All words presented in this blog are purely opinion, not fact - unless specifically stated otherwise in the post.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Oathbinder

Just a little bit of a story I've been workign on lately. I'm not sure how much further I'm going to go with it. I'm not really sure what it is yet.
I'm starting to think that I need to stop writing the prologue first. I'm writing these big epic entries that dont really have anythign to do with the next bit of the story and it's making me feel a bit meh about the next bit, like it's an anti-climax, maybe. I don't know. What I do know is that I'm getting to the next scene, the scene with the character you're supposed to root for and that's where I'm stopping. That's where I'm falling down.

Anyway, here's the latest in a long line of prologues.


Ten dead men stood in a circle around the seal. It was roughly three meters wide and raised ten centimeters from the floor. None of the dead men were certain that it had been there before the battle, but here it was, right where the old words had said that it would be.
The dead men looked very much alive, and from a certain perspective they still were. Each still had a pulse, their skin was not sallow, they had scars and wounds, of course - they had just been though a great battle - but in any manner that a good physician might measure life they were alive, these ten dead men.
Each one looked different from the last, a man from every major province of the world. some with blonde hair, some with brown, one with red, two with black. one man had skin as black as night, one had flesh as light as milk, and the rest were shades of in between.
The dead men wore armour, each one adorned with the best armour of their peoples. They all looked so different. The different styles and qualities that the cultures of the world had created were so alien to one another, from the brightly coloured and greatly ornamental armour of the orient to the conservative steel grey armour of the west, they were all just as strong and capable as the last, yet they looked so different that they could have come from different worlds entirely.
With such difference between these men one would assume war, one would assume that battle had broken out between them, each one believing that they were the true way and all others were wrong, and a decade ago that might have been true, but these were great men. Kings in their own right. They had rallied armies, accomplished great deeds, won terrible weapons and fought back a darkness that had threatened the entire world.
The dead men had but one task left to them, and it was for this reason that they were chosen, that they were given the weapons that they had won. Each man carried one, a spirit of justice handed down from the All Father in heaven. The spirit took the form of a weapon, whatever weapon most suited it’s owner. Swords, spears, axes, a glaive, a warhammer, one of their number even carried a longbow. Each weapon glowed faintly, adorned with jewels and engraved with the symbols of the Maker, and each was meant to be taken to the halls of the enemy to end his attack once and for all.
That was why the dead men still stood; to pass through the seal and defeat that which lay beneath.
The Seal was gold and silver, spattered with the red blood of men and elves and the black ichor of the demons it was supposed to keep at bay. It was engraved and embossed with pattern upon pattern, so intricately designed, so carefully carved and sculpted that it had to be the work of the divine itself.
The dead men and the seal they stood around were in the middle of a vast open space. It looked as though it was once the fields of a farm, but if ever there stood farm houses they were long destroyed. In their place lay the bodies of the dead men’s fallen comrades and the ash and bone of their enemies.
Few had survived the battle. The chaos had enveloped the world like a tropical storm enveloping an island, with these plains as it’s centre, though the eye of this chaotic storm was anything but calm. None were spared, save those who hid, and many even of those were discovered.
all around the dead men lights rose from the bodies of their compatriots. spirits, returning to the arms of the all father to receive their eternal reward. The ones that the ten dead men could see were only a fraction of the souls that were returning. A million million souls flooded the sky this night, and the world glowed with the lights of the dead.
But not all was lost. In the depths of caverns, of dungeons and cellars, men and women cowered in fear of the chaos and had been saved from it.
One of the dead men, a dark skinned man with brown hair that had been tied back into a tail, knelt down and reached out towards the seal. He was tall and of slim build, but young, perhaps the youngest there. He carried a golden sword that went by the name of Oathbinder.
“What are you doing, Nathaniel?” Another of the dead men asked, from across the Seal.
Nathaniel looked up from it, fingers millimeters from it’s surface. He frowned at the speaker. “What we came here to do, Jed.”
“We defeated the demons. We’re done. We won.” Jed responded.
“He’s right.” one of the other dead men said.
“No he’s not, Markis.” Nathaniel cut in.
“Nathaniel-”
“He’s not right!” Nathaniel stood up, shouting the words. “It’s still down there. It will return. Once it musters it’s armies it will return. You all know this. There are only a few moments before the seal disappears. We must go now.”
“It will take an age for him to replenish his forces.” Another of the group said.
“Gyn...” Nathaniel sighed, looking sideways to the speaker, he hadn’t expected the man to argue. Him of all of them he didn’t expect it from.
“We’ve pushed him back-”
“We have, so let us finish him off!” Nathaniel argued.
“We’ve pushed him back and we will be ready when he comes again.”
“A millennia ago, when the last group of ten men stood around this seal and betrayed the world - as your own church professes - by choosing not to act, I’m sure they said something similar.” Nathaniel spat. “We will be ready next time. We will prepare. It will not happen again! Were we ready? Were we prepared? Jed? Markis? Gyn? Did it happen again? Those men promised that we would be and we weren’t.”
“We are not those men.” Jed growled, glaring across the seal at Nathaniel.
“You are exactly those men.” Nathaniel argued back. “The only difference is that you know it won't work. You know that you are setting the world up for death and destruction One thousand years from now. If even there is even a world of people left then.”
“I promise you, Nathaniel,” Gyn said, moving away from the circle, moving around the men between him and his friend, to stand at his side. “We will be ready. we will make sure of it. we will make laws, traditions. We will build our city on this dirt.” he stomped his foot down.
Nathaniel shook his head. “We made vows, Gyn. We bled and made vows to the All Father. We cannot back down now. We swore to end this.”
“And we have.”
“No.” Nathaniel disagreed, pushing his old friend away. “No we haven’t! This isn’t over, and vows to the Maker are not easily broken.”
“I had vows before all this you know, Nathaniel.” Another of the ten spoke up, stepping out of the circle. “My marriage vows, vows between myself, my wife and the maker. Those vows seemed broken easily enough when-”
“Edwin...” He spoke softly, trying to cut off the man’s train of thought, but the anger in his eyes told Nathanael that the rage had been building for a while.
“When the All Father let her die. When he took her from me.”
“Edwin, you know that’s not-”
“The All father betrayed us, why should we hold to the pact we made with him?” Another asked.
“Your wife is fine, Frey!” Nathaniel blurted out.
“Aye, and I’d like to get back to her. I’d like to see her again, and my son.” He rumbled. “But thats not the betrayal I spoke of. The All Father is power incarnate and yet he let this happen. He is all powerful, and yet these tragedies were allowed to come to be. Why?”
“I don’t know-” Nathaniel admitted.
“Either he want’s to, but cannot or he can, but does not care to, in either case he is not God.” Frey argued. “The all powerful, benevolent god that I believe in could not and would not have let any of this happen, Nathaniel, and I’m sick of pretending otherwise.”
“Or there is another reason.” Nathaniel responded. “A reason we don’t understand, a reason we could not understand. A bigger picture so vast that our minds comprehend it.”
“‘We cannot comprehend the monumental strangeness that is the way of the allfather.’” Jed recited the words of old, words from the scriptures that had brought them here. “Is that all you can offer us?”
“I don’t know why it has to be this way. I don’t understand the All Father’s ways… what I do know is that by leaving this unfinished you leave it to our children.” Nathaniel tried to play on the dead men’s fatherly instincts, but he already knew that his cause was lost. All of them had made up their minds.
“We have a thousand years, Nathaniel.” Gyn said, smiling, gently, reassuringly.
Nathaniel sighed, and looked between each of them. “You’ve made up your minds?” He asked, “You break your deal with the All father?”
They looked at each other, then back to Nathaniel and nodded. “We will be ready, Nate.”
Nathaniel’s eyes moved down, lowered in failure and caught the glow of the ten spirits of justice, the weapons that had been gifted them by the All Father. They shone brightly, as brightly as they had when they first saw them, when they were yet to take form. As brightly as they had when they slew the demon armies. Guessing what was to come next, Natheniel stepped back away from them, hand held strong on his own piece of Justice. “No, Gyn,” He sighed, “You won't.”
Each weapon vanished from it’s place on the ten dead men, and returned to their true forms, that of women, or at least that was what they looked most like. A cross between humans and elves with the wings of birds, they vanished from their wielders and formed behind Nathaniel.
Each man stared upon the angels and reached for their weapons, finding them gone.
“What is the meaning of this?” Jed demanded. “You steal our blades because we refuse to fight for you?”
Nathaniel shook his head and sighed, averting his eyes as much as he could. He didn’t want to see what happened next. “The deal you made was with the All Father, and part of it gained his aid in the fight. Aid he offered you in the form of his most trusted spirits of justice. You broke the deal, you lost his help.” Nathaniel started to notice it, started to notice what was happening. wounds began to bleed, old scars re-opened, other cuts appeared where they had not been. “You lost their protection”
Gyn was the first to notice, reaching up to his nose and touching the blood that dripped from his nose. “What-” he started, looking down at the blood, and then at the others. “What have you-”
“It is not what he did, Lord Gyn.” his spirit of Justice said, stepping out of the crowd. She looked lovely, positively radiant with golden hair and matching wings.
“You broke the deal.” Nathaniel sighed. “She was keeping you together. You really think we got through that battle alive?” He shook his head in sadness. “We’re dead men, Gyn. The All Father was the only thing keeping us alive.”
One of the men, one who had not spoken died at the back of the group. He didn’t so much explode as he fell apart. it was as if an unseen force had been keeping him together, holding him in place, and when the force was released… his body crumbled.
The other’s, their wounds rapidly growing and appearing from nowhere began to panic, their eyes darted from the pieces of their fallen to the angels that had once been their weapons. “No...” Jed muttered. He fell to his knees and shuffled to the feet of his former weapon. “Please! Please don’t leave me!” he begged, pleaded with her, but she was bound by the All Father to do nothing. A thin line of red slid across Jed’s features and the top of his head fell away.
Nathaniel looked up at Gyn, his oldest friend, to find, not panic, but resolution. He shook his head and looked at Nathaniel. He smiled as the other dead men’s minds caught up with their bodies. “I’m sorry, Nathaniel.” He said. “I hope you can do what I was too afraid to.”
One by one Nathaniel watched as the ten dead men fell to injuries long since sustained. their bodies fell apart, their insides became outsides, their ends became final. Gyn was the last to fall, as the best warrior amongst them he had sustained the fewest injuries, but he did still fall. The wound that took him was a blade to the heart.

~|~

When Gyn’s eyes opened, they were to the sight of a beautiful angelic figure. She was garbed in gold thread with long red hair flowing down her back to her elegant red, hawk-like wings. She had long pointed ears that pierced her hair and created long locks of hair in front of the ears that flowed down over her breast.
She wore a severe expression on her features, features that were beautiful and unique. Like all of her kind her eyes were the eyes of a bird, but unlike most of her kind her nose looked human. Most of the spirit’s had much smaller, flatter noses, but this angel… He recognised her.
“Oathbinder?” He asked, sitting up.
All around him the eight dead men’s bodies littered the field. their flesh, their blood, Gyn couldn’t tell one from another. He didn’t understand. Was he in hell? Was he going to be forced to re-live the last moments for the rest of eternity?
Or worse; was he still alive?
“You awaken.” She said, stepping back.
He looked around for Nathaniel. If Oathbinder was here, then he would be also, no? He could not see him. The other spirits of justice - his own blade, Lifegiver - were gone with him. Where could they be? where could they have gone? Unless…
He turned to look at the seal, but it was gone, along with any indication that it was there, save to a patch of dirt that had not been tainted by blood or Ichor. “What- Nathaniel?”
“Gone.” She responded. “He and my sisters fulfilled their pledge and travelled through the seal to try to finish what we all started.”
“Why-”
“Did I not go with them?” She asked. Her voice was angry, and it was directed at him. She looked away from him, to where the seal had been, a longing sadness reaching her features. “You are fortunate to have the love of someone as Nathaniel.” She said. “Before we go any further I want you to know something; I love Nathaniel. He is a god among you humans, the only one of you worth a thing.”
Gyn sat forward and wrapped his arms around his knees, looking down at his feel. “I know.”
“He had a message for you.” Gyn looked up at her, the severeness was back on her features. He shied away, nothing she could say would bring him any relief, he was sure of it.
“Brother, What I do I do for all the world.” The voice was not Oathbinder’s. It was Nathaniel’s. Gyn looked up and found his friend standing over him. “This is to be your punishment, for breaking your vow with the All Father, for betraying me and the world when we needed you most, this is your punishment; to live. To see it unravel all over again. In one thousand years they will come again, and they will bring a blight that will unmake the very essence of our being. I will not be able to stop them, even with Lifegiver, Truthsayer, Darkslayer, Lightbringer, Lovepreserver, Honourdeliverer, Codewielder, Pridebreaker and Wrathkeeper with me I wont be able to stop them. They will come again. Perhaps if I had Oathbinder… but the other spirits are not bound to me. together they can keep me from death, but I cannot perform as well as I could with Oathbinder, and I can’t take Oathbinder with me. I leave her with you. She was the only one who still had the power to save you. The only one who had the power to bind you to your oath. You may have missed the seal, but you can still perform your duty.” Nathaniel smiled at Gyn. “You can, of course make amends for your crimes, my brother. The All Father is merciful, and forgiving. You need do but one thing: Prepare. do as you had intended, prepare the world. You must travel the globe and bring everyone here, to this spot. it is here that you will re-make the world, and at it’s centre the knowledge that they are going to come back.” Nathaniel’s expression turned serious. “Do not fail me, Gyn. I might be able to slow them down, but they will come. make sure that when they do it is to face a mighty army, unlike any they have fought before. Make sure that the next ten finish it.”

That was the prologue of what I'm tentatively calling Blackwatch. As always not sure what's happening with it. Thanks for reading.

Tubgae
-James

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