"

"It is good...It is good that your daughter will have someone there to console her."

Falciate exchanged confused glances with his nearest knights, "console her for what?"

"For the untimely death of her fat foolish father!" The Jester snarled as he drew a knife from his boot, lunged onto the table and lightning fast descended on Falciate, knife raised. None of Falciate's faithful knights even raised a hand, all too slow, too drunk and too stupefied to do anything.

The knife fell, stabbing down toward Falciate's throat.

The clang! Reverberated through the room as the knife tip sheared off the tempered steel of Alladhiir's sword of Striking.

Immediately the assassin rallied, leaping out of the range of Alladhiir's blade and fell into an extremely low defensive stance.

Alladhiir stood, shield held up front in his left and in his right, sword pointed tip first at the would be assassin.

For a few short, silent seconds they studied one another. Even at a glance, Alladhiir could tell his opponent was extremely skilled, he smiled as he felt the familiar fire of the fight warm his heart.

This was what he waited for, an opponent who would truly test his skill. One which if Alladhiir defeated, would contribute to the elf swordsman's overarching goal, to be the greatest sword master in all the world.

Then the would be jester turned and ran out the door, leaving only the sound of jingling bells.

Alladhiir stood, slack jawed, and just as confused as everyone else in the hall, then he felt a hand tug on his cloak and looked down, seeing much to his embarrassment, it was Genevieve.

"Are you not, perhaps, meaning to chase him?" She said.

He only managed a nod.

"Well go you fool!"

Her words certainly made him move, he sprinted down the table, his feet smashing aside plates and cutlery in his haste, much to the distress of those at the table.

Alladhiir leaped off the table's end, out the entrance and bounded up the steep stone stairs, two at a time, following the slight sound of jingling bells.



He ran through the maze of the castle, after his prey.

The assassin was only a few metres in front of him now, the bells on his jester costume jingling all the way.

Shoving aside two house maidens, the assassin twisted in mid stride, throwing a knife at Alladhiir.

The young Asur didn't hesitate, he abruptly raised his shield and the knife only bounced away.

Alladhiir lowered his shield in time to see the assassin dash around the next corner and again, he gave chase. Up another small flight of stairs, out a door and onto the battlements beyond. That was when the assassin struck.

He only caught the attack in the very last second as the assassin lunged from the side of the door, the thrusting knife glinting in the moonlight as it blurred toward his skull.

Alladhiir reacted, just dodging aside so the knife didn't stab through his head, but agony flared through his forehead as it gashed across his scalp.

With a cry of pain Alladhiir struck back, swinging out with his sword wildly.

The assassin swiftly ducked under the attack, slipping in and stabbed again, aiming at the Asur's throat.

Although in agony, Alladhiir reacted accordingly, bashing away the blow with his sword he stumbled back, the pain was overwhelming, like eight inch long needles stabbing into his temples.

But this did not earn him any respite from his opponent, who kicked out against Alladhiir's chest throwing the Asur careening off his feet and onto the floor with a clang! and knocking the wind from his lungs.

Gasping for air, Alladhiir desperately kicked out to keep the assassin at bay, blood was now running into his eyes making the world an eternal shade of crimson.

When his kick hit only air, he whipped the blood from his vision with a shaking hand, just in time to see the assassin attempting to sprint away again.

Snarling a spree of frustrated curses in every language he knew, (which were quite a few) Alladhiir clumsily climbed to his feet. Spurred on by Genevieve's words and a need to heal his beaten pride, he gave chase.

His opponent was running straight for the castle's edge, preparing to dive into the moat, the bells on his jester suit jingling almost violently.

The young Asur clenched his teeth and sprinted after him, the Assassin was fast on his feet, but even amongst the Asur, Alladhiir could sprint quick and so, despite the added weight of his armour, Alladhiir gained the ground between them easily.

He smashed his shield into the back of the assassin, sending the attacker flailing face first against the battlements.

Seeing red, (both figuratively and literally) Alladhiir slashed out at the assassin, who managed to recover enough to get out the way.

The Asur prince cut back wildly, all his formidable skill lost entirely to his anger and the attack, slashing a gash across the assassin's chest.

With a grunt of pain, the would be jester flailed back in a last ditch attempt to leap off the edge of the castle.

But the Asur wasn't done yet, with his shield arm, Alladhiir grabbed the jester by the scruff of the neck, snatching him back and kicked the assassin, hard, straight into the soft tissue at the back of the knee.

The assassin cried out, his leg buckling out from underneath him and Alladhiir grabbed the assassin by the knife hand and bent it back at the wrist, causing him to yell more.

"Drop it!" Alladhiir snarled, forcing the jester's hand further back making him scream all the louder.

Hesitantly the assassin did as told, the knife clattering to the stone.

Alladhiir placed his blade against the incapacitated assassin's throat, his vision began to blur and the Asur had to shake his head to force it away. Then it hit him.

"You bastard!" He roared. "That knife it was, it was..."

"Poisoned?" growled the assassin.

"Y-yeah!"

"Well of course it was, fool," he said. "What do you think I am?"

"Sh-shut up!" Alladhiir snarled, his words extremely slurred and barely staying on his feet as the world spun around him. "Who do you work for!"

"I do not work for anyone," said the assassin with a casual shrug.

"Bull!" roared Alladhiir. "Someone must have sent you!"

"If anything sent me, Elf, it is justice."

"W-what?" with that Alladhiir stumbled on his feet and his body began to turn numb.

"Do you have any idea who you work for?" demanded the assassin. "Do you have any idea what he has done in the name of power?"

Alladhiir had an idea, but all he could manage was a drunken nod.

"Okay then, elf." The assassin said "elf' like it were a curse. "What if I said I was once a lord under his rule, that sixteen years ago Falciate decided to increase taxes with only the intention to line his coffers?"

Alladhiir nodded with a slurred, "mm hmm!"

"Okay, what if I said for my people not to pay the extra tax," he said. "And so while I was away on business, Falciate sent in his soldiers. They slaughtered my people, burnt their homes to the ground!"

As the would-be jester talked on, more and more emotion built in his voice and tears shone in his eyes. "Then his men attacked my estate, raped and murdered my wife, my daughters! And now he is selling his only daughter for his ambitions! That is who you work for!"

Alladhiir's fingers went limp, his sword fell from his hand, clattering onto the stone and he in turn collapsed to his knees as he lost all feeling in his legs.

"And that," said the Assassin as he slowly climbed to his feet. "I am sorry to say, it is who you will die for."

He turned away limping to retrieve his knife, and grinned through bloody teeth. "Although of that I am not sure. That poison, elf, is from the Blatis flower, it is a potent killer, although I have never seen what the effects are on an elf."

The assassin picked up his knife and staggered for the buttress. At the edge he stopped and turned back to Alladhiir. "So you may survive, you never know! So, If you do, we will meet again el-!"

The crossbow bolt flew less than an inch past Alladhiir's face. The on rush of air, blowing the Asur's long brown hair into his face then the tip stuck fast straight into the Assassin's chest. The man gasped, his eyes bulging in their sockets, and for a heartbeat he stood, looking almost accusingly at Alladhiir. Then he fell off the edge and splashed loudly into the moat below.

Alladhiir fell as well, dropping abruptly onto his back, gasping for air as the poison began to numb his lungs.

The last thing he saw with his bloodied, blurred vision before everything went black was Falciate, looking down at him, smiling and holding in his left hand; a gaudy golden, jewel encrusted goblet and a crossbow in the other.



He awoke, his eyes slowly opened, his blurred vision revealing the stark stone walls of the room around him.

Alladhiir let out a groan as he felt pain echo through his skull, his voice a husk as it came from his dehydrated throat.

Immediately, a serving girl walked through the door, carrying in her arms a pail of water.

She stopped in her tracks as she saw Alladhiir was awake, her eyes widened, then she placed the pail on a large table, turned and walked back out the door.

Alladhiir desperately reached out for the pail, long lithe fingers curling just out of reach.

With a frustrated snarl, the Asur pulled back his hand.

He was alive, bedridden and hurt but somehow, still alive.

The Asur sighed, placing the back of his hand against his bandaged forehead as the memories flooded back. Was what the assassin claimed true? Did Falciate set his dogs to slaughter his own people, merely over tax?

He knew that Falciate was capable of much evil for his ambition but being capable of committing such a horrific crime? And not just that but those knights, the men that sat at Falciate's table, who sang and drank wine, the men that Alladhiir sparred against in the yard on countless occasion were able to slaughter their own people.

The thought made Alladhiir feel sick. Sick not just to his stomach, but to his very soul, he knew it was true, he just knew.

For twenty years he had travelled the old world working as a mercenary, a sword for hire, he had always tried to work for the nicest most benevolent of leaders, Falciate was the worst, he knew the marquess was corrupt but not this much, not this much.

He heard another enter the room and he looked up just in time to see the Marquess himself walk through the door. At his side the serving girl and behind him two of his knights.

"Oh by the Lady!" he yelled. "Why did you put the water there wench! Give my good savior a drink. Now!"

"Y-yes my lord," she stammered as she quickly picked up the pail, poured some water into a beaten wooden goblet and handed it to Alladhiir.

He snatched it from her grasp and drank greedily, sculling down the water within a second.

He found it hardly helped so handed her the goblet back, she took it and poured him another drink, which he gulped just as greedily.

She poured him a third and he took it, supping now more conservatively.

"Okay that is enough," growled Falciate, "everyone out, I wish to talk in private."

The serving girl nodded, her eyes briefly meeting Alladhiir's as he nodded his thanks, then she slipped out the door with the two knights following in her wake.

Alladhiir sat up in his bed, eyeing the Marquess with no small amount of disgust.

"Thank you," said Falciate. "I appreciate what you did for me in the hall."

"I was only doing what I am paid to do," growled Alladhiir.

"And you did it well!" said Falciate as he pulled up a stool and sat his bulk on it heavily. "if it was not for you I would not be sitting here today."

Alladhiir's jaw clenched, knowing what he knew now he truly wished that he didn't "do it well."

"You are the epitome of what all soldiers should be," carried on the marquess in his overly syrupy way. "I appreciate-"

"You can appreciate what I did by letting me leave your service," interrupted Alladhiir hardly in the mood to put up with Falciate's foolishness.

Falciate's eyes widened and his face turned beat red with barely contained rage.

"You want to know what the assassin said to me?" asked Alladhiir, shaking his head.

The Marquess breathed out heavily.

"I do."

"Nothing, he told me nothing," snarled Alladhiir, the lie coming easily.

Falciate smiled, leaning back on his stool, "good, that is good."

Then his smile turned cruel, "but even if you are lying to me and he did tell you something, you say that something to someone, anyone, they will not believe you. Because you can believe as much as you want that I am stupid, but that does not necessarily make it so, do you understand me Alladhiir Alkanthos, prince of Ulthuan?"

A sudden cold, animal fear gripped Alladhiir's heart.

"How-"

"I have friends," interrupted the Marquess. "Friends in very high places. So let us say if you keep my secret, I will keep your's, understand?"

Alladhiir only managed a wide eyed nod.

"Good!" He exclaimed, slapping his thighs enthusiastically, then he got off his seat. "I will let you leave Alladhiir Alkanthos, but I only do so knowing that you will not talk of what you heard."

Alladhiir couldn't contend a coherent reply, he was so taken aback.

"You have been sleeping for a week," announced the marquess as he made for the door. "And during that time my daughter wed her rightful husband and has left for his estate. You are free to leave whenever you are inclined. Your armour and your other belongings are still in your room, I faretheewell, young prince."

With that, the Marquess was gone.

It took two days for Alladhiir to gain enough strength to leave the castle, and he did it with a heavy heart.

However, he could not help but wonder, how the hell had the marquess discovered his secret? But, he vowed in one way or another, he would know and one day Marquess Falciate would be brought to justice for his crimes.

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Re: Of A Fool Living in the Land of Bretonnia.

Post by Adrassil » Thu May 24, 2018 6:36 pm

This is a prequel of a prequel. Telling the how and why of Alladhiir leaving the High Elf home of the island nation of Ulthuan to become a mercenary in the 'Old World' (The human countries in their version of Europe)

Enjoy!


Slowly he awoke, his gaze greeted by an eternal watery blur of black and white.

He couldn't recall who or even what he was, his sight, his memory, everything was just a haze.

For how long he laid and fought for consciousness, he had not a clue. Six times over that period of time he almost lost himself, almost allowing his heavy eyelids to forever slam shut. But every single time some strength within him would force them to snap open, back to the view of the blur of black and white.

All the while he struggled to recall anything of himself, why was he here? What was his name? Did he have a mother? A father? But no matter how hard he tried everything still remained a mystery.

Terror soon began to overtake him, was he doomed to never remember, to forever wander the world without knowing anything of himself?
Finally after what seemed to be forever, his vision began to clear, the watery smear of black and white slowly transformed into a starry clear night sky.

For few seconds he was truly at peace, the fear gone as he lost himself in the beautiful sky.

But that peace did not last long as in one horrific, violent moment everything rushed back.

Memory after memory flew through his bewildered mind, he remembered he was an elf an Asur of Ulthuan. He was born and raised in the Ulthuan kingdom of Saphery, he had never known his mother, she had disappeared mysteriously merely a month after his birth, nor did he know his father who died in battle only a few months before his birth.

He was raised by his grandmother; Falindith a powerful and respected Archmage and Caradrith, Bladelord of the swordmasters, his grandmother's dedicated bodyguard.

He wasn't a normal Asur, he was a prince, a prince of the province of Arlyandor situated in northern Saphery. But as yet a prince only in name as it was his grandmother who still stood as steward, as he was to young, too inexperienced to rule. But this fact was never a grievance, in fact he had always preferred it that way.

And his name was Alladhiir, prince Alladhiir Alkanthos of Ulthuan and the simple, simple recollection of his name brought him more joy than anything else, and he was alive some how he was still alive.

With this realisation his senses suddenly returned, but he had no idea they were ever gone.

His hearing allowed him to hear the almost comforting constant and chaotic crackle and pop of fire, his sense of touch allowed him to feel the intense heat of the inferno on his face, his sense of smell made him gag at on the staggering stench of cooking flesh and fat and his sense of taste caused him to cough as he felt the ash on his tongue and the dryness of his parched mouth.

Then the pain came, an ache which echoed from head to toe, the familiar feel of a body which was pushed to it's very limits and beyond, he tried to groan, but it came out a mere mutter from his sore raw throat.

They were ambushed, thousands of Druchii emerged from amongst the rocks, many to rain black crossbow bolts upon them before anyone Asur could even begin to raise their shields or notch their bows, while many more ran down the cliff side, to charge onto their open flank, spears lowered and snarling with sharpened smiles.

The thought caused an immediate surge of panic that hit Alladhiir like a punch to the guts, making him suddenly sit bolt upright despite the ache of his limbs and what he saw stole his breath away.

On the mountain pass below, the bodies of Asur littered the snow and stone, this was what was left of the once noble force gathered by his grandmother to reinforce the struggling Asur defenders in the north. Four hundred spearmen, two hundred archers and one hundred of the elite Swordmasters of Hoeth now lay dead and the ten horse drawn supply carriages were all engulfed in raging fires, fires that should not have been so intense at such a altitude and that spewed think, black smoke high into the sky.

But to some grim satisfaction many, many more dead, black armoured Druchii, the despised Dark Elves, littered the landscape.

Alladhiir clenched his teeth and had to blink rapidly to fight back the tears, all the death, all the devastation it was overwhelming, no amount of training could have ever begun to prepare him for this.

He tore his attention away from the pass and to his immediate surroundings, all around were the bodies of the regiment of Swordmasters he had travelled with, all laid shattered and scattered, without rhyme or reason.

This Alladhiir found that hard to understand, he had fought along side them, he had seen them react with supreme discipline, turning swiftly, stoically to face the Druchii ambushers.

It was Alladhiir's first taste of battle, he could remember the fear that threatened to over take him, the fear that threatened to eat away his resolve and years of training. But more than anything else he remembered the rush, the incredible rush, which intermingled with the fear, diluted it into something that made him...Feel good, not just good but amazing, the blood sang through his veins, never had he ever felt so alive.

So Alladhiir with sword of striking raised and enchanted shield at the fore met the Druchii tide head on with a deafening crash he would never forget as swords and spears met shields, armour and bone.

Alladhiir allowed instinct to take over, instinct honed razor sharp from countless hours of training and toil. His sword darted like quicksilver, slashing and stabbing through the Druchii defences, his shield bashed and blocked while he dodged and ducked attacks that made it through his defences, as the Vambraces of defence he wore enhanced his speed and reflexes to new heights.

Yet the Swordmasters they somehow turned chaos into perfect regimented order, their great swords danced and darted in harmonious cohesion.

But for every one Druchii felled, two would take their place. How so many had infiltrated so far behind the front line, Alladhiir did not know, but he could not help but strongly suspect sorcery to be involved.

Finally he found what he was looking for; his master the Blade Lord, Caradrith lay like every other corpse. A spear stabbed into his chest.
Alladhiir found he couldn't fight back the tears anymore as they flowed freely down his face.

Caradrith had always seemed indestructible, always so strong and sure.

But another thought override this, how could Caradrith who Alladhiir could clearly recall standing strictly at his side during the entire encounter.
What had happened? How was he still alive, when his master who seemed no matter how long or how hard the young prince trained, he in their countless sparring matches, could never defeat Caradrith, and that confused Alladhiir, how could Caradrith who had decades upon decades of experience over him, be dead?

Countless more unanswerable questions flew through his thoughts but they were all chased away as he saw...

Without hesitation Alladhiir was suddenly on his feet and running, ignoring the horrifically painful protests of his aching weary limbs.

He sprinted, bounding over countless corpses all the while hoping that it wasn't, that it couldn't.

But it was and as he came close, he abruptly fell to his knees as the racking pathetic sops overtook him.

His grandmother lay limp and lifeless, her large blank eyes wide, staring up at the night sky. Her stomach had been sliced open, her entrails hanging out freely.

Alladhiir had known she was dead the very second he had regained his memory, but that wasn't what caused him to sob and sniff so strongly, no.
He knew without doubt that the death his grandmother had suffered was one of the slowest and most painful imaginable. She took along time to die and was in utter agony the entire time.

She was the kindest most beautiful being he had ever known, wise, giving and selfless in a way Alladhiir could never hope to ever be.
He gathered her in his arms and held her close, well aware of the blood staining his Dragon armour and cloak but couldn't have cared less. She didn't deserve this fate, she deserved this the least of anyone.

For how long he clutched her and wept he had no clue, but after he wiped away his tears and laid her down and gently closed her eyes, sudden rage boiled to the surface, rage beyond anything he had ever felt or ever would since.

His grandmother the kindest, gentlest person this world would ever know, how could she have befallen such a fate? And how could the supposedly almighty gods to whom she had spent countless upon countless of hours worshipping and paying tribute to, allow this?

What was the point of worshipping gods that only stand back and allow such injustices occur? What was the point?

He clenched his teeth and viciously punched the stone.

He felt like roaring his rage up at the sky, at the useless gods his grandmother had loved with all her heart and soul.

If they were so powerful, why were the Asur slowly dieing out?

If they were so all so all seeing how had the Druchii so successfully been so far behind the front lines to organize this ambush?

If they were so caring, how could they have allowed his grandmother to die such a horrific death?

With every question, the enraged Alladhiir punched the rock at his knees, his armoured fist clanging with every impact.

Finally Alladhiir stopped and turned to glare up at the heavens as a sudden, strange calm over took his once overwhelming rage. His mind was now clear, clearer than it had ever been before or ever since.

It was then, when he knelt on that rocky mountain over pass, amongst, the countless corpses, that he swore that never would he ever bow to any god, not the gods of the Asur, not the god of the human Empire, nor the accursed gods of the Druchii or Chaos.

That from this day on he would rely on himself and only on himself and to spite the gods, to show that everyone that the worship of these deities was useless he swore one day he would become the greatest warrior the world would ever know, greater than the infamous Prince Tyrion, greater even than the legendary Aenarion and he would do so without the aide of any god.

With this he looked down at the armour he wore, his Vambraces of Defence, his Dragon Armour, while on his belt was the empty sheath that held his Sword of Striking and somewhere else was his Enchanted shield, all of which were magical items given to him by his grandmother and worn by his long dead father and his father before him.

Briefly, Alladhiir considered getting rid of them, but quickly decided against it, they were all crafted by his ancestors, by the hands and efforts of mortal Asur, infused with magic developed by mortal Asur. Some may think him a hypocrite for keeping them equipped, "that magic was a gift from the gods."

Alladhiir shook his head, no, magic was a gift from the world, a gift that was further refined by mortals.

He shook away the thought and slowly climbed back to his feet, grunting in pain as his aching limbs flared horribly with the movement.

Alladhiir paused to look briefly back to his grandmother, she was dead there was nothing more he could do for her, then he turned away and began to search for his missing sword and shield.

It did not take him long to find his sword and shield as they were very near where he had lain and they were lain neatly, as though someone had set them there, his sword on the right, and his shield on the left.

At this Alladhiir's eyes widened with surprise and he glanced over his shoulder at his grandmother. Had she done this? He couldn't help but wonder.
He shook his head and looked away, that was the only explanation he could contend to be viable and he leaned over to retrieve his weapons, slinging the shield over his shoulder and sheathing his sword.

Alladhiir stood silent for a while gazing down onto Saphery below, his long brown hair being blown around by the cold high altitude winds.

He felt strange, almost light headed and it wasn't just from the lack of oxygen, he felt clear, pure like he had been born again.

Was this what purity of purpose felt like? Because it felt truly, truly good, invigorating, inspiring.

Alladhiir shook himself from his reverie, now wasn't the time to stand around, there could easily be Druchii still about.

Ignoring his aching limbs, Alladhiir started slowly down the pass, trying the entire time to cling to the shadows.

He had never been that great at being stealthy, having lacked much of the necessary training in it, but he had always a natural affinity for it.

It may have been because his mother was a Shadow Warrior of Nargaythe, so perhaps the skill was somewhat hereditary?

Again Alladhiir shook away the thought, he needed to concentrate, not allow his mind to wander so much, he had a bad habit of it, a habit that both his master and Grandmother had attempted to to break him out of.

Alladhiir frowned and at the thought of them, he would miss them, life will never, ever be the same.

He clenched his teeth, stopped and hunkered down behind a large boulder and wondered; what was he to do? Head north, over the mountains toward Averlorn as they had initially intended? Or go south, back to his city?

Alladhiir gazed grimly over over the destruction, the beautiful view of Saphery ignored, thinking.

The first thing he needed to do was to search for survivors, Alladhiir couldn't comprehend that there would be any amongst that mess, but he couldn't just leave without at least looking.

With a heavy sigh, Alladhiir stood and hesitantly began the horrid task.

For three horrid hours, Alladhiir searched. At first he did so gingerly, moving bodies with the point of his sword or with movements of his shield. But it did not take long for the slow inefficiency to frustrate him, so it was soon he found himself using his hands, roughly pushing and lifting with animal like grunts of pain and strain.

At every single slight sound he would suddenly stop and looked, tired, hooded eyes darting for the sound's source. He knew well the danger he was in, but he could not leave if there was even the slightest chance of another survivor.

Although it was not selflessness that drove the young prince, no, he wasn't like his grandmother and never would he contend to be either, if Alladhiir could find one Asur in a somewhat healthy condition working with them would increase his own chance of survival if they encounter any remaining Druchii ambushers.

If he found any too badly injured he would give them the release they deserved with his sword.

Realistically that would be all he could do, having no practical knowledge in medicine.

Many times the stench overcame him, causing him to stop and spew, this occurred seven separate times within the first hour before he finally became acclimatised. Alladhiir had never had the strongest of stomachs and now it certainly showed, much to his rage and frustration.

It didn't take long for blood to be smeared all over his face, for it to mat into his hair, to flood into his mouth, to flow up his nostrils and soak through his cloak.

All the while he had to fight a constant war against his weary, aching limbs, his eyelids that refused to stay open and the cold, the bitter constant cold which ate into him always enhancing the aches and pains further.

After those three long arduous hours Alladhiir found he wasn't even a third of the way through, so many bodies, so many dead, so, so many.
It was when Alladhiir was on the verge of giving up, when he heard the noise, a slight muffled groan and in a split second he had his sword drawn, shield in hand, the tip of his sword pointed in the noise's general direction.

Almost immediately he heard another groan and quickly and carefully Alladhiir slipped toward it's source.

He found it came from underneath a dead Asur archer, whose expression was utterly impassive, despite the black crossbow bolt embedded in his skull.

With his sword held ready to strike and his heart beating a mile a millisecond, Alladhiir reached out and ripped the body away.

He found another Asur, underneath, another Asur wearing the robes of an archer and who couldn't have be much older than Alladhiir, he was covered head to toe in blood, but otherwise seemed utterly unhurt.

It took Alladhiir along time to register it, to comprehend it. He couldn't understand; why had this archer survived but not his grandmother? Or Caradrith?

Why!?

The anger abruptly raged back, causing him to clench his teeth and grip his sword and shield all the harder.

What gave this archer the right to live over his beloved grandmother!

For awhile he stood, fighting against the horrifically powerful urge to plunge his sword straight into the heart of the mumbling, unconscious archer.
In the end it was one thought that stayed his hand; why was he alive? Why was he alive and not his grandmother? She was a better being than he could ever hope to be, she deserved to live more than he as well, more than anyone.

Alladhiir shook his head and his jaw twitched, suddenly utterly ashamed of his foolishness, he had come so close to murdering an innocent over such a petty and pathetic reason, it sickened him more than his many hours searching through the corpses.

He was no better than the Druchii.

This thought suddenly sobered him, causing him to straighten and blink as though slapped, he knew exactly what he needed to do.

He was to make sure that this Archer lived, no matter what.

With a heavy sigh Alladhiir began to gather the Asur in his arms, besides if he lived then Alladhiir would have a higher chance of living himself.


Alladhiir sat near the burning blaze of the carriage, his elbows on his thighs and his hands curled together in front of his face. Taking warmth from one of the blazing carriage wrecks. He had taken off his Dragon armour so the flames could warm his weary bones. Already he had eaten much of the small amount of the food he'd managed to scavenge from the wreckage. The rest he left for his fellow survivor. Which was easier said than done, as he constantly had to fight the hungry growl of his stomach.

With a frown Alladhiir eyed the unconscious archer, who lay not far away. Still unconscious, but Alladhiir could hear him mumble and moan incoherently. Perhaps living through some horrid nightmare. Was he reliving the recent battle? Or was it some other, more minor memory? Whatever it was it was of no concern of Alladhiir's.

Fighting the fatigue, Alladhiir gazed into the flames, his mind whirling through many things; trying to figure out why he was still alive, how the Druchii had managed to infiltrate so larger force, os far behind the front lines. How his grandmother had failed so spectacularly in foreseeing the ambush. In the end it always led to the same thing, the thought which he tried to avoid more than anything else; With his grandmother dead what was to happen to him? Was he to become a prince in more than just name?

The mere thought utterly terrified him, he wasn't ready to rule, he never wanted to rule. Being responsible for the lives of others scared him. What if he made a mistake? What if they hated him? He also had no intention in getting involved with convoluted politics of the Asur.
His grandmother had spoken of it on several occasions, she had always hated their people's obsession with plotting and politicking, and Alladhiir had inherited that hatred.

The sudden loud groan from the archer brought Alladhiir out of his reverie and his attention snapped back to the archer. Alladhiir hoped his companion hadn't suffered some, unseen internal injury.

Alladhiir sighed and turned away as he saw his companion was okay, taking a sip from his hip flask, but the water barely helped his sore, parched throat and cracked, dry lips.

Now was not the time to dwell on such thoughts, if the archer was suffering from just a injury, there was nothing Alladhiir could do. He barely knew anything of the healing arts beside the brief flick through of a book or two.

During that time a surviving Druchii could've easily snuck up behind him and slit his throat. The thought caused him to quickly glance over his shoulder, his sharp eyes searching every shadow for something, anything which could be a threat. Yet he found nothing. Where the remaining Druchii had gone, Alladhiir could only speculate upon. Assuming that there were actually any remaining at all, perhaps the entire Druchii force was wiped out? The last of the Asur sacrificing themselves to make sure the Druchii couldn't continue rampaging through Saphery.

It was a noble thought, one which Alladhiir truly hoped had happened, but his deeply cynical side very much doubted it.

Alladhiir shook away the thought and slowly, laboriously climbed to his feet, his aching frame protesting all the way. As quickly as he could manage, which wasn't quick at all, he slipped his armour back on and took another sip from his flask. Wondering what he was to do next.

As far as he could see there were only two options, either head south, back to his home or continue northward, through the mountain range and into Avelorn.

South seemed the best, most logical option as the trek over the mountains would be hard and long and he was not sure his body in it's current state could handle it. Especially if he had to aide his fellow survivor, who may not have been as fortunate as him in escaping injury.

A sudden thought hit him, causing his eyes to turn into murderous slits and his attention snapped back to the young archer.

What if this Asur wasn't who he seemed to be? What if he was a spy left behind by the enemy? What if one of the Druchii sorceresses had placed a spell upon him to turn him into one of their unwilling servants? That could explain why this elf had survived while all the others lay dead.

Aladhiir's eyes widened as another idea occurred, what if he was the one that had the magic controlling him? What if they both had?

He clenched his teeth and looked at his hand as he flexed his fingers.

If he was truly controlled by some spell, would he even be able to come to such thoughts?

Alladhiir had never been particularly good at magic, despite his grandmothers many attempts at teaching him it. He'd always preferred the sword, nothing could beat going head to head against a worthy opponent in the sparring yard. Alladhiir could hardly imagine how amazing the rush must be when fighting a worthy opponent to the death.

But he had watched his grandmother practising her magical abilities in ways beyond his wildest imagination, he knew the power of magic and he knew it well.

A Druchii sorceress using it to manipulate his thoughts was well within the realms of reality.

Alladhiir sighed to himself again and rubbed his eyes. He was tired so, so tired. Every second was a battle to keep his eyes open.

Well if he was under some spell, his ally would have to be careful around him, Alladhiir intended to be careful of the archer even before he had thought of such a thing.

Alladhiir yawned and that was when the other Asur abruptly awoke, emitting a shrill shriek of fear and pain as he suddenly sat bolt upright. Causing Alladhiir to flinch in fright and cry out, clutching at his ringing, hurt ears.

The young Asur sat for a few seconds, gasping for breath as his eyes darting everywhere yet somehow failed in noticing Alladhiir standing nearby.

Alladhiir stood in silence, unsure what to say or do.

"I uhh," Alladhiir finally worked up the courage to say and the words, caused the nameless Asur's attention to snap suddenly on the prince, his eyes wide with an animal-like fear which froze Alladhiir in place, such was it's intensity.

"I uhm," said Alladhiir as he rose his hands slowly and deliberately to show he wasn't armed. "I am not going to hurt you."

Unless you try to hurt me first, he thought.

The other Asur continued to look at Alladhiir for an uncomfortably long time, then he blinked twice and a look of recogntion crossed his face.

"Prince Alladhiir?" said the Asur, his voice high pitched with confusion.

"Yes, it is I," stammered Alladhiir as he slowly lowered his hands and realising that it may have been pertinent to have stated his name earlier on.

The Archer's brow furrowed and slowly and now sanely surveyed his surroundings, Alladhiir following his attention across the corpse covered battlefield.

"What happened?" he asked, the expression of complete horror on his face, made Alladhiir's heart sink in his chest.

"You don't remember?" stammered Alladhiir.

"No!" bellowed the Asur, causing Alladhiir to flinch in fright again. "Where are we?" What happened? Why is everyone dead?"

"I, we, I, uhh," managed Alladhiir as he struggled to remember in what order each question was asked.

"We are in the mountains of northern Saphery!" he exclaimed as he suddenly recalled it. "We were going to Averlorn to reinforce the army there as the Druchii have yet again invaded in force! We were ambushed by a large force of Druchii and they were in far greater numbers than us. So we were overwhelmed. Defeated."

The young Archer didn't answer at first, just stared at Alladhiir with wide fearful eyes.

"Is there anyone else?" he finally asked.

Alladhiir raised an eyebrow, "anyone else, meaning?"

"Any! Other! Survivors!" said the Archer through clenched teeth.

Alladhiir flinched back, as if struck, "as far as I have ascertained," he stammered, before he averted his attention to the ground with the sudden sadness. "It is just us."

The Asur raised his eyebrows, "just us? Really? Just us?"

Alladhiir's brow furrowed and his jaw clenched, he was really beginning to get sick of the Asur's tone.

"Yes it is just us," Alladhiir growled and his hands balled into fists. "Now would you give me the honour of giving me your name."

Now it was the other Asur's turn to start as if slapped, obviously seeing he had taken it too far, then his eyes fell to the ground.

"I apologise, my prince, I did not mean to be rude. "It is just a shock to wake up and see all this."

Alladhiir's jaw twitched and he flexed his fingers, but he slowly nodded, "believe me, I know exactly how you feel."

The Archer nodded and gazed guiltily away, "my name is Carlindil, my prince."

"Well hello, Carlindil," said Alladhiir haltingly.

Then for a long time afterward they stayed in a awkward silence.

Alladhiir was already finding he didn't like this, Carlindil, but quickly the Prince tempered such thoughts. He was tired and so very irritable. Carlindil was just at the wrong end of it. Alladhiir decided, perhaps he should give the Archer the benefit of the doubt. After just waking to see such a scene and lacking any memory of the how and the why of it, Carlindil was justified in his reaction.

Alladhiir was broken from his train of thought as he heard muted whispering and turned to see Carlindil, was knelt on his knees and whispering into his entwined hands.

Praying.

Alladhiir could barely deny the sudden contempt and rage that hit him, like a crashing wave against the shore.

"What are you doing?" Alladhiir demanded.

Immediately Carlindil stopped and looked at him, "why I am praying of course, prince."

"Why?" growled Alladhiir, through clenched teeth.

For a short time, Carlindil was silenthe just looked at Alladhiir with an uncertain expression.

"Why I pray to Morai-Heg, for all the good Asur who have died this day. I pray for them, I pray that they rest in peace."

Alladhiir didn't reply he just glared witheringly at Carlindil, there was little point in praying for the dead, in fact there was little point in praying at all. Carlindil could have used that time as Alladhiir had, doing something useful and searching for survivors.

"Is there something wrong, prince?" stammered Carlindil.

"No nothing's wrong," growled Alladhiir. "Carry on."

Carlindil gazed at Alladhiir with distinct bemusement, then he went back to his praying.

Alladhiir turned his back on the Archer, laid on his side against the hard ground and closed his eyes while trying to block out that incessant whispering.

Then almost immediately, he fell into a fitful sleep.

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Of A Fool Living in the Land of Bretonnia: Chapter 2

Post by Adrassil » Tue Jun 05, 2018 2:46 pm

He dreamed, Alladhiir dreamed he was back in the battle but this time as the druchii appeared from their hiding places amongst the rocks, he was at his grandmother’s side and he laughed as joy and adrenaline welled within him. Alladhiir drew his sword and unslung his shield and the asur force turned as one to face the druchii charge.

With every slash Alladhiir killed two druchii with ease and they fell before his might like a scythe through wheat and he laughed and laughed as he slowly moved up the cliff and slaughtered and slaughtered. None could stand before him, none could prove a challenge.

When he finally found the top of the incline, countless druchii lay in his wake and he was covered head to toe in blood and gore but he couldn’t have cared less, joy sang in his veins, and his smile so wide he feared it could split his cheeks. 

Then it hit him, it was so horridly abrupt, like he’d run full tilt into a wall and he was thrown off his feet, flying through the air for what felt like forever.

But eventually, finally he hit the ground, the impact smashed the air from his lungs and his sword and shield were flung from his grasp ao suddenly it was like he’d never held them at all.

He bounced and clanged across the rocks, each impact causing his head to bound around painfully.

After a long time he came to a complete stop, his vision a blur, his world spinning but when it eventually cleared he truly wish it hadn’t.

Looming over Alladhiir was a large, black dragon Alladhiir had only seen Dragons depicted in illustration, but this one held none of the beauty and nobility of its kind, but an evil, ugly countenance. Sitting atop it was a warrior in spiked armour as pitch black as the dragon’s scales. The stench of death and corruption so strong it was almost visible.

Malekith, the Witch King of Naggaroth gazed down at Alladhiir, his cold glowing green eyes were filled with immeasurable malice and contempt. His left hand was raised and still smoking from whatever spell he’d used on Alladhiir, his right was empty, he had not even drawn his sword.

The dragon growled, retracted it’s neck, then suddenly snapped forward, rows upon rows of razor sharp silver teeth clashed close and Alladhiir’s vision was immediately engulfed in complete darkness.


With a cry Alladhiir awoke, back to reality, back to the cold, cutting wind and the fiery agony of his limbs.
“Prince Alladhiir!” exclaimed Carlindil. “Is something wrong?”

Alladhiir hissed through clenched teeth, sat up and clasped at his head as pain thundered through his temples and his vision, blurred.
He groaned and started to slowly shake it away.

“Prince-!”

“I am fine!” Interrupted Alladhiir. “You needn’t worry, Carlindil. How long was I asleep for?”

Carlindil shrugged, “no more than an hour, prince.”

Alladhiir groaned again, fighting the fatigue as it abruptly threatened to overwhelm him and another wave of agony flared through his skull causing him to cry out.

“Prince-!”

“Please! Please refrain from calling me prince!” Alladhiir snapped. “I am just Alladhiir. I am no different than you!”

Carlindil looked at Alladhiir with wide eyes, “yes, of course, Alladhiir.”

“Thank you.”

He didn’t actually ask Carlindil to stop calling him prince because of that, but because it kept reminding him of his fate. That sooner or later, he would be more than just a prince in name and it terrified him beyond measure.

“Alladhiir,” said Carlindil after a long pause.

“Yes?” said Alladhiir, blinking rapidly to keep his eyes from slamming shut.

“Earlier, you said that you and I, were the only ones left, does that mean...Does that mean?”

Alladhiir didn’t answer, he just looked sidelong at Carlindil, his brow furrowed.

Carlindil’s attention snapped to the ground.

“I am sorry, Alladhiir.”

Alladhiir sniffed, “there is no need to be sorry. You were not the one who dealt the fatal blow.”

He grimaced as the anger abruptly well within his stomach, causing him to clench his his fists.

“You didn’t abandon her.”

Carlindil’s attention raised back to Alladhiir.

“Abandon her? Who abandoned her?”

Alladhiir barked out a brief, bitter snigger and pointed to the sky.

“Them,” he answered.

Carlindil’s brow furrowed in bemusement and it took him a few seconds to understand.

“The gods? You cannot surely mean the gods!” he cried, as though he couldn’t even begin to comprehend it.

“That is exactly what I mean,” said Alladhiir.

Carlindil stared at Alladhiir, his jaw working to find words he was so dumbstruck.

“Do you want to know how she died, Carlindil?” asked Alladhiir. grimacing to fight back the tears.

“I uhh, I.”

“Her stomach had been cut open, a wide wound. Her guts hanging out. I am no expert in the healing arts nor physiology but I know that she died an incredibly agonising, slow death. And do you know what she did as she died?”

“What, what did she do, Alladhiir?”

Alladhiir found he could no longer fight back the tears as they suddenly fell down his face.

“She protected me,” he said as he wiped away the tears. “She used her magic to hide me from the druchii, to keep me from being killed or captured, along with everyone else. She had laid my sword and shield aside me as I laid unconscious. She was the kindest most gentle person I have ever known. She truly didn’t deserve to die like that.”

“No one deserves to die like that,” said Carlindil. “No one but save the druchii, each and every single one of them. They did this, Alladhiir. She is now with the gods...”

“But how do you know that?” interrupted Alladhiir. “How do you know for certain? And even if she is, was it worth it?”

“It is said…”

“Oh, anything can be said!” snarled Alladhiir. “Anything can be written! It does not mean it’s true!”

Carlindil extended his neck and exhaled through his nose.

“The gods were not the ones who did this,” he said and Alladhiir really didn’t like the weary, almost condescending patience in his tone. “They did not attack us. The ones you should be angry at are the druchii. The ones you need to blame are the druchii! Not the gods!”

Alladhiir let out a snort, “of course they were! I am well aware of that! And I will never forget that! But I will not hate them! I refuse to hate them!”
An expression of slow, dawning horror crossed Carlindil’s face.

“What, by Asuryan do you mean by that?” he demanded.

“Because, Carlindil,” Alladhiir answered, calm in the face of Carlindil’s anger, “because I see them as…”

He trailed off and his gaze fell to the ground as the sorrow returned.

“M-my grandmother saw them for what they really, truly are.”

“And what is that, exactly?” said Carlindil with genuine curiosity.

Alladhiir looked back at the archer and smiled.

“They are a people so consumed by their hatred and bitterness, it is all that they know. It is all they live for. Aside from their rampant selfishness, but that is neither here nor there. Their hate and bitterness is derived from events that occurred generations ago.  They are so entrenched in reclaiming their past, they cannot look to their future. No, the druchii aren’t worthy of our hatred, Carlindil. They are only worthy of our pity and our contempt.”

“But they invade!” Carlindil exclaimed, “they kill and slaughter and butcher. They betrayed us!”

“That they do,” sighed Alladhiir as he shook his head, “but I ask you, would you hate a dog because he bites? No, because it’s merely in his nature just like it is in the druchii’s. They are without doubt a dangerous enemy who must be defeated, but hating them is a waste of time and energy.”

“But..!”
“This invasion will be like every other that came before!” said Alladhiir. “They will seem to have us on the verge of defeat but we will come back and defeat them! Send them back to Naggaroth with their tails between their legs. And it will happen again and again until one of us is finally extinct.”

Alladhiir grimaced and took a swig from his flask, “which will be us, it would not be so if they actually cared.”

“But they do!”

“Well, if they do they are pretty much powerless to show it,” said Alladhiir. “I do not which is worse, in all honesty.”

Carlindil sighed and wearily shook his head, causing Alladhiir to clench his jaw.

“But they are not powerless, Alladhiir. Do we not have the Phoenix Guard? The skilled warriors of Asuryan? Wasn’t it Hoeth who gave us all our prized knowledge? Wasn’t it the gods who gave Aenarion the strength to unite Ulthuan and defeat the entities of chaos?”

“Yes!” exclaimed Alladhiir. “There is the Phoenix guard and they are deadly warriors, but in all honesty in the bigger picture of things they are not that greater gift. Also they cannot speak so whatever secrets that Asuryan has shared with them, secrets which may help us beyond belief they cannot share. Hoeth did, according to legend, mind you, give us all the knowledge we hold dear, but for that Asuryan exiled him. Surely we needed that knowledge? Surely Hoeth didn’t deserve such a fate? Much of what we know has been earned over the centuries of asur research, of asur development. My grandmother as a mage of Saphery could attest to that, me, as a prince of Saphery can attest to that! And you mentioned Aenarion, but look what that power did to him. He lost his mind and drew the sword of Khaine, did the gods stop him? I mean, actually stop him? They could’ve I am sure, but it was this that led to him losing his life, then the betrayal of the druchii, then the Sundering and everything ever since. Surely they would’ve foreseen that, right?”

With a shaking hand, Alladhiir violently took another sip from his flask and shook his head, anger raging through him.

“I am sorry, Alladhiir,” said Carlindil. “I am sorry that you have lost your faith.”

Alladhiir smiled, “I am sorry to say that one cannot lose their faith if one does not have faith in the first place. If it isn’t obvious, I have spent much time thinking on this.”

Carlindil’s jaw clenched, “I...see.”

Alladhiir handed him his flask, which Carlindil hesitantly took it and took a long, deep drink of.

“I do not know what to think, prince,” he said darkly as he gave it back.

Alladhiir grinned and tapped his temple with an index finger, “let us think on something else, then.”

“Such as?”

Alladhiir pursed his lips and shrugged, “such as what we do next, I do believe that may be important. As far as I can ascertain we have two options. We can either continue northward to Cothique, or back south to Saphery and the city of Arlyandor. If you have any other suggestions, feel free to voice them, please.”

“Do you know if there were any druchii survivors?” said Carlindil.

“I do not,” said Alladhiir with a shrugg. “I think if there were, they would head north to try and catch the defenders in Cothique between them and the druchii attacking from the north. All the more reason why I believe we should head south.”

“But we could go to Corthique,” said Carlindil. “Warn them of the attack!”

“That is assuming we can even begin to beat them there,” said Alladhiir. “We don’t know how long a head start they have over us.”

“That is assuming there are still druchii alive.”

With a smile, Alladhiir brushed his brown bloody, long hair off his face, “of course, what is the old saying? Hope for the best, but assume the worst? Or something along those lines.”

Carlindil grimaced, “your assumptions seem logical, Alladhiir. But the druchii do not always work by logic. They may have gone south, the tower of Hoeth has always been a valued target for them.”

Alladhiir sighed, “alas, perhaps so. Although I doubt they would’ve had the necessary numbers to take the tower even before they ambushed us. Say what you will of the druchii they rarely use truly suicidal tactics.”

“So do you think we should head south?”

“If they are headed north and if we go to aide the defenders there, I fear there is very little difference we could make.”

Carlindil grimaced yet again and Alladhiir was quickly getting sick of that expression, “you have very little faith in our abilities.”

He shrugged and took another swig of water, “I am merely being a realist, Carlindil. You should try it sometime.”

“A pessimist, you mean,” growled Carlindil.

‘Perhaps,” admitted Alladhiir with a shrug. “Anyway I suggest south, do you agree or disagree?”

“Does it matter?”

Alladhiir furrowed his brow and pursed his lips, taken off guard by the archer’s hostile tone.

“Yes,” said Alladhiir. “Yes, of course it does, why would I ask if it didn’t?”

Carlindil shrugged, “I do not know, prince. There seems to be much I do not know, apparently.”

Alladhiir furrowed his brow and he opened his mouth to ask what that meant, but Carlindil interrupted him.

“Yes I do agree. I think we should head back south, to Arlyandor. I am worried, the vast majority of our army was travelling on this mountain pass. Our city, our villages and towns are now all but defenceless.”

“Yes,” said Alladhiir with a grim nod. “All the more reason to go south.”

“As you say, prince,” growled Carlindil.

Alladhiir clenched his jaw and wondered where all this animosity was coming from.

“Yes, as I say,” he said through gritted teeth.

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Re: Of A Fool Living in the Land of Bretonnia.

Post by Adrassil » Wed Jun 20, 2018 9:05 pm

It did not take long for Carlindil to find a bow and a quiver worth of arrows as Alladhiir salvaged what little food he could find, mostly elven bread he stuffed into travel packs..

In silence they walked down the mountain, keeping off the pass, sticking to the shadows of the rocky terrain. It was slow going Alladhiir in the lead, treading carefully and keeping watch for any movement, any sign of life. The Annulli mountains was full of dangerous creatures of, they were very lucky none of them had come to see the wreckage.

Some would say it was the will of the gods, Alladhiir would say it was more likely the druchii had killed any near enough to be a problem.

It took them about an hour to reach the hills of Saphery and no word was exchanged during this time, Alladhiir never even looked over his shoulder at Carlindil. His attention wandering constantly across every inch of the scenery.

He could sense Carlindil's anger aimed at his back, but he ignored him.

Once they reached the base of the mountains and onto the road which winded around and up and down the countless hills. Alladhiir couldn't help but stop to look at the distant Tower of Hoeth which dominated the horizon, that didn't just seem to pierce the sky, but conquered it. It was like a beacon calling for all asur with the will and intellect to search for the hallowed knowledge within its walls.

Despite having a grandmother who was an archmage and a bladelord as a father figure, Alladhiir had never been inside. He may have been a swordsman, through and through but he loved to study, to learn and would've loved to delve its depths, but his grandmother would never let him. She never told him why, much to his frustration.

"Prince?" said Carlindil as he stepped to Alladhiir's side. "We must keep moving, Alladhiir."

He nodded and for the hundredth time he had to blink away the urge to close his eyes, then continued on. It was a good twenty kilometres to the city of Arlyandor, and a long the way were three small villages. Alladhiir was unable to see them through the hills. He had kept an eye on them as they had descended the mountain side. His sharp eyes piercing the darkness to see their lights below. An indication they were alive and well, or at least he hoped.

It did not take long for them to veer west, staying six metres off the road, just in case.

Alladhiir again looked to the sky and the Chaos moon, which hung far larger than its counterpart. There was barely a cloud to be seen. His grandmother had said that the entities of chaos were taking part in the invasion, fighting alongside the druchii army attacking in Cothique and appearing sporadically all throughout Ulthuan. It was said one made it even as far as Avelorn to attack Tyrion and Alarielle, the Everqueen, herself.

He gave Carlindil a brief glance, Carlindil didn't know that, he didn't need to know that and it was unconfirmed, anyway. If it was true, Alladhiir might be wrong, this invasion may be different than the others that came before.

Although there were no daemons amongst the ambushing druchii earlier,or none that Alladhiir was aware of. He was not sure what to make of that.

The thought sent a shiver up Alladhiir's spine. His grandmother had taught in detail of the gods of Chaos and their daemonic servants. Say what you would of the druchii, atleast they would die if you stab them, or blood loss or the trauma but a daemon wouldn't.

In truth, the very thought of them terrified him, but yet a part of him wished to one day encounter their kind. To go blade to blade with a daemonic champion, that would truly be a test of his skill and mettle.

"Alladhiir," said Carlindil, abruptly knocking him from his thoughts. "May I ask you a question?"

"Of course," Alladhiir stammered. "Of course you may, ask what you will."

Carlindil sighed and his attention fell to the ground, "you are our prince, our leader, are you not?"

Alladhiir's eyes widened, unsure how to reply.

"I am not," he said after some contemplation. "I was a prince merely in name, it was my grandmother who truly ruled."

Carlindil looked at Alladhiir, "so that means you will actually become a prince, then."

That was not a question, even Alladhiir could see that and the prince looked away, clenching his jaw.

"You do not wish it?" said Carlindil with a raised eyebrow.

Alladhiir's first instinct was to lie, but he quickly held his tongue, he was never a good liar, Carlindil would quickly see through it and their friendship was already strained enough.

"No," he sighed. "No, I do not."

Alladhiir did not want to elaborate any more and he hoped Carlindil would get the hint.

Carlindil did, much to Alladhiir's relief, he seemed far more socially intelligent than Alladhiir could ever be.

"You are our prince," said Carlindil. "Destined to one day rule us. But we never see you. In fact the first time I have ever seen you was when you had come to my village to get my regiment to join your army on the way north to be ambushed. I do not understand it, how can you stay cooped up in your palace and never bothering to interact with your people?"

Alladhiir gaped, shocked speechless by the bitterness in Carlindil's tone.

For a long time they walked in silence, Alladhiir struggling to contend a coherent reply.

"I am sorry," he managed eventually. "As you may have guessed social interaction isn't my strong suit."

"I have guessed," Carlindil said with a bitter laugh. "And that makes me understand your philosophy even less! You claim to dislike the gods, you claim them to be useless. But you have hardly lived! You have stayed, cooped up in your palace, avoiding the world, you have no true life experience to come to your hatred! You do not have the grounds t-"

Carlindil was abruptly silenced by Alladhiir's armoured fist crashing into his face with a clang! And Carlindil was sent sprawling to the ground.

Alladhiir glared down at Carlindil, fist raised. Alladhiir had held back or else he would've broken his jaw or more. Such was the control he had, even with an armoured hand and even in the depths of anger.

"I have studied," he said. "I have read countless books, upon countless subjects, and..!"

"That is correct!" yelled Carlindil, as he clutched his bruised, bloody jaw, his wide eyes glistening with tears. "You are book learned! You know much, that is true, it is…"

"What I have just been through!" interrupted Alladhiir. "What you and I have just been through. I would qualify that as a thousand lifetimes of 'life experience,' wouldn't you?"

Carlindil didn't reply he just lay there, clasping at his face and staring over Alladhiir's shoulder with wide, terrified eyes.

"What is it?" asked Alladhiir as he turned to see and what he saw made his heat sink.

Smoke was rising high into the sky in the south, where Alladhiir remembered the first village to be.

Alladhiir was wrong, the druchii had headed south into Saphery and he was ashamed to admit; the fact that he was wrong hurt him more than anything else.

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Re: Of A Fool Living in the Land of Bretonnia.

Post by Adrassil » Wed Jun 27, 2018 3:45 pm

For what felt an age they ran, all the while Alladhiir constantly struggled with his weary wobbly legs and the horrific tiredness.

Every breath was a struggle, his lungs felt as though a cold, unbelievably strong hand held them in an iron grip.

Despite this, and how much heavier his armour was, Alladhiir was a good three metres ahead of Carlindil, who was struggling more than even Alladhiir. Alladhiir had always been a fast runner, even among the asur despite being of considerably shorter stature than most of his race. He was also much stronger and fitter than Carlindil due to spending many more hours than him working on physical fitness. Alladhiir was a dedicated warrior and martial artist outside of his more studious pursuits. Alladhiir couldn’t help but wonder what Carlindil was before being conscripted into his grandmother’s force. The word left a bitter taste in his mouth, but he couldn’t think of any other that fit as well.

Carlindil collapsed, and Alladhiir stopped and turned back to the fallen archer, having to swallow the bile rising in his throat. Alladhiir allowed Carlindil a good ten minutes to recover as they fought for breath, but it was more for him than the archer.

Alladhiir felt like his lungs would burst, that his legs were made from grass.

He approached Carlindil. It was not far now, perhaps a bit under a kilometre, he still couldn’t see the village through the hills, though.

As they start off again, it hit Alladhiir how insane this was. Here they were just the two of them running headlong into only Asuryan knew what. It was beyond illogical, what difference could they make? And on top of that it might not even have been the druchii, rather their daemonic allies.

But did it matter? Their people were in danger either way, they had to try, even if it cost them their lives.

That thought caused Alladhiir to straighten and he turned, grabbed the prone, exhausted Carlindil by the scruff of his neck and abruptly hauled him to his feet.

“We must move!” he snarled. “We haven’t far to go!”

Alladhiir took a long swig of his flask and handed it to Carlindil, who managed a grateful nod before drinking it back, then they were running again. Alladhiir slowing to allow Carlindil to keep pace.

“I am sorry, Alladhiir,” gasped Carlindil. “I am sorry for what I said.”

He didn’t reply, Alladhiir just clenched his teeth and kept on running.

They didn’t make if very far before they were forced to drunkenly stumble the rest of the way.

After what felt like hours of this they the village finally came into view. Telleved was set deep in a large valley and was small, even by asur standards with a population barely over one hundred and fifty. Now it was all ablaze, the entire village utterly engulfed in a fire so intense it hurt Alladhiir’s eyes, even from this distance.

For a while the two young asur could only stand, looking on such with overwhelming horror that their exhaustion was forgotten.

The stench was what brought them back to reality, the stench of charred, burnt flesh clogged in Alladhiir’s throat and made his eyes water.

Dozens of asur dead were scattered all throughout the valley, numerous weapons laid everywhere. The locals must have taken up arms to defend their home but it was all for naught. Only a handful of druchii were scattered among them, much to Alladhiir’s heartbreak.

Carlindil was the first to speak, “Alladhiir, we must look for survivors,” the archer said his voice shaking and strained with emotion and he began to descend the hillside.

Alladhiir’s eyes narrowed at Carlindil’s back, why did he not do that earlier? But without further protest, he started after him.

Alladhiir paused to catch his breath and wiped the sweat from his face. He looked to the sky and again the Chaos moon. It was still four hours until sunrise and for Alladhiir, it couldn’t come fast enough. He wasn’t one for superstition but he was beginning to hate that moon and what it represented.

They had been searching through bodies for than an hour now and found nothing but dead upon dead upon dead. Alladhiir could count only thirty four druchii slain, the battle was ridiculously one sided and Alladhiir knew why, many of the asur had been burnt black and the fire was still raging away as strong as when they had arrived.

A sorceress was involved, she must have survived the battle on the pass. Her presence made the druchii remnants infinity more dangerous and their determination to hunt them down, even more insane. But it made it all the more important to hunt them down, all the more important they’re stopped.

Alladhiir clenched his jaw and looked to Carlindil who was in the midst of checking another corpse.

“Carlindil!,” he shouted over the deafening roar and crackle and pop of the witch fire.

Carlindil didn’t seem to hear as he moved onto another body.

“Carlindil!” he yelled again, causing the archer’s hooded attention to suddenly snap at him.

“We waste our time!” he roared, unperturbed.

The archer’s expression darkened with rage so potent it took Alladhiir’s breath away, but as quickly as it came, it was gone and his attention fell to the ground.

“W-what should we do?” stammered the archer sadly.

“We need to continue south!” he yelled. “This is Witch fire! There is a sorceress among them! Every second we waste searching here they gain ground to destroy the next village! We must move, now!”

Again, a expression of pure rage crossed Carlindil’s features, but it was gone as quickly as came again. His wide eyes welling with tears

“Yes,” he sighed. “I see the logic to your words, prince. I just pray that it will not be for naught.”

Alladhiir couldn’t help clench his jaw, wanting to say, it would be better if he did something rather than pray, but he held his tongue. He just hoped they would not leave anyone alive behind.

After scavenging the very few supplies they could, they were moving again.

In silence they set off at a brisk pace. Alladhiir dearly wished to run, but they were just too exhausted and they needed to conserve what little strength the had for the fight. He could only hope the druchii’s numbers would slow them down enough for them to catch up.

Carlindil was annoyingly sullen, his attention set firmly downward, but he still kept up.

It wasn’t until they were finally forced to sit down to eat, Alladhiir asked through gritted teeth.

“What...is...wrong?”

Carlindil hissed as though stung and his attention suddenly, finally snapped at Alladhiir. Glaring as though Alladhiir had just brazenly insulted his mother and he had to fight from withering from its intensity.

“You still haven’t yet guessed?” he said.

Alladhiir could only purse his lips and shrug, taken aback by Carlindil’s ire and finding himself unable to understand.

Then, much to Alladhiir’s bemusement, Carlindil barked out an abrupt laugh, a bitter, patronising laugh.

“It is funny,” he said. “For someone who claims to be so smart, they can be so stupid!”

“Well...please...enlighten...me,” Alladhiir growled, fighting the urge to punch Carlindil in the face again. Something had upset him, something about that village and he gaped as the realisation hit him.

Carlindil smiled and shook his head, “yes! Finally! That was my village, the place where I was born and raised! Now do you understand?”

Alladhiir could only stammer syllables and it felt like an age before he could finally manage a, “I-I’m sorry.”

Carlindil just glared at him and from then they ate on in silence.

It was Carlindil who was first on his feet.

“As much as it pains me to admit,” he said. “You are right, prince. We must head on, we must stop the druchii before they claim more innocent lives.”

He stared down at Alladhiir with frightening intensity.

“I will have time to mourn and pray for my mother and father,in the future,” he said as he held out his hand, that Alladhiir hesitantly took and Carlindil pulled him to his feet.

He had to fight the urge to say, “assuming, that you’re able to live that long.”

“That is our duty,” said Carlindil, his eyes narrowed meaningfully, although Alladhiir couldn’t understand. “As sons of Asuryan, is it not?”

Alladhiir frowned, “I would say it is our duty as civilised asur, but I digress.”

Carlindil grimaced but before Alladhiir could respond, Carlindil was moving onward.

After the short rest and some food, they were able to move all the faster.

Carlindil’s face was set in determination and Alladhiir couldn’t help feel a stab of envy. When he had found his grandmother, dead he had broken down. But Carlindil whose entire village was destroyed was just carrying on, without even shedding a single tear.

Despite his faults, Carlindil seemed an asur of integrity, an asur with a strong sense of duty.

Alladhiir could not help believe he would make a far greater prince than he ever could.

As they walked, Alladhiir felt as though he should say something of comfort to the archer but found himself unable. Utterly unsure of what to say and how to say it. So he kept quiet and so did Carlindil.

It was not long before Alladhiir found his mind begin to wander, to think on what he dreaded the most, far more than the potential confrontation with the druchii. The prospect of him having to rule, the mere thought of it caused his stomach to twist into knots and a lump to appear in his throat. He was not ready, no way in hell was he ready. He had neither the will, nor the social intellect.

He started to wrack his mind to try think of a way to escape that fate, but no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t think of anything, short of him dying.

It was when an idea finally hit him, a particularly dark idea that Carlindil’s hand suddenly clasped his shoulder. Causing him to flinch and forcing him back into reality.

Alladhiir stopped, and turned questionably to Carlindil.

The archer’s face was as hard as steel and without a word, pointed westward.

Alladhiir looked, and saw a few kilometres away, a very faint column of smoke rising from the grassy hills.

“There is no village in that direction,” said Alladhiir, the first words said in at least an hour.

“No, there is not,” agreed Carlindil, his tone as steeled as his expression.

Alladhiir furrowed his brow in confusion and spluttered, “but surely, surely they wouldn’t be so...They wouldn’t be so...Surely?”

Carlindil glared at Alladhiir, “I wouldn’t know, but surely you would, being so much more educated, surely?”

Alladhiir’s face turned as hard as Carlindil’s.

“Look,” he growled. “I do not know what I did to invite such ire. Perhaps it is my lack of faith. Perhaps it is something else, I do not know. But we must put aside our enmity and work together, now let’s go.”

He didn’t wait for a response, as he turned away and began toward the smoke.

“You are a coward, Alladhiir.”

The words stopped Alladhiir in his tracks and he looked back to Carlindil, anger abruptly raging through him like a wild fire.

“What?”

“I said that you are a coward,” Carlindil reiterated harshly. “That is the reason you invite my ire.”

Alladhiir sniggered and shook his head.

“I do not know what you talk about. I, in my first taste of battle did not baulk. I stood true and did not hesitate! I…”

Carlindil’s sudden laughter interrupted him, “do not get me wrong, prince!” He said ‘prince’ like it were a curse. “You are not a coward in battle, I saw you fighting, you were like a whirlwind, in fact I would say it looked as though you were enjoying it! A bit too much for my liking!”

He shook his head, “you are a coward toward your responsibility! You are terrified of having to rule! And you are genuinely contemplating of a way to run from it!”

Alladhiir gaped, shocked into silence unable to find a reply. How had he figured that out? How?

“I...I do not.”

Carlindil laughed again and shook his head, “you are a terrible liar.”

“Yes I am,” snapped Alladhiir, managing to regain himself. “That is why I would make a terrible politician and so, a terrible prince!”

“But you will learn!” said Carlindil. “Once, as you had earlier stated, once the druchii are ousted and we are at peace. The Phoenix king would surely have someone aide you! Or you could even appoint someone…”

“How about I appoint you,” interrupted Alladhiir.

Carlindil straightened and after a long pause said, “what?”

‘How about you become that advisor,” said Alladhiir.

“Surely you jest?”

“No I do not,” said Alladhiir. “I can see you are an asur of character and integrity. You seem to be able to read others well.”

“I hope you do not include yourself in that!” exclaimed Carlindil. “You are as easy to read as the simplest child’s book! I am certainly not a mind reader.”

Alladhiir shrugged, “just think on it.”

Carlindil could only nod.

Alladhiir nodded back, “now, we mustn’t linger any longer.”

Carlindil nodded again and quickly started toward the smoke.

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Re: Of A Fool Living in the Land of Bretonnia.

Post by Adrassil » Sun Jul 08, 2018 12:54 pm

From then on they moved silently. low and slow.

After a while, they could hear the laughter and yelling of the druchii echoing over the hills. The sound set Alladhiir's teeth on edge and anger to rage through him, anger which he barely kept in check.

Soon, soon he would be able to avenge his grandmother and Caradrith. This was righteous anger, his every instinct seemed to scream this fact and it took every ounce of his willpower to keep himself from throwing all caution to the wind and recklessly running on.

He briefly glanced over his shoulder at Carlindil. The archer's face was set in grim determination and Alladhiir imagined he too, wore a similar expression.

Silently, he willed Carlindil to keep his head. He wanted to tell him this, but he held his tongue, feeling he would just be stating the obvious, thus insulting Carlindil's intelligence.

The armies of Ulthuan were amongst the most disciplined in the world. Carlindil shouldn't be an exception. Or at least Alladhiir hoped.

For what felt like hours they silently ascended and descended hill after hill after hill and Alladhiir was truly beginning to struggle, his legs hurt like all hell and sweat soaked him from head to toe. But poor Carlindil was having a really tough time. On numerous occasions Alladhiir had to stop and allow the archer to catch up.

Each time Alladhiir would wordlessly offer aide, but the archer would always shake his head in stubborn refusal.

It was when Alladhiir reached the top of a particularly tall hill, he caught the first sight of their prey.

Two druchii spearmen stood guard near the peak of the next hill, looking to their direction.

Alladhiir abruptly dropped flat and Carlindil did the same.

The prince snarled a silent curse, he had hoped from the now long gone yells, that the druchii in their arrogance had thrown all discipline to the wind and didn't bother posting watchers, but yet again it seemed fate was trying its best to work against him.

Carlindil then crawled to his side and peered carefully to see.

"So, what now?" he whispered.

Alladhiir pursed his red lips and looked sidelong at the sentries. They were only around thirty metres away, well within range of Carlindil's bow but Alladhiir didn't know exactly how skilled the archer was, was he able to take care of them both without one raising an alarm? That was a hard ask for even the most skilled archer.

And how did they know there weren't more sentries? It seemed logical to Alladhiir they would position a pair facing the, north, south, east and west. So he immediately ruled out attempting to circle around to flank them, besides even if there weren't other sentries, that would easily take hours and by then it would be well past dawn.

The only advantage they had was the guards' positioning, while that made it hard for enemies approaching to see them, it also kept them out of the other sentry's line of sight, assuming there were any in the first place.

Alladhiir sighed and rubbed his eyes, suddenly wishing he too had taken a bow and quiver. He was sure he wouldn't be very good, he had hardly practised with the bow, instead electing to constantly focus on the sword and hand to hand combat. He was a specialist in every meaning of the word, he just didn't have the time to practise with the bow on top of studying. Now that specialization seemed...crippling.

As Alladhiir thought this over, Carlindil watched the sentries, his brow furrowed severely, but whether in concentration or impatience, Alladhiir couldn't know.

"We are," Alladhiir paused, trying to decide how best to say this. "Very limited in our options."

Carlindil's eyebrows raised in a mocking, 'oh really?' way, causing Alladhiir to clench his jaw and fight the urge to punch him again.

"Do you think you can kill them with a single shot from here?" growled Alladhiir.

Carlindil's eyes widened and gave the sentries a glance.

"What do you think I am?" he said. "A shadow warrior of Nargarythe?"

"Can you? Or can you not?" Alladhiir hissed, finding he was truly losing his patience with the archer now. "Can't you see that we cannot do anything else? If we try get any closer they will surely see us, we have no other option."

"We could leave for the next village and gather reinforcements," stated Carlindil almost snidely.

"And how long would that take?" said Alladhiir. "And by the time we come back here they'll surely have moved on and Asuryan only knows where!"

Carlindil smiled, "or we could beseech the gods…"

"Do not even suggest it," Alladhiir snapped. "We must trust our skill and our skill alone. Now I order you, as your prince, to kill those sentries. Right here, right now. Do you understand?"

Carlindil opened his mouth to reply but Alladhiir cut him off.

"Yes! We do not know how many of the enemy are camped over that hill! But we will never be able to see that until you take care of those sentries."

"What will we do if they are roused?"

"Then we will have at least an idea of their number and armament," said Alladhiir. "Then we might retreat and get reinforcement, is that alright with you?"

Carlindil's eyes narrowed but he nodded his consent.

"You are aware that you actually almost sounded like a leader then," he said but the contempt in his tone, Alladhiir couldn't begin explain.

Before Alladhiir could make a retort, Carlindil was already moving into position, and notching an arrow.

"If you have faith in anything, Carlindil," said Alladhiir. "Have faith in your abilities."

A wide grin seemed to split Carlindil's face as he drew back the bow's string. "as I am sure you are aware, prince. The definition of 'faith' is 'belief without evidence.' Do not worry, I was teasing you before. I have much evidence of my skill. So I do not need to have 'faith' in my abilities."

Alladhiir clenched his jaw, yes, in fact he was the one placing his 'faith' in Carlindil's ability with a bow and it was then that he decided he truly didn't like the archer. Like many asur Carlindil seemed prideful and arrogant, two good reasons why the younger races disliked elves in general. Alladhiir was seriously reconsidering his earlier offer.

Alladhiir watched with baited breath as Carlindil took aim, holding his bow flat so it wouldn't stick over the hilltop. It was only a few seconds before the archer exhaled and let loose his first arrow, but to Alladhiir, it felt like hours.

The prince's attention followed the projectile throughout its flight and watched as it stuck fast into the throat of a druchii who almost instantly, lifelessly collapsed and begun to roll down the hillside.

The second was in the midst of opening his mouth to yell warning as Carlindil instantly notched another arrow and let it fly.

The druchii's cry died before it had even begun as the arrow struck him straight in the face and he fell like the last.

Alladhiir went to congratulate the archer, legitimately impressed by his skill, but Carlindil's raised hand silenced him.

For a good ten seconds they waited, waited for a sound, any sound announcing the indication of the druchii over the hill having been awoken.

But there was nothing.

Alladhiir clamped Carlindil on the shoulder in approval and immediately, they started down the hill.


Quickly, quietly and keeping low they ascended the hill. Alladhiir's teeth were on edge, his stomach all in knots, every second he expected to hear a yell, or a cry, or anything announcing the enemy's knowledge of their missing sentries.

But for once, luck seemed with them as there was just constant silence.

Eventually, they peered over the druchii camp below.

To Alladhiir's initial relief there were only a dozen druchii, sleeping next to a large, long burnt out fire and there were no other sentries but something else caught his attention.

Something which made him hiss through clenched teeth and drop back.

"What? What is it?" whispered Carlindil.

"I should...I should have seen this coming."

"Seen what coming?"

Alladhiir's wide eyes looked to Carlindil, "captives! They have captives!"

Carlindil's expression mirrored his own and quickly, he looked.

"Eight asur," said Alladhiir, though he was sure Carlindil was able to see himself. "Tied in barbed rope. I did not think they would take captives when so few in number!"

"We must go!" snarled Carlindil. "My mother! My father! Might be down there!"

But something else was getting to Alladhiir and he couldn't identify what and before he could reply, Carlindil was already crawling forward.

Alladhiir's hand shot out and pulled him back by the scruff of his neck.

"We mustn't rush in!" he snarled. "While, yes! Your relatives may be down there, but the odds of that are extraordinarily low. This changes everything, this is no longer a quest for vengeance, but one of rescue and that means we must be even more careful!"

Carlindil just glared at Alladhiir with wordless defiance.

Alladhiir ignored him and looked back down the last hill, at the dead druchii guards. Briefly toying with the idea to take their armour and arms as disguise. But he instantly dismissed the thought, if the druchii awoke to catch their own trying to take their captives, they would act with just as much blood thirstiness and haste.

"Well, prince," said Carlindil, snarling 'prince' as though it were a curse. "What do you, with all your accumulated knowledge, think we should do?"

Alladhiir furrowed his brow, causing Carlindil to flinch in fear, but it was not in anger, but in thought. Alladhiir had learned to ignore the archer's contrarian nature.

And a plan began to form.


In silence, they descended upon the druchii camp, and with swift, agile feet, they made their way through the scattered, sleeping druchii.

As Alladhiir moved, his jaw was clenched so tight he was afraid his teeth may crack. He glared balefully down at every sleeper, fighting the urge to cut their throats, as he deftly stepped around or over them.

They had very little time before sunrise so stopping to kill any druchii would waste precious time and could awake the others, freeing the captives was priority now.

Alladhiir had already identified their leader, a druchii wearing very spiky, overly ostentatious, black and green with gold trim armour. A Dreadlord. Alladhiir decided, if anything went wrong he would make sure he was dead, even if it costs him his life.

His thoughts were interrupted by a slight clatter and he froze as his attention snapped to its source.

He saw Carlindil, who also had frozen. The archer had accidentally kicked a druchii spear and it had fallen not far from another sleeper.

Alladhiir clenched his jaw and reached for his sword but all the sleeping spearman did was sigh and roll onto his back.

Carlindil looked at Alladhiir with wide eyed, gaping apology.

Alladhiir replied with a frown and a severely furrowed brow, but was abruptly moving again.

After what mustn't have been a few minutes, but what felt like an age to Alladhiir they found their way to the tied and gagged captives. Every slight sound, from both his and Carlindil's steps all, sounded like a calamitous cacophony of crashes to Alladhiir's ears.

But suddenly, something else seemed wrong, and before Alladhiir could announce this the prisoners were had abruptly disappeared, wavering away like smoke followed by a shrill sound which hurt Alladhiir's ears.

They were replaced by more druchii who were already getting to their feet and drawing their weapons. In their midst was a scantily clad and breathtakingly beautiful sorceress whose psychotic cackle was even louder than the screeching sound.

Alladhiir and Carlindil, reeled in pain and shock but still were able to draw their swords and step so they were standing back to back as the druchii warriors encircled them in single file, spear tips aimed menacingly.

The sorceress, who stood well behind the spearmen, cackled and yelled, "see! See! What did I tell you, Elvak? The foolish asur and their sentiment! So predictable!"

Elvak, the dreadlord, walked to the sorceress's side, "indeed, Kaltha," he said. "Although I do admit I was hoping more would be caught in our little trap."

"Does it matter?" snarled Kaltha. "One is obviously a prince, and quite a pretty little one at that. He will surely be a prized slave."

Her eyes narrowed and she licked her lips at Alladhiir, making the prince blush bright red and not in anger.

"And a nice little plaything I am sure."

As she spoke the spearmen enclosed their circle, making it harder for Alladhiir and Carlindil to move.

Elvak grinned through sharpened teeth and looked to Alladhiir, "what say you, prince of Ulthuan? I offer you the chance to surrender and become my prisoner! And you will be spared being speared by my spearmen!"

He laughed heartily at his own joke, "get it, my sister? He will be spared being speared? Ha!"

The druchii sorceress said nothing, just rolled her eyes with contempt, causing Elvak to clear his throat loudly and look back to Alladhiir.

"Answer me!" he bellowed.

Alladhiir furrowed his brow and pursed his lips, "do you seriously think that I would surrender to the mercy of the druchii? I would rather be speared and be spared that fate! I decline! You fool!"

Elvak laughed again, "oh well! You were stupid enough to fall for our trap, I was hoping you would be stupid enough to surrender, too! But you do have guts, I must admit. It was worth a try, I guess! Get them! Oh, and do try to spare the little princeling, please! The other one can die as you please."

The spearmen sniggered sycophantically then began to truly close in on Alladhiir and Carlindil.

They simply exchanged silent sidelong looks and nods, then, side by side, they were moving. Alladhiir smashed aside a spear, opening the druchii up so Carlindil could cut his throat in a drizzle of dark blood.

As the druchii was collapsing, Alladhiir cut down another on the left, as Carlindil killed a third on the right.

The once over confident druchii soldiers seemed to falter, but it only lasted a second before one was snarling and thrusting his spear at Alladhiir. Alladhiir blocked with his sword and smashed him off his feet with his shield. Another came like the last and Alladhiir's shield knocked the thrust aside, opening the druchii's defense for Alladhiir to stab him in the side of the neck.

He could hear Elvak screaming commands and curses over the chaos and he had the briefest of instants to glance over his shoulder at Carlindil, seeing the archer was struggling to keep a druchii's thrusting spear at bay.

Alladhiir was moving, speeding past Carlindil and knocking the spearman off his feet with a side kick. A split second after, he parried a charging druchii's spear then cut him across the back as his momentum carried him on.

Alladhiir was forced to duck a swinging spear, then sidestepped another druchii's thrust and his lightning fast front kick clanged against the second attacker's chest, hurtling him hard against the hills. Alladhiir blocked the first's next thrust, before being forced to backstep another's slashing short sword.

As he did his back met Carlindil's and Alladhiir managed a glance, seeing the archer barely keeping at bay two druchii.

Alladhiir also caught a glimpse of Kaltha, who stood back from the fight, her appealing face contorted in ugly frustration. Her illusion must have drained her of energy, explaining why she wasn't hurling fire balls into the fray.

He weaved aside a slashing sword and blocked a stabbing spear with his sword, then pushed it upward and uppercutting the attacker in the chin. The crunch was almost deafening and the druchii writhed back limply.

The swordsman cut vertically downward, which Alladhiir danced aside of, before slipping in and smashing an elbow into his face.

Two spearmen came at Alladhiir's flanks, almost simultaneously, Alladhiir blocked one stab with his shield and knocked aside the other with his sword. He counted with a supremely fast slash that opened the druchii's throat, then pivoted to parry the other's second stab. Alladhiir kicked the druchii's feet from underneath him then stabbed his sword toward the back of his neck, but a slight flicker of movement caught his eye, causing him to turn too barely parry a stabbing sword.

He found himself face to face with a grinning Elvak.

"Ohh don't kill him!" said the dreadlord. 'I like him! Young Dalketh or Salketh! Whatever his name is!"

Alladhiir darted back, out of range from Elvak's very long two handed sword what the druchii called a 'Draich' and they began to circle each other.

"Tell me, princeling," said the dreadlord. "How did you become so skilled? I must say, I am quite impressed."

"Practise," answered Alladhiir as he abruptly dashed at Elvak, slashing horizontally which the dreadlord barely leaned back of. Alladhiir followed with a low slice aimed at Elvak's knee, that the druchii blocked.

The dreadlord riposted with upward diagonal cut, which Alladhiir's shield stopped dead. Then the prince bashed it at the druchii noble's face. But Elvak seemed to see it coming, easily weaving sideward then swung horizontally at Alladhiir's neck.

His teeth clenched, eyes wide, Alladhiir desperately darted and ducked but still, the tip of the dreadlord's blade cut a slight slice across the side of his neck.

Gasping as the pain seared through him, he stumbled away, fighting the urge to clutch at his horrific wound.

"Ah! As I had thought!" said Elvak snidely. "While I do admit you do have a bit of skill, you have very little true battlefield experience! Unlike I!"

Elvak suddenly dashed at the injured Alladhiir, but the prince was smiling. He smashed aside the dreadlord's thrust and darted around the druchii and bashed the flat of his sword against Elvak's helmeted skull.

The resulting clang! echoed over the grassy plains causing Elvak to cry out, stumbling off balance and clutching at his head. Allowing Alladhiir's front kick to collide into his back, sending Elvak smashing face first into the ground.

Ever the pragmatist, without any word ,Alladhiir was already stabbing for Elvak's neck, but in the very last second he was forced to dart back from a druchii warrior's stabbing spear. Then blocked another's thrust with his shield.

Again he glimpsed poor Carlindil, who was against all odds was still alive. He was completely covered in blood, much of it Alladhiir suspected was his. Inspite of this Carlindil was holding his own against two druchii at once, as two more laid lifeless at his feet

Despite himself he felt his dislike for the archer dwindle a little, once again highly impressed by his skill.

There were only four druchii spearmen left but they could see their prey was weakened and weary. They cackled keenly as they rained thrust after thrust at Alladhiir who struggled to parry, dodge, dart and block as he gasped for breath and fought against his achy, weary limbs.

He could hear Elvak constantly cursing savagely as he was slowly climbing to his feet.

Alladhiir couldn't help curse himself, in everyone of the considerable number of languages he knew, this was it. They had truly fallen for this clever ambush and while they'd put up a good fight, this was their end.

It seemed compassion was more a weakness than a strength, that was what caught them in this, perhaps the beautiful sorceress was correct, perhaps…

Alladhiir's eyes widened as an idea suddenly hit him. Then he weaved aside a spear and kicked it's owner back, then he turned and ran away.

If compassion could be a weakness, callousness could be a strength!

Kaltha snarled and swung her staff at him as he approached, but Alladhiir easily ducked it, grabbed it from her grasp and slipped behind her, holding his blade to her throat. Causing her to flinch and hiss in fear.

"Stop! Stop now!" he yelled. "Drop your weapons or else I'll end her!"

The druchii stopped almost immediately and turned to Alladhiir, glaring balefully.

"I said drop your weapons!" he snarled.

Elvak then was finally on his feet, looking at Alladhiir in what seemed almost amusement.

Alladhiir grinned, "she is your sister, isn't she? I have done much research into the culture of Naggaroth and as I understand it, amongst the nobility, siblings seem to love each other much more than what could normally be termed, 'brotherly love,' am I correct?"

Elvak's face instantly darkened and he felt her stiffen slightly.

"So! She is your lover, then?" said Alladhiir. "So if you want her blood to stay in her veins. You and your minions will drop their arms and armaments, understand?"

Elvak snarled like a caged predator and snapped, "do as he says! Drop your weapons!"

The druchii spearmen slowly, hesitantly did as told, their shields and spears clattering onto the grass.

"Well, princeling," growled Elvak. "It seems I have underestimated you at every turn, but I wonder, have you asked yourself what you are to do, now?"

The corner of Alladhiir's mouth twitched, as much as he hated to admit, the druchii was right, but…

Before Alladhiir could think further, Carlindil was moving and plunging his sword into Elvak's neck.

"For my village!" Carlindil screamed as he stabbed again. "For my mother! My father!"

Alladhiir was instantly deafened as Kaltha's tortured shriek eclipsed all other sound, causing him to flinch in pain and fright and loosen his hold on her, allowing her to break free and run to Elvak, weeping pitifully.

What really shocked Alladhiir was her legitimate torment and grief, he never imagined a druchii capable of such emotion.

The druchii spearmen reacted quickly, immediately retrieving their spears, but one wasn't fast enough, as the enraged Carlindil opened his throat with a swift stroke. The three remaining druchii roared with rage and charged Carlindil. All cohesion completely lost.

Carlindil managed to parry the first spear and kicked it's owner hard in the stomach, sending him careening off his feet.

By then Alladhiir was half way there, so unable to do anything as the second spearman stabbed into Carlindil's sword arm, causing him to scream in agony but he was silenced as the third druchii impaled him through the chest.

"Carlindil!" Alladhiir roared then was upon the druchii as they turned to him as Alladhiir ran one through.

With a roar, Alladhiir tore out his bloody sword, just in time to parry the next's spear stab and riposte with a horizontal cut across his throat. The last was in the midst of getting up as Alladhiir pounced on him and plunged his sword into the druchii's face.

Gasping for breath, Alladhiir turned to Carlindil, who was now on his knees. His wound was ugly and blood soaked his once white robes crimson.

Instantly, Alladhiir knew there was nothing he could do.

"Carlindil," said Alladhiir as he approached. The young archer didn't reply, he only gaped like a fish, his eyes blank with shock then he abruptly collapsed onto his back.

Alladhiir knelt beside Carlindil.

"You did it," said Alladhiir. "You avenged them, my grandmother, your family and your village. I am sorry, so so sorry it came to this."

For a second, Carlindil's eyes found focus and with bloody teeth, smiled.

Then died.


It took a good few seconds for Alladhiir to find his senses again, brought back to reality by the pitiful wailing of the sorceress and he turned to her.

She held the dead Elvak close as she knelt on the ground and wept, her lithe body coated almost head to toe in blood. It invoked an image of himself, of him holding his grandmother and crying in the exact same way only a few hours ago, it conjured a strange feeling. One of strange uncertainty he had never felt before.

"Tell me, what is your family name?" he asked as he approached her.

Her reply was only a watery eyed, withering glare.

"Tell me your name!" he roared with an intensity that shocked even him.

"Why do you care?" Kaltha screamed back.

"Because I wish to know!" snapped Alladhiir. "I never imagined...I never imagined…"

"Imagined what?"

"That one of you would care enough for another, to weep for them," said Alladhiir hesitantly. "So, please, tell me your family name."

"Kharaleth, it's Kharaleth," she answered, looking at him with narrowed, bemused eyes. "I do not understand, you are just going to kill me."

"And why do you figure that?" asked Alladhiir.

She furrowed her brow and pursed her lips, "because you want revenge."

"As you did?" said Alladhiir. "For the Sundering, so long ago? An event that only a very few still live to remember, today. No, I am not going to kill you. Because I want you to know this pain, this is the pain that is caused by revenge which begets hatred which again begets revenge."

"This is the pain which I have had to go through, the pain which drove poor Carlindil to murder. This is what we have to go through every time you invade! When you slaughter and torture your way through Ulthuan!"

Alladhiir spat on the ground in front of her, "all because of some slight that happened generations ago! A slight which the Witch King brought upon himself! This is my chance to end the cycle of vengeance and yours too. Don't you see the futility? The pointlessness? I see now that you druchii are capable of caring, capable of loving, so show you are capable of forgiveness. Capable of stopping this pointless cycle! Capable of being more than a mindless, sadistic, brainwashed, expendable pawn for Malekith and Morathi!"

He stopped struggling for breath and looked down at her, expecting some sort of retort, but she was silent, looking at him with wide eyes.

Alladhiir could barely fight back the tears and the urge to suddenly sprint at her and cut her throat, knowing she was responsible for the burning of Carlindil's village and the death of so many good, innocent people.

"My grandmother was right, he said instead. "You do not deserve hatred, but pity, only pity. So go back to Morathi and Malekith or whoever and tell them this, tell them how utterly pathetic and pitiful they truly are. Put it in perspective for them, like I did for you."

With that, for the first and only time he knew he could, Alladhiir turned his back on a druchii and walked away.

Alladhiir still knew he was not ready to rule, he knew he could never take part in the convoluted asur politics. His people deserved a far better ruler than he.

He also knew that he would find it harder to become the greatest swordsman in the world if he was trapped in Ulthuan, ruling. He may never truly show just how useless the gods were

Slowly, a plan began to form, a plan he knew would make his people label him as a coward, one with severe consequences if they were to ever find out. But not if they thought he was dead, or taken by the druchii.

But it must be done if he were to fulfill his goal, his purpose.

Alladhiir sighed to himself, he had never met a human before, he wondered what they were like as he started toward the Annuli mountain range.

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