This is an extract from my work-in-progress, which I wrote recently spurred by a bit of video-game-related inspiration. It's finally all posted!
Here's some background stuff...
This is set in Warzone, a small flat Plane of land locked away in the far reaches of space. It is the home of the Ancients of King Carris that are currently fighting a great War against the evil Tri-Lord Harvoskus June, who has amounted an equally powerful army. The War has been going on for many years, and it looks as if it will never end, what with the Neutral faction blocking the most direct route that both Carris and June have of attacking each other with their great city, Icon, ruled by a man more powerful than both Carris and June combined - Cairn Cutler.
Outside of the various Forts and Cities, many dangerous and deadly creatures lurk, in forests and marshes, hills and valleys, ready to kill wandering travellers and weakened armies. Before the War, Warzone was known as the Shattered Entity, a land composed of the fallout from a past war with the villainous Fait. Their leader - Cairn Cutler (who was imbued with the power of the Fayte King Ath'Dar) - was sent there, and set about building the place into his home. That is why it is as habitable and diverse as it is today.
The War continues, as June tries to gain more power and Carris begins to lose his grip on his people. With the way things are going, it looks like June is winning.
James: The only human in a world of Ancients, drafted into the War from birth. After escaping the destruction of his home town, he saw a chance to journey to Carris' capital city, Cadence, in the hope that the King can send him back to Earth so that he can live a normal, human life. But he road there is long and hard. he gains help from many people, including Lord Romar who takes him as his apprentice and makes his gift with the Ancient Arts blossom.
Neko: James' closest friend - a young Wind Sun that are skilled with blades and stealth. He has saved James’ life many times.
Duras: A new addition to James' party - A bold, fearless Opariste leader who joined their escape with her band of warriors.
Slide: General to Harvoskus June. A powerful Fait who controls K'Var and often involves himself in other matters.
James Ulfrin has found himself in enemy territory - the citadel of K'Var, neighbouring the captial, Asmaana - and is escaping with his friend Neko and Duras, leader of a group of bold warriors known as Opariste. With Lord Romar captured by June's men, they need to maek haste to his cell in Asmaana before it is too late. They have made good progress so far, but something is now in their way. Something big...
(a glossary of terms can be found at the bottom)
(this piece will grow as I type more of it up)
(if anyone can guess the game that inspires this; yes, I have defeated them. It took two hours.)
The ballroom was a large, extravagant hall dressed with Illusions of woven silver and jewel-speckled statues on the solid walls. The tiled floor was polished to perfection and a crystal chandelier hung still and silent like a clear sky. At one end was the grand entrance, where James and his rebel gang waited, hidden behind one of the large ornate doors. At the other end, guarding the exit, were two giant men.
‘What are they?’ Neko said, eyeing the titans before cowering away.
‘Daema cross-breeds.’ Duras began. ‘That’s what happens when power-mad mortals take it a step too far. On the left is Malibane Richards, with his half-brother, Viceroy Smod.’
Malibane Richards was a tall and dexterous gentlemen with gold-plated armour and a matching gem-studded sword. He was five times the height of a normal man, giving him incredible strength and a heart-stopping gaze. Under his helmet were youthful eyes and untamed hair, coupled with a pale complexion even though Malibane was well into his years. The growth caused by imbuing himself with Daema power had stopped his aging, giving him eternal youth (or eternal adolescence, if you’re picky about it). It was the same for his half-brother Smod, who was a few years older and several tonnes fatter.
Smod had a much less intelligent look about him. His hairless head and boulder-like stomach always made him intimidating, unless you were playing him at chess, or anything requiring the process of thought. He was so obese his bronzed armour barely fitted him anymore, and was splitting around his belly-button. He’d never bothered to get it fixed, as it was hard forging armour for a man of his size. To complete his look, Smod wielded a fat silver mace that perfectly suited his style and personality – blunt.
‘But... how?’ James started, shaking. ‘How do we get past them?’
‘They may be strong, but we are many.’ Duras stated. ‘There is more than one way to conquer a castle – sometimes you have to think outside the box; use all you have to its greatest ability. Nothing is impossible – but nothing like this is ever simple.’
‘It doesn’t matter how you put it.’ Neko said sharply. ‘They’re huge. They can just tread on us and we’ll be in the UnPlane before we have a chance to scream. There must be another way.’
‘This is the only way out of K’Var.’ Duras stated
‘Can we negotiate with them?’ James asked.
‘Won’t do any good. They’ve been loyal to June since birth – hence why they took their duties a little too seriously.’ Duras thought for a moment. ‘Neko, you are fast, yes?’
‘Depends who I’m running from.’ He replied.
‘Doesn’t matter. Neko, they will see us as the greater threat – especially James. Do not let them see you, and use surprise as your edge. If we can get close enough, we can climb them – as long as we get to the chest, we should be able to enter their armour. James – protect us. The more soldiers we have, the less trouble we will find in Asmaana.’
‘Can they use the Arts?’ James asked, worried he’d be killed by a seven-foot Flux.
‘Malibane never trained, and Smod is probably too dumb to know what any of it means, so I guess not. But be prepared just in case.’
James wasn’t prepared, but he followed Duras regardless as she signalled her soldiers to advance. He tried to forget his fear, but it couldn’t be shooed from his mind – it hid in the recesses of his thoughts, spiking him with fear and worry every time he saw hope. He wasn’t ready for this. Neither was Duras. Neko was no longer with the group, but James didn’t notice.
Malibane Richards noticed the group first – Smod was too busy trying to work out the pattern of the symbols scattered around the wall.
‘We have company.’ He said calmly.
Smod snapped his head around. ‘Finally. I ‘aven’t killed something in weeks.
James didn’t hear what the two were saying to each other; they were using an Isolation field generated by a small glowing sphere above the door. It was obvious that they had been spotted.
‘I’ll squash ‘em all.’ Smod grunted. ‘You can watch.’
‘How about I go around them and you lead them into me?’ Malibane shot back with little emotion.
‘Whatever. Long as I get to kill something.’
‘There are enough to go around – wait; you’re not still keeping track, are you?’
Smod nodded with a brutish grin. ‘Sixty-thousand and three, exactly.’
‘You really need to get out more.’
‘They won’t let me.’ Smod moaned. ‘They think I’ll get drunk and smash the gates by accident.
‘That did happen once, you know.’
‘Yeah. Three years ago.’ Smod spat, mumbling something rude. Something to do with Slide’s face and a milling machine.
‘They’re just standing there.’ Malibane said, watching the group ready themselves. ‘We going to do our job or what?’
‘Me first!’ Smod exclaimed.
Smod burst into action, charging full pelt at Duras’ squad, with James standing behind frozen like a statue. As the lumbering giant came closer, James could make out his grime on his face and the smell of his filthy body. He covered the room in a few seconds, and then with a mosterous roar he lifted his mace, and sent it crashing down towards Duras’ men.
‘Left!’ she screamed, and everyone sprinted away, narrowly avoiding the massive lump of metal as it smashed into the floor, sending a small shockwave that hit James as he fled and almost knocked him over.
Angrily, Smod brought the mace out of the new hole in the floor, instantly bringing it down in front of the retreating party. They all sprinted in the opposite direction.
Like a bullet, Malibane’s sword shot towards them, missing by inches as the group ran away, following Duras’ lead. She was waiting for an opportunity, but it wasn’t very eager to show itself. They passed under Malibane’s legs, dodging a quick kick that could have sent several of them flying across the room. A second kick came towards James, and it would have hit him if he hadn’t shot a Pulse at the foot to make Maibane careen backwards.
Thundering across the hall, Smod was coming back over to Malibane, who the Opariste had begun to scale. Malibane shook his leg frantically, but they clung on. James joined them just as Smod rejoined the fray.
‘Get them off!’ Malibane yelled. ‘They’re clinging like the vines of a Mosmire tree! Aargh!’ He tried to brush them off with a hand, but was met with a dozen swords piercing his gauntlet. ‘Kill them, Smod! Kill them!’
Smod readied his mace – they were up to his knee now.
‘No, you moron! Not the-‘
It was too late. Smod swung his mace with full force and connected with Malibane’s legs with a snap, sending him to the ground. The Opariste flew off just in time, and James did a quick Sight to join them.
‘You idiotic fool!’ Malibane screamed, clutching his knee in agony.
‘What was I supposed to do?’ he mumbled, looking embarrassed.
‘Kill them, not me!’
‘They’re getting away!’
James was now leading the pack with Duras, darting towards the gate that marked their freedom. If they could get out, they were safe; Malibane and Smod were Bound to guard K’Var forever – they couldn’t leave their post. The gate came closer and closer, until James could almost taste victory.
Smod dashed over to the gate, leaping over them in dramatic style. He snarled as he came down, blocking their way, then swung his mace low, catching two by surprise and hurtling them towards the hard, unforgiving wall. Panicking, James formed a quick Pulse that blasted them softly in the other direction. They landed on the floor with a small thud, picking themselves up with military haste. Breathing a sigh of relief, James almost forgot about Smod, who has about to flatten him with a large boot.
‘James!’ Duras cried. James rolled, felt the heel catch his robes, and was trapped by Smod’s boot. Quickly James started a Blaze above him that spread to Smod’s foot. He felt the burning, lifting his foot to stop the pain while James escaped. The viceroy was now furious. He brought his mace down again, before wilding pummelling the ground several times. Each time he missed James by a hair’s breadth, and James was tiring out. Duras darted over, but not to help. She was running away.
Malibane was back on his feet and making haste towards the melee. James knew that they couldn’t cope with both of them. Malibane struck at Duras with a fast flurry of vicious attacks, some of which she dodged, and a couple she blocked with her own sword. But one found its mark, sending her to the ground with a large gash on her back. Malibane’s sword wasn’t only large – it was incredibly sharp. James was still trying to evade Smod, and felt helpless as he saw Duras struck down. He got a brief respite when the Viceroy decided to deal with the Opariste climbing up his backside, and noticed someone waving to him; someone high above the battle.
Neko had been sawing away at the chandelier’s chain, and was an inch away from breaking it. James knew what he was waiting for, and rushed over to help Duras with all the energy he could muster. Duras was still locked in a futile duel; she had landed a blow on Malibane’s foot which had dented his armour, but it would take several more to penetrate it. And even then, she could hardly kill him by pricking his foot.
James caught the attention of Malibane with a small Blaze to the back of the head, which was absorbed by his fireproof helmet. Seeing an easier target, Malibane spun on the spot. His sword flew over James’ head as James retreated backwards, his speed enhanced by the Arts. Every swing sent a rush of air into his face as he stayed standing, chucking the odd Flux every now and then to annoy the pugnacious freak. One even got through the holes in his helmet and hit his eyes, but it caused little pain – like someone pinching you on the arm. He recovered instantly, which was good, because he was nearly in position.
The smell alerted James before the sound of a long, exaggerated roar. Smod has somehow snuck around the room without James noticing – he still had a cluster of Opariste on his leg. Turning around, James saw Smod raise his mace just as Malibane walked into the centre of the room.
Acting on instinct (which was all he had left), James sent a Pulse at Smod and a small bolt of Lyghtning at Malibane to momentarily blind him. The Pulse was strong and precise, blasting the mace from Smod’s stubby hands, and the Lyghting... failed. Malibane stopped it with his hand, and as Smod went to retrieve his prized weapon, Malibane prepared for his finished strike; a move he had invented himself, just now.
Neko finished sawing the chain, and the colossal crystal centrepiece came crashing down towards Malibane, who had only just become aware of it.
He looked up. It collided with his face, crushing him as he collapsed under its mostly unnecessary weight. Instead of falling with it, Neko had hung onto the other half of the chain – the half that was still connected to the ceiling. Seeing Malibane groan under the unmovable chandelier – and Smod, who was taking care of the invaders on his leg away from the carnage – Neko made his move, and plummeted towards Malibane Richards sword first, darting down at his exposed throat. As the sword plunged into his flesh, Malibane gave a pale scream and shone deathly white. Then he was still.
Smod gave a deafening cry, slamming his mace once again to no avail. James felt spurred on by Malibane’s demise, and Duras wasn’t tiring at all. All they needed was to divery Smod while Neko climbed the ceiling again of another deadly strike from above.
But Smod saw Neko running off, and snatched him from the ground with a swipe of his hand.
‘Neko!’ James cried, but Neko couldn’t escape the vice-ike grip of Viceroy Smod. Smod laughed as he slowly began to crush the young boy, staring at him while he screamed in pain.
‘Do something!’ Duras shouted. James focused his mind, trying to stun the giant with a powerful Trance. Duras could see the energies around him congregate and fly towards their target, but they had no effect.
‘It’s not working!’ said James.
‘He’s too intelligent?’ asked Duras.
‘No!’ said James. ‘Too stupid! Damn it!’
Smod continued to squeeze the life out of Neko. The Opariste began to scale him again, but were battered off by a brush of his mace. James felt completely helpless as he watched his friend die.
There was a strange brown blur that came like a train speeding by. Suddenly, Smod wasn’t standing in front of the door any more. He was being pinned to the ground by a large and familiar creature.
‘Moe!’ Neko croaked, struggling out of Smod’s looksening grip. Smod roared. Moe roared louder, his paws clasped firmly around the Viceroy’s throat, throttling him like a madman.
‘You no touch the master!’ spat the Daemon as Smod wrestled relentlesslt with him. ‘You no harm him!’
Smod pushed Moe away, grabbing his mace as he picked himself up. Moe pulled out his long, spiked club, and charged at Smod while putting his entire weight into one massive swing. Smod did the same, but his mace was no match for the honed power of Daemon’s staff. The club met his attack with an explosive force, sending him back several metres completely stunned. James had to quickly dash to avoid being squashed by a low-flying Smod.
With a final roar, Moe ignited himself, slammed his club on the ground and sent a Blaze so fierce it melted the tiling on the floor. Smod took it straight in the chest, crashed into the wall, and stopped breathing.
Neko pulled himself from Smod’s limp hand, gasping for air, but only walked two feet before his legs gave in and he collapsed.
James rushed over with Duras and her soldiers, but Moe was there first. The Lesser Daemon had a strange look of sadness upon his face as he stroked the crippled body of the young Wind Sun, his body no longer burning.
‘Master is hurt.’ Moe mumbled. James couldn’t understand why the Daemon was calling Neko his master – nor could he understand how Moe was still alive. Neko had killed the thing a while back, and James had hoped to never see its ugly face again.
Duras examined Neko’s body. ‘Multiple fractures. Internal bleeding. He... he won’t last long.’
Moe took a deep breath, the sound of which filled the room like a hurricane’s blast. ‘Stand away.’ He grunted, waving a hand at Duras who was already moving away. Moe lifted Neko in his stubby paws as if he was weightless.
Moe’s fur began to change – it glowed a shining yellow with specks of crystalline dust flickering away like skittish bugs. He exhaled from his Daemic heart, and wisps like songs flew from his mouth and enveloped his master. They worked their way around his body, inside and out, before flying away and disappearing into the air.
As Moe returned his master to the ground, James saw a final wisp enter Neko’s mouth. It plunged into his lungs, and gave him breath. Neko’s eyes opened, and he stood up and recoiled in shock.
‘Aagh!’ he yelled.
‘It’s alright.’ Duras said calmly. ‘He Healed you. He gave his power to revitalise yours.’
‘Why?’ Neko said with a cough.
‘Master,’ Moe began slowly, ‘it is not safe here. We should go while we can.’
‘Master?’ Neko said. Then something dawned on hi, and he said, ‘I defeated you, didn’t I?’ So now you work for me, right?’
‘That is the way.’ Moe cuncured. ‘A Daemon must serve a greater force, and the greatest is that which defeated it last.’
‘So... can you die?’
‘Oh, by Ath’Dar, yes!’ Moe’s speech was improving, as was his power – by saving his master, he had followed his Rite, thus increasing his abilities. As June’s servant, he had been told to guard the gate, but had been stationed at the mountain pass, which meant that he had never fulfilled his duty to any degree. Ancient Rites were, unfortunately, very picky.
Moe continued, ‘Only a Daemon can kill another Daemon.’
‘So Smod’s dead, isn’t he?’
‘Sadly not. That man’s life is tied to his friend’s. While the lanky one lives, so does he.’
‘So why don’t we just-‘
‘A mortal cannot kill a Daemon.’
‘So why don’t you just-‘
‘If that is your wish...’ Moe started towards Malibane, still under the chandelier.
‘No.’ Neko said.
‘What?’ said James.
‘He is defenceless.’ Neko stated. ‘He will trouble us no more.’
‘He tried to kill us!’
‘Only because he was ordered to.’
‘Oh, so you think that if it was his choice he’d just like to sit down and have a quiet chat? If we don’t kill him-‘
‘No.’ Neko repeated sternly. He was about to explain why when Slide burst in from the ballroom entrance, flanked by several hundred of June’s guard. The look on Slide’s face was priceless, but it quickly changed. He had an army with him, and he clearly wasn’t afraid to use it.
‘Moe!’ Neko yelled.’ Do not let them pass. Guard this room. Return to me when you are done.’
‘It shall be so.’ Moe announced, thrilled with a new Rite. He took out his club, which was now longer and slightly on fire. Slide didn’t like the look of him one bit, but he ordered his men to charge regardless.
‘As much as I’d like to watch, we need to get going.’ Duras said. ‘It is imperative that we leave Asmaana before nightfall.’
Neko and James nodded in agreement, and they slipped through the giant doors, leaving K’Var behind. Several explosions sounded from within the ballroom as the thick doors shut with a bang.
Plane: Area of existence habitable by living beings.
Ancients: Broad term for the older races of the galaxy which now live separately to the other races. The War in Warzone is theirs to fight alone.
Lord: A very powerful Ancient who has a high rank and respect from those around him.
Tri-Lord: A Lord that shares his power with two other Lords, mortally bound to them.
Fait: Worshipper of the beings of pure evil and shadow.
Fayte: Being of pure evil and shadow.
Daema: Plural of Daemon - a being of incredible, dark power that has fallen to the Mortal world.
UnPlane: A land where the dead live alone, far away from any life.
June: Short-term for the evil Tri-Lord Harvoskus June. People always address him by his surname.
The Arts: The abilities used by the Ancient people - like magic, but more technical than mystical.
Isolation: An Ancient Art. Blocks sound/light to the user's discretion
Slide: General Slide - June's closest and favourite general, who rules over K'Var
Mosmire tree: Vicious tree native to the various bogs and swamps of Warzone. Wraps its vines around you and pulls each limb apart, one by one. A known fear of June's men, who are forced to navigate these swamps when on scouting duty.
Sight: Use of Pulse-related Arts that propels the user in a specified direction for a quick boost of speed. Useful for avoiding danger or escaping falling giants.
Pulse: Raw use of the Pulse Arts. Propels kinetic energy in a specified direction.
Blaze: Raw use of the Blaze Arts. Creates a combustion of a variable size and intensity, which can be stationary, manipulated or propelled in a specified direction
Flux: Raw use of the Flux Arts. Creates a damaging energy wave similar to a Blaze. Often frowned upon for its limited uses, as it is more of a weapon than a tool for an Ancient.
Lyghtning: Raw use of the Lyghtning Arts. Creates unpredictable electric energy that can be manipulated and directed, but requires considerable training to use correctly (that is, without killing yourself).