"The Sacrifice"

The Gate guard pulled his cloak tighter around him. The slight breeze had a chill to it. Thoughts of a hot meal and his sweetheart waiting for him when his shift ended put a smile on his face. Two more hours and he would be with her. Peering into the night, he thought of the last couple day’s events. He and a few others had arrived at the docks to see six Guardsmen lying dead. Searching the area had yielded no clues as to who had taken them down. Minutes had passed when Lord Lucan and his brother Jentry arrived. Lucan asked in a loud voice what had happened. Everyone stood around without uttering a word. Lucan’s face could be seen to turn red even in the dark of the night. Jentry issued orders and soon everyone was running through the town house by house. Searching everywhere. Three days had passed since that night and nothing was found. Finally the search had been called off and everything had returned to a kind of normal routine. 

    A noise like the thud of something falling from the battlements brought the Guard from his thoughts. Looking into the night he swore. This night seemed to be darker then most. Shaking his head, again his thoughts returned to other things and his post was again forgotten. 

    Xard looked to Lorin, raising a finger to his lips. “ Keep Quiet boy and maybe we will make it out of this mess,” Xard said. Xard adjusted his backpack and taking a rope from his pack, he handed Lorin an end of it. “Hold on to this and do not let go. Blasted humans can see a thing and I do not want to loose you out here.” Holding his end of the rope, Lorin followed the Dwarf as he headed off into the night. 

    Xard had been right; Lorin could barely make out the small form of Xard not more then 10 feet in front of him. Increasing his grip on the rope he concentrated on Xard’s back. For hours they walked, at Xard’s gesture they would hide behind a bush, run this direction or that. Xard seemed to know where he was going and Lorin knew better then argue. 
    A Faint haze could be seen on the horizon, soon the sun would rise and there would be fewer places to hide. Abruptly, Xard turned and headed towards a large group of trees. Lorin turned to follow but a sound to his left caused him to turn his head. Walking down the path they had been following, heading right for them was a Town Guard. Strides longer then Xard’s, Lorin easily caught up to and passed Xard. Dropping his end of the
rope, Lorin dove into the cover of the trees, Xard hot on his heels. Quietly Lorin peered through the bush, Lorin watched as the Guard approached closer to where they hid. Reaching down to his belt, Lorin loosened his sword and closed his hand around the hilt. The Guard walked with confidence, it was apparent he would not be an easy victory. Lorin glanced at Xard; the Dwarf had his axe in his hand. He saw the look in Xard’s eyes that said they would not win this fight. 
    The Guard walked towards the spot they hid in. Lorin clenched his sword tight, the rage welling up inside of him. Without thought Lorin started to rise, Xard’s strong hand on his shoulder easily held him still. “Be still boy,” Xard said increasing the pressure on Lorin’s shoulder. “We be no match for the likes of him.”

    The Guard reached their hiding spot and continued on, mumbling to himself as he walked away. Lorin and Xard waited a few more minutes till the guard was far off. Letting go of Lorin’s shoulder, Xard stood up and motioned to Lorin to follow. 
    “You need to control that temper boy, one day it will hurt you and others around you,” Xard said. “ I guess we will be needing to work on that, cant have you running off at the first sight of trouble now can we. I do not understand Dragons orders but I will get you to the place you need to go, but mind me boy. I’ll not let you put me or anyone else in jeopardy, so be listening to me and keep your wits about you.”  
    “I will do as you ask Xard, forgive my actions, I will not do it again,” Lorin said as he caught up to the Dwarf. 
    They traveled throughout the day, staying close to trees and brush when they could. Midday Xard called a halt and broke out some food for lunch. Lorin sat and ate; looking around the area they were in. Something pulled at his mind. There seemed to be a familiar feeling to this place. Brushing off the feeling, Lorin continued to eat. They packed up the remainder of the lunch and again started their trek. They talked in low tones as they walked, Xard told of his travels and how he came to be in the Syndicate. Lorin found himself liking this man more and more as they walked. His confidence and purpose showed in his every move. Again Lorin had the feeling he did not belong in this powerful Guild. What could he offer to people such as these that had immense power and commanded the respect of others as they walked about? How could he ever measure up and fit in. what could he offer to such men. 
    A burning on his chest brought Lorin to a student stop. Xard stopped and dropping his packs, he reached into his jerkin and pulled out the Syndicate symbol. The symbol seemed to pulse with a white glow. Lorin reached into his own jerkin and pulled the amulet free. His too was pulsating. Closing his hand around the amulet, Lorin felt a surge of power, and then voices filled his mind. 

    “Hurry my brother, I do not know how long I can stand. There are two many and I grow tired,” the deep rich voice said. 

    “I am close and shall be there soon,” Lorin heard Xard’s voice say. Then the voices were gone. “Come boy we must hurry,” Xard said as he tucked the amulet beck in its place. Xard broke into a run, forgetting the need to be quiet and remain unseen. Lorin quickly caught up to Xard as he ran. 
    “Who was that?” Lorin said. “I heard your voice and another”     
    “Save the talk for later boy, we are needed now and must not waste time,” Xard said as his speed increased. 
    As they broke out of the trees, Lorin began to realize where they were. The surrounding came flooding back into his mind, he knew where he was and if Xard kept the same direction he was heading then Lorin knew where they must be going. His blood seemed to catch on fire, his heart pounded in his chest and he had drawn his sword without thinking. Increasing his strides, Lorin easily passed Xard. Rounding a slight bend in the hillside, Lorin came to an abrupt stop. Before him stood the one place he knew well. 
    “Befallen!” Lorin said. Fire filled his thoughts and renewed strength fill his body. Without thinking of anything, Lorin walked into the cave opening. 

    Xard arrived at the entrance to the cave as Lorin disappeared in to the opening. “Lorin!” Xard called out. But the Paladin didn’t stop or answer. “Stupid boy,” Xard thought to himself. “What is wrong with him, he seems to be bewitched.” Dragon’s words boomed in Xard’s mind. “Keep him clear of Befallen. That is the place we found him. There is something there that draws him to it. In time we will find out what must be done to stop this but for now do not let him near that place. All we know is his Mother was killed there and he was there when it happened. “Gods above!” Xard cursed. Dropping his packs, Xard ran into the entrance. 

     Lorin entered the dark place of the undead, an evil grin on his face. Two skeleton guards stood at the first corner, they never knew what hit them. With one swing, Lorin cut the first skeleton in half, on he return swing he took the head off the second. Fury and the thoughts of revenge took control of Lorin’s mind, without hesitation he walked on. 

    Xard came across the skeleton bones moments later; it was evident that something powerful had cut them down. Shaking his head, Xard hurried on. Rounding a corner, Xard’s breath caught in his throat, before him Lorin stood. In front of him were skeletons, lots of skeletons, to many to count. Back and forth Lorin swung his sword, any skeleton in his way was cut down like grass before a scythe. Behind Lorin the pile of bones grew. 
    “Lorin!” Xard yelled, but Lorin didn’t even flinch. Xard ran to his side, swinging his axe at the skeletons in front of him. Xard tried to hit the skeletons, but each time he had a clear shot Lorin’s blade would Wisk through the air, cutting the skeleton down before Xard could hit it. Xard glanced at Lorin, his arms were covered in sweat, blood dripped from a few small wounds, but he didn’t seem to be bothered by them. Still this Paladin fought on, any thing in his path was cut down. 

    Movement to the right caught Xard’s attention. Lumbering down the hall came a skeleton larger then the others. Xard knew a greater skeleton when he saw one; this was not going to be easy. Putting his back to Lorin’s, Xard readied himself for the large skeleton. The first sword blow Xard blocked made his arms ring. Xard knew he could not win this fight, if only he could get Lorin’s help then they could dispatch this walking pile of bones. Risking a glance, Xard saw that Lorin still had 5 skeletons in front of him, including another greater skeleton. Again Xard deflected another blow from the large skeleton, his arms ringing yet again. Using all his skill Xard defended himself from the greater skeleton; slowly he was being backed up. One missed block and the skeletons sword bit deep into Xard’s left arm. Gripping the axe in his right hand, Xard fought on. Swinging back and forth, dodging and twisting to avoid the blows from the skeleton. His left arm hanging at his side, useless. He had managed to hit he skeleton a couple time, it dragged its right leg as it moved forward. Still Xard knew he would not win this fight. Growing tired, Xard missed blocking another blow and the pain erupted in left leg. Going down on one kneel, Xard looked up to see the deathblow coming towards he head. 

    Lorin fought on, his strength never fading, he couldn’t remember why he was here, only that he needed to kill these foul walking bones. The nearest skeleton fell to his blow, then another, and another. There seem to be no end to them, as he cut down one; another would fill its place. His mind filled with rage and his strength flowing though his arms, Lorin swung on. Two of the skeletons in front of him stepped aside. In their place a large skeleton stepped up. The strength left Lorin’s arms, before him the large skeleton loomed. The head was not of bone but a face, the face of his long dead mother. Lorin lowered his sword and stepped back. “Mother!” Lorin said. Memories of his mother flooded his mind, her pretty face and soft touch. The smile that said I understand looked him in the eyes. 
    “Stupid boy, you will pay for this insult. M'Lord will dine on your innards this night,” the Greater Skeleton said. It raised its sword and swung at Lorin. 

    Lorin easily avoided the blow, again he tried to swing but his mothers face stopped his arms in mid swing. His mind screamed at him to kill this thing, but a part of him could not hit his mother. The battle in his mind raged on, both sides fighting back and forth. The rage that surged up made him want to hold this skeleton, his training and Paladin side fought against it. Lorin staggered back, the battle in front of him all but forgotten as the battle in his mind raged on. Barely avoiding another blow from the greater skeleton, Lorin fought to raise his sword and strike. 

    Then all about him seemed to stop in its place, the battle in his mind was pushed aside as a powerful voice boomed in his mind. 

    “You are part of us now. Draw on our strength. We are here for you, all you need do is trust in us.” Then the voice was gone and the battle in his mind returned in force.

     Shaking his head Lorin stumbled back away from the greater skeleton. A burning in his chest caused him to look down. The amulet had some how come out of his jerkin and now glowed brightly. Grabbing it in his left hand, Lorin felt the flow of power into his tired body and mind. A glowing hand formed in his mind. Reaching out and clasping onto it understanding pulsed into his mind, pushing aside the two that fought there Lorin looked at the approaching greater skeleton. With a new insight Lorin pushed aside the rage in his mind and beat it down till it was gone. Stepping forward, Lorin called out to the skeleton. 

    “My mother died long ago, this day you and your lord will meet her on the other side.” Lorin feigned to his left and dodged around the greater skeleton. The rage no longer giving him power. The new sense of oneness strong in his mind as his body responded to the thrust and swings of the greater skeleton. Again the rage tried to well up in his mind. The face of his mother before him, Lorin cried out, “ Forgive me Mother but this cannot be so.” 

    The sound of a loud snap in Lorin’s mind drove the rage completely from his mind. Lorin swung for the skeletons mid section, his sword passing through the bones easily. The visage of his mother fell to the floor, a voice sounded from the dry rotten lips. “Thank you my son. I am finally released.” His mothers face smiled and tears fell from her eyes as her face faded away, leaving only the bone skull of the greater skeleton. Lorin watched as the other skeletons ran down the hallway. 

Lorin took a step to follow them, but the sound of steel on steel caused him to turn around. Xard was on one kneel, his left arm hung at his side, useless. The Greater skeleton stood above him and was raising its sword for the finale blow. Lorin rushed forward. 
    From over head a long sword caught the blow and pushed it back. Lorin stepped over Xard and hacked into the Greater skeleton. Swinging his sword back and forth, the skeleton couldn’t defend himself. With one last swing, Lorin cut the greater skeleton from top to bottom, splitting him in two. Turning around, Lorin ran to where Xard had sat down. 

    “Forgive me friend, I know not what came over me, let me heal thy wounds,” Lorin said in a commanding voice. Placing his hand on the wound in Xard’s arm, Lorin made a gesture and spoke some words. Xard felt the power flow into his arm, and then to this leg. Xard watched in wonder as the wounds first stopped bleeding and then closed all together. Xard felt the warmth flow through his body, his strength returning. Getting to his feet, Xard turned to look at Lorin. The Paladin stood tall and proud as he touched each of his small wounds, each one disappearing as he touched them. This was not the boy he had seen at the docks, here stood a man that knew his blade, a man who many would fear. Here was a power to be reckoned with. 

    “Can you walk Xard, I feel someone close that has need of us. There is a bound to this person I cannot recognize,” Lorin said. 
    “Aye I can, but don’t be running off with out me Boy!” Xard yelled at Lorin. Lorin’s head turned at the word boy, Xard’s next words were cut short as he saw the look in his eyes. 
    “I am not a boy Xard, you will not call me that again,” Lorin said. “Now let us go and help he who is in trouble.” Xard walked up to Lorin’s side and grabbed his arm. 
    “Listen to me Lorin, we must work together if we want to live through this and help our friend. No more running off on a rampage you here me?” Xard asked, still gripping Lorin’s arm 
    “I hear thee Xard, let us aid our friend in need,” Lorin said. 
    Xard stared up at Lorin, still stunned over yet another change in the lad. Nodding his head, Xard headed down the corridor at Lorin’s side. 
    Three more times they came across a pack of skeletons. Instead of Lorin charging into them, Xard and Lorin stood next to each other, in a few moments the skeletons lay at their feet. Rounding a bend, Lorin and Xard came to a stop. Before them in the corridor stood a horde of skeletons, they seem to be attacking someone that neither Xard nor Lorin could see. Looking at each other, Lorin and Xard launched themselves into the horde from behind. The skeleton horde gave way as Lorin and Xard cut through them. Many running away, others were falling as they felt the stab of an axe or sword in their backs. Lorin and Xard worked in concert. Soon they saw a large figure at the far end of the corridor, fighting skeletons all around him. The Barbarian easily towered over the skeletons in front of him. With one swing the Barbarian crushed one skeleton and then he turned to another. Large piles of bones at the feet of this large man showed he had been fighting for some time. 

    “Long Live The Syndicate!” Xard yelled as he dove into the skeletons around the Barbarian. The barbarian looked up at the loud voice, a smile spread across his face. Lorin and Xard hit the skeletons with a force. In moments the remaining skeletons lay at their feet. The Barbarian smiled and then collapsed in a heap, blood flowing from many wounds. Xard rushed to barbarian’s side, turning the large man over. 

    “Gods no,” Xard said. “Lorin can you help him, do you have any healing left. Please he is Gaidal, one of us, hurry!” Lorin rushed to the fallen mans side, so many wounds and so much blood. Laying his hands on the large mans chest, Lorin lifts his head to the ceiling and calls out 

    “M’lord grant me thy healing touch this day,” Lorin says has he pushes his hand down on his chest. A glow surrounds Lorin’s hands, growing in intensity. Xard watches as the power flows into Gaidal’s chest, soon spreading over his whole body. Where the glow touches, small wound disappear and color returns to the flesh. Xard stares in wonder as Gaidal’s wounds heal, as Lorin concentrates on his healing. “There is more to this Boy…. Man then I thought,” Xard thought to himself. “He gives of himself with out questions. Again Lord Dragons has chosen well. 

    “Lorin!” Xard yelled as he sees Lorin’s color fade from his face. “You give to much, it is enough, stop before you lose it.” The glows subsides and Lorin sat back hard. Slowly color coming back to his features. Xard Checks Gaidal, wiping away blood but finding no wounds.

     “Thank you Lorin, he would have died had it not been for you,” Xard said turning to look at Lorin. 

    Lorin had slumped to the ground his eyes were closed. Xard rushed to his side, placing his ear to Lorin’s chest, Xard hears a heartbeat. With a sigh of relief, Xard props Lorin up and covers him with a blanket from Gaidal’s pack. After making sure both are comfortable, Xard makes a fire and prepares food, knowing they will both be hungry when they wake. Xard contemplates Lorin as he stirs the stew he has made. “I have seen such power before, this is not new. Lorin is so young, only the older and more trained have such power. There is something else about this lad, I cannot put my finger on it but I will.” Xard turns back to his meal preparations. Still thinking of the things he has seen this day, Happy to be with his giant friend again. Happy to be alive after all this, and glad to know that Lorin is on his side, having seen power used in many ways, he knows the signs of those that have great power and purpose. Hopefully Lorin will find his purpose, for the gods do not give such power to one so young unless they have a reason.

Designed by Atomdesign