Hello everyone! This is a repost of one of my old stories, formerly called "Future Consequences." I decided to take it down and pretty much redo the whole thing. I posed the story originally just before Blackveil came out, and after reading it I couldn't decide whether I wanted to follow what had happened in Blackveil. I've had the outline for this story finished for at least a year, and I finally decided it was time to put pen to paper. So, I have decided that this story will occur after the events in Blackveil. I hope you all enjoy!
Chapter 1- Events of a Strange Nature
A loud groan resonated through the healing ward of the Sacor City castle. A young black shield lay on a bed, his arm flung over his eyes in an attempt to stop the memories of the previous few hours from flooding back. Fastion was having a bad day. In fact, it was probably the worst day he had witnessed in all his years.
Fastion considered himself to be good at his job. But in truth, Fastion was great at his job. Having graduated top in his class at Selium and moved on to Master Swordsman training with Drent at a groundbreaking age of 16, he set the standard for the new Black Shields. No one was as much of a Weapon as Fastion.
Unfortunately, today was not a day that Fastion was prepared for. It all started early that morning when, as per the usual, he had been assigned to guard His Majesty, Zachary Hillander of Sacoridia. After years of service, a mutual respect and friendship had blossomed between the two men. Zachary was the King, the voice of the people, and Fastion was his shadow and would follow him anywhere and protect him from anything. On this particular day, Zachary had been in a restless mood, wandering the halls of the castle aimlessly.
Fastion knew that the King's listlessness could be explained by a certain Green Rider. The Green Rider who had defied all odds and delivered a crucial message that saved the Kingdom. The Green Rider who became the first Knight of Sacoridia in hundreds of years. The Green Rider who commanded the respect and honor of all of the Black Shields. The same Green Rider who had gone beyond the breach into the Blackveil, and had been missing for months. The same Green Rider that had stolen King Zachary's heart.
'Fate has been cruel to those two,' Fastion thought, as he followed silently, observing his King's every move. The love that Karigan and Zachary shared was a love for the story books. It transcended class and station. It would have been a perfect love; a love of two people matched for each other in every way. However, the two knew in their hearts that it was impossible an impossible love. They knew that nothing could ever truly exist between them, especially with Zachary's marriage to Estora looming over their heads. No, they suffered their separation and heartbreak in silence. But silence could not keep the expression of pain from the King's young face as he contemplated his missing Green Rider. It was this that Fastion was observing when the unthinkable occurred.
Fastion didn't notice the assassin lurking in the doorway ahead until it was nearly too late. With reflexes akin to lightening, he reached for Zachary's collar and tugged, sending the King sprawling to the floor. He looked up to gage his opponent to find the assassin's hand poised to launch a throwing knife at him. Knowing it was too late, and he did not have enough time to save his own life, Fastion did what any good Weapon would do in his time of dying. Saying a prayer silently to the powers that be, he shifted so the bulk of his body would fall in front of the King when he collapsed. He closed his eyes and waited for the inevitable end.
His body was suddenly and violently shoved to the side and a loud thunk radiated around the hallway. His eyes snapped open and he took in the sight. Zachary was rising to his knees, his arms reaching for a small form collapsed on the floor. The assassin had taken off down the hall, their boots clacking on the flagstone floor. Indecision flaring within him, Fastion looked to his king.
"Go," said Zachary, his voice firm. Without another seconds thought, Fastion raced down the hall, his black-banded sword flashing as he pulled it gracefully from its sheath. He chased the assassin down three hallways, out the servant's quarters of the castle, passed the burned ruins of the old Rider's barracks, and half way to the main gate. With not so much as a whisper, Fastion plunged his sword between the assassin's feet and was satisfied when he fell to the ground with a sharp cry of pain. Chest heaving, Fastion raised the tip of his blade to the assassins' throat. Fastion's gaze raked over the assassin, revealing him to be a man of average height, weight, and even hair color. Nothing about this man was out of the ordinary, except his previous attempt at murder. Fastion's boot caught the man hand, and swiftly flipped the appendage over. Upon his palm the tattoo of a black tree was clear.
'Second Empire,' Fastion thought to himself, 'Interesting. I was under the impression that they had all fled into the Blackveil.'
"You have quite a bit of explaining to do," Fastion said slowly to the man on the ground. The soldiers at the gate chose that moment to arrive, hoisting the man to his feet and binding his hands behind his back with rawhide chords. They searched the man and found 3 more knives hidden on his person.
"Sir," One of the soldiers addressed him, "Shall we escort him to the dungeon?" Fastion answered him with a sharp nod, finally allowing his sword point to fall to the ground.
"Make sure he is well guarded," Fastion ordered, "He's Second Empire." The guards gasped in shock, their disgusted glares centering on the assassin. Shoving him roughly, the guards and their prisoner began their journey to the dungeons.
As they walked off in the opposite direction, Fastion sheathed his sword and jogged back the way he had come. Quickly retracing his steps, he found himself back in the hallway. Zachary and Master Mender Destarion muttered worriedly to each other as they leaned over a small form in the middle of the hallway. Fastion could see the blood coating the flagstone floor; his pulse began to beat faster in fear for this person's life.
Black Shields had congregated to the hall, their bodies tense and ready for a fight. No expressions graced their faces, but he knew that they were all thinking the same thing. Who was this person that had thrown their own body in front of a dagger for him? It was obviously not another Weapon, or even one of the riders.
Cloth covered most of the body, shielding them from view. A shock of chestnut hair stood out from the flagstone floor. It framed a pale white face, with long eyelashes and pale lips.
'Delicate features for one so brave,' Fastion mused. With shock, Fastion realized that the form on the ground was a woman. He observed her, startlingly beautiful even so close to death. Her eyes fluttered open for a moment, revealing hazel irises. Her eyes sought out his, making eye contact with him for only a moment. A sense of relief flooded her gaze, and her eyes fluttered closed again. Fastion could not stop the sense of recognition that nagged at the back of his mind.
Fastion's leg suddenly gave out, sending him sprawling to the floor. The Weapon's swords were unsheathed in seconds, looking for an attacker. Carefully, and with much pain, Fastion maneuvered himself into a position so he could look at his leg. Swelling and redness was present, indicating that he had sprained it at some point during the chase. With adrenaline continuing to pump through his body, he must have been immune to the pain. Now that his body was not working so hard, the adrenaline had stopped flowing and his sprained ankle had collapsed from stress. His vision began to get hazy, darkening around the edges. His head pounded, and the floor seemed to spin in circles, though he was not moving. Without another word, Fastion fell to his side, vomited, and promptly let the darkness consume him.
He woke hours later in the healing ward, frustration at his own weakness consuming him. His hand found his eyes and rubbed at them gently.
'How could I have been so oblivious,' he criticized, 'I of all people know better.' He let his large hands fall to his temples and massaged in an attempt to stop the pounding that seemed to permeate his every fiber of being. Fortunately, it seemed, he had been cleaned up from his earlier activities. Taking stock of his condition, Fastion found that there was no pain in his lower leg. Actually, there was no feeling at all in his lower leg.
'I wonder what could have caused this?' he mused silently. His thoughts were cut short when the door squeaked open and King Zachary walked in, accompanied by Master Destarion.
"Fastion," Zachary spoke softly, "How are you?" The monarch's head was creased with concern and fear.
"Your Majesty," Fastion spoke, attempting to rise to his feet and bow. In one swift stride, Zachary was at his bedside, hand on his chest, pushing him back onto the bed.
"Fastion, please, this is not time for formality," Zachary let a small smile grace his handsome face; "You are stubborn even as you lay injured." A chuckle escaped the young King that quickly transformed into a hearty laugh. Fastion could not help but admire his King. He was brave and honest, through and through. Zachary had the rare gift of finding the humor in the bleakest of situations.
"If you two would stop giggling like school girls for a moment, I would like to examine my patient," Destarion said, annoyed.
"Of course. I apologize," Said Zachary, still smiling. Destarion walked over and removed the blankets covering Fastion's leg. Gently he probed the injured ankle, massaging and twisting slightly as his hands descended toward the foot. There was no pain, just slight discomfort.
"Do you feel this?" Destarion prodded the muscles and tendons. Fastion shook his head, gaining a satisfied grunt from the healer.
"Alright," said Destarion, his mood much improved, "Well it seems that it is only a minor sprain. You will be fine, but you are off duty for the next week or so. I mean it, Weapon, keep off of that foot." Fastion nodded absentmindedly. Zachary's hand fell to Fastion's shoulder and squeezed encouragingly. The two turned to leave.
"Majesty," Fastion said quietly. Zachary turned, cocking his head to the side questioningly.
"The girl. The one who saved me," Fastion continued, fear entering his voice, "Is she…?" He found that he couldn't finish the sentence. Zachary's frowned softly, worry filling his eyes.
"She is alive, for now," Zachary replied, "Unfortunately, her injury was very severe. She lost a significant amount of blood, but she seems to be strong. We can only wait and see, I fear." Fastion nodded, worry and relief filling him at the same time. She was alive, but would she stay that way?
Zachary and Destarion quietly slipped out the door leaving Fastion to his thoughts. A few minutes later an apprentice healer entered the room with a tray of tea. Sipping at the tea, Fastion began to drift off into sleep. The young apprentice took the cup from him as his hands began to fall to his sides. His last thought before the fell into the darkness for the second time that day was, 'they must have drugged me.'
Fastion woke alone in the healing ward and, after a few minutes, quickly remembered that he had been subtly drugged by the apprentice healer. With a low growl, he flung himself swiftly out of the bed, hopping on his good foot to the simple wooden chair positioned in the corner of the small room. He quickly broke apart the chair, his eyes flashing to the door nervously at the sharp crack of the breaking wood. With some bindings tactically acquired from the healing supply cabinet situated just outside his room, he fashioned a simple crutch.
Fastion's eyes shifted about quickly, checking the hall for occupants. After insuring he wouldn't be seen, Fastion stole around the corner and limped hurriedly down the hall, leaning heavily on his makeshift crutch. Reaching the end of the hall without notice, he quickly peeked around the corner and watched as an apprentice healer brought bloody bandages out of one of the large healing wards near the middle of the hall. Watching closely, Fastion waited until the apprentice rounded the corner at the other end of the hall. Fastion moved quickly to the door the apprentice had just come out of and slipped inside. Shutting the door as silently as possible, he flipped the latch above the handle, locking the door securely.
Slowly, Fastion turned toward the only bed occupying the large room. His eyes focused immediately upon the sole occupant of the room, a small form positioned in the center of the bed. If Fastion had been a religious man he would have sworn that an angel had fallen asleep on the boxy mattress. Soft, long brown hair spilled across the stark white pillow, flowing down past her shoulders. Her skin, white and smooth was complimented by long, dark eyelashes that lay upon her cheeks, highlighting strong cheekbones. Her lips were as pink as roses, a shade that gave a soft appearance to her face. Fastion didn't know how long he stood there admiring her captivating, albeit silent, presence.
The more he looked, however, the more he began to notice unnatural imperfections in her beauty. A sickly, yellow pallor shaded her skin, giving her a weak and helpless appearance. Her lips were dry and cracked, bleeding in some areas. Dried blood matted in her chestnut hair. Her brow was furrowed in silent pain, twitching every so often.
A small gasp of pain flew from her lips. Immediately shifting his weight onto his good ankle, Fastion laid his crutch against the far wall, and, hopping, made his way to the chair at her bedside. Slowly lowering himself into the chair, Fastion shifted his eyes to the rest of her body, lying beneath the bed's stark white sheets. He noticed that she was very small. She appeared to be shorter than the average woman, and her body was too skinny, as if she had forgone meals for a good while. Looking more closely, he noticed lean muscle lined her body, uncommon for young women. On top of that, the fact that she was muscular yet underweight intrigued him. It indicated that she spent a significant amount of time in physical activity, despite lacking the proper amount of nourishment.
As he gazed at her Fastion could not shake the overwhelming sense of familiarity that he felt when looking at her. Where had he seen her before? She was like an image from the past that he couldn't quite recall; hazy and confusing. She looked to be in her early twenties, too young for her to have gone to Selium with him.
"Who are you?" he muttered to himself, hoping that she would wake and answer his query. She had thrown herself in front of the dagger that would probably have claimed his life. She had risked her own life without so much as a moment's hesitation. Fastion found himself sending a silent prayer to 'the powers that be' that this young girl might pull through; if only so that he could properly thank her for her brave deed. Her presence seemed to be causing an upheaval in Fastion's religious beliefs.
A soft moan brought his attention back to the girl's face. Her brow was furrowed, her breath coming in short gasps, her body shaking. Out of instinct, Fastion grabbed her hand and held it tight, hoping she would find some comfort in his presence. Her body suddenly stilled. For a moment Fastion was sure she had passed into the realms of the dead. He watched her intently, looking for some sign of life, not daring to breathe. He watched in amazement as her eyelids slowly parted revealing the hazel irises he had viewed only hours before. The beautiful orbs shifted to him, and for a moment he saw shock fill her face. Her shock turned quickly into a soft, tired smile. As she began to slip back into unconsciousness, and her eyelids slowly began to shut, one work escaped her cracked lips.
"Fastion," she murmured, and fell into the darkness.