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Short Stories

Postby Friendlysociopath » Wed Jun 29, 2016 3:37 am

Titles aren't really my thing. However I have multiple tales spanning across the internet and might as well store the small ones somewhere.

Post Index:
2 : Knives and Shadows
3 : Knives and Shadows
4 : Age of Myth - Beginning + Fae List
5: Age of Myth - Imprisoned
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Friendlysociopath
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Knives and Shadows

Postby Friendlysociopath » Thu Jun 30, 2016 1:24 am

Nearly A Thousand Years Ago, in the Second Bulgarian Empire
Long ago, in ancient Vlachia, there lived a family of landowners. They were not incredibly wealthy in coin, nor did they have outstandingly beautiful daughters to tempt the men; they did not have a sacred treasure or family heirlooms of extreme value- what they did have was a plague and a single son. It is there that our story begins... in the family home, amidst stained and twisted sheets. The Lord and Lady Aleksandrov had been taken ill by the sickness that was spreading throughout the region. It was a merciless disease: fiercely contagious if you touched the victim, seemingly impossible to cure by any method, and it destroyed its victims from within. Catalysts would form on their eyes, rendering them white and lifeless- the flesh would turn dark and begin to deteriorate long before the person had even died- the muscles and limbs of the body would grow weak and falter. All of this, and more, would occur over the span of only a week.

When the lord and lady of the region became bedridden, their son demanded to be let into the room. The family servants refused- none but the healers could enter until the family had passed. The son would not be stopped, hurling himself past the bystanders with abandon before finally bursting through the doors to grab at his mother and father. Lady Aleksandrov had already passed on- her life had been extinguished. Lord Aleksandrov still lived, laboring for each breath, blood leaking from the open sores on his body. But sanity still clung to him, unlike so many others who had fallen. He reached out a hand to his son, the limb shook, as though it took all of his strength to lift it so high- perhaps it did. The son grasped the hand, pleading with his father.
"Do not leave me- without you- I will be alone!"
His father gasped with pain before speaking, each word was choked out with a new gasp and cough as blood crawled down from his lips, "Live well... Valko..." The Lord Aleksandrov tried to speak further, but his time was over, he could not finish whatever final words he had for his son.
Tears poured down the son's face as the arm went limp, the limb falling to the floor with a finality that could not be denied. A shadow fell over him, the steward of the house stood over him. Even as the son turned around, he could feel the eyes of the household staring at him from the doorway. The steward shook his head.
"For your foolishness, you are tarnished. We must send for your cousin to lead the lands- you are already dead- Valko Aleksandrov."
Valko mutely stood- walking to his room and allowing himself to be imprisoned within. Before the rooster crowed the next morning his heart had already begun to flutter and his limbs grew weak. He was not allowed to leave his room- young men of nearby families watched his door day and night. Should he attempt to flee- they would likely kill him. His meals were brought to his door by a young girl near his own age- Nikol was her name. She alone did not curse Valko's name when she spoke it. It was for this reason that Valko pleaded for her assistance before his cousin would be granted the lands his family had worked so hard to help grow and protect. She heard a voice through the door- it was weak- but with iron at its core.
"Nikol- for this last favor I beg you- send a message out across the land."
Nikol was fearful of retribution- but she agreed.
"What is the message to be?"
There was silence behind the door, but then Valko's voice emerged.
"To the soul that grants me eternal life, name your price and it shall be met."

Days passed, men came and went- trying to win the last Aleksandrov's favor. The family was not wealthy- but the lands they oversaw were some of the most fertile in all of Bulgaria. But the men and women, one and all, were imprisoned following their meeting with Valko. Frauds, he named them- con men- cheaters- thieves- liars- within a week he had sentenced nine of them to die. Each day Nikol asked Valkov through the door whether he had gained what he sought- each day he told her that he had not. Nikol grew sad, Valko's voice had seemed so strong before- but after seven days he was a whisper of himself.
The night before Valko's cousin, Todor, was to be legally granted the rights to the lands- a great fog descended upon the Aleksandrov house. The mists glittered in the moonlight- obscuring the view of any who might step outside this night...

...
Valko was weak. The days had taken their toll on him. He could barely see anything but the brightest of flames in the fireplace- even standing and walking took an enormous toll on his body- and blood freely dripped down his arms. He was a man that would soon die. He collapsed onto the floor- unable to reach his bed after sitting near the fire. Weariness overtook him. Why struggle? Why fight? Perhaps he should just stop here... oblivion began to steal over his body before a new voice reached his ears.
"Eternal life is yours for the taking- all you need do is seize it."

A woman stepped from the shadows of the room walking over to Valko's body. How had she entered? The windows were shut- as was the door. The roaring fire in the fireplace would've been impossible to bypass without harm. But there the woman stood- as though she had walked out of thin air to stand over the prone heir to the Aleksandrov estate. Valko used the last dregs of his strength to push himself to his knees, then to stand, only to collapse against the wall with a cry of pain. The woman chuckled.
"In your case- I would seize it quickly- you've no time left in this world anymore. Come."
She grabbed Valko's arm and pulled him towards a corner of the room- where the shadows were deepest.

Through sheer strength of will, Valko stood his ground and wouldn't let the woman lead him away. She frowned and looked at him in puzzlement.
"Dearie- you can come back after we're done."
"No," Valko spoke with a ragged whisper, "I just need to ask you to do one thing."
The woman cocked her head to the side, Valko could see no more than that.
"You're a curious one- what do you want me to do?"
Valko shuddered, speaking the command he had used to filter out charlatans nine times already.
"Kill yourself- prove your immortality works."
The woman smiled and walked over to the fireplace, grabbing a fire-poker, then turning to face Valko. Without a word- she impaled herself straight through the heart with the weapon. Valko involuntarily started forwards, wanting to help her, but his instincts were rendered pointless as the woman laughed and removed the poker- her flesh repairing itself before Valko's eyes. With Valko's fading vision and the backlight from the fire- the woman looked like a dark demon striding forth from hell to take his soul. She stalked forwards and grabbed Valko's arm, slinging him over her shoulder as though he weighed nothing.
"Now my dear- we've wasted enough time."
She stepped into the shadows in the corner of the room- and Valko knew no more as the world faded to black and he felt as though he were falling.

...
Valko felt himself hurtling through darkness. Eventually a light bloomed and he emerged into a brightly lit room with the woman from the shadows. Valko looked around, identifying his new location, it was more difficult with his fading vision but with how bright the place was- he made the connection. They were in the jailhouse. The cells before him were dark- as if the night had crept through the windows to invade the cells. Valko could hear some of the inmates screaming- but the sound was muted, stifled, contained- almost like the sound was being cut off long before it reached its destination.
"Nine failed you and sought to betray you." The woman pulled out a sinister knife. "Nine lives will you take then. This is part of the price that must be paid."
But who is paying it? Them or I? Valko thought to himself as he took the knife. He had never seen anything like it. It was comprised entirely of a dark stone- but it appeared smooth to the touch. The blade was slightly shorter than most daggers Valko had seen- but the edge was razor sharp. The weapon seemed to almost draw in the light- seeming so black that Valko would lose it if it were placed in a shadow. His hands trembled as he held the item- the disease rendering him almost unable to hold the thing. Valko looked over at the woman.
"A cruel jest- I pose no more threat to them than a newborn babe."
The woman looked annoyed, but thoughtful.
"It must be your hand on the weapon and your intent to kill. Those are ancient rules beyond change... but I suppose I can aid you in this endeavor. You interest me. Tell me of these lives you're about to take."
With a wave of her hand, the first door opened. The woman took Valko's hand and led him into the cell.

Sebastian, the man had named himself. He had insisted immortality could be gained by imbibing certain potions and elixirs he himself had prepared. When Valko had given him the command to kill himself- Sebastian's face had turned white with fear.
"My Lord Aleksandrov- sir- Valko- the potion will only cure any disease- not grant you immortality."
"Will it really?" Valko's voice had been cold. "You stated before it would render me immune to death. Do you not trust your own creation?" Sebastian had stood there, shaking in terror as two guards entered the room- faces covered with cloth as they drew their blades. "Rot in jail- charlatan."
Sebastian had cried as he was led away. Valko's steward, Desislav, had later examined the 'elixirs' the man had brought and stated they held little more than honey and water.
And so Sebastian's death had been assured. Valko felt his hand guide the knife and the woman hold it steady as he threw his weight into it. Sebastian perished, crying no more.
"Life starts life. Life ends life. Life was, life is, life will ever be." The woman spoke slowly and softly, almost like a prayer. She helped Valko leave the room. The blood-stained knife he held before was removed from his hand and he felt something placed with it. It was another knife, the same as the first, though not bloody.
"Time is fading, for you and for the night, we have much to do."

"There is a balance between the world of man and the world of nature- Lord Aleksandrov. For every man and woman born- there is an animal or plant in nature that shares your life. This is why some perish with no discernible reason- their partner has died. I myself discovered my counterpart to be a lovely fox out towards the remains of Rome. So long as it and I remain safe- neither of us can die."
"A fox you say? Perhaps more like a weasel?" Valko had found the tale interesting, but did not believe it held credit. A theory he confirmed when the man (who had never offered his name) asked for nearly half of Valko's land in return for scouring the world for Valko's 'spiritual partner'. Valko had agreed- so long as he met Valko's ultimatum.
"Prove your immortality to me."
The man had tried to run, not towards the window of course- Valko stood there and the man would rather face the noose than the disease Valko carried, but he tried to dash through the door before the guards caught him by the scruff of his neck and bore him to the ground. Valko spoke from deep within his room.
"I do hope your fox survives- although if you and he are alike- I don't doubt I would be doing the world a favor by killing you both."
Valko hoped the fox, if there was such a fox, could escape whatever confinement the man had placed it in. He would never return to it. Again, Valko, slid the knife home- feeling a gasp as the man died. Valko still didn't know his name. And now I never will.

The next two had been a duo, a man and wife, a Turkish couple. They had been particularly clever. The man, Cenk, had seemed suspicious from the start- insisting that only he could bestow immortality upon Valko just as he held. First however, he required a night to 'Gaze into the heavens' for answers as to whether he should. Valko had agreed to let the two stay for the night. During this period, a scuffle broke out between the two, guards awoken by the commotion ran to the room just in time to see Azra, the wife, stabbing Cent with a dagger as she screamed at him for infidelity. Despite this apparent attack, Cenk was unharmed, and quite willing to show Valko the wounds he did not possess- though blood covered him aplenty.
Valko has agreed it was most miraculous. Then he asked to see the dagger. Cent's face fell as the weapon was brought forwards and placed into Valko's hand. A cunning toy it was- the weapon was made of smaller parts that would slide into one another- giving the illusion of being harmed while no damage was dealt at all.
Valko's knife had no such trick- it plunged into Azra's breast first- despite her pleading. Cenk had tried to escape but the woman Valko was following had held him back with one hand- pinning him to the wall as the other assisted Valko as he slid a second knife home. This time he repeated the saying she had used before.
"Life starts life. Life ends life. Life was, life is, life will ever be."
The woman nodded as they swept onwards through the cells.

Potions and spells, profane rituals and blessings divine, all had been offered to Valko- all had been found to be liars and frauds. Nine lives had tried to trick him- and nine lives he took in return. As the last knife slid home, Valko felt his heart stop beating for a moment, the lull causing him to collapse to the ground. The organ started again as the woman knelt down beside him.
"Truly- I have never seen one tread so close to death as you. We must waste no more time- come."
She had lifted Valko into the air and strode into the shadows once more, vanishing from sight even as the jailer finally walked in to check on his prisoners.


Falling and twisting, turning and rising, flowing and stopping- and then Valko found himself somewhere he had not expected. They had arrived inside the family tomb. Before him lied his mother and father's bodies- they had not yet been burned.
"It took no small effort to fool them into burning the wrong bodies- I hope you appreciate that my babe."
Valko fell, unable to support himself. He looked up at the bodies of his parents- confused. They looked just as they had the last he had seen them.
"I heard your call within the moment you made it, little boy, you however required special considerations for this to work. I require another thing from you."
"What... what do you require?" Valko's voice was quiet, seeing the still bodies of his family had rendered him almost silent.
"I need you to carve out the hearts of the two that brought you into this world."
"WHAT?" Valko's voice echoed throughout the tomb, along with his coughs as his lungs shuddered to support him through the abuse. "Why... (cough) I cannot do that... (cough) not to my mother and father..."
The woman picked Valko up, moving him over to the bodies and tossing him forwards to touch them.
"I have no more patience for you. Immortality has a price that must be paid- the strong live on and the weak perish. You have taken from those who would harm you- now you must take like from those that gave it to you."
Valko felt another knife pressed into his hand. He could barely see it through the tears he was shedding. He understood now- "Life starts life. Life ends life."
The woman nodded, her features impossible to see with his shadowy vision. "Life was, life is, life will ever be."
Valko looked down into the face of his dead mother. "I'm sorry..." the knife descended.

A short time later, and another trip through shadows, saw Valko near what he thought was a cave. The woman led him inside- deeper and deeper- down to where no light reached.
"This will suffice- quickly now stand here."
Valko felt himself positioned in the middle of a small area- with no walls around himself. It was no longer his failing vision that rendered him blind- but the shadows that seemed to almost have substance.
"How can you see?" He asked the woman.
"The darkness sees for me." The woman replied. Then Valko felt the first knife enter his spine, driving him to the floor. Pain erupted through his body as he heard the woman begin to sing. Valko's mind rejected the words- the unnatural meaning within setting his brain afire with dark magics.
And soon Valko knew nothing at all but endless pain.

...
Valko awoke just as the sun's rays reached his body outside of the cave. He gingerly pulled himself to his feet as he looked around. The woman sat on a nearby rock, waiting for him to rise. Valko's vision had not returned to normal- nor did he feel any stronger. Despair circled in his chest.
"What happened- what did you do? Am I-" Valko gasped and collapsed forwards, feeling his body screaming from the disease that still lingered within. Even his limbs were still leaking blood from the open sores. The woman laughed- sounding like Valko had just played a pleasant joke upon her.
"Your cousin is due to inherit your lands within the hour. We're nearly a days travel from your home, if you wish to claim what is yours, run."
Valko took first one step, then another, before stumbling into the nearby river. When he looked over his shoulder- the woman had vanished.
What have I done?

He ran. There was nothing else for him in this world. If he was to die- why not die moving? Valko staggered back and forth, a drunk would have more grace and balance than he did. Each step was agony, torture, but he tried to die a proud man instead of crawling along the ground. As he continued to move- something began to change: at first the steps were weak and timid, then they slowly became more sure, finally, he broke into a run. The agony receded, his vision brightened, Valko straightened up and ran like the young man he had been before the crippling disease. He was healed. Better even, Valko had been a fairly athletic young man before- but now he felt nearly as though he were flying as he ran along the riverbed. Leaves from trees fell in his wake- spiraling through the air after him as though drawn by his speed. He jumped over a bend in the river, spanning the gap that required a stone bridge farther down the river to cross in one leap. He landed expertly, not missing a step as he continued to run the moment he touched the ground. I know not what that woman did- but I feel reborn. Valko moved onwards, his breath coming easily despite hurtling through the woods at speed surpassing even the fastest stallions he had ridden in his life. He crested a hill and saw the smoke from his home off in the distance as he jumped upwards- sailing through the air for several seconds before dropping back to the ground. He did not know if he was immortal yet- but that would have to wait. Currently he had bested a disease that none had survived before... his thoughts slowed to a stop as he realized the woman had never named her price. He glanced back over his shoulder to look for her and was rewarded by running into a tree with a trunk so large he could never have fit his arms around it.
CRACK
Valko fell backwards with a howl, holding onto the arm he was sure he had broken. To his surprise it was only bruised- as though he had been slapped particularly hard with a striping stick. He glanced upright in surprise as he heard a loud creaking noise. The living tree he had just crashed into fell- its roots surging from the earth right in front of him. One caught him upside the face- leaving a cut just above his eye. He clapped his hand to the wound in fright as the birch dropped-causing the ground to tremble with its passing. Blood coated his hand- surely an immortal didn't bleed? If she appears before me again- I have many questions.
Valko stood up and walked over to the fallen Hornbeam tree. A hefty branch caught his eye, it looked to make a curve at the end, almost like the crook of a shepherd- though the curve was more pronounced. Hating to have destroyed such a fine specimen for no purpose- Valko reached out and caught at the limb- placing one hand beneath and the other over it before planting his booted foot and giving a yank. The branch broke off almost exactly as he had hoped- leaving him with a staff that stood slightly taller than himself. Memories began to stir of what had transpired last night. Knives coated in blood, darkness and shadows, and the chant of the woman... Valko remembered what he had done- the knowledge he had been given- and he knew what he had to do.
Valko resumed his run with his new staff at his side, a plan already developing for how to deal with his cousin.

In the feasting hall of the Aleksandrov family- a few new faces now sat. In the seat of the Lord sat Valko's cousin, Todor, a look of satisfaction upon his brow as he surveyed all of the landowners in attendance. The family steward, Desislav, and his daughter, Nikol, were both sent away from the table and instructed to simply provide a steady stream of food to the table for Todor and his associates to eat. Todor had not come alone, no fewer than a dozen men had followed him to the new province- several of whom had come with weapons sheathed on their hips or backs. Todor had come to claim the rich lands- and he would not be turned away. He delighted in the fine food and drink his cousin had available, and took no small pleasure in looking out the windows at the rich land that had formerly belonged to Valko- and Valko had possessed something else fine as well. Todor waited for Nikol to approach the table once more before grasping her arm.
"What a beauty you are- where has Valko been hiding you all of these years?"
Nikol struggled to pull away, "My lord- your guests require more food-"
Todor silenced her, "Then Desislav can serve them. You, however, should serve only me I think..."
Nikol was indeed a beautiful girl- and age would likely only enhance what was evident now at 16 years of age. Unblemished skin, untouched by scars or scratches of any kind. Bright green eyes that brought to mind the fresh leaves of spring. Black hair as smooth as satin draped down past her shoulder- slightly in disarray due to her frantic attempts to serve so many- but it only added to her charm. And her body was fit and strong beneath the simple servant clothing she wore. A fine body for a mother... Todor's thoughts were interrupted as the doors to the hall sprang open.
"Who dares?!" Todor yelled before realizing what had happened.
Valko had returned.

Valko limped forwards, using the staff to support his weight, seemingly too weak to stand on his own. In complete silence he walked forwards- the only sound made was the echoing THUD of the staff as it struck the ground.
Thud...
Thud...
Thud...
Finally he reached the table, raising his head to stare directly into the eyes of his cousin. Nikol, caught in between as she was, took a moment to compare the two.

Though they were cousins- Valko and Todor could not look more different. Where Todor was tall and given to a lighter complexion, Valko had been shorter and darker skinned before the disease, now he looked even more frail before Todor- who was a fairly large man at almost 2 meters tall. Todor kept his golden hair short and close-cropped while Valko's own dark hair instead came down past his ears. And though neither of them likely noticed at the moment- Nikol could see a great difference in their eyes as well. Both were a blue to match that of a clear sky, but Todor's were narrowed in hate and disgust while Valko's were drooped as though in sympathy for the man who had replaced him. True, the ceremony had not yet been performed, but nothing had appeared to change. Valko was still crippled and sick- no doubt soon to perish from the disease that had claimed him. But what if he really did discover immortality? Nikol thought to herself.

"Cousin- so good to see you!" Todor's voice boomed throughout the hall. "I had thought you fled to die alone in the wilderness- how kind of you to bring your body back so we may burn it properly!"
Several of the men Todor had brought with him rose from the table and began moving towards Valko- who raised a bloodstained hand towards them. As one, the six stopped as though turned to stone. None dared approach someone tainted by the disease. Valko spoke, his voice sounding different to Nikol than it had the past week.
"Is that any way to treat a man in his own home?"
Todor slammed his fist into the table, shaking it and upsetting dishes down the entire length of it.
"You lost your right to this once you became sick- you can no longer oversee and protect this region!"
Nikol noticed a bit of blood on Valko's head as he smiled. The blood was a vivid red in contrast to his pale face.
"Todor- how far you have fallen- to betray your own?"
Todor's face turned red with wrath. His grip tightened, threatening to break Nikol's wrist. She cried out as the pain increased.
"Valko- you speak so to the man who could spare your life? I have done nothing- delusions from the sickness you carry, no doubt."
Valko straightened with seemingly great effort.
"I speak so to the man who delivered a body to this land that brought the disease- all in hopes of slaying my mother and father!"
Whispers began to circle through the hall. Conspiratorial glances were darting left and right as the farmers and villagers began to talk. Todor screamed in frustration.
"Do not believe his lies! The fattest calf and the fastest horse in the land to the one who brings me his lying lips!"
Nikol gasped as the six men were rejuvenated from their fear by the temptation of riches, drawing swords and clubs as they raced towards Valko, three on each side.
Valko shuffled to face the first of the men to reach him, the man bringing his club down in a savage arc towards the top of his head. Valko stumbled to side, just as the club raced past where he had been a moment before. The evasion took him into the path of the man wielding a spear- who tried to pierce Valko through the chest in hopes of keeping him away. Valko instead fell to the side, dodging the thrust and collapsing to the ground. All six of the men surrounded him- baring whatever weapons they had. Nikol grew quiet as they all readied their weapons to finish him off.
And then Valko moved.

Valko sprang upwards, jamming the end of his staff into the floor to propel himself up over the heads of his assailants. Valko landed behind them, bringing the uncurved end of it up in a short and efficient jab between the legs of the first man. He crumpled to the floor as the rest turned in bewilderment. Valko remembered the words the witch had told him last night.
Nine lives have you added to your own, so now the power of ten men flows through you.
Valko felt this was true, it was in his bones, his muscles, his blood- his very being. As he danced his way through the six men he delivered a series of chops and blows- sending men to the floor with one blow and sprawling with two. Faster. He ducked beneath an axe as he simultaneously parried one of the swordsmen, even while lifting a leg to avoid the grasp of the first man he had knocked to the ground and kicking a fourth in the chest. Stronger. The two armed with swords raced at Valko- both chopping from either side at him. Valko raised the staff and caught their blows together, flexing back but otherwise withstanding the attack fine. A third man brought a chair overhead and added it to the weight of them- but still they could not move Valko. He pushed forwards and sent them all backwards and he brought the staff around his body- striking them each across the chest to knock them back. The power of ten men!
It was then that the one with the spear attacked from behind, driving his weapon through Valko's torso. The blade emerged in a fountain of blood- startling the hall to silence. Previously it had been full of equal parts screaming and cheers. Valko staggered forwards- the pain erupting through his body. But he remembered more that the witch had said.
For every life you take, it shall come to pass, you will live once more.
Nine

Valko turned quickly, shattering the spear with a palm as he headbutted the man who had killed him. The man stumbled back as Valko brought the staff around as fast as he could- swiping the legs out from under all six men. Before they hit the ground, Valko brought the curved part of his staff around, collecting the bodies and whirling them around and over his head before slamming the collective group into the floor right in front of Todor.
WHAM
The floorboards of the entire hall rattled at the impact. Not a single man moved from the pile they had been deposited in- though their groans assured Valko he had managed to not kill them. Valko hefted the staff and pointed it at Todor. His voice held no hint of the weakness it had formerly held.
"This is my home Todor, you and your threats are not welcome here. See now- no sign of the disease still marks me- I am cured." Valko turned to the hall- undoing the ripped remains of his shirt to show the crowd his bared torso- and the notable lack of wounds the spear had left. "I have overcome your deceit and your thugs." Valko turned back to Todor, eyes blazing with wrath. "Leave now- and never return to my home. I give you your life- do not waste it."
Todor kicked away from the table, fleeing the hall with all the speed he could muster. The few servants he had brought with him took a few steps after him but stopped, seemingly reluctant to follow, looking to Valko and the rest of the hall. They all stared at him in silence. The only sound was the coughing and groaning of the disabled men. Valko himself addressed the people he had vowed to serve and protect.
"I know it may be strange, but I ask for your trust. I am the same man I was before. My mother was-IS- Dana Aleksandrov, my father is Rumen Aleksandrov! I have lived here my whole life! I have worked alongside you, spoken with you, walked with you- now more than ever- you all are my family- and I beg of you," Valko sank to his knees and bowed, "Do not turn me away from my home..."
Valko expected fear, silence, jeers, cries for his execution- what he heard instead was applause as the people surged forwards to clap him on the shoulder and hug him, praising his return from the dead. Desislav and Nikol were at the head of each group respectively. Valko smiled, tears climbing down his face.
Though my powers spring from the shadow- the future I see is bright.

Desislav managed to pull Valko away from the crowd- seeking a moment of peace to ask a few questions.
"Valko, my boy, how did you know Todor did those things?"
Valko looked into Desislav's eyes as he responded with total sincerity. "A witch told me."
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Friendlysociopath
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Knives and Shadows

Postby Friendlysociopath » Sat Jul 09, 2016 5:26 pm

Nearly A Thousand Years Ago, in the Second Bulgarian Empire
Later that night, after the celebratory feast was over and the local healers had finally admitted they could find nothing wrong, Valko was allowed to go back to his room. Or rather- the room his parents had shared. His own bedding and clothes had all been burned shortly after he disappeared- everything that remained were things left by his mother and father and had been untouched during their own time of sickness.
Except for the witch that was sitting on the bed and waiting for him- that was all his.

"I believe you have questions for me?"
Valko couldn't speak for a moment, stunned after being able to see her with working eyes.
"I... confess to being surprised- I had thought you a crone. But instead you're..." words failed him. She was beautiful.
It was true, no man could deny the woman in front of them was perhaps one of the finest examples of femininity in existence. The way her cheekbones caught the light- how her purple eyes fairly danced as you gazed into them- the fullness and curve of her lips- the shape of her bosom and hips- perfection!
She giggled, sounding for all the world like a young girl, "With the proper application- you can take anything from those you kill. Strength, knowledge, skills, and yes- even their beauty."
Valko didn't know how to respond to that. After a moment of thought he dared to ask.
"So you've killed others then?"
"Of course." The woman flipped her crimson hair from her face. "That is the secret after all. Life starts life-"
"I don't need to hear it again." Valko firmly stated, striding forwards to get closer to the woman. "But I do have questions- will you answer them?"
The woman's face grew serious. "I know your questions already, my young shadow, so save your breath and listen well." The fire seemed to shrink slightly as she spoke, the shadows loomed deeper than before and the night outside grew quiet for a moment. "You may call me... Syanka- I believe that will do. Now about your new abilities- and my price?"
Valko nodded, "I am a man of my word- name your price and it will be met."
Syanka smiled, revealing perfect white teeth. "Good. You are rich in land but not in coin- the price is I require is your two best specimens of horse, cow, hen, and sow on the winter solstice. Leave them just inside the cave where you joined the shadows and depart- you are to hand this duty to no other. Do not seek to cheat me," her voice became colder than steel, "Or else I will take back the gift I have given." Valko nodded as she continued. "You also are to never leave this region. You will remain here so long as your house stands. Whatever children you may sire can travel as they please- but you will stay. You will tell nobody of your secrets. I saw what you did in the hall- do no such thing henceforth. I have confused the memories of all present to save you this one time- I will not do so again."
Valko shrunk back, feeling as though he had disappointed Syanka. "I apologize- you did not tell me-"
"I had not thought you so foolish. Had I told you and still you chose to do so- I would raze your house and everyone in it to the ground." Her tone had become joking again, but Valko believed every word as if screamed inches from his face, "Now listen well- for now I will speak of your abilities."
Valko bowed his head, "I listen."
"Good. As you may remember, for every foe you slay, you will drain- we'll call it their 'life' from them. This force, the energy, the current of vitality- it will enter your body and sustain you. Should you be slain or be grievously wounded, one life's worth of energy will be used to heal you. I sense you have already lost one- be careful- the loss of them all will see you just as dead as you were to be before I saved you."
Syanka stood and stepped towards the shadows- clearly intending to leave. Valko held out a hand and called after her.
"Wait- is there nothing else you might teach me?"
Syanka looked over her shoulder at him and smiled. "Listen to the shadows, little Valko, I'll be watching."
She shrank into the darkness- Valko did not see her again for some time.

Years passed...
Young Valko was a good landowner, always willing to hear out and solve disputes between the local farmers and breeders and to lend aid in times of need. When an older man took sick- Valko personally took up the care of his fields until the elderly fellow regained his health. It was this same unrequited commitment that had earned his father and mother a place in the hearts of the surrounding farmers. While they had raised no beasts and tilled no fields themselves for generations now, the Aleksandrovs had served as leaders of the community, a mantle Valko had accepted with grace. He took Nikol to be his wife after they both reached their 18th year- delighting everyone with the union as it had been clear the two had been fond of one another since their days as children. Valko became Lord Aleksandrov- just as his father had been.
But not all about Valko was alike to his father.
He began to take an unusual interest in the arts of healing, frequently pestering and following the local healers and traveling medicine-men for knowledge and asking to be present to assist them. It was thought that his near-death experience had kindled such interest. He gained knowledge of equal parts old folklore and newer, more researched methods, soon his knowledge of the body was so great that occasionally a student traveled to the estate every few months- eager to learn from him.
He also seemed to have a curious lack of fear. While he'd not been an extremely timid child- Valko soon was noted to be without fright, or perhaps he held more than his fair share of courage after his ordeal? It was hard to say which held true. Certainly he'd not fled when his cousin had returned in the night, seeking to slay him for slandering his name. Nikol swore she'd seen a dagger plunged into Valko's breast but later, after the broken remains of the assailant had been carried from the room, Valko bared his chest to her and assured the panicking wife that no harm had come to him; the darkness had likely caused her to mistake the missed blow for a fatal one. The blood on his clothing he has assured her belonged to the deceased assassin- who Valko had dealt three swift and deadly blows before she had finished screaming in surprise.
Eight


A raging inferno consumed a farmstead, the mother of three screaming as she realized her youngest was still inside. The flames were fierce and seemed to almost have a mind of their own, lashing outwards at any who dared to draw close. The father had already tasted these fires- an errant lick had burned his arm so severely he could not close the fingers on his hand. The mother and the two children had despaired, wailing as the building began to crumble from the onslaught of burning wood. The home crumbled into ruins, collapsing on itself and leaving only the doorframe standing. There were no tears as the heat scoured them all away- but the family cried nonetheless. The shuddering sobs abruptly ceased as a dark shape manifested in the fire. Valko ran from the fire and flames- a bundle in his arms and a blaze across his back. The young Lord Aleksandrov sped from the house before he collapsed to his knees and then fell flat, pushing the bundle towards them as the wailing cries of a babe could be heard echoing out across the night. The family initially thought Valko had perished, but after a moment he regained his feet, coughing and pounding at his chest and back. The father had no words for this act- how had Valko found their youngest child in there? Valko had shuddered twice before responding that it had surely been luck and nothing more- the same reason he still lived. While skeptical, the mother was overjoyed to have her daughter back and didn't question the explanation. She had learned that Valko cared about each and every soul under his care- and it had earned her undying gratitude. Valko himself had learned something as well- flames burned badly and caused great pain- but only one life was lost so long as he still burned. But damned if he wanted to try again- immortality meant no reprieve from pain would come.
Seven


A band of southern barbarians invaded the region during a harsh winter, attempting to make off with harvest, gold, and perhaps women. They found themselves unhorsed as a shadow flitted between them, ripping each man from his horse and throwing them to the ground. Once they'd regained their wits and their feet, they beheld a slender man, dark clothes covered him and a stave of wood was clasped in his hands. They drew their blades but he appeared unmoved. A cold voice echoed out, bringing a chill beyond the weather to their napes.
"I will offer you one chance to lower those blades."
As one, the men charged this new figure, raising their swords as they cried out in foreign tongues. The man bowed his head, uttering a final phrase as they drew close.
"Life starts life. Life ends life. Life was, life is, life will ever be."
The first man was brought low by a single swift jab to his skull, dropping him without a further sound. His momentum caused him to slide forwards in the snow, coming to a halt perhaps a meter from where he'd been struck. The next man attempted a thrust, attempting to impale Valko's form. With his staff at his side, Valko turned slightly, deflecting the attack before bringing his knee into his opponent's skull. His head snapped backwards, teeth and blood making a shower as Valko stepped around the man's left, using him as a shield for the next opponent. The third man hesitated, unwilling to strike his companion. Valko had no such issues, an elbow caught the staggered man upside the head, sending him careening into his ally and bearing him to the ground. While occupied thus, the fourth man had thrown his sword, hoping to catch Valko off-guard. The attack moderately succeeded as Valko ducked to evade the missile, losing vision of both still able-bodied men briefly. They jumped upon him, each baring a pair of twin knives. Valko slammed his stave into the ground, causing one man to catch his chest upon the point and bringing him to an immediate halt. The other buried both knives into Valko's back, drawing blood and causing him to scream with agony all too real. With rage in his heart and pain in his mind, Valko spun around and wrapped his hands around his adversary's neck. He throttled the life from him until he moved no more- dropping the still body to the ground and noting the last man was attempting to crawl away in the snow, his breathing labored and difficult. Valko hefted his weapon and approached his last victim, the man looked back just in time to see a dark shape closing with frightening speed and to let off one final wail before he was silenced forever.
The next dawn saw four new horses in Valko's stables. Of the riders, there was no sign ever again.
Nine


Whilst riding along a cliff side with Nikol, Valko and her spoke about the coming spring, and the child it would bring. Far below a rocky slope eventually gave way to a river, coursing through the stones, looking almost like a blue thread from so far up. As he leaned from his saddle to kiss his beloved, a serpent hidden in the grass sprang at Valko's steed- startling the beast and causing it to rear. Valko fell from his saddle and bounced off the edge of the slope- plummeting downwards without a sound. Nikol slowly dismounted and carefully approached the cliff, cursing the fickle fates that would steal her husband from her. To her surprise and bewilderment, Valko was standing deep in the ravine, though his arm and leg appeared twisted badly. She called for him to wait as she returned to the homestead to gain assistance. Upon ensuring she had truly departed, Valko glared at his arm and leg, straightening them with a series of (not remotely painless) cracking and snapping noises until they resembled their previous forms. When later everyone arrived, Valko was idly napping at the bottom of the cliff, the picture of health. The rescue party questioned him in amazement. In between trying to breathe from his wife almost strangling him with her loving embrace, Valko regretfully informed them he'd climbed down on his own and his woman was overtired from the pregnancy. And though he bore no wound, the tears of shame and fear his love shed that morning cut to his heart in a way no weapon ever had.
Eight


A group of Turks took up camp just near Valko's lands. Aware of their numbers, well over a dozen, Valko respectfully accepted their request that he join them for a meal. Rude and insufferable as they were, the Turks were good men, merely passing through as they made a journey. However, they warned Valko that the Bulgarians were gathering to make war upon their Byzantine rules and that someday the battle might near Valko's home. They encouraged him to flee, as they'd seen his people and knew there were no warriors among them save Valko himself. While he knew it was foolish to remain- Valko heeded the words of Syanka and would not leave. Especially not with a child on the way- to travel in such a state was hazardous to the mother. The men respected his decision and praised his courage, although they lamented his stupidity in the same breath. As it had grown quite dark and he had drank a great amount, Valko asked to stay in their camp for the night, to leave on the dawn just as they would. The men heartily agreed and a new round of drinks began. Later, when the moon hid behind the horizon and the sun had yet to rise, Valko found a dagger plunging into his chest once, twice, three times as one of the men sought to kill him. Though he screamed with pain at the attacks- Valko caught at the wrist of his assailant. While the man was strong, Valko's strength was greater than that of ten men, and the contest was over before it began. With one crack the man's hand broke, and with another Valko had struck him directly in the throat. The rest of the group awoke and pleaded with Valko to not slay them- fearful of his wrath. Panting with exertion and spotting the coming dawn, Valko resisted his urge to kill, instead forgiving the men for traveling with a murderer. He waved their tearful thanks and farewells off as they disappeared in the distance- though the news they had brought still worried him. Though he longed for the return of Bulgarian freedom- he worried of a war and the cost. While he could absorb the lives of others- few were so lucky. A war killed many, and the many died and left behind widows and orphans. Whatever his willingness to take a life when justified, Valko feared the deaths of thousands, no matter whose hand guided the blades.
Five



A thief and vagrant, chased down and treed by the dogs, demanded Valko's tenants name a champion to fight for his freedom as he frantically attempted to hold onto his saving grace. The men had no intention of accepting the challenge, one and all perfectly willing to wait for the man to either come down or for someone with an ax to come and solve the dilemma. It was Valko who brought the ax in the end, though he willingly set it aside and accepted the duel. The man descended slowly, no doubt expecting a trick, but Valko was honest and would do the man no harm until he stood fairly upon the ground. As the man climbed, Valko questioned the men what he had stolen to chase him and wish such harm upon him. The men answered that he had stolen the virginity of one of their daughters against her consent. Volko's face was calm as he heard this, but still he waited for the man to gain his feet and draw a short knife. In an instant, the Lord Aleksandrov had caught up the ax and hurled it at his foe- cleanly cutting his head from his shoulders and burying the ax in the tree. Mercy could only be extended so far.
Six
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Age of Myth

Postby Friendlysociopath » Fri Jan 05, 2018 2:10 pm

(The Hall in the Middle of Spring)
Oberon briskly paces back and forth, cape aflutter in the frenzied breeze that seeps back and forth through the room, sending all lesser Fae flying about like so many leaves. Titania sits in her throne with a downcast face as the winds are fulled by the protective enchantments upon the throne- only a slight breeze pulls at her hair. Puck slouches against the side of Oberon's neglected throne, his legs drumming on the floor in merriment at Oberon's wrath.
"Oberon."
'Puck.'
Titania

-


"Why have you done this?"

You deceived me and stole everything I hold dear, did you expect adoration perhaps?

"I had not thought your tongue capable of such contempt."

You had not thought me capable of changing your spell, yet here you stand, uncrowned and unloved.

"I do not require love and soon I will no longer need a crown. A crown is an ornament to remind those who holds the power. Already all who oppose me have fallen or lie quiet in fear."

You cannot have struck down all the Fae that oppose you as of yet.

"Such confidence for she without power. The number is less than you think. Many Fae care not one way or the other for what happens to mortals- far more were affronted by my elevation. Your court was the last to fall- they fought till the bitter end."

I once thought you a man of love and peace.

"Is that a tear I see, Titania?"

If ever you loved me, you will not make a mockery of those lost.

"I loved you as a Queen and the strongest of the Fae. Now you are the former at my behest and the latter no more and never again. I would not love something so weak as to feel sorry for mortals."

Bastard son of a hexed hen.

"Hurtful words for she that condemned mortals to an eternity of uncertainty."

Better for them to take your path?

"I would've given them paradise. Free from loss and pain."

You would rob them of free will, shackle their desires, deny them their Doors of Fate. This is love? To force one path and never to stray from it?

"I would give them perfection. Each and every one knowing their place and time. Even now prophecies fall to pieces- the order they relied on shattered beyond repair- because of you!"

You brought this upon yourself- why did you desire such a thing?

"I... I no longer remember."

The irony, he who would establish absolute order and certainty does not understand why or how he came to want it.

"It will not trouble me further. Neither will any Fae nor the mortals."

Perhaps. But some will break free- they will shatter the Chains of Fate that bind them.

"Such faith in them is undeserved."

'Maybe had you bedded her better, she would not have flustered you so.'

The bedding was soured somewhat by the rampant theft of my power and position.

'See? Backwards as a burning snowflake.'

Agreed, had he spoken to me beforehand, this entire affair might have turned out better.

"Enough! Silence Puck!"

'Of course.'

"And don't pretend you would've worked with me Titania, you would've opposed me every step of the way."

We'll never know.

"I did know. I knew all- every single moment was set in stone the moment I was born."

And yet, this surprised you.

"How Titania? How did you do it? How did you escape my vision of what was to be?"

You do not see what should be.

'She's got you there.'

"Silence Puck!"

'Of course.'

"Righteousness does not beget power."

Perhaps not to one who doesn't possess it.

"I know of all magics and powers this world has within it- you can not have done what you did."

Then you cannot be angry for me having done so.

"Woman, continue this evasion and I will kill you."

As you said, the Fae for the most part care not for mortals. We're overfond of tricks as they make eternity less tedious and you have played no small trick on me. But slay me...

'Be a portent of dire proportions.'

"Silence Puck!"

'Of course.'

Do you truthfully believe you could defeat all the Fae that would take up arms from my death?

"Obviously I do not- or else you would not be asking me that."

Then there is hope.

"Hope?"

'It's known as a belief that things will turn out for the better even if you don't know for sure they will-'

"Silence Puck!"

'Of course.'

One who has never faced the unknown would not understand the power of hope.

"I do not need 'hope' or righteousness nor any other fabricated power you claim exists."

That will make your fall from both of them all the sweeter.

'It would certainly have an irony to it.'

"Silence Puck!"

'Of course.'

"No Fae still living will move against me while Titania endures. Even should one or two rise up- they will pose no threat alone. I expect a coup within two-score year or so to test my mettle. That will be another task for you."

'I'm rather tired from this adventure, am I not entitled to a few centuries of respite?'

"Silence Puck."

'Of course.'

It is not the Fae you should fear.

"The dragons then? The fire is magical enough to wound us but I'd hardly allow them enough time to kill me."

Amidst the scattered realms, enemies will rise up against you. Sooner or later, tragedy will rear its head.

"The sea? You did strengthen the domain immensely with your follow of breaking apart the continent but I have no interest in setting foot in the waters to test their mettle."

'I believe she was referring to mortals.'

"Silence Puck!"

'Of course.'

"I had not thought you a jester, Titania."

One so wise would do well to not underestimate mortals.

"If this is your 'hope' then I have nothing to fear."

And that is why you will lose.

'A bit of caution might prove useful.'

"SILENCE PUCK!"

'Of course.'

-


Fae Rules plus Puck notes

1. Fae cannot lie. (Can't? Or don't?)
2. To know a Fae's name grants a mortal power over the Fae. (If you've the power to back it up anyways.)
3. Metal forged in flames is deadly. (Anything else hurts like hell but won't do damage.)
4. Fae draw power from Earth, Heavens, or Sea. (The major players anyways. Small change comes from everywhere.)

-


Titania - Queen of the Fae. Draws power from the Earth.
Oberon - King of the Fae. Draws power from the Heavens.
Puck - Oberon's servant. Draws power from the Sea.
Possessor - Fae that sails the seas, taking from others whatever they desire. Draws power from the Sea.
Collector - Fae that roams around deserts. When finding notable mortals, he slays them and adds their souls to his whirlwind. Draws power from the Heavens.
Devourer - Fae that hides in ruins. Consumes all that draw near but can no longer gather enough energy to leave. Draws power from the Earth.
Chaser - Fae that seeks a challenge, someone to escape and prove difficult to take down. Draws power from the Earth.
Deceiver - Fae that learns and tells, information is a stream that they direct as they please. Draws power from the Sea.
Wounded - Fae that lost an arm to a mortal weapon. Forged one sword made of many- and strikes as such. Draws power from the Heavens.
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