Chapter 2: Rise And Fall

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 139

 

 

"Bastards."

Timbur lowered the spyglass from his eye, one animalian ear twitching with irritation. Despite it being a late summer's midday, the wind at this elevation was throwing strands of his dark green hair about, and threatened to blow away the small book, practically a mere stack of papers, that he held in his other hand. 

Like others, he looked different. Under his vibrant red vest, he was wearing a loose-fitting dark purple shirt with white gauntlet-like cuffs at the arm. His dark pants were cuffed by red bands at the knee. Similar bands were wrapped around either of his hands and wrists, and a dark crimson drape, with a menacing beast's face in bright red, hung from his belt. A narrow, white scarf-like cloth draped around his neck.

One thing that didn't change, of course, was his temper. He was already angry upon seeing this mayhem below.

The place was famous for being cursed or haunted, and knowing its history, none could be too surprised. It was a large area, enclosed by rigid stone cliffs with very discrete paths. There were old flags, random shrines, broken statues, and other such things scattered all around it. No matter what position the sun took on, the place would always be dark, consumed by ominous shadows. Only the mysterious moonlight would illuminate it, on rare occasions.

However, everything was now ruined. Statues and shrines were completely obliterated. Flags, relics, and rubble were thrown aside to make room for war tents and artillery. The tents were green in color, supported by thick logs and branches. The weapons were built from a fusion of dark iron and rusty bronze metal.

An ancient burial ground for legends, now turned to a dwarven war camp.

"Yes, a very unfortunate sight."

Timbur looked up, at his master nearby. Leiytning looked as blunt as ever, somewhat infamous with his raven hair and dark attire. He didn't look much different with his dark motif, but now he was wearing a charcoal-colored shirt with red lining, flaring as short coattails in the back. The collar formed a small 'V' notch, and was secured by a silver pin on the right side of the chest. He also had gray greaves and a small red Zyrean flag on his shoulder, supported by the gray sheath that held the shortened spear on his back.

"It's annoying," said Timbur. "Even if this was necessary and justified, they could pick a better place to put it."

"What's concerning is their weaponry," said Leiytning. "Either half of the hexes and enchantments, more specifically."

"'Half'?" Timbur repeated. "What do you mean by that?"

Leiytning crossed his arms. "First things first. Where are we, and why is this a bad place for any form of civilization, war camp or not?"

"It's Hangman's Graveyard, but..."

While Timbur tried to keep thinking, Leiytning finally got peeved enough by a small sight of disarray. Timbur didn't even notice that he took the white scarf from his neck, starting to straighten and tie it.

Timbur sighed, facepalming. "I don't know anything besides that. Just that a lot of legends ended here."

"That's your answer?"

"Yes. I apologize."

"I don't expect everything to sink in immediately, though you seem intent on not remembering certain places. This is one of them."

"So much for an ominous hint," Timbur muttered.

"I know why, and so will you," Leiytning replied. "First..." He finally returned the cloth, although now it was tied in a more sophisticated knot. "That was driving me crazy."

Timbur arched one brow, eyeing the knot. "Little classy for my taste, but okay."

"Go on, now, review your research."

Timbur nodded, flipping through the pages of his small book. He stopped nearly halfway through.

"Hangman's Graveyard," he spoke. "It has a lot of different names among locals, but they all come down to something similar."

"And why is it called that?" Leiytning inquired.

Timbur found this stupid, asking obvious questions just for training purposes -in the middle of a possible warzone, no less. Even so, he knew Leiytning would act oblivious until he answered or gave up.

Timbur closed the book. "It's not an official graveyard. It got its name from its most famous death; ages ago, Shadow Star confronted Vekull in this place, and broke his neck with a nearby chain. Due to Vekull's legend ending here, few others decided to use it as a kind of macabre memorial for not just him, but other legendary icons, be it an individual or an entire race." He sighed, eyes landing on a familiar flag. "And that includes ours."

"Ignore that," said Leiytning.

"Right." Timbur cleared his throat. "Anyway, I may not know its significance to us or whoever else, but I do know that building a war camp here would be trouble because of the surrounding territories. They don't have the strength to fight back against a number like this, nor do they have any known problems with these people, so it's just like brute, orcish behavior. Also, this is relatively close to the Wyvern's Clearing. So it's too close to an actual sacred area."

"That wasn't in your notes, was it?"

"No."

"Very good, then."

Timbur rolled his eyes. "Thanks, but can we please focus on the actual fight, instead of a lesson? What did you mean by 'either half' of their weaponry?"

"I mean they have two different kinds," Leiytning explained. "Only half of their weapons are enchanted with white magic and are clearly built for taking down things higher in fortitude. The other half is cursed with black magic, and built to obliterate something with less power and more speed. They could be targeting some of the nearby elven races, oblivion knows why, but there's nothing worth using the other half on. If we're not including the demonic, of course."

Timbur's ears pricked. "Dwarves always fight with elves, but demons? Ghouls, elves, sometimes sylphs; yeah, we've had our good and bad run-ins with them, mostly bad. Still, we never encounter dwarves."

"There's always a new enemy to be made," said Leiytning, "Especially nowadays."

Timbur looked around. "The Animas' territory is a few days off from here, but as stated, the clearing is about the same distance. Either way, it's no good."

Another voice interrupted. "Of course it's no good."

As Timbur turned, he saw Thundur approaching them. She was clearly in an irritable mood, which made Timbur hold his tongue.

"Late again," Leiytning taunted, "And you say I have no sense of time?"

Thundur smacked him. "Shut it, dope."

"You explained everything to her telepathically, didn't you?" Asked Timbur.

"Naturally," Leiytning responded.

"And out of curiosity, Thundur, what's with the mask?" Asked Timbur.

Thundur looked unamused. "I lost my eye patch, and nobody wants to see this." As she tilted the mask up, it revealed a very notorious eye; black in color, with two small white rings as an iris.

"Yeah, that may cause some panic for others," Timbur agreed.

Thundur sighed, looking about. "Damn dwarves. Of course, I think I have a further explanation for this, after taking one of our finds into consideration. It's most obvious with their new armor, is it not?"

Timbur looked closer, and as it turned out, the armor scattered about weren't like the thick, heavy, bronze pieces that dwarves would proudly wear. Instead, they were silver and built a bit lighter. Furthermore, some of its engraved runes seemed strikingly familiar.

Timbur's eyes narrowed. "Some dwarves were trading with the Aubades, or that's what Savux said."

"We knew, but never found much," Thundur agreed. "Perhaps now, Corelia is finally putting them to use."

"Someone just said they're clearly targeting an elven race," Timbur remarked.

"A deal, maybe," said Leiytning. "Aubades would supply the weapons and armor, allowing them to destroy one of their enemies, but then the Aubades get whatever they need to keep producing these monstrosities."

"Suppose that makes sense," Timbur remarked. "But what about the pact? Wouldn't that stop them?"

"It only takes one mishap to break it, unfortunately," said Thundur. "Either a sylph already got them to fight, using the same loophole we've been seeing, or they're going to do it soon."

"Either way, it's unacceptable," said Leiytning. "Risks are too high, here. Those elves are helping drive back other threats, and are mildly respectable people. Besides, these dwarves could just as easily turn on demons."

"What do we do about this?" Asked Timbur.

"The numbers are higher than usual," Thundur murmured. "But dwarves are magic-less mortals, and as if that weren't enough, they're built to be mere scavengers instead of warriors. They're not so confident during a magic ambush, especially one as powerful as a storm."

"Won't that take much of your power?" Asked Timbur.

"Yes, but we'll recover soon enough," Thundur responded. "Let us worry about that, will you?"

Leiytning muttered, "I'm more worried about your complaining."

Thundur didn't dignify a response. Instead, she only grabbed her brother's hand.

As she did, aura started to manifest; grey spiraling magic, with electric sparks spitting and making static noise. It grew and churned to the point that it looked lethal.

The next came as they raised this mess skyward. The magic fused to one ball, and a beam shot into the air. The clouds above turned from thin and white to a churning mass of grey and black, with the occasional spark.

The beam stopped, but the tiny storm above continued to grow and spread. Another result was the skin on either of the twins' hands; it had melted off, revealing the stocky bone and black sinews beneath. Timbur could tell the spell required much strength, but the two showed no other symptoms.

"That should scare them off," Thundur remarked, heading back. "The lightning will be drawn to metal structures, so their tents and artillery don't stand a chance. What's left will surely clear out. Built for destruction; rise and fall, simple as that."

Timbur nodded. "I'll stay here and keep an eye on things, just to make sure."

"Just be wary of stray warriors," Leiytning responded. "And don't fight any more than you can handle."

Timbur nodded. "Of course."

That being said, Leiytning started after Thundur, who stopped halfway down the rigid slope. Once her twin caught up, she carried on. Naturally, Thundur was first to speak.

She sighed, "I wish sylphs weren't so finicky. Sometimes they're bringing the apocalypse and we brace for the worst, then they become completely inactive for months before bringing some other mayhem to light."

"It could be better that way," said Leiytning. "If they attacked consecutively, we'd have no time to recover. Regardless, I do see your point."

Thundur only grunted. Leiytning didn't like that, of course. Even when Thundur looked empty of care for anything, he could tell very well that something was troubling her.

"Be honest," he spoke, "What's the matter with you?"

Thundur shot him a glare. "Coming from you?"

"Exactly. You're supposed to be the paranoid one, so remaining silent would be far more concerning than if you told me."

Thundur rolled her eye. She was amused, even if it didn't show much.

"It really is nothing," she explained. "It's just the Aubades' activity. I think..." She hesitated. "I'm not sure, but maybe I was warned about it."

Leiytning seemed confused. "How so?"

"It's happened twice, now," Thundur explained. "You know perfectly well that I'll receive visions from angered spirits, corrupted gods, or I accidentally give one to myself. Even Kasan can help with that. Furthermore, they're usually clear; I hear everything and I can often tell who's talking to me."

"But..."

"But there were these two visions beforehand. The first was actually while I was unconscious after fighting that damn sylph. Then it happened again, just a few days before that chaos with Kita's quest."

"Convenient timing. What were they of?"

"It was the same for either. It was literally a blur of confusion."

"What does that mean?"

"It is what it is. For maybe a little over ten seconds, there was just a disaster. A distorted voice that said nothing sensible, and a blurry mess of random colors and silhouettes. Then it ended abruptly, like they just gave up. It definitely wasn't the normal update. I don't even know what to try calling them."

"A misinterpreted message, possibly," Leiytning remarked.

"Of what, though?" Thundur responded. "It could be some random plea from a desperate spirit, completely unrelated to us, or it could be a warning from something a lot bigger. We don't know the severity, and I fear it may be something important. As stated, the timing was conveniently close to major events."

"Either way, we shouldn't be worrying about this. Sure, visions and omens can be a good hint, but they've never been straightforward. We already know that trouble's ahead, which is what really matters."

Thundur nodded. "Very well."

Leiytning's eye narrowed. "Don't believe me?"

"Think about it, Leiyt," Thundur replied. "Just knowing that trouble is ahead is useful, but is it enough? A few months prior, would you have predicted that 'trouble' meant you suffering an outburst caused by Zin's temporary betrayal? Or would you have guessed that the weak little Aubade we've been keeping is really a descendant of the Zyrean, Ash, and has power beyond anything we've seen? Or would you have predicted that our worst enemy was settling into our former territory, holding Ritin hostages?"

"Maybe not, but we pulled through, didn't we? Especially now. We've seen just how severe and unpredictable things have become, and therefore know how much will be required of us to endure the next hit. Things will surely take a turn for worse at some point, but we'll pull through, just as we've been doing. Not just recently, but for countless seasons."

It was obvious, at least to Leiytning, that Thundur was not appeased, but she didn't say anything. Just continued in silence.

 


Submitted: April 24, 2019

© Copyright 2021 Raven Akuma. All rights reserved.

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