|Rebirth and Resurrection
Author: WritingYourSocksOff PM
Zieg and Rose are resurrected after their death at the hand of Melbu Frahma. But the world has fallen into chaos once again. A benevolent dictator has taken over much of Endiness, but without their memories, stopping her will be difficult. Summary inside!Rated: Fiction T - English - Fantasy/Adventure - Zieg F. & Rose - Chapters: 4 - Words: 10,361 - Reviews: 2 - Follows: 1 - Updated: 03-02-12 - Published: 03-03-11 - id: 6793422
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
The decrepit barn on the outside of town could does little against the chilling winds that blow throughout the night. The holes made by hungry termites are dotted about the structure, letting in the howling winds that nip at my exposed body. I huddle close to the cloak I stole from one of the farms along the road, doing my best to keep warm but to no avail, it was meant for a woman far smaller than I, perhaps even a small child. I didn't know what season it was, nor what the weather here was normally like, but my best guess was that it was approaching the winter months. Snow had yet to litter the ground, but the trees were all barren, and I had had difficulty keeping quiet along the road with all of the dead leaves that crumpled under my feet.
The building itself was more akin to a shack than a barn, housing little more than a few empty crates and some common gardening tools.
Still, this place was adequate enough for the night's rest. The village before me was too occupied and busy for me to easily sneak in unnoticed. Besides, I had little money for a place to stay – the stolen cloak yielded little more than two coins – so until such a time came where I could acquire some of this land's currency, this place would do. The shack was isolated enough, and the accompanying house was a good mile away, so I expected no visitors until the early morning, when I'd be long gone from here.
But where to? That I didn't really know. Through some quick investigating of the town ahead I'd learned that its name was New Hoax, within the country of Serdio, but that meant little to me. It seemed as good a place as any to start out, but I had no idea what I was looking for, or even who I was.
The whole ordeal was very confusing. What is there for me to strive towards when I don't know who I am or what I want? Merely thinking about it cast my head in circles, so I eventually gave up and tried to succumb to exhaustion.
The bitter cold and howling wind made sleep very difficult that night. I'm uncertain of how long it took me to actually fall asleep, but when I awoke, it was to the sounds of screams in the distance.
I cannot explain, but those screams awoke something within me that moment. I bolt upright and race towards the barn door, throwing them open with a strength I had not thought myself to possess. The sounds of screams, of a battle raging in the distance, sound familiar to my ears. Familiar, and almost comforting, as if I belonged with that sound. Almost as though a significant portion of my life involved the sounds of screams. The thought terrified me.
What I beheld in the distance, though, didn't terrify me. The village ahead, New Hoax, was under attack. The buildings closest to me – along the Eastern Gate – were burning, and even in the dark I could make out the figures of frightened women and children running from the flames, pursued by heavily armoured men with swords and shields. The screams of women and children pierced my ears and I could think of only one thing: I have heard this before.
The attacking army seemed to be approaching from all fronts, and they had obviously infiltrated the town's walls, as I could see small skirmishes between the two forces atop the walls even from here.
Without further thought, I push myself forward and run full-tilt towards the village. I run through the forest ahead, darting around trees and bushes with hast, earning myself a gash across my cheek from a low-hanging branch. As I ran, I heard a small gasp from beside me and I turn and see a woman huddled behind a large rock with three small, frightened children, who are all staring directly at me, their eyes wide with fear. I could only imagine what I looked like – rugged, worn-out and stern-faced. Was I truly so frightening?
"Please," whispers the woman, shielding her children with outstretched arms. "These are my only children, please do not hurt them, hurt me instead, please!"
The fear in the woman's voice unnerves me. Did she think I was one of them? I took one small step forward, my hand outstretched cautiously.
"I mean you no harm," I say just as quietly as she. "Please, if you wish to keep your children safe, you must go further into the forest. The soldiers will scour the woods once the village is clear."
"You know this? How?"
I don't know, I think to myself. now more wary of myself than ever before. Who was I?
After a moment of silence the woman nods to herself and turns to her children, taking the smallest one's hand. "Come, we're going."
"But papa!" screams the youngest.
"Papa will find us in the forest!" she says with finality, giving me a quick glance. Even in the dark it was easy to find the tears in her eyes. I could only imagine why. No doubt the father had stayed to defend the village. She considered him dead already. I could only agree with her.
"You should hurry," I call to her as she backs away into the forest. "They will come soon."
She ushers her children into the bushes behind her and stops to turn towards me. "And what will you do? Will you fight them? Are you here to save us from the Imperials?"
"I don't know," I murmur, looking towards the burning village. "I suppose I will enter the village and search for survivors. Fight where I can."
The woman nods and turns away from me, whispering comforting words to the children about their father's swift, safe return, and disappears from my sight. I stand in the small clearing for a moment, fighting with myself.
My first instinct is to rush into the village and fight where I can, save who I can, and do all that needed to be done to save innocent lives, but I hesitated. What kind of person had I been to have a mind such as this? Cold and calculating, thinking about fighting and saving people. The woman here had not thought to save anyone more than her own family.
I turn towards the village, now completely wreathed in flames. The high wall that encircles it is thrumming with activity, mostly what appears to be what the woman had called Imperial soldiers taking control of the battlements. It would have a strategic advantage should an enemy force retaliate with their own army to have first secured the battlements and set up archers and guards, before moving further out of the city and searching the woods. Knowing that, I stick close to the edge of the forest to keep from being seen. I look up and see my chance just as the guard above turns to survey the chaos within the walls.
I quickly dash out from the cover of the trees and make for the wall, just reaching it's edge before the guard turns back around. Carefully, I creep along the edges of the wall, aware that even the slightest missed step could give me away to the guards above.
For about a mile I creep along the bottom of the wall, being careful to avoid any of the soldiers scouring the forest outside, until eventually I come to the East Gate. The guards all lie dead at my feet, and so I have no trouble getting in. As I step over the last crumpled body of the gate guard, I find myself in a small square. Corpses of many fill the square – villagers, soldiers from both sides, they were everywhere. Most of the houses along the sides were aflame, but most of the screams now came from outside the city. I assumed most of the villagers had already fled.
I make my way towards the center of the city where the rest of the fighting was likely taking place, leaning over a few dead soldiers to equip myself with a sword. For good measure I also take a bow and quiver from a dead soldier and slide both across my back, continuing to make my way cautiously to the center of the city. My instincts tell me that most of the casualties from here on out will be soldiers, and that most of them will be alert and waiting in ambush. My eyes scan each building and alleyway before advancing.
I turn a corner and a loud bang causes me to back up and dash back around the corner again. In my haste and surprise, I trip over the corpse of an Imperial soldier and fall to the ground. Cursing, I pick myself up off the ground. I get a good look at the insignia on the soldier's chest plate. A small, ornate sphere rests in the center of the armor. It's coloured a dark purple, a small slit in the center, appearing to almost be a vibrant, purple eye. It has a pair of wings akin to what I connect with a dragon's wings on each side of it, giving it an almost creepily angelic look. The symbol, or at least part of it, strikes a hard cord in my memory. I can feel myself almost remembering it's source, the beginnings of a memory clawing at the edges of my mind, seeking freedom.
Another loud bang comes from around the corner and I am struck from my reverie. I peek my head around the corner and am stunned by what I see.
In the center of town square is an entire squadron of defending troops, and one lone man. Even form here I can tell that he is garbed most elegantly and very skilled with his weapon, a large great sword that he wields with one hand. The strength required to lift it must be significant, but as I watch him fight off ten or so men, he swings it back and forth with obvious ease, a smile on his face.
I watch from afar as three of the soldiers charge him, swords raised, bellowing curses at him. The red-armored man waits until the last possible moment before lashing out with his sword, severing the leading man's sword hand and decapitating the second in one fluid movement. The third man manages to hold his own for a moment or two before the red-armored man stabs him through the gut, and decapitates the first soldier whose hand he had cut off moments before.
The remaining soldiers all look at each other and charge him at once. I count nine of them in total. As they move as one, the red-armoured man's smile merely widens. He spreads his arms wide and a great flash of light consumes him and the surrounding area. I myself, having been staring directly at it, am blinded for a few moments. I blink a couple times and manage to squint through the light to see something incredible.
The red-armoured man stands in the centre of the square, exactly where he stood a moment before, only he himself is not as he once appeared. His armour has morphed, intricate symbols woven throughout it. Upon his back rests two wings, identical to those on the insignia of the Imperial soldier that still lies dead beneath me. He flaps them once with finality, and surveys the square.
All nine of the attacking soldiers lie dead on the ground before him. Most are badly burned, some are still in flames. Even from here I can see that their armour is melting.
How is it possible? I wonder. Magic?
And from somewhere within my body comes the answer – yes.
Everything about what I witnessed hurts my brain so much that I actually find myself gasping fro breath. Memories rage at the forefront of my mind, struggling to surface. In my mind's eye, I see a similar event.
A man, tall and handsome, lies on the ground, a hulking giant above him with a great axe, ready to kill him. I can hear myself speaking, but I know not if it is me saying the words out loud at this moment, or the power and strength of the memory I am being faced with.
"Awaken, Dragoon of the Red-Eyed Dragon!" I yell.
The man on the ground is engulfed in a similar brilliant red light, and the giant goes flying. At the same moment, I snap back to the present. I find myself gasping on the ground, having lost my balance with the strength of the memory. I've tumbled into the alley way, and I manage to get up just in time to see the man in red look at me and grin. Unthinkingly, I stand and begin making my way towards him, my grip tight on my sword. He stands his ground, his sword hanging loosely at his side.
"Who is this to challenge me now?" he calls to me, casually flicking a loose strand of long blonde hair out of his eyes and looking me up and down. "Can you not see the flaming corpses of the others, woman? Do you seek a similarly fiery death, or would you prefer to die at the tip of my sword?"
His words infuriate me, but I know enough not to let it get to me, and begin sizing up my opponent. He's bigger than me, much bigger. His sword is definitely made of sterner stuff than the standard issue I picked up from the Imperial at the entrance. I grip it tightly in my hands and point it towards him in a defensive position. From what I've seen so far, he has a fairly aggressive attack strategy, so I expect him to make the first move.
But he doesn't. He merely appraises me with an almost interested expression and stands there with his sword gripped loosely at his side. His long blonde hair, which reaches halfway down his hard, heavily-armoured torso, flows in the light breeze and seems to be alit by the harsh flames within the square. As I look into his pale blue eyes, I find him almost pretty – inhumanly so.
He looks at me and grins again, then snaps his fingers. Immediately, several dozen guards come out from the various entrances to the square and surround me, swords and shields raised. I back up without realizing and can sense a soldier behind me. He must have panicked and thought I was attacking him because before I can even turn I hear the soft whistle of a sword rushing through the air.
It isn't until the sword hits home and cleaves the man's skull in two that I realize the sword is mine. The man grunts, drops his weapon and falls to the ground in a heap.
I stand there in shock, staring down at the man whose life I just ended, trying to work through the emotions coursing through me. Anger, sadness, fear – was that remorse mixed in there too? I couldn't understand all of this. Part of me felt bad, but the other part demanded more, wanted more blood – to kill again. It scared me.
My entire internal struggle takes no more than half a second. For everyone else, I have just killed a man. I turn around, back towards the man in red, who can only be their leader, wide-eyed. He sees that I am confused, afraid even, of what I have done, and his brow furrows.
There is a hushed silence while everyone absorbs what happened, then –
"Not much of a rebel, are you?" calls the red-armoured man condescendingly. "I would kill you myself, but you're not worth my time. You there," he says, pointing to one of the soldiers to my right, "kill her. And quickly, too. I want to be done with this siege so we can move forward to Lohan."
The man he indicated nodded and stepped out of the circle of soldiers that now surrounded me. He stood in front of me, sword and shield raised and ready to fight, appearing frightened. I stared hard into his face, half obscured by the helmet, and saw a youth. No more than eighteen.
I could not kill this boy. Yet, he was ordered to kill me. It was life or death, wasn't it? Could I really bring myself to kill him?
I had no idea what I was capable of. I'd already killed one man. Whose to say I couldn't kill this boy?
The boy stepped forward, but maintained his distance from me. Without realizing, I see that I've already raised my own sword in defense.
No! I scream inwardly. No, I don't want to fight you!
There is no way for the boy to know this, but still he does not step forward and initiate the fight. The leader huffs in impatience.
"Come on then, boy! We don't have all evening. Get on with it!"
The boy, chastised, charges me, sword raised over his head, leaving his body exposed. I dart to the right, and in one fluid motion, slash open the boys stomach. He makes no noise as he falls to the ground, dead.
I stand there, horrified. Surely he had a mother out there somewhere who would miss him terribly. Not too different from the mother I'd encountered in the forest, who was willing to die to protect her children. If his mother were here, would she have taken my sword?
"Well now," says the leader loudly. "Perhaps we do have a little warrior here after all." The soldiers all look towards him in unison, waiting for orders. He nods once, and they all shift into offensive positions in my peripheral vision.
The part of me that I'm beginning to fear, the part that enjoys the thrill of battle, takes over. I tally them all up quickly. Seven on my left, nine on my right, four ahead, and three behind. Twenty-three in total. I'll have to dart to the left to get away from the nine on my right and the three behind me. I can take out at least four of them before they know I'm there. Which leaves three, as well as the three behind me, who will no doubt have reached my by that point.
One of the soldiers to my right rushes forwards, and I block his attack and slash his side, ending that particular threat.
Twenty-two, I think to myself.
I decide that now is the best chance I'll get, as I can see they're all a little surprised with the ease in which I killed the first soldier, so I strike, darting out to my left and catching one of them in the stomach by surprise. Without waiting for retaliation from the others, I pull my sword out and slash at the next soldier on the left, and cut him down easily. I manage to get three more down before I'm forced to re-position myself. I give myself the opportunity to re-evaluate the battle.
Two on my right charge forwards with battle cries. I dispatch them easily by blocking their blows with my sword and slashing back in return. Another rushes forward. He just receives a swift punch to the face, knocking him onto his back, thus allowing me to stab him in the chest.
One of them comes up from behind me and manages to give me a decent-sized gash on my arm before I decapitate him. I'm surrounded again though, and this time backed into a corner. The remaining fourteen converge on me, but they make a fatal mistake. They're too grouped together. I reach out with my empty hand and snatch the shaft of the nearest spear and pull with a strength that surprised me. The spear and the soldier holding it were pulled forward, knocking four of the soldiers down as well. By the time I weave my way out of the corner, only seven of them remain.
I'm standing near the fountain in the center of the square wielding both my sword and the spear I'd snatched from the now deceased soldier. I jab out at the nearest soldier with my spear to distract them and take away their chance to regroup. By a lucky chance, the spear actually catches him in the neck and he crumples under my feet. I take the opportunity to count them up again.
A lot better than the twenty-two I started with, I think.
I give them a fierce look and scan their faces. They all look frightened. If I can kill one, maybe two more, the remainder will flee. Somehow I know that these last six won't initiate the assault – they're too afraid – so I lash out with my spear again, blocking a blow from the one on my right with my sword. The spear catches one in the stomach, my sword finds the throat of two others.
I catch my breath and back up. The remaining three all look at their commander, who seems amused, but instructs them to continue. I grin myself, my eyes catching sight of the congealed blood on the back of my hand, and the amount of it on my sword. For a moment, my resolve disappears at the sight of the carnage I've created, but it reappears when one of the soldiers lashes out at me.
I block his clumsy attack and behead him, striking out at the other two, and finish them off.
I stand in the middle of the square, breathing heavily. The red-one stands before me, looking quizzical.
"Interesting," he says quietly. "You know, I think you would make an excellent participant."
And before I can even blink, he zooms forward with a speed my eyes can't even detect, and bashes me over the head with the hilt of his sword.
The pain alone brings me to my knees, and before I lose consciousness, I get a last glimpse of his blood red boots, glinting in the fire light, and hear the sounds of low, rumbling laughter from right above me.