Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Sketch in My Notebook: The Order of the Blackened Glaive (Part 6)

Our story so far...

Drakar has been forced from the Sentralian Military Academy because of his half-demon heritage.  However, angels of the goddess Nyx visited him in a dream, commanding him to seek out Fortress Abbadabas and the fabled Order of the Blackened Glaive.  Drakar traveled south to the city of Jakara, where he met a girl--a young wizard named Elaina Emboo.  Having saved her from certain death, the two of them now travel together.
Drakar is not surprised when Elaina Emboo decides to accompany him.  He has already seen the fire that she possesses, and it takes no great insight to conclude that she will hardly allow him to enter danger alone on her behalf.  He is pleased, but ultimately, her help is irrelevant.  This is not about Elaina, nor is it about her money.  Drakar feels a need within himself to punish the man who wronged her--a man she called Safras--and that is enough.  What he did is inexcusable.  A girl is alone in a foreign land; she is robbed and then set upon by a mob with stones.  Perhaps Elaina is a special case because she is not just some helpless female, but the fact is that she would have been killed had not Drakar intervened.  

Regardless of the ultimate outcome, the intent to do evil was there.  
Safras sought murder.  For that, there can be no excuses.
They wait until night falls.  Elaina uses the time to change clothes, donning a black linen tunic with matching black pants.  The tunic is adorned with arcane sigils sewn in thick black thread.  These would be invisible were Drakar not seeing them by lamplight in the Trident’s cabin.  A belt around Elaina’s waist completes the ensemble.  This is slung with various pouches alongside a holster for her wand.  She carries a polished black staff in her right hand as well and again ties back her hair to keep it from her eyes.    
For his own part, Drakar sleeps a little in a hammock slung in the Trident’s hold.  His companions must have expected him to be nervous about the impending battle for they are surprised when he informs them of his intention to rest, but this is because they do not understand the power that runs through Drakar’s veins.  Once he has made the decision to redress the balance of justice, he is at peace.  He sleeps easily, dreaming of a great stone fortress standing tall upon a cliff against a starless night’s sky.  The fortress feels somehow familiar, but at same time, he knows that he has never seen it before.
The Pits are deeper than your theology will allow…
He wakes before he can find his way inside the keep that his dreams have shown him.
They leave before the moon is fully risen.  Elaina leads the way back towards the shantytown, and Drakar follows.  After some discussion, it is decided that Ferdinando will stay with the ship.  He will make the Trident ready to sail in case they need to depart in haste.  Drakar had not considered this, but in retrospect it is obviously a good idea.
Jakara is a lively place at night.  Daytime had seen punishing sun and a moderate number of people out on errands of business.  Night is different.  Without the sun’s gaze, the streets are more temperate, and as a result, there are people everywhere.  The dark-skinned ones now wear tunics of loose cotton or linen.  They stand around arguing or laughing loudly--often joyously--at whatever it is they say in their native tongue.  The robed ones look much the same as they did before, but where they had been moving singly or in pairs, now Drakar can see families going to and fro on errands he can only imagine.  Where daytime had seen merchant stalls set in temporary fashion along the wharf to serve the needs of shipping factors, night shows impromptu cafes sprung up along the quay with large open-sided tents now set to invite patronage from sailors and other passersby.  Drakar cannot help but look longingly at a few of these, but Elaina pays them no heed, so there is little he can do.  This sojourn has been his idea, after all.
Away from the wharf, the city is much the same as it was before, though there are still more people on the streets than there were, and Drakar thinks that there are more merchant stalls set up on the streets as well.  Torches and oil lamps light the way along every avenue, though at what point these were lit and by whom, Drakar has no idea.
A final turn brings them into the shantytown, and now Drakar can feel hostility fill in the air.  There had been a mob before, but most of the local residents had remained hidden.  Now the residents are out, and the entire area is a mob scene.  He and Elaina are obvious outsiders, and everyone stares.  Their stares are flat and unfriendly.  A group of large figures approach--presumably men, but Drakar cannot tell for certain.  Elaina turns towards them and raises her staff, and it ignites with a flicker of sickening purple flame.  She says something in a language that Drakar does not understand, and the men pull up short.  A hundred eyes turn toward her.  She says something else, and for a moment it just sits there, hanging in the air.
This has gone far enough, Drakar decides.  
He steps forward even as his right hand goes back over his shoulder.  His fingers close around the Hellglaive’s haft.  Fire flashes, and then the weapon is in his hands.  Brimstone smoke fills the night’s air.  
Drakar raises his voice.  “I am willing to kill the lot of you,” he says.  In response, the Hellglaive bursts into flame.  “But I do not think this will be necessary.  Tell us where the ones who cheated my friend are, and you need not die this night.”
An angry silence descends.  Eyes turn hard.
“They don’t understand you,” Elaina says softly.  Her voice is tight but not panicked.
“I think they do,” Drakar replies under his breath.  To the crowd he says, “Your masters are dead men.  No force on earth can save them from the justice of Tartarus.  Saveyourselves now... while you can.”
“But no one here understands the language of--”
“They speak the language of violence,” Drakar says coldly.  “I speak this language as well.”
It is true enough.  The figures in front of Drakar are sullen and angry, but they are also afraid.  Drakar can feel their fear.  He starts forward, and the crowd parts.  He lets them see that he is not afraid, that despite their numbers he does not fear them.  They back away faster, and soon there is a corridor through their ranks.
“I don’t understand,” Elaina mutterd.
Drakar does not look back.  “It’s simple enough.  No one wants to be the first to die.  However, the next group will not be cowed so easily.”
Like this story?  Check out Sneakatara Boatman and the Priest of Loki, available now for the Kindle and Kindle app.

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