Akane woke and sighed as she heard Zoran and Souma whispering outside the tent.
“How many of those crowns do you have left now, Zoran?” Souma demanded.
“Just one actually.” Akane heard him reply hesitantly.
“Don’t forget, you owe me a new ship, mate.”
Zoran sighed and nodded.
When they sneaked back into the tent, Akane pretended to be vast asleep, but kept on wondering why it was that bad luck seemed to follow them around ever since Zoran got his hands on those crowns.
Akane woke by the Souma’s screaming and yelling, and witnessed how the tent was slashed by a dangerously close rusty sword, and collapsed above her.
Zoran panicked for a moment but quickly grabbed a stone and smashed it against the orc that was closest to them. Souma had drawn a middle-sized curved sword, and held out it ferociously out in front of her, swaying with it as if she was trying to scare wolves away with a torch.
Yevhen nervously moved around Suraj, who was struck to the ground even before Akane was well awake. A puddle of blood drenched the soil around his leg, where he had a big cut. He moaned and cried, trying to move. Akane grew pale and her body trembled as she searched the ground for her leather bag, which had her magic sigils in it. Her heart lept in her throat and pounded loudly in her head every time she heard Souma’s sword swift in the air.
Shield, shield, shield!
She could hear herself think, picking up the sigils that were scattered under the tent, and trying to keep them in her hands; wildly shaking.
As she held the sigils out and pushed them against the essences, a bright blue light appeared and quickly formed a pulsating bulb around Souma and Yevhen, who were facing the orc and tried to wound it in vain.
“Get Suraj out of here, Souma!” Yevhen yelled as he pulled the swords from her hands and pushed her backwards. Zoran had managed to get hold of a dagger and placed himself beside Yevhen, with Akane behind them.
“Akane, you can do more than this!” Souma yelled at her as she ran by and lifted Suraj on her shoulders.
“Your harm spell Akane, your harm spell!” Zoran yelled at her, dodging the lethal blows the armed orc was making towards him.
“Can’t find the damn sigil! I can’t find it, I can’t find it!” she muttered anxiously with an unstable voice, not quite sure if anyone had heard what she said. She ran around scanning the ground for the missing sigil, when suddenly she felt a rough hand grab her face and forced Akane to look upwards with a mean pull. Akane screamed at the look of the sinister, wild black eyes and instinctively smashed the orc against it chin before it could kill her. The orc groaned vicously as it released her and cut Akane in the face as she jumped away.
Zoran had left Yevhen and rushed towards Akane, where a second orc had snuck in from behind and attacked. In a desperate attempt to end the game of jumping and dodging, Yevhen made a fierce blow to the orc that faced him, and succeeded.
The blood dripping from Akane’s face made it hard for her to see where she had dropped the other sigils; she searched the ground with her hands as she shivered with horror and pain.
Shield, shield, shield; Gods be damned! Where’s that bloody sigil!
“Yevhen, watch it!” Zoran cried alarmed, when he saw another orc appearing from behind a rock and attacking him in the back.
Yevhen’s cry went through the marrow, the shrill deafening sound of agony pierced the air, followed by the harsh sound of his body hitting the dusty ground. A large amount of blood started gushing from his shoulder and formed a dark circle on his clothing.
“No!” Akane cried, her voice breaking in distress, as she had just picked up the last sigils from the ground.
She could hear her scream echoing in her head.
Terror struck her face as she could see the orc heading for her now, approaching quickly, holding its sword out, eager to kill, eager to see blood.
In an abrupt movement she smashed her hands together and a fierce, red tainted lightning smashed from the sky, striking the orc only a brief moment before its sword was about to land on her head, again.
From the corner of her eye she could see that in the distance another orc had gotten hold of Yevhen and was dragging him away. Akane stared and hated herself. Only a brief moment’s time later they were already too far away to be even noticed to the human eye.
Numb with terror, Akane turned around and saw Zoran struggling to keep the orc at a distance. Akane concentrated and prepared for another harm, but the very instant she was about to cast the spell, the orc anticipated her move and kicked her sidewards, causing her to fall down.
“Aka-“ she heard, followed by a sinister, horrifying scream of pain; then a heavy sigh.
A monstrous, shrill voice pierced her ears, the sound deafening and wild. Akane could feel an immense hatred boiling and biting inside of her, overshadowing her pain, her fears, her mind.
The voice creaked and was saturated with terror as she could discern the hatemongering words it brought forth. It was but when Akane slammed her hands together with all her might, and when another fierce lightning thundered out of the sky, that she realised the voice she had heard was her own, contorted and broken.
Her heart leapt and froze when she saw his body, lying motionless on the dry, cold soil. Her body felt paralyzed, almost stunned when she forced it to move. As she ran towards him she felt the blood pulsating trough her veins, like barbaric war drums, louder and faster after every beat. She knelt beside him, and he groaned in pain when she laid her ear on his heart. His breathing was fragile yet quite noisy and went in fits and starts, like the galloping of a crippled horse that was desperately trying not to fall.
How could this happen? This of all things?
She could hear herself think.
To fail in such a way...
“I thought… we had a chance…” he tried to speak.
“Hush, hush now.” Souma replied with an anxious voice, looking him in the eyes, her body trembling.
“ The chance to advance…” he sighed in pain.
No, forgive me.
She tried to speak, but her throat was scorched with pain.
The tighter she held on to him, the more he slipped through her fingers. In all her knowledge and magical powers there was nothing that could prevent life from fading. She stood powerless. His warmth started to fade the instant he exhaled his last breath; inside Akane something died with him, left her as she put her head on his chest.
The longer she held him, the more his body felt awkward to hold, stiff and cold like a statue.
Unwilling to leave him like he was, she felt her heart break as she knew that she didn’t have the means to give him a proper ceremony. She used her old robe, which she carried with her in a bag, to drag his body along; as Akane lacked the physical strength to carry Zoran.
After some hours marching, she had gotten to the riverbed that split the bottom part of Emerald Valley in two, and sat by his body there for the very last time. Akane’s skin was pale and weary; she was visibly in a feeble state, yet determined to arrange Zoran a more or less worthy farewell.
She cleaned up his face with the water, and stroked his hair, wishing she had more time with him. Off some dead branches and the fabric of her old dress, she tied together a small raft and laid his body on it. In the pocket of his pants she found a small pouch, containing bird feathers and life essences.
A bitter smile hardened her face. He had used these feathers to summon the falcon outside the magic school. From the riverbed, she gathered some of the scarce and rather bleak flowers, and folded Zoran’s hands around them. Her body trembled in horror as she pushed him away, into the river.
As she walked into the water herself, the cold feeling cramped up her muscles, but Akane was distracted by a far bigger ache. She reached for the pouch with feathers, and took out a falcon feather. After pressing it to her heart and lips, she summoned the elegant bird. It looked her in the eye, with an intelligent gaze, and she noticed the deep red sheen on its feathers. Akane stroked its head, and kissed it.
You must be my eyes and my ears,
my heart and my spirit.
With you is everything I had to lose,
fly with him where I cannot follow.
With a gentle move she swayed her arm up in the air, and her falcon was gone; along with Zoran’s body, carried away by the river.
In her hand she held the last crown that Zoran had managed to keep, and lose.
Akane’s eyes stared into the distance, towards an invisible point while tears stained her dark crimson dress, and left small black circles behind. Around her laid a battlefield of broken bodies, carcasses of orcs and men that would soon begin to rot, as the stench of death was already present, so shortly after the battle. Silence prevailed the plain, but inside her she suffered desolation; her voice screaming in agony.
Fate has a cruel way of smothering my dreams… she thought bitterly.
As her gaze inspected the scenery, it truly had become a barren land, full of dust and rocks, and painful memories. A dead land.
Darkness clouded her mind and drove her away. She could not remember how long she had marched when she got in this wide cave that, despite the small entrance, let pass a nice amount of natural daylight inside.
Whatever happened in between these two points in time never seemed to have happened at all. A blank gap that left Akane empty, too.
Edited by Aranka, 08 July 2009 - 02:03 AM.