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kaz

The Agas Saga

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tei: you know, it's been so long, i can't remember if it was me or you who didn't respond to the last one... :roll:

as to your demand for more rashnu-nanghaithya scenes...do i have to remind you again that this is NOT 'the rashnu-nanghaithya saga'? ;)

 

daeva_agas: yeah, that's probably best. XD

 

 

Chapter 17 - The Second Wave

 

“All right. Let me see if I have this straight.”

Tawrich had arrived at the scene no more than fifteen minutes after the battle had ended. (“That’s what I get for trusting an imp I find wandering through the desert in a drunken stupor,” Aesma had remarked.) After our rather haphazard descriptions of the scene, he was now trying to make sense of it all.

“Dragons in Thais and Mysten Far. Saurva has gone missing. An alien breed of creature rises from the ground and nearly destroys the lot of you.”

“You make it sound so sordid, Tawrich,” Zarich commented.

“But more or less, that is what we have here?” Tawrich went on. Then he sighed. “I suppose we ought to begin with the notion that all of these events are coincidental and completely unrelated.” He silenced me with an imperious look before he continued. “The dragons, however, I think we have established are fiercely loyal and obedient to Saurva, and therefore can well be prowling the kingdoms on his orders; though to what purpose remains to be seen.

“As to the creatures, it is possible that this is merely a breed of animal that has slept long beneath the earth, and whatever caused the earthquake disturbed their slumber. There are many foul things in the deep places of the world. You are the first beings they saw, and thus they associated the earthquake with you, hence the reason for the attack.

“It is Saurva’s disappearance that is most troubling to me. Where can he have gone? And did he go on his own, or was he taken?”

“Well, we all know what I think,” I muttered, smirking, looking up at him from where I sat in the sand.

“If I may,” said Nanghaithya. “I think there may be something in Agas’s theory. Let us presume, for the sake of argument, that Saurva is not directly responsible for the assault upon us. He was, as he claims, attacked by Ahriman. Suppose Ahriman returned, took Saurva, and sent the dragons himself to Thais and Mysten Far. He would, by now, know that Aesma and Zarich would come here seeking answers; and absent Saurva, they would call the rest of us here to determine the next course of action. So it is entirely conceivable that these incidents are related, and that the attack was orchestrated...by Ahriman.”

Tawrich appeared to be pondering this. “You are right, Nanghaithya—-though that is no surprise—-it would explain how the beasts knew where to find you. The only thing that puzzles me is this: as far as I am aware, Ahriman cannot produce an earthquake at all, let alone one of such magnitude.”

I was on the verge of pointing out someone who could produce an earthquake—-present company being excluded—-when out of the corner of my eye I saw strange movement from around a large sand dune several hundred feet away. I watched for a moment, then told the others, “Someone does know we are here.”

“Oh, what fresh hell is this?” moaned Nanghaithya.

Legions of creatures indigenous to the Southern Isle—-hyenas, giant scorpions, enormous insect-like centipods, and even some blue dragons—-were charging at us as if driven from behind by something truly terrifying. Upon the sight of us, the dragons took flight, soared over our heads, and began spouting fire down upon us in torrents. Nanghaithya quickly conjured another thunderstorm to deter them, but by then, the rest of the “army” were upon us. I stood up and sighed, drawing my sword once again as Aesma growled, “Winds of Hell!” in frustration. Most of the scorpions and centipods near the front were swept up into the gale and sent flying off to parts unknown; but the hyenas who led the attack managed to clear the spell and were now bearing down upon us, howling savagely. One charged directly at me, and I ran my sword straight through the roof of its open mouth. Aesma caught another in midair and snapped its spine in half. I shook the hyena carcass loose from my sword, and heard Tawrich say, “Scourge!” from behind me. I looked around briefly; the blue dragons had now been joined by red ones, and were launching a fresh assault. A few of them roared in pain from Tawrich’s spell. Nanghaithya was knocked to the ground by a vast scaly hind leg, but he shot a lightning bolt at it and sent it and its owner soaring off into the air with a shriek. Zarich was nowhere to be seen.

“Tsunami!” Aesma yelled. I turned back and saw the beasts nearest us being washed away by the wave, only to be replaced by more beasts. I cast Time Storm at the animals now at the front of the assault, then shouted, “Reality Shift!” at the dragons. Two of the dragons hit the ground screaming, one narrowly missing Tawrich, but the others wheeled out of the spell’s reach. I swore at my aim, and then again when I realized that a six-foot scorpion had come up behind me and stabbed my left shoulder blade with its venomous tail. I drove my sword through its head—-or what I presumed to be its head; it was always hard to tell with scorpions—-and told Aesma, “Annihilate them, already!” He spared me half a glance back and then cast his spell; it was, admittedly, not as powerful as the first had been, but it was enough to give us a bit of a berth. Nanghaithya then hollered, “Earthquake!” and the ground opened and swallowed what remained of the enemy party. Silence returned.

Using my sword for leverage, I sat back down in the sand, dizzy now from the heat and the scorpion venom coursing through my body. Aesma appeared annoyed, but had no new injuries of which to speak. Tawrich also did not look to have been harmed. Nanghaithya was bleeding from his shoulder, and his expression showed he was even more irritated than Aesma. I finally located Zarich’s prone figure not far from Nanghaithya; his hand was on his forehead, and he was breathing heavily. It seemed he had taken the worst: he was wounded as though he had wrestled one of the dragons, which I later discovered is precisely what had happened.

It was several minutes before I realized that the others were speaking, and even after I did, I had a difficult time following the conversation. I don't know how many times Aesma said my name before I recognized he was doing it.

“You ought to have that taken care of,” he said gruffly. “That sting, I mean.”

“Concerned, are you?” I replied. “Why Aesma, I’m touched.”

I could have told you that,” he grumbled.

“What we could use,” came Tawrich’s voice, “is Hajetus.”

“You did invite him, didn’t you, Aesma?” Nanghaithya said sardonically, his voice slightly hoarse.

Aesma chuckled sarcastically and muttered something. Tawrich said, “Hmm. I do hope it is nothing serious that keeps him. But it would give weight to your argument, Nanghaithya, putting distance between us and the only daeva with a serviceable knowledge of healing spells.”

My head was pounding, and I was beginning to feel mildly intoxicated. “Forgive me, Tawrich,” I said groggily, “but I think I would prefer at this point finding Hajetus to theorizing about why he is not here.”

“Ah. Right you are.” He sounded as though he had forgotten anyone else was there. “Let us go find Hajetus.”

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Chapter 18 - All Part of the Plan

 

It was some minutes before we—-that is, Zarich, Nanghaithya, and I—-were able to collect ourselves in order to Relocate to Aveyond with the others. The lack of intense heat was on the whole refreshing, but the scorpion venom was, admittedly, taking its toll on me, and so I hoped that Hajetus had a very good reason for not coming when he had been summoned.

Tawrich and Aesma had already arrived at the Sun Temple by the time Zarich, Nanghaithya and I got there. Tawrich was kneeling on the floor shaking his head, his back to the door. Aesma stood several feet back, looking around the room curiously, and the scene he was examining was an unsettling one, to say the least. It was not, of course, the pristine shrine it had been before, but now there were definite signs that a violent encounter had occurred. In the midst of the wreckage lay Hajetus, entirely motionless. A pool of blood had formed around his head.

“What’s happened here?” Nanghaithya asked, though he did not sound as if he was speaking to anyone in particular.

“Who knows?” replied Aesma. Then he shrugged. “Hajetus is dead.”

“He is not dead, Aesma,” Tawrich corrected. “He is unconscious.”

“Dead...unconscious...What’s the difference?” Aesma sighed.

“Dead would be worse,” I told him, leaning back against the wall to maintain my balance.

“Would it?”

“...Wouldn’t it?”

“Will you two please?” Nanghaithya snapped. Then he glared at me. “Why aren’t you unconscious?”

“That,” I said thoughtfully, “is a very good question.”

Moments later, Tawrich had risen to his feet, and Hajetus was sitting up, dazed and blood-stained. Hajetus looked around at all of us in an apparent haze. “What—-what’s happened?”

“We were about to ask you the same thing,” said Aesma.

“Later, later,” Tawrich said. “How are you feeling, Hajetus?”

“Oh-okay, I suppose,” Hajetus replied. “My head aches like hell. But all right otherwise.”

“Up to a bit of healing?” Tawrich asked him. He made some sort of gesture, but my vision was clouding, so it was difficult to tell what it was.

Hajetus—-at least, I assumed it was Hajetus—-stood up and went over to where Zarich had planted himself. I heard Zarich mutter something, and then Nanghaithya said something about poison. Tawrich added something which included the words “scorpion” and “an hour”. I shook my head, which made the room spin wildly. Aesma pulled me away from the wall as Hajetus finally approached us. Hajetus placed his hand over the wound in my shoulder and spoke words I could not understand. Almost at once, my vision cleared, the fog lifted from my brain and the venom lost its effect. Hajetus stepped back.

“You were stung by a giant scorpion nearly an hour ago,” he said, as though confirming the story. “How are you still alive?”

“What do you take me for, a human?” I said, mildly affronted. “It’s going to take a bit more to put me out of commission than a bug bite.”

Aesma slapped me appreciatively, directly on the scorpion wound. I winced. “That’s my boy,” he chuckled. Nanghaithya and Tawrich rolled their eyes.

Before any further words were spoken, a piercing howl raked across the sky, entering the temple through the open doors and echoing off the stone walls with a force that would shake an edifice made of lesser material. Aesma and I took one look at each other and then raced out the door.

“What about your injuries?” Tawrich called after us, his resigned tone an indication that he already knew the answer.

Aesma and I looked at one another again. “Injuries?” we both scoffed.

Outside the temple, a fierce wind and driving rain filled the air, carrying the howling with it. It was difficult to pinpoint the precise direction from which the sound came; finally Aesma said, “I think...it sounds like...the bini village.”

“The—-I’m sorry, the what?

He groaned, apparently in frustration. “The bini vil—-oh, nevermind. This way.” He stomped off down the hill.

We headed south, and then east, through sheets of rain, until finally he stopped us at what appeared to be a large collection of broken oversized teapots, some of which contained ruined remnants of tiny furniture. I glanced sideways at him, my eyebrow raised.

“Aesma...what exactly is a bini?” I had to ask him.

“You really don’t know?” he replied incredulously.

I shrugged. “Apparently I am not as well-versed in the lore of the ‘cute’ creatures of the world as you are.”

He may then have been about to strike me, but at that moment the source of the howling showed itself; or rather, themselves. A dozen or so harpies—-gigantic, hideously ugly birds with razor-sharp beaks and talons, and faces like human women—-surrounded us, beating their wings and gnashing their teeth. The threat of battle had presented itself for the third time in the same afternoon; it was almost amusing, really.

“Oh, this has to be a joke,” moaned Aesma.

It wasn’t; or at least, the harpies did not see it as such. Three of them flew at us, cackling madly and tearing at us with their claws. We ducked, and they missed their mark by a wide margin and collided with another pair opposite them. Aesma and I stood up and looked at each other.

“Well, no one ever said harpies were smart,” I commented.

Another harpy flew at Aesma; without looking around, he grabbed her by her wing, swung her around and launched her off into the sky as hard as he could. She vanished into the clouds and did not return.

“Anyone else?” Aesma asked the enemy at large.

Evidently giving Aesma up as a lost cause, three more harpies came at me, angrier and more determined now than before. I cast Time Storm half a second before I received a talon through the skull, and the harpies stopped in mid-air, shriveling into dust before our eyes. The remaining harpies looked at one another anxiously, and then turned and flew away with extreme haste, wailing.

“Were those harpies?” said a voice from behind us in apparent disbelief. We turned to see that Zarich had arrived, with Nanghaithya just behind him, both having made a full recovery, as it were. “That’s three attacks in one day!”

“Yes,” said Nanghaithya pensively. “But I wonder why didn’t they go directly to the temple, then?”

Aesma looked at me, grinning, and I knew he was thinking the same thing I was. “Whoever is doing this,” I told Nanghaithya, “apparently, knows us very well.”

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no, you're reminding me that it isn't the tei'jal and nanghaithya saga XD although, the rashnu-nanghaithya saga...

 

"I did swear up and down I don't have a crush on you, and it's true. He made that up for his own personal amusement."

 

i severely doubt you remember that line, but it did turn up in mine...

 

that wasn't a new chapter, was it? it didn't look familiar...

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sorry, everyone. i've had a nasty cold all week. and i suck at updating. XD

 

daeva_agas: in response to your question, by 'knows us very well' he meant that the person behind all the chaos knew the daevas would go looking for trouble. :) helping the binis...not so much. (except maybe aesma XD XD)

 

tei: well, perhaps i need to remind you that this isn't 'the nanghaithya-and-anyone-else saga'. :roll: and you were right: i haven't the slightest idea where that line is from either. i hope it wasn't me. XD

 

 

Perfect, Lars thought, gazing down at his tiny baby girl. She’s absolutely perfect.

He had been sitting there for hours, watching the two of them sleep: beautiful, wonderful Rhen, and their perfect newborn daughter in her arms. She had gorgeous blue eyes, just like her mother’s, and already he could see the Tenobor family nose and chin; though her hair—-what little there was—-was dark, almost black. He tried to recall if anyone in his own family had had black hair. He’d never known his father; perhaps that was where it had come from. Then he laughed, thnking that black was just fine, considering what it could have been.

A bright patch of golden light reflected off the shining marble floor, blinding him momentarily. He rose from his chair and crossed to the window, peering out for a moment at the source of the light: the last rays of the setting sun.

The sun.

He had discovered the one place in all of Arishta where the sun still shone; but now they were here, he had to ask himself how much of a comfort that was. True, it was nice to see real daylight and green, growing things. But that daylight was, more often than not, little more than a mocking reminder of the entire reason the rest of the world was in its dreadful state. Occasionally he wondered about the sun and him, about how much control one had ever had over the other...not that any of that mattered now.

He sighed, and drew the curtain over the window to keep out the light. He then turned and looked absently about the room, his mind still wandering. He recalled the last time they had been to this place, what a remarkably tranquil and beautiful city it was. And though it was still as pristine as it had been then, the absence of the Elves somehow made Ylisfar feel empty, in far deeper a way than merely devoid of inhabitants.

Perhaps it was this that made him slightly uncomfortable being there. The Elves had gone forever into the West, leaving their city and the ancient magic that kept the demons from entering it. Perhaps it was this magic that made Lars feel as though they were intruding, as though he could feel the ghosts of the departed Elves still lingering there. He had tried to tell himself that even if they still did live there, the Elves would have been more than happy to help him and his pregnant wife. He remembered how kind had been their princess, Liya, and how grateful she had been when he and Rhen and their companions had found her father; and he vaguely wished that she, at least, had remained behind, if only to assuage his fears of being discovered.

The baby yawned. Rhen stirred and drew her child closer to her, but did not open her eyes for a few moments. When she did, she saw Lars returning to his seat beside the bed, where he had been when she’d fallen asleep, his expression weary but more content than she had ever seen him.

“Tell me you haven’t been here all this time,” she said sleepily.

“Uh, no,” he replied sheepishly. “I’ve only just come in.”

“Right,” she said with a wry smile.

He grinned. “Did she wake you?”

Rhen yawned and nodded. “I suppose I’ll have to get used to that, though: waking up with every little noise.”

“Well, you never were a heavy sleeper.”

She narrowed her eyes playfully. “I couldn’t afford to be with you around.”

They both laughed, and the baby opened her eyes, but closed them again immediately. Rhen looked up at her husband. “We still have to name her, Lars.”

“No,” he said pensively, after a pause, “I don’t think ‘Lars’ is a good name for her. Might get confusing.”

“Very funny,” she returned. She looked down at her daughter again, and after a few moments’ silence, Lars wondered, “Have you thought of one, then?”

She smiled. “Actually...As it turns out, Priestess Oyane knows a bit of Elvish, and she’s been reading some of their books to me. They have such beautiful names for things...Anyway, we came across the word isilmë—-it means ‘moonlight’—-and I just thought...”

He grinned, mentally batting away the thought that at least it wasn’t sunlight, and said, “I like it. Isilme it is.”

 

******

 

to those who have read this before, i changed the girl's name. i just wasn't entirely happy with the original, and i thought it more fitting for them to come up with something Elvish. and in case you're wondering, it's pronounced ee-SEEL-may.

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oh, the quote. my story. i'm not sure if I've reposted it yet. that was one of rashnu's comments to nanghaithya. i just thought it was fitting, had to say it XD

 

Isilme. hmm. sounds like Isile, as in, Isile'nian, as in, Derez's mother XD

 

XD XD XD!!!! I love the "no, i don' think Lars is a good name" bit. omg. i love it ^^ sounds like something I would do.

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oh, good. i was afraid you were throwing one of my own random comments at me that i'd forgotten i ever made. you do that a lot. XD XD

 

 

She should never have gone.

At least, that was what the voice in the back of her mind told her. They would fall apart without her; indeed, she was the reason they were there at all. What would they do now she had left them, without so much as a goodbye? But what good was I doing them while I was there? she thought furiously. It was true: she hadn’t been quite herself lately, and she was only making things worse for everyone. In any case, she knew there were things she needed to do, wrongs for which she needed to make amends, and people she needed to find.

She did not really intend to stop in the tavern. Perhaps her subconscious mind had brought her there, looking for that miserable pirate...oh, would she ever make him pay. Whatever the reason for her stop, once she had found herself a drink and a lonely table, she spotted an unusual sight: one of the least likely of pairs, seated at a booth in a dark corner, speaking together in hushed, urgent whispers. It was several moments before she registered the serious implications of the situation; but when she did, dread overtook her.

She weighed her options. She certainly could not approach them—-at least, not the old man; not alone and at half-strength as she was. The other, perhaps. And then she thought perhaps she was misinterpreting what she saw, and all she needed to do was catch this other one alone to verify it.

She realized too late that she was staring obviously at them. The old man, who was facing her, caught her eye and then muttered something to his companion. She looked away quickly, but the companion had already risen from the table. She still did not look up as the other approached.

“Walk with me,” said the other quietly. It was not a request.

The woman rose from her seat, a guilty look on her face, and she followed the other outdoors. Neither spoke until they were inside a small storehouse filled with empty barrels. Finally the woman said, “Please, forgive me. I did not mean to—-”

“Mean to what?” the other interrupted sharply.

“To—-to in-intrude,” she stammered, taken aback by the other’s harsh manner, for it was quite a dramatic change from what she remembered. “It’s—-I just—-It seemed...odd.” The other raised an eyebrow, and she added quickly, “But I am certain I have just misinterpreted the situation.”

The other’s expression softened a fraction. “Perhaps. Or perhaps you haven’t. Either way, this can go no further.”

“It won’t,” she said immediately. “Of-of course.”

The other’s eyes narrowed maliciously. “No. It won’t.”

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Chapter 19 - Like Mother, Like Son

 

As we discovered once we had returned to the temple, Hajetus could remember nothing of what had happened to him. He recalled receiving Aesma’s message, but the rest, he’d said, was gone. It was clear, however, that someone had attacked him—-most likely to prevent him both from coming to our aid during the battles and from recalling any of it—-and had done an expert job of it at that.

In addition, Saurva was found wandering the desert several days later by some of his dragons, also having no recollection of the events that led up to his mysterious disappearance. The last thing he recalled was speaking with his dragons, but he was fairly certain that they had had nothing to do with it. The dragons who had found him said he was disoriented and looked a bit worse for wear, but seemed relatively unharmed.

Some years went by in much the same manner. Random creatures would gather into large groups and launch attacks upon any daeva they saw, and soon enough upon the lesser demons as well. Natural disasters increased and intensified. Saurva would disappear for days or weeks at a time, and then return with no idea of what had transpired, on either end, during his absence. As time wore on, demons became as unnerved by the whole situation as humans had been from the beginning; and we were still no nearer to any sort of answers.

Indra’s behavior during this time did not help matters, either, at least not for my part. In the beginning, she hid Aravis from the entire world. Then she decided to lessen the security around him slightly, by which I mean she allowed me, at least, to see him every once in a while. But each time she learned of a fresh assault, no matter how distant, her dragon guard returned, often bringing others with it. And, despite the fact that she would not let me spend any serviceable amount of time with our son, any time she had trouble with him (particularly behavior-wise), she blamed me.

The most perplexing thing she did came when Aravis was about five. I was forewarned of her arrival in Sedona by a terrified orc, who would only say that Indra looked as though she was “extremely unhappy” about something. I went out to the courtyard to meet her, and when she finally arrived and stormed in past me toward the throne room, with Aravis in tow, I could only assume the orc had not actually seen Indra at all, except perhaps from a considerable distance.

Whoever coined the phrase, “If looks could kill,” must have been speaking about Indra.

I was used to her bad temper and her Fury, of course; but it never ceased to amaze me how truly menacing she could be. The phrase “utterly furious” comes to mind, but even that hardly begins to describe it. Anyone she passed quailed, and one goblin whose eye she caught actually let out a high-pitched scream and fled the palace in terror. I have yet to see that goblin again.

And I had to admit, as I watched Aravis stare sulkily at the floor, throwing the occasional resentful glance up at his mother, that he was beginning to remind me of myself—-a terrible shame for him—-though his eyes and the color of his hair were entirely his mother’s. So, evidently, was his temper.

Neither of them spoke. “All right,” I sighed at last, “what have I done this time?”

She narrowed her eyes. “Not you.” She glanced down at Aravis, who refused to make eye contact with either of us, then looked back at me and said, in a most accusatory fashion, “Your son has developed a rather peculiar talent.”

“Indeed?” I said curiously. We both looked at him again, but he continued to stare at his feet. Finally Indra told him, with a decidedly malicious half-smile at me, “Go on, Aravis. Show your father what you have done.”

There was something highly unnerving in her tone, and so I stepped briefly out into the hall to fetch one of my orc soldiers. I stood him in front of Aravis and told the boy, “Whatever it is, do it to him.”

For nearly a full, silent minute, everyone remained as they stood. The orc kept glancing back at me, puzzled and a bit apprehensive. Indra finally gave Aravis a gentle shove; he narrowed his eyes at her, then turned to the orc. Almost at once, the orc fell to the floor, screaming and writhing, as his entire body was consumed by a white light which gave off a heat so intense that I could feel it from several feet away. At the same time, his body was being bent and twisted and contorted in horribly improbable ways. The whole thing looked excruciatingly painful. When it was finally over, the orc lay on the floor twitching, a blackened, ruined mess. I looked at Aravis, and then at Indra. “Now that,” I told her, “was a good spell.”

“I’m so glad you think so,” she hissed evilly, “because it is high time for Aravis to spend some ‘quality time’ with his father.”

“I beg your pardon?”

“He did that to my priestess,” she continued furiously—-by whom she meant the priestess she had borrowed from Zarich to act as a sort of governess to Aravis. “And when I punished him for it, he attempted to do it to me. So now...” She gestured toward him, apparently meaning that I was to take care of the situation.

“I see,” I said after a moment. “But shouldn’t the punishment fit the crime? He hardly deserves me for this.”

“And what is that supposed to mean?” she snapped.

“Simply that the way you have behaved the past five years would tell even the casual observer that you think me unfit even to be in my own son’s presence. After all, I might be working with Ahriman, mightn’t I?”

“You are not funny,” she said coldly.

“I wasn’t trying to be,” I returned. “Forgive my cynicism, Indra, but I have known you far too long not to assume you have an ulterior motive.”

The charade ended. She drew me away from Aravis, presumably so he would not hear what she said next. “He will not listen,” she said softly, a touch of pleading in her voice. “The Angels are entirely useless where children are concerned. Even the priestess—-well—-” She waved her hand vaguely toward Aravis. “I am at my wit’s end. And now that he’s discovered this—-talent, I can hardly control him.”

“You got him here, didn’t you?”

“That is precisely my point: it is because we were coming here.” She shook her head. “Darkness take me, he respects you, Agas.”

“Despite all you have done to force the contrary,” I said with a smirk.

She returned it, then looked from Aravis to me and sighed. “Please, Agas. I—-” She hesitated. “I suppose I thought I could do this myself. That is my mother showing out through me again. But I was wrong; I can admit to that much.” She paused again. “I need you. We need you.”

It was the very first time I could recall Indra ever admitting total and sincere defeat; and that it should come at the hands of a small child was what struck me most heavily. I sighed. “Very well, Indra. Shall I summon you when I’ve fixed him?”

“Ha, ha,” she said sardonically, but there was a trace of a grateful smile on her lips. She went over and knelt down before Aravis, and told him sternly, “Behave yourself.” Then she kissed his forehead, rose to her feet, and swept from the room in a dignified, if slightly humble, manner.

As the doors closed behind Indra, the charred body of the orc began to stir, and a feeble moan issued from his mouth. I went and crouched beside him, surveyed him for a moment, then asked, “Shall I send for a Healer, then?” He moaned again, but slowly shook his head. “As I thought,” I replied. “Collect yourself and move along. And help yourself to a better weapon from the armory for your trouble.”

“Are you going to punish me?”

I looked up to see Aravis watching me expectantly, though otherwise his expression was difficult to read. When I didn’t respond right away, he added, “Mother said you would.”

I looked down at the orc again, who had rolled over onto his stomach and was vainly attempting to crawl out of the throne room. I supposed I could see why Indra had been so upset by the whole thing; still, it was hard not to admire the boy’s work. “That,” I told him, “remains to be seen.”

 

******

 

can i have a drum roll please?...

this, ladies and gentlemen, happens to be the very last chapter that i had posted before the site crashed. according to my records, anyway.

:banana: <= happiness that i can finally start putting some new stuff out there.

(of course, that means the updates will be much fewer and further between...*sigh* can't win 'em all. XD)

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really?

 

yay, new chapters!!

 

*still would like to see a zirna-and-rashnu related chapter*

 

not that i expect you to agree with that, though...

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Woo hoo! Congrats, kaz! Of course, the last three were brand new for me.

 

It was the very first time I could recall Indra ever admitting total and sincere defeat; and that it should come at the hands of a small child was what struck me most heavily.

 

Perfect! :laughing: There is no foe quite like a five year old boy. Mine has driven me to the point of utter defeat more times than I could even attempt to count. ;)

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There was something highly unnerving in her tone, and so I stepped briefly out into the hall to fetch one of my orc soldiers. I stood him in front of Aravis and told the boy, “Whatever it is, do it to him.”

Geez, I imagine you were laughing wickedly when you wrote that. XD Poor orc, and man, that kid has wicked powers!

 

I wonder how RxL's kid is coming along?^^ Probably growing a garden somewhere with an innocent green thumb, unlike some kids. ^^ lol

 

And W00t!! Finally! I'm glad you can start updating again--can't wait! *starts drum roll*

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daeva_agas: yeah, i'll bet. XD

 

tei: speak of the devil...i just wrote one of those today at lunch. it doesn't happen story-wise for a few years, but...hey, at least you have something to look forward to.

 

cherry: tell me about it. :roll: my daughter is four. i feel indra's pain. ;)

 

dis: you know, i have to wonder that myself...i haven't seen her in a while...maybe i should find out...

 

all: okay, i wrote this a while ago, and upon rereading i'm not sure it's exactly up to scratch. but i'm not feeling a whole rewrite, so...consider it a 'passage of time' sort of chapter. plus agas gets hurt, so that should count for something. :evil:

 

 

Chapter 20 - Torment

 

As I probably should have assumed to begin with, Indra did not leave us on our own for very long. It was less than two weeks before she had returned, though not to bring Aravis back to the Northern Kingdom with her, but to be a complete nuisance to me, and to mother him to death. At least, that was how it felt. Indra was in Sedona more often than she was in her own kingdom; I had to envy the fact that the Northern Kingdom was evidently able to run itself.

I don’t suppose I should have been surprised, either, by Aravis’s temperament. I suppose when two people have as terrible tempers and Indra and I did, it is to be expected that their offspring would also be severely lacking in equanimity. Still, I found that he was careful not to lose his temper quite as easily around me as he did with his mother, and this did surprise me, as I had never harmed or threatened the boy in any way. It made me wonder exactly what Indra had been telling him all along.

Things went on this way for about two years, before I decided Aravis was ready to learn how to control his very interesting spell, for which I thought “Torment” was a most fitting name. First, however, I needed to gauge exactly how powerful it was, and whether he had control of it or it was a purely emotional spell, like his mother’s Fury. And there was only one way to do that.

“Curse me,” I told him.

He stared at me incredulously for a few moments. “Um...what?”

“The spell you showed me when your mother first brought you here,” I explained. “I want you to do it to me.” He still looked doubtful, so I assured him, “I promise not to punish you; in fact, it would hardly make sense, considering I’ve literally asked for it.”

He hesitated. “I...do not think it works that way.”

“Meaning?”

“I...I don’t think I can just...do it,” he said uncertainly. “I was angry the times I did.”

“I see,” I said. Then I sighed. More like his mother than I had expected; though at least I knew now how to make him cast the spell: it was the one thing that had always made me angry as a child. I conjured a small fireball and shot it in his direction, deliberately sending it a few feet to his left. I would never intentionally harm him, of course, and something told me he knew it as well; but it didn’t stop his furious glare.

“Next time I will not miss,” I said. It was a bald-faced lie, but it was enough. My only warning was a slight narrowing of his eyes, and I found myself on the floor in horrific pain. Reality Shift was bad, Sun Fury was worse, and this was a bizarre combination of the two, though perhaps not as intense as I imagined it could be. As suddenly as it had begun, it ended; and it was only with a great deal of effort that I was finally able to sit up and assess the damage. Not quite as bad as the orc I had seen Tormented, but not much better. I had to laugh when I saw the guilty expression on Aravis’s face, because I was certain that same look had appeared on my face many times when I was young.

“Does...this mean you’re not mad?” he asked nervously.

“Well, I think that depends upon your definition,” I replied. “But you are not in trouble, if that is what you really want to know.”

“Why did you want me to do that?” he wondered almost suspiciously.

“To see how powerful it is,” I told him as I slowly got to my feet. “And quite frankly, I am surprised it didn’t kill the priestess.”

He was silent for a moment. “You are so weird,” he said at last.

I grinned. “You have no idea.”

 

Once I felt Aravis had a fair mastery of his Torment, I thought it a good idea to bring him to the other daevas, because there is always something to be gained from elder demons’ knowledge. That, and it would give me a reprieve from Indra for a while. We went first to Tawrich, as he was nearest, and most patient, and seemed to be able to relate best of all the daevas to children. I dare not speculate the reasons behind this; in the beginning, there was an unspoken rule amongst daevas not to discuss their “outside” lives, and so of Tawrich’s past, I know very little.

We were about three-quarters of the way to our destination when a Nightmare came charging by us in a terrible fever, as though frightened of something that was just behind it. I shook my head incredulously when I realized whence it had come, and thought, Even the Nightmares won’t go there.

“What is that place, Father?”

I looked in the direction Aravis was pointing, which was the same from which the Nightmare had fled, and sighed heavily. I had known that eventually the question would arise, but somehow, I also knew that I would never really be prepared for it. Still, it was a valid question. “It was once known as the Oldwoods.”

“Why does it...look that way?” There was a touch of distaste in his tone.

“Because it was home to the Elves, a race of humans—-simply put—-possessed of a powerful natural magic.”

“But...I thought humans...”

“These were no ordinary humans, like the race of Men,” I explained. “They were wise and fair, immortal like we, but possessed of souls like Men. And their magic of light and nature was comparable to our own of darkness. And it was this powerful magic, along with their love of things that are green and growing, that has preserved this place, which is all that remains of their realm.”

“So...what happened to them? I mean, are they still in there?” he wondered, peering into the trees.

“No. They sailed into the West, to the land of their ancestors, after the Sword of Shadows was broken. A world ruled by demons is no fit place for Elves. And before you ask, the reason demons have not destroyed this place is because within is the Elvish city of Ylisfar, and there is an enchantment upon it which keeps demons out, even though the Elves have gone.”

“So it is an empty city that no one can go into.”

“No demon can. Most humans, I believe, are able; but they do not know this, because Elves have always preferred their privacy, and because in the past Men relied rather too heavily upon the Elves for many things.”

He looked up at me curiously. “You know an awful lot about Elves.”

I couldn’t help laughing. “I ought to; I spent nearly half my life trying to destroy them,” I said, which was true; he did not need to know the rest.

He gazed darkly into the green and the serenity of the forest before us. “The world is better off without them,” he decided at last.

I did not respond. He was right, of course; and reason told me that I should consider their absence more of a victory than anything else. But some accursed part of me still could not let at least one of them go.

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Yes, kids... :D I like Aravis. He's got quite the family background -- no wonder he gets a little bratty sometimes.

 

And, yes, Ylisfar... and elves. There has been someone wandering around for many years, I think, running into exactly the wrong people... And I really desperately want to know what happens when she meets up with Agas again. (* hint, hint ;) *)

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jeez. i forgot that update now means new stuff XD

 

XD i love the "you're wierd" "you have no idea." perfect!

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cherry: hmm...how can i respond to that without giving anything away?...oh, i know.

you'll see. :D

 

tei: that is a good line, isn't it? too bad i can't take credit for it. XD it's from 'the lion king'.

 

and just for anyone who also happens to have been reading 'from the beginning' before i stopped update it several years ago :roll: i DO intend to update it at some point. i have about half the next section finished. the problem is, i've written about a dozen really good chapters for it since i last posted in it, but all of them involve demons who haven't been born yet. *sigh* so please bear with me, on both these stories.

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He was silent for a moment. “You are so weird,” he said at last.

I grinned. “You have no idea.”

I wonder what's so weird about him? XD

edit (just read above): Lion King, eh? Oh yeah I remember now, but does "weird mean something else here? XD My imagination is running wild here; what makes him so weird? XD

 

Anyway, Yay! I'm happy you're updating again. :blink:

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no, dis, weird just means weird. like, a seven-year-old thinking it's weird that someone gets hurt and is happy about it. and agas...well, he IS weird, isn't he? i mean, isn't everyone? ;)

oh, and thanks!

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*steals thread from second page and puts it on the first*

 

Did you know that this is really long? I've got 181 pages in a word document. o_O So... I'll actually make a meaningful comment when I get through it all.

 

See you in a couple of months. XD

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What's this? I'm actually done?

 

Yeah, I read all of it today. I must say, I have nothing but the greatest admirations for your battle scenes... And I'll try and make my daevas more dark for you, shall I? (I can't help it! I seem to need my characters to be nice to each other. D=)

 

And I've pulled a few of my favorite lines out...

A plague of sunshine and fairies upon you all.--Saurva

Also, oftentimes, our worst memories are the ones that tend to stand out most vividly.--Agas

Nonsense! I love children! Preferably medium-rare.--Aesma

What do you take me for, a human?--Agas

 

By the way, I like the Nightmares coming in here when they had no role in AV1... It's almost a crossover. (I like crossovers. :D)

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