I rewrote this to submit it (with pokemon references stripped out) as part of my English coursework last year. I hadn't bothered to upload it here, since I didn't see myself getting back into FFN anytime soon. But hey, I updated something yesterday out of the blue, so anything is possibly. For old fans, this is a rewrite of one of my Tales of the Blades. Yes, there's a self insert here, but since she's not three and has no speaking part, I'm sure you can forgive me. Enjoy.
The Prodigal Broken
Chapter One-Blood and Betrayals
Saffron City Suburbs, Four PM, Tuesday the 14th of April 2003 AJ(1)
(AJ, After Joining, refers to the treaty ratified two-thousand and three years ago by the ruling body of legendary pokemon and the heroic figure Tobias Verin. This treaty was the end of an age of enmity, and the beginning of the long, fruitful traditions of co-operation between pokemon and humans.)
From a distance, the mansion looks empty. A building of beautiful marble and blackened wood, people nonetheless tend to stay away from it. The mansion belongs to the Lorn family, thought by most of Saffron and Kanto to be merely another noble family, rich off the exploits of the past. While tales of amazing powers and heroics persist, most of the populace are pretty sure that they are just that, tales, though the darker stories cause them to keep a wide berth. Just in case.
Of course, as most of those in power already know, the tales are true. The Lorn family is an ancient one, bound to the tradition of the Blademasters-one of the five families, in fact, that founded that tradition. The Blademasters are sworn to defend the world from unnatural threats-be they a demon from without, or a man within doing something he shouldn't. Empowered by the legendary pokemon Mew and Celebi, the Blademasters possess speed, strength, long life, and many other traits beyond most humans. The Lorn family, specialists in the Style of speed, capable of cutting a raindrop in two, of drawing, striking, and sheathing a blade in a single blink of an eye. But while the four families of the other regions are spoken of as heroes, the Lorn family are known to have fallen. They still fight for the same reasons, but their numbers dwindle even as their arrogance rises. Selfishness and privilege are rife, and an old, festering grudge ruined their relationship with three of the other families long ago.
Cut off from their old allies, with their own flaws beginning to rise against them, the Lorn family are ripe for tragedy. Here, in the mansion of the current heirs to the Lorn legacy, fate is not going to disappoint.
In a room deep within the manor, the sound of blade on blade rings through the air. Three figures dance around one another with an impossible pace, weapons clashing with skill beyond compare, their forms and strikes blurring with speed. One is young, between twelve and fourteen. She has long, black hair, and eyes of a deep, dark, brown. She's pretty, with hints of beautiful to come. Her hair, usually some way down her back, is carelessly put up in a long ponytail. She wears a plain black top, with a small badge of silver and red-the winged sword of the Lorn family-upon the collar, as well as trousers of the same design. A long, single bladed sword of dark metal lies in each hand.
The other two are different largely for one reason-their age. Nearly twenty by their appearance, almost forty in truth. One, the woman, looks similar to the girl. Brown haired and green eyed, but with the same general build and look, and the beauty the girl will surely gain later. She wears a dark dress of green, cut down the sides to give her as much mobility as she needs. She too wears a badge, but hers has not silver, but gold. One of her weapons is odd-long, black and gleaming, like stone or glass. The man is handsome, brown eyed and blond-haired, wearing a half closed shirt and dark jeans. Again, one of his blades is odd, a golden-white marble substance. He too wears the winged sword badge, and while his is gold, it lacks the red details.
The three are fighting-sparring, rather than actually trying to kill one another. If someone could decipher the speed and skill on display, they'd be shocked to notice that the two adults are collaborating-and losing. In the space of a single moment, the girl blurs, a dozen afterimages attacking the two adults with phenomenal speed. Largely the strikes are blocked, but on the woman's arm, and the man's cheek, shallow cuts begin to bleed freely.
"Blood." says the girl brightly. "I win."
Her voice is soft, tinged a little with pride. The woman scowls, dabbing her arm with paper until the cut stops bleeding.
"You were supposed to win with mundane methods." she says
"I did." insists the girl.
"Don't lie to me Ellen." she snaps. "There was no way you managed that without Spirit."
"But I did!" she says loudly, getting quite indignant. "You know I'm really fast!"
"I just can't believe you can be that fast."
"She is." says the man. "I was watching her the whole time. Not a jot of excess Spirit."
The woman stares at him in wordless disapproval.
"…fine. Well done." she spits, the words having no warmth in them.
"Yes, well done." adds the man, more kindly.
"Thank you, Uncle Thomas." smiles Ellen. He looks at her in warning, and she adds. "Thank you, Aunt Catherine."
"Mmm. You'd better go and clean up. And make sure you do it properly, I don't-"
"Catherine." Thomas groans. "Ellen, go clean up, okay?"
Her uncle's repetition brings a nod from the girl, and she turns to walk from the room. But whether she meant to or they just didn't wait, she hears something that makes her freeze on the spot outside the door.
"We can't keep hiding this."
The voice is Thomas', soft and firm.
"Why? She'll work it out herself if she just puts in the thought."
Catherine, bitter and stubborn.
A long-suffering sigh, and then.
"Cath, I have no idea why we ever did this. You hate your sister, and you obviously hate her daughter too, although you won't tell me why."
Ah. So her aunt hates her. That would probably be more disturbing, if it weren't as clear as a cloudless sky.
"Because I'm a selfish petty bitch." snaps Catherine.
"So you don't want to talk about it."
"No. I don't."
"So that's what sharing everything means." Thomas says caustically. The eavesdropper's eyes go wide, hearing her level-headed uncle grow angry.
"I hate her because she's twenty seconds younger than me, and it got her everything. She was younger and I was stronger, and while Catherine got trained for this life by the age of five, Rebecca got spoilt like crazy. She got the life of a spoilt heir, and I got the heir's responsibility and a thousand years of tradition. She got to choose her life. I did not."
"…honey…" Thomas's voice is astonished, sympathetic. The listening Ellen is horrified.
"So… why are you trying to do this for Ellen?"
"Because if I do this, I can stop feeling guilty for being a bitch to her."
The words are snapped, but there's no real power behind them. Catherine knows full well what she's doing.
"…when are we going to tell her?"
"I don't know… tomorrow, maybe?"
"I still don't think she'll take it the way you think… maybe her birthday's not the right time."
"…I can't see how she could take it a different way, but… you know her better than I do, so when?"
"How about right now?" Ellen says, taking a deep breath as she steps through the door, feeling something between fear and fury. "Don't try to claim silence-I heard it all."
"Ellen… you… you shouldn't be listening in. Really, you shouldn't…" says Thomas, sounding resigned.
"And you shouldn't keep secrets from me." the girl replies stubbornly.
"You're right. We shouldn't." says Catherine shortly.
"You're going home. We asked your mother to let us train you because we couldn't have kids, but then we had Emily."
In a moment, the power Ellen's eavesdropping had got her was gone.
"You don't need to live this life anymore…" Catherine murmured, in a softer tone of voice than she'd ever managed to use to her niece before. It didn't work.
"N…no…no no no no no no no no…." Ellen murmurs incoherently, rising to a disbelieving whimper.
"I…I know this seems bad, but it's good. It's freedom and choice, and-"
"This is loss. This is betrayal and everything I have taken away." Ellen says quietly, words dripping with anger. "I've lived this life for nine years now and you don't want me anymore?" she rises to a scream, tears welling up in her eyes.
"Oh… oh god."
Catherine realises suddenly just how badly she's misunderstood her niece, and she has no idea what to do. She looks desperately at her husband, ugly truths racing through her head. She's spent so long being an utter bitch because Ellen 's mother had a choice... the idea that someone would choose the blade's path simply never occurred. She can't repair nine years of baseless hatred with just words... Thomas and Ellen are closer. She should have believed him... he'd said this would go badly from the start.
He shoots her a glance, meeting hers with a look that says, softly but as plain as day that he told her so, and he kneels by Ellen, trying to take her into his arms. But she doesn't let him, pushing her away, the shove stronger than her frame implies, furious Spirit use throwing him to his back as Ellen turns and flees the room.
"That… that could have gone better…" groans Thomas as he sits up, and then stands.
"I… should we go after her?" murmurs Catherine, not having moved from the position of her guilt-ridden epiphany.
"I… don't think so." Thomas says, taking a moment to think. "She's not the type to just run away… she'll come back when she's ready to talk, and we'll work this out."
"Y…yeah… I should c…call her mother…" Catherine sniffs numbly. Thomas notices her expression, and steps closer, hugging her tightly to him.
"It'll be okay, love. She's young enough… you can make up for this in time. You haven't lost her forever." he says softly. His words push her over the edge, and she starts to cry.
But by this point, Ellen is past crying. Betrayal, loss, and desperation have crystallised into anger, and she's storming, restlessly and aimlessly, around the Lorn estate. Something catches her eye-the black monolith at the rear of the gardens.
She isn't allowed near it, of course, but right now she doesn't care in the slightest. She approaches it, thoughts of fury and anger foremost in her mind.
While, as anyone knows, no child would act on the desire to harm their carers for real, the occasional violent thought does occur, even though it never lasts. And as Ellen touches the smooth, black stone furious, desires for revenge that she'd never truly take are foremost in her mind, the memory of her victory in their sparring bright and strong as evidence that if she did really want to hurt them... she could.
"You are not a normal blademaster."
A voice suddenly in her head, soft, dark, caressing her like a cold, sharp fingernail upon the spine.
"I… they betrayed me. Took away everything." she murmurs, confused and quite uncomfortable.
"Oh they did? That's simply horrible. I knew they never really cared for you." the voice says, sympathetic.
"N…no, Thomas does. Uncle Thomas cares."
"Well yes, when you're there he does!" the voice exclaims, genuinely surprised that she didn't know.
"Oh, I am sorry." the voice frets. "I didn't want to make things worse."
"N…no…" sniffle. "I…I need to know. I can't l…let them keep l…lying to me."
"It is horrible. How can they expect you to care for them this way? If I were you,.. well. It's hard to explain how to fix this, really."
"F…fix? You know how to fix it?" she looks up hopefully, eyes wet, shining a warm brown with hope.
"Of course of course. But…"
"But? Tell me! Please!" Ellen's voice is all but begging.
"I can't, I can't. I'm sorry, it's complicated!"
"B…but there must be something you can do!" she says, grasping at straws now, as the voice sighs.
"Well… I could come with you, if you let me."
"I… yes! Please!"
"Well, you'd need to help me out."
"Well, Ellen, repeat after me. I, Ellen Lorn, descendent of Lauren Lorn of the Five Blades, ask that Ophus be free to aid my path this day."
"I, Ellen Lorn, descendent of Lauren Lorn of the Five Blades, ask that Ophus be free to aid my path this day." she repeated.
"And now… whet the stone with a little blood." the voice is a whisper again, caressing her ears as she draws the sword from her belt, grimacing as she cuts at her hand, sheaths the blade… and touches her palm to the obelisk.
The sound of thunder ripples as the obelisk shatters. Ellen screams, rising up as power flows from the broken monument. She floats, suspended in the air as the energy flows through her, mouth and eyes wide open.
As the power flows, her eyes shift-from the deep brown do a bright, bloody red-and then she drops to the ground.
"I… what… just…"
"Don't worry. That was the plan. Please, take me back in and I can fix everything."
"I… okay…" she murmurs, a little out of her depth, as she begins to turn and walk up to the house.
When she arrives the voice whispers to let it do the talking, and Ellen takes the back seat in her own mind. It takes her just a few moments to realise that Catherine and Thomas look straight at her eyes and jolt back in fear. As they express shock, cry out in anger, Ellen realises what she has done-and tries to take her mind back.
But she can't. As 'she' draws her swords and takes a stance, every ounce of skill she has is there, but none of her personality, just the demon that lied its way in.
They draw their weapons too, and the battle that plays out is superficially similar to the one earlier in the day. But the blurs in the air are faster and longer, Spirit being used by the three of them, drops of blood being spread from dozens of small cuts-just a couple of which are on Ellen. A slash from below rolls into an arcing sideways swing, and enough lethal strikes are blocked or dodged in an instant to slay a dozen trained warriors-but both Catherine and Thomas are slowing down, noticeably concentrating deeply. Ellen fights faster, the demon knowing better than she what is coming and seeking victory-but it can't find it.
The two burst with Spirit with a focusing cry, bright, prismatic energy erupting from them, before they blast it from the tips of their swords. It strikes Ellen-and Ophus screams, Ellen screams, the agony of what she finally recognises as a Purity Wave simply indescribable-and the last piece of evidence she needs to know just what she's done.
But while she wallows in her failure, Ophus takes the chance. As the swords ripple with power, she surges forward, and with a vicious upward stroke sends the blades flying from their hands, ad then forces them into the wall with a rushing movement, swords to their necks.
They stare at her numbly-and for a moment, Ophus gives her her body. She falters, tears form in her briefly brown eyes, and Thomas manages to smile… and Ophus wrests it back and jerks both blades forwards.
The demon retreats into her mind laughing-and leaves Ellen there with her failure. She tries to back away, back and back until she reaches the opposite wall, sliding down it to the floor, too broken to cry. Somewhere in the background she hears crying-her cousin of two and a half years-but it barely clicks. Finally, Ellen starts crying too-because really, what else can she do?