02 January, 2013

Prologue - Two Lives, Miles Apart - The Witches' Assassin


The Swashbuckler Disciple,
Mari J. Fahel

Willai stared out in the direction of the rising sun, his eyes set on the distant hazardous mountain range before him. The morning dew droplets filled the air with a humid coldness that permeated through his heavy traveling cloak. His round wooden shield was strapped to his back, along with his claymore. His duel swords were belted on each side of his waist and stowed in his right boot was a knife. His long, wavy rust red hair was held back, revealing stormy blue eyes and a face scarred by betrayal.

“Captain MacNell...” a small, timid voice spoke from behind Willai.

Willai MacNell was the captain of a vagabond team of what was left of the Great Guardians of Oraeda. His team of warriors seemingly were prepared for anything Sorion threw at them, but the timid voice of the young lad behind Willai seemed to defy that.

“What is it, Jorin?” asked Willai, turning to face the sandy haired boy, whose traumatized grey eyes glinted with emotion. His pale white face had a look of horror plastered across is. His white lips quivered as he swayed in place, holding his weight on a staff. At his side was a big bloodstain on his shirt through to his jerkin. He fell forward, facedown on the ground.

Willai’s heart jolted in fear as he found himself walking to the boy’s body in silent dread. The boy’s body became overtaken by shadows which formed scarlet words in the air saying, “Upon this day, I curse the Guardians with the coming of their destruction of bonds and defeat in flames.” Willai stood his ground and began to pray saying, “Author of all, protect us from the shadows of Sorion. Send us a savior to redeem us.

17 years later....

Ashes at my feet, blood on the altar, fragranced oils on my head, and beautiful incense rising to Awaena, the goddess of fire. I was told from birth that my destiny was entwined with the Guardians of Oraeda. So much so that I’d be the very death of them in flames! But, Lord Sorion first wants me to break their bonds, by testing their trust in each other. Now, it is time to begin!

Melody finished writing in her diary for the last time. She mustn’t bring any evidence that she is the very curse that Lord Sorion put on them seventeen years ago. She took up the scrolls and shelved them in the articles.

“Melody Blanke, the ceremony is beginning. Come and fulfill your purpose!” said an empty voice, emptied of all emotion and love. Even as there was nobody with her, Melody still felt that emptiness like a cold embrace.

Melody took her black veil and draped it over her face. It matched her scarlet and black gown, which revealed her bare back. She took long deliberate strides to the ceremonial chamber. Low and deep voices rung clearly and loudly through the coven of witches, chanting for the rise of the Scarlet Assassin. Melody turned and entered the ceremonial chambers where she’d be alone with goddess Awaena to prove herself worthy of this task. She left her sandals at the door and walked through the ash-strewn floor. She walked to the altar, where a crying child was bound. A child of a Guardian, that is all she knew of this young boy. When he saw Melody coming his way, he suddenly ceased crying, and put on a courageous air that took Melody aback. She knew Awaena would never believe her worthy unless she slayed the boy, but her heart ached at the tearstained courage that he portrayed. She could tell that he didn’t want to show his fear, and for that she commended him and his family, the Guardians.

As she prepared the knife for the sacrificial ceremony, the boy’s voice, raspy and small cracked the silence, “Author of all, forgive her.... She doesn’t know what she does. Do not hold this sin against her....Amen!” he repeated this prayer over and over. Melody looked down in disgust at the boy, whose features became calmed and surrendered. But in the midst of his calm expression, his face grew pale white in prolonged dread.

Melody raised the knife above her head, as the boy’s eyes darted open and he smiled. The knife was staked into his heart as his blood spilt on the altar, to the floor. His screams echoed in the chamber, filling the empty silence with reverberating terror. She put the fragranced oils upon her head, and then knelt before the altar, in the ashes and the blood. She then lighted the incense, breathing in the aroma of it. Then she chanted and meditated the rest of the night, asking Awaena for the wisdom of fire to reside in her.

The night had passed, bringing with it a beautiful dawn. Melody still knelt in the blood and ashes, meditating. She heard voices outside, as the door slowly opened, letting in Lady Oroana, the head of the coven and Lord Sorion, the master of shadows.

“Are you ready, Melody Blanke? Years, you have prepared for this moment,” Lord Sorion asked, gazing deep into Melody’s red eyes, “Awaena’s smile is upon you this day. The sky burns her approval.”

“I am ready, my Lord...” Melody replied in a low curtsy.

“Then go, test their trust and break their bonds. Then burn them away!” said Lady Oroana, “May the shadows hide you.”

Melody shut her eyes and the transfiguration was complete. Her hair became curly and chocolate brown and her eyes took on a deep green. Her pale skin became tanned her face was covered in freckles. Her clothes became a pair of trousers, a woolen shirt and jerkin, a heavy traveling cloak, knee-high boots and a rimmed hat, hiding most of her hair. Other than her body frame, she looked like a young man. But, when the Guardians got closer, then they’d know that is not the case, and then it’d be too late.

“You will be known as Melody Gael, they must come to trust you, then you shall break their bond and test their trust,” Lord Sorion smiled, coldly “And, now, to get you in…”

The chambers disappeared to be replaced with a forest. The chilly, crisp air pierced through her clothes to her skin, when suddenly Lord Sorion attacked her. Shadows gripped at her clothes, ripping at her skin, scarring her with scarlet markings, producing shadows. Melody cried out in agonized pleas. Reaching out into her mind, she called, Help! Help! The shadows beat her down, not giving her any chance to fight back, Does anybody hear me? HELP!

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