I have finished!
My story is finally complete and sits at a staggering (to me at least) 19,557 words. Add in the fact that it talks about my previous story and is going to set itself up to have another story I am working on a pretty decent thing going on here I think. Maybe eventually I will make it all good and stuff.
Hah yeah that isn’t happening is it?
Anyway! Here is another part of my story. I don’t want to put it up all at once mostly to avoid staggeringly large wall of text really. Also it “may” provide some hype? Sort of like having to wait a week for a cliffhanger anime ending episode?
Enjoy the read!
Sacae stretched, the early morning sun peeking through the velvet curtains of the room she was in. Unlike the men, who were in small rooms in a hallway that was in another part of the palace, she was in a room that was more like an apartment that Liara had all to herself in one corner of the sprawling complex. As Sacae stood the silk nightgown she had borrowed, or more like forced upon her by Liara, unfurled itself from its crumpled state it was in and billowed out around her legs.
Sighing Sacae patted the gown down in certain spots slightly annoyed, “I do not understand how some women can wear these things.”
That was when she heard the door on the other side of the room, leading to the room Liara had used, creek open and a tired looking Liara wearing nothing but a simple pair of briefs entered the room stifling a loud yawn.
“Mmmm… ah.” Liara seemed to just notice Sacae, “Good morning Sacae.”
Sacae just stood there and stared for a few moments at the topless Liara before she seemed to remember her manners bowing awkwardly and turning her back to Liara, “Ah. Lady Liara. Good morning.”
A light chuckle escaped from Liara’s lips, “Ah sorry. I don’t usually wear anything to bed. You’re from Malorn are you not? They do not have community baths there if I remember correctly so this probably is a bit of an overall shock to you.”
Sacae had already stripped the billowy nightgown off and begun putting on her simple white and light brown linen clothes, “That’s right. I heard it was common down here in Alddar though.” She finished lacing up her blouse before glancing behind her.
Liara had already quickly put on slightly similar dark green linen hose and was lacing up a leather brassiere. “Mm yeah, something like that I suppose. I don’t go often but I suppose I am used to seeing others without clothes because of it.”
The rest of that early morning was spent idly chatting as they met the others and had breakfast with the Grand Duke before they all left once again to their rooms to gather any belongings they needed to bring with them. After that they all met outside of the palace where horses waited for them and Sacae was directed to a roan horse with a slightly droopy looking face. She had to hold herself back from calling it some silly name simply because of how it looked. Before long they had left the colorful city of Val Ald behind them and were traveling along the main road that ran northwest from the capital.
Their destination was a small village just across the river about three days from the capital. During these three days Sacae tried her best to judge her companions. For her all of this was new, she had grown up sheltered in a small village not far from the Imperial Capital of Malorn when her parents learned of her magic. But it wasn’t long before an accident happened that she forced her parents and village to allow her to live with the wizards and mages within the city walls. But it was there she was forced into an even further isolation as she was taught how to control her powers. In fact this was the first time she had even left the city of Malorn since becoming an official wizard on the council.
There was no official leader of the small group but it seemed to sway between Liara and Mathias. Liara carried herself as a leader, was a noble whether she cared to be considered one or not, and seemed to carry herself in a way that left little room to argue back towards her. But then there was Mathias, the white haired half elf confused Sacae. He didn’t seem to care much about most things and was often found dozing off in his saddle. But Liara was quick to listen to anything he said, even sometimes affectionately, and then there were the times at the palace Sacae recalled where he did not bother with titles even to the Grand Duke.
It seemed her other companions did not care either way about the situation either. The elf Aiden was used to working alone it seemed so just being with others had caused him to become mostly irritable. As such he was often riding off some ways from the others and when they stopped to eat lunch or for the night he would take his things and sit away from the group. Meanwhile the stern looking Garrett had seemed troubled ever since he told the group his story that night at the palace. So when he was tasked to gather firewood or help set up the tents he did so wordlessly and without complaint.
On the third day they were waiting on one side of the river in a small clearing just in sight of a small building owned by the man who owned the ferry that travelled across the river. Liara was currently in a heated argument with the ferryman who refused to ferry them across until that afternoon while Aiden and Garrett had disappeared after about twenty minutes into said argument each carrying a pole and bucket. Mathias was sitting idly with his back to a tree staring at Liara waving her hands in exaggeration seeming to emphasize her side of the argument.
“Sir Mathias,” Sacae spoke softly at one point, “May I ask you a question?”
“Just Mathias my dear.” Mathias said as he turned his attention to Sacae. “I carry no titles that would require one to call me sir.”
Sacae coughed lightly thinking how that had to be impossible, “Mathias then, if you will call me Sacae at least. Do you have any idea what we may be doing when we do cross the river?”
Mathias shrugged, “Hopefully find out some information quickly and find out who did this.”
“Think it will be that easy?” Sacae asked sarcastically.
“Hardly.” Mathias said with a smile.
Sacae was about to ask another question but that was when Liara came over kicking at the dirt. Saying some choice words about the ferryman. Sacae chose to ignore those words and pushed the question on her mind out of the way. Shortly after Liara returned so did Aiden and Garrett with a bucket full of fish that were quickly prepared over a fire to serve as a sort of improvised brunch. After they had all eaten Aiden had disappeared from the group while Garrett and Mathias talked idly next to the small fire. In what seemed like no time though the ferryman had yelled over saying he was ready to ferry them across the river and they quickly had gathered their things and were just as quickly ferried over to the small village that was their destination.
While the village seemed as normal as any countryside village could be there was an obvious tension in the air as the group travelled across it. The people quickly got out of their way and went indoors, no kids played in the streets, and most of the people they were able to talk to wouldn’t have even given them the time of day.
Liara clicked her tongue, “I was afraid they would act like this.”
Mathias though didn’t seem too perturbed by their reception, “We just need to find one who will talk to us is all.”
As they made their way across the village they came upon the sight of why they were called here originally. A shrine devoted to the God Alddar, or at least what used to be one probably, stood before them. Alddar was always depicted as a knight on a shining steed complete with white armor that shone in the light. As such simple village shrines such as this one had various types of white rocks chiseled out in its likeness. But what stood before them now was simply nothing more than a melted black stump.
“It’s as if someone poured acid on top of it…” Sacae murmured.
Mathias nodded grimly, “But I doubt anyone could simply carry such an acidic thing around easily… especially not enough to melt the entire statue.” Mathias rubbed his fingers along the base of the black stump and sniffed his fingers lightly, his eyes went wide for a moment before he started looking around some more.
Liara turned to Sacae, “So Sacae. Sense any magic here?”
Sacae peeled her eyes off the black stump and looked around, murmuring short incantations. “It appears this was some sort of magic that did this, but…”
“It isn’t any type I have personally seen.” Sacae shrugged.
Liara’s eyebrow shot up quizzically, “Are you not on the Wizard Council? Is there any type of magic you haven’t seen?”
“Liara. You know the old codgers at the Council have their secrets. They won’t let a new person know some of the old magic.” Mathias intervened.
It seemed Liara was about to retort but she shrugged. That was when a grizzled man with a worn robe shuffled his way over to the group.
“G’day masters. Are ye’ the ones from Val Ald tha’ the Gran’ Duke said ‘ed send o’er?” the old man questioned.
Liara looked over to Mathias who merely shrugged than to the old man, “Yes we are. You are?”
“Village Elder milady. Was I who was ‘ere tha’ night o’ tha’ attack.” The old man did some sort of rickety bow.
Mathias came over to the old man, “Anything you can tell us about it?”
“Not much I be afraid.” The old man said rubbing his beard, “T’was at night I ‘eard this loud crackin’ sound. When me an’ the lads came to an’ got o’er ‘ere the shrine were ablaze an’ black robed men went scattering to the winds. After tha’ we worried more ‘bout putting that blaze out.”
“What exactly did you put the fire out with?” Mathias questioned.
The old man look confused, “Well. Water o’ course.”
Mathias didn’t seem satisfied with the answer but he walked off examining the site again.
Liara seemed just as confused as the old man but shrugged before turning to the old man, “Anything else.”
“Aye, our neighbors up north say they were hit about a day or two after us.” The old man nodded slowly, “Oh, an’ they saw the robed men headin’ south-westerly. My guess is they are headin’ to the village west o’ ‘ere.”
“How long ago since they were seen?”
“Not e’en a day ago me thinks. My guess tha’ they will be tha’ way in a day or two at most.”
“Thank you good man.” Liara nodded and returned to her horse. “Mathias. Let’s go.”
Mathias grunted taking one last look around before returning to his horse. With that they all stuck out to the west putting pressure on their horses for speed. They chose to keep going some time into the night before they finally decided to make camp just a short ways off the road. They didn’t even bother that night to set up a camp. Instead they just rolled out their sleeping mats and laid down there. Sacae was tired from their hard riding and fell asleep almost immediately.
Sacae groggily woke up to the whispering of two individuals. The sun had not even risen high enough yet to give the dull pink glow on the horizon, meaning she probably had only slept for a few hours at best. She stretched quietly as she looked for the source of the whispering noticing it was hard to see in an early morning fog that had set in while they slept. She barely was able to make out sitting on the edge of their camp two individuals one with strikingly white hair that seemed to glow.
“So. What did you notice back there at the village Mathias?” Sacae noticed Liara’s voice so she assumed that was the one next to Mathias.
“It was faint. But the area around the shrine was dead. It was hard to notice since it was just dirt there really though.”
“Liara,” Sacae could hear Mathias’ exasperated tone, “Soil should never truly be ‘dead’ it just doesn’t happen naturally. Not even including the fact it was holy ground because of the shrine. That land was blighted.”
“Could it be because of the shrine being destroyed?”
“No… I think it was what destroyed it.”
“Hmm… so something is essentially killing the shrine and land…”
“I will just say yes to that for now and explain later. For now go wake up the others. We have visitors.”
Sacae perked up in alarm at that and that was when her elven enhanced hearing picked up the sound of footsteps in the tall grass. She whipped around to the camp to see Aiden was already awake with an arrow in his bow meanwhile Liara quietly roused Garrett as she herself grabbed her swords. As Garrett stood with his greatsword held defensively in his hands was when black robed figures entered their camp seeming to melt out of the early morning fog.
There were seven figures that entered the camp. But despite that something seemed off about them. Only two seemed to have any fullness to them, the other five simply seemed to be there but not there at the same time. Sacae held her hand into the air and said a short incantation, “Lestre de Val” and from her hand a small ball of light bounced its way a short way into the air and lit the camp up in its light. That was when she looked to the figures and gasped her eyes widening.
Sacae heard Aiden click his tongue before he shot his knocked arrow at one of the figures. Though the arrow did seem to ‘pierce’ something the force from the arrows impact cause the hood of the figure to fall back and where a head should have been was a mass of shadows. As if not caring for their disguises four of the other figures whipped off their robes. Joining the Shadow were four skeletons, two with wicked looking swords and shield, one wielding a bow already knocking an arrow ready to fire, and the last with a halberd.
The Shadow wordlessly raised its robed arm and the skeletons charged into the camp. Aiden dashed past Sacae, now wielding two curved short swords, taking on one of the skeletons that were on their side of the camp and their archer. On the other side of the camp Garrett nimbly, despite his size, fought the other two skeletons that came into the camp. Sacae looked around but no longer saw Liara or Mathias but she didn’t have much time to think about it as a bolt of fire whizzed across the air towards her.
Quickly Sacae held out her staff that quickly erected a magical barrier around her and when the bolt of fire impacted the barrier it diminished harmlessly against it though the impact itself shook her legs. Just as quickly as the spell diminished she retaliated, “Eis von Miad!” her barrier disappeared and around her shards of ice formed and quickly danced across the camp to the one that casted the firebolt, the Shadow.
The attack came as a shock to the Shadow, apparently not expecting one to retaliate against it, and its defense was too late as three of the five shards of ice pierced it in various places. Its shriek pierced over the other sounds of fighting and it glared towards Sacae. Though it had no face Sacae could swear she could make out two burning red eyes where the Shadow would have them. It once again raise its robed hand, this time a stream of lightning emitting from its fingertips. Again Sacae raised her staff and erected her barrier but the force from the attack forced her to her knees.
When Sacae looked up she noticed the Shadow striding over to her, materializing a sword from the very shadows. She glanced over to Aiden, the archer skeleton was nothing more than a pile of bones now and he had knocked the entire arm that held the shield off the other skeleton he was fighting but the creature was still flailing its sword wildly. Glancing over towards Garrett she saw he had cleaved one of the skeletons in half down the middle, but the other skeleton was proving to be just as nimble as the large man. She finally turned back to the shadow who was now in the center of the camp.
Sacae smiled, “I believe that is close enough for you… Lestre Hesan!”
Suddenly the ball of light that illuminated the camp shone brightly and exploded outwards. A column of fire landed directly onto the shadow. Its shriek pierced the morning air for mere seconds before it was snuffed out. Shortly afterwards the remaining skeletons fell to shambles. Sacae gasped for air breathing heavily. Aiden walked across the charred clearing the spell had created wiping sweat from his brow.
“Where are Liara and Mathias?” he questioned looking around.
Through her gasps for breath Sacae managed an answer, “Haven’t… seen them…”
“Good job Sacae.” A familiar voice called out from the brush.
Pushing his way into the camp Mathias was currently dragging one of the black robed figures Sacae noticed that didn’t look like the others. Liara in tow both her sword and dagger dripping fresh blood.
“The other two tried to get away. One didn’t make it very far. This one put up a good fight though.” She said nonchalantly wiping the blood from her blades.
“And you might be shocked to see what is under the black robe.” Mathias said as he tossed the corpse into the center of the camp. White and gold steel peeking through the various cuts in the cloth.
“That armor,” it was Garrett who spoke first, “That is the Paladin armor.
Mathias nodded, “Incidentally they were carrying this.” He pulled out an envelope, “I’ll spare you the details of what is in here since we are already aware of them from the village.”
“Destroying the shrines?” Aiden even seemed moderately curious at what was transpiring.
Again Mathias nodded, “The biggest sticker though is the signature at the bottom.”
No one needed him to answer his own question. They all knew the answer after all. Only one man controlled the Paladins.
“Lord Vathar Bamlan. Divine Commander of the Paladin Order.” He said as he quietly put the letter back in its envelope and into his bags.