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- Join Date: August 2010
- Location: United States
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Hey, I enjoy writing, however, I suffer from what I like to call thinking too much. Because I enjoy writing I sometimes start ideas and then don't finish them. I have a bunch of stories that I have started but never finished and since this is a place to put them up and see the reaction I thought I would do so. I would love some feedback if any of you choose to read this. Thank you in advance:
“Silence is key my son. A silent mind makes it easier to make decisions. A silent mind is able to take in the situation at hand and act. A silent mind is a dangerous mind, and when you are able to turn the key to the noise of the outside world, you too, will be a dangerous man.”
These were the words that were going through the boys mind. The noise was off, only the ringing of steel against steel was allowed in. His eyes moved along with the blades to wear the cuts and slices were aiming. He was aware of the spear at his back and of the point on his spine. He was terrified, but allowed none of the fear to show on his face.
His father was fighting for his life; the boy could see the remarkable change in the crispness of his father’s movements. Growing up, the boy was taught to use the sword, the spear, the knife, and the bow and arrow. Although he favored the bow considerably more than the other weapons, the sword equally fascinated him. When he would spar with his father with the blunted weapons, he was not allowed to use the children swords that most weapon masters allowed their students to use. He was required to use the adult swords to defend himself, and if he failed his body would know for weeks.
His father took his training seriously. The boy took his training seriously. Normally it was the only time of the day he was able to spend with his father. The training proved to him that he was no longer a child but a man, even if he was at the beginning stages of his manhood. Although the weapons’ training was the highlight of the boy’s day, it was not the only education he received.
In the morning, survival training was done, where he and the other students, some children of nobles, some children of the palace staff, and others who had impressed upon the teacher to allow them to learn. Survival training mainly consisted of being put into the woods and learning how to use the area around them to their advantage. Whether it was to learn to make knives from stone, to fashion shelter from weaving bark together, or to learn to make fire, everything that a man, or woman, needed to know about surviving entirely by oneself was taught to him.
Some aspects of the survival training were of vast interest to the boy, such as learning how to make weapons from nothing. Finding a stone, the boy could turn it into a knife or axe, then using either he could tear at the limbs of a tree or kill an animal to make a bow. These ideas of being able to turn nothing into something fascinated him. Yet, when it came time to making a shelter or learning how to identify what plants could be used to treat wounds or help with fever, he could not even feign to have interest in.
After survival training, the teacher would leave the children in the woods with an assignment to present to the next instructor. Sometimes it was to find herbs and create a poultice. Other times it was to fashion a bow, a knife, an axe or an arrow. Either way, anything the students made would always be used in the next lesson of the day, hunting.
Although the boy understood the necessity of the hunting and he liked the taste of the game they hunted, he was never thrilled to partake in the lesson. It involved killing, the killing of animals that had done no harm to anyone there, except to have been in the vicinity of their attention. Yet, the boy understood the need for such action and performed the tasks assigned anyway. Often the children only caught small game, but it was up to each child to catch something in the forest and be able to bring it to the next lesson. If the child failed at that, then they were not permitted to the next lesson and would be sent home for the rest of the day. If a child continually did not catch anything, they would end up being dismissed from lessons in order to find other lessons that would be more suitable to the child.
The children were given ample time to hunt. The boy would try only to hunt small rodents that he assumed were in abundance so as to not concern the families he believed the rodents came from. The thinking was flawed, and he knew it, but the boy had to be able to produce in this class so that he would be able to go to the lessons his father would teach him at the end of the day.
Once finished in the forest with the hunting, the children would bring their prizes back into the city where their next lesson would take place. At the tanner’s guild, they would be taught to be able to cut the skin away from the animal and be able to take the hide in order for it to be used. Once the animal would be stripped of its skin, the meat left would be given to the tanner’s as a form of payment for the lesson. The tanners showed the children, with the tools they made in survival class, how to scrape and tan the animal, more often using the brain of the animal to tan the hide. After the hide had been scraped clean, the brain was rubbed into the skin and allowed to absorb the materials. Once the fresh game had been taken care of, the tanners would take out the previous day’s workings and start showing the next step in the process; the draining of the excess materials from the hide. Once this was done, the students would try to soften the hide and use stones to stretch the hide on. From there, the children would be able to decide what they wanted to make.
Most students would try to make coats, or cloaks, depending on the amount of hides they had accumulated, some of the girls would try to make pants, or vests, or even bags that would help their family somehow. The boy however, not liking to hunt the bigger game, was more than content to make gloves with his leather. The process would always take an extra two days to make but was well worth it. After the stretching, the boy left the hair on one side of the skin to add to the warmth of the gloves, he would rub oil into the hides so as to make the gloves waterproof, and then would sew the toughened leather into their shape by using the dried sinew of the animal he brought in as thread. The tanners were always impressed by the quality of the boys work, and would often buy them from him to be sold to other shops that sold their goods. The boy never wanted the money, he was happy that there would be use of the animal rather than letting the animal carcass not go to use.
The students, after the long day, would then be sent to different weapon masters to learn not only the style of combat for each weapon taught, but as well as how to defend themselves from these weapons. This was the boy’s favorite lesson of the day. He was assigned not only to the best weapon master in the city, but it just so happened to be his father.
“Runt” was the word his father used to describe him. But the words meaning always showed in his father’s face. A scowl followed by the word meant displeasure, whereas a smile before the word meant satisfaction.
“Runt, the bow and arrow is used to hit your target from afar. It is a weapon that is used for hunting, whether it is game or human. I have not seen anyone in a long time able to match you shot for shot, you are even better than I, but that does not mean you are invincible.
“If I can get past your arrow, or you run out of arrows, you become defenseless and will not be able to do anything other than beg to the Presence for a quick death. Because of this I have taught you how to use the spear. You are severely lacking in its use but understand the basics. Since you are not tall enough to handle it properly, this is satisfactory. If a spear fails you, you are always able to rely on your knife.
“Your hands are quick and your arms are fast. You are very capable when it comes to the knife. In a knife fight that is good. In a spear fight, or a sword fight, it is helpful. Against a bow it means nothing. You are a runt my Runt, and your knife skills will help you with learning the most important weapon you will lay your hands on, the sword.”
The swords clashed together making it harder to keep the outside noise from his head. The room was called the Crimson room. The floor was just one big slab of red marble, polished through use rather than by design. The walls were also made from the same unfinished red marble. On the walls hung brackets where torches were hung for midnight spars. There were racks next to the torches, holding every type of weapon imaginable, swords, spears, great swords, staffs, knives, pikes, axes, maces, and others that the boy did not recognize.
Next to the racks were benches, which were now empty as the armored men stood standing around the floor watching the spectacle of their commander going against a weapons master. His father had always told him to pay attention to the type of armor a man wears, it often tells a great deal of their fighting styles and weapons they choose to use.
A majority of the men in the room were wearing small ringed chainmail. This told the boy nothing. Chainmail was used as armor in a variety of fighting styles mainly due to the fact that it was easy to move in while still having a layer of protection. Yet, he did understand one thing; these men were no stranger to fights where death was involved. The man with the spear at his back and the two men next to him wore plate armor.
The plate armor told the boy that the weapons they used were normally very heavy and could do a lot of damage if they managed to hit their target. With weapons that heavy, it would take a little bit of time to be able to move those weapons and greater protection was needed in order to wield these weapons. These were not fast men, and would have a hard time with an opponent who could move faster than them.
His attention was brought back to the fight at hand when his father drew blood on his opponent. The cut was not deep, just a gash at the top of the forearm where the man’s gauntlets had been split by his father’s heavy blow. A smile came to the boy’s face just as the tip of the spear pushed a little further into the surface of his spine. He wanted to grimace in pain, but was too proud of his father to have drawn blood on a man who made him serious.
“How clever of you Baron, using an eye feint to slow my sword. You never taught me that.”
Baron? No one called his father by that name unless they were his student or friend. To everyone else, including royalty it was always Master Mason, or Mason. His first name was never given to anyone but those who he felt should know him.
“I always warned you about impatience, Prince.”
“How like you to use my title as an insult rather than a courteous pleasantry.”
“You hold my student hostage to compel me to fight you. You want courtesy on top of that? Audacious one aren’t we? Not enough fighting on the front lines of empire expansion, but now you don’t know how to turn it off and have to fight one of your subjects? Very shameful.”
The Prince’s eyes turned cold. The amusement of the situation had left his countenance only to be replaced with menace.
“You call him student in front of me, but call him son behind closed doors. Do you not think I know this? How else am I to compel you to fight, then to not take something precious and use it? I remember your teachings, ‘Use the knowledge at hand to achieve the desired result.’ I used my knowledge of your situation to retrieve the desired result.”
“And what is your desired result, aside from vexing me, Prince.”
“Baron, my desired result is to get rid of you and your ilk. Your title is what I need in order to take the empire. You and my father put me on pilgrimage ten years ago, with the task of broadening the empire. I have done so, Staco fell to me in my second year on pilgrimage. No prince beforehand had ever achieved rule of another kingdom in so small a time. The fastest it had ever been done was in five years, when Heltin fell to my brother Landon!”
“I had heard, and was proud of you. I trained your brother Landon, he was gifted in the art of war and rule. He too was put on pilgrimage, just as you, and brought Heltin to their knees, allowing us breathing space from Geran.”
“Then why is it that each of my brothers only had to take one kingdom, except for Victor who conquered Modis and Nevik, and I had to conquer three? Why is it that I was not welcomed back to cheering like Landon after he conquered Heltin? Or William after he conquered Vero? Or even when my halfwit of a sister conquered Bix, when she married King Damon of Bix? They each took five or more years. Staco fell to me in two years, Trahmes was three years after that.
“In five years, I conquered two kingdoms, Victor did it in nine, and I was not allowed to come back to my rightful place in Pyrium. Why is that?”
“I was not in charge of your pilgrimage, but I assume it is because your father wanted you to take over the rest of the peninsula.”
“I was told that I could do more and that I was still lacking, that Staco and Trahmes were weakened because of the other kingdoms not coming to their aid. That it was not enough to prove myself as a son of Pyrium, or a son of the emperor. The only other Kingdom still left to fight Pyrium was Geran. I conquered Geran! And now I will conquer you!”
“You defeated Regal?!”
“I did more than defeat Regal, I humiliated him. I killed off nearly all of his progeny, and then I banished him to Verdis Forest so he will live the rest of his days in shame from the kingdom he so loved. Always able to see it, but to never able to help it. A pure defeat!”
“So you demand my blood now, because I forced you to go on pilgrimage to conquer kingdoms and to do it in such a fashion that no one in all the lands can question your might. You sound more like an ingrate than that of a Prince, Prince.”
“Once you are dead I will be Emperor Julian Cartan, Ruler of the Empire of Pyrium, and Master of my Masters!”
“You have killed the emperor already haven’t you?”
“Yes, and that is why you are the only one left in my rite in order to become emperor of Pyrium.”
“You invoked the rite of Master of Masters! You wanted your empire that badly.”
The boy’s eyes went wide. The rite of Master of Masters was a bloody rite, which required the challenger to challenge all those who have taught him and those above him to a trial of the challenger’s choice. If the challenger’s Master refused then the challenger became the master, and the roles of student and master were reversed. If the master accepted the challenge and died, then clearly he was not a better master than the one who defeated him. The rite of Master of Masters only ended when the challenger was dead, or there were none of his masters left to conquer.
“Are you insane?!” The boy screamed out. Both Prince Julian and his father stared at him. “You would sacrifice your family for a land that would have become yours anyway, just for the convenience of time?”
Julian smiled at the boy, then looked above him and nodded. The boy could hear the wind of the punch to his ear before it hit. In order for it not to knock him out, the boy lifted his head and tilted it back a little so that it would hit the fleshy part of his cheek. The boy staggered but remained standing. Julian arched his eye at the boy.
“Baron, you seem to have taught this boy well.”
“That I have Julian.” The smile of satisfaction in his father’s face made the boy proud on the inside.
“Baron, I will not kill him if you fight me. So you know, and in order to ensure that you do not fight with desperation, I will not kill him either if you lose. He will live and he will be allowed to bury your body. Those are my terms, if you do not accept, he dies now.”
The boy did not know what to make of the situation.
“Runt?” Baron said with a smile on his face.
“I accept these terms, you need to accept them as well and not interfere, no matter what. Is that understood?”
“Yes father,” the boy said, knowing full well his father could not lose. His sword play had already injured his challenger and the rest of the fight should prove much of the same. He did not need to interfere, his father was going to win anyway, and after he won, it would be back to training.
“If Baron wins, he is not to be harmed, and the boy is not be harmed as well. Is that understood?!”
The men surrounding the floor said in unison “Yes Emperor Julian.”
“That is a little presumptuous isn’t it Prince?”
At that, Julian charged his father with sword straight out in front. His father spun to the left of the sword with an elbow aimed at Julian’s temple. The Prince ducked, turned the sword straight up and aimed for Baron’s stomach. His father stepped back, with the sword flashing inches from his face and lunged with his own sword pointed straight at Julian’s heart. Julian’s sword came back down with such force that his father’s own sword touched the ground and forced his father into an awkward bent over position, with his hand still held tight around the handle. Julian’s knee came straight for the boy’s father’s head.
Baron rolled to his right, and while on his back tried to make a sweep of the sword at the Prince’s legs. The sword was not long enough to reach Julian’s back leg, so Julian lifted his front leg above the sweeping sword and allowed his forward momentum to take him and make a fast plunge with the sword tip pointed straight down at his father’s chest on the floor. Baron again rolled to his right and jumped right onto his feet in a side pose, while the Prince stood up and inspected his sword to make sure it was still balanced and not broken from the force he had exerted on it, once it hit the floor.
“That is a pose I have seen many times before Baron. No openings and every attack can be countered. You haven’t changed.”
“You’re power has increased greatly, and you are definitely faster than the last time we fought. I am glad to see that your ‘long’ pilgrimage toughened you up.”
A malicious smile broke onto the Prince’s face. Julian went into the same pose as the boy’s father, a side stance with the right arm held out in line with the waist and the sword pointed up towards the ceiling. The lunge was so quick, the boy almost missed it. His father did not. As the lunge came, Baron lowered his stance and brought his sword horizontally under the lunge and lifted the Prince’s sword ever so slightly to right above Baron’s left shoulder. As the Prince came in on the follow through of his lunge, the boy’s father stepped in, and with his left fist, punched the prince in the sternum.
The Prince staggered back but seemed to be unfazed by the blow he had just received. Baron’s left hand knuckles were bloody. Baron went back into his stance, and the Prince followed suit. The men around the hall began to murmur to themselves. The man holding the spear to the boy’s back mumbled to one of the men next to him. “Have you ever seen the emperor take a hit?” The voice sounded shaky and unsure.
The man next to him responded in a scared tone, “No, but then again, I never wanted to see what would happen if someone ever did hit the Emperor.” Julian’s eyes seemed to take everything in around him, and then gleam with understanding of the situation. The boy recognized what was in Julian’s face. Julian’s mind had gone silent. This was not good. His father had tried to teach him to make his mind silent so that thoughts and actions would flow easier, and here was a man who seemed to have no problem doing this. And after the conversation that the Prince and the boy’s father had just had, it seemed as if Julian had ten years experience with the silent mind.
Baron’s eyes, upon recognizing the look in Julian’s face, did the same. This was bad; the boy’s father was fighting someone who was extremely dangerous. The boy realized he could hear everything that was going on around him, and was getting distracted. He closed his eyes and allowed the sounds of the outside disappear. He opened his eyes again, and the world had gone silent. His focus went to the duel at hand. He could hear Julian’s and his father’s breathing. The sound of Julian’s hand gripping the sword handle tighter sounded clear through his ears. The real fight had begun.
Julian lunged forward, measuring the distance with his sword. His father did the same, and the steel against steel rang clearly in the ears of the boy. Julian drew his sword back drawing Baron’s sword back with him along the blade. When his father reached his limit, Julian hooked his sword underneath Baron’s and brought the edge of the blade back on top of Baron’s fingers holding the handle. The boy’s father made no acknowledgement of the slash on his fingers, but instead used the sword’s guard to lever his sword to whip at the wrist of the Prince. His father missed and only managed to slash the backside of Julian’s hand.
The swords separated from one another to make space for Julian’s left foot to hit the boy’s father directly in the knee. The Prince was trying to break Baron’s leg with a kick like that. Baron punched Julian with his left fist under the Prince’s knee cap. The Prince’s leg twitched and his foot came down right before Baron’s leg.
The boy’s father’s sword was already lunging directly at the Prince’s throat. Julian’s gauntlet hit underneath the sword and pushed the sword to the left side of his face. The sword cut alongside Julian’s cheek and split a bit of his ear. While Baron’s arm was extended, Julian brought his sword straight up through the boy’s father’s forearm. Baron’s sword hand went limp as he noticed the sword through his arm.
Baron dropped his sword and moved his left shoulder into the arm of Julian’s sword arm while he simultaneously moved his right forearm to dislodge the sword from Julian’s hand. The ploy worked, and Julian let go of the sword handle, leaving it through the forearm of Baron. Baron took the handle and pulled the sword out of his useless right arm, never allowing the pain of the action to register on his face. Julian bent low and with a spin, picked up Baron’s sword off the ground and came up in a fighting stance.
The boy’s father’s right arm hung limp at his side while he switched into a southpaw version of his ready stance. Julian smiled at Baron, Baron smiled back.
“Baron, submit, and this will all be over.”
“Are you afraid I am going to continue to scar you? Your face will forever bare my mark.”
“Yes it will, and I will wear it as a token of my victory over you, whether you submit now or die now. It does not matter to me.”
“You are very clever, give me a way out so that my guard is down and you can land the finishing blow. I am under no illusions that you will not kill me. I have seen the rite of Master of Masters before. I have ended it twice also. You are the first to come this far, and most likely will be the first and last person to achieve it against me. But do not spit on me as you are doing it, I have not done it to you. “
“Very well then, we will finish this.”
Julian charged in with Baron’s sword held straight below his waist, allowing the tip to spark on the marble as he held it firm against his right leg. Baron lifted his sword above his head and came down with it as hard as he could as Julian brought his up with frightening speed. Julian was aiming to cut Baron in half, from groin to head. The steel met in the middle with a concussion so powerful that the air seemed visible as the clash sent a shockwave through the room. Julian, still in the low position, punched with his left fist right under Baron’s left knee cap. The boy’s father’s knee twitched and buckled so that he started to fall forward.
Julian side stepped to the left, allowing the steel to disengage from its opponent, so that the ringing could be heard. The boy stood wide eyed as he knew what was coming next, the finishing blow. The whole moment slowed, his father was falling forward and trying to reach the ground with his hand so he could roll forward. Julian had side stepped him in order to avoid the tumbling body. As Julian stood to the right side of the boy’s father with the sword tip pointing down and his arms raised, he motioned the sword in a counter clockwise windmill, slicing through Baron’s neck. The slice was so clean and on point that Baron had time to register what had just happened, and looked up at his boy staring at him with tears in his disbelieving eyes. The boy saw Baron smile as he hit the ground and watched his head continue the tumble a little further away from the body.
The boy stared in disbelief as he watched his father’s head come to a stop as if the head’s body was the floor. The eyes showed nothing but death, and the face was stuck with his father smiling at him. Understanding finally registered in his mind, his father was dead. Instantly, everything was silent, and he was moving. The boy twisted around the spear in his back, coming to the side of it. He grabbed just underneath the spear head with his left hand, and with his right arm broke the shaft. He took his broken end of the spear and stuck the spear into the back of knee of the man holding onto the broken spear. The man came down to one knee in pain.
The boy could see the open joint between the neck plate and helmet as the man came down and shoved the spear straight into the neck of the downed man. Blood gushed out of the neck, speckling him in a crimson mist. The man next to the boy understood what was happening and went for his sword . In his armor, he was slow, and exposed the joint underneath the armpit which had no padding. The boy took the spear head out of the downed man’s neck and brought it in an upward thrust into the other man’s armpit, the arm went limp, the man screamed in pain and brought his other arm to hold his shoulder.
In doing so, he exposed his other arm pit, and the boy quickly took advantage of that by sticking the spear point deep into it as well. The man could no longer use both his arms and therefore was no longer a threat. The silence in the boys head was deafening. He could hear only what was important. He heard the shuffle of men trying to get to their swords. He heard others getting to their spears. He heard the whistle of a spear coming down on him. He moved backwards without even looking, while holding the broken spear head. The boy saw the spear hit the marble floor in front of him as he was enclosed between the wielder’s arms.
He bent down, spun to face the man’s groin and saw a joint where the armor did not protect the man. He shoved the spear head there, nearly toppling the man instantly. He fell forward, and the boy rushed through his legs. The way was clear, to the Prince, or the Emperor, whatever he wanted to call himself. Julian Cartan was there, in front of him, with his back to him. This was his chance. He dashed forward, listening in the silence for the dangers of his head long rush. The boy was a mere two feet away from Julian when the Prince turned, and with his broken gauntlet, smashed the boy in the chin.
The spear head tumbled away as he lay on his back with the ceiling swirling in his vision and being blocked by some black spots. He turned his head to his right to see his father’s head still resting there at the base of his neck. He wanted to be safe. He wanted this to not be true. The swirling vision and black spots had gone away and were replaced by tears welling up in his eyes. He stretched his hands out and grabbed his father’s head and clutched it to his chest, holding it as tight as possible, sobbing, wishing this was all a dream.
He knew it wasn’t, he felt the blood draining out of the head onto him. It was still warm. He was ready for the death that he knew was awaiting him, and didn’t care. This had to be over, one way or another. His father was everything to him. His father taught him to be a man. Taught him his values, taught him how to live, how to survive. He wasn’t ready to be on his own. He wasn’t ready not to have anyone in his life. He was not ready for a pilgrimage as these men called it.
The boy was waiting to be stabbed, to feel metal tear through him. He was ready, he needed it, he could not survive on his own, he wanted to join his father.
“I said you could have the body, the head is mine.”
ME LIKE MANGA