Well, I guess it's my time. Fiction! I have decided to write a story, and I will be posting in Chapters. Well, without anything to say, I guess I better just post Chapter One and wait for criticism . Enjoy.
A bead of sweat rolled down the side of his face. He was tired. This was tiring. Some nights were sweatless. Those nights, the day’s activities were sufficiently calm enough to spare him energy for his nightly exploits. Other nights, he was sweaty, the day’s burdens having not being forgiving to his energy reserves. Tonight was of the latter.
His attention shifted to the walls of the room. It was constructed of finely carved rock, reinforced by steel, with cutouts allowing the storing of possessions or the positioning of furniture. Many lit candles occupied the innumerable tiny alcoves in the walls, softly lighting the room with yellow glow. In between groups of alcoves, several tapestries of ancient origin hung. Worked into the patterns was a code of a people long extinct, rumoured to contain such amazing learning’s that the student will seemingly be able to perform magic after applying the secrets scripted into the linen.
The somewhat romantic scenery was cut off, however, by a small collection of weaponry and equipment. A part of this was his own – exactly half. It was his personal complement of professional Hunter tools, ranging from wrist-mounted dart launchers to a field-customized antidote kit for any kind of injury or hindrance. Included in his collection was a light set of body armour, made from the strongest woven materials of the time and outfitted with personalized chain mail, yet nothing heavy in the slightest. He, personally, preferred maneuverability and speed to protection, and only wore armour at all to respect his original teacher of the Hunting arts. The other half of the collection proved that it’s owner cared more about protection than he did, and his wife owned a medium-weight set of body armour, plated with the finest-wrought Titanium and woven by the finest weaver this side of the mountains. His wife’s collection also proved to be somewhat similar to her husband’s, a complement to their relationship. Some specific items differed, but overall the style of the collection was a near-perfect match to his.
The rustling of bed linen further beat down the apparent romantic atmosphere, and he returned his gaze to his wife, who had taken it upon herself to raise her unclothed lower body up to his face and adopt an innocent puppy-dog look on her own. He took half a second to look her in the eye and grin, and then lowered his mouth to the waiting flesh, applying saliva upon contact. He worked his way up her body, kissing and smooching as he went until he finally came to her breasts, at which point he placed his right hand on the part which he originally salivated, his left hand on the bed above her head for support, and began to navigate between both breasts with his mouth while simultaneously stimulating her genital areas with his hand. By the time his mouth reached her neck, she was shamelessly breathing heavily and had lowered her raised abdomen back onto the bed out of sheer uncontrollable pleasure.
Every night, this was what he and his wife did – they lived it out together like it was their last, because quite literally, it could be. By day, they were Hunters, and not just any other of their kind. For starters, they owned their own Castle, which was strictly forbidden by all authorities across the land. The fact that they were so powerful had scared all agencies into allowing them to own their residence. The mere fact in itself that they were law-falteringly powerful was a thing that made them unique wherever they went. Anybody and everybody, from peasants up to the most protected and respected Officials, were afraid of going to sleep at night, only to wake up to one of these incredible Hunters leering over them, waiting for the chance to force their prey to witness his or her own death. Finally, and most importantly, their marriage and the story of how that came to be was what inspired awe the most in people who knew of it. Marriage between such active parties as Hunters was proven to be extremely rare worldwide, not just in their own land, and the sight of any couple alone was enough to send most nobles into unfathomable shock, let alone a completely faithful, intimate and married couple (who had also failed to retire from their Hunting profession), which almost instantly caused even the most experienced and learned people to drop into a deep unconsciousness.
He now turned over and pulled his wife onto him, obeying the clear hints that she was dropping for him to do so. She immediately straddled him, forcing him to sit up and take her in his arms, kissing her deeply while at the same time penetrating her appropriate feature. He slowed the kissing enough to allow him ample concentration on stroking her hair with his left arm while pulling her gently closer to him with his right. His wife also seemed to agree on diverting concentration, as she too had slowed her kissing pace to match his, and begun to rock back and forth on his genitalia while supporting herself with both hands placed softly on his shoulders.
He could still remember the first time he saw her. He was assigned the task to kill her mother, who was of his allies’ enemies. This naturally made her his enemy, too, and this was further backed by the fact that she was famed for her unnatural abilities, of which belonged almost solely to the male population. Martial skills, political flair, and uncanny accuracy… these and many other factors had earned her the title “Archer of the Hills”, because of her consistent successes in her unique ideas and untried tactics. She clearly knew what she was doing, knew what she wanted and had the intelligence to get her there in the quickest way possible. Those many years ago, when he saw her standing guard in her mother’s fields, he never could have imagined loving her, or even shedding his fear of her. Yet mere days later, he was nearing the end of his scouting and was preparing to make the attack on his target, he had begun to get an uneasy feeling around the place the Archer stayed, which he was sure had nothing to do with nerves he might have had about his next move.
The next day, he and his two partners had set out, and his stomach had belched at the sight of her – at the time, she was picking a sunflower and smelling it, blissfully unaware of the assassins on her mother’s property. One of his accomplices had also noticed her, and instinctively raised his finely tuned crossbow to aim at her. He had felt his insides drop at the thought of what was about to happen, and instinctively as the trigger was being pulled, he knocked the weapon out of aim. His jab had caused the fired bolt to miss her by inches and smash through the window behind her. Naturally, she was instantly aroused, and within half a second, his partner was laying on the ground next to him with an arrow sticking out of his torso, crossbow askew. Another half-second later, and his remaining partner also died. It didn’t take him long to realize he was next, and he quickly dropped, the freshly fired arrow missing him by millimeters. He had rolled behind a nearby cluster of bushes and placed himself in a random spot amongst them. All his training was forgotten when an arrow flew through the bushes right next to him, narrowly missing it’s intended target. He had started to openly panic then, another thing in his past that he was not proud of. He had put his hands up, visible over the bushes, and then slowly raised the rest of him into view. He had expected an arrow to hit him at full force and puncture his lung, causing a slow and painful death, but no arrow came.
She had then rode out to meet him, and promptly wrapped a lasso on him and towed him back to her residence. He became a prisoner there, being scantily fed and otherwise totally ignored. By the third day at lunch, he had fully expected his usual ‘Thank you’ to be totally ignored, but the woman, the Archer, replied this time with a soft ‘You’re welcome,’ obviously trying not to be heard by anyone else nearby. His heart had leapt. Within days, she was up talking to him after everyone else went to bed, and was also sneaking him extra food between meals, none of which he was inclined to reject. A week later, she helped him escape when he was out strolling in the paddocks, bound by a rope, which prevented him from running off. She said she would cut the rope and say that a cow must have chopped it clean in two by stepping on it (which was entirely untrue, as all of the livestock was kept on the opposite side of the house). After a few days trekking home unarmed, she appeared out of nowhere and gave him his items, saying that she wanted to go with him. He couldn’t disagree with her, and allowed her to go with him, but he also couldn’t explain exactly why she had fallen for him. He was sure she did not witness him dislodging his partner’s weapon, and merely accepted for herself that his team was not properly trained for the task. She was beautiful then, and all these years later, having gone through many stages with her, she had surprisingly retained her original beauty.
He looked back at the real her, whom he realized was a little too far away from him to be straddling him anymore. She had noticed his mind was elsewhere, and was dreamily watching him going through his thoughts with her legs crossed and arms in her lap, sitting forward and gazing intently. He caught her eye again and smiled. She had dark brown hair down just past her shoulders, perfectly arranged and expertly brushed, despite the night’s activities. Her eyes were of equal darkness and color as her hair, and contained that dreamy quality that made him just want to look into them forever. Her body was just the right size, slightly shorter than him and of the perfect build, not fat and not too skinny either. Her chest protruded at an appropriate size for her body, not unnoticeably small, and also not so huge that they were off-putting and disgusting. Her genitalia, which he saw she had also failed to cover up, was cleanly shaved and somewhat inviting, despite his best efforts to control both himself and his breathing, which had rose to an abnormally high rate due mainly to his tiredness. Law strictly forbade the shaving of genitalia, but as they had done with their castle, they had forced the authorities to accept it out of fear. It was a small detail that proved somewhat convenient in their sex life, so for intimacy reasons they had decided to go forward with the idea. Furthermore, he was also puzzled as to why the law actually existed. It’s not as if any authorities ever knocked on doors, demanding people to drop their lower garments and show their privates. Though of course, he reflected, he wouldn’t even know if they did or didn’t do that, as they were too scared either way to make the law applicable to himself and his wife. His eyes found their way back to hers, and he then noticed that she was still watching him curiously, giving her a somewhat cute look. He smiled again.
‘I was just thinking about you,’ he said. ‘The first time we ever met.’
She snapped out of her trance, and took a moment to take in the comment. ‘Really?’
‘Yes,’ he answered softly, breathing in the sound of her voice. Yet another thing he loved about her. ‘I remember being distinctly uncaring and afraid of you, when I first saw you. You had such a reputation –‘
‘– Which I have now lost,’ she finished, ‘but only to gain a greater one. And only to gain you.’ She leant in and kissed his forehead, then lay back on the bed and unfolded her legs. It was clear she was not inviting him to any more physical pleasures, and he was accordingly not interested in any. It was now his turn to sit up and fold his legs, gazing dreamily at his partner, while she continued to arrange herself, putting her hands behind her head for support as she looked up at him.
‘So what’s the plan for tomorrow? I don’t believe we have been assigned a quarry,’ he commented.
Before she could answer, the door to the room knocked. Without waiting for a reply, a heavily breathing voice said, ‘There are some people outside, Sir and Madam … They say they wish to see you … immediately.’
He glared. Who could possibly want to see him so urgently that they had to come at this time of night? Or want to see him so much that his efforts caused his messenger to make haste with his message enough to leave him without breath? He was sure his messenger’s reports included a remark, which went something along the lines of “incredibly athletic”. This must be urgent.
‘I’ll be right there,’ he replied. Both him and his wife got off the bed in unison, and with seconds were adequately clothed and armed to see any unlikely group off, should they prove to be a problem. They opened the door and followed the messenger through many corridors and staircases down to the front of the castle, draping a gown around them as they went, helping to conceal any visible weapons. He quickly reached the gate’s side doors and opened the viewing panel to see who wanted him. Three well-built persons, of above-average height, stood side-by-side waiting.
‘What do you want? It is past midnight,’ he demanded.
‘We have an urgent job for you to do, Hunter. And you better do it quick,’ the center thug replied.
‘Which consists of what, exactly?’
‘Three kills, which I am sure you will agree are of the highest authority, in three hours. They need to be done quickly and cleanly,’ he outlined, ‘with a pay of Exponential Value.’
A pay of Exponential Value meant that it was a minimum of a million pounds of gold paid upfront, with a bonus paid according to how much is offered for each segment of time given that they arrived back early. In this case, it was ‘…a hundred thousand pounds extra for every 15 minutes ahead of the deadline I am? Blimey, must be straight important, then.’
‘You bet’cha it is, and you gotta do it today,’ he replied.
He stepped outside, his wife close behind him, and shut the door. ‘Who do I have to take out?’
‘You’ll find out soon enough, kid. For now, just say yes or no. Then, according to your answer, I will decide whether or not to give you the directions to the rendezvous at which you will be told all the details.’
He thought about this. Obviously, he was being asked to kill someone that he was suspected of caring about. He had to admit, it was a lot of money, but was it worth it if he had to kill a friend? He looked at his wife, only to find the same look of deep thought on her face that was on his. These thugs clearly knew what they were doing, too, and as he had never seen them before in his life, he couldn’t judge if he was still the greatest Hunter in the land … Maybe, maybe not. Agility, as he oft preferred, should allow him to get away from their grips. He did not want to turn back on this kind of a deal, though, as he before noted, he did not know their capabilities, and sizing them up, he could tell he would be someone’s next meal if he couldn’t evade their hands. Not to mention weapons, even though he could see none. But then again, he apparently didn’t have any either, so he wasn’t sure about that. Gee, what the heck, he might as well try it. Even if he wasn’t the “best” anymore, there was still both he and his wife, so it could easily be overcome. He finally decided.
‘Alright, I’ll do it,’ he said apathetically.
‘Good. As promised, here is your gold,’ and he motioned to his right, where a carriage sat. The man on the leader’s right went and opened the back, and instantly the reflection of the substance shone in the moonlight. He nodded, and the Three gave him a piece of parchment and left. He didn’t bother checking it over now. He could easily overpower them and wrestle for the rest of the gold at a later date.
He opened the gate door and motioned to his Messenger to take the carriage to his castle treasury. As soon as the thing was out of sight, he seemed to be able to concentrate easier again, and promptly noticed the sheen of the mown lawn in the moonlight. He looked back up at the castle, which seemed to glow under the moonlight, not unlike the gold had. The stone must be taking it from the weather, then, to be worn down so much that it had such shine, yet another problem that needed to be rectified.
‘So much for no quarry, huh?’ The words pierced him like a knife on warm butter, and he came to his senses. What was he doing thinking about worn-down castles now?
‘Yeah … looks like this is a big one, too,’ he replied.
‘A lot of coin, though.’
‘You’re thinking that you might not like to kill some of these people, aren’t you?’
He paused to think for a moment. Sure, he was thinking that before, but he wasn’t worried anymore, not about that. He looked up at the moonlight, and muttered, ‘not exactly.’
‘What then? Something’s wrong, what is it?’
‘I’m worried about you,’ he lied. He was far from worrying about one of the most able people in the land.
‘Worried about me?’ She sounded skeptical.
‘– Whatever it is, you aren’t worried about me,’ she said. He had expected this, she was a human lie detector and he knew that he should have known better. His self-piteous thoughts were cut off, ‘You’re never worried, why should you be now?’
‘Fine, OK, you win. I was thinking about those Tapestries in the castle. Now we have enough gold to get a few philosophers and linguists in to look at them. It is said that the writings on them –‘
‘– Contain such amazing learning’s that the student will seemingly be able to perform magic after applying the secrets scripted into the linen, I know,’ she interrupted, ‘but why is that important? Don’t you have enough power?’
‘Haven’t you ever been interested to know what those markings mean, with such a powerful rumour behind them?’
‘I have been enticed, yes.’
‘Don’t you want to do magic?’
‘In case you haven’t noticed, my dear, the rumour says, “seemingly do magic”, seemingly, I think, being the operative word.”
‘In case you haven’t noticed, it is a rumour. Rumours are seldom completely true. What if “seemingly” was just used to cover up the fact that it is magic? What if the writer created the rumour as such to make it look like something it wasn’t? What if it was written to be figured out and interpreted by the student, rather than just laid out in steps?’
‘And what if the rumor is true, and the Tapestries just contain inscriptions of great wisdom? Or, what if the rumor was completely false, and the Tapestries mean squat?’ She made a motion with her hand, as though she was using it to slice someone’s midsection in two.
‘Well then there would be only one way to find out, that’s what.’
‘You have still failed to tell me why this is so important now, of all times.’
‘Because now, we have received a huge payload,’ he reminded her, ‘possibly with more added.
‘HAVE YOU BEEN BLINDED IN ARROGANCE THESE LAST YEARS? WE ARE ROLLING IN MONEY!’
He had a fleeting reminder of her verbal reactions to his pleasuring her. It was hard to believe now, not ten minutes later, she was yelling at him. What’s more, she was right, as always. They had more money than even the government officials, and have had more than them for several years now. There was no reason not to have investigated this matter a long time ago.
She turned away in anger, facing a large lake, which was situated in front of a small forest. The whole scene was cast in blue light. Her, standing with her feet apart, and her hair blowing in the wind at an exact right angle to her head. The lake, reflecting the white cast of the moon on its surface, light-blue tones colouring the sand. The trees beyond the lake, blowing in the wind at an exact sway with his wife’s hair, and showing dark hue’s of blue rather than their natural green. It all seemed to fit perfectly together in a breathtaking picture, and he almost forgot his wife was in hate with him at the moment.
He walked up behind her and put his arms around her. ‘I’m sorry,’ he breathed.
She shrugged him off and took a step forward and out of reach. Then she began to force out words in a voice he only knew as one she was trying to use fluidly while biting back tears.
‘Aren’t we good enough already? Aren’t we already in enough of a position of power for your needs? Why can’t we just be settled, take a few jobs now and then, but just be content with each other? Why do you need these unknown “learning’s” and the “seeming magic”? Aren’t I good enough for you on my own? Isn’t our love enough to live with?’
And then he knew. She didn’t care about the learning’s. She didn’t care about the money. She was worried about what effect this may have on their relationship. Perhaps even scared that once he had learned it all, he would see no need for her and leave her. It was a mark of how much she had came to love him since the time, many years ago, she dragged him along the ground behind her horse.
He stepped forward and put his arms around her again, saying, ‘I am so sorry …’
She resisted again, so he decided to let her go, rather than make her wrangle herself free. She turned around and flung herself into a hug with him, resting her head against his chest and bursting into tears. Shocked, but somewhat relieved at this new development, he hugged her back and put his head down, resting his chin against her soft hair and holding her tightly. Tears soaked his top, but he didn’t notice: all he cared about was the woman in his arms.
‘I love you.’
She looked up at him with a tear-soaked face. Then she gave him a wry smile, and before he knew what was happening, they were kissing in the moonlight.
‘Rise and shine, sleepy head!’
He opened his eyes, to find those owned by his wife staring down on him.
‘I made something for you,’ she said, moving her head back to reveal a smug grin on her face. She gestured to his body, and he looked down. All three courses of breakfast, laid out on a bed table. His entire favourite collection of morning foods, ranging from fried bacon to scrambled eggs, and milk fresh from the cattle. By the looks of it, the milk came from a goat, which he knew perfectly well wasn’t good for his health, but was definitely tasteful.
‘Uh … thanks,’ he said, kissing her and picking up his cutlery, ready to dig in. She beamed.
A half-hour later, he was done eating, having left not a scrap and feeling rather proud of himself for stomaching it all. It was expertly cooked, but a three-course meal wasn’t the best choice right after waking. Nonetheless, he loved is wife ever more for this delight she had prepared him, and wasted no time pointing out his complements to the chef, which made her go red as she took everything away to be cleaned.
Within another half hour, he found himself and his wife naked and rolling with each other on the bed, wildly kissing and thrashing away in bliss. How this turn of events came to be, he had no idea, but he was confident that he had played no part in influencing it, however unaware of his actions he was. Obviously, something has gone very well for her to be in such a nice mood after a night of interrogating, yelling and crying. Or else she was just extremely forgiving, sorry for her behaviour, or both. Either way, he wasn’t complaining, and was particularly glad that, however impossible it may seem, he had a wife that was more fun loving than he was. It was moments like these that he could forget all his troubles and just meld complete concentration with relaxation, creating an effective atmosphere for productive recreation.
He barely remembered stopping the kissing and thrashing on the bed, but again, before he knew what was happening, he was supporting himself on his knees, leaning back and sitting on his feet. His wife was standing on her knees in front of him, legs apart.
‘Well look at you, handsome,’ she purred.
‘I’m not the prettiest here when you are around, though.’ His reply was a kind teasing, a will to continue their physical intimacy.
‘Oh, but I beg to differ,’ came the official-toned remark. ‘What with you and your longish dark hair, deep brown eyes, and muscles everywhere … it makes me glad that I am strong enough and skilled enough to protect my very own Iknos Laroma.’
She said the name with deepest affection, and he felt himself tingle upon recognizing it as his own. Events zoomed again into a blur, and he was now at a table in the Castle’s library, reading the parchment that the three men gave him the night before.
You are to go to the King before mid-day, who will give you all details relating to your Quarries. Your three hours will proceed after you have been briefed and are properly prepared.
He found it surprising that it was before mid-day by the time he got around to reading this note, and he immediately set off for the only residence of his allies that was larger than his own: the King’s Fortress.
He approached the large gate in front of him, an original monument and unique in that it is the only Original still in use of everything in his allies’ past. Strong and sturdy, it showed the signs of hundreds of years of use, and he noted the numerous arrowheads protruding and dents made in it’s structure, a mark of the many wars it had survived. He respected this Gate almost as much as the person who owned it, and without another thought, he approached the guard’s box, tapping on the side of the viewing port.
‘Who?’ The reply to his knock came in a lazy, half-awake tone.
‘Laroma,’ he said.
Immediately, the guard stood up to attention, fully awake and eagerly awaiting his orders, as though should he miss them, he would be killed on the spot (which, ironically, Iknos was known to do). He grinned and purposefully paused in his speech, enjoying his moment of influence. This never got old. Ever.
‘I need to see the King, runt,’ he slurred. The reaction was instant, and the Gate started to open. The guard realized what he did and stared at the Hunter.
‘Sir, this is against recommended proto-‘
‘That will be all. You can rest now, I will not be out anytime soon.’
He had to admit – even though his reputation could get boring at times, it still had it’s undying novelties. Within ten minutes he was approaching the large ornate double-doors that led to the King’s chambers. As he approached them, the two guards nodded to him, and he threw the doors open in perfect unison, almost dramatically. He slowed his pace down one notch, habitually taking in his surroundings in great amounts of detail. There was a row of stone pillars evenly placed at either side of him along the guest’s walkway, which was lined with red carpet. After three pillars on either side of him, a metal, ornate fencing bridged the gap between the set of pillars on the other side of the room.
As he neared his position on the floor, he looked in the subtle reflection of a nearby handrail and noticed something move above him, behind him and to his right. His head moved to face the King but his eyes continued to the handrail on his other side, and sure enough, another figure was above and behind him on the left, too.
‘Welcome, Laroma,’ said the King, with utmost respect for whom he was talking to, ‘I see you have agreed to make some kills.’ His eyes quickly found the King.
‘I trust the journey went well?’
He was now paying full attention to the King, taking in every expression and reaction. Something was not right. ‘Without hiccup.’
‘That is good to hear. Is Shala well?’ He wished the man would stop beating around the bush.
‘As well as ever, my King.’
‘Well, I guess you are dying to know whom you are hired to take care of?’
‘I came for no other reason.’ He moved his eyes about the large hall, taking care to keep his head motionless. He noticed two figures skulking behind the ornate tapestries to his left and right, whom he could not recognize.
‘Right,’ the King continued, ‘well, first up, I need you to capture Rolan Argna for me. I trust you know him. Second, you also need to capture Morn Aklas, who is suspected of spying for an enemy. The last quarry is a kill,’ he paused, with a look on his face written as though he was about to announce his own death sentence. ‘You need to kill Alha Laroma.’ Another pause, ‘she has become a very great threat.’ He looked livid.
Iknos finally let his head drop from it’s steady position. He looked at the ground, his mind racing. Sure, Rolan was explainable enough. The King may want him to translate something he is unwilling to. His personal messenger, Morn, was also explainable. The King may suspect him of passing secrets to the enemy about his best Hunters. The last quarry made no sense at all. How could a graying, old woman be a great threat? His mother enjoyed knitting while rocking in her chair, and had long given up on her legs. She wasn’t even able to be a threat, let alone actually be one.
It clicked. The unknown people skulking in the shadows, the guard mentioning a violation of protocol – no wonder. There was no violation of protocol, the guard was simply warning him not to go in here, if a little unprofessionally. This was a trap, a ruse for him to be eliminated. He would hear the quarries, all of which he knew personally, and be angered into attacking the King. These unknown people would then kill him. Or would try to. They obviously didn’t count on him figuring it out before it was too late for him. He heard footsteps behind him, stopping to his right and left. Most likely, it was two guards. He eyed the King.
‘I will not kill my mother,’ he said. The King’s eyes quickly scanned the two people behind him, then centered on him.
‘You agreed to do this,’ the King forced out.
‘I would sooner destroy this country than kill my own mother.’
‘In that case, you are a traitor who deserves to die.’ These words were even more forced than the last. The King was obviously scared for his life, on more than one count. Iknos saw it even more clearly now. The King was being forced to do this by the unknown people, much like he himself forced the King into letting him do what he wanted. He felt a pang of guilt, which was soon wiped by a fresh surge of vengeance. If the King was too cowardly to stand up to these runts, then he didn’t deserve to have his job completed.
‘Then so be it, King,’ he spat. He immediately spun around on one leg, simultaneously drawing two crossbow-pistols from his robes, kicking one of the guards hard in the chest, breaking his ribcage and collapsing his innards, and shooting the other nearby guard in the face with the pistol. The guard dropped to the ground with a miniature bolt protruding from his forehead.
The two guards hiding behind the tapestries at his sides ran out to him. As they reached him, he spun low on a leg, leaning back and kicking the other leg out in front. As he turned, he tripped up the two guards running at him, while simultaneously shooting at the guards up in the rafters to distract them. He completed the spin and returned to standing stance, putting out both hands to his sides and shooting the two guards laying either side of him, killing them.
He pocketed the crossbow-pistol in his left hand, and started running in between the points where the two high guards were stationed. He aimed with his left gauntlet, and pulled hard on its trigger, detonating the powder inside it and firing off the inbuilt hook-shot. The hook lodged high on a pillar to his left. Running fast, he swung up with the hook, firing at the guard to his right, hitting him in the neck and suffocating him, and swinging around to the left, hooking the left guard in the neck with his foot. The momentum carried the guard with his foot, and he landed back on the lower ground, crushing the guard’s neck under his foot as he landed. A sharp tug on the hook-shot released it from the wall and automatically wound itself back into the gauntlet.
He pocketed the crossbow-pistol in his right hand, rolled his head around his shoulders, cracking his neck to loosen it up, and then walked out of the room, leaving the King gaping at him and ignoring all the carnage he just created.
‘I have already said,’ said Shala, for the umpteenth time, ‘it is easy enough to explain. They wanted you to kill your mother to test your loyalty to the Kingdom, to see if they could use you.’
She was right, of course. She was always right. There was no other obvious explanation as to why they would be stupid enough to ask him to kill his own mother.
They were in the large Dining Hall of their castle. Pillars lined the walls, and up the middle of the hall was a long, ornate table, lined with large, ornate chairs. Some chairs were unorganized and pulled out at points; at others, the chairs were totally pulled out altogether to allow standing room. At the top end of the table, near the largest chair of all (on normal standards, it was used in Castles to indicate the presiding attendee to feasts; for Shala and Iknos it was useless), all the chairs were removed, and the couple was examining a large world map between them.
‘They could be stationed up in the mountains …’ he said, waving his hand in the direction of the illustrated mountains, ‘innumerable caves, networks of unmapped, natural tunnels …’
Shala was scanning the map, seeming to hardly listen, but Iknos knew by long experience that she was taking in every word. ‘Perhaps,’ she said, distractedly. ‘Or …’ Her eyes lit up, and she stabbed the map excitedly with her right forefinger. ‘The Marshes! Think about it, dear, the biggest advantage would be that no one would expect them to take up camp there. They could hide their tents with the larger shrubs, and some individual troopers could go tent-less and use smaller marsh for cover. It is not far off from the settlement, either, saving travel times.’
He looked at where her finger was still pointed. The Marshes that she indicated were to the east of their settlement. There were high walls on that side, and dug far into the ground to prevent tunneling. He moved around the table, and she froze, watching him. He moved behind her, and softly took her hand, moving it to the southeast Marshes of their settlement.
‘My love, they can’t get in from the east. High, thick walls block them. Look southeast. The curve in the walls there makes the structure easier to penetrate, and it prevents being detected by some who might suspect a “from the back” attack, however impossible it already may seem. The marshes are also more random there, so people are less likely to suspect invaders using them for cover. The randomness could also serve to force them to even out their troops more thoroughly, creating instant organization.’
She looked at him. ‘So, we have figured out where they are. What next?’
‘Well, we’ll have to find their leader.’
‘For some stupid, heroic reason, right?’ He looked at her, and paused.
‘The great Iknos Laroma out to defend his people with the weight of the world on his shoulders,’ she sounded skeptical. ‘How typical of him.’
‘Would you rather they take over?’
‘I’m not fussed, really. I don’t know anybody I can’t take out who isn’t on my side.’
‘So it would be pretty much the same as now, you think?’
‘Pretty much, yeah.’
‘Not forgetting the fact that they want to kill us, right?’
‘Not forgetting any facts.’
‘Even the fact that they could be right outside our windows now, ready to crash in and take us hostage, relying on numbers to overwhelm us?’
He was looking right at an upper window. In the full light of day, there was a shadow blocking the light coming through the glass there. He hardly thought that it was the cleaner doing his duties, considering the cleaner was still somewhere downstairs, eating or cleaning or whatever.
She caught his gaze and looked up. ‘Well, I will admit I hadn’t thought of that one.’
They looked at each other for a split second, and then went into a rush. He grabbed the map on the table and rolled it, sliding it into a tube. Shala grabbed their loose weapons, throwing his to him as they sprinted along the length of the table. They both crashed through the hall’s double-doors in unison, only to find at least a dozen black-clad warriors advancing on them. He looked back to find several dropping through the window he just spotted, and then glanced at his wife.
‘Do you have a Plan B?’
She grinned. ‘I wasn’t aware we even had a Plan A.’
‘Well I’d say we have about three seconds to think of both plans.’
‘Right. Plan A is, we stick together and fight it out back-to-back. Failing that, Plan B is that we both find individual secret passages out of the castle, and we meet in the stables.’
He didn’t have time to argue. ‘Sounds like a, well – two, plans.’
The first one was upon him, rushing him with two katana-like short swords. He merely pulled out one of his crossbow-pistols and shot him in the face.
‘So what do you say,’ he said, ‘first to ten?’
‘Sure.’ She had already taken out two. Time to catch up.
Two were now rushing him, daggers in hand. He reached up and fired his gaunlet hook-shot in the right one’s face, exploding it. He swung the hook around to the left, cleanly slicing the second one’s head off, spinning on one leg and reaching over his wife’s head to kill her attacker, too. He returned to neutral stance, gave his left hand that familiar tug, and the hook returned to its place.
‘Hey! He was mine.’
‘Was.’ He put emphasis on the word to indicate its past tense more thoroughly.
A movement to his left, and he looked. The sheen of a crossbow’s metal was shining, showing him what was to come. He reached over, grabbed his wife’s shoulder firmly and dropped her with him, causing two bolts to narrowly miss them. He spun around on the spot, shooting both assailants with his dart gaunlet, and then returned to his feet. His wife soon followed, kicking one of her attackers twice in the privates, and then sticking her boot knife through his head as he bent over in pain. She jumped up, kicking another away from her.
This was getting annoying. Time to finish this business. He reached over his back and drew his beloved sword. Made over the space of a hundred days, the blade of this sword was sheet metal folded and flattened thousands of times, cooled to the hardness of diamonds in poison water. Not only was this sword instantly capable of cutting up anything smoothly without notching, it’s blade was imbued with a poisonous substance, enabling him to kill within seconds by merely sliding the flat of the metal along an opponent’s skin. This blade was the second most protected thing in his life after his wife, and while the two didn’t compare, this sword still had a large, special place in his heart. And so it was drawn, ready to do what it was made for.
Two sword-wielders slowly approached him. He took a step toward one, slapping him in the neck with his sword, and retracting, swinging the blade to halve the other opponent. The first one started to grow instant, green boils on his neck, and then they suddenly exploded outward in a shower of green-red, leaving only half the neck that was originally there. The owner of this newly altered neck fell to the floor. Seven down, three to go.
‘Eight!’ Shala called out as though reading his mind. So she was keeping up.
His wife also had her blade drawn. Like his, her blade was custom-made to special requirements, though not with poisonous imbue. Hers was a sword, which was made in fires so hot that her blade never cooled down fully, even after countless applications of water and fights in the rain. Any flammable substance that made contact with her blade instantly went up in flames, and anything else that was affected by heat was also effected upon contact with her sword.
He caught a reflection of something in his own blade, and with a unique movement that only Shala knew, he spun around and deflected an arrow coming to him with his sword, right into Shala’s blade, which deflected it again and caused it to kindle in midair then hit it’s firer in the head, burning his skull from the inside.
‘In all technicality, we both deserve point for that one,’ she said. All the assailants in the immediate vicinity were dead. The couple turned in unison to face the hall they left earlier, to find three heavily armored men slowly walking to them. Iknos grinned. Just the way he liked it. He sheathed his sword and pulled out both crossbow-pistols. He ran at the nearest lumbering fool and shot down all his armor, the miniature bolts severing the chains holding his breastplate. The thick metal clanged on the floor, and a split second later, Iknos had drill-kicked him in the small of his chest, right between his lungs on the weak spot of his ribcage. Accordingly, his enemy’s chest caved in, lungs and heart soon turning to mush, and within two seconds the huge, previously-intimidating man was cowering on the floor, rapidly coughing up blood and trying to support himself at the same time. Another two seconds, and he was motionless in a pool of red.
He turned his head in time to see a massive arm uppercut him, and he heard a cry as he was lifted up into the air, dropping his weapons. He landed on all fours, and looked up to see his wife grab an enemy’s fallen crossbow and fire a perfect shot at one of the two huge opponent’s head. With inhuman reflexes, the fired bolt was caught in midair by the victim and flung aside. Iknos grabbed his chest, trying to breathe. For once, he had reason to thank his armor for stopping that punch ripping his whole body apart. He crawled over to one of his fallen crossbow-pistols, and as he reached for it, he was kicked in the face, causing him to topple over backwards and land hard on his back. The man who kicked him grabbed his neck and lifted him up into the air with one arm. He started to go purple in the face.
He looked at Shala, who was fighting the other huge man. She had no time to come to his aid. His eyes found his attacker’s, and he saw hate. With a thought of his endangered wife and one last burst of energy, he flipped up his lower body and kicked his attacker in the nose, breaking it. He didn’t visibly seem to feel it, but his grip loosened slightly on his neck, allowing him a breath and enough energy to concentrate on twitching his ankle at a perfect angle, releasing the blade in his boot. He flipped up again, and put the blade on his boot into his attacker’s chest as hard as he could.
By reflex, the huge man dropped him, but soon recovered. This was all the time he needed. His body had regenerated itself while he was being held, and while he couldn’t breathe at the time, he was quickly sucking in air now, giving vital energy to power his organs. He grabbed the crossbow-pistol next to him, rolled over and grabbed the other one, then jumped to his feet, pocketing the small ranged weapons and drawing his sword before gaining his footing from the flip. He lolled his head to both sides, loosening up his neck muscles and relieving some tension, and then looked his previous attacker in the eye.
The man rushed him. He simply rotated backwards on his left leg, giving a perfect reverse-roundhouse kick to the assailant’s stomach, which was lifted into the air and flung backwards from such a precise blow throwing energy his way. He looked over at his wife, who was having combat troubles herself. He walked over to her huge attacker and gave a mathematical kick to both his shins, causing him to lose his gain on Shala and scream in pain, bending over. He brought his knee up into the man’s face, the blow flinging him backward and upward.
He swung himself around in time to block a swipe at him with his sword. His wife, having recovered and drawn her own blade again, returned to the lumbering man she was previously fighting. In unison they fought their opponents back-to-back, perfectly weaving with each other’s movements as though they were one person. The two men, being too huge to fight side-by-side effectively, were drawn into their trap easily, attacking desperately as Shala and Iknos effortlessly danced between them.
The couple blocked a blow each in unison, causing them to lightly jab each other. Following this cue, they quickly slid under the reach of their assailant’s arms, simultaneously spinning around on the spot and swiping their opponent’s heads off at exactly the same moment. As one, they both announced their kill count, indicating a tie.
The two large, lifeless bodies fell to the floor, their heads rolling along the marble. A second later, at least thirty more enemies smashed through the windows of the room, dropping to the floor. Iknos looked at his wife, and nodded. It was time for Plan B.
He reeled off to his right as Shala did likewise to the left. He fired off his hook-shot at an air vent, tugging early so that by the time it latched into the wall, it was already drawing him up. He drew a crossbow-pistol from his robes and shot off the vent cover as he was reeled up. As he reached the top and flung himself into the horizontal shaft, he had time to glance back and see Shala bodily smash open a secret passageway and run down it, no doubt breaking walls and doors randomly along the way to confuse any pursuers.
It took him less than ten minutes to find his way through the ventilation to an outer-wall opening, albeit at least three or four floors above the ground. No matter. He put his fingers in his mouth and whistled loudly. Within seconds, his horse was rushing to him. He leapt out the vent fearlessly, landing perfectly in the saddle of the animal. With a quick yell and a snap on the reins, he steered the horse at top speed to the stables.
As he reached his destination, a nightmare met his eyes. A carriage drawn by six horses was carrying countless warriors clad in black. Behind them was a warrior on his own horse dragging an eerily familiar body behind it on the ground. Female screams were erupting into the night. Shala’s screams. The horse drawing Shala was guarded by at least a half-dozen more horses.
He gave immediate chase. Bringing his horse to full speed, he gave a last, extra-hard snap on the reins and let go, drawing his trusty crossbow-pistols. He shot down the two rear guards. He regained the reins and enticed his steed faster still. He could see Shala clearly now, blood all over her exposed flesh, grass-stains on her clothes, and rocks and dirt on her face and in her hair. Her eyes were tight shut and she was wearing an expression that indicated a mix of excruciating pain and every effort to lessen it.
He looked up and shot down the next two rear guards, then steered his horse closer to his wife, careful not to trample her. He moved one arm up to aim at the rope dragging her, ready to shoot and sever it. Just as he started to pull the trigger, a massive weight hit his chest, the bolt flinging him off his horse. He knew no more.
He woke up to find his horse licking his face. He was dragged crudely under a tree, and it seemed to be early morning. He took a moment to stand up and straighten his clothing, making it somewhat more comfortable. Then the previous day’s events flashed him and a blur.
Visiting the King … killing those unknown people … problem-solving with Shala … fighting all those invaders … escaping through the ventilation system … chasing all those horses … seeing his wife being dragged in pain … and then blacking out.
He wondered if he ever had a normal day. It was hard to believe so much stuff happened all in just one day. The events blurred in his head again, slower this time. When he mentally saw his wife in pain, he realized what was happening and jumped into action. She was possibly being tortured, or perhaps even still dragged. She might be dead. Either way, he had to find her.
He wasn’t stupid, though. He was completely out of supplies. He had about three mini-bolts left for his crossbow-pistols; all the powder reserves were gone from his hook-shot; all his darts were depleted …
He sighed and got up on his horse. He was also badly injured, and in no shape to go rescue anyone, however desperate he was to immediately do so. He turned the steed around. He knew this area well, where he had been dragged to safety, and his Castle wasn’t far off. He could restock there, pack reserves, and heal himself. He needed to be quick, though, as quick as his injures would allow him to ride.
He directed the horse to a slow trot, and remembered his conversation with the King. Killing his own mother, Shala being dragged behind a horse into captivity … it all reminded him of a certain mission he had, many years ago, before he even started his Hunter training, much less become the greatest in existence … a mission where a mother had to be killed, where someone was dragged behind a horse into captivity …
It was not a comforting thought that history seemed to be repeating itself. He was sure the two events were unrelated, but the resemblance between the two was striking. His mind was playing tricks on him, and after preparation and healing, he would get rest. Perhaps that would help him get rid of his thoughts of a memory remembered.
Very good, EA. Well written, well planned, and LONG! If this first chapter is anything to go by, the story should be excellent. Keep it up!
"It's easy to cry that you're beaten, and die;
It's easy to crawfish and crawl,
But to fight and to fight, when hope's out of sight-
Why, that's the best game of them all!
And though you come out of each gruelling bout
All broken and beaten and scarred,
Just have one more try- it's dead easy to die!
It's the keeping-on-living that's hard."
Naturally, but as Lancer said, this is well-planned. If I made my current chapter size into several smaller chapters, the end product will be about a hundred chapters that no-one will want to read. Better to have fewer, longer, more full chapters. That way, people can get big updates as the story is written, the content is high, and it also avoids indirect things such as spammy posts in the story's thread that go along the lines of "zomg i wnt more plz rite anutha chpter soon".
Either way, I have a large novel in mind, not just a short-story that can benefit from smaller chapters. Having said that, I am sticking to my plan. Thanks for the comments, though.
Not bad Not bad. I for one don't thinkIts long. If its something I like, I could rad 450 pages a day, and thats it terms of a novel, is only about 10 pages long. Maybe less Maybe more, but anyway Yeah I like it.
The credits roll, the camera pans, And in the mist our hero stands.He starts to speak, then folds his hands in prayer. An awkward pause, then what's my line?
The sex scene was long and elaborated. While I wouldn't mind more sex scenes (hint hint, wink wink, nudge nudge), it was a pretty long chapter. Then again, so is my story. Heh. The descriptions are vivid and rather realistic, so that's a plus.
I think I already conveyed my enjoyment of this story to you in the chat, but I'll sum it up again.
OMG THAt is AWESUMNESS!!!!!
While I wouldn't mind more sex scenes (hint hint, wink wink, nudge nudge), it was a pretty long chapter. Then again, so is my story. Heh. The descriptions are vivid and rather realistic, so that's a plus.
Keep up the good work.
Excellency at work.
Keep it going, EA!
Ah, thank you all for these, uhm, kind comments. Really, i am flattered, and of course i will continue what i have not finished, fanbase or no .
Now onto more specific stuff.
Originally Posted by lf9
If its something I like, I could rad 450 pages a day, and thats it terms of a novel, is only about 10 pages long. Maybe less Maybe more, but anyway Yeah I like it.
yes, it was 10 and a half pages in Microsoft Word, default settings and with Arial, size 10. thanks again, too.
Originally Posted by Evil Tomato
Right, so you must write more! I am left hanging! AND DON'T YOU DARE ACT LIKE SOME UNPUBLISHED WRITERS AND LOSE INTEREST IN THE STORY HALFWAY THROUGH! (I hate that.)
like i said before, of course i will complete it. hell, i wouldnt dare not to after that outburst.
Originally Posted by Lone Wolf
The sex scene was long and elaborated.
F***ing finally! Dangit, i have been waiting for a comment on this. If that was meant negatively, then of course, i will try make it shorter next time in the thoughts of my future readers. If that was meant positively, then whatever man. Kidding of course, but thanks for the note.
Originally Posted by Cleric
I will be waiting. You seem to have this well thought out, and the writing is very intelligent, which is always something to appreciate.
Ah, naturally. Usually when i write, i just spur it out, but this project was too important to me to just leave to my randomness, so i planned out the entire thing, including all the chapters and what is in them. Of course, some of the awesome comes from random, so i did allow room for on-the-spur writing.