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Fire and Blood

Count Vashra

Lord of Shadows
#26
A welcome return to an enjoyable story. Another good installment.

You might want to be b it more consistent about the demon's gender. Unless that's the point.

And vampires, don't ignore the powerful enemy who escaped from you last time.:slapface:
 

Borgnine

Moderator
Staff member
#28
Well, demon ans monster are male designation, but creature is a female one no ?
Nouns in English don't have genders by themselves as it probably is in French. The use of he/she/it depends on a persons/things/animals real gender. If your demon characters is a he, then he's a he no matter if it's a demon, monster, creature or anything else.
 
#29
Huu... f*k me. Why my english teachers never told me that... Indeed, in french, we can play with it : one section i call it the creature and so i call it she, the next one i call it the monster and i call it he.

Well, i'll have to read and track all those mistakes i did T.T

Thanks for the teaching Borgnine.

Edit 30-5-18 :
Allright, i've corrected every wrong sentence about the bloodletters (and some others) i found. It should not be anymore he/she mistakes. Only neutral descriptive about demons/creatures/things like them.
I can now go on to the chapter 10 \o/
 
Last edited:
#30
Ok, Chapter 11 with i hope no more translation surprise like the previous one xD

Fire & Blood
Chapter 11


A smile spread over the tattooed face of the elf who was leading the line. Pushing his hood back, he looked up at the canopy far above. The branches of the tallest trees formed an immense ceiling to the vast clearing, the thorns from the pines mixing with the leaves of oaks and birches. The sky was not visible. But small lanterns were hung in the heights and diffused a soft ambient light. Light that shone day and night, easily distorting the notion of time for those who were not used to it.

A second elf approached, sharing his wonder.

- Every time we come back I find this place a little more beautiful, he said.

- And tomorrow night we will merge with it, replied the first while throwing away his pack.

He approached the imposing rock covered with mosses which was enthroned in the center of this space. In several agile jumps he found himself at the top and embraced the landscape with a glance. Not a dead leaf dragged here. Even in autumn, this small part of the forest remained as lost in spring. That was one of the reasons he kept coming back to this place.

He noticed the troupe approaching the newcomers and had a resigned pinch. A second, less cheerful reason. Without hesitation he drove himself forward and made a perfect salto, his braided hair whipping the air in his naked back. He received himself with the flexibility of a cat and bowed respectfully to the elf at the head of the procession.

- Father, he simply declared.


*​

- Gailrya my sister, it is good to see you again, declared the elf by gratifying her with a vigorous hug.

She gritted her teeth when he released her but did not comment on her little brother's display of affection. Like a luminous ball, the miniature female figure flying close to them began a spiral descent around the two elves.

- I too am glad that you are with us, she assured, distractedly chasing the spite out of her hand. How was your journey ?

- Fine, he replied with a quick spin. It couldn't be any other way, Loren's majesty runs in our veins. But tell me Sister, our father seems to be better off than on my last visit.

- Yes, the last few years have been successful for him, she said while watching her brother stray through her room.

He nodded while lingering over the crystal shard on a shelf. Then he turned abruptly. His long braided strands whipped his face and naked shoulders, causing the little luminous spirit to gain new speed.

- I enjoyed seeing you again sister, he said.

Then, without waiting for her reaction, he turned back and went out. The elf remained motionless for several long minutes, so much so that the spite flew close to her face and held out a miniature hand towards Gailrya's hair. Her brother left just as suddenly as he landed. She sighed, then looked at the entrance with a resigned mine.

- I am also well, brother, she answered the question he had not asked.

She offered the palm of her hand to the spirit that landed there and began to imitate her brother's spins. She smiled at this performance, then invited it to take off again.

She in turn came out, rushing down the limbs allowing access to her apartments in the heart of a huge coniferous, whose variety grew only here in Loren. With her spirit on her heels, she ran like a child towards a less dense part of the sylvan city. The trees were particularly tall and sturdy, but also spaced apart. Large pieces of blue sky were visible, which was not the case under the canopy of pine thorns.

Her eyes were sparkling, she breathed in full lungs and stood up on her toes, pushing a long sibilant whistle. Floating over her shoulder, the immaterial elf was monkeying her posture. It exaggerated it even by placing its little hands as megaphones.

A few seconds passed. Then a sharp cry answered her. Skillfully slipping between the high branches, a magnificent bird of prey appeared and descended to Gailrya. It made several other high-pitched cries, then slowed its fall by flapping its wings more vigorously. The gust snapped the visitor's hair and carried away the surprised spite who carried out a roll-ball in the air.

- Anok, she said as she walked towards the bird that was looking at from a good head over.

She put a friendly hand on the plumage of its torso without trying to caress it. This would have disordered the complex alignment of feathers. With equal affection, the majestic bird surrounded the elf with its wings.

With malice she raised her arm and slipped her hand under a tuft of feathers at the edge of its collar. The giant falcon giggled with pleasure as she scratched its leather. Usually, they hated that kind of caress. But not it. It even loved them, which had always amused Gailrya.

- Bothel and his troupe are back ! she slipped to it laughing.

With its beak open, Anok tilted its head to the side, staring at its companion with its large black and yellow eyes.

- They're dancing tomorrow night for Mabon. I can't wait to see what they've prepared for us to celebrate !

The bird turned its large head towards the spite who flew close to its beak, raising a finger towards it while covering it with silent admonitions. Nothing in the bird's manifestations indicated that it understood the spirit or the elf. On the other hand it was clear that it appreciated the caresses lavished.

*​

- It seems more taciturn than usual, if that is even possible, noticed the elf wearing a long dress made of green and brown ribbons. And I don't think Bothel's feats and his dancers will improve its mood.

She added this remark with a keen eye to Helion, the sovereign of the Elven domain. Sovereign who, however, guarded himself well from approaching the creature which evolved heavily before their eyes.

They were a few kilometres from the heart of the elven settlement, on the edge of a darker part of the forest, one of the oldest groves in Athel Loren. Apart from the two elves, no creature came to tread the thick mattress of needles and dead leaves built up over the centuries.

- I just hope he will not go prowling around the edge of the forest again, commented Helion with a loose mine. If it were to shred simple travellers along our forest again, it would eventually incite humans to venture deeper...

His neighbour did not answer. She was content to observe the guardian of the place, moving slowly between the enormous trunks, surrounded by the vegetable shadows that never left it. She could perceive the anger that animated it. Even today, which was a day of feasts and rejoicing, a latent rage was brewing in the creature's heart.

- Gusternum will not act in this way, the enchantress assured him. Even if it's thirsty for scarlet sap, it won't do anything of the sort. It knows Loren would suffer afterwards.

- Pray Isha you are right.

In silence, they stood side by side watching the incarnated spirit wander through the grove. Unlike its fellows, it had never entered the vegetative state, close to hibernation, into which they sometimes entered for several years. And obviously it wasn't about to happen...

*​

- It's strange, we're in the middle of the day and this darkness doesn't go away, Manesh'k commented while exposing himself outside the protective shadow of the canopy.

At first doubtful, the other two shared his astonishment when they noticed that the light did not aggress the undead.

- I... don't understand it, confessed the ornithologist when he joined him. Certainly it is not related to Tristofan or Castille. And…

- Bhaa, whatever, cut off the third individual. We don't have to walk in the damn bushes anymore. That's the most important thing.

Manesh'k exchanged a worried look with Gilnash, carrying many questions. But this one had no more answers than him.

Luther took a steady step forward, both pleased with this prodigy and eager to leave the forest. The forest. Manesh'k had been through more than he could count over the centuries. Yet he felt something was wrong. That the more they advanced, the more the wood weighed around them, that the atmosphere stagnated under the thick branches. Added to that the unpleasant impression of being watched, that each of their actions and gestures had been observed since they had crossed the erected stone...

A robin came out of the foliage to fly near them, especially Gilnash, which surprised no one. Even though they had seen or heard very few animals, the birds remained attracted by the strange bond their brother had with these creatures. With a sincere smile, Gilnash gently stretched his arm towards him. The bird studied him for a moment, then landed on his finger with a few enthusiastic whistles. As Luther looked up from exasperation, Manesh'k silently shared the pleasure of their companion. Luther was still too young. Too young to realize Gilnash's privilege of being able to converse freely with strangers, however modest they may be. Strangers who did not flee by discovering his true nature, who did not attack him, did not judge him. They didn't care, they were just happy to share some of their time. Secretly he envied the vampire's gift...

- Another spur, Luther sighed which drew him from his thoughts.

Looking for the sun with his eyes, he added with irony :

- I never thought I'd have to look for him again to find my way...

Then, having found the star despite the veil that protected them, he set off on the opposite path, towards the West.

- Wait Luther, stopped Gilnash as he frowned.

He was obviously in the middle of a discussion with his feathered friend.

- Sorry I don't have any seeds for him...

- Let's take the other path, he cut their youngest with a worried mine.

- Correct me if I'm wrong, but Parravon's castle is to the west and the shortest route is the straight line. You've been there before, right?

- A long time ago, passing by l'Anguille, Manesh'k specified who had not discussed this kind of indications from Gilnash for many years.

Luther eventually sighed again, but still went in the direction indicated. For several hours they walked in the same direction. The bird did not leave Gilnash, this one showing a darker and darker mine as they were sinking into the thick forest.

- One moment, he finally stopped them, watching the undergrowth with intensity.

- What…

- Follow me, he brutally resumed while walking straight through the bushes.

Perplexed, the two vampires lingered for a moment on the surroundings, unable to determine what their friend had seen. Luther finally shrugged his shoulders and followed him before they were left behind.

Manesh'k remained forbidden by noticing a detail that Luther had not noticed. As they advanced in the same direction from the fork, the setting sun was facing them again.

*
The troupe of dancers gracefully performed acrobatics. They bounced off the promontory and threw each other into the air to gain momentum before skillfully receiving. Almost the entire city was gathered around them, enjoying the feast of apples, nuts and other dried fruits. Mabon, the autumn equinox, was an annual festival celebrated here only. The other cities, further South, were preparing for the coming winter and were entering a lethargic state following the end of the Wild Hunt. But here, North of Loren, the softwoods were not losing their needles and life was not keeping pace with the rest of the forest.

Capturing a fluctuation within the woods, the enchantress slowly turned towards the edge of the city. Something was wrong. She apologized briefly to her neighbours dressed in brown and orange, then walked a few steps away from the show.

Almost every day humans or dwarves passed the guardian stones that bounded Athel Loren's domain. More rarely, aberrations from the north, green skin or followers of the ruins forces. Even more rarely the undead. When these intruders were few in number, the old forest would retrace their steps without them noticing. If guardian spirits were around, they would never leave the tree canopy.

That very morning, she had perceived the approach of the unnatural creatures. Necromancy animated puppets, no more than two or three. She had felt the forest retrace its paths to make them leave it belly as quickly as possible, no guard being close to their position. Gusternum, the vegetal colossus, must have smelled it too. Probably that was the reason for its morning anger : these creatures were out of its reach and would have left before it could reach them. But it had to be said that they were still here. Worse. They were moving deeper and deeper into Loren's heart.

- Warda? Is there a problem ?

The enchanteress faced the young elf, Helion's daughter. She had perceived her disorder. The spite who never left her imitated her anxious posture, standing on her shoulder.

- I think it is, yes.

*​

- This damn forest will never end ! exclaimed Luther, who bluntly removed a shrub from his path.

Like the youngest, Manesh'k was getting tired of this constant penumbra. He would have almost regretted the strange sun that lit them a few hours earlier. For it had been several hours that they progressed with difficulty in ferns, brambles and other plants, evolving between more and more voluminous trees. Most of them were softwoods, so that thick needle mattresses frequently concealed roots on which they tripped.

Suddenly they ended up in a glade, the trees and ferns suddenly disappearing to make way for a wild grass. Luther almost fell of surprise so much he had stepped over knotty roots during the evening. Bewildered, all three blinked for a moment. Even Gilnash couldn't understand it. The second before the undergrowth and its vault of impenetrable branches stretched as far as the eye could see and now they walked under the starry sky.

- I... don't understand it, said the ornithologist, looking for his words. A few steps ago we were... and now we are...

- It's not natural, Manesh'k commented as she looked across the glade.

This one was vast, several cottages could have easily held there. All around, the forest suddenly left place to wild grasses. The sprigs came to them half-thigh.

In the centre of the cleared space stood several huge upright stones, even more imposing than the one they had surpassed when they entered the woods. The menhirs, polished by the centuries, were planted in an arc of circle which was opposed to them. The three undead approached carefully, studying both the ancient monument and the shadows of the conifers surrounding them. On the other side of the stones were two other rocks on which a vast platform of rock was placed.

- A... dolmen ? Here ? Luther commented.

And from almost four meters high, Manesh'k thought while crossing his arms. All this left him perplexed. Now it was clearly evident that magic was at work here. An ancient magic. Maybe even more than he and Gilnash were.

He closed his eyes and concentrated all his attention on himself, completely ignored his environment. He looked for a few seconds in the memories stolen from Castille and his short own experiences the desired sensation. With a satisfied smile he managed to find it. The vampire opened to the winds as he opened his eyes. The flow that suddenly struck him was so violent that he drove him back.

- Manesh'k !

Stunned, he pushed back without really paying attention to it the hand that his brother held out to him, a mask of anxiety painted on the face. Since they had wrested her powers from Castille, he and Luther were able to feel, even discern, the winds of magic. Not as intensely as in the hours following the necromancer's death, and he did not have the control that his younger brother had shown. He struggled to preserve this gift, to be able to manipulate the winds, his feelings diminishing as the power of Castille dissipated within him. And then... By opening himself to these winds, he had just become aware that he was literally bathing in them. Under his scarlet gaze, the invisible winds swirled furiously, almost scratching him with their ethereal claws. They swirled through the glade, grazing its edge, before wrapping themselves around the pillars and flying straight into the air. As he looked up he saw them fall back here and there in the distance, scattering beyond his field of vision.

- What's the matter with him ? Luther worried about the apathetic state of his eldest.

- He admires, Gilnash simply replied with an amused smile.

- Admire what ? he questioned him with a suspicious look.

- The majesty of the winds. Take the effort to open up and you will see for yourself.

- Isn't it... dangerous ?

- Considering his skills, not really. With greater power he could risk drowning in it. But given his... talents in the matter he can consider himself lucky to be able to appreciate them.

- ...Ah, just replied Luther .

Leaving a Manesh'k there somewhat lost in his contemplation, Luther and Gilnash approached the cairn with a quiet step. Both went around, studying granite that had been standing for ages.

- Do you think they were raised by men ? Luther asked.

- Honestly ? I doubt it, replied the ornithologist frankly. They look much older to me. As for the magic that flows through them, it is... how to say...

- Wild?

- Indeed, he approved while approaching.

He stretched out his arm and touched the rock with his fingertips. He was not surprised by the slight tingling that went up along his wrist. Raw magic flowed here and through this strange forest.

A swirling movement drew Manesh'k's attention to his companions as his brother came into contact with the dolmen's pillar. Above the plateau several shimmerings of energy materialized by agglomerating particles from the main stream. More and more amazed by this place, he approached his companions, eyes riveted on the iridescent amalgams within the winds of magic.

- Guys...

They both turned to him, then discovered with amazement the event by following his gaze. The air waved like a surface of water disturbed by a projectile. The web of reality was distorted and gradually gave way to three small, half-material, half-ethered forms.

- What is this, Luther whispered as the apparitions came down to them.

They stood between the three undead, nested in bright yellow and green halos of light. One of them floated quietly towards Luther who moved backwards, but did not raise his hand when the entity simply began to wave around him without attacking. Similarly, the other two approached a Manesh'k whose view of trends was overlaid with that of reality. The first swirled gently around his hips, the second along his arm. He raised it until the wild spirit came to rest in the palm of his hand.

Thanks to his double vision he could perfectly examine the true appearance of the creature who observed him with just as much curiosity. Apart from the whirlwind of light and soft sparks that surrounded it, this thing looked like a woman of about fifteen centimeters in the simplest appearance. No, not a woman, he realized as it bent forward to study his face, it translucent hair falling on its chest. An elf.

He looked down at the second spirit who was quietly climbing up his shoulder. This one had a whole other look. Simian arms were attached to a body he would have described as a batracian in the proportions of its torso and lower limbs. Except its shoulders and back were covered with quills like those of a hedgehog. Its face was that of a fox whose snout he would have crushed... However, even in comparison with the first, it did not repulse the vampire.

- Gilnash, he called without ceasing to observe his two curious. What are they?

- I have no idea, admitted the concerned man who was watching Luther's companion, a kind of squirrel with no fur except on its tail and dragonfly wings floating above the younger's forehead.

- They are beautiful, breathed Walach's son.

Manesh'k raised the second arm, a spirit in each palm now. What was this place that housed such strange creatures?

All three turned abruptly when the shot fused, grazing Manesh'k who narrowly moved aside. Immediately the attitude of the creatures changed as they jumped backwards. The elf's hair rose up on its skull and its fingers turned into claws disproportionate for its small size. The quills of the second rose up on its back, turning it into a real ball of spikes.

As for the squirrel, its jaw immediately became strikingly similar to that of the bloodletter while its wings were covered with leather, now resembling those of a bat. But these were not the three spirits to which the undead were turned : a good dozen other arrows sprang from the undergrowth without any warning. Gifted with reflexes far exceeding those of mortals, they drove away from the granite menhirs without being touched.

- I can't feel them ! Luther shouted, his forehead open by a shot better fitted than the others.

- Don't trust your sense of smell ! advised Manesh'k by closing his eyes.

Vigorously repelling the state of daze which had allowed him to commune with the place, he imposed himself in calm. They couldn't smell them. But there was one detail that never deceived vampires. A little less than a dozen heartbeats were ambushed in the thickets. He could hear them beating in his ears, the doubt that they had missed such easy prey coming to shake their confidence with a slight acceleration. He opened his eyes and smiled, his hand on the pommel of his sword.

- Don't kill any of them ! Gilnash suddenly ordered them, a hint of anxiety in his voice.

- Excuse me?

- Just do what I tell you ! he insisted to the younger, kneeling at his side under the cover of the same menhir.

- We'll pay the price again with this bullshit, he squealed spouting out without warning.

Manesh'k jumped behind him, Gilnash running in parallel a few meters from them.

*​

He notched a new arrow with a fluid gesture and shot it off, barely taking the time to align his target. These creatures were moving far too fast to be just humans ! He tightened his jaw when he noticed that his arrow had missed the invader again. But from the corner of his eye he noticed that one of his neighbours had better luck. The shock of the impact threw back the unknown in armor who spread out in the tall grass and disappeared from his field of view, stopped net in charge.

Two more, he thought as he unchecked a new arrow that the other barely avoided again ! As he drew a fifth from his quiver, his blood turned when he saw the metallic sheen. He dived to the side and dodged the dagger, which slipped into the trunk of the tree behind his back. He straightened himself by raising his bow, but it was now too late : a metal gauntlet picked him up at the cheekbone and threw him aside.

- Elves ! Luther exclaimed after a brief glance at his victim lying in the ferns.

He dived forward under a new arrow that blew into his hair and found himself under this new enemy. He had already dropped his bow and had his hand on the short sword hanging from his hip. The undead, however, was quicker. He straightened himself by drawing his sword from the sheath and struck a knob to the jaw of the Elf who released a sinister crack before he collapsed.

The vampire took a look at the undergrowth. Gilnash was pushing back another opponent with several scarlet sprays and was already leaving three more bodies in his trail.

For someone who did not wish to kill his enemies he had a heavy hand... A heartbeat, much too close, made him suddenly rotate. Luther grabbed the wrist of this new attacker with his free hand, preventing him from carrying his sword. He held a dagger in his other hand which he in turn raised to stab the exposed flank of the vampire with the cross guard. But more was needed to destabilize the undead who violently struck his opponent's ribs, protected by a light pourpoint that did not really absorb the shock. The Elf hiccupped in shock and his blow lost all power, cresting on Luther's steel shoulder pad without further damage. He released his wrist and slapped him with force with his gauntlet, which finally got rid of him.

Luther turned again, but this time he was not fact enought. The elven blade skinned him from ear to shoulder before sliding on his colletin with some sparks. He shouted a curse and then yelped with surprise when the second sword struck him in the pelvis, tearing off a strap of armour. He rolled on the ground and did not waste a moment to get some space. This new enemy looked at him, his twin blades pointed towards the undead. The vampire growled with contempt as he felt his own throat. He'd survive, but that skirmish would leave him with a hellish scar. With a war cry the elf charged and at the last moment whirled about himself, surrounding himself with a sharp and impassable perimeter. With blurry movements he found himself facing Luther and closed his two blades on his throat, like a giant chisel. But his dance was stopped sharply by the sword of the undead, who, pointing downwards, caught the two weapons in his guard and carried the three blades to the ground. The stupor was noticeable on the elf's face when his cheek came to crush against the vampire's fist as well.

*​

He leaned against a trunk as he stood up. The ground waved around him and the burn of his open cheekbone made him wrinkle his eye.

- It's called a Quillon dirty salad-eater ! he heard a voice scream.

He groped his bow again, then slowly notched a new arrow. He took a deep breath and waited a second for the universe to stop moving, and then turned carefully. The intruder was above one of his unconscious comrades and continued to insult him with dubious imagination. He calmly raised his bow and pointed it. A sudden shock at the end of the handle deflected the shot that whistled an inch from the undead, who jumped sideways, surprised. The elf discovered the first enemy to fall during the charge, an arrow stuck in the shoulder pad. He broke the part of the bow he had in his hand with a twist of his wrist before sending the tenacious elf to his companions.

*​

- I had seen him, Luther said confidently raising his chin.

- I don't doubts it, Manesh'k answered as he tore off the arrow.

He frowned but did not add any swear words. The archer had managed to find a rift between the breastplate and the shoulder pad. Moreover the point was barbed according to the sharp pain that he felt now...

Gilnash came forward. Several bloody features stained his patrol soldier outfit. As the youngest opened his mouth the ornithologist anticipated his remark :

- No comments. He is not dead. And I had no choice.

Luther picked himself up and then raised both hands as a sign of surrender before going to pick up his weapon.

- Elves ? Here ? raised Manesh'k after a moment.

- Meh, here or elsewhere...

In doing so, Luther gave the swordsman as a well-sentimented boot kick as Gilnash studied the battlefield.

- Nine, he counted. Too little to be a detachment and too much to be mere travellers.

- A patrol ? Manesh'k posed as a hypothesis.

Gilnash nodded. As they recovered from their emotions, the three spites appeared again, floating between the extended bodies. The elf's and the winged squirrel's were lingering by them, casting black glances at the undead. However they did not attack them, contenting themselves with going from body to body.

- Did you hear about all this ? Manesh'k asked, referring to his friend's conversations with the various birds he met during the day.

- It was confused in their minds, but many of them had already seen elves in these woods.

- You could have told us earlier, Luther reproached while the third ethereal creature was floating towards.

This one pointed out the vampire of its arms too big for its body, the quills of its back undulating with each movement. It croaked in silence, seeming to insult the fighter.

- What's the matter with you ? he pushed with contempt, gratifying the spite with a grimace of his own.

The creature moved back and blinked several times, blissful. Before it get back to its ride.

- Listen. I...

All three pivoted in one block when the dead branch cracked, already drawing their blades. But that was just a deer, about fifteen meters away. He watched them, motionless. Its antlers peaked well above two metres in height. All four considered each other for a few seconds in silence, until Gilnash spoke.

- We are still far from Parravon. Let's get out of here. The sooner we leave these woods behind, the better.

His two companions nodded. They left the scene without delay, leaving their unconscious aggressors and the majestic animal there, surprisingly unafraid. To everyone's surprise, however, the spiky creature stubbornly annoyed Luther and followed them out of the monolithic glade.
 

Count Vashra

Lord of Shadows
#31
It seems that uninvited visits to Athel Loren can be very bad fr your 'elf'.

More seriously, this is an interesting new setting for the story. I'm looking forward to more.
 
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