Tragedy of the Raven Part 2, Chapter 1
By Prince Nightmare
(Five years Later...)
Now, hold up a little more on the handle...
It was Ravens first fencing lesson. Glenn had given him a short iron sword to use, one that would better fit his small frame. A full length one would be too heavy.
It had been just over a five years since Raven had been taken in by Glenn. When the boy thought of how he had once planned on running away he wondered how he could have been so stupid.
Ok... now, stand with your feet apart like so... Glenn instructed, demonstrating the proper stance. Raven imitated him.
Lucca watched from the doorway of her laboratory. It was a small barn Glenn had built for her. Here she kept what equipment she had brought back with her from her home. At this moment she was trying to work on a device that would make the energy cell on her plasma gun last longer. She peered up now and again, watching Raven and Glenn sparring in the yard. Raven seemed to be catching on quickly. Lucca grinned as Glenn taught him how to balance the sword just right. Raven was totally focused on it, completely serious as usual.
Lucca remembered how he had been that first year after Glenn had adopted him. It had not been easy at first for Glenn and Lucca to win the boys trust. They had to overcome the years of abuse he had suffered from. Even now he was not as openly affectionate as most children his age, but he had other ways of showing his love. When Glenn had given him the small sword for his tenth birthday, Raven had been so thrilled his eyes sparkled with adoration as he looked up at his guardian.
Lucca felt a little sad as she studied the young boy. He looked so much like his bitter, sullen father whom he had never known. It seemed with each passing day he grew taller. Lucca remembered that Janus had been very tall. Raven had the same dark lashes and tilted eyes. His ears were pointed, though not quite as much as the people of Zeal, and his face had the high cheekbones as Janus. He was very pale too, like his father. Even many of Ravens facial expressions were similar. When he was angry he especially looked like Janus. His sapphire blue eyes would actually seem to get darker, and his lips would curl into a slight sneer. Luckily, Raven was almost never angry enough to scowl.
Now Raven brushed a lock of his long blue-black hair from his eyes and listened intently as Glenn explained to him how the center of balance on a sword was the most important thing about fighting.
If you dont know where your balance is at, it will be very easy for someone else to knock the sword out of your hand. Then youre really in trouble.. Glenn laid the sword on the back of his hand, balancing it carefully. You see, this is the easiest way to find the center of balance. You see how the handle end wants to fall if I move the sword at all? Thats because the handle is usually heavier than the blade. This is so when you swing or thrust you can not only have a good grip, but also get momentum going for a solid hit...
Raven knew hed have no problem with his center of balance. That part seemed easy to him. He wanted to learn how Glenn seemed to always know what he was going to do next. It got frustrating.
Glenn smiled at the boy who was trying so hard to absorb everything in the first lesson. When Raven wanted something, he strove until he got it. He became so determined sometimes that when he didnt get it right in the first few tries it almost drove him to tears. Glenn admired his grit, but he wanted to tell Raven that it was impossible to be perfect at something on the first try.
Raven balanced his sword easily enough. He placed his feet just far apart enough so he wouldnt lose his footing easily. He gripped the handle of the sword tightly, but not so tightly he was straining. He waited for Glenn to make the first move... Raven tried hard to anticipate what he might do. Glenns left leg seemed to be a carrying most his weight, so Raven knew he was going to move to in that direction. Ravens eyes narrowed as he watched Glenns fingers tighten more around the sword handle and he knew Glenn was going to move soon...
Glenn leaped to the left and made a thrust, but Raven was already there to block it. The boy jumped back grinning. Glenn nodded in approval. Well, you learned another important trick I see. Its always good to watch your foe for any signs of movement. That way you can be ready before he even attacks. But... Glenn went on, again placing his balance on his left leg. Raven watched him closely. Glenn faked left and then countered with a quick right before Raven could catch his mistake. He tripped the boy, who stumbled back and almost fell. It was rare indeed that Raven ever lost his balance. Raven quickly regained his footing, though it made him angry with himself for not catching the trick Glenn had laid for him. Glenn stepped back. But... he repeated, be sure he isnt trying to trick you!
Raven scowled a little and nodded. Next time he wouldnt be fooled, he promised himself.
They practiced for about an hour more. Glenn was impressed with how fast the boy caught on. Youre going to be a good swordsman yet, Raven. He said as they finally cleaned off the dirty swords and put them away. You did well. Glenn patted Raven on the back Raven smiled a little, though he wished he had done better.
I have to go to Guardia tomorrow, do you want to come with me? Glenn asked as they walked back towards the barn where Lucca was working on her projects. Raven pondered. He didnt especially like going to town because everybody stared at him. It made him feel bad about himself and he ended up in a bad mood the rest of the day. But then again, town was fun because some of the merchant shops had things that had come across the sea.. Once Raven had seen a golden necklace with all sorts of gems that were supposed to have magical powers. And there was always the weapon shop. They had all kinds of swords and armor there. He loved looking at those and he felt even more drawn to them now that he had a sword of his own. Raven looked at Glenn and nodded that hed go too. Maybe theyd still have that bone handled rapier he had seen the last time hed been there. It was the most beautiful weapon hed ever seen and someday he vowed to own on just like it.
The next day was sunny and warm. Glenn decided to walk the short five miles instead of riding the horse in. He felt like a stroll and the weather was just too nice to waste on a hasty trip. Is there anything you need, Lucca? he asked his wife as she looked around to see if they were out of any essentials.
Not really, though if they have any more firestone at the Market Square Id like to have a little extra.
Ill be sure to look. He replied as he looked around. Wheres Raven?
Lucca pointed out the window. Hes been waiting for you for almost an hour. Hes out there right now. Youd better hurry if you dont want him to start without you.
Glenn chuckled and kissed her goodbye. Ill be back before dark. He waved as he walked out the door. Raven saw him and gave him a look that said Finally!!
The walk to town was pleasant. Raven usually ran ahead and hid somewhere. Then hed sneak up behind Glenn as he passed and follow him until Glenn turned around and nearly jumped. Mother Light! Youre so quiet I never hear you until youre right behind me!
It was no exaggeration. Raven could sneak up on almost any woodland creatures and be only a few feet away before they took notice of him. He loved doing that. He would walk downwind from them and very slowly make his way to them, moving only inches at a time. Sometimes hed stalk a single bird or fox for hours. Raven raced ahead again.
They reached Guardia just after noon. The town was exceptionally busy that day. Children ran around playing as dogs yipped and chased after them. Merchants displayed their wares in open tents or in small shops situated around the main market. Farmers sold fresh crops and the butchers sold all types of meat and fish. There were all sorts of people too. Fat, wealthy nobles waddled around and took great care to keep their robes out of the muck. Beggars tried to snare any passerby for a coin or two. There were women who were young and beautiful and some that were old and ugly.
Raven looked around at all the hubbub. There was so much to look at that he couldnt decide what to check out first. Glenn headed toward the Firestone House where they sold firestones and other such household items. That didnt interest Raven at all. He tugged on Glenns jerkin. Glenn looked at him, smirking. I know what youre thinking... well, go ahead and go look around. Just meet me back here in an hour or so, all right? Raven nodded and scampered off to go look at some of the fancier merchant tents.
The first one he stopped at had some small ivory carvings. They were sculptures of little animals, some of which hed never seen before. The merchant looked at him shrewdly. You like these? Some of them come from a far away place called Ahaba. Its in the East, where they ride camels. Raven picked up one of the small animals and looked at it. It had a long, long neck and two tiny knobs on its head. He raised a brow at it and put it back. He thought it was an ugly sort of animal to waste a carving on.
There were plainer wood carvings and he liked those better. They were plain but he liked how the wood grain made textures on the animals. The merchant snorted. Those dont sell too good. How bout this... you give me one copper for that little wolf right there, huh? Raven picked up the wolf. He looked at its delicately carved muzzle and eyes. He had never seen a live wolf before but he knew they were bigger than dogs and could be dangerous. He liked the little wolf carving, so he pulled out a copper from his jerkin and handed it to the merchant, who grinned at him. Raven walked away, still looking at the little wolf .
All of a sudden someone pushed him from behind. Raven almost fell but caught his footing and wheeled around to see who had shoved him. A red headed burly boy, a few years older than Raven, stood sneering at him. Behind him were two more boys, on looked like a weasel with big ears, the other was just plain ugly.
Raven sneered back and shot them a dark look. He didnt want to fight them, they were bigger and older, but he wouldnt back down. The boys continued to snicker at him. After a moment Raven turned around. They werent worth the trouble, he decided. He shoved the wolf carving into his pants pocket and began to walk quickly away.
The red headed boy called out, Hey there! What you got there, freak boy? He and his lackeys followed Raven through the crowd. Raven ducked into an alley way and hoped he would lose them, but the were still right behind him. Hey YOU! I was talking to you freak.
Raven clenched his fists and stopped walking. The alley was dank and smelled bad. He felt sick to his stomach as he turned around again and sneered at the three bullies. The boys laughed.
Aww... hes mad at us. The weasel one said. I think you should teach him its not nice to be mad, Elmer.
Elmer, the red head, nodded. He clenched his own fists and grinned.Raven could see his teeth were a dull yellow. Yeah... the freak boy needs to be taught a lesson. And I want that little carving hes got too.
Get him Elmer! the ugly boy shouted and jumped up and down. Pound him good!
Elmer picked up a board that was lying by a trash heap. He swung it once or twice. Raven stepped back and watched him, remembering all the things Glenn had taught him. When Elmer rushed Raven easily dodged him and stuck his foot out, tripping the bigger, older boy. Elmer hit the ground hard. He jumped up, his lip bleeding.
YOU ARE GONNA DIE FREAK! he bellowed. He charged Raven and before Raven could react, Elmer knocked him down and pinned him. He couldnt get out from underneath the heavier boy. Elmer began to punch him hard in the face and stomach. The other boys cheered.
Raven felt blood trickling down his nose and lip as Elmer connected with his face. It hurt, but it made him angry too. He managed to free an arm and swung as hard as he could. His fist caught Elmer in the eye and the older boy screeched. Raven pushed him off and sprang up. Weasel jumped on him from behind while Ugly kicked him.
Elmers face was beat red with rage. He picked the board back up and walked nonchalantly over to Raven. The other two boys kept a tight hold on him as Elmer swung the board, putting all his weight behind the blow. It hit Raven solidly in the chest and he almost crumpled to the ground. Ugly held him up as Elmer hit him again... and again... and again...
At first he thought he was going to die. It hurt so bad and his ribs felt broken. But then something happened.
It started like a hot little needle in the back of his brain, pricking him and making him see flashes of red. The anger grew and grew. It expanded like a flame. Soon Raven forgot all about his ribs and his bleeding nose. The hot feeling enveloped him like a moth flying into the sun... the fire and the anger were burning him alive it seemed. It was all around him, it was burning them all now...
Ravens vision went red. He jerked the other boys off him like they were paper dolls. They hit the alley walls hard and fell to the ground, moaning. Elmer jumped back, but it was too late. From his finger tips, Raven let loose a ball of blue flame that hit the boy squarely in the chest. The flame engulfed him, and Elmer screamed in agony.
Raven couldnt clearly remember what happened then. All of a sudden people were all around and holding him down. Elmer was being dowsed of with a bucket of water. The other boys were crying as the townspeople questioned them. It was all blurry to Raven until Glenn was there, picking him up. Raven felt weak and sick. His side hurt so bad he had tears in his eyes and he was scared because of what had happened... of what hed done...
The other people of Guardia were screaming and cursing at Glenn, who unsheathed his sword as he gently held Raven up. Raven leaned against him and trembled.
That little freak burned my son!! Hell be scarred for life! Elmers father roared. I want him to pay!!
Glenn shouted above them. Stop it!! All of you be quiet!!
It didnt work so well. You hand him over!, Glenn of Guardia... or better yet, why not use that magic sword and lop of that bastards head!
Glenn thought for sure that he would have to make his way out of the mob fighting. But luckily the Royal Guards showed up and broke up the crowd. What has happened here?
That bastard freak burned my son!!
They were fighting? Well, it will be a good lesson to him then. And you, Glenn, youre the childs guardian, arent you? Glenn nodded solemnly as he held Raven, who was on the verge of passing out. The guard looked at the boy.
Well, looks like Elmer wasnt the only one who came away from the fight hurt. That boy looks like he has some serious damage done to him... Sir Glenn, you will pay this man 5 gold coins.
Elmers father bellowed. You expect me to be happy with coins when my son is scarred for life!! That bastard boy has to be killed!
The guard unsheathed his own saber and glared at the unruly citizen. Sir, your boy seems to have done almost as much damage. And this isnt the first fight your boy has caused either. This will be a lesson to him lifelong. I dont know how he managed to get burned, perhaps the child had a match with him or a firestone... He raised a brow when he saw Elmers father about to protest further. You dont like it?? Well, there is a nice cell we have open down in the dungeon...
Elmers father was silent as Glenn handed him the gold coins. The crowd broke up and went back to their business. Glenn picked up Raven and carried him out of the town. Raven clung to him, shaking.
Are you all right? Glenn asked him. The boy was so pale he looked like a ghost, and Glenn was worried he was hurt worse than a few broken ribs. Raven nodded weakly. Glenn sighed. What happened back there? As soon as he said it he realized Raven couldnt tell him... he could write it out maybe, but he could never explain in his own voice.
Raven just pressed his head against Glenns shoulder and started to cry. He had never been so afraid in all his life. What had he done? How did he make fire come from his fingertips and burn that Elmer boy? Was that the sort of thing his father had done to people? He felt Glenn stroking his hair and trying to soothe him, but it didnt help. Raven thought Glenn should have taken the Masamune and cut his head off.
Glenn had an idea what had happened and the concept scared him almost as much as it did Raven. The boy had used the Dark Fire... hed seen Magus use it often enough to recognize the peculiar burn marks it left. He had a scar from it himself on one shoulder. What bothered Glenn was that Raven had shown no magic abilities whatsoever up until that day... but he remembered Magus hadnt had any magic as a very young boy either.
As he carried Raven home he began to think about that more. Had Magus had a similar experience? Had he one day just gotten so scared or angry that all the magic had come rushing out of him in a huge wave? He remembered the fat slug Ozzy who had found Magus as a boy, wandering around lost. No doubt hed treated Magus as a slave until one day the boy somehow tapped into the magic that he possessed. Glenn was sure Ozzy had then used Magus for his own filthy purposes until the wizard grew too powerful and hateful to control. Glenn thought back to the day when Magus finally killed Ozzy... Magus had such a sadistic joy in his eyes as the fat Mystic fell dead that it had turned Glenn cold inside...
Glenn silently prayed that Raven would never let the Dark Magic take over his soul like his father.
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