[Fan] The Blackmist Chronicles: Episode II: Armed with Wings (M)
DISCLAIMER: The original title, basic plot, setting, the concept of blackmist, and the characters of Armed with Wings, Vandheer Lorde, the four other ranking rebel officers, and Network (who is only briefly alluded to in this fan fiction), were all originally conceived by Daniel Sun of Sun-Studios. However, all other characters, concepts, and plot points (including all flashbacks besides the prologue, if you consider that a flashback) are original to this novelization of the game and, consequently, were all conceived by me. You do not need to have played any of the Armed with Wings games to understand this fan fiction. However, I recommend playing the game anyway because it is really fun!
Wait. What happened to "Episode I?!" Well, this is going to go down a bit like Star Wars. But only kind of. Episode I will be released as the second installment in the series, as it's a prequel that plays heavily into (at least my interpretation of) "Episode III."
Armed with Wings is my latest project, taking up all of my creative writing time because I am loving this. Based on the 2007 or 2008 Flash game of the same name (by Sun-Studios), AwW is the dark tale of the reborn former commander of the fallen rebel army as he scales a mountain to reach the king's castle at the top, where he intends to take his revenge on the tyrant king who had executed him five years earlier, no one on his side except the mysterious Eagle that spawned from his new body.
Few of those of you who read this will likely be familiar with the source material. However, this project's status as a fan fiction could be debated altogether, as it is much more of a novelization of the game (with TONS of stuff added in so it has substance) than a general fan fiction. It is written with the assumption that the reader is not familiar with the source material, and one of my main purposes for writing it is to introduce people to the world of what I firmly believe is the greatest Flash game series of all time. There are some allusions to past and future events in the series chronology (Episode I will follow this immediately after this in terms of release), but those will be clarified in future releases anyway, so new "Blackmist-ers" should not feel left out. (That said, as I mentioned in the disclaimer, I highly recommend playing the games anyway for the reason that they are simply amazing games!)
Without any further ado, I present to you the first (chronologically-second) installment in the Blackmist Chronicles, Armed with Wings.
Rated M (Mature) for strong violence, some strong language, and disturbing situations.
[Chapters X through XXIII + Epilogue to be revealed]
AUDIOBOOK: (As the audiobook is currently incomplete, for obvious reasons, tracks are only available individually. Upon completion of the audiobook, it will only be available as a bulk download (ZIP).)
Five years ago, I made a grave mistake. I killed the rebel commander.
He had rushed into the throne room to plead with me. His whole army had been crushed, and he wanted mercy. Mercy. From me. Of course, he also took a moment to curse me. But the fact that he asked me for mercy I found more insulting than the cursing.
“Your wicked ways will meet an end,” he had said.
“Perhaps,” I replied. “But until then…” And I raised my sword and brought it down upon his neck. The rebel commander dissolved into blackmist instantly. Back to whence he came.
My name is Vandheer Lorde. I was the king of my kingdom for so long. People have called me evil. A tyrant. I do not blame them. I have done some…bad things in my time. But I stand by my actions. The people would not cooperate. So they needed to be punished. Especially the rebels.
After disposing of the rebel scum, for five years, I ruled the kingdom without challenge. No one dared stand up to me, not after my army and I had crushed all hope of successful revolution.
But then he came back. The rebel commander. I do not know how. But blackmist chose to take his form again. And he came back more powerful than ever before.
He came back. Armed with wings.
The Blackmist Chronicles:
Armed with Wings
Original concept and game
by Daniel Sun
Return from Blackmist
Where am I? How did I get here? I was blackmist. Dead. How could I possibly be here now? Where is here?
I stand up and look around. I look down, and I find myself standing on the brink of an abyss. I stumble backwards and trip. My long, black hair covers my face as I fall back, and I become frightened. Because I am falling back through darkness as if I were returning to blackmist. However, moments later, my back hits the ground, and my fears return to blackmist without my body.
I get up and look into the distance, where a great castle rests atop a towering mountain. The King’s castle. And yet I can see, even from this far away, that the damage the castle had taken during the rebellion’s final rush has vanished without a trace. When have I returned to? Five years later? Something tells me that this is correct. Five years gone by.
What has become of this kingdom since the rebellion fell? I look around me, looking far away, and I see small villages in the valleys. No. Those are not villages. Not anymore. Prisons? They would look innocent enough without the tall, seemingly unscalable walls surrounding each settlement. And without the blackmist creatures guarding the gates. Lorde has not been taking any chances.
Vandheer Lorde. Tyrant ruler of the land. He must have been a mistake, blackmist which formed together in a crooked way. His grip on the people of blackmist was too tight for him to have ever been normal. He could control blackmist in a way that no man should have the power to do. That is why he had to be stopped.
But, I remember, it had all been in vain. My army lost. And as I look out at the new settlements Lorde has forced his subjects into, I know that our failure had only made him tighten his grip.
I force myself to look away. Instead, I focus on Lorde’s castle. That is my destination, I decide, as I draw my sword from its sheath, which has finally appeared at my side. I lift up my free arm, elbow pointing sideways. And from my arm, an eagle spawns, feathers black as night. Black as blackmist. And now I know what I am here for. What I have become.
I am armed with wings.
Seated in his throne, drinking wine, Vandheer Lorde listens to his squire’s latest report on the kingdom.
“Everything is going smoothly, sir,” the squire is saying, his head bowed all the while. “No one has dared challenge your authority. Or the…creatures you’ve—” He hesitates before speaking this word aloud. Mainly because it is not entirely true. “—tamed, sir.”
“You’re lying,” Vandheer calmly points out in his deep, foreboding voice. The bored king nonchalantly holds up his sword and places the point against his squire’s scalp.
The squire tries to make light of his slip-up. “Er, very impressive, sir.” He forces a really pathetic chuckle. “In all seriousness, however, I was really just trying to make you feel more secure. I mean, sure, some people have tried to initiate uprisings, but everything is under control, and—”
“Make me feel more…secure?” Vandheer questions, now icy cold rather than calm. “Are you testing my confidence in ruling my kingdom? Are you implying that I am not capable of accepting that there are those among my subjects who would try to undermine my rule? Are you implying that I am incapable of handling these nuisances? ARE YOU IMPLYING THAT I DID NOT SINGLE-HANDEDLY DEFEAT ALL FIVE RANKING OFFICERS OF THE REBELLION ARMY WITH ONLY MY SWORD?” By this point, the fuming king is standing up, sword held high over his head, the same stance he had taken up moments before decapitating the rebel commander five years earlier. Then he swings down. His squire dissolves into blackmist, never to speak blasphemy again.
The royal guards who had been observing the whole ordeal look incredibly uneasy until their master looks up at each of them, daring them to challenge him as his squire had just done. They all avert their eyes, simultaneously wiping the uneasiness off their faces.
At this moment, Fireaux enters the throne room. Fireaux is Vandheer’s personal attendant, the commander of his army, and the highest-ranking member of the king’s force of elite guards. He is also the only one who knows exactly how to work his way around Vandheer’s most raging tempers and calm him down.
That said, Vandheer still proceeds to point his sword at Fireaux, who almost runs straight into the blade. Before he hits it, however, Fireaux draws his own twin scimitars and hits his king’s weapon out of the way. The two lock themselves in combat, each an expert at the art. Together, they twirl their swords and bodies, duck down and leap up, lunge and block.
Vandheer and Fireaux continue this fast-paced, potentially-deadly battle until their swords are locked and the two of them are leaning in close. They stare at each other for a while, neither willing to make a move, both with fire in their eyes. Eventually, Vandheer smirks. Fireaux grins back. The two warriors back away and sheathe their weapons.
Then, as if nothing had just occurred, Vandheer inquires as to why Fireaux has come to see him. “Sir, he has been spotted,” Fireaux vaguely informs his lord.
The king frowns. “What? What are you talking about?”
“Who?” hisses Vandheer.
Fireaux looks at the ground and swallows before looking back up and replying, “The commander of the rebellion army, sir.”
Vandheer frowns at his friend for a moment before a smile creeps onto his face like an ugly, venomous snake. “Funny, Fireaux, funny,” he says, nodding.
Fireaux stands his ground. “Sir, I do not jest. He has been spotted by one of the cliffs next to one of the valleys at the foot of the mountain, apparently looking out-of-sorts. Like he was lost and confused.”
Vandheer’s smile becomes a scowl, and he narrows his eyes. “That’s not possible. I cut his head clean off of his body. I witnessed first-hand as his head completely dissolved into blackmist just as his body fell to the ground and began to do the same. And that—that was five years ago!”
“Yes, sir,” agrees Fireaux. “I was there, as well. I admit that when I received this report myself, I did not believe it at first, either; in fact, I ordered the guard who informed me hanged for the ridiculous notion. But then I looked anyway, down the mountainside to where the guard had told me he had spotted the rebel commander. As I had expected, I did not see him there. But I quickly became horrified because then I did spot him…walking this way.”
Vandheer’s scowl becomes nothing, a totally blank expression as he stares off into the distance, unable to believe what he has just heard. “Impossible,” he soon whispers, still staring off into space.
“There is one more thing, sir,” continues Fireaux. Vandheer turns back to him, his expression as neutral as before. “He was traveling with a black eagle, sir. You know what that means.”
“That’s a legend, not a truth,” Vandheer points out. “One can only ever be armed with wings if one has a pure, courageous heart and is brought back to life in the same form as before….” He trails off as he realizes the truth of the situation. “Damn,” he whispers.
“And you are sure he is coming here?” the king asks Fireaux.
“Without a doubt.”
“Prepare the guards. All of them. Have them positioned along every possible route to the castle, including those that are off-road. I don’t want him getting here alive.”
Fireaux bows to his king before leaving the throne room to carry out his orders. “As you wish, sir.”
How can this be? Vandheer Lorde thinks to himself. I killed him myself. I watched his body fall apart. I know it happened! So how can he possibly have come back after all these years? He pauses before shaking his head. I’ll just have to accept that my worst enemy is now alive and well and armed with wings.
And he’s on his way here right now.
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I have been walking for only ten minutes when I encounter the first guard. He wears the customary ceremonial robe and tall ceremonial black hat of a royal guard. In his hands, he holds the ceremonial staff of a royal guard. Except that it is not exactly a staff. It is a sheath.
We both draw our swords simultaneously with a loud, metallic shwing. The guard takes a swing at me, which I block effortlessly. He spins around, presumably trying to build up a more powerful swing. While he is in mid-swing, I take my own slash at him, tearing through the back of his robe and carving a deep gash in the skin of his back. His knees buckle, and he spins to the ground, dropping his sword. It is clearly a novice with whom I am dueling.
“I do not want to kill you,” I inform the guard, who is doubled over in pain on the ground, clutching his back. “The only one who should die today is Vandheer Lorde.”
“You’re…wrong,” wheezes the guard. “You are the only one—ack—who…should die today.” He makes a slow, painful move to grab his sword. I let my own sword fall on his arm, angry at him for his remark. His severed arm dissolves into blackmist, starting from where I had cut.
I do not understand how this guard could be so devoted to Lorde, such an evil man. Lorde is not even nearby to listen to or see this guard and give him his favor. So why is this lone man trying so hard to please the king when there is no one here to please? Could it be that he truly believes that Lorde is a good king? Is he so misguided that he is willing to do anything to kill me, despite the fact that I am a fully-trained former commander of an army of hundreds and he is a barely-trained royal guard posted near the foot of the mountain? I almost feel sorry for him.
“Gah!” the guard suddenly lets out, writhing in pain. He writhes a bit more in silence before he shows me that, while he may be a rubbish warrior…he is a very smart man. “HELP! OVER HERE! HE’S RIGHT HERE!”
I close my eyes for a split second, regretting my next action in advance. Then I take my sword and plunge it through the guard’s abdomen. He explodes in a burst of blackmist without a sound.
Then I turn around to find myself face-to-face with a much taller, fiercer-looking guard. He unsheathes his sword from his staff, and the fight begins.
Twenty-Three Years Ago
As I held her hands and looked into her beautiful eyes, I had never felt happier in my life. Luvina. Sweet, sweet Luvina.
And as our lips touched, I felt as if I were melting away, becoming an endless lake of joy and love. Then we embraced, and I knew that, for that moment, all was well in the world. Luvina.
Then I felt myself being dragged away from it all, the lake freezing over, as I was pulled out of Luvina’s gentle embrace. And I found myself looking into the angry, ugly face of Luvina’s father, Maranello. His breath smelled of rotten eggs.
I held Maranello’s gaze for what seemed like hours. I matched his menace. But he never backed down. Eventually, I broke that cold war myself, but only for the fact that I was growing bored of that game.
“Listen, boy,” growled Maranello, “you keep your hands away from my daughter. Our house has no room for well-off stuck-ups like yourself. We peasant folk, we aren’t afraid to get our hands dirty. Or our feet. Or our faces. Or our clothes. So you get your sparkling-clean ass out of this house and away from my daughter. I’ve about had enough of your coming down here and making horrible, blasphemous impressions on my daughter.”
“I don’t know what you mean,” I said calmly.
“You speak badly of the king. But I don’t appreciate that. Because he may treat you rich folk like s***, but he’s the only reason we poor peasants are still able to keep ourselves alive in this kingdom.”
“Really? I thought he just gives the whole village a piece of silver every two months. He’s keeping you on the fringes of collapse. He’s keeping all of us on the fringe of collapse, even my family; it’s just different with us. With us, he sends someone down from the castle every month to collect an exorbitant amount of money. We have just enough money to stay in our manor. Many of our neighbors have left their houses so they could afford more things in life, and you know what King Lorde does? He seizes the vacant homes and uses them as vacation homes for himself and his officers.”
“STOP!” Maranello and I turn and see Luvina standing there, crying. “Can’t you two leave politics out of this for one minute? Can’t you see, Father, that we’re in love? Can’t you let us be?” I smiled a bit and walked over to her. We both looked at her father, awaiting an answer.
Maranello stood there silently for a minute, confused. Then his expression grew angry. Well, closer to infuriated, since his neutral expression was pretty angry. “No,” he hissed.
I took Luvina in my arms, protecting her from this monster. Maranello began stomping toward us. I found myself backing away, taking Luvina with me. Suddenly, the fuming man did an about-face, dashed over to a wall, and drew a sword. Then he started back in my direction. In Luvina’s direction. This man was insane. I pushed Luvina aside (which broke my heart) and rushed to the front door of the hut-like residence.
“LEAVE THIS HOUSE AT ONCE! AND NEVER COME BACK! YOU WILL NEVER LAY EYES ON MY DAUGHTER AGAIN, YOU RICH LITTLE SWINE! GET OUT!”
I scrambled out the door and slammed it behind me, diving to the ground, just as Maranello’s sword was driven straight through the wooden door. Tears streamed down my face as I ran all the way out of the village and back home again.
My heart was broken. The frozen lake had been shattered by the mighty hand of a vicious, abusive man named Maranello. And I swore that day that I would do something to take down this corrupt regime that had ruined my life. Ruined my love. And ruined my world.
It was not until the rebellion was at its height that I learned that Maranello was not, in fact, a farmer but one of Vandheer Lorde’s lowest-ranked royal guards. During the Final Rush, I slaughtered him myself. I only had a brief feeling of catharsis after that; the king still lived.
I had learned shortly after being appointed to the role of rebel commander that Luvina had died only six months after that last visit with her. And it had been by her father’s terrible hands. She had apparently been crying, crying for me, when that set him off, and he strangled her with his own bare hands. My heart still aches for her. My Luvina.
My fight with the more experienced guard is more of a challenge, but I still manage to send him back to blackmist in under five minutes. I put my sword back in its sheath. I call my eagle back—it had been flying high overhead so as to avoid the blades flying around—and I continue on my way.
As I walk, I cannot help from thinking about the first guard. Like Maranello, he had been so misguided. So oblivious to the truth about Vandheer Lorde that was staring him right in the face.
Lorde has been manipulating this kingdom to suit his own needs and desires for too long. He has taken too much away from his people. He has taken away Luvina.
“It’s all your fault!” I scream at the castle above me. “You did this to me! You took my Luvina away from me! YOU KILLED HER, VANDHEER LORDE!”
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(AUTHOR'S NOTES: Hey, all! As most authors on ZU, I would love to know what you think of Armed with Wings so far; however, it would mean more that usual because I am not normally a writer of fan fiction, so I am very interested in hearing what people think of this project so far and/or overall! Thanks! Also, sorry for the really morbid second chapter! I didn't realize how depressing it was until I'd finished it and reread it a couple times. Lastly, a warning: this chapter is when Armed with Wings starts really becoming violent. However, there are no descriptions of blood or gore or anything...mostly because in the world of blackmist, there is no blood or gore! That said, enjoy! This is the longest chapter yet, being just over a whole page longer than the first two chapters, which were both about the same length.)
Vandheer Lorde shivers. He needs no more proof that the former rebel commander is coming after him.
The angry scream of Armed with Wings—as the king and his guards had begun calling him—was carried by an updraft until it reached the ears of its intended recipient. Vandheer cannot understand exactly what it means. But he know that Armed with Wings is angry and vengeful and is most certainly on his way to the castle.
Not that he is completely gripped by fear. On one hand, the great and powerful Vandheer Lorde never has more than a twinge of fear within him when faced with possible death. On the other hand, he had had Fireaux position along every possible route up the mountain every single member of his thousand-man force of guards. The rogue warrior may be able to slice right through some of them. But he will not get too far. If it comes down it, Fireaux—Vandheer’s most experienced soldier, second only to himself—will make quick work of him.
Nothing to fear.
I have met not a single guard for an hour. However, I am still wary of my surroundings; my hands still go to the hilt of my sword when I hear the rustle of leaves, the crack of a branch.
Minutes ago, I cut my hair with the blade of my sword. As wonderful as the feeling of the wind blowing through my hair—which until I cut it, had hung down about a third of the way down my back—is, in combat, I can be blinded ever-so-briefly by my long hair, and the slightest moment of blindness could kill me. So I cut my hair to just below my ears. It still flows behind me in the wind.
I begin thinking of other small distractions I could treat myself to while I walk. It is not long before I realize that this is itself a distraction because, a moment later, I slam my toes into a fist-sized rock lying on the ground. “Damn!” I snap at the rock and my stupidity.
“Who is there?” comes a gruff voice from beyond the top of the stairs in front of me.
I slowly back up, quietly drawing my sword and taking care to step over the rock. The guard comes into my field of view, as I do in his, and he rushes down the steps, revealing the sword within his staff.
A loud clang shakes the surrounding air as our blades meet. We break off, and he takes another swing at me. I duck and slice off his feet, which subsequently rejoin the blackmist around us; the guard, of course, falls to the ground, screaming.
“Shut…up,” I demand. He only screeches more loudly, so I plunge my sword into his chest, remove it, and plunge it into its sheath. I proceed to walk through the space the guard had occupied before he vanished into blackmist.
Stepping over the rock once more on my way to them, I begin slowly ascending the stone steps, wary of this perfect opportunity for another guard, who had probably been alerted to my presence by the dead guard’s screams of pain, to jump over the edge of the top step and ambush me. But when I reach the top, there are no guards waiting for me…on this side of two gaps in the earth. A bridge extends from the far side, over the second gap, to the small island centered between the two gaps. On the island, there is only a small pillar on top of which is what looks like a red button.
The guards glare at me from across the double-abyss. Their swords are drawn, and they look hungry for my death. Me? I ignore them, instead focusing on the puzzle at hand.
My guess is that the red button operates machinery in the ground that slides the bridge between the gaps. So if it were to be pressed, the bridge would move over to cover the first gap. I pick up a handful of small rocks from the ground and throw one at the button. It hits the side of the pillar. I throw another one. It clatters onto the bridge. I try again, and the rock bounces off of the button. I hear the gears turning, and I see the bridge beginning to move. But then it slides back in place over the second gap.
It seems that the bridge spans the second gap when the button is left alone and it spans the first gap when the button is physically held down. This means that I will need something heavier than the small stones in my hand, and I will need a more direct, less risky method of placing the object on the button than throwing it.
As I think about this, my toes start throbbing. I kneel down and start rubbing them through my shoe. Then it hits me, this time not so painfully: the fist-sized rock. It would be perfect. Now I need some way of getting it over the gap and placing it on the pillar. I look across the gap to the island, and I see an eagle perched on the edge, waiting patiently. Then I remember that the eagle is mine, is of the blackmist which forms my body. I remember that I am armed with wings.
I call my Eagle simply by feeling that I require its assistance. It opens its eyes and pushes off of the ledge with its feet. It glides majestically toward me, its pitch-black wings almost sparkling in the sunlight as they flap up and down, up and down. My bird flies over me, blocking out the sunlight for a moment, a feathered eclipse falling over me. Then it swoops down over the steps, dives at the rock, and grabs it in its talons while turning around. I think to my Eagle exactly what it should do with the rock, and it flies past me again and back over the first gap. Then it slowly begins to descend directly over the pillar.
Suddenly, I feel a wave of exhaustion crash down inside me. The Eagle stops flapping its wings, the rock slipping out of its talons, and it drifts to the ground. I, too, drop to my knees, unable to stand any longer.
However, it immediately becomes apparent that I—we—succeeded: the bridge quickly slides off of the second gap and through the island, clicking into place and completely hiding the first gap from view. The guards tense up further, now obviously aware that I am one giant step closer to their position despite the fact that I have not moved from this spot in minutes.
I have to catch my breath before I can stand, though. Slowly, both my Eagle and I regain our strength. It seems that we have a truly strong connection; the Eagle only has so much energy with which to perform advanced tasks such as carrying objects approximately greater than or equal to its weight. So when it used up that energy, it became completely exhausted. And because we are so strongly connected, I, too, became tired out. How interesting.
I get up and cross the bridge. When I reach the island, I draw my sword…and remove the rock from the pillar. I feel the bridge sliding under the ground beneath my feet, returning to its previous position across the second gap.
In an instant, the two guards’ wait is over, and they rush at me with swords held high. As the first one reaches me, I sidestep him. Unable to stop himself in time, he dashes straight off of the cliff and falls down into the huge pit of tall, spear-like spikes.
The second guard is not quite so much of a pushover. He slams his blade down on mine, pushing me to the edge of the island. I am forced to sit down. Faint doubts over the possibility of victory here trickle into my thoughts. Then I do something so blatantly obvious, I almost laugh. I throw my leg up…straight into his crotch.
“Yee-ah!” the guard shouts as he doubles over. I take this opportunity to get up, sidestep back around him, spear him in the abdomen, remove my sword from his body, and give him a strong shove over the edge. I watch as his body finishes dissolving into blackmist just as it reaches the spikes below.
I turn away and continue forward, my Eagle flapping silently behind me.
I pick up a rock that is almost identical to the one that had hated my toes a couple of hours ago. When I look up again, I see a ladder. A very tall ladder. It reaches up to two different levels in the mountainside; on the first level, stands a guard, who just watches me, unmoving. On the second…well, I cannot see. I would guess that there would be another guard waiting up there, as well.
Since the guard on the first level does not make a move to attack me, despite the fact that he can obviously see me, I must assume that he has specific orders to remain in that one place, likely to prevent someone like me from scaling the ladder up to or past the first level. Which means I will need to find some way of distracting him. I look at the rock in my hand. This would not do me any good; even if I tried throwing it at the sentry, he is too high up, and there would be too vast a margin of error. I set it down at the base of the ladder.
I hear the flapping of wings behind me, and I know what I must do. I transmit my thoughts and emotions to my Eagle, willing it to carry out my task. It flies up and over the sentry’s head, the sentry’s face constantly aimed at it. Either this man believes that he is a cat, or he is simply a moron; I will assume the latter.
I take this moment to scale the ladder, quickly ascending the rungs, hand over hand, foot over foot. In half a minute, I reach the first landing, where the sentry has his back to me as he is occupied with my Eagle, repeatedly slashing at it idiotically as it changes the shape of the blackmist that makes up its small body to make way for every swing. I slice off the arm that had been swinging his sword, grab him in a headlock, and pick him up and drop him off of the ledge I had come from. He hist the ground with a thud; I can see that he is still breathing, but he is clearly unconscious.
When I turn around, I spy, at the base of the solid rock wall in front of me, a tunnel, far too small for anybody to crawl through. I wonder what purpose that could possibly serve.
Then I return to the ladder and continue my climb up to the top ledge. Sure enough, another guard awaits me; I quickly do away with him with a stab through the heart. That problem taken care of, I continue forward until I realize that this is not flat on the actual mountainside but a large, vertical shaft of land, like a narrow mesa or plateau. I find myself standing at the edge of the plateau opposite the ladder, looking down at two more guards standing on this side of a wide, gaping abyss, on the other side of which I can just make out a small, familiar pillar with a red dot flat on top.
The Eagle flaps in wait in the small grotto below me. I mentally call out to it, and I am gripped by a new, unfamiliar sensation, one that scares me at first. I feel as if I am being gently but steadily lifted out of my own body and placed in that of my Eagle. At first, all I see is total darkness, the shade of blackmist. But when I open my eyes—my Eagle’s eyes—it is like looking at a completely different world.
There is no time to ponder over this new perspective, however—after all, Vandheer Lorde continues to live—so I expedite the process of getting used to this new form. I jump around in circles on my twig-like legs, lift up and give a couple flaps of my wings…and spot the small tunnel again. Perfect.
I hop unsteadily toward the ledge and pause for a moment before realizing that the longer I wait here, the less willing I will be to just get this over with. And I push off with my legs, flapping my wings in perfect balance with the air pressure above and below me, and I lean forward slightly, aiming at the rock I had left at the base of the ladder.
The rock and the ground rush up at me quickly, and I panic, unused to this intense feeling of falling. I will by mind to unfreeze and tilt my body up at the last second, lifting up into the air once again. I flap my wings and lean to the right, turning around to prepare for another go. I dive-bomb the rock, this time lining up perfectly with it and gripping it tightly in my talons.
I feel myself being drained at a steady rate, and I know I must hurry. So I fly back up into the first-level grotto and drift toward the small tunnel at the base of the wall. I just fit! It shoot through the tunnel, and before I know it, I am on the other side of the tall shaft of land and already past the guards and flying over the vast abyss. My eyes are trained intently on the bridge-controlling button.
I slow myself as I approach the small pillar, and when I am flapping my wings directly above it, I drop the rock, which lands perfectly on the button. This time, there is no warning in the form of grinding gears; the bridge literally shoots out of the ground beneath the pillar and practically slams into the cliff face near the startled guards.
I immediately break the direct connection with the Eagle and find myself once again in my own body, standing on the plateau. I feel woozy. Not so much that I fall over, but I still must take a moment to regain my fluctuating balance.
Once I am in fighting condition again, I leap. As I fall down toward the guards, I point my sword tip at one of their heads. My blade pierces his body straight through his head down to his chest. I land with a jolt in the blackmist occupying the space that this guard’s body had occupied just moments ago.
As for the other—I find that I like this guard. Because he is so scared out of his wits that he actually surrenders without a fight even beginning.
“Please, sir! Don’t hurt me! I promise I won’t hurt you! Just let me be!” he pleads. And I give him a smile and a nod and walk past him, crossing the bridge in three minutes and meeting up with my Eagle on the other side.
So this is what it truly means to be armed with wings. The Eagle is my partner in this whole ordeal. Someone I can honestly say is on my side, and someone who is actually willing to aid me directly in my fight.
It may not look like much, my Eagle. But in reality, I could not have asked for a better weapon. This weapon is deadlier than any hand, any foot, any blade. And the best part is that nobody could ever suspect it.
I truly am armed with wings. Perfect wings.
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(AUTHOR'S NOTES: I thought I'd take this opportunity to advertise something relevant. While I was writing this chapter, on November 26, 2011, the final game in the Armed with Wings series, entitled Culmination, was released! Go play it! And enjoy the new chapter!)
Vandheer Lorde stands looking sullenly out of one of the throne room windows. He has altered the window so that it is constantly zoomed in on Armed with Wings, who is quickly scaling the mountain, sweeping it clean of the king’s guards and practically stepping over his traps and fissures. The situation looks grim.
Nearly every last bit of confidence that Vandheer had had when he had first heard of the rebel commander’s return had been leeched from him by each step closer to the castle that Armed with Wings took. For the first time, he is witnessing the true might and power of one who is armed with wings. The lone warrior is clearly stronger, cleverer, more adroit and absolutely deadlier than he had been before Vandheer killed him.
The king sighs. It will only be a matter of hours at this rate. A showdown is almost inevitable. But will he be able to defeat the lone warrior a second time? Or has his luck run out?
I need to stop catastrophizing, thinks Vandheer to himself. I am still more powerful than Armed with Wings. I can tear him apart in minutes if it comes down to it. Still, doubts slither in and out of his confidence, dividing it into many little pieces so that he could break down at any moment.
Vandheer does not turn around when he hears footsteps behind him. Instead, he asks the newcomer a question: “Fireaux, have I ever told you how I came to possess this power?”
Fireaux ignores the fact that he had not even announced his arrival to His Majesty. “Er, no, sir. You have not.”
His lord sighs again. “Well, it happened when I was but a small boy….”
Thirty-Six Years Ago
“That day, I had been with a friend. Depran Callus was his name. He was two years older than me, but we usually got along quite well. However, he was what you might call a…competitive friend. Always trying to best me in everything we did. He was a sore loser, as well, which meant that he felt the need to win all the more.
“Depran had come to my manor to play on that fateful day. It had been about a year since we had played together, as we had begun to drift apart. As soon as he had knocked, I dashed for the door, grabbing my sack of marbles on the way, excited for what I felt would be an interesting, exhilarating game. My friend gave me a smile and a wave, and I returned the favor, inviting him in.
“We sat down right there, just beyond the doorway. Our special marbles circle was scraped permanently into the floor at that spot. We each dumped our collection of marbles in front of us. Then we began to play.
“The goal of the game was to flick as many of your marbles into the circle as possible. This meant that you had to make sure that you did not overshoot. You could maneuver all around the circle, and you could get as close to the circle or as far away from the circle as you needed. You just had to get your marbles into the circle, which was about one meter in diameter. However, you could also try to knock marbles that your opponent has gotten into the circle out. The catch was that you would need to use a substantial amount of force to knock the marble out, so if you missed, that was a waste of a marble. It also took up a turn.
“Anyway, when Depran and I began to play the game, I knew immediately that something was wrong. I went first, my marble coming to a rest near the circle’s center. But as soon as it stopped its rolling, a marble shot from opposite me, slamming my marble back at me, hitting my knee.
“‘Ouch!’ I cried. ‘That hurt, Depran! Be sensible about where you are trying to knock my marble out to! It’s against the rules to shoot a marble at another player, especially on purpose.’
“Depran simply smiled back at me. But there was something malicious in his silent response. I felt the cold hands of fear beginning to drag me back by my shoulders away from the circle. Depran held his nasty gaze.
“‘Depran,’ I began nervously, ‘what is wrong? Did I do something to upset you?’
“‘You’re a good marbles player, Vandheer,’ hissed Depran, ‘which is why I am changing the rules.’
“I stared back in horror. This was my friend, implying that he would even injure me to win the game.
“‘Times have changed, Vandheer,’ he continued. ‘I have met other boys my age. Met girls my age. They’re my mates now. Unfortunately, they just have more skills than me in a lot of things. And while they are constantly encouraging me to practice, no matter what I do, I always feel inferior. But you, Vandheer—I am superior to you. I’m older and stronger than you. And I will win a simple game of marbles against you. No matter what the cost.’
“I wanted to cry then. I felt utterly betrayed. I felt like I was Depran’s tool for improving his self-esteem. I felt…angry. Furious, in fact. And back then, this was unheard of for me. I was an understanding child, a peaceful child. And yet, violent thoughts raced through my mind at that moment.
“No, I did not hurt him that day. Instead, my rage shook the air as a shrill, piercing scream shot out from somewhere deep within me that I was not previously aware of, a long, deafening noise that frightened me half to death.
“Depran was clearly terrified, as well; he left his treasured collection of marbles where they had been during our brief game. Even in his absence, the noise continued to pour from my mouth, and I could not stop, though I tried. My parents came home ten minutes later, and they rushed in because they had heard me screaming from down the road. And they, too, failed to halt to my screeching.
“I stopped an hour later, only because my voice had petered out. That was the day that I lost my innocence.
“Come nightfall, I was still enraged. I still wanted to somehow take revenge on my former friend. I even plotted. And plotted. And plotted. But I simply could not bring myself to commit to anything. Perhaps I still had a drop of pacifism left inside me. Or perhaps I was subconsciously deceiving myself into believing that I could still be friends with Depran.
“It happened while I lay in my bed. All was dark. I was depressed. Still lingering on the loss of my only friend.
“‘Vandheer Lorde…’ came a hiss from the dark. I closed my eyes. ‘Vandheer Lorde…’ Louder now. I opened my eyes, now frightened. When the next hiss came, it was quieter again. So I closed my eyes again. The darkness was infinitely darker with my eyes shut. And the hiss was louder.
“‘Who-who’s there?’ I whispered shakily. Then appeared the image of a grotesque creature with horns reaching out from its hideous head hooking out in front, white, pupil-free eyes, and two complete rows of long, spear-like teeth forming a mouth. I am not sure which I found more frightening: the monster or the fact that I could see it with my eyes shut. Gasping, I opened my eyes. And it was still there in the same hunched position, though a bit more faded, as if by opening my eyes, I had placed an insect screen over my vision.
“The monster was absolutely horrifying, a billowing cloak of shadow draped over its skeletal body, twig-like arms each ending in a bony hand with four, branch-like fingers. And it hissed my name again. ‘Vandheer Lorde…I can help you….’
“I hesitated. ‘H-help me?’
“‘You possess great strength within you. And deadly rage. But you lack the ability to put them together and take action. I can help you take revenge on the one who turned his back on your trust.’
“‘H-how do you know about that? Who are you?’ Was this creature from blackmist? Or something different? It gave off an aura that suggested something far darker, far more powerful.
“‘That does not matter, boy. All that matters is that I can help you. Will you accept my offer?’
“‘Why should I trust you?’
“The demon seemed to grin at that. ‘You are smart, Vandheer Lorde. Indeed, why should you possibly place your trust in me, especially since your trust has been viciously attacked today? And indeed, you will have to do something for me in return.’
“‘I need your help, too, Vandheer Lorde. You are to become my champion in this world, my champion in my secret, timeless war against Blackmist.’
“‘Yes, boy. Against Blackmist. Together, you and I can punish all of the trust-shattering fools of this world. And rule it. For all time.’
“I smiled. This monster was presenting me with a tempting offer. An offer that I could not possibly refuse. Could I?
“‘Okay,’ I whispered.”
“The monster gave me almost infinite power. And I became his champion. For all time,” Vandheer concludes. There is a long silence before he says, “I have told no one of this secret pact before now.”
“I…don’t know what to say, sir,” breathes Fireaux. “I am curious, however: was it worth it?”
Vandheer finally turns from the Armed with Wings-focused window and looks his commander straight in the eyes. “I do not know, Fireaux. I honestly do not know.” He looks down at his feet.
“What happened to the friend who betrayed you?” Fireaux asks, still curious for more details about his king’s mysterious past.
“Depran Callus? Well, if you recall, I said, ‘I did not hurt him that day.’ But after I woke up the next morning feeling more powerful than I could ever have dreamed possible, I walked to Depran’s house and sent a blast of energy flying into his face. His head was basically fried. Making him the first causality in my long, endless war against the rebels. Even though he was not a rebel and I was not yet the king.”
The two of them stand silently for a while before Fireaux looks past Vandheer to see Armed with Wings fighting a large, cat-like creature made of blackmist. “What the hell is that, sir?”
Vandheer looks over his shoulder at the window. And shrugs. “Who knows? Just another blackmist creature. As long as it’s against Armed with Wings, I don’t give a damn what it is. Here’s to hoping it rips him to shreds.” With that, Vandheer waves his hand over the window, and it loses its magnification. Then, he walks to his throne and sits down, picking up the goblet of wine resting on one of the throne’s arms.
Taking a sip of the burning, red wine, the king ends their conversation once and for all. “Do not tell anyone of the events I recalled to you today pertaining to how I received this power.”
Fireaux bows his head. “Yes, sir.” And leaves.
Vandheer Lorde sighs and closes his eyes. Then he shivers and reopens them as quickly as possible. Did he just see the image of the demonic entity? He sees nothing in front of his throne. So it was just his imagination. He shakes his head, shivers once more, and takes another sip of wine.
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Re: [Fan] The Blackmist Chronicles: Episode II: Armed with Wings (M)
Really interesting and intense story, but a couple of things...
It's confusing, and generally not done, when you're using first person to reveal what a secondary character is thinking in monologue. It's mainly because when you're writing in first person you want to reader to feel like they are them, and when you interrupt it to allow them to know what their friend or enemy is thinking, you lose that effect. First person can also be handy this way, in that if you don't know what the other person is thinking, you don't expect the twists so easily.
(and so you know, unlike Doran, I'm a huge fan of first person actually)
Secondly, there are a LOT and I mean a LOT did I mention a LOT? Of redundancies.
Just my favorite right here as an example, and how you might (one of many options) re-word such things. AND so you know, it took me a LONG time to figure out how to fix my own stuff, because I would have a hard time thinking outside of my box.
He wears the customary ceremonial robe and tall ceremonial black hat of a royal guard. In his hands, he holds the ceremonial staff of a royal guard. Except that it is not exactly a staff. It is a sheath.
My suggestion is to combine the three.
He wears the customary ceremonial robes, and tall black hat and in place of the usual staff, he is wearing a sheath.
Anyway, I wouldn't mention it, but it happens in so many places I just want to draw your attention to it.
And now your excellent story has made me try out a new game, so off I go...after I go check out a poem that is. I can't resist those.
Re: [Fan] The Blackmist Chronicles: Episode II: Armed with Wings (M)
^First of all, thank you so much, Anju! You and Doran are the first people who have really taken the time to give me any feedback on this, and I really appreciate it!
I'm not quite sure what you are referring to regarding the first person. If you are referring to Armed with Wings's occasional pondering over the guards' thoughts, that's just him. He ponders a lot about other people and the world around him. I have also never been one for huge surprises (I hate them in real life, and while they are okay sometimes, I'm not so fond of them in literature either.), so I kind of like to lay out most things in my writing to begin with. Not always, though. Trust me: there are some surprises coming up in this story, too, ones that cannot be alluded to!
As for the redundancies, that tends to be, including with the sentence you highlighted, a stylistic choice over poor writing. It's meant to be read a certain way that makes it sound more poetic. Which is the closest I'll come to writing poetry!
Thanks again, and if there's anything else you feel like pointing out in the future, please do not hesitate to do so! And enjoy the game!
In general news, I'm trying to find the time and energy to sit down to write Chapter V in between classes, uploading Zelda Reorchestrated's library to its official YouTube channel, and playing Majora's Mask. It's not been easy.
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(AN: Whew. I've been so busy, I have had little time to write AwW. Sorry 'bout that! In case you are curious, as of the end of this chapter, the novel is now officially more than nine thousand words long. Which is a fraction of the final result, of course. But I thought it was worth mentioning. Also, this is a shorter chapter than the past two, as it sets up the very important three-chapter "arc" in Chapters VII through IX. Thought that was also worth mentioning. Anyway...enjoy!)
A wall. That is what stands before me, blinding me to what lies beyond. It is tall, black, and plain. No spikes, no machinery, no weapons. Just a wall.
Did Lorde really think he could turn me away with a wall?
I draw my blade, lifting it high above me, as if daring the sky to challenge me. Focusing on the obstacle before me, I feel a mystical strength rise up within me. A breeze picks up, encircling me, blowing dust and leaves around me as if I were a sun and the debris were orbiting planets.
The blow is massive. When I swing my sword down upon the wall and the blade comes into contact with the solid rock, both the wall and I are thrown back by a force equivalent to a thousand explosions. The air is knocked out of me when my back hits the ground, and fingers of fear poke at me when the towering stone shaft slams into the ground with a rumbling boom, sending tremors up and down the mountainside.
Coughing, I slowly get to my feet. When the dust clears, I find that I had knocked the wall down at its base, which I could easily use as a step to allow me to get onto the now-horizontal slab.
Using my sword as a support, I drag myself over to the foot of the former wall’s base. When I get there, I just lean on my sword for a few minutes, still catching my breath and waiting for the ringing in my ears to stop. After a short while, I sheathe my blade and grab the ledge of the wall stump. It is a good foot above my head, so I need to use nearly all of the strength I spent the past few minutes building up again in order to pull myself up to the top of the rock base. Which means that I am forced to lay sprawled out on my front for another stretch of time.
My next step is to pull myself up to the fallen wall. Luckily, the ledge is level with my chest rather than above my head, so the effort does not manage to leech me of my strength entirely. In no time, I am standing atop the fallen wall, and the next step in my journey becomes clear: another ladder.
Shaking my head, I take a running leap off of the wall, landing with a painful jolt on my feet. I rush to the ladder and begin the climb. About halfway up the ladder, I hear voices, and I become aware that there are probably more of Vandheer Lorde’s soldiers waiting for me at the top.
Perhaps they should have been quieter. Both of their bodies are blackmist before they can realize they are being stabbed by a blade. Either the guards are getting progressively less intelligent, or I am becoming a better
However, something is wrong. Vandheer Lorde is not stupid. As I get closer and closer to my destination, he should have placed more guards around. My hair stands on end as I slowly proceed on my journey. I should not have bothered.
The creature is on me in a flash, landing on me from behind. It’s claws slash at my body, tearing my robes and sending searing pain down my back. It has me pinned, and I can not get a good look at it. I feel four points of pressure on my back and legs, meaning this creature is likely a quadruped. Considering that fact and its medium-pitched growl, I can safely say that I have not been attacked by a troll or goblin. But what manner of creature is it.
I lift my head so as to allow myself to breathe slightly better than I had been able to with my face shoved into the rocky ground, and I discover that luck is with me. Maybe there is such a thing, after all. I lift my head so quickly, I actually slam it back into my attacker. I feel its weight shift on my back, and I take this opportunity to roll out of its grasp. I grunt as the pain from the open wounds on my back nearly causes me to black out. But there’s no time for laying around anymore. Because the beast has stopped clawing at its own face, which is probably what my head hit. And it’s charging at me.
In the split second before contact, I take in the frightening appearance of my attacker. The beast seems to be pure blackmist, as it is only a solid-black profile and nothing more, no discernible features besides its most basic shape. It looks feline and possesses deadly, sharp teeth, death-hook claws, and pointy ears. I’m more worried about the first two of those features.
A moment before it reaches me, the beast leaps into the air and reveals its claws in one swift move. I dive out of the way and roll back into a standing position as soon I hit the ground. I have fancy moves of my own, feral beast. The creature needs to recover from its missed attack, giving me the perfect opportunity to draw my sword take a swing at the monster. It howls in pain from the deep gash running across its side. Or at least I assume there’s a deep gash; I can’t be sure with a creature made of the purest blackmist.
I stand back from the beast. I watch as it sways and stumbles as it begins to move towards me again. The pitiful thing will probably fall over before it can reach me, so I sheathe my sword and frown as I observe the beast’s painful motions. But it keeps coming. I continue stepping back. Something is wrong. Very wrong.
I take a bad step and trip over my feet, my back hitting the ground with a thud. Then, the beast attacks. With jaws wide open, it lands on my chest, already prepared to take a bite out of my throat. I desperately turn my head and neck to the side.
The pain. Oh, the pain.
I scream. In a mad frenzy, I begin flailing my limbs with such force that I kick the creature clear off of my body. Its howl matches the pitch of my screams.
Gasping and groaning, I struggle to my feet, the left side of my neck practically numb from the pain. I carefully reach up and touch the wound. Well, all four of them. I scream again. The beast’s foot-long teeth probably went deep. It is a wonder that my jugular is still intact, having been narrowly missed. I am still spilling life force all over myself, but at least no blackmist—my very essence—is escaping through the holes in my skin.
The cat creature is rolling around on the ground, curled over its stomach area. Trying my best to keep my neck as still as is physically possible, hilt in my hand, I slowly make my way to the deadly mass of blackmist writhing about. This time, it is not faking its agony.
As I bring my blade down on the creature’s middle, I do not know whether I feel pity or angry relief. Probably the latter.
At the moment the blade reaches about halfway through the beast’s body, its whole being explodes in a huge burst of blackmist. Curiously, the force from the explosion is so weak, it is like being hit by a cool breeze.
I turn around, and without looking back, I manage to get out a quiet “farewell” through my pain. Then I set off once more.
About an hour later, I need to stop for a rest. I have lost a lot of my life force, having left my four neck wounds untended since the cat’s teeth were beneath my skin. I carefully reach behind myself and use one of the existing tears to rip off a part of my robe. I wrap the piece of fabric tightly around my neck, leaving just enough slack to allow me to breathe.
It seems that I fell asleep after securing my makeshift bandage. Or passed out.
I use the incline to my advantage, leaning on my arm resting on the higher ground beside me to push myself back onto my feet in order to relocate most of the potential tension from my neck into my arm.
It is very steep here, and I slip twice over the course of twenty minutes. My neck’s not going to be healing for a while if I keep this up. At least it is no longer numb. Actually, I much preferred it numb, as throbbing pain is quite less pleasant.
By the end of my twenty minute walk, the ground beneath my feet has flattened significantly. Where else would Vandheer Lorde have been able to build the towering wall encircling the mountain and the Supreme Guardhouse?
Damn walls. And these are much thicker that the one I felled earlier and made of much stronger stone bricks.
There’s only one way I’m getting to the other side: through the Supreme Guardhouse.
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