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Stats: 2,483,108 members, 5,622,752 topics. Date: Thursday, 28 May 2020 at 06:24 AM
Ndidi And The Telekinesis Man (A Fantasy Romance Novella By Kayode Odusanya) / Memoirs Of Blood And Steel ( A Fantasy Novel) / Differences Between A Short Story, Novelette, Novella, & A Novel (2) (3) (4)
|Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by cassbeat(m): 9:10pm On May 21|
|Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by Dathypebruv(m): 9:13pm On May 21|
|Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by Tuhndhay(m): 12:45am On May 22|
I will go with the general too.... Monday, Wednesday and Saturday looks good
|Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by doctorexcel(m): 8:01am On May 22|
I rep monday, wednesday and saturday. More inspiration to you. Much love
|Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by eROCK247(m): 9:54am On May 22|
Monday, Wednesday and Saturday will be perfect.
|Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by Fazemood(m): 10:37am On May 22|
obehiD:I also gave the same explanation to a fellow reader that the term 'undead' refers to a title as done by many human tribes where the monarch is called an undead. I got confused from reading 'the beginning'. Anyway ThankS for the confirmation.
|Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by Fazemood(m): 10:39am On May 22|
obehiD:Monday, Wednesday and Saturday will be nice.
|Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by decoderdgenius(m): 1:54pm On May 22|
Clasping my hands in nervous tension.
Licking my lips with quiet anticipation.
The storm rages.
It is here, the end of ages
The world will know it was here
And so I stand with it, without fear.
Till its kingdom come!
Till its kingdom come!
2 Likes 1 Share
|Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by obehiD: 2:35am On May 23|
Monday, Wednesday and Saturday it is!
I wish that NL had clapping emojis!!! Thank you
|Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by obehiD: 2:43am On May 23|
My honoraria drew closer to me. I saw Juke appear by my right side with Gamble on my left. Matina, shaking, covered my back, and Matiu stood in front of me. It was a defensive positioning that my honoraria had taken one other time with me, the time that two of them had died to save my life. Now the choice was simple, I could either surrender, and save my uspecs or we could fight, and most likely die. We were good, but there were close to a hundred of them, and only eight of us, including an artist. I thought of Arexon and wondered how it would fare. There had not really been much that I could do anyway, I had come out of duty, bound by the fealty I owed it.
I shoved Matina away and walked out of the honoraria’s protective circle. The plenum had lost already. They just did not know it yet. And if I went willingly with them. There was a chance that they would let me live. They had nothing to gain by killing me now. So, why wasn’t I giving the order for my uspecs to stand down? Even now, I felt the thrill of battle. I’d feared that my longing to return to my offspring would remove this and dull the edge that made me such a great fighter. Now I knew that was not to be the case. I wanted to fight. I wanted to, but it was not worth the risk of losing the uspecs in my honoraria.
I turned to find Juke staring at me. I smiled sadly at it. Juke had to live, they all had to live. I’d made my decision, I would take my chances with the plenum. Better that than commit suicide on the outskirts of Chiboga. I reached for my cutlass, resigned to my decision and the fate it consigned us to. I was just about to pull the cutlass out of my sheath when I saw a dagger tumbling in the air towards my neck. I was so shocked by this, that it took me a moment to understand what was happening. It was a moment longer than I had. Matiu struck out with its sword and deflected the dagger. The weapon fell to the ground.
But by throwing that dagger, the plenum soldiers had forced my honoraria’s hands. They reached for their swords and began fighting before I could give the order to surrender.
I heaved a sigh and drew my cutlass and dagger out, this time with only the thought of battle on my mind. It was hard, but I forced myself to push all other thoughts away.
Juke and I faced off against the ten uspecs at our back, while the rest attacked the mass of new armored soldiers who’d come to join them. I deflected one’s sword with my dagger, lanced it in the throat, and then pulled my cutlass out in time to dodge another attack. Both uspecs fell. I looked up and saw Juke beheading an uspec with its double blades and then going in the same swing to lance two uspecs simultaneously, in their hearts, between their chest spikes. I was filled with pride. I deflected another blow and then jumped when I heard a loud shriek coming from beside me.
I gritted my teeth. This was exactly what I’d predicted. The artist had lost its sword and was now about to be felled by a plenum soldier. I actually contemplated letting it die. We were all going to die in this fight, why not let Matiu’s younger be the first. But it was an uspec in my honoraria. Foolish and inept as it was, it was still my duty to protect its life. I threw my dagger into the neck of the uspec who’d threatened Matina’s life. The uspec stumbled back and fell. I did not have time to retrieve the dagger, as three more uspecs rushed towards me. I parried with one while I knocked another one down with my fist, I stabbed my tail into its flesh before it could rise, paralyzing it. Another uspec lashed its sword out in the direction of my tail. I reached for its anger and exhausted it. Right at that moment, Juke was unburdened. The plenum soldier was stunned, its arm frozen mid-strike. Juke parted its head from its body. I killed the uspec I’d been parrying with and then stabbed my cutlass into the heart of the one I’d paralyzed.
“Gra…gratitude sirga,” a small voice sounded beside me.
I turned to find Matina there, blood stained, and holding up the dagger I’d been forced to throw to save its life. It was too shamed to meet my angry glare. I did not have the time to scold it and properly remind it of how stupid it was for coming. I just took the bloodied dagger from its outstretched hand and snapped, “stay behind me,” to it.
We had killed the uspecs behind us, so there was nothing now between our backs and the end of the street. The street was narrow enough that only five us could stand side to side. It allowed us to form a line and then advance as one. It was better this way, better than fighting in an open area where we could be surrounded. Auxa had not thought this through when it laid ambush for us here. The street worked in our favor; it gave us a chance. A slim one, but a chance nonetheless.
Matina cowered behind me as Juke and I joined the others in advancing on the new soldiers who’d joined the fight.
I took in the score before I started swinging my cutlass. Another thing Auxa and I had failed to properly account for was the skill of the fighters I had. Matiu had said they’d trained for war, but I had underestimated that statement. My honoraria weren’t just good, they were extremely well skilled. And the imps that fought with us. I grinned. Auxa certainly had not accounted for this.
I slashed and cut and swiped and moved and did my best to focus on the fight in front of me and not searching out the other uspecs. It was hard fighting beside Juke. I worried for its safety. I wanted to assure myself every second we fought that it was safe and well, but I could not, that level of distraction would get me killed. I dodged a sword, lanced my dagger into an uspec’s eye and then slashed my cutlass through another’s neck.
Gamble whistled. The sound distracted me enough to force my attention to the uspec. But its whistling had not been for my benefit. As soon as it whistled, Chike, who’d been fighting in front, pulled back to take Gamble’s place on the line.
A sword flashed beside me. It was pure reflex that had me lifting my arm. I had allowed myself to get distracted. The sword slashed at my arm. The uspec who’d held the sword was dead before I could extract my revenge. Matiu had killed it. The uspec continued fighting and I did the same, forcing my attention away from Gamble who was now attacking from the air. The uspecs and imps had trained to fight like this. I saw it in their formation, in the way that Chike had quickly responded when Gamble whistled. I could not believe it, but I was actually the weak link in this fight, as I had not trained to fight in this formation with them. I was getting distracted. By the sounds, by my worries for their safety, I was getting distracted and they were covering for me.
I had to let it go. I could not fight and fear for Juke’s safety at the same time. I could not survive this war if I kept letting every sound distract me. I could see their skill, and I had parried with Juke, it had bested me with its blades. I had to trust it. I had to trust them all.
After that, the battle went smoother for me. I did not allow myself any distractions. I deflected swords and cut and threw my dagger. We were pushing forward and stepping on corpses as we made our advance towards the end of the street.
“Samu.” I heard an imp hiss.
Suddenly, our line was broken.
“Stop using your pansophy,” Chike snapped at the other imps.
It was too late, the imps were already being sapped.
The plenum soldiers took advantage of the break in our line before Gamble could return to fill it. They forced themselves through the gap between Juke and Chike and they surrounded us. This was what I’d been afraid of. We had done a significant amount of damage, but the moment they surrounded us, the battle tipped immeasurably in their favor. Juke flew up to prevent itself from being surrounded. It turned out that my uspecs weren’t the only ones trained in air-fight. Other plenum soldiers rose to. They battled Juke and Gamble in the air, while Matiu, Chike and I fought on the ground.
An uspec reached to end Matina’s life from behind it while I parried with another.
“Matina!” I screamed.
The uspec immediately ducked. I threw my dagger blindly and hoped that it was enough, because that second of distraction was all that I could afford with a battle of my own to fight.
The one disadvantage of fighting to kill was that there weren’t any wounded left which didn’t leave me with any pain to siphon. But there was anger and I exhausted it in as many uspecs as I could. It gave us an advantage, but it wasn’t enough.
We were losing.
We fought hard.
This was the kind of battle that epics thrived on. Terrible odds, but warriors so skilled that they defeated it. If our line hadn’t broken, we would have won. I believed that, I knew it to be true. But the imps with pansophy had been sapped by the samus and our line was broken.
It was over.
Or at least I thought so.
Right when I was certain we were all about to die, new players appeared on the scene. They were dressed fully in black. Black headguards and black robes, black enough to cover their entire bodies. Three of them flew in, all of the flying ones carried bows and fired arrows precisely between the chest spikes around the plenum soldiers’ hearts. The soldiers fell, and suddenly, our odds increased. More fighters garbed fully in black broke in on foot. They fell on the back of the plenum soldiers, surrounding them as they had surrounded us.
We fought with new vigor. Juke dropped back to the ground and slashed through as many uspecs as it could find. I fought as hard as I’d fought before, refusing to allow this new change in our situation to affect the tenacity of my fight. None of us stopped fighting until the last plenum soldier was dead. I didn’t allow myself to take stock until then. When I did, I found that we’d suffered two casualties. The imps. Chike was still with us, but only because the imp did not have pansophy. Samu was attracted to pansophy, it only bit imps using pansophy. I was surprised by how relieved I was to see Chike still standing.
Matiu nodded at me. It was drenched in blood. I nodded back at it, and imagined I looked much the same. My eyes caught on Juke and Gamble. Juke was bloodied, Gamble was not, an advantage of flying in the air, I supposed. Juke grinned at me. I scoffed and smiled back at it. I was forgetting someone. I knew I was. I jumped around when I realized who it was.
Matina knelt on the ground, its shoulders shook and it cradled my dagger in its hands. I knew the uspec was crying.
“It has never seen so many bodies.” Matiu explained to me.
I clenched my jaw and looked away. We stood on bodies. The street was so narrow that there were no empty spots for us to stand. There were only the corpses of plenum soldiers.
“Salutations sirga,” one of the black-robed uspecs who’d flown in with bows and arrows, approached me. It spoke in the boga tongue. No one flew, we were all grounded now. I counted twenty of these people. It became immediately clear that there were not just uspecs, but imps too. The tension returned. The last time I had faced uspecs and imps fighting together was when the Wrath of Sada broke into our dwelling on the inter-port trail. It appeared that we had only gone from fighting one enemy to fighting another.
“Who are you?” I demanded.
“I was about to ask you the same question.”
Juke’s hands clenched on the hilts of its cutlasses just as mine did the same.
“Relax, Centius, we are amongst friends.” I heard another voice say, in the boga tongue. Another black-robed individual approached, the one that had spoken. It was an imp, not an uspec. The uspec who’d spoken first backed down and then turned to stare at the imp.
It was clear that this imp was in charge. Imps in charge, another sign of the wrath. I clenched my fingers tighter around the hilt of my cutlass.
The imp that stopped in front of me was tall. As tall as Juke. It took of its headguard and smiled at me. It bowed. “Greetings sirga.” There was something very familiar about this imp. I could not put my finger on it, but it was there. I had seen this imp before. My mind told me that I’d seen it in Damejo and if I’d seen it in Damejo, it was part of the wrath. I was just about to raise my cutlass to cut off its head when it said, “the general will be pleased to hear of your safe return.”
|Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by obehiD: 2:44am On May 23|
I remembered where I knew the imp from. I relaxed my grip on the cutlass. Yes, I had last seen it in Damejo, but it was not with the wrath, it had been with Yakubo. This was one of the imps who’d belonged to Yakubo. I remembered the other, the female one. That one’s name was Aaliyah. This one was its companion. It took me a while to remember the name.
“Zane.” I said, when at last, I remembered.
The imp bowed. “Yes sirga.”
“Sirga?” I asked, without emotion. “You are free now?”
It nodded. “I am a don in the general’s army.” My eyes flicked to its ears. How could I have missed those earrings? The imp wore silver earrings with three bars on them. I remembered enough about the hierarchy to know that dons were silver capons, high ranks in the army. Don was two ranks higher than I’d been when I’d been a serf soldier in Sophila’s army. It was one rank below commander, which had been Arexon’s rank. I could not help the sardonic smile that filled my face. Arexon had gone eccentric in the years that I’d been away. An imp as a capon in its army, I shook my head, it had really gone eccentric.
After hearing our conversation, most of the soldiers removed their headguards. Only one did not, that one was one of the three uspecs who’d flown in. It still had its bow around its shoulder, and a quiver of arrows hanging from its arm. Everyone else I saw had silver earrings. The highest ranked uspec amongst them was a captain, a full rank below Zane. I could not believe that Arexon would allow an imp to lead its soldiers. I could not believe it. There were other imps there, all of them wearing silver earrings. I counted five imps and fifteen uspecs, including the one still wearing its headguard. Two of the imps were officers, I could tell from the crosses on their earrings, the other two wore empty earrings as five of the uspecs. The empty chain earrings showed they were just soldiers, not yet leaders, but they did not carry the hoe-spears that soldiers had carried when I served. The rest of the uspecs had ranks varying from officers to silver capons.
“Don,” I heard Juke call. There was a great deal of respect in its tone, a respect that said it knew much more about Arexon’s army and its ranks than any uspec who’d not done considerable research should. But this was my Juke, I was sure it had done a great deal of research on it.
Zane turned to Juke. “Yes, sirga.”
“Is this, by any chance, one of the high Arexon’s flying squads?”
Zane grinned. It nodded. “Yes sirga.”
Juke and Gamble both looked at each other and then they started chattering, animatedly. I could not understand what they found so exciting about this. What was a flying squad?
“We should return.” The voice came from the uspec still with its headguard on. Its voice sounded familiar in some ways, strange in others.
“Yes sirga.” Zane snapped out a salute and I suddenly found the uspec in the headguard a great deal more interesting. “Where are you going sirga? Will you like an escort to see you there?” Zane asked me.
“I am going to Chiboga.”
Zane appeared baffled. “This is a surprise sirga. The general will be very pleased to see you. Come with us, we are headed back home.”
I nodded. When I turned around, Matina was standing. I took my dagger from it and placed it back into my belt, with my cutlass. Matiu stood beside its sibling, offering silent comfort. I just shook my head at the duo. I would never understand how Matiu could allow Matina to come here.
“How did you come to be here, sirga?” Zane asked, once we were free of the street of corpses. The black-robed soldiers formed around us. The one still in the headguard walked in front.
“I told you, I was headed to Chiboga.”
“Not here in the inter-port trail, but on that street.” The imp clarified.
“The great Auxa laid an ambush for us.” Gamble spat out. “I cannot wait to repay it. I will slit its head in two.”
Juke chuckled. “Not if I do it first.”
They both started arguing about who would have the honor of killing Auxa. I scoffed at them.
Zane was not smiling. “The general will blame itself for this. It did not think that you would ever return to Chiboga and so it did not see the need to warn you of Auxa’s switched allegiance.”
That was the one thing I had been unable to understand. Auxa had been loyal to Arexon for as long as I’d known it. It was Auxa who’d seen me safely from Chiboga, and it was Auxa who’d allowed Arexon to lead more troops into Chiboga. Auxa was Arexon’s uspec on the inside. I’d placed my safety in Auxa’s hands before and I had never been disappointed.
“What happened?” I asked.
“The chasm.” Zane replied, bitterly. “The plenum found out that Auxa was on our side and they turned it. We lost over a thousand soldiers because the general thought it could still trust its guardian.” Zane sighed. “Let us just be grateful that Auxa’s desire to appease the plenum is so great.”
I frowned at that.
“That was why it sent so few soldiers,” Zane clarified. “It no doubt wanted to clamp you in chains and present you as a gift to the plenum Kaisers. If it had told them about your presence here, there would have been at least a thousand soldiers waiting to fall on you.”
I swallowed and shook my head. It was baffling to see how loyalties could switch so easily. There was a time Auxa had called Arexon its ward. A ward was as an offspring, and Arexon had cared for Auxa as a progenitor. I shook my head again.
“We are in your debt, don, if you had come a moment later, I fear we would all be dead. Gratitude.” Juke bowed.
Zane smiled. “It is not me you owe gratitude, but the imperial commander. It was the one who asked us to change our scouting course this evening, and it was the one who ordered us to intercede when you were being attacked, before we knew who you were.”
The imperial commander? Again, I was forced to remember details on the Chiboga army hierarchy, details I had been forced to learn when Sophila had made me a serf. An imperial commander was a golden capon, one rank below the general. It was akin to an imperial in a civilian port, as the general was akin to Kaiser. Who was this uspec with the headguard on, and why did it stay away from us? It was that uspec who should have been speaking with us, not Zane.
I was just about to ask Zane for the imperial’s identity when I heard Juke say, “we were saved by a Chiboga flying squad. Now we truly have tales worthy of epics.”
“What is this flying squad?” I demanded.
“It is one of the things the high Arexon created, sirga, one of the reasons why it has survived this long in the battle, without losing any ground, and why its name and its epic will live on forever.” Gamble responded with a dreamlike quality to its voice.
I smiled. I’d always known that Arexon was the greatest uspec I had ever met.
“The high Arexon created the flying fight, sirga.” Juke explained. “Before the high Arexon uspecs did not fight in the air. Flying was just a thing an uspec did to get around, but not to fight. It was the high Arexon who saw the possibilities in flight. It trained its soldiers to take advantage of their ailerons during flight, and use those ailerons with as much ease as they used their legs and arms. The flying squads are the result. Troops of soldiers that combine flight battle with ground battle. It took the plenum completely by surprise the first time the high Arexon revealed its new tactics. The plenum lost thousands to the air assault. They are learning now, but they will never be as good as the Chiboga flying squads.”
“That is why you and Gamble learnt to fight in the air too.” I said.
Juke nodded. “We begged the high one to send us an instructional manual and it did. It sent us a manual that it uses for training its own flying squads.”
“War in this existence will never be the same again.” Gamble announced. “There are flying archers now. Whenever there is war uspecs will remember the Chiboga flying squads that caught the plenum unawares.”
“And they will remember Arexon as the mind that created them.” I stated, approvingly.
“There is no greater military mind, sirga, none.” Gamble sighed. “I still find it hard to believe that I lived a whole month in the high Arexon’s company. A whole month.”
“I poured its wine.” Juke boasted.
“Lucky bastard.” Gamble shoved Juke to the side and they both laughed.
This was the war that would live on in uspec tales. It was the first war that had ever been fought on the inter-port trail, the first war of this magnitude. The chasm. Chuspecip had made the sovereignty of Kaisers absolute in their ports and so there had been skirmishes before, within ports, and there had been a few annexed ports, all started by civil war within the port being annexed. The foreign Kaiser always entered victorious, when the port already belonged to it. But the chasm was different. There had never before been a group of uspecs trying to destroy the sovereignties that the founder had given on so large a scale.
“We have arrived.” Zane said, right as we turned into a street that had five uspecs in black standing in front of a wall to the side.
“Passphrase.” One of the uspec’s by the wall said. I doubted the uspec even knew the meaning of what it said. It spoke in the common umani tongue I understood.
The response was also given in the common umani tongue. It was Zane who replied. “Bonbons.” It said.
“In order.” The uspec responded, in the same tongue.
“Sun, moon, sky…”
It took me longer than it should have to realize that the passphrase was related to the Mine of Aurelion. ‘Bonbons’ had been what the imps there called the pansophic metal they mined, because it had tasted sweet. And sun, moon, sky, those were the names of the gangs that had ruled the mines. Leave it to Arexon to pick a passphrase that very few could guess. Once Zane was done with its recital, the uspec placed its hand on the wall. The cloud walls sucked us in and took us to the Chiboga hangar. I could not believe it. After all this time, I was back in Chiboga.
The First Metropolis of Chiboga
There were lines of soldiers standing at attention. These soldiers carried the hoe-spears I remembered.
When we walked into the room, the imperial commander that had kept its headguard on, finally removed the headguard. Its back was to me, so all I could see where the golden earrings with the four rectangular bars on them.
“Assiduity!” A soldier with two smaller rectangular golden bars on its earrings called out. It had two slight golden bands on its arms and was dressed in the full body armor of a capon. It was a noble commander.
As soon as the order was given, every soldier in the room, excluding the imperial, snapped out a salute. The coordination was perfect. There was not a finger moved out of tune. It was awing.
“What beauty thine eyes doth see, what splendors undeservingly shown to me,” a soft voice whispered with reverence. It was Matina, of course, the artist.
The imperial commander turned around and when I saw its face I froze.
|Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by Madosky112(m): 5:10am On May 23|
Nebud wrong two imperial oya guess one,The imperial commander Sophi or Marcinus?
|Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by OluwabuqqyYOLO(m): 7:39am On May 23|
|Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by eROCK247(m): 8:11am On May 23|
Ahh obehiD! Must you place someone in suspense I can't guess o!
I'll have to wait till Monday then
|Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by Smooth278(m): 8:26am On May 23|
I'm guessing the imperial commander is Marcinus!!!
|Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by Ultimategeneral: 8:54am On May 23|
I'm guessing it to be Sophi,but then it was taken by the plenum to be trained to become kaiser.
For Nebud to shake like that meant that Arrezon must have put two and two together to bring it back. what a good strategy to use it against the plenum.
|Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by Fazemood(m): 9:09am On May 23|
What an epic release, it was very wonderful to read. This fight was amazing. I think I reach a climax. It was relieving
Thank you Obehid.
I think who we are expecting will be Marcinus. I am certain of it. Only it deserves this recognition.
|Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by phoenixchap: 9:19am On May 23|
Imperial commander mercinus... Graceful ObehiD @least he has his sanity and composure back, Chiboga is the epic centre Lahooni is the final battle field. The imps been sapped I hope Nebud remembers MUSA is a cure to samu's bite. Nebud has forgotten that his neck scale is also a weapon not only his dagger. Nebula will make a greater Nevus I hope to see it in action too before the final battle of spectra existence.
|Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by cassbeat(m): 9:41am On May 23|
Yo dope update I really loved this... But the suspense is choking me...Monday pls come quick... Thanks obehid
|Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by Tuhndhay(m): 2:30pm On May 23|
Chai....... Am also going to most likely freeze till Monday..... Who could be the Noble Commander, remember Nebud was gone for 5years and a lot must have happened then I think Sophi comes to mind or Cantonia, could it be Marcinus too? How about someone we are not thinking of.....
|Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by Madosky112(m): 5:19pm On May 23|
Imperial Sophi because of the bow and arrow which marcinus has no record of using it before in the past, hope am correct oo ,can't kill myself with guessing abeg.
|Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by Fazemood(m): 11:18pm On May 24|
Tuhndhay:Sophi is still a child, five years to its age makes it 10 or 11years old. So best to think Marcinus
|Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by obehiD: 4:17am On May 25|
It took me longer than it should have to shake off the daze. But as soon as I did, I reached for the hilt of my cutlass. Our eyes locked. The uspec moved one of its lower eyes in the direction of my hand and the cutlass I clutched. Then it returned its gaze back to me. It said nothing. Its face was perfectly emotionless. I had seen various versions of this uspec, but this version was one I had never seen. I hated it. My teeth gritted together and every urge in my body screamed for me to pull my cutlass out of its scabbard and cut off the uspec’s head. But there was a voice, a small, potent voice, that urged against it. My jaw clenched. Even after all this time, after all that it had put me through, I still could not kill it.
“Imperial one!” Juke gasped. “Sirga,” it turned to me and jabbed me with its elbow, “that’s the imperial Marcinus!” It exclaimed.
I looked down at Juke’s wide-eyed stare. Did the uspec think I was blind? Of course I knew it was Marcinus. I had eyes, I could see. Marcinus was older than it had been the last time, and it looked composed, eerily composed. There was no trace of the lust-addict that had accompanied me on the inter-port trail.
I had seen Marcinus at so many points in its life. I had seen it when it was a young, kind, imperial with a swan for a pet and sword skill unlike any other. It had been happy in that phase of its life. It had smiled and joked often. I could still remember Marcinus under the influence of loony the drug that its sibling had dosed it with constantly. Then there was Marcinus in the grips of grief and rage. That was the Marcinus I had seen in Lahooni, the one that had loathed me, the one that had wanted to kill me and had then settled for Salin’s head instead. Then there was the last Marcinus I’d seen, the one on the inter-port trail. The one that had introduced my offspring to lust and then blackmailed me when my offspring’s life hung in the balance. Marcinus was the only uspec in my life that I’d felt true love and true hatred for. There was guilt too. In the end, even when it had harmed Nebula, I had felt guilty. Because my offspring lived. It stammered, but it lived. Marcinus’ offspring was not so lucky. Maricus, I still remembered the name. Marcinus had been happy and jocular until I entered its life and made it shun. After I left, it lost its progenitor and its sibling, and it sunk into a dark pit of despair.
It all comes full circle.
Those were the words Marcinus had said to me under the influence of lust, while it laughed at my offspring in its death bed. While it teased me and demanded more lust. I looked at the uspec now, at its empty center eye socket, its weathered green face, its unsmiling lips, the golden earrings dangling from its ears, and I was introduced to yet another version of Marcinus. The soldier. Each version of Marcinus had left me with scars, I could not say that I was looking forward to meeting this new one.
I released my hold on the hilt of my cutlass and forced my jaw to relax. I could not kill Marcinus even if I wanted to, which, even when it had been at its worst, I’d never been able to. Marcinus was my creation, I had destroyed its life.
I tried not to think too hard on how it had tried to return the favor.
Marcinus turned back around. It didn’t say a single word to me, it just barked out, “In clover,” and then gave orders for missives to be sent to Arexon ahead of our arrival. It began marching along the aisle between the soldiers standing at attention, and it was Zane who urged us to follow.
I was in a daze. Marcinus was free of lust. Arexon would not have given it such a high position in its army if it was not. It had not appeared happy to see me, but I was not particularly happy to see it either. We had both caused each other irreparable damage.
We were led out from the hangar, to the docks behind it. Then we climbed into one of the largest non-commercial canoes that I’d ever seen, and a soldier steered. It gave motion to the vehicle and we were off.
As soon as we hit the main roads, clammy fogs drifted around us. Those fogs really brought home the fact that I was back in Chiboga. Of all the places that Chuspecip had sent me on the quests to complete the brio inside of me, Chiboga was hands down the worst. Its funny how sometimes the best things come from the worst places. I thought of the time I’d spent in this port and I remembered Sophian giving the order for me to be whipped. My flesh was still mangled as a result. I remembered Arexon barging into my room in the civilian’s camp and delivering Sophila’s judgement that I was to be made a serf. I’d hated Arexon so much then. My hatred for it had only grown when it trained me with beatings and imprisonment in tight spaces. When we were in Aurelion, I didn’t think I could have hated the uspec more. Then Yakubo opened my eyes to all that Arexon had done for me. In the end, Arexon had saved my life and made it possible for me to leave this cursed port in one piece. Arexon had come to my aid several times after that. Arexon’s friendship was one that had taken me completely by surprise. It was also one that I cherished most dearly. And it had come from this port.
The journey passed in a daze for me. At some point Juke and Gamble’s excited conversations drew my focus to the sky, above what had been the Serf army barracks, when I’d last been in Chiboga. There were no more serfs in the port, thanks to Arexon, but I guessed it was probably still the army barracks. There were several soldiers flying in the air. Some dove while shooting arrows, others performed mindboggling acrobatics while they parried with swords. I was stunned. The canoe kept moving. Every once in a while, I would glance at Marcinus and wonder what it was I felt when I saw the uspec bent over staring into its own hands. Sometimes I was sure it was rage. Nebula would always have spasms because of Marcinus. Always. Everyday, for the rest of its life, my offspring would battle spasms. But then I remembered the imperial who had spent an entire night looking for me, when I’d been nothing more than a banneret. I sighed. My feelings when it came to Marcinus would never be straightforward. We had been through too much together and done too much to each other.
It came as a relief when we finally reached the hard fog gates of the Kaiser’s castle.
The canoe didn’t even stop. The order of “ajar!” was given before we reached the point where we would have had to halt, and so the gates were opened, and the canoe drove in. Once the steerer docked the vehicle, we climbed out and were led, by Zane to one of the Visiting lodges in the Castle.
Marcinus went its own way.
It was funny how it all came back so easily to my mind. I’d been stationed for a while in this castle, guarding the imperial brat Sophi. I knew most parts of it. There were places I’d never been allowed into, but I still knew what they were. These lodges had been designed for visiting dignitaries. That much was obvious in the décor. The ground was hard fog, as everywhere else in the Acropolis, but the walls were styled with fine engravings of colorless drawings. The lighting was an odd mix of silver and gold, and the walls had several hard fog shelves coming out of them. There were snacks and drinks on these shelves. My gaze locked on an imp dressed in a simple black tunic who stood by a shelf filled with fresh fruit. For some reason the imp reminded me of Musa.
We walked along a long walkway, until finally Zane made a turn through an entrance with the curtains already held back.
It was a cleaning room.
“The general is away, sirgas,” Zane explained, “but if you would like to clean up, you can do so here. Joel will take you to your rooms when you are done and you can rest there till the general returns. The general has asked that you wait to dine with it. There are appetizers available if you cannot wait. Joel is one of the stewards. It will provide you with anything you need.” After saying that, Zane withdrew from the room, leaving the six of us in a cleaning room with ten imps one of which I assumed was named Joel.
The cleaning room was perfect. It reminded me of the one from the Hakute Lastmain. It had several ponds and a channel with falling okun. It dawned on me then that this would be the first proper cleaning that I’d had in five years. There had been a small pond, in the standard existence, filled with a liquid the umanis called water, but I had not been able to clean properly in it, and I’d only used it once. There had been no time when we returned for me to clean in our paradise and so it felt good to be able to make use of ponds now. I took of my belt, placed it on a lounging bed, and then proceeded to jump into the pond with the bathing salts.
My mind may not have known that I was gone for five years, but my skin sure did. I forced my mind to ignore the pain. The war started tomorrow, who knew if this was the last bath I would ever to take. I swam five full laps around the pond, fully immersed in the okun, before I climbed out and dipped into cooler liquids. The second pond had scented stones that washed off the bath salts. It felt good to take several more laps in this pond. This time I did not have to force my mind into the task of ignoring the pain, and so I could see Chike and the other uspecs in my honoraria lying on lounging beds where they were massaged by imps. They did not swim as long as I did, but they were hooni, they did not have the affinity for okun that I did. I took several more laps around the second pond before I finally climbed out and joined the others for a massage. This too reminded me of Musa.
“You are truly kute, sirga.” Gamble teased.
I laughed. “Yes, I am. It has been a long time since I’ve enjoyed a good bath.”
The others were still lying lazily about on their lounging beds when I began twitching again to jump into the channel with the falling okun. I wondered if the liquid would be chilled as the one in the Lastmain had been. I forced myself to stay still while an imp polished the feathers on my ailerons. Why couldn’t I stop thinking of Musa? The imp had made a choice. It had chosen not to accompany me on this journey. It had chosen to remain with its imp lover. I wondered if they would be there when I returned. I had given all the imps their freedom. Even the ones that had chosen to accompany me. I thought of those two imps then, the ones who’d been sapped during our last battle. I had not known them, I had not even known their names, but they had died fighting for me. There were so many now who’d died fighting for me.
I got up from the lounging bed, when the imp finished, and dove into the canal around the perimeter of the room. I swam underneath falling okun. The liquid was as cool as I’d hoped. It felt good to swim in it, very good. I don’t know how much time passed while I swam, but when I came out of the canal, there was only Matiu left in the room.
It was seated on a lounging bed, watching me.
“The others left?” I asked.
|Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by obehiD: 4:18am On May 25|
It nodded. It rose when I drew closer to it and then plucked a towel from an imp’s outstretched hand and handed the towel to me itself. I frowned at that. My frown got deeper when the uspec just stood there watching me towel off. After I was done, the uspec picked up my belt and gave it to me. I took the belt from Matiu, watching the uspec as I latched it onto my waist.
“What is it?” I asked, after I’d had enough of its silent stare.
It went on its knee in front of me and bowed deeply. “Gratitude sirga,” it intoned.
I frowned. “Get up, Matiu.”
I eyed the uspec curiously. Matiu was the only other adult with me. Juke, Gamble and Matina still felt like children. They had grown in my absence, but I still saw them as they’d been five years ago. “What are you thanking me for?”
“You protected my sibling.” It said. “I am in your debt.”
I scoffed. “And am I in yours?” I asked.
Matiu appeared puzzled. “Of course not sirga.”
“You are no more in my debt than I am in yours. You have protected me, and you protected my offspring in my absence. We protect each other, that’s what we do.”
Matiu shook its head. “You are our imperial. It is our job to protect you. Not the other way around.”
“Don’t get me wrong, Matiu, I am not a fan of your sibling’s. But it is in my honoraria and I am as duty bound to it as it believes itself bound to me. I did no more than it would have done for me if it had the skill.”
Matiu gaped at me. “You risked your life saving it.”
I laughed. “That is an inaccurate postulation. It was a battle, all of our lives were at risk.”
The uspec stared at me for a long time and then a slow smile filled its face. “I am honored to serve you, imperial one.”
I chuckled. “As I am honored to have your service.”
We walked out of the cleaning room together. An imp, I assumed it was the Joel of whom Zane had spoken, offered to show us to our rooms. I shook my head. I felt like exploring, but I gave Matiu leave to rest. It chose to stay with me. The uspec was a silent one. I’d known that from the start. Matiu was not gregarious, it was stoic and reserved.
I stopped at a carving in the wall right beside the exit to the Visitors lodge. It was a carving of a hand that had scales and webs between the fingers. The hand was stretched out and held open, as if reaching for someone to grasp it.
“It’s the work of a fabricator from Arusoaru. I forget its name.”
I glanced at Matiu before returning my gaze to the carving. “I did not take you for one who enjoys art.” Then I remembered who its sibling was and I scoffed. “Matina.”
Matiu smiled. “It rambled on about the carvings while you swam.”
I nodded and then exited the area. I remembered the Castle enough to know that the Library was behind the visiting lodge we’d just come out of. I found myself going to the docks instead of deeper into the Castle. Matiu walked silently beside me.
“I am surprised you did not try harder to teach your younger how to fight.” I remarked.
“I tried, sirga, it just has no skill in fighting.”
“With discipline it could learn enough to at least be adequate.”
Matiu chuckled. “Feel free to try sirga, you are the great Irira, after all.” it said.
It took me a while to realize that the stone-face uspec was teasing me. I laughed. “Perhaps, I will.” I stated.
“And perhaps you might succeed. Odder things have happened.” It retorted, in the same calm tone that made it hard to hear the humor. But I was starting to find the uspec’s teasing easier to decipher. I chuckled.
There were two imp soldiers and two imps standing around a large canoe. As soon as they saw us, they frowned.
“Can I help you sirga?” an imp soldier called out.
It did not know who I was, I could tell from the suspicious way it looked at me. At least it was smart enough to know that I would not be in the Castle if I was an enemy. Imp soldiers, I shook my head, I had not expected it from Arexon. I made my way around the canoes and stopped by one that I found particularly fascinating. It was one of the fancy speed-canoes. It was completely covered and had a sleek curved body. I ran my hand over the hood.
“Have you ever ridden in one, sirga?” Matiu asked.
I shook my head. “I would like to, though.” I mused.
The imp soldiers appeared beside us. They both carried hoe-spears. “I recognize you.” One of them said. “You are the last brio, aren’t you?”
Interrogated by imps. I must have been in a particularly good mood, because I did not feel the desire to lop off the imp’s tongue. I turned to the imp soldier and, in surprising deference to its uniform, I nodded.
Its eyelids pulled up. It bowed. Then it shook its head and saluted. “I am sure the general would not mind if you took the canoe out. I mean, we were ordered to give you whatever you wanted.”
I nodded. The imps in Arexon’s army wore uniforms that the uspecs did not. They had earrings of course, in that, they matched the uspec soldiers.
“I cannot steer.” I said. It would have been nice to know what it felt like to move around in one.
“I can.” Matiu stated.
I gaped at the uspec. Stoic Matiu could steer a canoe. I smiled. The imp unlocked the canoe and I watched the form move away from the sleek cover, exposing the small interior. There were two small benches with room enough for one steerer and one passenger. Matiu and I climbed in. The imp was still saluting when Matiu pushed a button on the screen control and the form returned to the cover. The cover was colored in a way that we could see clearly from the inside out, when we hadn’t been able to see in from the outside. Matiu did some things and the canoe came to live. It was infused with motion. The uspec held the steering wheel, turned and before I knew it we were gliding between the canoes in the docks. There was a steering stick that emerged from the front of the canoe. Matiu pressed some buttons on it and a strange sound came from the canoe. That sound prompted the soldiers to open the hard fog gates. Once we reached the open road, Matiu boosted the motion and we were moving at a thrilling pace.
While Matiu steered, I guided. It sped past familiar places and I told it all about my experience in those places. Matiu’s silence forced me to speak more than I normally did. When we raced around the civilian’s camp I told the uspec of the time that I’d spent there with Musa. I told it of how strange Chiboga had seemed to me. A military port with soldiers marching and flying around at all times. We went around the serf army barracks and I told Matiu of the time I’d spent as a serf soldier under commander Arexon. There were things I said that didn’t seem particularly funny, but Matiu laughed. It was hard to win an unrestrained laughter from the uspec. When we reached the serf camp, I told it about my strange encounter there. I told it of the uspec Sensu who’d given its freedom to protect my secret. Matiu spoke up for the first time then. It wasn’t till the uspec told me that Sensu had died, that I remembered that it was off Sensu’s line. That was why it had joined my honoraria in the first place. For the rest of the trip I tried to tell it as much about Sensu as I knew, and the heroic role it had played in my early life. Matiu listened intently and I hoped that it felt pride. I hadn’t known Sensu well, but Sensu was the first uspec I had seen go to pains to protect Cala. It did not even know that I was the one it had suffered for. Now, I wished that I had told it. But I hadn’t wanted to tell Musa then, and I couldn’t have told Sensu without Musa hearing.
Matiu made an abrupt stop by the one place in Chiboga I least liked.
The Mine of Aurelion.
There was a blockade in the road. Two made commanders, the lowest golden capon rank, held out their hands and ordered us to come out of the canoe. There were several more soldiers standing behind them, but I did not ask Matiu to remove the form from the cover until I saw it.
|Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by obehiD: 4:18am On May 25|
As soon as my eyes clamped on its form, I asked Matiu to take the cover down and then I climbed out of the canoe and made to move towards it. The made commanders stopped me. I could have pushed forward, but there was no need, it had already seen me.
The uspec was walking between two ducal commanders and a swarm of lesser capons, a mix of golden and silver. I caught sight of a few officers, but the gurus were the lowest ranking ones I saw. A number of the dons and even some commanders were imps. I noticed that there were two dignified commanders, who were imps. These were the highest-ranking imps, around Arexon. Arexon had made imps golden capons, part of the highest echelons of its army.
Arexon held up its hand and the capons around it stopped talking and moving. It broke off from them and marched towards me.
The five years had done little to change Arexon’s appearance. If anything, the uspec appeared younger. Its chest spikes shone, as if they’d been polished, and the golden bands on its earrings caught and reflected the red lights from the clouds. It wore five golden armbands on its arms. The last time I’d seen it, it had only worn four, a custodian. The fact that it wore five now meant that it had made itself Kaiser. I grinned. It wore a belt that appeared modest and flamboyant. It was made of red and golden metal, with maroon leather built in as a sheath for its sword and daggers. If there were other pouches in the belt, I could not see them.
The uspec stopped in front of me and I found myself speechless. It did not appear much changed from the last time I’d seen it, but it seemed greater. I didn’t know if it was all the tales that Gamble and Juke had told about Arexon and its war and the way they’d spoken of it in awe. Or maybe it was just seeing it like this, surrounded by its capons. My gaze moved and I saw Marcinus amongst the soldiers. It was not wearing the black robe it had worn before. Now it wore nothing but a belt, earrings, and the golden bands of an imperial. Without the robe I could really see how much Marcinus had changed. The uspec had bulk now, it had become a brawler. A brawler with Marcinus’ skill in sword fighting would be something to see.
“I’m not sure if I should salute or bow.” I confessed.
Arexon burst out laughing. It clasped its hands around my upper arms and pulled me closer. It did not embrace me fully, as its spikes would have skewered me if it had tried. But it clamped onto my arms in a noble’s embrace. It was the first time that I had ever shared a greeting like this with Arexon. A greeting of equals. Or, well, close to it. I clamped my hands around its upper arms too.
“It is very good to see you my friend. Very good. After five years passed without word from you, I’d feared that we’d lost you for good.” Arexon sighed. “It is very good to see you.”
Arexon released me and I was suddenly surrounded by its capons. Hands reached for mine. They shook my hand, some bowed to me, others snapped out salutes. They greeted as me as one would a superior. It was a puzzling reception, especially coming from so many uspecs and imps that I did not know. The one uspec I did know stayed far away. Marcinus watched me with an expressionless face.
Arexon dismissed the bulk of the capons. It asked four to remain, one was a dignified commander imp, one was Marcinus, and two were two ducal commanders I’d never seen before. I looked closer at the imp and realized that I recognized it. It was the tall imp from the inter-port trail who’d dazed Cantonia. I nodded a greeting at the imp, it bowed to me.
“Imps in your army. I would never have expected it.” I said, when it was just the seven of us left.
Arexon chuckled. “It was Animaon’s idea. And the plenum had not expected it either.”
“Where is Animaon?” I inquired.
Arexon’s smile went away. “Animaon was killed in battle two years ago.”
I couldn’t believe it. I thought for sure Animaon would have survived. It’d had pansophy and been skilled with fighting. But then I had killed uspecs with pansophy who were skilled in fighting. So many lives lost to the chasm. “I am grieved to hear that.”
Arexon nodded. “It died well.” It said.
I thought of the pious one and I mourned for it. It had been a great uspec.
I found my gaze travelling to the black walls around Aurelion. “Is the mine still operational, or have you emancipated all your imps?”
Arexon chuckled. “I have not become that much of a revolutionary.” It said. “Aaliyah, Yakubo’s other imp, it runs the mines now. When the war started I offered all the imps there the chance to join my army in exchange for freedom and payment when the war ends. Those that chose to join are now soldiers, those that did not still work in Aurelion, but I gave them the land that used to be the serf camp. They live there now, thanks to Aaliyah.”
I smiled at the uspec. “It seems you’ve developed a soft spot for imps.” I said.
It laughed. “I blame your imp for that. I suppose Musa is in the Castle frothing that you did not allow it to come on this joyride with you and Matiu?”
My smile went away. “Musa did not come on this trip with us.”
Arexon frowned. “Was it sapped?”
I shook my head. “It chose not to come.”
Arexon peered at me and I saw in its eyes an understanding of feelings I could not name which churned in me from Musa’s absence. Neither of us said anything after that. Matiu and I rode in Arexon’s large canoe, while the imp capon volunteered to steer the fast canoe back to the Castle. One day I would learn to steer. It had been a thrill just riding. I imagined it would feel even better to be the one steering.
“So,” Arexon began, as we made our way back, “I cannot tell if your presence here means you did or did not succeed on your mission to return the founder.”
All of the uspecs stared at me. I turned my focus to Arexon. “I succeeded,” I said.
Arexon frowned. “Then is the plenum destroyed?”
I shook my head. “The founder was weakened. It needs time to recuperate.”
Arexon laughed dryly.
“How much time?” One of Arexon’s ducal commanders asked.
“I do not know. I would say a week, if I had to guess.”
“We don’t have a week.”
I knew that. I turned back towards Arexon. “Could we parley with the plenum Kaisers? Once they learn that Chuspecip is back, they will know they are doomed. Maybe they’ll surrender.”
Arexon shook its head. “No, they won’t.”
“But they’ll die. Chuspecip is back. It may not be ready to fight today, but it will be ready soon, and when it is…”
“They will join the wrath of sada.” Arexon announced.
I gaped at it. “You cannot be serious.”
“Unfortunately, I am. The wrath has been courting them. The only reason the plenum hasn’t joined already is because they’re holding onto hope that you’ve failed in your mission and that the founder is not returning. If they find out that you’ve succeeded, they will take their troops and add it to the wrath’s invasion. They cannot know that Chuspecip is back.”
I sputtered. It took me a long time to control my rage. “Those traitors!” I yelled. “They will bow to imps! They will allow another existence to invade ours!”
“Better that than death.” Arexon replied calmly.
“I would rather die than serve imps.” I spat out.
Arexon smirked at me. “Well, not everyone has your arrogance Nebud.”
I forced myself to think. “What if we promise them that Chuspecip will spare them?”
Arexon looked at me. “It’s not a promise we can make, or one that I think the founder will keep. Unless I have it wrong, it is the plenum Kaisers responsible for everything that the founder has been through. Would it really show them mercy?”
I did not know. I longed for the days of Chuspecip being in my head and speaking to me. “It’s possible.”
“The plenum Kaisers will not take the chance.” Arexon stated.
It was probably right. “Then it is war.” I said.
Arexon nodded. We’d reached the gates to the Castle. The space that this canoe docked in was much emptier than the one we’d taken the speed-canoe from. This docks only had a handful of canoes. Arexon told the other uspecs to await it in its suite, but it held me back.
It meant to speak with me alone.
Once the uspecs left, Arexon asked, “what are you doing here Nebud?”
It gave me one of those direct stares that I still found so hard to meet. “I told you sirga that if for some reason Chuspecip could not come to your aid, I would.”
Arexon smiled at me. “How many fighters did you bring?”
I had a feeling it already knew the answer, but I told it anyway. It laughed dryly. “You are a fool, my friend.” It said it in a way that made it sound more like praise than an insult. “You have come here to die.”
I shrugged. “Perhaps it is my time. I have performed the task that the founder demanded of me. My life is now my own to spend however I please, and this is how I choose.”
“And your offspring? What of little Nebula? Does it not deserve a progenitor?” Arexon asked. “And the uspecs you brought with you? Juke, Gamble, Matina? Children who’ve never really had a chance to live. Do their lives mean nothing to you?”
I clenched my jaw. “Is this your way of saying that you plan to send us back, sirga?”
Arexon’s direct gaze did not waver. “No.” It shook its head. “This is my way of berating you for making a foolish decision. You are a fighter, Nebud, and I am in desperate need of fighters. But a handful of uspecs will not make any difference to this war.” It placed its hand on my shoulder. “Those uspecs’ lives are in your hands now, Nebud. Think about that. And know that if you decide to leave, I will not think any less of you for doing so. I will send you with an escort to see you safely on your way.”
I shook my head and began to speak, but Arexon hushed me.
“Think on it. You have all night to decide.” It squeezed my shoulder and then it turned its back on me and began walking.
I followed stunned in its wake. I could not leave. But I could talk to the other uspecs, and Chike. The plenum was fighting with samus now. The samus may be attracted to imps with pansophy, but the plenum could have made an alteration to make the samus attack imps without pansophy. They had spent five years in this war. They’d had the time. I told myself that I would convince them to save themselves, but I knew that they would not. The uspecs I’d brought with me were loyal to a fault. Even silly Matina. The quivering fool could not fight, but it was in my honoraria and so it clung to me. They would not leave if I did not leave and I could not leave. Arexon had sacrificed too much for me. It had thrown itself into danger and it was in this war for me, because I convinced it that it was what the founder needed. And it had been, but at what cost? I had to be here. I had to fight with Arexon, I just had to.
By the time we walked into Arexon’s suite, a small group had formed there, waiting for us. There were the capons, Marcinus, included, who’d returned with us. The uspecs in my honoraria had joined them. I saw Zane with the golden capon imp that had driven the speed-canoe back. Chike spoke with Marcinus.
“Sirga, you should have told us you were going out in a speed-canoe,” Juke whined. “I’ve missed steering them.”
“I would have just liked to be in one,” Gamble added.
“You can both go steering after we eat.” Arexon stated.
It was as if they hadn’t noticed Areon’s presence before. They both turned to Arexon and they did…well I think what they were attempting to do was salute, what they actually did was something entirely different. The soldiers in the room laughed, but Arexon just saluted back to them as if what they had done could pass as a salute. Then it said, “in clover,” and the two young goofs took their hands down and began to prattle at the same time about their adulation of Arexon and its great military mind.
|Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by obehiD: 4:19am On May 25|
We all walked together through the Kaiser’s suite. I realized that I had never really been into the suite. I’d only been as far in as I’d needed to kill Sophila. I had not known that Sophila had something of a display room, right in front of its personal eating room. This was Arexon’s suite now and so it took us through that display room. I saw several types of weapons hanging from walls that also had art and shelves with heavy tomes. It was an eclectic collection that managed to achieve a bizarre kind of beauty.
“I have never seen an mbira like this one.” Matina appeared bemused. I struggled to not roll my eyes at the artist.
Arexon approached it. The thing Matina was gushing over appeared rather fine. Even I had to admit that it was a spectacular work of art. It had several thin strips of crystalline hard fog attached in two layers to a thick wooden board.
“Can you play it?” Arexon asked.
“I have played metal ones, but never a boga mbira. Can I try?” Matina asked. Its eyes were wide and pleading.
Arexon smiled. “Of course, perhaps you can play something for us while we eat.”
Matina picked the instrument up with shaky hands.
“I did not know that there was a collection like this in this suite,” I remarked.
“How could you, when the only cause you ever had to enter this suite was to slaughter my sire?”
I was startled by the words. I turned around and found a very young, skinny, boga uspec standing a few paces behind me. It was an infant, about nine years old. I knew who it was as soon as I processed the words it had said.
“You owe the imperial Nebud an apology, Sophi.” Arexon scolded the young uspec.
Sophi. Sophian’s offspring. Arexon and I had made the uspec an orphan. I had beheaded its sire in this very suite and then Arexon had killed its progenitor one suite over. I deserved the hatred I saw coming out of the uspec. Its face was smooth. It had nothing but the center eye on its face. The young uspec glared at Arexon.
“Sophi,” Arexon warned, “the imperial Nebud is a guest of mine. You do not need to share its company if you do not want to, but I will not allow you to be rude to it in my presence.”
I clenched my jaw. I wanted to tell Arexon that I did not mind, I understood the uspec’s anger. And it had every right to hate me. I had killed an uspec of its line. But I could not oppose Arexon like that in its own port and so I held my tongue.
“Apologies,” the young uspec spat out.
I nodded, and then I turned away from it.
“You may go back to your suite.” Arexon stated.
“Can I not stay? I would like to dine with you general. I did not mean to be disrespectful. It won’t happen again.” The young uspec swore.
Arexon gave in. “I will hold you to that promise.”
“Gratitude sirga.” Sophi replied.
I walked into the eating room. It was a fine affair. There was a long table made out of fine hard fog and several backless high curule chairs with hard fog frames and hardened cloud padding. The dining table and chairs were close to the wall, while there was a large space and then a narrower fog table with a feast laid out on it. I was glad that the eating room was not set out in the noble’s style with lounging beds and uncomfortable supping. This was much better. There were several pails of warm scented okun for cleaning. There was chilled okun and other wines. I grabbed a platter and filled it with a good helping of food. Then I found myself seated on Arexon’s left side with Sophi on its right. I could tell the effort that the young uspec was making not to look at me.
I thought Arexon was insane for keeping Sophi here, with it. The last time we’d talked about the uspec Arexon had said that it was being groomed by Auxa. Had that changed when Auxa had betrayed them? Arexon and I had destroyed Sophi’s line and now Arexon had made itself Kaiser of Sophi’s port. Did Arexon really think that the young uspec would not seek revenge? I took my gaze from them. Arexon was well versed in politics. It did not need me giving it advice in that department.
I was halfway through my meal when I heard Arexon say, “I hear you are quite the skilled flying fighter Gamble.”
I groaned. Gamble beamed and Juke pouted. Gamble bowed to Arexon. “Yes, high one, I am.”
“It is mighty one.” One of Arexon’s ducal commanders corrected.
Arexon was still just Custodian to the rest of the world, even though its soldiers thought of it as Kaiser.
“Apologies, mighty one.” Gamble corrected.
Arexon chuckled and shook its head. “It is nothing.” It sipped its wine and then asked, “would you care to show us your skill?”
Gamble’s mouth hung open. “Against you sirga?” I heard equal measures of hope, excitement and fear in its voice.
Arexon laughed. “Not this time, noble one. Against the imperial Marcinus, perhaps?”
Marcinus stopped with a piece of meat close to its mouth. It put the food down and then stood. It saluted Arexon before walking to the empty space in the room.
Arexon sighed. “It was just a suggestion, imperial one, you are more than free to turn it down.”
Marcinus turned indifferent eyes on Arexon. It bowed. “If it pleases you, I will fight.”
Arexon turned to me and I was not sure I understood, or wanted to understand, the look on its face. I turned my focus to Gamble who gulped down okun, before rising and walking over to face Marcinus.
They both hovered in the air. The fight didn’t last long. Gamble was good, but Marcinus was a great deal better. It disarmed Gamble within a few minutes. Gamble was stunned speechless.
Juke stood up. It bowed to me. “Please sirga, allow me to repair the pride of your honoraria which Gamble has just destroyed.” Juke’s teasing met with a lot of snickers. I nodded. Gamble descended, gave Juke a mock jab and then stood aside. Juke flapped its wings and rose in the air. Juke and Marcinus circled each other. They stayed mostly vertical. Juke lasted longer than Gamble had, but that owed more to Juke’s bulk than its skill, it had the strength to withstand the force behind Marcinus’ blows. In the end, Marcinus was just too much better. Juke lost as well.
“Perhaps the both of you can go together against it,” a ducal commander offered. “That should increase your odds.”
They went together against Marcinus. They fought well, their attacks were coordinated, they made an exceptional team. But Marcinus was still better. Juke’s double swords did not faze Marcinus. It dodged, retreated, went horizontal, oriented its body, and made all its moves quickly. Its sword never stopped moving and it never lost balance. Marcinus was even better now than I remembered it being in Katsoaru, and it had already been great.
Juke and Gamble landed with their shoulders slumped.
“Cheer up!” Arexon called out. “You both lasted longer than most. Marcinus is one of the trainers of my flying squads. You did not really have a chance.”
Juke bowed to Marcinus. “Gratitude for the lesson,” it said, “one day, we will best you.”
Marcinus’ lips twitched. It was the most expression I had seen cross the uspec’s face throughout the evening. “I look forward to that day.” It stated evenly.
Marcinus descended. It bowed to Arexon and then went back to its seat to continue its meal.
“Marcinus has not been the same since it brought Moat’s corpse to me.” Arexon said to me.
Moat was dead too. I sighed. How many more would die before this war was over? I looked at the faces of the uspec’s in the room and I cringed. “How did it die?”
“A skirmish at the Katsoaru border.”
“Five years ago?” I asked.
Arexon nodded. “Marcinus snuck back in with what was left of the soldiers I’d left it and with Moat’s corpse in its arms, about the same time as you reached that paradise Fabiana has written to me about. Marcinus joined my army that day and it has never been the same. It stopped chasing its lust, but it also stopped chasing happiness. I haven’t seen it smile since. There’s just emptiness now.”
“It introduced my offspring to lust and cast it to a life of spasms. I don’t care what happens to Marcinus.” I said the words and forced myself to mean them.
Arexon stared at me with one of those direct gazes I hated. Before it could say anything, the sound of music filled the room.
I turned to find Matina plucking the black fog tines of the boga mbira it had found in the display room. The uspec was not without talent. It played the instrument and soon all conversation stopped, and everyone turned to watch it. I had heard music before, but I had never heard an instrument played like that. It was stirring in a way that few things had ever been to me.
Then I heard the uspec’s singing voice. I could not think of a word vivid enough to describe it. It was sublime, the uspec drifted between high and low notes with an ease that was baffling. Matina closed its eyes as it sang,
I hear it begging to crawl from the shadows
Asking the Lord for some light
Its life has been spent by the gallows
Now it wants them out of its sight
Its words echoed in my head as it hummed and continued to pluck at the tines. I found my gaze turning to Marcinus. It tore off a piece of sweet bun, dipped it in oleo, and shoved it into its mouth. Everyone else was watching Matina, but not Marcinus. Marcinus just stared blankly ahead.
Its begging for leave from the gallows
Praying to God for some hope
Its wanting a day without shadows
Where its life doesn’t go up in smoke
Matina finished the song with some more humming and I could not help but stare at the uspec, just as everyone else did. This was the second time I had heard it singing and it was the second time that its song seemed to apply so well to my thoughts. It was as if the uspec had heard the words Arexon had said to me and it had coined a song to describe how Arexon said Marcinus had been living for the last five years.
Sophi stood up and it burst into cheers. “That was exceptional, breathtaking. You must play another one.”
“Let it catch its breath Sophi.” Arexon chastised. “That was truly beautiful, Matina, gratitude for sharing it with us.”
Matina bowed and looked shyly at its food.
“Keep the mbira. It is yours.” Arexon said.
Matina gasped. “I could not, it must cost a fortune…”
“And it would go to waste here. I insist.”
Matina bowed. “Gratitude mighty one.”
The uspec’s eyes met mine. It was searching for something from me. Approval, perhaps, validation. I didn’t know. But I didn’t think I had anything to give. Nothing had changed. Yes, it was gifted, but it was still an artist in a warzone. It could not sing our enemies away. I turned my attention to Marcinus. The uspec seemed somewhere else entirely. It just continued to eat and stare blankly away. I turned my gaze bitterly back to my own food. I did not care what the uspec was going through. I did not care at all. But I could not help glancing back at it several more times over the course of the meal.
|Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by obehiD: 4:20am On May 25|
I'm done writing so posts are going to be coming everyday now until I've posted all the parts! Happy reading!
|Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by dragonstar14: 5:40am On May 25|
Woo!! finally o .
No need to wait anymore for Wednesdays and Saturdays
This update was exceptional but I'm still thinking on what marcinus must be feeling towards nebud right now love,hatred or even both .
Overall it's a very nice update o
|Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by Tuhndhay(m): 7:58am On May 25|
Nebud is seriously bleeped up, if the lineage benefits were too be removed, It would only have little to show. I can only imagine the kind of Kaiser it would make even Nebula seems to be pulling more than it.
|Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by tunjilomo(m): 9:11am On May 25|
Breathtaking. Something very nice to read.
Good luck and more strength and wisdom to you, Obehid.
|Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by eROCK247(m): 9:58am On May 25|
Marcinus...what could have happened to Moat that's strong enough to turn Marcinus into this robot? It's better than when it was an addict though.
If the plenum goes into allegiance with the Wrath, the war will tip in the Wrath's favour. They can neutralise Chuspecip and take away magic from the Uspecs.
I don't think I'll love how this story will end o!
|Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by eROCK247(m): 10:03am On May 25|
My friend!!! Nebud has fought his way from the slums. Unlike other Imperials he was never doted on. Aside from Arexon, Nebud is the only imperial Uspec that has had to fend for itself from a tender age. E nor easy.
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