Requiem of Souls Chapter 10

Soul Memories

By Artificer Urza

Ryu had hoped that now that he was no longer traveling, that he had settled down, he would stop having dreams he could not remember. He knew he must dream of his past, which was why he could never remember what the dreams were. He also knew that the subject of these dreams caused either fear, pain or sorrow and thus he was rather sure that it would be best if he didn't remember who he was. At least that's what he kept telling himself and yet the way his mind kept saying 'maybe it would be best if I didn't remember' felt as though it wasn't really his mind saying, but rather someone else's thoughts using his voice.

Ryu's hopes for a dreamless sleep were in vain. Again, that night he dreamt of his past and as always he could remember who he was, at least vaguely. He was incapable of controlling his actions in the dream as he watched, in a third person way, the events in the dream. He was a spectator of a play, which he knew would end sadly; Ryu really hated sad theater.

He dreamed of the voyage on the ship, the Nina. He had been enjoying the trip; it was rather eventless and dull. For once, there were no monsters to fight, no world in imminent peril and he could enjoy the sunsets with Katt. Captain Trask had told them that they might be able to see the Outer Continent the next day because of how the currents had suddenly changed, but there was no real way to be sure.

Ryu had been watching the sky when the storm struck. It was strange, there was no warning; one moment the skies were clear, it was a beautiful day, the next moment the skies grew dark, rain poured down hard and the winds blew so hard that two crew members were flung overboard by the ferocity of the wind. Within heartbeats of the loss of those two sailors the entire crew, day-watch and night watch, were on the deck, struggling to keep the ship from capsizing. Even Ryu's friends helped out; Rand, using his strength to secure the lines, Sten had climbed the mast and served as lookout, Bow was helping with the wheel and Bleu and Nina were using their magic in an attempt to protect the ship. Of course, the rain still came down and thoroughly drenched everyone on the ship. Katt was completely soaked when she joined Ryu and she was not pleased at all.

"I don't care how long it would take, I don't care how bad his breath is and I don't care that there wouldn't be any privacy; next time, we're taking the whale." She yelled at Ryu, trying to make herself heard over the wind and rain.

Ryu merely smiled as he secured another rope. It had always been something a joke between the two: Ryu felt that Grandpa the whale was a terrible mode of transportation because of his bad breath and Katt contended that fish-breath was a great smell.

"Oh I don't know. The way the rain has matted your fur against your body, allowing me to see every one of your curves makes this way of traveling VERY appealing, I think." Ryu replied as he made a play of leering at Katt.

Katt smacked him playfully. "Imminent danger now, libido later." She said.

Lightning flashed, as the winds seemed to grow worse. The waves that resulted carried the ship high, almost tossing the ship to the next wave in a giant game of catch. The weather became far worse as tornadoes descended from the sky and dissipated just before they touched the water.

"If those hit the water, we're dead." Captain Trask said to Bow, as they both struggled with the wheel.

Sure enough, one of the cyclones descended, striking the water, causing immense waves, which nearly capsized the ship. The strain on the magical shielding that Nina and Bleu had created, that Nina fell to her knees nearly collapsing from the pressure inflicted upon the shield.

At that precise moment lightning struck one the masts of the ship, causing it to fall. The impact shook the ship, many sailors lost their footing and fell to the deck, and some of them fell overboard. Ryu was slammed against the railing, catching Katt in his arms. He looked on deck and saw Sten lying on his back, he neither moved nor did he appear to be breathing. Rand rushed to Sten's side and began to chant, trying to save his life; a dangerous move, for Sten's back was broken and using magic to heal broken bones more times did more harm than good.

Another wave struck the ship as Ryu and Katt were standing up. Ryu was slammed against the railing again, but Katt was flung overboard. With nigh inhuman speed, Ryu reacted grabbing Katt's hand with his left hand, using his right to brace himself against the railing and hopefully giving him the leverage he needed to bring Katt back up. Ryu found, however, that the more he pulled, the further she was slipping out of his fingers. The purple gauntlet she wore was coming off, slick as it was with water. Finally, the gauntlet came off and Katt fell towards the water below. Ryu desperately grabbed for her with his right hand, missing her by mere centimeters. He watched on in horror as Katt plunged into the water below and everything seemed lost in his eyes. He heard a splintering crack from behind him as the second mast was hit; yet, he cared not. He heard shouts of warning and he turned to watch as the broken mast fell towards him, but it didn't matter to him; he had just lost that which was most precious to him, his life no longer seemed worth living. Just as he felt the mast hit him and the darkness take him, he woke up.

Ryu woke in the bed in which he had been sleeping in the Urkan village. He had awoken suddenly and was gasping for breath, sweating in fear. Jasmine was by his side, a fearful, worrisome expression on her face.

"Are you all right?" She asked, concerned.

"It's okay, I'm fine. It was just a dream, can't hurt me now." He said as he held her, as he felt better just holding her.

For the life of him, Ryu could not remember what he had dreamed, or why it made him feel such sorrow.

********

Katt walked along a forest path. She could not remember how long she had been walking or how she had appeared here, only that she had appeared here shortly after she had been thrown overboard. Had she been paying attention to her surrounding's she would have thought it strange; the forest, the flowers, everything seemed blurred like a semi-abstract painting where one could distinguish objects and scenery but the artist had smudged everything on purpose. Had Katt been paying attention she would have noticed that she herself looked different, casting out a golden aura and her appearance was that of an idealized, perfect version of herself that even Bleu would have had a hard time competing with in terms of beauty and attractiveness. However, she was not paying attention, she was listening to a bird landing on a branch two kilometers away, she smelled a buck taking a drink by a pond in the distance and she was seeing a bug land on a flower in a clearing nearly a kilometer away. Katt thought it was strange, everything that moved whether they were insects, animals or people seemed to stand out in the landscape here, in absolute contrast to the landscape itself. Moreover, through it all she continued to walk.

Then she saw it: a flash of red fur just on the edge of her vision. It made no sound and had no scent, so all Katt could do was track it's movement with her eyes. She chased the red blur into a clearing where she beheld her prey's identity. He stood at ten feet tall, with red fur and a red mane that coursed down his back and ended in a tail. He was heavily muscled with a visage that appeared to combine both lupine and feline features. Leather bands bound tresses of red hair, which framed his face, and he wore deerskin pants, a custom once used by the woren culture. Katt recognized him as the god Kihlrah, the lord of the hunt.

Katt and the god just stood and stared at each other, sizing each other up. Katt had heard about this god from her parents when she was very small; she was never very big on religion, but she prayed to this god each night and once before each tournament battle.

Suddenly the god turned and ran off into the woods, pausing just long enough to motion for Katt to follow him. Wasting no time, Katt followed him into the depths of the forest. She had much trouble keeping up with him; then again, he was a god after all.

Katt followed Kihlrah as best she could, suddenly coming to a clearing. She saw Kihlrah on an outcropping of rock in the clearing. But what she saw in the middle of the clearing, sitting by a pond, shocked her and filled her with longing: her parents.

Katt rushed into their arms, they shocked though not entirely surprised to see her. They appeared to have been waiting for her, for they registered no shock and held her close. Katt for her own part never questioned why her deceased parents were here, at least not for the first few minutes anyways, then she though about how she could be here with her parents and it made her ask the inevitable question. She looked up at her mother and father from her position in their embrace and asked.

"Am I dead?" Her voice sounded small and alone when she asked.

Her parents let her go and Katt sat up. They did not look concerned, nor did they seem surprised at the question. The y looked at each other out of the corner of their eyes, as though deciding who was going to answer her.

"You aren't dead." Her father said.

"You're not alive either, your soul is separated from your body." Her mother said.

Katt took this all in, she had seen much in her life so this was not as hard to believe as some of what she had experienced.

"We were worried about you at first, all those years ago. We didn't think you would be able to escape the hunters." Katt's father said.

"Truth is I didn't." Katt said, averting her eyes.

"Then what happened?" Her mother asked. "We only know you survived because Lord Kihlrah told us."

"Well, this is how it happened..."

********

As Katt began to retell the story, it seemed to her that she could see what was happening as she told it; as though she could see the people and events that happened that day.

She had been four at the time; her parents and herself had been running from bounty hunters who were after their fur. At that time worens, who were rare in that area, had been hunted for high price because of their fighting skills and their fur. A band of four hunters had found them at their home and had been hunting them for days, never giving the impression of giving up. The leader was cold and cruel, cloaked in the fur of past prey; he wielded a scimitar. There were two swordsmen in the group and one teenager, obviously hoping to gain some instant fame from this kill. The last was not without some skill, for he wielded a heavy crossbow, a weapon requiring both strength and skill to use effectively.

"If any of you damage the cats' pelt, I'll take it out of your hides." The leader said coldly to his men. "And if I find so much as a bruise upon the girl I'll kill the man who made the mark. August wants the child alive."

His cohorts grunted in acknowledgment. It was understood that the Gamesmaster August of Coursair was paying high price for a woren child alive and undamaged, the fur and subsequent zenny gained from the selling of the fur of the adults was a bonus.

Just passed a forest, Katt and her folks stopped. Her father turned and, brandishing his daggers, charged at the hunters. The movement caught the hunters by surprise allowing Katt's father to kill one of the hunters. Immediately after he began to assault the second swordsman, striking with furious blows, but not penetrating the hunter's defenses. The hunter for his own part had a much harder time of it; he had to kill the woren male without inflicting any other damage on his fur. The other two hunters stood back and watched, Katt's mother held her defensively, but they still watched Katt's father fight.

Suddenly, the child Katt felt her mother's body shudder. She looked up to see a crossbow bolt protruding from her neck, just above her collarbones. Her mother slumped to the ground beside the child-Katt, who looked at the corpse in horror.

Katt's father heard her cry out and turned to see his wife on the ground, dead, his child trying desperately to wake her up. It was that one moment of inattention that cost him his life. The hunter he was fighting slipped beneath his guard and stabbed upward so that his sword went behind the woren's ribs, killing him.


The three hunters then converged on the infant Katt, preparing to capture her, when a shadow fell over them. The Wanderer stood his back to the setting sun, fury and hate in his eyes directed at the hunters.

"That is far more than enough!" He growled.

"Oh, is it old man? And what can you do about it?" The leader of the hunters asked.

The Wanderer made no response as he charged the three. The remaining swordsman engaged him as the other two retreated a bit. The hunter attempted to cut the Wanderer down with one slash, but the Wanderer easily dodged the blow. Repeatedly the hunter slashed and repeatedly the Wanderer dodged making the hunter appear slow and clumsy.

The Wanderer grabbed the hunter's arm as he brought his sword down. With a simple twist, the Wanderer disarmed the swordsman and then proceeded to knock him unconscious with a blow to the head.

The youth with the crossbow took aim and fired a bolt at the Wanderer, but the Wanderer merely reached out and plucked the bolt out of the air as it was about hit.

"I would advise you never to try that again." The Wanderer said his eyes cold.

The youth, frightened, dropped his crossbow and ran, not willing to risk his life for all the zenny in the world.

"Looks like it's just you and me old man." The leader of the band said as he unsheathed his scimitar.

The Wanderer faced this last brigand, saying nothing, his hand on the pommel of his sword.

"Last chance to run. The child can't possibly mean anything to you so why bother?" The leader said, smiling cruelly.

The Wanderer grabbed his sword but did not draw it, but rather eased himself into a position to use a technique, which would allow him to draw his blade faster.

"A fast-draw technique? With a dual-edge blade? Heh, it's your funeral, old man."

The leader charged the Wanderer, his scimitar held high. The young Katt could not bear to watch so she buried her face in her mother's corpse. She heard the harsh sound of metal cutting through leather, flesh and bone and then silence. Her curiosity and woren fighter's nature prompted her to look. She saw the leader with his sword down and the Wanderer, a few feet from where he had been, with his sword drawn; the blade seemed to glow blue in the light. A slight gust of wind blew and the leader's torso fell; he had been cleaved in twain by the Wanderer's sword. The Wanderer sheathed his sword and his face seemed to soften, take on a hidden sorrowful look. He turned and walked up to the child-Katt, fell to his knees and held her.

"I'm so sorry." He said deep sorrow in his voice. "If I had been here sooner I could have saved them, please forgive me."

Katt said nothing, for she was tired and, being so exhausted she fell asleep in his arms. When she awoke, there were to mounds beneath a tree where there had been none before, the bodies of her parents and the leader of the hunters were no longer there as well as the hunter who had been unconscious. The Wanderer was kneeling over the two mounds, graves for her parents. He stood and looked at the young Katt.

"Where do you live?" He said as he picked her up in his arms.

It was dawn as they walked towards Katt's home. Katt said her silent goodbyes to her parents at that moment; a strong woren child, she was always prepared for the inevitability of death.

********

"... And from then until I was about thirteen or so, he trained me and took care of me. When I was about eighteen I went to Coursair and entered the tournaments where I met Ryu. We're married now and have a son." Katt finished.

"We're so glad you're okay." Her father said.

"Yes, we had heard of this Wanderer. You were lucky he came along when he did." Her mother said.

"Yeah... I only wish I could thank him for what he did for me." Katt said.

The landscape around Katt began to become indistinct and she felt very drowsy. She fell back into her father's arms and closed her eyes.

"It is time for you to return. Please, live your life for yourself as much as for us." Her father said.


Author's notes: W00t, 10'nth chapter. Hope you've all enjoyed Requiem of Souls so far, if you have tell me about it, and if you haven't enjoyed it tell me why. I'm gonna keep writing this until it's finished, so don't worry if you're concerned I won't finish it.


Chapter 11

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