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Amensol's Shadow: The Fox And The Wolf, Part Five

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    January 26, 2020 9:31 PM PST

    Amensol’s Shadow: The Fox And The Wolf, Part 5

    The 7th Tale of the Unseen Pillar of the House of Amensol, by Benonai

     

    With aching face and throbbing tail

    The wolf adventured more;

    The little fox was thankful so,

    For all he’d done before;

     

    The fox now smelled a great new scent

    A goose was close at hand;

    “Follow me!, said Fox with glee

    And Wolf stayed close at hand;

     

    The little fox chased down the scent;

    It came from in a cave;

    So strange a goose would venture here,

    Now this would be its grave.

     

          Kole clung to the side of the wall for dear life. He fought back tears as his little fingers dug into the cut stone of the rampart as he hung off the inside edge of the wall.  “Help!, he screamed as loud as he could.  The odds of anyone hearing in the commotion would be slim, even with warriors running past his position back and forth on the rampart.  Nobody can hear me, he thought.  The wall was 20 cubits high, and the fall could kill him, definitely wound him badly. His hands found some holds in the broken rock surface atop the wall that gave him some hope.  He swung one leg up and it found a grip as well.  He pulled his body almost parallel when the stone his foot was stuck on broke free and his body swung back down, the force dislodging his right hand as he scraped along the wall like a pendulum.  He cried out in fear, “Help me, please!”

     

          Carinna pushed the hair back from the teary eyed face of her son.  It was his tenth birthday and the year most boys started their ascent to manhood.  All of his friends had been given a real practice sword from their fathers with the understanding that now you are old enough to begin learning the way of battle and bravery. Kole’s father was not at his birthday. He had never been to any of Kole’s birthdays, and Kole resented him for it today. Carinna continued to stroke his hair sitting beside him against the wall outside the stables of her father’s ranch in the plains close by Havensong.              The air was warm as the sun bathed them there in the grass.  It smelled so sweet from the flowers that grew wild in the fields surrounding the grounds. But, despite the beautiful day, and the break from battle, Carinna’s only son was hurting, and she wanted to fix it.

          “Did I ever tell you about the first arrow I ever shot?” Carinna asked mysteriously.  Kole shook his head, all of a sudden interested in something other than self-loathing.

          “Well, my father gave me a Murkwood bow on my 10th birthday.  It had been crafted by an elf of Faerthale who had raised your father, Reu of the Ashen Order.  Your father and I met and played as children as our fathers did business.  Anyway, my father gave me the bow and told me to mount up.  If I was going to learn to shoot, I would learn to shoot on the move. Anyone can shoot still, he used to tell me.”

          “He told me that last week,” Kole mumbled, still trying to wallow in his sadness.  Carinna chuckled.

          “So, he showed me how to nock it and draw.  He showed me how to aim. But, he wouldn’t let me shoot.  Once he was sure I knew the basics, he told me to hold on and aim for a bale of hay that was out in the field. Actually, it had been right over there. By that mare,” Carinna said as she pointed out into the field.  “No matter what, you hit that target, he said to me and slapped my horse and whistled.  It took off almost faster than I could control. As I tried to steady myself in the saddle, I finally nocked my arrow and drew up at my target.  I gazed down the shaft, trying to absorb the bouncing gallop. All of a sudden, my horse was startled by a viper in the grass, and it threw me just as I was about to shoot.  I landed in the grass hard and hit my head on a small stone in the ground.  See that scar right there?  I sat up, grabbing my head and wimpering.  That’s when I heard Pa yelling.  ‘What did I say? What did I say?’  So I yelled to him that I bumped my head.  And he yelled back, ‘No matter what!’  The horse was bucking a ways off, trying to trample the snake.  So I yelled back, ‘but I need to get my horse.’ So he said, ‘you can walk and breathe, can’t you?’

          Kole chuckled through his mopey face. Carinna continued, “So I figured I’d better do what he said, so I ran toward the horse to get it under control while re-nocking my arrow.  I drew and looked back over my shoulder as I ran, trying to steady my stride and I let the arrow fly.”

          “Did you hit it, Ma? Center bale?” Kole inquired excitedly, forgetting his problems for a moment.

          “Well, that arrow shot through the air and across the field… and past the bale… and past another bale and landed where mother had been growing some greens and got stuck in one of her baskets.  I wasn’t even close!”  Kole laughed and Carinna smiled back at him.

          “So, Pa came up to me as I got the horse and made sure the snake was gone.  He looked at the knot on my head from the fall, and hugged me and smiled.  I told him sorry that I had missed the target and sorry for tearing up Ma’s basket. He said I had learned the most important lesson that day, more important than shooting straight. The lesson was this, the chance of success is zero when you cease to persist.” Carinna turned to face her son straight on, and she looked into his eyes very seriously. “You see, Kole, fate will never give you success. It will always make you work for it.  And although not everyone who persists, receives it… everyone who receives it persisted.” Carinna pulled an object out from behind her back.  It was rolled up in a fine linen scarf, and she handed it to the boy.  Kole held it in his hand and felt the weight of it.

          “This, son,” Carinna said, “is from your father. And how he wishes he could be here to give it to you himself.  He wanted nothing more than to live a quiet life with you and me here on the ranch and away from wars and kings and duties beyond this home. But fate did not give him the success he longed for, even though he persisted.  And it did not give you much chance from the time you came from my womb, fatherless.  But, you have a chance to grab your success… if you persist.”

          Kole unwrapped his present and found a black handled dagger, half cubit in length with “Honnai” carved into the grip. This was his father’s dagger.  Carinna had saved it for him for this day.  Kole grinned about as big as his mouth would allow as his mother stood up beside him and put on her commander face, as Kole called it.

          “So, Kole, why are you stopped?  Persist, boy!” she said as she kicked his leg and drew her sword, goading him into practicing.  His eyes lit up, and he shot up and ran to her, weapon drawn.

     

          Kole’s terror turned to aggression as his body swung back and his free hand reached up and found its familiar hold.  His arms and hands were burning, but he kept hearing his mother’s voice, telling him to persist.  He yelled as he swung his legs as hard as he could and his foot made it all the way to the top of the rampart.  He pulled the rest of his body up with what strength he had left in his arms and rolled up onto the walkway.

          “Boy,” hollered a soldier ducked behind the battlements on the wall. “This is no place for you!  The WarWizards and Ossari are tearing everything up out here.  Get inside for cover!” The soldier turned around and shot another arrow down at the horde of Revenant that were forming ranks for a push against the second defensive wall. The warriors on the ground were forming up just outside the second and third gates to engage in open warfare with cover from above.  Lorn, the army’s commander, was caught in a skirmish on the edge of the formation with a group of soldiers.  Kole watched as the soldier on the wall drew back his arrow and launched it through the dust and smoke-filled battlefield.  It soared just past Lorn’s helmet and into a Revenant soldier coming to double up on the commander.

          Lorn looked up and pointed at the soldier’s position as a quick sign of gratitude.  He turned back around and pulled a flag out of a sheath around his waist and made quick gestures in the air with it, signaling his troops to form a new rank to his right, effectively walling off the attacking forces to one portion of the space between the second and third walls. It was safe to turn their defenses away from the fourth and fifth gates on the outer wall.  The WarWizards were wreaking havoc on that side of the defenses against Ossari and his westernmost forces.

          Lorn stepped back from the front lines to view the battle as his warriors jumped in and filled his hole.  Allistan ran, stumbling to his location at his emergence from the lines.

          “Have you seen Kole?” Allistan shouted at him over the roars and screams of war.  Allistan was covered in dust and blood, his shield and mace spattered with more.  Allistan had been caught in the battle as the Revenant soldiers charged the WarWizards’ location as the challenged Ossari after descending from who knows where.  Allistan had been standing behind them as they approached Ossari.

          The Fire Wizard had said nothing as he clenched his fists moving in closer.  Ossari had beckoned his forces to come through the gate and attack on his command.  ‘You should have brought a weapon to this fight, little man’, he had said to the Fire Wizard.  At that, the Fire Wizard thrust his hands out to his sides as they ignited in bright yellow flames.  He took two strides and leapt 15 cubits all at once and drove his knee into an unsuspecting Ossari’s chest, sending him sprawling and tumbling through the dirt behind him. 

          The Lightning Wizard had stayed put, seeming to be uninspired to get involved yet.  Ossari lumbered up slowly from the ground, obviously hurt by the attack, and shouted for his forces to charge.  At that Allistan grabbed a mace and shield from an expired warrior’s grip and ran toward the Lightning Wizard’s location. 

          About the time he caught her, she sent a bolt of lightning out of her staff, and took out a whole row of Revenant fighters. The blast had spilled out, hitting the wall and crumbling down parts of the battlements and sending a jolt through Allistan’s shield and mace, blowing him off of his feet.  After regaining his senses, he kept his distance and fought alongside Avendyr’s elite King’s Guards between the WarWizards.  The WarWizards had obviously meant it when they said they were against their enemy, but not specifically with them.  They continued to fight with a reckless violence that left walls destroyed and men and elves injured in their quest the snuff out the Revenant forces and Ossari.

           In the middle of the battle, Allistan had caught a glimpse of who appeared to be Kole running up one of the interior walls.  He had been carried inside, away from Avendyr after the WarWizards showed up, but it seemed he was able to slip back into the fray to watch history being made this day.  Kole should have been safe the entire time if not for the arrogance of Avendyr.  He took off in the boy’s direction. Allistan could not let anything happen to that boy. 

          Kole was all that was left of Carinna.  Kole was all that was left for Allistan.

     

          Carinna’s face lit up as she laughed. Her favorite pastime, when not killing Revenant soldiers, was teasing Allistan. She found his altruistic nature so sincere that it often came across as parody.  If anyone were to ever make fun of selfless and caring individuals, they would just mimic Allistan.

          “You can’t give your wishes away, Allistan!  That’s against the rules.  You have to use them yourself.  Again. So, you’re stranded on a deserted island and you have three wishes…,”Carinna giggled as she asked the question for the tenth time.

          “No, seriously, I’d wish that others who shared my fate would be rescued by their countrymen.  I would hate for that to happen to someone else,” Allistan said, half smiling, but half serious.

          “You are missing the point!” Carinna roared back, still laughing at him. “This is supposed to show what things you care about and would want with you…”

          “I do care about other people stranded on other islands,” Allistan interrupted.  This only made Carinna laugh harder.  Normally, Allistan got upset when others disregarded his heartfelt sentiments, but seeing Carinna laugh felt better than any good deed he had ever done. It was a rare occasion when they had enough time to wind down between battles and preparations at Havensong and at the Silent Sanctum.  Storms had blown through the plains and had brought much of the fighting and travelling to a stand-still and allowed some time for rest and recuperation.

          “Ok, ok,” Allistan finally said, settling down and opening up a little to her, “three things I would wish for and they can’t be to get off the island. Let’s see…” he got up from his chair and went and plopped down on the bed beside Carinna, where she was lounging.  

          Carinna’s quarters in Havensong were always messy due to her pressing obligations and fatigue once she stopped, so generally if they had idle time together, they spent it here in Allistan’s quarters. Carinna’s relaxed nature in his presence was seductive to him, although he had never had the nerve to mention the depths of his affection for her. 

           “I would ask for a mirror, a magical mirror. This mirror would show me all of my friends and what they were doing so I could share in their lives even from far away.” Carinna watched him as he tried to not make eye contact with her.  He is so shy for a fighter and leader, she thought. “Second, I would wish that none of them would ever forget me or what I stood for.”

          “Oh, that’s a good one. Ok,” Carinna grinned at him.  Allistan paused for a moment, silent.  He worked up the courage to stare into her beautiful brown eyes. As he did, her joking smile shifted to a nervous smile as her eyes darted back and forth between his stare and her fidgeting fingers.

          “The third thing I would wish for,” Allistan continued, “would be to bring Honnai back to you; for you, for Kole.  For our people…  He was the best of us without even trying to be; without even wanting to be. He carried that burden everyday because he knew he had to, because nobody else could,”  Carinna’s smile retreated begrudgingly. She shifted her gaze uncomfortably out the window to find escape from her feelings of loss.

          “Um… you’re not playing fair, again,” Carinna said, finding it hard to breathe. This was too emotional to keep her guard up. Her breaths came short just being brought back to the pain of the loss of her husband.  “Because you are supposed to wish for things for you, not for me.” She sniffed, trying to fight off tears.

          Allistan no longer had to force himself to make eye contact with Carinna.  He couldn’t take his eyes off her.  Such a strong warrior, tough in battle and in discipline, courageous to a fault, and yet disarmed with such soft words.  He was drawn in by her mysterious and conflicting nature.

          “I’m playing fair,” Allistan replied. “Your being happy is the one thing that gives me the most joy, Carinna.”

          Carinna let out a huff as she lost the battle with her tears.  A pair rolled down her bronzed cheeks and she looked away, not wanting to lose herself completely in front of Allistan. She was tough and did not like showing her weakness to the men around her.

          “Unfortunately, this is just a game. In real life, we don’t get three wishes granted. But we do get unlimited wishes unfulfilled,” Carinna said, her nose already stuffy from the crying.  “I’ll never see what could have been, how great our lives could have turned out. Now, I have only bloodstains and regrets to show for my thirty years.”

          “And Kole…” interjected Allistan.  “You will always have a piece of him with you in Kole.”

          “Yeah.  I guess all I really have left is Kole. And more war is coming to try to separate us. Ugh… Life is just a winding pass through mountains, Allistan.  You don’t know how long it will be until you reach the other side.  It’s like Honnai and I have been forced to ride as fast as we could through that pass, take every shortcut. I don’t want my pass to end before I raise my son.”  Carinna looked up at Allistan.  “I don’t want to be this great warrior of men everyone claims I am; I just want to be a good mother… This must have been what Honnai felt like so often.”

          “Hey, I know you.  I’m confident in one thing.  No matter what it is; mother, warrior, commander. You persist, right? Your motto to your troops?” Allistan said, trying to lighten the conversation.

          “Yeah, hmph,” Carinna replied, wiping the tears from her cheaks.  She sat up on the bed.  Light was just beginning to peek over the horizon, the storm clouds abated.

          Allistan got up and sat next to her, both facing the rising sun. “And… you’ll always have me.” He couldn’t stop the words, but his body was fighting as he dropped his gaze to the floor. His shyness regained some ground, but it was unable to keep his heart from controlling his tongue.  “Who knows, maybe one day when this war is over, our mountain passes will intersect, and we won’t have to walk through it alone anymore…” Allistan had never been so bold about his feelings for her.  He wished he had his words back.

          Carinna slowly slumped over to one side and laid her head gently on Allistan’s shoulder.  “I guess I have Kole… and a promise, then,” she said, and she slipped her hand into Allistan’s as it laid lonely in his lap.  Allistan was caught off guard by the soft and warm gestures from her after so long wanting it. He had to be straightforward with her, finally.

          “Carinna, I… I,” Allistan fumbled.

          “Shut up, Allistan,” Carinna cut in.  “Just shut up and watch the sunrise with me.”

          And Carinna sat there resting her head on him, her hand safely tucked in his, and they watched the sun rise.

     

          As the sun hid itself further behind the horizon, Allistan climbed back up the second wall to search from a better vantage point. It was getting harder to see.  He did not expect to find Kole in the middle of the serious fighting between the second and third walls, but in so much chaos, he could be staring at one person over and never notice him.  Where would he feel safe enough to watch the battle?  He stared back down the rampart hoping he had missed him.  Suddenly, Kole emerged from behind an archer, waving down to the battlefield, then hid behind the battlements.

          Allistan ran toward him, screaming out his name in vain. All the archers and mages on the wall were all just obstacles to overcome, slowing his run to a series of quick darts.  He knew this wall well, having helped design and build it.  Second wall, seventeen hundred sixty cubits long. He was between the 2nd and 3rd gates, halfway, average running stride – two cubits. Four hundred forty steps away.  He shook his head and he tried to keep his eyes on Kole.  He had just crossed over the first gate, when Kole jumped up all of a sudden and ran down the stairs next to the wall and shot across the relatively open space in cover.  Allistan took his eyes off of Kole to see what it was that got his attention.  Across the open space that separated the men of war from the apocalyptic battle of the titans on the western front, there walked a solitary man across the no man’s land. At his distance, Allistan could not make out who the figure was, but he didn’t need to.  All signs pointed to the king. Avendyr was going to war with Ossari.

     

          A small bloody stream was pasted to Avendyr’s face.  He didn’t take the time to wipe it.  There was no need.  More blood was to be spilled today, and he had been out of the battle far too much already.  Their reinforcements were slim enough after the long battle fought earlier today.  Their magicians were mostly worthless, having drained their mana beyond being able to continue.  The regular army was tired and there was not enough replacements to rotate them.  This battle would not last long at the rate it was going. And Avendyr didn’t trust the two wizards that had come.  They were not fighting for them, they were fighting for themselves, which meant they could not count on them as their salvation, wherever their self-interest laid.  The claimed to be suns of Terminus.  Was it true? There was no sign of it, other than their word.  They fought against Ossari.  By his observance, they had wounded several of his men, who knows, maybe even killed some. There was no hero, no Sun of Terminus looking out for his people. That burden, honor, right – belonged to him.  Cracks of thunder roared as the three juggernauts jumped, bolted, and  clashed across walls, through gates, off the cliffs that funneled into the Sanctum.  Nobody was going to stop his vengeance today.  Ossari was his, his alone.

          “-endyr… wait..  me,” a dim voice called from behind him.   He paused for a brief moment and turned his head slightly to see if he could make it out without losing focus on his main objective.

          “… for me.  I’m coming!” the voice grew louder, a familiar voice.  The son of his teacher, his protector, his friend, was coming to be by his side. He turned and faced the boy who was running almost at the pace of falling.  He bent down to meet the boy as he approached.  Kole arrived and threw himself on the neck of Avendyr.

          “Avendyr, don’t go,” Kole yelled, still squeezing Avendyr with no intention of letting go.  “The Suns of Terminus are here to save us.  You don’t have to fight anymore.”

          “My boy,” Avendyr responded, pulling him back and looking into his dirty, tear-stained face,” you and I, we are different than a lot of these other fighters here, older warriors, burdened down by the hazy memories of a bygone world.  Vas Demith is not our home. Terminus is our home. Ossari doesn’t rule over us.  We rule our own fates now.  It is time you realize the truth.  We  are sons of Terminus, you and I.  A generation of new leaders, new kingdoms. Havensong was built to pay homage to our past.  But we, we will build a new home, a home for us who are not bound by the old ways, but will look ahead to what is here in this new world; a world that belongs to us now.  We just have to take it.”

          The two stared at each other for a moment as the commotion around them blurred into fog.  The sounds faded out.

          “This is our home,” Avendyr continued, “and we defend what is ours.  We can’t rely on others fighting for us.  Our fathers and mothers are gone.  Our houses are gone.  A lot of our friends are gone.  All we have left…,” Avendyr looked down and took the boy’s two hands in his and raised them up to eye level, “are these. And this,” Avendyr placed his hand on the boys head.

     

          “Come on, Hon! Come get me!” Avendyr ran in circles as Honnai filled the trough for the horses in the stable.  This was his favorite place to be, at the home of his favorite person, Carinna.  He didn’t mind doing the mundane chores here.  Back at the King’s Hall, it was all studying and training, and… babysitting.  He started brushing his horse then stopped for a second and looked down and sighed.  I guess two out of three isn’t too bad.

          “Avendyr, we are in the country, with fields and trees and… literally anything else you can think of!  Isn’t there anything else you could be doing right now beside annoying me?” Honnai went back to brushing, but with a little more consternation.

          “The king has decreed that I shall practice twice a day with you until I am… STRONG!” Avendyr yelled back in an irritating sing-song voice.  He was still circling and swinging his sword and accidentally banging it into pretty much everything.  Lucky for him, these horses had seen combat, so they disregarded his youthful ignorance.

          Honnai finished brushing the horse and put the tools away.  He turned to the young 13 year old prince.  “Listen up, Murk mut. I didn’t drag you out here to pester me to death,” he scolded Avendyr as he slapped him in the back of his head.  “I was doing you a favor  to get you out of all that schooling, not so you could bring it with you.  I’m here to spend time with Carinna and that’s it.”

          “Oooh, you wanna kiss her,” he smirked as he salivated all over the back of his hand, pretending to be intimate in a way that only makes sense to 13-year old boys.

          “I’m warning you, you little turd,” Honnai said, trying not to be embarrassed by a child.  Honnai had grown up in many respects much faster than children normally do.  His situation demanded it. He learned to take care of himself as not to be a burden on his caretakers, since he had no guardians still living after the Collision.  But, for all his maturity, he was still just seventeen, and Avendyr still got the best of him every once in a while.

          “C’mon, Hon.  What am I supposed to do if you’re off drooling all over Carinna?” Avendyr’s frustration was written all over his whining face.  “You brought me out here in the middle of nowhere to leave me?  I thought we were gonna get to do stuff together…”

          Honnai’s irritation softened as he saw the genuine admiration Avendyr had for him.  As irritating as he was, Honnai always cared for him as an older brother would have. So he did what any brother would have done in that situation.

          “Ugh… fine.  You’re so annoying, you know that?”  Avendyr’s mope turned back into a sly grin. “Ok, Carinna knows a place down by a stream that we can all go shoot later. But you’re going to give me some time to be with her without screwing things up for me. So, go find something to do for a little while.”

          “Like what? There’s nothing to do out here?” Avendyr argued.

          Honnai reached down and grabbed Avendyr’s hands and held them up to his face. “No matter where you go, you’ll always have these…” and Honnai swung his hand around and slapped Avendyr in the back of his head once more.  “And this…”

          Honnai spun around and took off out of the barn to find Carinna.  Avendyr yelled after him.

          “I hate you… just so you know!” And Avendyr looked down at his hands and thought, ‘now what.’

     

          Allistan raced to catch up with Avendyr and Kole.  He gained some ground while they were stopped, the young king stopping to say something to the young boy.  He hoped he was explaining to him he needed to leave the battlefield.  He knew how much Kole wanted to be part of this.  The boy literally had nothing to lose anymore, as this war had cost him his parents and home.  And he was looking to fill that void with something, or someone.

          Avendyr was embracing Kole, and then stood, still facing the boy.  Allistan hoped Kole wasn’t too upset.  There was no way to be sure neither he nor Avendyr would return from this battle, and that had to weigh heavily on Kole.  It wouldn’t be easy to send him back into the Sanctum, he thought.

          “Avendyr!” Allistan cried after him.  Avendyr looked up and saw Allistan approaching, covered in dirt and blood from the fighting.

          “Allistan, glad you’re still with us,” Avendyr said, a resolved stare on his face.  “Are you ready to end this?”

          “Aye,” he said as he looked down at Kole. “Did you tell Kole where to meet up in the Sanctum?”

          “I’m not telling Kole what to do,” Avendyr said, anticipating this confrontation. “The boy is a citizen of this land, and he has a right to fight for what is his.  Who am I to deprive him of that?”

          “He is a child!” Allistan roared back at his king.  Allistan had never been so angry and bewildered.  How could anyone even think of allowing a small boy to go confront gods among mortals?  It was madness.

          “He is a man!” Avendyr fought back, stepping into Allistan’s face.  “Do children weep over their deceased mothers and fathers?  Do children work to keep food on their own table, with no one to care for them?  Kole became a man when Carinna fell at the godforsaken gates of Havensong!  And you, in your piety and your pathetic cowardice, would stand to deny him the only thing he has left, vengeance for the loss of all he had in this world.  There’s no more running, Allistan!  The world is burning down around us! Go crawl back into your hole, if you wish, but don’t act the wise man leading others to follow you.”

          Allistan’s grip on his mace tightened in his hand, his knuckles turning white.  “Kole, come along,” Allistan said, as serious as he’d ever looked at him before. “Kole, you must go.  This battle is far too dangerous.  You will only be in the way.  If the king and I, and the soldiers, can end this, there’s no need to put your life at risk.  What would your mother want for you?” Allistan asked him.  “Kole, what would your mother want?”

          Avendyr slid one foot in front of the boy, half-hiding him from Allistan.

         “People have held me back ever since I was a child, Allistan; acted as if they were shielding me, protecting me, keeping me from harm…”

         "As good guardians should,” Allistan interjected.

         Avendyr didn’t stop.  “But, in my life as a child, I was shot, dragged through the wilderness, almost assassinated.  I’ve been burned, slashed, bloodied.  There’s no stopping fate.”  Allistan thought of the time he did not get with Honnai, the closest thing he ever had to a brother.  He thought of the farm, Honnai running off and leaving him.  He thought of the last time he saw Honnai alive.  Honnai had again sent him away to be safe.  He was captured and Honnai had died trying to recover him.   He remembered Honnai’s face, turning pale as he spoke his last words to Avendyr’s father Amensol.  ‘Stay here; I don’t want to leave’ had been his last words; that moment branded into Avendyr’s mind.  It was how Avendyr had felt his entire childhood, whisked from one place to another only to sit by himself. No one stayed with him, or when they had stayed, he was forced to go.  He lost so much time with Honnai that he wished he had back; regrets that ran deeper than he knew as they came rushing to his mind.  He would not let that be his legacy to another.

          “Kole is not going to be abandoned by me, Allistan.  He has lost too much.  We will live or die side by side.  He will not suffer the same fate I did at the passing of his father… my friend.”

          Kole looked up at Avendyr at the mention of his father.  There was so much he had not learned from Avendyr about his father.  There was so much more that he wanted to know.  And at the mention of his father, Kole’s heart went out to Avendyr and he knew he had to follow him, to stay with him, to protect his king and his friend, no matter what.

          Allistan held out his hand once more for the boy to take.  Avendyr had pulled him away the last time.  He was hoping that this time, in the face of death, in the face of his mother losing one more thing in this world, and for the affection he knew he had in Allistan, he would be wiser than this foolish young ruler and choose life. He needed him to.

          Kole slowly pulled his hands to gether, fidgeting as he was torn between them.  One of his hands fell away from the other and his fingertips slid down the smooth leather strapping on the hilt of his father’s dagger.  He gently released it from its sheath, tied to his belt and pulled it to his face.

          HONNAI

          He looked at the lettering expertly carved into the blade.  He thought of his father.  He thought of his mother.  He thought of vengeance.

          Allistan’s countenance fell hard;  His face no longer able to hold back his distress.

          “Kole… you don’t have to do this.  You can choose another path,” Allistan pleaded, close to tears.

          “Kole looked again down at the long dagger in his hand.  “If I can choose…  then I choose to fight,” Kole spoke, softly and still unsure of his decision.  “It’s what my father would have done.”

          Allistan thought back to the young four year old boy who was brought out of the woods by Amensol, scared and alone.  He saw that face now in Kole.  He looked so much like his father.  But Allistan knew Honnai never would have followed such a reckless plan as this.  Dying for a king seeking revenge and glory for its own sake was what Honnai hated about his life in service to the king.  And Allistan had never taken the time to teach Kole about his father.  Carinna had never taken the time to pour into him all that his father had been, and what he stood for.  When had there been time?  Wars and famines and weather had all enticed them away from taking the time to pour into this boy.  Now, it was too late.  This boy was offered a chance to become a man by a king. And there was nothing Allistan could do to stop it.

          “Then… we end it,” Allistan said, accepting his defeat, and set his mind on things other than the consequences of this action.

          The three turned and faced the ongoing melee between the high mortals, seemingly fighting merely for the right to claim victory over the other.  Clouds of dust and ash swirled around the high cliffs and walls of the Sanctum as bolts of lightning and bursts of flame lit up the inside like some evil and calamitous storm.

          Allistan took it all in, this battle beyond their lowly abilities. He took a deep breath, and exhaled it slowly, then set his jaw.

          “We end it.”


    This post was edited by benonal at January 26, 2020 10:25 PM PST
    • 239 posts
    January 29, 2020 11:45 AM PST

    I love the jumps between memories and reality. It is a way of telling the story that gives it so much depth. I don’t know what it is about your writing style, but it I find it really intuitive. The scenes sort of draw themselves in my mind really easily.

    As usual, great work!

    Cmon folks, pause the YouTube videos, and get those creative writing minds going...this forum has turned into just me and Benonai talking to each other. :)

    • 43 posts
    January 29, 2020 12:34 PM PST

    LOL.  @Larr and @Boocher have thrown some stuff out here lately which was fun to read.  I don't mind the videos though, as long as Nathan Napalm turns one of my stories into a puppet show.  We definitely need some more folks writing.  And I'd love to see some tackling some of the lore, filling in gaps, taking your imaginations for a walk.

    • 4397 posts
    January 29, 2020 1:11 PM PST

    I am always impressed by the skill of the fan fic writers on these forums. Keep it up!

    • 43 posts
    January 29, 2020 1:20 PM PST

    Thx Baz.  Send a shout out on a vid for the fan fic section and let's see if we can't get more people involved.  Can't wait to see some of the new stuff you have planned for your channel you mentinoed in that last vid. Yall youtubers aren't too shabby yourselves