My Next Project: Faith and Demons (working title)

Discussion in 'Original Works' started by Jinral, Dec 17, 2011.

  1. Jinral

    Jinral The yet to be published

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    I know I have been absent of late, once again work has been preventing me from putting in a lot of writing time, but I do have something in the works. This is the first chapter of my new book im working, I am about 1/4 of the way done but I'll give you a small taste



    Nathaniel ran for his life. He quickly diverted from the path, running amongst the thick foliage of the forest. Low hanging branches raked across his skin, their boney protrusions streaking across his face. The cold morning air had already begun burning in his lungs and bite at his fingertips. Everything seemed to burn, his face, his breath, and his fingers felt as if they were on fire.
    Shouts rose up from behind him as he fled deeper into the forest he turned to look, but nearly fell as he tripped over a tree root that had risen from the ground. He landed on his hands, which pulsated with pain as they dragged through the nearly frozen earth. Still they felt as if they were burning painfully, but Nathaniel tried to ignore it, slamming his eyes shut in effort to ignore the pain. He quickly picked himself back up, opening his eyes. He leapt over a large bush and continued pushing his way deeper into the forest. There was no where for him to go, nowhere for him to hide from his pursuers. He just had to keep running.
    Despite the chill of the air beads of sweat began to pour from his body, soaking him even further. He instinctively ran his hand over his head, expecting to feel hair, but only finding his bare scalp. He removed the traveling robe, casting it aside as he ran. His dark trousers and tunic were already drenched with his sweat, but the chill only seemed to burn his skin even more.
    He tried to continue on, but his legs nearly gave way, causing him to stumble against a tree. The bark easily peeled away under his fingers and he fell to a knee. Nathaniel leaned against the tree, trying to catch his breath. The dogs began to bark louder and the men continued to shout. They would be on him in a few short minutes. He willed himself to stand and tossed the bark in his hands aside. He struggled to run once more, afraid he might collapse at any moment from the intense heat.
    Something was wrong. He had run many times before, often during the waning hours of the night. His body had never felt like this. He had spent the majority of his life running from the local enforcer’s but now it felt as if his body was being lit aflame from the strain. He stumbled as he dashed into a deep puddle, the muddy water rising to his knees. He tried to power his way through the water, his muscles aching, his head beginning to pound in his ears, his heart feeling as if it might burst from his chest.
    Then, his heart seemed to altogether stop. There, in the clearing in front of him, was one of the horseman that had been chasing him. The rider seemed calm, almost uncaring at the boy’s arrival. He quietly dismounted, the only sound being the horse’s rapid breathing and the shifting of metal plates. The man was clad head to toe in full plate armor. In the full moon the man seemed to shine like a star, illuminating the quiet forest. A white cloth cape draped along his back hung only a few inches from the mud, but it was still splattered with the wet earth. On his chest was a blackened etching of an eclipsed sun.
    “Disciple….” Nathaniel whispered breathlessly. Disciples were men chosen to be the servants of the Holy Speakers, the voices of Gods. They were blood hounds for their masters, seeking out those who stood against the Holy Ways, and silencing them, like putting down a sick animal before the disease spread. Nathaniel felt every hair stand on end and a relatively familiar feeling wash over him, fear.
    He couldn’t have run if he tried. Despite the heavy plate the man wore, Nathaniel was no match for his speed. It would be a simple task for the big man to catch him. The Disciple continued walking forward toward Nathaniel, unsheathing his sword as he crossed the clearing. Even knowing that it would be futile, Nathaniel willed his legs to move, but they remained frozen in place, refusing his mind’s command. His arms were locked in place as well, but his fingertips curled into a fist. His breathing became even heavier and sweat continued to trickle down his face.
    “Come quietly now and you’ll survive this night boy.” The man spoke from under a metal helm that shielded his entire face from view. The voice sounded hollow and distant as if spoken from the end of a cave. The man’s sword arm began to raise slowly, “Make your decision…”
    His blood pounded through his body. He could feel it with each pulse of his heart as it coursed through his veins. His eyes stung painfully as it coursed behind them, threatening to burst forth. His fist shook uncontrollably and his finger nails dug into his palms. The chill of the air stung painfully against his wet skin, but the cold seemed so intense, so painful that it felt like his skin was on fire.
    “Why…” Nathaniel growled from behind gritted teeth, “..is it…..so…” He began to feel an unfamiliar presence rise through his body and flood his veins. His power had returned once more. With a guttural roar he yelled “…Hot!” His body reacted on instinct, Nathaniel raised his hands toward the Disciple. His arms erupted in flame, singing the clothing from his upper torso. The disciple whipped his arm back, preparing to strike, but Nathaniel let loose the pent up energy and the fire arced from his hands toward the Disciple. The flames collided with a man as if the fire was as hard as stone. The man was tossed backward nearly a dozen paces, colliding with his horse. The creature let loose a whine as it too hit the ground.
    More shouts erupted from the forest behind him and the barking of dogs rang in his ears. He struggled to move, but his body remained in place. It was no longer due to fear however. He looked down to see the puddle he had been standing it was now frozen solid. He reached down, gently laying his finger tips to the frozen water. As soon as he touched it, the ice began to melt, quickly forming back into the muddy water it has once been. He could feel the ice draw into his fingertips, concentrating itself into raw energy. Despite the extreme cold that began to gather, he continued to draw upon the ice until it all had returned to its liquid state. He looked to his hand, and then back the way he had come, as torches began to appear from behind a small hill. Everywhere he had stepped there were icy boot prints sunken into the earth. He cursed at his own stupidity for not noticing it and turned to run.
    As he did though, he stopped and stared down at his hands, which had begun to sting painfully. They were white and nearly shaking, dripping with raw power. He stared back at the icy boot prints and at the torches coming over the hill. He held up his hands once more and willed the chill to leave his fingers. Immediately, the forest ground in front of him reacted. The water still drenched in the soil began to freeze, giving the mud a glistening hue. Once he was sure all of the excess frost had left his body he turned to run.
    One of the dogs had gotten away from his master and raced after him. Nathaniel pumped his arms faster, but as soon as the dog reached the frozen earth it began to slide uncontrollably. Nathaniel had to smile at himself as he heard it splash into the muddy water and utter a terrified howl. He was nearly upon the next hill by the time he had heard the men utter cries of their own, slipping into the muddy water alongside their beasts. He checked to make sure his boot prints were no longer covered in ice. Once he was sure, he continued at a brisk jog, heading north toward the road. It didn’t take him more than an hour to reach it. He turned to look back into the forest once more, but no men shouted and no dogs barked. I guess being that cold makes them think twice about a man-hunt, Nathaniel thought.
    He began moving east along the quiet road. On one side was the thick forest he had just come from, but on the other was numerous acres of farmland. Brigands wouldn’t likely be in the area, especially at this hour. It was too often frequented by night patrols as well as the farmers themselves. That did mean however, that Nathaniel was just as susceptible to discovery. He looked over his shoulder one last time, making sure he was not followed. In the distance he saw something shine in the moonlight. It took a second to make out what it was, but once he had, Nathaniel’s blood ran cold. It was the disciple, staring right at him. Nathaniel froze, staring silently back at the scorched man. The disciple however, turned and walked away.
    Nathaniel stood still and stared for awhile longer, but the disciple did not return, nor did any others. His heart was racing but he forced himself to calm. Acting irregularly now would only get him caught. He looked toward the stars, uttering a silent prayer and continued down the road. Before long he reached down and quickly ripped one of his trouser legs and wrapped the cloth around his head. It may have been cold from being drenched, but it hid his bare head, his mark of shame.
    He moved with no sense of purpose. His energy was nearly spent, and the chill of the morning air began to sting painfully, no longer the burning sensation, just pain. He wished had hadn’t so easily discarded his traveling cloak, but it had only served to slow him down. He looked up to the sky and between the cloud cover. The stars were shining brightly, one last defiant twinkle before the sun arrived to upstage them all.
     
  2. Jinral

    Jinral The yet to be published

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    Jake Hurdman couldn’t help but continually look over his shoulder. Though that portion of the city was usually safe for a knight, the night had been quieter than he would have liked. Generally there were at least a handful of drunks moving about, but no one stirred. His metal boots echoed amongst the cobbled streets and stone buildings, only further adding to the disquieting ambience. He shook his head, trying to shake the fear that began to bolster within him.
    He rounded the corner of yet another barren street. He had half a mind to start kicking in doors just to see if anyone was home, but thought better of it. A knight breaking into a home was not unheard of, but the church generally orchestrated those kinds of things. The more Jake could avoid the clergy, the better. He desired nothing more than to ascend the ranks, but the best way to do that was to avoid their attention.
    His fingers absentmindedly traced the etching on his chest plate with his free hand. One day he would have the honored symbol of a Disciple. He would then be at the forefront of the witch hunts, serving the Almighty in the most glorious way. Jack couldn’t help but smile to himself. Delusions of grandeur were a sin yes, but it was to be done for the most sinless of reasons. The thinking was almost backward, but that was how he was taught by the church itself, and they knew much on the matter of sin.
    He continued about the streets, looking for any signs of trouble. This was the third night a row that he was told to patrol the streets. When his commander ordered him to do so, Jake wanted implore upon the man that he was no guard, not anymore. Though, it was true that he had risen in the ranks faster than most. He had enlisted into the service of the church early, barely fifteen years of age. Now, no more than five winters later, he was a knight, looking to become a disciple. It took most men a decade to become a knight, but Jake was different.
    So, after several short arguments, he took the assignment without question showing nothing but the utmost devotion to the cause. So what if he had to spend a few nights patrolling, it could even be several weeks, as long as it made him look good. There was nothing to concern themselves with anyway, a few men had been murdered, likely unconnected incidents. The method of the killing was what haunted everyone. Burned to death, ripped apart, and one had simply vanished, leaving only a pool of blood in his home. The people themselves weren’t of merit, at least not in the church’s eyes. They were all commoners living in the lower districts of Gildan, which was itself a dangerous place.
    Despite his confidence in the matter, he still looked over his shoulder every time he got a chance. The eerie quiet was too unsettling and he felt his breath quicken. Something was off this night, something stirred that shouldn’t have been stirring. Quiet night is all, he told himself, there is nothing in the darkness, stop being afraid of the dark. He continued down another street and then another, the only sound was his boots on the streets and the crackling of his torch.
    Then he heard it. he wasn’t quite sure what it was at the time, but he knew he heard something. He began to jog, his heavy armor barely noticeable. Then he heard it again, this time making out a wail, like the winds traveling down a corridor. He stopped for a moment but felt no breeze on his face. He turned and stared off behind him, but nothing moved. He felt the sweat begin to trickle down the back of his neck. Another wail resounded, this time sounding the cries of a dying women.
    He turned and raced toward the sound. It was distant, but he knew where it would have been coming from. The voice carried over all of the buildings, seeming to flood the area. It was from higher ground. His mind raced, determining the likely locations. Only one came to mind. He darted down an alley, cutting behind buildings, trying to find the fastest shortcut. He began to hear other sounds, as if the night was slowly stirring, coming to life. More screams, more hollers, and footsteps racing back and forth. He dived down another system of alleys, barely wide enough to fit even his smaller frame. For once he was glad to not be the biggest knight in his element.
    The footsteps grew louder, and now they were accompanied by a loud scraping sound, echoing off the walls. Jake stopped, trying to discern their location, but all of the sounds were bouncing off the alleyways that it made it impossible. Another cry was let loose in the air and suddenly silenced. Jake cursed to himself and took off running again. The alley was too narrow from him to draw his blade, but his hand fell to his sword’s grip anyway, his gauntleted hand tightening around it. He rounded what would be one of the last alleyways, but something crashed into him from the side. He fell backward against one of the buildings, slamming his head against the hardened structure. His eyes went out of focus and his head throbbed by that didn’t stop him from grappling with his attacker. Instinct took over and he pressed his forearm down on the man’s windpipe. The attacker coughed and Jake let up some of the pressure as he whispered harshly, “Who are you?”
    The man choked a bit more and Jake continued to let the pressure off, unaware of how close he had come to killing the man before he got a chance to speak. The fire from the torch was a few feet away and light played across the man’s features. His eyes slowly came back into focus, though his head still throbbed. When he could finally see, he nearly let up the pressure all together. As he did however, a gauntleted hand rose up and struck him square in the face. Jake felt himself fall backward off the man and once more his eyes and mind lost focus. “Falen…” he said through grunts of pain, “What did you do that for?”
    The larger knight sat up and inspected his wrist, then rubbed at his throat. “Ya nearly killed me Jacob.” Falen Yernson got to his feet and extended a hand toward Jake, “Why don’t ya try looking before killing eh?”
    Jake forced a smile and took the hand. With Falen’s help, Jake quickly got to his feet and recovered the lost torch. “What are you doing here? Aren’t you supposed to be in the other district?” Jake asked, trying to mask his accusing tone.
    Falen arched an eyebrow, “Did ya not hears the lady screaming?”
    Jake’s senses came rushing back towards him, “The plaza! That is where it is coming from.” He moved to get passed Falen but the larger guard put a hand on his chest plate.
    “I have already been towards that entrance, the gates are sealed and they boarded up the bars, ya can’t even see in.” He looked back toward the main street just at the end of the alleyway, “They obviously got something going on they don’t want the public to see…” he turned his head back toward Jake, “Or us.”
    Jake shook his head, “There goes that paranoia of yours again, have some faith my dear friend. Your lack of it will not serve you well here.” He looked back toward the maze of alleyways. “Alright I may know a way in.” He flashed Falen a smile. Though the larger guard had come into his knighthood nearly a year after himself and was several winters his elder, the man had become very dependable. Despite Falen’s distrust of the church’s overseers, he was one of the best knights in the element and had proven so many times despite his own efforts. Falen had no desire to become a Disciple, and preferred to be right where he was.
    The big man returned the smile, “Lead the way Southerner.”
    Jake turned and moved down the alley. He moved at a brisk jog, tracing the route in his mind. Then he heard that grinding sound once more. When he turned he saw Falen’s shoulder plates were scratching along the buildings as he ran. “Move sideways you oaf,” Jake whispered.
    “This be a stealth mission?” Falen shrugged his shoulders, grating the plate even more, “Then put out the torch lad.”
    Jake smiled as he began smothering the torch, “Call me lad again and you will wish I had choked ya’s.”
    “Your accents coming out,” Falen chuckled to himself. The larger knight was a northerner, evidenced by his reddish-brown hair and his accent. Jake on the other hand was a southerner, his brown hair being so dark that it was nearly black. He had no accent to speak of, most days anyways. Anytime he hung around Jake for too long, he would naturally pick it up, much to his discomfort.
    “Shut up Falen,” Jake gave him a hard punch in the chest and the two were off once more. Though neither of them had grown up together, but felt at home sneaking around alleyways, getting into mischief. At least back in their younger days it was called mischief, now it was called a crime, or treason.
    They winded down alley ways, careful to avoid being seen by the commoners and other patrols that might be in the area. Jake led them to an old warehouse that bordered the plaza. The side door was locked, but the contraption was a simple one. He ran his hand through his closely cropped hair. “Looking for a pin?” Falen asked, “I believe I have one of your mother’s.”
    Jake thrust a boot into Falen’s chest and the sound of metal hitting metal echoed in the alley ways, “If you don’t shut up I am going to get arrested.” He fished a small metal stick out of his coin purse and quickly jammed it in the lock.
    “Arrested for what? Investigating suspicious activity?” Falen asked, the same grin on his face.
    “No,” Jake answered methodically as he worked the lock, “The church frowns on the killing of a knight.” The pin released with an audible click. Jake grinned back toward his friend, “Try and keep up.”
    The larger knight shook his head, “Bet they don’t frown on bloodying up an ass.” He looked around once more before entering the warehouse. Jake was already on the move, climbing over boxes to get to one of the windows overlooking the plaza. Falen shut the door quietly and moved after him, “Hey you speedy little bastard wait for me.”
    Jake stopped dead in his tracks, staring into the darkness, “Please don’t let this be what I think it is..,” he whispered.
    Falen scrambled over to him, “What is wrong friend? Is it a naked woman?” He grinned toward Jake, but the friendly smile was not returned. In fact, Jake hadn’t looked back at all, his eyes were fixed on the shadows. Falen stared at him for a moment, “Jake? What is your problem lad?”
    The smaller knight retrieved his torch from his pack, in a few moments he worked the flint stone he always carried and the flame caught. In the torch light, Falen could now see what had caught his friend’s gaze. “Jake…” he whispered, “What in the Unholy One’s name is this?”
    “I…” Jake muttered, his body frozen in place, “I think…, they are demons …” Another wail echoed from the plaza just aside. The warehouse became alive with the sound of a dozen iron chains moving in the darkness. The two knights drew their swords.
     
  3. Jinral

    Jinral The yet to be published

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    “It is by his will alone that we are even allowed to draw breath! He has the power to cast away not only the breath from your very lungs, but to sentence your eternal soul to damnation. There, in the fiery depths, you shall be devoured a hundred times over by devils and demons alike.” The crowd was silent, staring at the orator with widened eyes, not a sound could be heard amongst the crowd, no one coughed, no one grunted, no one even breathed loudly.
    The orator cast out his hand, “You all!” He shouted. “As it stands, you have all sinned! Sinned against the Holy Ways of our Maker!” There were a few whimpers amongst the crowd as the man spoke. Along with that the only sound as the clinking of the man’s several golden bracelets and the silver chain around his neck grinded against itself.
    From the back of the room, Nathaniel could see the man smile to himself, he had worked the crowd for most of the morning. They had all just reached their breaking point, when their minds were at their weakest. The orator, someone who was once called a priest, continued, his voice booming against the walls of the wooden church, “Avoid eternal damnation, save your souls, now!” He gestured to a few of the younger boys at the front. They carried deep wooden baskets with them as they walked amongst the crowd, urging for offerings from the people. “Save yourself,” the orator continued, “Appease our Creator by showing him you have no greed in your heart, one of the most deadly sins. Free your heart from greed!” The man paused only for a second, his eyes seeming to lay directly on Nathaniel who had not even shifted when the young boy approached with his basket “Free your soul from damnation!”
    The morning ceremony moved rather quickly after the offerings were made. Nathaniel had watched the small children move amongst the entire crowd until they had offerings from everybody. By the time they were done, the poor young ones could barely walk, their wooden baskets filled to the brim with gold, silver, and copper coins. Nathaniel had found himself so disgusted that he had to storm out minutes before the official conclusion. It was not good to draw so much attention to himself, he knew, but he couldn’t stand it any longer. Once he had burst from the church’s main doors, the familiar smell of the village greeted him. Poverty, that was what he smelled, unrelenting and unending poverty.
    Of the several livestock that roamed freely, most were malnourished and plague stricken. Their droppings crowded the dirt streets, polluting the smell even further. Most of the buildings along this main road were the only businesses in the area. The multiple shacks out behind them were what homes were left standing. Beyond those were the wreckage of previously existing homes, likely torn down by the church itself.
    The shops, if they could be called such, had very little to offer anyone beyond basic needs. Young carpenters looked to be at work, trying to repair the multitude of buildings that threatened to collapse under their own weight. In many of the shops, their grey and weathered boards that had once been walls now stood with gaping holes. Where a window might have been, broken shutters hung in place.
    The people themselves were the same as both the animals and the shops. They looked grey and weathered, as well as malnourished and plague stricken. Not one smile amongst the lot, despite the several young people that now shambled about their daily business. In fact, Nathaniel thought, it is all young people...
    Surely anyone of age had to have been within the church’s doors. Nathaniel sighed and began to walk towards the road. He said a quick payer, making the sign of the Holy One on his chest. He had given his due penitence, and now a long road lay before him. The farther he could get from such a vile place, the longer he would survive. In this place, if the church didn’t find him, surely the diseases from the town would.
    A scream echoed up from behind one of the shops. He immediately turned toward the shop nearest the road, a run-down looking building. Nathaniel’s muscles tensed as he stared, the store was right next to the road, but not the direction he needed to go. Today was not the day to be caught unawares, not after recent events. He turned, wishing he had his traveling cloak, perhaps its cowl could shield his ears from the terror that had befallen someone. He quickly ran his hand through his thick black hair, still fearing that one day he may find it bare once more. Nathaniel began to walk, his leather boots kicking up the grey dust as he moved.
    Another scream rose, it was the scream of a woman. Nathaniel felt his heart twinge in pain. He had always been a fool, especially when women were involved. He was like any other man his age. He was barely seventeen winters of age and already knew the harsh reality, a damsel only lead to trouble. He continued walking forward, forcing his feet to move one after another. It took a conscience effort not to turn. This was the world that had replaced his own, this was all any of them had. It was a world where evil could thrive.
    His eyes wandered to the church once more, surely the sermon was over. The again perhaps he had been mistaken, possibly the church wanted more from these peasants now. He looked into one of the many multicolored windows. Luckily, most of them were broken and one provided ample view of what was happening. A large man was knelt before the orator, begging for forgiveness. Apparently his offering was quite lacking that day.
    Look at them, Nathaniel thought, their town is starved. They have given everything they own to the church, their children now suffer because of… Nathaniel’s eyes went wide, Only the children were around, none of the adults. He looked back toward the shop where another scream rose, this time seeming distant, but loud enough for him and the whole church to hear, yet no one inside seemed to move. A few shuddered at the sound, tears streaking down their faces, but no one moved.
    It was no damsel, it’s a little girl! Nathaniel didn’t even have to finish the thought before his body reacted, racing toward the shop. “May the Holy One guide my actions after he strikes down the fallen.” he muttered under his breath. He ran across the street, leaping over a small batch of chickens. He felt his blood surge with power, but made a conscience effort to quiet it down. If he could avoid it, he would.
    He raced up the steps, one of the boards giving way as soon as his foot left the weathered stairs. He heard the muffled cry of the young girl before another ear shattering scream. Nathaniel didn’t bother reaching for the door handle to the place, he just kept running.
    The door splintered beneath his charge and he stumbled into the room. He didn’t have time to take note of the room or its occupants. He only saw a young girl leaning over a counter with a powerful arm holding her down. There were two others in the room nearby. He slammed into the closest, driving his shoulder into the man’s sternum. They both went tumbling end over end before crashing against a nearby wall. The wood nearly gave way, but Nathaniel was back on his feet. The sound of a blade leaving a scabbard rung in the room and he saw the glint of the metal. Nathaniel brought his own knife to bare as he charged the man who had been holding the girl down. The man was wielding a large broad sword, hefting it like it was a child’s toy. Nathaniel’s own blade was just a dagger, the blade about the length of his own forearm. As he charged, Nathaniel drew his arm back and flung the blade, never slowing his steps. The man swung his broadsword through the air, deflecting the dagger, but before he could attempt a follow-on strike, Nathaniel collided with him. As Nathaniel hit the man though, he felt his shoulder dislocate. The man had been wearing heavy armor underneath his cloak. The two crashed through the counter and fell in a hail of splinters. Nathaniel cursed his own stupidity for not seeing the armor as he ripped the man’s helmet off with his good hand. Within seconds he had beaten the man’s face to a bloody mess until he lay still.
    He rose to see the third and final member of the trio stare at him with a blade at the young girl’s throat. The world stopped spinning for a moment and Nathaniel was able to finally see exactly what was going on. The man in the corner was beginning to stir. By his clothing, Nathaniel guessed him to be a woodsman or an exceptional bandit. The young girl in front of him was crying, streaks of dirt ran down her cheeks. She was maybe a dozen winters of age, but no more. She looked to be a frail thing, likely not having eaten a proper meal her entire life. Despite the grey dust that covered her skin, her torn dress and her face, both her blue eyes and the blonde hair seemed to show brightly in defiance of the stark contrast. She was a beautiful child, and clearly her captors thought so as well, but in a much different way.
    Nathaniel’s lip curled into a snarl as he stared down her captor. He wore an all-white robe, embroidered in both crimson and gold. From his wrists hung multiple golden bracelets and he wore a silver chain around his neck. He was clearly weathered in age, but his eyes were as fierce as Nathaniel had ever seen.
    “Heretic…” the old man rasped, “monster, damned soul, do you know what you’ve done! The beast must be freed from her flesh!” The girl sobbed softly as the man spoke. He clung to her tightly and the knife was pressed hard enough to cut slightly into her skin. The man was shaking, whether it was with rage or fury, Nathaniel couldn’t tell.
    “Heretic huh?” Nathaniel managed a wicked grin, “Yet I am not the one trying to press upon an innocent girl, you filthy bastard!” He took a step toward the old man, but the girl sobbed harder as the knife began to cut deeper. “Alright!” Nathaniel held up his hands, “You called my bluff, let her go!”
    The aged priest narrowed his eyes, “I must pacify her flesh, it is only through extacy that the creature may be purged.”
    “As I understand it,” Nathaniel backed away from the holy man, toward the counter, “Lust is one of the worst sins that plagues man. No book of excorcism dictates one must sin to be freed of a demon….” He felt his boot collide against the metal greave of the unconscience man. He looked back up to the pair, “You do nothing but satisfy your own desire!”
    The other man was on his feet now, a pair of blades appearing at his sides. The man was young, maybe little older than Nathaniel himself. Nathaniel looked back as the old man said, “It is not me, it is the will of the church!”
    Nathaniel shook his head and stared at the little girl. He said softly, “Hey little one, I am going to get you out of here, don’t you worry.”
    “No, heretic, you are going to die.” The old man’s tone was cold as he signaled the bandit to attack. The man charged, blades at the ready. The young girl screamed as the man leapt through the air. Nathaniel ducked the man’s vicious swings, and his hands seeking the metal greave of the man on the floor. He sensed the man’s life beneath the metal, heating it. It took all of a second for his power to come rushing through his veins. Before the bandit had landed both feet onto the ground, Nathaniel drew all of the heat from the man into himself. He thrust his curled fist towards the bandit’s stomach, transferring the pent up energy, and his fist drove the bandit backward onto the floor. As he fell his blades clattered onto the floor, next to Nathaniel. The bandit struggled to rise at first, but began to writhe in agony has he clawed at his own stomach. The skin began to rise and bubble, blisters forming, easily seen through the man’s clothing as they sores began to rise into grotesque lumps. The man screamed once more as his belly violently thrashed of his own accord and then burst, flinging blood and entrails across the room.
    The girl screamed once more and the old man stared in horror. He never saw Nathaniel move. The young mage clutched one of the bandit’s blades in his hands. With a practiced motion he flicked the blade across the room into the old man’s throat. With a thud, the aged man collapsed to the floor, never seeing the blade coming. He grasped the blade, but his energy quickly left him as blood pooled beneath him and his white robes, slowly soaking up the crimson liquid. Then the man lay still, his eyes still wide with fear. Nathaniel breathed heavy, the adrenaline beginning to ebb away from his body. Breathlessly he whispered, “To the Unclean One’s jaws with you.”
    The girl stood there silently, horror stricken. She stared with wide eyes at Nathaniel, her face spattered with the blood of her attackers. Nathaniel looked toward her, but could not bring himself to lock eyes with her. After a few moments of silence he turned his head away. “Go,” he said, “your family will be worried about you…”
    He reached over and grabbed his own dagger. Nathaniel moved to leave the shop, but stopped several paces away from the shattered doorway. He turned toward the big man in the armor. He had never seen his face clearly during the scuffle, he hadn’t had time to think. But now he felt sick to his stomach for doing what he’d had to. He look back over the ruined counter, the man’s face no longer leaked blood, but was instead perfectly frozen. His skin had already turned pale white and glistened with small ice crystals and the blood that once freely flowed over the jagged curves of his face was now ice. The man was dead and never saw it coming. Nathaniel sighed and reached down, slowly flipping the big man over. He removed the man’s large traveling cloak and wrapped it around himself. It was rather large, but he would make do. He tucked the dagger into its leather sheath at his back and moved toward the wreckage that was the door.
    He turned before reaching the doorway, kneeling down and making the sign of the Holy One on his chest, “Creator of All we know, hear my prayer. These souls were mislead, their paths shrouded by evil men. They only wished to serve you in your glory, do not damn them for all eternity.” He paused for a second “A few hundred years might do the trick, amen.”
    He rose to his feet, clutching at his wounded shoulder. He turned and looked toward the girl, who remained frozen in place, her blue eyes locked on him, wide with fear. He looked at her and said, “I am sorry, but they deserved it.” He turned to leave, but as soon as he stepped through the doorway he wished he hadn’t. The entirety of the churches occupants now stood in front of the shop staring him down. At the rear was the orator, who simply folded his arms in his white robe.
    Nathaniel shifted unconformatably, “I take it you’re angry…”
    The large man he had seen weeping at the orators feet earlier stepped forward, “You interrupted the ritual.” His eyes were reddened by rage and tears. His meaty fists were clenched at his sides. The muscles beneath his shirt threatened to burst from his tunic. His chest heaved in breathless anger and the veins along his neck swelled a scarlet red.
    Nathaniel shrugged, wincing as his shoulder throbbed in pain, “Didn’t know you could hear me from such a distance, truly I am sorry.”
    “Not that ritual…” The man bellowed, tears now flowing down his face, “The church was going to free my daughter from her demons.” He raced up the steps, faster than Nathaniel would have guessed for a man of his size, “And you ruined it!”
    The man was too quick and his meaty fist collided with Nathaniel before he could react. The power from the blow sent him reeling, and quickly the world faded to black.
     
  4. Jinral

    Jinral The yet to be published

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    Oh, should have put a disclaimer up, this story is likely to get graphic, so read at own risk.
     
  5. Jinral

    Jinral The yet to be published

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    “I am sorry Thomas, but there is no other way.” The voice echoed from stone. Nathaniel tried to open his eyes, but could barely manage to squint them. His entire face was throbbing in pain and he could barely breathe without gasping in agony.
    “We must find another purifier, the demon should be purified!” The voice was an ear shattering yell in Nathaniel’s ears, which only seemed to intensify the pain in his body.
    “There is no purifier for a hundred leagues, the only way to guarantee your daughter’s soul is to purge the demon with fire.” The voice, though quiet and rasped, seemed to fill the chamber. It was the orator, Nathaniel could tell that much.
    His mind began to clear itself form the haze and he started to string together words, forming thoughts into his mind. The pain was just as intense, but he slowly became aware of other sensations. The floor was cold, yes nearly freezing cold. It was hard as well, making the bruises sting worse as it pressed against his skin. He tried to lift his head but it seemed to be made of lead. His face fell against the cold floor. Stone, he thought, It is made of stone. He managed to roll to one side with ease, and the stone seemed to slide of his skin. It was wet.
    He managed to place his hand underneath of him and once more struggled to open his eyes. He barely managed a squint and the pain was nearly unbearable. At first he thought himself blind, but he could make out a soft light in the distance. Cold, stone, damp, and dark…Nathaniel racked his brain, but it moved at a snail’s pace. The images and words slowly filtered into his mind, I am in an underground chamber of stone. He wanted to applaud himself for putting it all together, but thought better of it. He racked his brain as to exactly where the chamber could be, all of the stores in town were too shabby to house such a structure and there was nothing for miles that was likely to have such a place. Except for the church, he thought. The church in town, like every other church in the country, had a cellar, a tomb for the honored dead.
    Nathaniel couldn’t help but smile, they had taken him to the tomb of the honored as a prisoner, it seemed delightfully ironic. The pain from the laugh though was too much and he quickly steadied himself.
    “Has she said anything?”
    “Not a thing. You saw it though, one man frozen to death while another exploded form the inside out. This is the work of a demon, one we must kill before it kills us.”
    “How do we know which one houses the beast?”
    “Does it matter? We kill them both to be safe.”
    There was a sound of boots against stone and the room began to slowly light up. The men had come bearing torches, but their faces were still hidden in the shadows. “He is awake, hit him again.” The boots quickly scuffed against the floor and then Nathaniel’s world went dark once more.

    Heat….flame….it was close. Nathaniel opened his eyes. The pain was less severe and his eyelids opened farther than before. The cold stone floor must have helped with the swelling. His eyes took a moment to adjust in the semidarkness. Night had clearly fallen, but the air was very warm. He scanned the area around him and saw the entire town surrounding him, mouthing voiceless words, each carrying a torch. He shook the grogginess from his head and then his ears nearly ruptured as the town’s people’s mouthed words found their voices. Their shouts became loud and incessant. He almost wished he hadn’t been able to hear them.
    He snarled and tried to move, to get away from the maddened crowd, but couldn’t. He shifted slightly and felt the wooden pole at his back. He tried to move his hands and feet, but both his wrists and ankles were bound painfully by rope. His shoulder functioned properly, likely put back into place when they tied his hands so tightly. He struggled to break free of his bonds, but had no room to budge. He stretched his fingers, grasping for something, anything. What they found though, was a smaller set of hands.
    Through the din of the crowd he heard the little girl sob, calling for her mother. Nathaniel’s heart nearly broke on the spot as the girl wept, begging to be rescued by her mother. Her father, the big man from before, was pleading with the crowd, but to no avail. Nathaniel wrapped his fingers around hers and turned his head sideways. “What is your name little one?”
    The sobbing slowly stopped and she said, “Kaila sir, my name is Kaila.”
    He could barely hear her over the crowd, “Okay Kaila, don’t be scared, I everything’s going to be fine.”
    The girl sobbed harder, but her fingers squeezed his. He choked back the fear in his throat that threatened to send him into despair, but right now was not the time. The tiny fingers wrapped in his forced him to stay focused, to think. Getting out of the bonds wouldn’t be a problem. He had to think, had to plan, had to see every possibility. This was what he did, he knew how to escape, he just needed time to think…
    Before his idea could be formulated, one of the more irate villagers leapt forward, their torch colliding with the bramble that was laid at Nathaniel’s feet. The thing instantly took flame and spread quickly. It wasn’t long before he felt his skin begin to sear. Kaila began to scream in both pain and fear, her cries nearly drowned out by the crowd’s cheering and her father’s weeping. Her fingers squeezed painfully against his. Planning time is over, Nathaniel thought.
    He breathed deeply and closed his eyes, concentrating. Instantly the fire faded and died. Like when someone put the cover on a candle, only the smoky residue remained. The crowd immediately fell silent and the only thing Nathaniel could hear was Kaila’s sobbing. He opened his eyes and every single villager stared at him. He gave them a wicked grin, and a few of them gasped. He was sure the torchlight was dancing in such a fashion that the shadows played tricks on their minds. As useful as that was, it wouldn’t push them over the edge.
    He breathed deeply once more and flexed his fingers. Every flame on the torches died without warning, casting them all in darkness. He concentrated the heat in his wrists and ankles, first chilling the area to prevent himself from being burned, and then igniting the air around it. Nathaniel felt the straps on his wrist and feet begin to burn away. Once he could move his hands, he removed the cold shield he had placed on his fingers that prevented him from burning Kaila. Still the crowd stared, one or two backing away nervously.
    He had absorbed too much heat though and the pain in his body was excruciating. He couldn’t contain it for much longer. The fire coursed through his body and he had to struggle to keep cold enough so that his blood wouldn’t boil. He lifted his hands in the air and let the fire roam free. Immediately the flame shot up from his outstretched hands into the night sky. He roared in pain as he let the flames go, trying to use his power to protect himself as best as he could.
    The townsfolk needed no more prompting, immediately fleeing in all directions form the terror that had befallen their town. Woman and men alike screamed as they ran. Nathaniel stepped down from the platform, towards where the crowd had been. He looked up toward the church and saw the orator gesture in his direction. From within, five large men burst into the streets. Each of them charged him with their blade drawn. They all wore armor, each etched with a great tree. It was the tree of Gildan, their capitol city. At least they’re not Disciples, he thought.
    The five men ran without hesitation, uttering war cries as they went. Nathaniel said a silent prayer and stared at the closest. He held his arm out and the fire coursed through him once more. The resulting bolt of fire slammed into the man, knocking him back. The flames lingered in an almost liquid form. Steam and then smoke began to rise from the man’s armored chest. He began to scream as his armor melted to his skin.
    Sure that the first would not rise again, he turned his attention to the other assailants. They showed no hesitation as they quickly closed the distance, blades held high. The first of them was faster and swung his blade in a wide arc. Nathaniel dropped to a knee, avoiding the powerful strike. He outstretched his hand, clutching the man by the wrist. He could feel the warmth of his blood as it flowed under his skin. Nathaniel focused on that heat and began to draw from it as fast as he could. He felt for the earth beneath his shoes, and began to transfer all of his power into the ground. He sent his flames down, finding as many rocks as he could and melting them in an instant. Once they were in liquid form, he drew them from the ground like water from a well. Then without any extra thought, he drew all the heat form his own skin, freezing it instantly. The rocks around him melted on his command and layered themselves around his body. His entire upper torso was covered in the rock, included his face and head. After forming around his body, the rocks continued to be lit aflame. He constantly concentrated on keeping his skin frozen, drawing from his inner energy.
    In the blink of an eye, he had summoned rock armor from the earth itself and cast aside the frozen corpse. Nathaniel uttered a warcry of his own and charged the oncoming attackers. The next one froze in terror as Nathaniel slammed a rock covered fist into the man’s face. His bones immediately shattered beneath the blow and he fell to the ground, unmoving. The next two were quicker. Before Nathaniel could move, the first one brought his blade across Nathaniel’s throat, but it bounced off with a shower of sparks. The second tried to drive his blade into Nathaniel’s gut. The sword pierced the rocks, but only barely pierced an inch or two into his lower stomach.
    He reached down and grabbed the blade from the man, crushing the metal in his rocky hands. The metal crunched beneath his grasp and the tip broke off in his hands. The man stared horror as Nathaniel grabbed him by the throat, dragging him closer. The man screamed as his flesh burned against the molten rock. Despite the flames searing his skin, his eyes were transfixed, locked onto Nathaniel’s piercing blue gaze. In another second his eyes closed, his neck snapped by a simple gesture of the mage’s hands.
    Nathaniel dropped the man’s corpse and turned toward the final attacker. The final soldier hesitated, his blade in mid-swing. He quickly turned to run back to the safety of the church, dropping his blade into a cloud of dirt. Nathaniel felt his inner power waning, but he drew upon the last of it. With another roar he focused his power and extended his arms. The burning rock around his body turned to liquid once more he willed it to sail through the air. The man never saw the molten rock coming as it slammed into his body. It quickly enveloped him, wrapping his body in the heated stone. He tried to scream but the rock muffled his wails of agony. The cries ended abruptly as the molten material burned through his body and the stench of the burnt flesh hung in the air. He still writhed on the ground, clinging to his life.
    Nathaniel lowered his arms as the man lay still. When he did however he fell to his knees, gasping for breath. The chill over his body quickly faded and his skin thawed He tried to stand but struggled to even breathe. He could feel every fiber of his being ache. It wasn’t like a normal pain or ache from over exertion of one’s body. His very being ached, something deeper than pains in his muscles, it was as if his very spirit was weakened by working the magic.
    He managed to stand, but his body’s responsiveness was slow. He tested his limbs and they seemed to be unharmed. His fingers though did not function, or even moved under his command. He looked down and saw the blackened skin. He silently cursed and then moved forward.
    Nathaniel looked toward the church. The orator stared in horror and quickly clambered his way inside, closing the door. Nathaniel stalked forward with renewed resolve, his fists curled. As he passed by the burning form of his last victim, he flicked his wrist and the flame collected in his hand, leaving the man to endure the last moments of agony without the sweet relief of death. Nathaniel extended his arm and the flame leapt from his hands, smashing through the church doors. The doors broke into kindling, the pieces slowly burning with the mage’s fire.
    “Y-y-y-y-you can’t en-en-enter!” the man stammered. He collected himself and bellowed, “Here I am safe from your evil, you can’t not cross that threshold!” he pointed to the edge of the doorway, several steps in front of Nathaniel.
    Nathaniel couldn’t help but smile, “that rule applies to evil only, and since you can pass freely, this is no Holy ground!” He strode forward and crossed the line.
    The orator though, simply smiled, “Like I believe in such silly superstition. I just wanted you to move forward.”
    There was a loud sound above him and Nathaniel quickly dodged backward, falling to a crouch. His nerve endings were becoming responsive again and the pain in his stomach nearly knocked the wind from him. He rose to see a Disciple drop from the ceiling, sword pointed downward. The blade plunged nearly hilt deep into the floorboards. Nathaniel stared with wide eyes as he clutched at the painful wound in his stomach. He managed to wrap his frostbitten fingers are the crushed metal in his stomach and drew the sword from his abdomen. The blade had not bit deep, but was still painful enough for him to utter a cry. Once free from his body, he awkwardly flung the blade over the crouched Disciple. He didn’t wait to see if the blade had struck home, but instead drew upon the night sky, drew upon the chill of the air. He felt the power flood through him, and stretch to his finger tips. The temperature behind him rose drastically as he sucked the cold from it. He flung his hands forward and felt the sheer chill of the air begin to condense. Before long, the air itself froze in place. The ice wall quickly formed in the church’s doorway, blocking him form the Disciple and the priest.
    Once he finished, he lowered his arms exhausted. He began to cough violently, and blood sprayed onto the ice wall with each cough. He had pushed himself too far once more, but he’d had no choice. He sighed, and began to turn away. Then a giant cracking sound rang in the air and he nearly had to duck as the Disciple’s blade drove through the ice. Needing no more encouragement, Nathaniel turned to run. His body ached from the night’s effort, and his skin began to feel once more as the chill of the night air clung to him. His tunic had once again been burned away, leaving his bare skin as his only protection against the elements. He reached down and ripped the cloak off of one of the uncharred men he had killed, wrapping the torn bit of cloth around himself.
    He moved toward the road, clutching at the wound in his stomach. He moved to check his dagger, but as he did he realized his fingers were of no more use. He cursed under his breath and let his frostbitten fingers fall to his side. The dagger would be of no use to him anyway. As he sped through the now deserted streets, he spotted Kaila and her father. He held her in his arms and wept like a child. She on the other hand, had locked eyes with Nathaniel never looking away.
    He wanted to keep walking, wanted to ignore their presence, but the night had already been burden enough, he didn’t think he could bear it if he left the innocents to die. He stopped just short of the pair, his boots kicking up the grey dust into the night. The large man looked up in-between his sobs. One he saw Nathaniel standing there, he thrust his daughter backward, shielding her with his body, “get back devil!” he cried, wailing as he did. “You shall not have her!”
    Nathaniel crouched down, meeting the man at eye level. The man’s resolve wavered as he jerked his head back. Nathaniel narrowed his eyes and said, “The only devils are the ones you worship, it is not the way of the Holy Path to be filled with avarice and greed. Your clergyman wear gold while your children starve, think about that in the future.” Without another word Nathaniel rose to walk away. The man stared silently at the spot the mage had just left, unbelieving of the words in his ears.
    The young mage struggled to walk, but strived to not show his pain. “Oh,” Nathaniel said without slowing, “offering your daughter’s chastity up to the priests? If I wasn’t so tired I would send your soul to hell myself. Get her out of town, protect her from those that would harm her.” By the time he finished Nathaniel nearly had to yell his message to the man. Quietly, he slid away into the night, long before the Disciple ever broke through the wall of ice.
     
  6. Jinral

    Jinral The yet to be published

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    Due To my laptop being on the fritz and because I'm traveling, updates might stop for a bit, once I get a chance I will continue to post
     
  7. Jinral

    Jinral The yet to be published

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    I am still alive! Sorry the place where I am as spotty internet and I am busy most days, but I will finish this project!