Rayn eased himself over a large pile of debris. He quickly moved across the broken shards of rock and stone. With the dark storm clouds hovering above him, and the icy winter breath surrounding him, time was short. Rayn was slightly taller than the average man, very lithe and agile. He was not overly robust, but was very compatible with a sword. He wore a thick, brown, traveler’s cloak, a brown hood drawn over his head, and a cloth to cover all but his eyes. Rayn sat down to rest on a particularly smooth piece of rock. His eyes wandered about, sharp as a hawk, Rayn had little trouble understanding the extent of the damage the manse suffered. The soldier looked around; his eyes fell upon a certain marking in the stone near him. Rayn stood and moved in closer to examine it. It was an emblem: an eagle with its wings spread and four stars surrounding it. He let out a sigh of grim understanding, and lowered his head in mourning.
Rayn's eyes, ever seeking for some aberration, suddenly discovered something. He gazed at a plank of wood, seemingly undamaged by the devastation or any fire. Curious, Rayn moved closer, and began moving away the rubble. To his amazement, a small trap door revealed itself in its entirety, completely undamaged. He was filled with curiosity and excitement. He felt the cold, iron handle, and lifted the door with some difficulty. Just then, Rayn heard some movement behind him, making him drop the already heavy door, and drew his sword.
"Stay your arm, Captain." The man said. He was dressed in similar attire to Rayn, but without the mask. He had fair complexion, sharp brown eyes, small goatee, and dark brown hair that flowed unto his shoulders.
"Oh, it's you, Addler." Rayn said simply as he sheathed his sword. Addler was slightly younger than Rayn, but very close in skill. "Where is the rest of the troop?"
"They are following your orders, of course. They continue to search the ruins of the manse to the west." Addler said as he stifled a yawn. Rayn was the commander of a group of ten rangers in the Grand Army of Kalais. Kalais being one of the three surviving empires after the Great War, the nation was filled with hardships. Constant belligerence by enemy forces had destroyed much of the Empire. Now Rayn led his men away from the border to do some reconnaissance as ordered by their commander.
"I see." Rayn said softly, "Very well, help me with this trap door. I don't think we've investigated it yet." Rayn reached for the door, pulling hard. Addler came to his aid, and together they opened the door completely. The chasm that awaited them was completely dark, with no end in sight. A ladder was the singular way to reach the bottom. Wordlessly, Rayn and Addler went a little ways of to search for useable firewood. Within minutes the two had created a torch and Rayn begun his descent down the shaft. The passage was dark and damp, an odd odor drifted through the place. It was not the stench of things gone to rot; however, it was not very much pleasant either. Rayn descended as quickly as the ladder allowed him to, often slipping in places where the ladder was particularly wet. As soon as he landed, Rayn brandished the torch to combat the darkness that surrounded him.
What he found surprised him. It was not a typical, barren, earthly passage. Rather, the walls were crafted out of white marble, and the floor of similar material. Rayn heard a soft thud behind him, Addler had landed beside him. If he had any thoughts of curiosity, he kept it to himself. Rayn touched the walls beside him; they were extremely smooth and cold. Intricate patterns were engraved into the marble; Rayn found this all the more interesting. He managed to pull himself away from the wall and its countless mysteries, and walked further down the passage. He stepped through an arc, and walked through several more stairs heading even lower into the depths of the world. At the bottom of the staircase, Rayn found an elaborate door. Overflowing with curiosity, he stepped through the door.
The room was very simple yet elegant. It was circular, and had the same white elaborate walls. By the back wall was pedestal. In the center was a large, white stone. The stone itself was rather large, and jagged. However, the top surface of the stone was perfectly smooth. Laid on it, the most beautiful sword Rayn had ever seen. It was perfect; a silver, sharp, powerful blade. Two, white jewels were embedded into the hilt, making it all the more valuable. Rayn sighed deeply. It must be some sort of tomb, Rayn thought. He very much wanted the sword, but he was no grave robber.
"So this was part of the King's Manse?" Addler asked. He stood at the doorway, when Rayn acknowledged his presence; he moved to examine the sword.
"Yes, it was. Judging by our surroundings, I’m sure anyone can tell. It’s a shame the Relics had to tear it apart. I heard it was a beauty." Rayn spoke, as he went to examine the pedestal. Rayn scrutinized it carefully, and noticed something strange. Carved into the flat stone was a circular incision. Interested, Rayn went over to examine it. It was not too deep, but inside lay something rather surprising. It was a pearl, or a very accurate duplicate. It was silver but dark; it seemed to be devoid of light. Not only that but it was very heavy. Rayn ignored it; he pocketed the gem
"This blade is a beauty too, that much I can tell you." Addler said, examining the blade with great interest.
"Aye, it is. It’s a shame we can't take it. We can't rob the grave of the King." Rayn said sadly.
Addler looked up in confusion, "The King wasn't buried here."
"I heard the King was never seen after the attack on his manse." Rayn turned looking equally confused.
"Varrus told me that was just a ruse; they were worried that the Relics had some inside help. They managed to lead the King away from the attack, and hid him in the capital. The King died shortly after due to disease and stress; he's buried in the capital." Addler said definitely.
"Varrus?" Rayn asked.
"Captain of the Royal Guard, remember?" Addler said simply, turning back to look at the sword.
"Hmm...Well, I suppose this is the King's sword then. We still can't take it." Rayn objected.
"No...it says right here, 'Blade of Adain'. The King's name isn't Adain, we all know that." Addler said, with a hint of excitement in his voice.
"Well, then...perhaps..." Rayn began.
"Oh, come now. You're going to create a whole list of excuses. I say we take the sword now as a...compensation for our efforts." Addler said with a smirk.
Seeing nothing else he could argue with, Rayn spoke hesitantly, "Very well, pick it up and let’s head back to camp." Rayn said and turned for the doorway. He moved a distance into the hall when he heard some loud grunting behind him, and turned to see the source. Addler was standing over the stone, trying to lift the sword. But it seemed as if he couldn't lift it. "What’s the problem?" Rayn asked slightly irritated.
"It...won't...move" Addler said between gasps of breath.
"Come now, don't play games. Just pick the sword up and be done with it." Rayn said even more irritated.
"I’m...not...playing." He stopped his futile attempts and said, “Here, you try."
"Ah, fine." Rayn walked over to the stone and gazed at the beautiful blade. He reached out to grab the sword, but a little to quickly, and his hand was cut by the seemingly dull rock. Rayn looked at his hand in confusion; Addler gazed at it as well. Surely touching the rock would not make anyone bleed, Rayn thought to himself. Rayn quickly recovered, and took his other hand and wiped away the blood, causing little droplets to fall on the sword.
"Don't get blood on the sword, my friend, it could lessen the value." Addler said with a grin.
"I’m sure it would." Rayn said, even more irritated. Swiftly, he grasped the marvelous hilt, and picked up the sword with the utmost ease. He lifted it to level with his eyes, and examined it at length. The sword was perfect; he felt one with the sword. It moved as though it was an extension to his own body, lighter than a feather, Rayn twirled the blade with grace.
Addler was now very anxious to get his hands on the blade and apparently did not see the gem Rayn had procured earlier.
Content with the ability of the sword, Rayn casually handed the blade to Addler, who looked at it with wonder. He extended his arm to take the sword, gripped it, and held it with both hands. Rayn let go, and simultaneously after, Addler collapsed as if some heavy weight brought him down. He let out a shout of pain, and took out his hands from beneath the sword, cursing at the sword all the while.
“What is with this sword?” He said angrily. “It felt like a horse fell onto me. Bah, the blade must be cursed!” Rayn stared the sword with marvel.
“I don’t think it’s cursed, Addler.” Rayn said softly. “But all is not right either…” He bent down and picked up the sword with one hand, and aided Addler with the other. Addler looked at the sword bitterly.
“You’d best be careful, Rayn. That sword is a cursed one; that much I’ll tell you. Some darkness is in that blade, we’d best get rid of it.”
“I’d rather not Addler, after all it was your idea…But the blade has aroused some curiosity within me. I think its time that we visit an old friend of mine.”
“Who is it?” Addler asked, staring at the sword all the while.
“Lysander, of course. He should be very skilled in these matters. Now go, gather the troop and change our course to the north. Quickly, we must make it to Lysander’s before tomorrow night.”
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