Lord of Terror Chapter 14
A Visit to the Forest, the Funeral
By Iced Blood
Glenn awoke to find that he had drifted off in a chair by his brothers bedside. He smiled and stretched. Looking at his brother, still sleeping peacefully, he himself was at ease. As long as people could still be happy, he didnt care what he had to do.
He rose to his feet, walked to the window and opened the curtain. The sun stared back at him. He turned and cracked his knuckles before replacing his gauntlets and strapping his swords to his back and side. He latched his cloak to his shoulders.
He looked to his left to see that Steven had begun to stir. His eyes fluttered open, and he looked up at him. Glenn grinned.
Morning, Steve. Howd you sleep?
Good. I had a dream Mommy came back and talked to me. She says shes watching us now. Is that good?
Glenn smiled. Yes, little brother, that is good. I can feel her eyes on me now. Come on, lets go see if everyone else is up.
Okay. He happily jumped out of bed and pulled on his clothes from the day before. That done, he followed Glenn out to the front room.
I was awake and talking to Randall when Glenn and Steven walked into the front room. I rose to my feet and roused Stalinth.
She nearly fell off the chair when I did. She scowled at me and replaced the chair next to the table. So, She said, This priest were seeing to day, this...Nandam, what do you hope to find out?
Im not sure. I only wish to see an elder priest of my order. He may be able to tell me something. I replied. And as strange as this may sound, I would like to walk there. It would be a refreshing change if I were able to work my legs under the sun instead of under the earth.
Quite understandable, Master. Stalinth said. Just as we dragons feel the need to fly, so you humans and elves feel the need to take to your domain, the ground.
I nodded. Besides, its not too far and we really have nothing to do until tonight.
We all agreed to this, and Randall and Steven wondered if they may come along. I found no problem with it and Glenn seemed pleased, so I gave the okay.
We set out that morning, after a small breakfast. I breathed deeply in the fresh morning air and let Glenn take the lead, since he knew where the forest was.
A path leads up to Master Nandams home. Ive seen it, but Ive never been along it before. Glenn informed as he walked.
I see. I said, drawing my scythe. Using the spell Id used in the labyrinth once before, I shortened the blade, making it a jeweled staff. I used it as a walking staff.
I wanna weapon. Steve said. I chuckled. I saw a long stick on the left of the road and picked it up. Using my magic this time, I slowly worked its shape as I walked.
Soon I had it straight as an arrow. I slowly added mass to it until it had the basic shape of a sword. Then, feeling rather bored, I refined it to look precisely like an actual blade.
When I had it finished, I dulled the blade and tip so that no sharp edge or point existed in the weapon. I twirled it, testing it, found it very light.
I handed it to him. He was ecstatic, swinging it around happily. Thanks, mister!
No problem. And dont worry, Randall. That wont work as a weapon, or Ive rocks for a mind.
Uh oh. Glenn said with a sly grin.
Shut up. I snapped. He laughed. No respect for elders these days. I groaned. Im at least seventy years older than you, Glenn Travis. At least fake respect.
Oh, but of course, Master Bloodbane. He bowed with a grin still on his face.
Seventy years? Randall asked. How could you be over one hundred?
Ive elven blood in my veins. It slows the aging process. I wont grow old until Im at least three hundred years.
Ah. You know, I heard elves lived longer than that. And you look more human to me.
Im half-elven. My father was a human king, my mother an elven queen. I explained.
Well, that would explain it. He said. Now that I think of it, Ive also heard elven maidens are exceptionally beautiful. Is that true also?
Glenn chuckled. Id say so. Its almost frightening.
I grinned, shook my head. Is that why you usually take rear guard? So you can look at my sister without her knowing?
Please, Janus. I dont stare at a woman. I was taught to be polite and courteous to all, and I am. He retorted. And my guess is that if I were to stare at Schala, I would taste Sephiroths blade, and I doubt it would taste like honey.
I laughed. Probably not.
Schala? Steven repeated. Like in the story bout the princess in the sky who lost her brother? That Schala?
I stopped dead in my tracks. What? I turned.
Randall spoke up. Steve, that storys just a fairy tale your mother created. She doesnt--
Yes. I interjected. Youre absolutely right.
Huh? Randall stared at me. What are you talking about?
Steven is right. I looked at Glenn. Your mother told stories, did she?
Yes. I remember that story. That was...?
Yes! That was about my sister. Apparently my father told her about it. I have to wonder how he knew about it, though. I laughed again. My sister and I are in a fairy tale.
Dear Tyrael...Id never thought of that. That story was one of my favorites, and I didnt recognize the characters when they were right in front of me.
Wait till Schala hears about this... I said, grinning. Shes been immortalized.
Glenn chuckled and pointed to a side path. This dirt road leads to the forest. He began walking down it, and we followed.
I could see the tops of the trees from this point, and could tell even from this distance that the forest was vast. I wondered why someone would want to live in a place so easy to get lost in.
Along the path nothing really happened, until we were about thirty feet from the outskirts of the forest. As I bent down to examine tracks left in the dirt, I heard a low whistle, as if something was going at a very high speed in the air, and a low thunk as it hit something wooden.
I rose to my feet and turned.
There was Steven, holding his wooden sword up in front of his face (now pale as chalk), and a dagger embedded into the thin blade.
What the...? Glenn stared at the tops of the trees. I walked up to Steven and took the knife from the wood. Examining it, I found the symbol of my kingdoms army, an elaborate D with a sword through the top.
Only a Mystic assassin could have thrown a dagger with this accuracy. I said, holding the knife up. I looked to the nearest tree, and saw a slight movement in the leaves.
I wasted no time and threw the dagger as I saw the movement. It flew straight as an arrow into the tree, and a shriek emitted from it and a man clad in black fell from the branches.
We sprinted up to him. I clutched him by the collar of his tunic and lifted him none too gently to his feet. Explain yourself, soldier! I said sharply.
Y-Y-Your Lordship! He stammered, turning a shade of white. I...I...
You hoped to kill a seven-year-old? Is that it? Ah, I see. Well, dont think youll get off lucky because it didnt work out right.
Sir! Your Lordship, Im sorry! I didnt-- His sentence was cut off as I crushed his windpipe. I quickly snapped his neck, and threw the body off the path in disgust.
Glenn arched an eyebrow.
He said he was sorry to me, not Steven. I said, and kept on into the forest. Glenn picked up his brother and walked on behind me. Randall came last.
Glenn walked alongside me as we made our way through the forest. He held Steven in his arms.
Seeing his pale face, Glenn hugged him closer and slowly, softly, began to sing.
Pale moon looms in the winter sky
As dawn passes the watching eye
Pale moon lies deep in winter shroud
Peering through the winter cloud
Voice in wind heard soft and clear
In frozen quarter of this year
Softly tread the water deep
And of this beauty wish to keep
Trees reach high to sky above
Upon the limbs there perch the dove
Fly off, let wind then catch the wing
Such peace here cause the soul to sing.
I grinned as Glenn stopped, saw that Steven had calmed down somewhat. I took over the remainder of the song, looking around the scenery.
Hear therein song of the wind
Therein the soul sings out again
Heavenly music touch the ear
In frozen quarter of this year
Within the borders of this land
Earth softly tended by natures hand
Here softly tread the water deep
And of this beauty wish to keep
Herein wind whispers in the trees
Graceful flowing between the leaves
Then move softly down the stream
And bring herein the true serene...
Hear therein...song of the wind...
An echo flowed throughout the forest as the song reached its end. Steven was smiling now, looking around. Glenn let him down.
I never knew you could sing, Janus. Glenn said.
Elven trait. We learn song before letters. I replied. I jumped onto a fallen log that lay across a small stream, walked across it. Randall and Steven followed my lead.
Glenn jumped across the stream.
Show-off. I muttered.
I dont show off. Im just good. He said.
Whatever. So, where does he live in here anyway?
Glenn looked around him, found a side path. This way. He walked along it, and soon we saw a small house in between two large fruit trees. I walked up to the door and knocked on it.
A man, with long white hair and beard, clad in silver robes, answered it. Yes? He asked, rather strangely.
I hear you are a priest of Natunari. I said.
I am the Highpriest, Janus Bloodbane, son of Leoric.
Ah! Well, come in, Sir Bloodbane. Please. He moved over and allowed me to enter. Randall, Steven, and Glenn came in afterwards. What can I do for you, Holy One?
I would hardly call myself holy, sir. However, what I came here for is to speak with you. After all, not many followers are to be seen nowadays.
Indeed. There are very few.
I myself know of only two others, and they are both deceased. Nadine Travis, and my own father. You are the only living follower I have seen.
Very sad. Irulan murmured. Though, luck is with you. The only living follower you have seen is the last Loremaster. When I was allowed into the church, I was given the task of researching the historical roots of our religion.
Any information regarding our Goddess and Her religion is known to me. Would you like to hear any of it?
I would be interested, Loremaster, to hear anything you wish to tell. I said.
And I would like to know about this religion. Glenn added. The Loremaster gestured to chairs situated around a table.
Then sit down, my friends, and I shall tell you of the ancient history of Natunari and Her faith. We did, and he sat with us, offered us tea.
With a gesture of his hand and a few words of Magic, a kettle of steaming tea appeared in front of us, as well as a cup for each of us.
Now, as you, my Highpriest, know, Natunari was the creator of the Elven race. This happened near to ten millennia ago, quite a long time.
Those days were known as the Mystic Age. In this age of existence, magic flourished, and Natunari was the chief goddess of worship.
Back then, anyone save for Orcs could join her faith, warriors, wizards, clerics, rangers, and druids. People of any race, whether they be gnome, elf, human, halfling or dwarf.
Dwarves? Halflings? What are these races? Randall asked.
Ancient races, ones that are very scarce nowadays. In any case, this faith was still new to some regions in this early time. And so, the Natunari Church planned to spread the religion.
This, sadly, resulted in war. This war, the War of the Circle, was the deadliest conflict of the Mystic Age. Unless you count the Clash of the Blade Campaign, but thats a different story.
Now, there is one battle in particular that deals with my tale, though it may not seem significant. The Battle of Blind Faith, as it was called, was the bloodiest battle of the war.
In this battle, one soldier in particular has significance. Lt. Lance Shadowfire, a soldier against the Natunari church, was a warrior in body and soul.
His prowess earned him a battle with Drefan Kinsbane, second in command of the Natunari Church, a battle priest. However, Drefan was a grandmaster of the mace, and though he lost the battle, he was able to shatter Lt. Shadowfires shoulder, therefore ruining his sword arm.
This, in turn, caused many problems. You see, Lance Shadowfire had a wife and son. The once loyal lieutenant began to drink heavily, spending more and more of his money on ale and prostitutes as time wore on.
Prostitutes? With a wife and child? Glenn asked, bewildered. Despicable behavior...
Indeed. And as he drank, he became more and more abusive to his wife and son. This instilled a burning hatred in his young boy, Blithe.
Blithe? His name meant carefree?
Not in that time. Some words of the common speech have been changed somewhat. Blithe in that time meant ruthless, or destruction.
In any case, when young Blithe was about thirteen or so, he had become quite adept at swordplay, and was planning to be a knight.
One day after training, he came home to hear his father yelling in a drunken rage at his mother. Enraged himself at this, Blithe crashed open the door and challenged his father.
This resulted in Blithe severing his fathers head from his shoulders. This in turn resulted in Blithe being arrested. He was given a choice. He could either spend fifteen years in prison and come out a free man, or forever be exiled to Nightmares Cape, land of the exiled, which stood where Deronach now stands.
My kingdom... I said. So, this Nightmares Cape, I gather, was an evil place.
Yes. And, looking at his choices, Blithe decided to be exiled, choosing not to be locked up until he was twenty-seven.
Throughout the years, Blithe rose to power in this dark community and eventually became its monarch.
This is all I know. This tale is told in full in this book, He gestured to a tome on the table next to him. He lifted it. It is written in draconic, an ancient language, which I only know so much. With my fathers help, I was able to decipher that much, but he died before we could finish.
Draconic, you say? Stalinth asked. Let me see it. I speak draconic fluently. He handed her the book and she opened it to the marked page. Prepare to write, if you wish to keep this information. Ill read it to you aloud.
Would you? Oh, this is fantastic! He reached for a pen, ink, and a sheaf of parchment. He dipped the pen in the ink.
As Stalinth skimmed over it, she said, This sounds much like a tale of fiction, in the style of which it is written. It explains many things about Nightmares Cape, and seems to have dialogue. Interesting...
Of all the lands of this age, none is as isolated as Nightmares Cape, a small kingdom to the north of Soulshine, City of Light, where even in the dead of night it is basked in light. The small, isolated land of Nightmares Cape was deemed such due to the constant shadows it basked in, much to the contrast of its neighbor. Few ever visit Nightmares Cape willingly, and those who do are those who were cast from the light of Soulshine, exiled. Within the blackness of this land, a huge, looming castle resides as the main attraction, if one could call it an attraction. This castle was named the Obsidian Temple, which actually contrasts with the castle, as it was made from white stone. The Obsidian Temple is the epitome of all evil, as far as the good people of Soulshine are concerned.
The people, though few, who call the Obsidian Temple home, consist of wizards, knights, assassins, civilians, and higher authorities such as Lords and Ladies. The supreme monarch, the ruler of all Nightmares Cape, is known as the Warlord of Bone. He wears a helm made of a Black Dragons skull, and a black cloak lined with silver etchings. His word rules, no soul out of the eight hundred who live under him has ever spoken against him, for fear of his wrath. Although the people of this isle worship the Darkness, many worship the Warlord of Bone as a God.
Because of the shadow of evil that shrouds Nightmares Cape, the people there revere death and all its symbols, which is why the highest authority takes the name of Bone.
The current Warlord of Bone is a highly respected Battle Mage known as Blithe Shadowfire. Having been raised in the midst of hatred and bloodshed, Blithe rules his people with an iron gauntlet. No man dares stand before him, and no man can intimidate him. He is a fearless warrior with a heart as black as night, and as cold as ice.
Could anyone, living or dead, mortal or immortal, melt the heart of His Lordship Blithe Shadowfire? As of yet, only the Gods themselves know. Perhaps, in the near future, so will we
Blithe Shadowfire was a lean, muscular man with jet-black hair and almost chalk white skin. His hair was kept slicked back down to his shoulders. His attire consisted of a breastplate of silver, a long-sleeved black tunic underneath, black leather pants, leather boots, steel bracers, and his ceremonial black cloak. He had left his Dragon skull helm back in his chambers in his castle. He stood alone, in the midst of a rainstorm. According to his advisors, an assassination attempt was to take place at dusk. It was that time now, and Blithe now waited impatiently for something to happen.
For a king like Blithe, assassination attempts came around as often as breakfast, and he now thought of them as a sport, to test his reflexes and strength. Then, as he looked out at the horizon for the hundredth time, he noticed a horse and rider, galloping towards him. He smiled with anticipation.
The rider, at his speed, reached Blithe in a matter of seconds. He raised his sword. However, with one swift kick to its head, the horse went down with a crash. The rider flailed about and lost grip of his blade, which flew out of his reach. Blithe casually walked to the sword and stepped on the hilt as the rider made a wild grab at it. The rider was pinned under the weight of his unconscious horse, so when Blithe kicked it backwards, he stopped grabbing for it and let his head drop. Blithe kneeled next to him and lifted his head by his hair.
Amateur. He said in a low voice, drawing a dagger. He slowly, deliberately, slit open the riders throat, letting the blood drip slowly onto the wet grass. The rider lifted one hand to his neck, and stared at his blood in disbelief. He looked defiantly up at Blithe as he rose to his feet. With a snarl, Blithe kicked him in the nose, breaking it and knocking him unconscious and leaving him to Death.
With that, he wiped the daggers blade on the riders cape, sheathed it, and began to walk back to his castle. Involuntarily, he looked over his shoulder and, to his surprise, saw something on the horizon. Curious, he sprinted toward it. Upon reaching the figure, he realized it was a woman. A Revered Daughter of Natunari (Goddess of Good), his greatest foe, no less!
He noticed splotches of red on her white robes, and he also saw that she was near fainting. For some unknown reason, even though those faithful to Natunari despised him, he felt an obligation to help this particular young woman.
Revered Daughter. He addressed respectfully, kneeling down to speak to her at eye level. She raised her head and looked at him. She had been crying. She tried to sit up, but couldnt. What happened here?
M-My church sent me here to to
What? Sent you here to what?
T-To spy on you. You see, I told them I didnt want to, but they insisted. And s-so they sent me to this place. When one of the soldiers saw me, h-he almost killed me She let out a sob.
I see He said. This soldier, which direction did he go?
He went that way. She pointed toward the direction he had come from. He said that he had to take care of something more important, and that hed come back to finish with me later She looked so pitiful and afraid that Blithe, for the first time in his 27 years, felt pity.
Dont worry, he isnt a problem anymore. He said, smirking. She smiled, and accepted his hand when he stood up. Apparently she didnt know who he was, otherwise she wouldnt have been so trusting. He could have killed her so easily, but he didnt. He liked the fact that she trusted him. Other women wouldnt even look at him, but she looked him straight in the eye with a confidence that he found attractive. He also found her body attractive. She was delicate but not frail, light-skinned but not near as pale as he was. She had a perfect hourglass figure and her sparkling, clear green eyes and light brown hair also captivated him.
She leaned on him as he walked back to the Obsidian Temple, and when he noticed that she was shivering, he actually removed his cloak and draped it over her shoulders. She smiled and leaned closer. The logical side of him said that she did this for warmth, but the romantic side, though scarce, said that something stronger than necessity was at work. Suddenly, he dreaded telling her who he was, and as luck would have it, she asked him.
What is your name? It was an innocent question, so Blithe was surprised and ashamed by the way he answered it.
B-Blithe. He stuttered. And y-you?
Laurana. Laurana Soulbreeze. She answered. Blithe could see his castle now, and stopped dead in his tracks. His general, a hulking brute of a man, a foot taller than Blithe himself, whose name was Thaak Bonecrush, was running toward them. Before Blithe could open his mouth to speak, Thaak barreled into Laurana with the force of an enraged bull. She yelped in pain as she landed on her arm, breaking it.
How dare you enter our land, slime?!! He shouted at her. She began to cry. Her pitiful voice did nothing to faze Thaak, but it caused Blithe to fill with rage.
Thaak!!! Blithes thundering voice set waves in the ground. Thaak had to take a step back from the sheer force of it. You ignorant, sniveling, lame-brained imbecile!!
Y-Y-Your Lordship I thought- Blithe cut him off with a sharp gesture of his hand. The frightened general fell silent.
No, you werent thinking. Just because we were banished into this land by those faithful to Natunari does not give you the right to attack anyone unless I give the order! And, to make matters worse, you attack an already injured, unarmed woman? Appalling! Leave my sight before it crosses my mind to kill you where you stand. Thaak saluted and ran off into the castle. Blithe spit on the ground where he had stood and helped Laurana to her feet, picking up his cloak when she could stand.
Your Lordship? She asked, confused. Blithe took a slow breath.
Yes. I am Blithe Shadowfire, Warlord of Bone. He announced his title proudly. At this realization, she shrank back from his touch. He didnt stop her. In fact, he expected it. Laurana, I wish you no harm. The thought never crossed my mind. I swear by the Darkness. He raised one hand to emphasize his point. Please, I beg of you, come with me. You need to be healed and if you stay out here youll catch your death of cold.
She nodded reluctantly and took his arm. Slowly, they made their way to the infirmary, which actually looked more like a torture chamber. Just as Blithe opened the door, Laurana collapsed. Her wounds had re-opened when Thaak had rushed her, and she had lost too much blood.
Jehred Neural! He called, and a tall man in clerics robes made his way from a counter to his monarch.
Yes, Your Lordship. How may I be of service to you? He asked.
Attend to her as quickly as possible, Jehred.
Certainly, Your Lordship. He took her to a large table and retrieved some crushed herbs from a pocket. Blithe, satisfied, left the doctor to his work and walked slowly to his private corners at the top floor of the temple. He used his magic to spark a blazing fire and put his cloak over the mantle to dry. Removing his breastplate, he donned black robes and a velvet cape, and placed his Dragon skull helm on his head. He looked into a mirror. He appeared positively ghastly. He smiled with satisfaction and sat in his throne. He looked out a large window at the storm. Soon, the falling rain mesmerized him, and he sat there, in that same spot, through the night.
The storm ceased sometime late the next morning, and Blithe finally snapped out of his trance. Standing up and walking to the fireplace, he removed the velvet cape and put on his cloak. He flipped up the hood over his helm.
He magically transported himself to the infirmary, not wanting to walk because his legs were cramped. As he had expected, Laurana was sitting at a small table, looking out onto the landscape. She jumped when she noticed Blithe. He laughed and removed his helm. She sighed with relief, clutching her chest. He sat down next to her.
Do I honestly look that bad? He asked.
You just startled me, Blithe. She said. He was taken aback, because no one had called him by his name in 15 years. It sounded strange coming from someone other than himself. Seeing his discomfort, she put a hand on his shoulder. Is something wrong?
No, nothing. He assured her, putting his hand on hers.
Um, thank you for helping me. She said shyly, Considering why I had come, I figured you wouldve left me there.
Im sure everyones wondering why I didnt. He chuckled. Even I am. He didnt say that aloud. He held her hand tightly. For some reason, he felt strongly for Laurana, and he couldnt figure out what it was. Perhaps, it was because she was the first person besides his own mother who was neither afraid of him nor disgusted by him. She liked him (he hoped she did, anyway) for who he was, not for his title. He only hoped it could last. If only he could have known what would happen
It had been a year since Blithe had met Laurana Soulbreeze, and the two had grown closer by the minute. Blithe was now thinking of marrying her. That would be something. They would be together forever, and nothing could stop them. He liked that thought, and decided that he would follow through with it. Yes, he would do it. He smiled as he raced through the halls of the Obsidian Temple, up until he reached her chambers. He opened the door calmly, after a few breaths to regain his composure. Laurana was standing near her window, braiding her hair. He sneaked up behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist.
Good morning, my love. She said, smiling. Suddenly Blithe knew she would say yes. He could hardly contain himself.
What the hells going on with me? He asked himself. This isnt me. Damn, she must really be the right woman. Confident again, he spoke.
Laurana. I have a question to ask you, and I want you to answer me truthfully. She nodded, that same golden smile dancing upon her face. Will you join me upon the throne? He asked her this way because he was too nervous to say it flat out. Her eyes filled with tears and she flung her arms around him.
Of course I will! She said happily, crying tears of joy on his cloak. He held her close, tears threatening to fall down his own face. He, however, held back his emotions. He smiled as she lifted her head to look into his scarlet eyes, and he kissed her before his mind registered even having done it. She returned it warmly, and he knew he had made the right decision.
A soldier named Drake Maltine, whom no one particularly liked and whom Blithe despised, happened to hear the two talking. He smiled evilly as he walked through the halls.
Just wait till the army hears this. Theyll make me Warlord of Bone, and Blithe will be executed! He laughed, and ran the rest of the way until he reached the mess hall, where everyone else was having breakfast.
Hey, guess what I just heard! He said at the top of his lungs, jumping on top of a table no one had occupied. His Lordships thinking of marrying that scumbag hes been messing around with.
Though Drake was hated by almost everyone, he wasnt a liar, and they knew it. They all started to whisper amongst themselves. Thaak, who was leaning against the wall drinking a mug of ale, heard some of it, and he knew it was bad.
What? Us, with a woman on the throne?
A Daughter of Natunari, even!
Hes getting weak!
Yeah, having a little funs one thing, but now hes gonna marry her?
I wont follow a man who marries a wench like her!
Thaak ran out of the hall and into Lauranas chambers, where Blithe still was. He was out of breath.
Um, Lady Laurana? Would you mind if I spoke to His Lordship alone? He asked. She nodded and left the room, closing the door behind her. Blithe smiled at Thaak and offered a chair to him. He was on top of the world, and Thaak hated to bring him down, but it had to be done.
Your Lordship? Is it true that you are thinking of marrying Lady Laurana? He asked, looking at the floor. Blithe sat down and nodded.
Yes. Who told you?
Drake. He told everyone. And now theyre saying that youre weak. Some are thinking of walking out on us.
What about you, Thaak?
Ill stay behind you in whatever you do. Youre my closest friend, Blithe, my brother in a way. But the other soldiers wont be so loyal.
Blithe noticed that Thaak had called him by name. So what do we do? You want me to send her back home? Blithe knew what Thaak was going to say, and he dreaded hearing it.
No, that wont do it. That wont convince them.
Then what should I do? He drummed his fingers on the small table they were sitting at.
Execute her, in front of the soldiers. Let them know they havent chosen a weakling for a Warlord of Bone.
Damn Thaak. Damn him. Blithe hated him now because he too knew it was the only way to convince them. He clenched his fist, ground his teeth, and finally said,
S-So be it She dies in a week.
No. Make it tomorrow. Thaak advised. Blithe brought up his fist and slammed it on the table, breaking it.
Fine Tomorrow. He choked out.
Im sorry, Your Lordship. I truly am.
Leave me. Bring Laurana in here and leave. He said, his voice as cold as ice. Thaak saluted, and left the room. Laurana came in a few moments later.
Ive caused trouble, havent I? She asked. Blithe started to cry. One moment he was the happiest man in all of the world, and the next he felt like crawling under a rock and leaving the world behind him.
Yes. You have. He said. My men think that I am weak because I wished to marry you. Oh, by the Darkness, it would have been so perfect. We would have been so happy together.
Would have? What do you m-mean Would have? Her face grew pale. Blithe couldnt look at her. He turned around and stared at the wall.
They want me to Execute you
Oh She said, sitting down and staring downward at the floor. W-When?
Tomorrow He started to cry again. What do you want me to do, Laurana? Do you want me to get you out of here? Take you back home?
No. I dont wish to go home if I cant be with you. And I dont want you to be hated by both sides, either. I will die tomorrow, but on one condition.
I wish to die by your hand. She said, no emotion in her voice. Blithes eyes grew wide.
Wh-What?! I, I cant!
If you love me, then grant me this last request. I dont want to die staring into a strangers eyes. I want you to do it. Please. She pleaded, her green eyes piercing Blithes heart like an assassins arrow. He slowly nodded, and walked to her, taking her into his arms.
The execution began at dawn. Laurana was standing on a platform, waiting rigid and frozen for her death to come at her loves hand. When Blithe appeared in his Dragon skull helm, she faltered, but no one noticed. They were too busy cheering, celebrating her death. Blithe snarled as he walked past them.
Silence!! He thundered, and every voice was gone. I will not have you idiots cheering at an execution! Do we not all respect death and the dead? A few mumbled replies from the soldiers. Then shut your mouths and give respect!!
He walked solemnly up to the platform and faced Laurana. He removed his helm, much to the shock of the crowd. He threw it across the throng of soldiers, and it landed, on the ground near the castle. He removed his cloak and disposed of it. Thaak handed him a sword and stepped back. Blithe walked closer to her.
Forgive me, my love He whispered.
Between us, there is nothing to forgive. I know that you love me, and I know that eventually we will be together again. She replied. I love you
As do I He said, and put his arms around her. A few murmured complaints were heard throughout the crowd, but he didnt care. He lifted her chin, and kissed her. Moving back again, he closed his eyes, and swung the blade in a deadly arc across her chest, cleaving her almost in half. She collapsed in a bloody heap, the last thing she saw being the face of her love, embedded into her memory for eternity.
Blithe left swiftly, not saying a word to anyone. He walked silently to Lauranas chamber, and opened the window, walking out onto the balcony. Staring into the scarlet sky, he stared at the stars, saw the constellation of Natunari (a hawk suspended in flight) directly in his vision.
Thaak followed him to Lauranas door. Lowering his head, he shut it as he passed. Blithe didnt move from that spot until night, when he leaned over the balcony, down to the platform where Laurana had died. The body was gone, and he was grateful that he didnt have to see his beloveds corpse, her empty eyes staring at him. He couldnt bear the guilt.
He saw Drake Maltine and the other soldiers, then, who had returned for some reason. Drake hopped up onto the platform where Laurana had fallen, and deliberately spit on the pool of her blood that still rested on it. Blithe clenched his fist. Then, he heard his voice.
Blithe Shadowfire has brought shame to our people! He would have married that wench had we not threatened to leave. And now, he acts like nothing happened!
Blithe choked back his anger. Like nothing happened? Like nothing happened?!! My only love is dead because of you, you sniveling maggot! He thought, but didnt say a word.
I propose we choose a new Warlord of Bone! And since I brought this abomination to attention, I think that I should take the place of that coward!
To Blithes shock, many of the soldiers cheered. He noticed Thaak, however, was just as angry as he was. He smiled with gratitude at his loyalty, but his smile soon flipped over.
Yeah! Bring him here! Well show him what we think of his coddling Natunari women! Shouted one soldier as he stepped up near Drake. He stood on Lauranas blood, acting as if to flatten it. Blithe couldnt take anymore. He stomped into his chamber, and took an antique sword from a display plaque on one wall. Donning his black cape, he climbed out the window, making his way to the top of a tower. He perched there like a demon gargoyle, and announced his arrival.
And Ill show you what I think of your mutiny!!! He shouted, and every soldier turned his head to the top of the tower. He leaped off his perch, and used his cape to slow his descent as he glided to the platform, kicking the soldier in the head and raising his sword at Drake.
You think me weak, Drake? He asked.
Yes. I do. That woman made you soft. Drake drew his own sword. Blithe smiled mockingly.
Let us finish this, maggot! Blithe challenged, and Drake rushed at him. Blithe brought back his sword and hit Drakes causing it to shoot out of his hands. Weak, eh? He plunged the sword into Drakes exposed chest, slicing upward and cleaving his torso and head in half.
And you! He shouted to the soldiers watching. Any who oppose me, step forward! A few rose to the challenge, ten at most. They all drew their swords and began closing in on him. Blithe raised his own and crouched into a battle stance. He blocked the first swing, used the hilt to smack another in the nose, causing him to stumble backward. He jumped up when another swung downward, and jumped at another, who couldnt run fast enough and suffered a sword in his neck. As Blithe was taking his sword out, one sneaked up behind him and knocked him to the ground with a blow to the head. He was dazed, but conscious. Though that didnt matter, because he was on the ground, vulnerable. He stared up at the man who had brought him down. He smiled and raised his sword.
As Blithe waited for his death to come, he heard a voice in the wind, one that he had grown to love.
Your magic! Use it! Lauranas voice shouted to him. He smiled in gratitude. The soldier faltered at this. It seemed that he remembered about Blithes abilities, also. Blithe raised his hands and channeled his anger into an orb of fire. He shot it at the soldiers chest and rolled backward onto his feet. That was two of ten that he had killed. Eight were still alive, though one was still nursing his broken nose. He plunged his sword into the ground.
If you wish to kill me, then do so. I hold no regrets now, because I know that my love is fine. But I swear by the Darkness that if I die by my own soldiers hands, then you all shall suffer the very fires of Hell!!. He shouted, raising his head. Those seven soldiers who were still functional were not deterred by his threat. They closed in on him again, but Blithe didnt pick his sword from the platform. One soldier smacked him in the side of his head with the flat of his sword. He landed on his knees staring into the pool of blood. Even as the blade sank into his shoulder and bit into his flesh, he whispered the words to his spell and shed a single tear, a tear of blood, into the pool. The blade of the sword that struck him down burst into flames, rising onto its wielders arm, and onto his body. It spread quickly down the platform and engulfed every soldier present, all except Thaak. He walked over the corpses to his dead monarch.
Blithe you have shown me true honor. Fare thee well, my friend. With that, Thaak turned on his heel and walked once again over the scorched corpses. As he reached the doors, he saw something at the side of it, leaning against the wall: Blithes helm. Slowly, Thaak Bonecrush placed the helm on his head.
He looked up into the sky, and saw the constellation of Natunari. Only now something was different about it. New stars? Yes, that was it. Now, two sparkling stars gave the Great Falcon sight. The spirits of Laurana Soulbreeze and Blithe Shadowfire had become the final stars of the constellation. Farewell, Blithe Shadowfire, Laurana Soulbreeze
Glenn wiped a tear from his eye. A sad tale... He said.
Yes. Irulan set his pen and the parchment back on the table. Quite sad. This tale is a part of the Historical Chronicles of Natunari. I thank you... He stopped abruptly.
Pardon. I thank you graciously, Lady Stalinth. This is quite a service you have done me. He rose to his feet and bowed.
It was nothing, Irulan Nandam. I assure you. She replied. Master? Do you...hear something?
I stood up and walked to a window, looked outside. It was dark out, and the Silver Moon shone full in the night, A company of soldiers, accompanied by the king and queen, marched along the path, carrying Lady Travis body in a pine wood coffin.
Lets go. The funeral is about to take place. I said. Irulan, would you accompany us as well? As a priest you should be present.
I would be honored. He said, and rose to his feet. Glenn, Randall, Stalinth and Steven followed us outside.
We met the company on the road, and I led them to a clearing where the moonlight filtered through the trees. I instructed them to dig a grave. As they did, I turned to Glenn.
Did your mother ever speak to you of her religion?
Not much, or at least not enough for me to understand it. He replied. But we did notice something odd. You see, my mother was quite a shot with a bow, a strange skill for a woman nowadays, but whenever we would invite her to hunt in the forest, she would decline, saying she would not hunt until absolutely necessary to survive.
Yes. It is a law in our faith that hunting for sport in a forest is forbidden, as is harming the forest, or battling without just cause. Natunari is fond of forests, and we keep them safe and blooming.
I see... He said softly. What is it one must do to enter your church?
Any person wishing to enter is put through a test by the priests of his temple. It is magical in nature, and a forgetfulness spell is cast on the follower if he passes, so that he doesnt remember it. He receives a dagger, one such as you wear, and is required to lay it on a clearing where the Silver Moon shines, such as here, and pray until the next day.
A cleric then blesses the dagger, and the follower is required to wear the dagger until he dies, or is banished. A wizard or sorcerer also receives a spellbook and a familiar: A hawk. Or at least, that is how it was in days of old. I never received a familiar, as we had no hawks at hand in our country.
The grave was dug. Irulan and I stepped forward, side by side. We stood at the head of the grave as the coffin was placed. Glenn stood to the left, Randall and Steven to the right.
Irulan stepped forward. Nadine Travis, valued Sister of the Silver Light, has now departed to a higher plane, where she may rest. She watches her family from above, and even here her presence can still be felt. May she find peace now, and may we see her again a time in the future.
He stepped back, and I stepped forward. It may be true that I did not know Nadine Travis, never spoke to her in life, but if she is anything like her family who stands here by her side, I would have liked to meet her.
I looked at Glenn as I said this, and he nodded. I turned to Irulan, and together we chanted:
One who walks in the path of the Silver Moons light
Who has passed already to the realm of eternal night
May she be returned to Natunaris breast
And may she there find her much deserved rest.
I drew the Silver Sword and knelt on one knee. Glenn drew the Masamune and did the same. Randall knelt on one knee, and Steven imitated us with his wooden sword, which resulted in a soft chuckle from the king. With this, the soldiers covered the coffin, and flattened the ground. Irulan and I closed our eyes and began to chant in the language of magic.
A tombstone, adorned with the crescent moon and star symbol, and Nadines name, appeared at the head of the grave. The monarchs and their escort bowed to the stone, and began walking back to the castle. Stalinth tapped my shoulder. Master, we should leave.
Yes, I know. Glenn, are you ready?
Ready when you are, Janus. He replied, tossing a flower onto his mothers grave. Randall and Steven looked up at us. Irulan raised an eyebrow.
Youre leaving, big brother? Piped Steven, running to him. Glenn knelt down and hugged him.
How do you plan on leaving? Irulan wondered. Stalinth grinned.
I had an idea. Would you like to come with us?
Eh? Irulan asked. Steven jumped for joy. Randall grinned.
I guess its settled, huh, Glenn?
Guess so. Lets be off.
Stalinth closed her eyes and murmured the spell. She grew into her draconic form, stretching luxuriously and flapping her wings. Lets go.
Irulan stared wide-eyed, and Steven clutched his brother in fear. A dragon...?
Nightsong the Black, Matriarch of the black dragons, and the last. I said. I leapt up into the saddle, and Glenn followed, holding onto Steven. Randall, who had seen her before, was quick to follow, and Irulan was last.
Nightsong took to the sky, and flew far from Kehistan, back to the darkness of Tristram. Sitting close to Nightsongs head, I heard her mutter to herself,
I hate small children... She shook her head.
...Lucky hes cute...
I chuckled and stroked her neck. He wont bother you, Nightsong, you can tell that.
Yeah, but I still hate small children. Always poking and prodding and drooling, ugh! She shook her head again.
Steven wouldnt do that to you.
Yeah, I know. Like I said, the kids lucky hes cute. She grimaced as Glenn set him down onto her back, but when he didnt automatically try to pry up one of her scales, she sighed and a ghost of a grin came to her.
Chrono Trigger Fanfic