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Ice searches in the fire.

28 Dec

Screams sounded everywhere around the warrior.  Supposedly retired, he wore his armor like a second skin, and rose with the aid of his large battleaxe. “Boy!” he called as he walked through the choking smoke. “Boy, where are ya, lad?” The old warrior squinted through the smoke, then began to cough.  He doubled back down to one knee.  His chest ached, and for a moment, his eyes glowed an evil blue. “Boy!” he shouted again, only to nearly collapse as he coughed all the more.  Blood shot from his mouth, into his hand, and as he stood, he absently wiped it onto his cape.

The cape was covered in bloody hand-prints and smears, many old, and some new. “Boy!” He felt unsteady on his feet, and despite the personal danger, he walked into his guild’s house.  The boy was not there.  Luckily, the building was undamaged as well– especially given the amount of people inside.  He closed the door to prevent smoke entering, and made his way fearlessly into the heart of the attack on the city.

The man walked with a limp, and his back was stooped with age.  Despite all the signs that his body should stop soon, the man continued.  He flexed his hands around the shaft of his heavy axe.  Muscles shifted visibly under his dry, toughened flesh.  Again, he called for the boy.

Only the screams of those hurt answered his ears.  One scream was particularly near, and sounded more rage than agony.  He looked down through the smoke and saw her– a warrior, toughened by battle.  He knelt and bandaged the worst of her wounds, then handed her a potion he bought just hours before the attack.  His intent for it had been as a gift to a fellow guild member for her birthday, but this person needed it more– if only to sate her rage.  He stood and walked away before she could thank him, bottle still in her mouth.

He had to find the boy.  Sharp eyes glanced from one side to the other.  They watered as he tried to restrain the urge to cough, until he finally gave into the urges of his body.  Sharp hacking sounds filled the air around him, and for a time, that was all he could hear.  His arm shot out, blade heavy as he attacked a sword-bearing enemy.  As he watched the body fall, he felt surprised.  He’d not known the man was there, nor had he heard his approach.  He shook his head, then wiped the now-smeared blood from his hand onto his cape.  He had to find the boy before these attackers did.

The old warrior panted for a moment, then coughed again.  Once more, he wiped his hand on his cape, then he plodded off in search of the boy once more.  He ignored the sounds of combat.  If someone was not strong enough, they would die– and if a weak person survived, he was certain they would feel more need to train for strength.  He closed his eyes briefly, and when he opened them again, they glowed.  The world seemed to be filled with less color as he stretched briefly, then began to run deep into the fray to find his target.

As he dodged combat and corpses, he eventually found his way to the front gate.  The sweet reek of blood filled the air, and he felt hungry.  He felt detached as he let out a roaring battle cry and lunged into the fight.  His feet shot out at groins, and his axe lashed out with deadly accuracy.  Fear crept into the eyes of his enemies as they spotted his own, glowing that evil blue that meant only one thing.  Cries filled the air.

“He’s a walking dead man!” some shouted. “Death knight!” accused others.  The more fervent turned away from the old man’s comrades, intent on cutting down the biggest threat present.  His comrades, in turn, cut down those filled with such fervor.

The old man laughed, a harsh, gutteral sound.  Cold air swept out from him, and the breath of any near became fog-like.  Ice crystals hung in the air. “Boy!” he called “Look at these puny creatures!” he screamed.  The joy in his voice was childlike as he cut down still more enemies.  Time seemed to stand still as the old man felt like he held his breath.  To him, the world was stopped to view the bloodbath, and wanted him to die.  He laughed in the face of the world’s expectations and flexed his muscles.  His axe caught in an enemy’s chest plate, and he kicked the enemy free.  A sword to his arm was his reward.  The blood, dark and clotted, froze as the old man lashed out at the now-unlucky bastard who hurt him.

The man fell with a gurgling scream as his throat, left open by a lack of shoulder guards, was slit so deeply, his head nearly toppled off, like a pie left too close to the edge of a table.

The old warrior continued until the enemies began to retreat.  He stopped and laughed, then shouted after them. “Cowards!  You live to fight another day, only knowing you have met your match!” He laughed until he began to cough.  His allies stepped in front of him, to shield the sight of the sick warrior from their enemies.  The glow left his eyes as he looked around.

He felt betrayed by himself.  He let his own anger gain complete control.  He wiped his hand, then stood slowly.  He gave a salute to those who covered him, then dashed off on feet still nimble for his age, and sought out the boy.

Doubt began to fill his mind. What if the boy was already dead?  What if he wasn’t even in town?  The old man stubbornly stuck his lower jaw forward.  He would continue to search, he decided.  He didn’t feel as his guild’s communication pendant began to grow warm, and stuck his head into every burning building.  He paid no heed to the thanks of those he pulled from the burning structures, instead moving on in his desperate search.

“Boy!” he called as more coughing rocked his body, sending him to his hands and knees.  Blood pooled from his mouth, and he spat. “Boy!” he shouted, only to choke halfway through the short word.  The coughing continued, aggravated by the smoke and dust in the air.  He felt dizzy, and had no idea why– until he saw that his once-frozen wound was once more leaking.

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Posted by on December 28, 2012 in Semihistorical Fiction

 

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