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Days of Ice
Something was wrong. Elan felt it deep in his bones, cold like frost. He woke up. He looked to his wife. She seemed to toss and turn. Elan got up, put his clothes on, a pair of black pants, made from northern sea lions. He put on a shirt, purple as lavender.
He then went to his sword. The familiar whisperings of his ancestors could be heard from his sword. Trouble. Trouble. Trouble. The voices whispered, like poisonous vipers hissing.
The sword had been in the family for generations, consuming previous ancestors before they died. When wielded, it became one with the user, making the sword and wielder as one entity.
It was a gift from the wizards of the mysterious East, to the House of Groln as a peace offering to his conquering ancestor Eran the Blood-letter. It had served the warrior house well, making th wielders strong and wise beyond there years, making the people love them, and makning enemys shake in there boots.
Elan picked up the sword, hand clutching the silver wired handle, knuckles turning white.
He walked to the wood door and opened it, blade sticking out first.
When he came out, his feet crunched on fresh frost. Frost? In the summer? In the South?
Death. Death. , his blade whispered.
He continued down the hall, feet crunching the frost. He then saw his servants in the hall. Dead. They were hacked to pieces, last death screams frozen to their faces. Blood frozen on the stone floor. Sorcery. A voice deep in the back of his mind shouted.
Elan then felt a slight breeze, like at night on the dark northern moors. He lifted up his blade.
Someone is here., said the sword.
Elan could feel eyes, burning like coals on him. Someone behind him touched his shoulder, making Elan's spine tingle. He swung his blade, turning, a voice chuckled throatily. “Foolish King”, the voice rasped.
The voice was familiar. But the King couldn't place it. “Who are you?”, Elan said.
A blue cloaked figure appeared, face pale as ice. Nose shaped like a hawk's. Eyes blue as the raging sea. Elan could have sworn he was looking at his own reflection. Except for a long scar across the man's face.
“Hello Brother.”, the man said cynically.
Brother. , the sword said. Elan saw an image of his father, putting a child on a mountain, birds of prey swirling over head. Cursed.
Elan then remembered. When he was born, there was another: a brother. He could remember seeing a boy, deformed in the leg in the background of palace activities, a boy that always glared at him. He never knew who he was. Erion.
Until now. It all came together clearly now.
“Oh my Gods.”, Elan whispered.
“Aah, you remember.”, said Erion. “After all those years. You fool, never recognizing me. You just wanted to forget.”
“How could you do this, brother? We're of the same blood..”
“Half-blood brother. Uncle Elairion was my sire, mother's brother. A b*****d born in incest.” , he spat.
“What do you want brother?”
“Don't call me that! You don't mean it. I want your kingdom, and something more. Our birthright switched.”
Erion smiled crookedly. “No it isn't. There's a crystal in the swamps that will change that.”
“If I don't?”
“Your wife will die. And with her, her unborn daughter.”
Alain, pregnant? He hadn't known. The voices from the sword screamed for him not to go.
But, he had no choice.
The swamp stunk of rotting flesh. Elan waded through it, sword drawn fully, ready to defend himself. His battle armor and red plumed casque was covered in mud, looking more like a mercenary from the Wilds than a King.
He kept moving, mud squelching as his boots sank into the brown mud. He thoughts of his wife consumed his thoughts. He knew he would never bear her loss. He looked at the map his “brother” gave him. He was getting closer to the crystal's home.
His sword still protested, making Elan almost insane. Every once in awhile he wanted to drive a dagger in his head to stop it. He, thinking of his wife and kingdom forgot about it.
He thought of his beautiful wife, the memory of walking with her on the sandswept Eastern shore on their honeymoon, making soft sweet love on the beach, under the stars.
He was brought back to reality, as he saw the sprawling Temple of the Crystal. It was a design not recognizable enough for Elan to figure out who made it. He felt a feeling of foreboding. Death...Cold..Death, rasped the sword.
The silver towers glinted dully in the afternoon light. He pressed on, hacking through the plants that hindered his path.
He came to the entryway, the design a cavernous maw in the ground. Elan whispered a word of magic, his ancestors in the sword repeating his words. The sword gleamed a green eldritch light, gleaming like torchlight.
He went down into the dark depths.
As Elan walked down the ancient hall, he had a burning curiosity to touch the wall. He touched the wall, the sword's voices filling his mind with a warning. He filtered them out. The wall was cut more fine that a stone mason's saw.....it was alien.
That's when he heard a piercing scream. It sounded like the wrath of a woman scorned, yet had an inhuman quality also. He saw a large form in the shadows, loping towards him like a great ape.
It had a great snout like a wolve's. The top of it's head had hair made of green and red banded serpents, hissing with fangs dripping with venom. It's back legs were like a lion's, it's frontarms like a baboon's except larger.
It's eyes gleamed with a feral intensity. It then laughed like a hyena, and charged, claws slashing. The claws got stuck on the casque's plume, and it ripped the casque off Elan's head. The King yelled a battle cry,in the tongue of the old King's d**ning the beast to h***, and slashed it's arm leaving a bloody scratch in it's wake. It was still laughing like a banshee as it slashed at Elan's face. Elan blocked with his short shield,the beasts claws scratched Elan's forehead.
Elan then moved quick as a panther, and chopped off one of it's humanoid arms, black ichor spurting at the stump. It gave an unholy scream.
The sword laughed like a jester. It wanted more blood. As the beast receded into the shadows, he threw the sword, blade flying through the air like a crossbow bolt from h***. The blade gleamed like a shooting star gleaming through the sky.
It found it's mark, splitting the creature's skull , brain matter splattering in every direction.
Elan went over, and pried the blade from the dead beast's skull. He then sat down, and rested, breathing heavily.
He woke up from dreaming of his wife, and of his unborn daughter. Would his daughter miss him?, he mused. He dismissed that thought and went to the task he needed yet to complete.
He went up to the rotting corpse, maggots had gotten to the body, and rats chewed and fought over the best pieces of flesh. He noticed something odd. The snakes were gone. It didn't look like they were ripped off by carrion.
They just disconnected themselves from the skull. They left a trail of clear excrement. He followed the trail, as if he was a piper on a fresh trail of rat feces.
For what felt like hours, he came to a cavernous chamber that was covered in a pool of water. There was a path of moss covered stepping stones. In the center was an odd clear squared crystal, at least five feet wide and long.
He went forward , jumping from stone to stone as if he were a child again. As he kept moving, he could have sworn he saw something moving. The cube ebbed and pulsated with a blueish light.
Run...Leave mortal...Run , said a voice that didn't belong to either the sword, nor Elan's thoughts. The cube.
He paid the warning no heed. He had a task he needed to finish. And finish it he would.
He kept moving, now the water was boiling. Thousands of snakes came up through the water, ready to feast on mortal flesh. He praised the fates he had armor on. He screamed in defiance. He slashed through many scaled forms. And crushed others with his boots. He was getting closer to the pulsating alien cube.
He then was on the same stone as the cube. He saw ropes made of steel connected to the cube and the stone. Stop...stop now... , screamed the cube, echoing through his skull.
He brought his sword through the ropes, making sparks fly. The sparks coursed up the blade, sending shock waves through him. His eyes flooded in darkness.
He woke up to a bright light, the room was so bright it was white. Elan sensed another presence in the room, his spine tingled. Who are you? Why are you here? , the voice he heard earlier said.
The words just came out, without choice, they came out. It was as if his mind was being combed through, sifting through the cracks, gathering the information.
I will let you out., said the voice. I will come with you. With that, he felt his body fly through the air, his view was distorted as trees and swamp life.
His body was dropped in an area with grass. He felt something in his palm. It was the cube , but matching the size of his fist.
When Elan came home, there was no one alive to meet him. The houses and buildings were covered in frost. The dead lined the streets, like discarded potato peels.
The rage burned in the King's heart like a coal, gradually getting hotter and hotter. The sword whispered in detail how it was going to disembowel that wizard.
He kept walking, feet covered with frozen congealed blood.
The returning King rested his hands on the twelve foot tall doors, adorned with the gold faces of King's past glaring at him as if asking, why did you do this.
He looked up at them. I didn't do this! He wanted to scream aloud. His people were eradicated, and the murderer hid in his castle!
And there was nothing he could have done to prevent him. But this day, the b*****d would feel his rage.
The doors creaked with age , and he went in.
Elan's boots clacked as he walked to the throne his brother was sitting in. The blood on his boots followed in his wake in bright red smears, like an artist's paint.
His so called brother was wearing a furred mantle, larger than his thin bony arms and legs, making him look like a dead king, on a stone bed. He smiled crookedly, yellow teeth revealing themselves. His thin albino hands were clutching a scepter, like a skeleton of a warrior still clutching a sword. His long dirty nails went over the designs etched on the rod.
“Welcome Brother.”, Erion said in his rasping voice, eyes glittering with pure hatred.
“You have the crystal, yes?”
Elan was silent, just staring at his brother. His face devoid of expression, unnerving Erion. “Speak!”
Elan undid an obsidian black leather pouch. He threw it at Erion's feet, it's sliding echoing down the royal hall.
Erion grabbed the pouch, like a drunkard holding on to his tonic. “Now I will rule!”, he cackled. He loosened the strings slowly, trying to build up the tension.
His face was filled with shock, his face turning pale as fresh snow. “You bloody fool!”, he screamed. “Where's the d**ned crystal!?”
“Right here.”, said the King. He pulled out the crystal in a different pocket. It pulsated with red light. He threw it at the ground, pieces shattering like glass. An inhuman voice boomed like a thunderclap. YOU SEEKED FORBIDDEN KNOWLEDGE! YOU WILL SURELY PERISH! , the voice bellowed.
Erion screamed a scream no other human should ever go through. He turned into a pile of ground up sand. Elan walked away, to find his wife. The frost was starting to thaw.
He went up to his room. On the bed was his wife, her insides had been ripped out, her eyes stared at the ceiling, glazed over with pain.
Elan screamed at the heavens.