Glass no Kamen: The Legend of Shadow Chapter 1
By Nihon Soba
Lord Mendoza Delano anxiously paced around his room, abstractly noting that he had circled the walls of the room almost one hundred times. He cursed, sweeping away a lock of platinum hair that fell in front of his face, the same color as his long mustache. Four days. It had been four days, and still no sign of Leyla. His daughter had been gone for more than a week. This was expected of her, of course, after a diplomatic meeting (as Leyla described it) at Nikeah. She had, again and again (though Mendoza seemed not to notice the number of times) told her father that she would be back in a week Now, a week had already passed and four days as well, and still no sign of Leyla.
Mendoza ended his pacing, walking over to the round table in the center of his room and seating himself in the largest chair there, his own. Once seated, he brooded. I shouldnt have let her go by herself, he thought. Yes, she had an escort of two knights, but still! Oh, that child! Worrying me to death like this...
There was a loud knock on the door of Mendozas chamber, echoing though out the hollow chamber. He looked at the door in irritation; he has specifically given instructions to his servants not to disturb him.
What is it? asked the nobleman irritably, not bothering to get up from the table. The door opened slowly, and a young servant made his way into the chamber, the seal of Doma etched onto his tunic.
L-Lord Mendoza Delano, the youth began, stuttering. Im sorry to have disturbed you, against your orders, but I have dire news that you migh--
Mendoza slammed his massive fist down on the oaken table, rattling it. The servant flinched. Well, you just disturbed me anyway, you simpleton! he bellowed, making the young servant cringe again. What is it that is so important? he said, now more softly, his anger subsiding. The servant sighed in relief and spoke.
Its your daughter, sir. We have recieved word of where she is.
At this, Lord Mendoza Delano literally lept up from the table. Leyla? Is she all right? Where is she? he asked without a pause. The servant seemed at a loss for words, removing a scroll, tightly rolled up and sealed with wax, and handing it toward his liege. Mendoza snatched the scroll away from the servant, breaking the seal and unrolling it. He began to read:
Lord Mendoza Delano of Doma,
We regret to inform you that your daughter, Leyla Teresa Delano, is injured badly. Fear not, she is still alive. A strong one, she is. I had found her four days ago, wounded and left to die in the open. I brought her back to my domain, and with much help from my wife-to-be, nursed her the best that we could. Leyla, though alive, bears signs of a great trauma. Jasla, my fiancee, believes that she was.... raped by a gang of brigands. I implore you to come to my dwelling and take your daughter--there is nothing more that we can do for her--and see to it that she receives immediate medical attention. Come as quickly as possible. Directions are at the bottom of this scroll.
Renner O Gladius
Mendoza, his face somber, rolled the scroll back up and placed it on the wooden table. His face was ashen, lines of sorrow creased in it. He looked at the servant, steeling himself, bottling his emotions inside of him.
Patrick, he said.
The servant looked up, amazed that his liege actually used his real name. Yes, milord?
Mendoza handed him the scroll, placing a hand on the boys shoulder. I want you to muster up two knights I have personally hand-picked: my son, Tristan, and Marcello Garamonde. They are to be escorted by a regiment of heavily-armed footmen. Give my son the scroll and tell him what I had said. They are to leave as soon as possible. he firmly gripped Patricks shoulder, then turned around, facing his back toward the servant.
The boy knelt down, thumping his breast as a salute. I will not fail you, milord. And with that, he got up and ran out of the room, his footsteps echoing throughout the chamber and the hall leading to it.
The room was silent once again. Mendoza Delano folded his hands behind his back, looking out of the door to his chamber.
Godspeed, he said. He then collapsed into an empty chair of the table, his head in his hands.
Tristan Cervientes Delano rode the lead horse, his newly-crafted steel plate armor gleaming in the afternoon sunlight. A proud man, Tristan made no qualms about flaunting himself. His black hair was tied back in a ponytail, and he sported an elegantly trimmed mustache. Usually he rode with a straight back, a determined look in his eye. Now, his face was somber, his mind set. His twin sister had been hurt, or worse, possibly raped. The psychic bond that all twins share manifested itself in Tristan as pain, sadness, and despair, not hurting him since it was not his pain, but hurting him because he knew that his sister was experiencing it. It was his duty to retrieve her and bring her back to Doma, where she would be cared for.
At Tristans side was a colleague of his, Marcello Vinci Garamonde. The two, though not exactly best friends, had trained at the same academy. Their test of might and valor, the one required of all squires aspiring to be knights, had been taken at the same time. Marcello and Tristan had met the day before their testing, and in letting out some of their fears and doubts during various conversations, became fast friends after they had both passed the testing successfully. Marcello had no mustache, nor any facial hair for that matter. His hair, following the basic Doman style, was shoulder length and brown, tied back by a leather strap. His features were finely chiseled and angular, and he spoke with an unmistakably thick, melodious accent. Marcello was not entirely old fashioned, but he did like to stick to some of the old ways of Doma. Also, while Tristan and most of the other knights preferred the long, straight broadsword, Marcello, along with the rest of the Garamonde bloodline, preferred the long, curved blades of the east (we would see them as katana or wakizashi).
What manner of daft fool lives south of the Phantom Forest? wondered Tristan aloud as he scrutinized the directions to Renners cabin, written on the scroll. He angrily rolled it up. Well have to go around it. Not a single knight that had ever ventured into that forest had come out alive. Well have to travel at a faster pace since going around the forest takes longer.
Marcello looked at his friend and colleague. Tristan kept an angry visage, looking straight ahead and not bothering to soften his features. Under that mask, however, he was silently weeping. Marcello shook his head. He had lost his father when he was a child, so he could sympathize. At least Leyla was alive, if the letter was true.
Thou art strong, and so is thy sister, said Marcello in his melodious accent and archaic tongue. Tristan used to bug him about his form of speech; teasings that remained even to this day. But not now.
I hope so, said Tristan. He bowed his head as his horse trotted on at a slow pace. The ranks of footmen marched in a phalanx-like form behind the knights, treading dust in their wake, their clanking armor breaking the silence as they traveled on the outskirts of the Phantom Forest.
Leyla, as Marcello Vinci Garamonde had said, definitely was strong, in her will to live if not in physical strength. She was inside the cabin of Renner and Jasla, trying to see if she could walk yet. Even now, as she was standing, the wound on her thigh throbbed painfully, and she coughed, her mending ribs aching. To step put pressure on her leg wound and the rest of her body, and she only managed a few steps before she had to lean against a windowsill. She angrily threw her fist against the glass window, cracking it and causing her knuckles to bleed. She knelt down, dropping her head in her arms, sobbing quietly. The bandits had beaten her senseless--some of her wounds, both physical and psychological, might never heal. Leyla cursed in anger and sorrow, at the people who had battered her body, and worse, torn her virginity from her. And now she was going back to Doma. Back to the place where her status, more so due to her health condition, would be lowered as societys tightening chauvinistic grip took hold. She would probably never again venture outside of Doman walls, never see the world which she so longed to see.
Leyla? came a soft voice. The girl from Doma turned her head around to see Jasla at her bed, wearing her gray robes and holding a bowl of broth. The dryad had taken good care of Leyla during the past four days, using natural medicine as well as steadfast prayers to her Gods.
Jasla placed the bowl on a nearby table and walked up beside Leyla, leaning on the wall, in order not to tower above her. She placed a hand on Leylas shoulder.
They will be here soon, Leyla. Do not worry. Rest, for you are still in bad condition.
Leyla kept her head bowed down. Jasla, wanting to speak to the girl again, gently lifted her chin with her hand. Tears were streaming down Leylas beautiful face, still youthful despite the bruises and cuts.
Do not cry, child. said Jasla. Soon you will be back home...
Thats just it, Jaz! yelled Leyla. I dont want to go home! she said between sobs. All of my life, I was never able to do what I truly wanted, thanks to where I lived. I was second-class, unable to make my own choices in life. Then one day, I ventured out of the city walls, and found a whole new world... she sniffed. And now Ill never be able to go back. Theyll keep me in Doma for the rest of my life...
Jasla stroked the girls auburn hair softly. She truly felt sorry for Leyla, whos native Doman society made woman an entire lower class. But she must go back, thought Jaz. She will be healed, and continue her life, and...
Jaz knew that Leyla had been raped right when she was brought in by Renner four days ago. The curse of beauty had guaranteed that. Even now, Jaz could feel the beginnings of a life stirring within Leylas womb. Her abilities as dryad confirmed that as a fact. The poor girl is going to bear a child, she thought. An illegitimate one, at that. What would they do at Doma? Would they exile Leyla? That might be a blessing in disguise, thought Jasla. Or worse, will they simply kill the child...?
Im pregnant, whispered Leyla, as if she had read the dryads thoughts. Arent I?
Jasla knew not how Leyla knew this, nor did she attempt to find out how. Her eyes were filled with a mixture of sadness and joy: sadness that the child was the product of violence, joy that the girl would be bringing life into the world.
Yes... said the dryad softly, stroking the girls hair again. Leyla sniffed, wiping her tears on her arm.
Jaz--Jasla? she said haltingly. I... I know that I am going to give birth to a child. Im... Im afraid. I know that it will hurt, and that my family will frown upon me and the child for the rest of their lives. Leyla stopped crying, bravely facing Jasla. I think that it would be better if I took my life. That way, the child would not have to grow up with the eternal label as being illegitimate. He would not have people making fun of him, loathing him... the girl gazed in the distance, as if seeing something only she could see alone. and I... I will finally be free.
Jasla clutched the girls shoulders, lightly shaking her. You mustnt! she said. You mustnt throw away your life like that! Think of how much your family will miss you! Even now, they get nearer and nearer to here in order to care for you. Think of the child, the potential life you carry within you... it was then that Jasla realized that Leyla had referred to her child as he. She paused, her brow furrowed in confusion.
Leyla seemed not to notice. She limped back to her makeshift bed, settling down before she talked again. Perhaps you are right, she said. The girl no longer wept, her tears dried on her face. Only time will tell.
It was still early morning when Tristan Cervientes Delano, his friend, and the troop of footmen arrived at Renners cabin. Leylas brother dismounted his horse with speed and grace, marching to the cabin door. He was followed by Marcello Vinci Garamonde, walking beside his friend. The footmen stayed in their phalanx formation a few yards away, ready for action if need be.
Tristan reached the door immediately and pounded on it hard several times. After a few seconds, there was still no answer. He pounded again.
Come forth, damn you! he yelled with clenched teeth. It looked as if he would cut down the door with his sword, if not for Marcellos intervention.
Patience, friend. Haste will do thee no good now. he said. The door in front of them began to shake, as if someone were undoing various locks on it from the inside. See? Even now they come to bring us inside.
The door opened, and before them was a towering man, red-haired and red-bearded, clothed in leather woodland gear. Feathers and beads were woven into his hair, and he had small braids on the sides of his hair that fell over his cheeks. Tristan opened his mouth to utter something--something unkind, judging by his face--but was halted by the more calm, controlled Marcello.
Renner O Gladius? said Marcello, pronouncing the r as rr due to his accent.
The ranger nodded once, and stepped aside, his face grim. Come inside, please. he said, and the two knights entered the warm cabin. The inside was lit by candles and oil lamps, and various woven rugs covered the hard, wooden floor (Renner did not use animal hide for anything besides clothing). Around the middle of the main room was Leyla, sitting up weakly on a couch that served also as a bed, wearing her now mended and cleaned clothes that she was wearing the day she left. She was paler than usual, and bore some marks of her ordeal: various small scars and bruises that would remain for a long time.
Leyla, my sister.. Tristan was at her side swiftly, holding her hand in his large ones. What had happened?
She was assaulted and raped by a group of bandits. came a female voice from behind the couch. Tristan saw a youthful looking, green-haired woman in gray robes, bearing a plate of food, obviously meant for Leyla, who had eaten half of it.
Marcello was the next to speak. How hath she fared, in the past few days?
The dryad lowered her head. She is getting better, she said. When she came in, she was badly hurt and traumatized by the incident. But now, she is eating more, and can walk now without too much pain. she then looked Tristan in the eye, placing the plate of food down on a nearby table. She must not move around too much for several weeks. Make sure she is well fed and tended for, and soon she will be able to take care of herself. I understand that you are her brother. Take especially good care of her.
Tristan nodded, his attention still focused on Leyla. She had a calm face, not marred by sadness or pain as he imagined she would. He softly spoke to her.
Are you ready to go home now?
Leyla nodded, not looking toward him. She got up, with her brother supporting her, and started walking with him and Marcello to the outside. Tristan, however, stopped abruptly and asked the dryad another question.
You said that she was... raped. he said with some difficulty. Is she.. um, that is, will she...?
Yes. said the dryad softly, her head still bowed. I am a dryad, and am able to tell such things. She will bear a child when the time comes. There is nothing I can do about that.
Tristan nodded, a look of sadness and bitterness on his face. I see, he said. We must be off now. Thank you for your help, and may you live long. and with that, he walked outside the cabin with his sister and friend. The door was shut behind them.
Jasla went near her lover, holding on to his arm. I hope she fares well... she said, leaning her head on his shoulder. Renner, somber as always, nodded, stroking her green hair.
I too, as well. he said, staring at the door. The two did that for a long time, until dawn was past and the sun was shining brightly in the late morning sky.
Mendoza was inside his personal quarters, as he had been for the past day. He was too worried to attend to his daily business, and had spent the past day pacing about, gazing outside the glass window of his room, only eating because his servant, Patrick, kept insisting that he eat. Now he was too tired to pace, and just sat at his round table, his head on the table, a bottle of spirits in a hand, half empty.
There was a knock on the door.
Mendoza looked up, slowly lifting his head, his eyes red and showing signs of insomnia and drunkenness. What is it? he growled after a moment. Sure enough, it was Patrick once again, peeking his head inside the room.
Uh, my lord? I have--
I thought I told you not to disturb me! growled Mendoza Delano through clenched teeth. He did not look up at the servant boy while he took another swig from the bottle. The servant boy looked nervously at his master.
Yes, but its important, sir. Your son and Leyla have came back--
Mendoza lept to his feet, sending the bottle of spirits crashing down to the floor, where it shattered, leaving sticky drops of amber-colored fluid everywhere among shards of glass.
Leyla! Where is she? Mendoza asked frantically. Patrick opened the door completely, revealing his son, Tristan, and his daughter Leyla. Marcello Vinci Garamonde was behind the two of them, bowing his head in respect to the lord. Leyla kept her head down and said nothing. Mendoza rushed up to her side, his hand stroking her face. Leyla, oh my daughter, are you all right...?
Tristan spoke. Father, she was... raped. the word came with some difficulty. It was only through the efforts of the ranger and his dryad consort that she was able to be nursed back to health.
Mendoza Delano cursed bitterly. And a fine job you did of protecting her! he spat. Where were you when my daughter was assaulted? Off in the tavern, no doubt. If you were with her, this could have been prevented!
Tristan displayed a shocked, betrayed look on his face. Father, I was summoned to train the footmen, as you instructed me...
Shut up! Mendoza growled, his breath reeking of whiskey. I hold you reshponsible for this, you ungrateful cur! he cuffed his son across the face. Tristan did not flinch, though his eyes bore a mixture of guilt and anger. He kept a straight face and stalked out of the room. Mendoza, in his drunken stupor, didnt allow it to end so quickly, however.
Dont turn your back on me, boy! and growled, staggering toward him. He grabbed his sons shoulder and turned him around, bringing his fist back for another cuff across the face. Tristan stood there, awaiting punishment, not daring to disobey his father. As Mendozas fist sailed in towards his sons face, it was caught behind him, hard.
What the devil? cursed Mendoza, bleary eyed. He turned around to see Marcello Garamonde holding his fist, meant to strike Tristan.
Thou mayst be my friends father, he said, but I cannot allow you in your drunken rage to do him any more harm. Marcello let go of the grip on Mendozas fist, and the lord staggered back a few steps, holding his throbbing wrist.
You bashtards! he slurred, pointing accusing fingers at Marcello and Tristan. To hell with th lot of ye! You offered my daughter no protectshon, you, you... he held his head in his hands, groaning, then slowly walked out of his quarters, his moans echoing down the hallway.
Leyla had stood by the door during the entire spectacle, saying nothing. Now, however, she looked up at her brother, her eyes full of sadness, though she did not cry.
Its my fault, she said quietly, her eyes closed. I knew this would bring father back to his drinking habits. She leaned against the wall, looking out of the window into the streets of Doma. Her brother went and gave her a hug, holding her in a grip that made her feel to him like she was a bundle of straw.
Leyla, it wasnt your fault... it couldnt be prevented. he said softly. Leyla returned his hug, her grip on him weak. How strong she used to be, thought Tristan, and now she is reduced to a mere shell... its all my fault...
Tristans twin sister looked him in the eye, as if reading his thoughts. No, Tristan. Do not blame yourself. Her brother gave her a look of awe, trying to hide the tears that threatened to burst out of him. She absently played with a lock of her brothers black hair, a habit she had picked up from childhood. Whats done is done.
Tristan swallowed. You... youre going to have a child? Leyla did not share his fright, she seemed calm, at peace with herself.
Tristan hugged his sister close again. Im so sorry...
Leyla held him near, being more of a emotional support to Tristan than he was to her. Dont be, she said softly. Dont be...
Every time Leyla let out another cry of agony, Tristan Delano could not help but to wince, as if it was being inflicted upon himself. She was giving birth.
Nine months have passed since his sister had been raped, and Tristan had become more and more attached to her as he felt her life ebbing away slowly. He hoped to the Gods that she would not die, that she would remain whole. But her fate was not in his hands.
Tristans good friend, Marcello Garamonde, stood against the wall, watching Tristan pace back and forth in front of the door leading to the room where Leyla was. Garamondes heart went out to his friend, who being a twin with his sister, had more of an attachment to her than a regular sibling. True, this was not always so. Marcello had seen twins quarrel, fight, and even murder each other. But these two, he thought, are unlike the others. The love and care he feels for her is genuine. How much better the world would be if all twins were this way... but I fear for him. The loss of his sister could affect him deeply, and I hope that if it does, he can come out unscathed...
There was another scream from the room as Leyla was giving birth. Tristan could not bear it any longer. He ran for the door, hoping to get in and comfort her. He did not put his faith in the nursemaids, no matter how many children they had helped come into the world. As his fist closed around the doorknob, another one, gentle yet unyielding, stopped him from opening the door.
Marcello, leave me be! Tristan screamed. I must get to my sister! I must help her! he struggled, but in vain.
Marcellos grey eyes were filled with sadness. Tristan, my friend. Thou hast a kind and loving heart. But you must not enter. The nursemaids know what they are doing. Do not worry. Leyla will be all right.
Another moan of agony from the room defied his words. Soon, the sound of a baby crying was heard as well, along with the voices of the nursemaids.
Its a boy...!
There, there Leyla, its all over...
Hes a healthy one! Strong as his mothers will...
Tristan calmed himself down. it was over. His sister was still alive... wasnt she? He knocked on the door and stood there waiting. It was opened by a servant girl, who ushered them inside only after making sure that it was all right with her mistress, Leyla.
Leyla lay on the bed, sweat droplets on her forehead, exhausted. Tristan was instantly at her side, clutching her hand, begging her to be alive. When his sister turned her head toward him and smiled weakly, he felt truly relieved. A nursemaid came and removed bloody linen sheets from the bed, replacing them with clean ones, tending to Leyla. Another held the child, cleaned and wrapped in a soft blanket.
Leyla held her arms out toward her child. May I see him...?
The nursemaid carefully handed her the child. Of course! He is your son, after all.
Leyla held the child in her arms, rocking it back and forth gently, humming a tune to herself that she was not aware that she knew. Tristan swallowed before he spoke in a nervous tone.
Leyla, Im sorry about father. I didnt know that this would be so hard on him.
Marcello cut in before Leyla could reply. Your father acted boorish, he snapped. He had no right to strike you, Tristan. Nor was it his right to tell mistress Leyla that her child would be a bastard, even if it was true.
Leylas face darkened. Not only did he say that, he said that the child would be better off dead! Father or not, I could not tolerate that. Let him drink his days away in his room, I care not. the baby began to cry, and Leyla stopped talking, holding the child near. You dont condone such acts, do you Tristan? she said softly.
Tristan seemed as if he were in the midst of a personal struggle. No, Leyla, I cannot, he said after some difficulty. But I dare not rise against him. He is my father, boorish or not, and I owe him an amount of respect. Besides, it is part of the Knights Code, to honor your parents.
Marcello interjected. But it is not right for thy father to treat thee like trash. He, as well, owes YOU a certain amount of respect as well, as you do him. He had no right to strike you that time nor the other times. The man even went as far as saying you were a son of a whore. How can you respect a man like that?
Tristan sighed. I... I cant say that I approve of fathers acts, he said. Even if he did strike me, even if he did call me... that, deep inside I know that he is still my father. Those acts were only a result of his drunkenness. I know that deep inside him, he still cares about me.
Brother, how can you be so spineless? said Leyla, the baby sleeping in her arms peacefully. Even if you are a knight, and honor demands you to respect your father, it is simply not right for him to treat you like that! Nor to say what he said about my child... she kissed the babys forehead, and it stirred in its sleep.
Thy sister is right, Tristan. Thou must be strong, and brave. Just tell Lord Mendoza that he is acting foolish. Tell him to stop his habit of drinking, for it leads him to more foolishness. And if you are not brave enough to do so, Tristan, then I shall do so myself! Marcello said harshly. Tristan stood up and faced off his friend.
Why must you be such a rebel, Marcello? He is my father, and I cannot deny that! You probably wouldnt understand... youve been given everything, taken it all for granted...
Marcellos lip twitched. Do not speak of matters you do not know of, he said darkly. You know nothing of my family! I was not given every opportunity, as you have said! I...! I... he hesitated, seeing his friends look, one of sadness. I am sorry, my friend. Thou speakest true. He is thy father, drunken fool or not. Just please, at least tell him what he said was wrong. At least do that much.
Tristan smiled weakly. I will, Marcello. Im sorry that I overreacted as well. The two friends clasped hands, shaking them. Tristan then looked back at his sister. I have not asked you this yet, but what are you going to call the child, Leyla?
Leyla looked up from where she lay. She smiled, giving a glance to her child, who was still sleeping contentedly, exhausted as she was. His name shall be Clyde. she said.
Clyde, mused Marcello. He will not doubt be branded as an outcast, as an outsider. Sad to say, his future might not be very bright.
Leyla looked at her twin brother. Promise me, she said, that you will look after him. I fear that father might do something rash to him sometime in his life. And I know that he will be the constant recipient of insults and worse. I ask that you look after Clyde, Tristan, and make sure that his future will be a bright one.
Tristan knelt before his sister. On my honor as a knight, I swear it! Even if... he cleared his throat. Even if I have to go against fathers wishes, I swear that I will look after Clyde. he clasped the hand of his sister that was free from holding the child. I will not fail you, Leyla.
Marcello Garamonde stood still, looking down at Tristan and his twin sister. Now, more than ever, the resemblance between the two was uncanny. This, he thought, is what the world is sadly lacking. Caring, love, sympathy... I still fear of Clydes future. His will be a rough life, if not a hard one. Good luck, Tristan my friend, and to you, Clyde...
Clyde gurgled contentedly, oblivious to the others, oblivious to the harsh life of his ahead, sleeping in peace.
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