|The Ancient Prophecy Pt.
by Vipers ©
was split into 10 parts. Jump to any of the segments from here:
The Castle of Stromgard was busy as usual. At the castle courtyard, soldiers stood in rows, responding to commands from their trainers. Sound of metal clashing and heavy boots thumping on the ground filled the air. The instructors drilled the soldiers vigorously, yelling and screaming all the time, and were quickly answered with the same intensity. For most people, they found the environment noisy and annoying, for the sound could be heard throughout the city beneath the palace gate.
For Maya Murdock, the sound was extremely annoying. She was a nature girl. She loved being in places where everything was natural. She loved being alone in the forest or vast grassland or near caves and waterfalls where she could hear the sound of life around her. As a slave at the busy town of Tiras, she had been confined from that freedom for a long time, but since she joined Atrus' cause, she had had plenty of time to unleash her heart's desire.
Atrus... Atrus White Lion... Her master and hero. She could remember the very first day she met him. She could remember the fear, the amazement, and the excitement she had, blended together in their first encounter. Her vows remained that she would serve him completely, even if it would cost her life.
Her hands grasped the metal talisman in her neck. Her father's last memory, the talisman had proven to be magical. Anna had confirmed it that the talisman magically increased the wearer's speed and agility, enabling her to move and run faster than normal humans. The talisman should indeed be useful for her, for speed was indeed her most valuable asset.
Her mind shifted to Anna, Adriana Freesland, her mistress. As a priestess of Lycra, her magical ability was impressive. She was very smart, too, and in fact her vast knowledge impressed her the most. Just like her, Anna shared the same fate of her childhood. She was raped when she was only seventeen, and was therefor banished from the shrine. Yet she rose up from her grief and had become Atrus' most trusted ally.
The noisy sound stopped, but the training was far from over. Instead, the soldiers grouped together near the fountain where Maya was sitting. Today was a special day in the training schedule, for there was a special event being held. It was a joust between Atrus White Lion and Captain Hawk.
Captain Hawk was the head of the royal guard instructor team. Being the youngest captain in the royal army didn't mean he was incompetent, for he was the best man in lance and spear fighting. No one could match his spear skill. Atrus, however, was not good with spear, so he used his Rainbow Sword. He received the sword from Baron Stoke when they were battling the demons to save the town of Blackwell from destruction. Anna could not confirm it, but the sword was indeed magical. The metal was heavy and strong, but it was incredibly light in his hand.
From her spot next to the fountain, Maya got a perfect view of the battleground. Anna was nowhere in sight, for she was taking a private lesson with a knight on how to ride a horse. Maya couldn't help but laughed, thinking of her mistress, trying to control the horse. Well, she is going to miss the fight...
The soldiers sat quietly on the ground around the battleground. At the center, Captain Hawk stood proudly with his spear on his hand. The spear was real, with sharp blade at the end. Atrus stood defiantly, facing him. His Rainbow Sword rested on his back.
"This is real, Atrus... Real weapons and real blood..." Hawk warned.
"Indeed." Atrus answered calmly.
"I've never fought a Ranger before... Let's see how awful they are..." he taunted.
"Admit it, Hawk... You're too old for this..."
The battle started as dashed at each other and swung their weapons. The weapons clashed together and the two warriors broke their engagement. As soon as they were apart, Hawk's spear broke into two parts. The crowds grasped as the sight.
"Boy... this thing is pretty strong..." Atrus inspected his sword.
"Guards! Get me another spear!"
Quickly Hawk wielded a new spear with curled blade at the end, and charged Atrus with it. He played his spear with amazing skill, but Atrus also played his sword well, blocking every blow. Hawk was very skilled in using both ends of the spear and often surprised Atrus by using the other end. Atrus was indeed faster and was able to dodge the attacks. Suddenly Hawk leaped forward and swung the spear over his head. Atrus escaped the blow just in time as the blade sliced through the hard ground. He imitated the attack and made an overhead strike, but Hawk saw him coming and moved out of the way. The sword penetrated the ground and met the spear blade with a loud clash. When Hawk lifted the spear, the blade had been cut into two. Again, the crowd was amazed by the sword's strength.
"Oh my... I'd better be careful with this..." Atrus wiped the dust off his sword.
"Guards! Get me a lance!"
The fight continued as Atrus charged for attack and put Hawk completely on defensive. The lance's thick body offered more protection to the sword's blow, and Atrus held himself back a little bit. However, whatever in the sword's way wouldn't last for long. The sword cut through logs, metal posts, and even water pipes, which were made of solid stone. Hawk answered the attack by continuously jabbing the lance on the ground, targeting Atrus' legs, but never found his mark.
After fifteen minutes of harsh battle, the joust was decided a draw. Both men were exhausted, but no one scored any hits on each other. The losses, however, were high. Among those were 3 flag posts, 2 banner posts, 4 wooden benches, 8 lances, 11 spears, and a battleground itself. The entire battleground was filled with holes and cracks, that it badly needed repairs before it could be used again.
The soldiers clapped their hands as both warriors bowed. Then the crowd was dismissed for a short break. Atrus sheathed his sword again and faced his opponent.
"I have to say, that was a wonderful match. You are very good."
"You're not bad yourself." Hawk smiled. "Your sword is very deadly."
"It's rather new, but it keeps me alive until now..."
Their conversation was interrupted when somebody approached. It was Anna, and she was not in her best shape. She walked limply, with bruises all over her arms. Her priestess costume was full of dirt. The satin dress was ruined by the dirt. Her short satin skirt was torn here and there. A wide bandage covered her forehead. Maya quickly jumped on her feet and ran to her to help, but she brushed her away.
"Mistress...? What happened? Are you hurt?"
"Is that an honest question, Maya? Or are you just mocking me?!"
Maya stepped back quickly and Anna felt terrible. "Sorry..."
When Atrus saw Anna, he was completely shocked, but Anna cut him off pretty quickly. "Don't say anything, Ranger, or you're toast...!"
"What happened with you? You got stumped by the horse?" Atrus asked anyway.
"Yeah... twice... And got pulled by the horse all the way across the field..."
"It can't be..." Hawk grasped. "He was the greatest cavalier trainer..."
"Well, I'm not a cavalier." Anna grumbled, then looked at Atrus. "Don't give me that look."
Atrus snickered. "I know I should have been the one to train you..."
Again, their conversation was interrupted when a royal guard approached them. "Captain Hawk, Sir White Lion, the king wants your presence inside the courtroom immediately."
Hawk turned to Atrus. "They must have finished making the alliance proposal."
"The sooner we leave, the better. Come."
Both men left for the castle leaving the girls. Anna just stood there, watching as Atrus walked away. Maya's hand softly caressed her shoulder.
"Don't take it personally, Mistress... You know he didn't mean to insult you..."
Anna reached out for the earrings on her ears. Atrus had given them to her on her birthday. She loved them. She treasured them. They were the sign of Atrus' unspoken care to her.
"I know, Maya..." She smiled. "I know..."
"Come, Mistress... Let me tend your wound..."
The courtroom was silent. King Edward sat uneasily on his throne. Lord Garth, the royal advisor, stood quietly beside the throne. General Kepfer, the minister of war and foreign affairs, sat on his chair. Captain Hawk sat on the other side of the room, while Atrus stood before the king, unmoved.
"This is the fateful day for the kingdom, Sir Atrus." The king slowly said. "The kingdom has lost a hero to the enemy, and has almost lost you. We have carefully read your report. Sir Stoke's betrayal is unacceptable, but he will be missed."
Atrus stayed silent. Baron Anthony Stoke was a villain from the Southern Aragon that had almost sold the region to the demons. He was also Maya's former slaver and the killer of her parents. But her sincerity had turned the baron back from his wrong way and he gave his life to save hers. Finally, with his last breath, he gave them information vital to the kingdom about the demons' ultimate plan.
"And if the baron didn't lie, the plague of the undead armies will spell doom to the realm." King Edward continued. "The practice of bringing dead people to life is forbidden throughout the realm."
"Indeed." Lord Garth stared at Atrus darkly. "The demons have to be stopped."
"The alliance must be forged, your majesty." Atrus answered. "The kingdom of Aragon would not stand a chance alone, but if we join hands with other kingdoms, we may succeed."
"We have faith in you, young man, and your friends." General Kepfer spoke up.
The king smiled, and lifted a scroll with his right hand. The scroll was made of fine paper, tied with a thin band.
"This is the proposal from the kingdom of Aragon to forge an alliance with other kingdoms. I will entrust you with the scroll. Go and forge the alliance in the kingdom's name. Our lives may depend on your success."
Atrus accepted the scroll. "I will do my best, your majesty."
"And do your best you will, Sir White Lion, because I will assist you in any way. You will not travel alone. I have chosen an assistant who will help you in your travel, and he is Sir Hawk."
Atrus was surprised, then turned to face his friend. Hawk just smiled from his seat. "That's right, buddy. I will go with you."
"But you're with the royal guards..."
"Sir Hawk has voluntarily left his position as the chief trainer for his new task." The king said. "He will be ready to go when you are."
"Thank you, your..."
The east door swung open with a crash, and a young man with complete plate armor barged in. Atrus had seen the man before. Prince Roberto was the king's second son, and as the foremost knight of the realm, Atrus had been forced to fight him to gain the king's trust. The battle had issued Atrus as the winner, and Roberto wasn't very excited with the result.
"Father, if these people go, let me go too!"
The people inside the court were surprised at his request. The king stared at his son, puzzled.
"Roberto, are you aware how dangerous the journey will be?"
"I am! I am the foremost knight of the realm. I fear no evil."
"But, Prince Roberto, you are the heir of the kingdom!" Lord Garth exclaimed.
"I don't care! I will go, and nobody can stop me!"
The king was silent for a while. It was clear that nothing could stop the young prince from going with Atrus. Yet releasing the heir of the kingdom to enemy's territory would be foolish.
"Very well... although your mother would not agree to this..."
"I have talked to her. She agrees." Roberto quickly added.
Finally the king nodded. "You may go. Pack your things up." He turned to Atrus and Hawk. "Please take care of my son."
But Roberto cut him off. "I will be taken care by nobody!" Then he walked out.
The court was silent for a while. The king sighed. "Please forgive my son, Sir White Lion, Sir Hawk. It's all my fault. I should have spent more time with him when he was young..."
"Please, your majesty, you have taught him well!" Hawk spoke up.
"Not well enough, I'm afraid. He is an able warrior, but he lacks experience and attitude. He keeps his pride high, and is willing to break his warrior codes. He is unworthy to be the king of Aragon. If I may speak frankly, I'd rather rule the kingdom from my grave than letting him take over my place."
All people in the courtroom were shocked at the king's confession. He was indeed deeply grieved by his son's incompetence. Then General Kepfer rose from his seat and talked to the king quietly. Soon he, the king and Lord Garth were engaged in a serious discussion.
"We have made an important decision." Lord Garth concluded the discussion. "We are to demote the prince from his royal position."
"What?!" Hawk blurted.
"My son is no longer the heir of the throne, at least for the duration of his journey." King Edward explained. "He will become a commoner, a normal knight under your command."
Atrus was stunned to find the king pointing at him. "My command? Your majesty, I can't do that... I mean, with the prince's safety at stake..."
"You have proven yourself, Ranger." General Kepfer said slowly. "We trust that you can protect the prince and bring him back alive."
"Please, Sir White Lion, I need your help. I need you to teach my son the real struggle of life, so we stripped him off his royalty to make your job easier. I'm growing old, and soon my time will come. I want to see my kingdom ruled by somebody worthy. I have confined my son for too long, and I'm too old to teach him anything.
"I therefor ask you to teach him all things a king needs to know. He had been confined inside the castle for too long, and he had grown superior here. It's time that he meets somebody superior to him. I cannot drill him. I want the fate of life to drill him, and I want you to watch over him. He may be a difficult man, but the fate of the kingdom lies in his hand."
The king stood up from his throne and stared at Atrus. "Sir White Lion, knowing the danger involved in your task, this is not an order. This is a simple request from the king of Aragon." And to Atrus' surprise, the king fell on his knees, and was quickly followed by Lord Garth and General Kepfer.
Atrus was in the greatest confusion in his life. The king asked him sincerely, and refusing him would be against his will. But taking the annoying prince with him could jeopardize the entire mission. The young prince had proven to be a major nuisance. But the king was right. The prince needed experience outside the castle. He hated to hold the fate of the kingdom in his hand, but he knew he couldn't refuse.
Atrus fell on his knees and bowed. "I will guard Prince Roberto with my life."
Atrus and Hawk sat uneasily on the bed inside their room back in the inn. The girls were listening carefully to their story, and somehow Atrus could guess their response.
"WHAT?!!! That little brat is going to travel with us?!!"
"Anna, I know this might sound crazy, but..."
It's insane!!" Anna regained her breath for a while. "Atrus,
do you know what it means? We have our vows to the Guardian! That Prince
Roberto might hold the fate of the kingdom, but if we fail, the fate of
the entire realm is at risk!"
was split into 10 parts. Jump to any of the segments from here:
|Another top quality story by Vipers.|
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