“So you believe this will give you answers?” Asked Slim as he gestured towards the sword on the coffee table.
“Its very likely,” I nodded. “I’ve had it with me for quite some time, I believe it was before I left the citadel and Daniel can confirm that I had it when we met.”
“It’s true,” said Daniel. “Always took good care of it too.” It was strange to have Slim over at our house, observers tend to have their lower ranks come to a location of their choosing. Slim was known for making many exceptions however. There was also the issue that most information about the matter was to be kept secret. The only information leaked to all the secros so far was that I was the heartless one. Everything else was confidential, the only people who really knew of it was Slim and Serenity, it was even kept from other observers, especially since Salus had told us of another traitor in our midst.
“So, what makes this blade so special?” Asked Slim. “I admit it looks nice. Strangely fitting for a necromancer, but there must be more to it than that.”
“The answer to that is, I do not know.” I said. “I know this blade is important to me, I see more than just a mere tool, but I do not know why.”
“And the answer to that is in your past,” concluded Slim as he sunk into his seat. The small asura looked exhausted, no doubt that the turmoil from everything had him stressed. There were bags under his eyes and it looked like he would enjoy some sleep.
“I believe I can trigger a memory with my sword, maybe there’s a detail I’ve missed or overlooked.” I said taking the blade. There was a crimson sheen to the forked blade, it was quite light in my hand, but mostly because I had more than enough strength to wield. It was a long blade, not ridiculously long but it was long enough to either use one hand or both. It was a good blade for someone like me. Slim was dozing off as he watched me holding my blade. “Slim, would you like to take a rest here? Daniel and I can examine the blade.”
“Fret not about me,” said Slim with a dismissive wave. He rubbed his closed eyes as if he just woke up. “Though if I doze off don’t, wake me up.” The asura gave me a playful wink. I felt Daniel by my side and we got to work. We examined the exterior, giving the occasional comment about how the blade was crafted. No doubt someone experienced had made it. It was almost too perfect for me.
“It was made for you,” concluded Daniel. I looked at the human in thought.
“I’m positive,” nodded Daniel. “The size is just right for you and your build. Made for speed rather than power, and you said it yourself, the fact that it’s forked lets you channel your power through it more easily. It’s too much of a coincidence, big guy.”
“You have a point.” I mused. I began to search my memories to see who could have made it for me. Nothing. I sighed. “Still can’t come up with anything.”
“Well it’s probably not going to be something obvious,” said Daniel looking closely at the blade. “Any part of the sword you don’t ever look at?” I held the blade curiously, looking at it from every possible angle. There was nothing of note to mention about it. Then an idea occurred to me.
“Well I’m almost never look at the blade when I’m fighting, especially when I’m channeling.”
“Then give it a try!” said Daniel excited. “Maybe something will come up.” I nodded to the human and began to focus my magic into the sword. The edge of the blade began to glow with a vivid green hue, I could feel the power course through it, as if the sword were a part of me. I could feel my power reach into it then flow back into me. I now began to examine the blade, then I noticed something small. It was in the gap between the blades, writing in small letters.
“I see something,” I said, my voice being warped by the magic.
“What is it?” asked Daniel. I drew in closer, it was in charr script that much was evident.
“It says…” I felt a sudden lightness to my body. I found myself standing when I was certain I was sitting down next to Daniel a few seconds ago. A frigid breeze struck my back and rounded to find a field of lifelessness. Baren and scorched earth was below my feet, limping figures stood by my side as they traveled up a steep hill. Standing at the very apex of the hill was a shadow. Darkness flowed from its body as a cloak of feathers as black as midnight was draped over its shoulders. It raised a sword into the air, a forked blade. Emerald energies danced around him coiling in a violent and crooked fashion.
“YOUR SOULS NOW BELONG TO ME!” Roared the necromancer as he erupted power.
“What you working on,cub?” Asked Garfas as he placed his hands on my shoulders. He began to kneed at them, causing me to sink into him. Fortunately it was just the two of us working in the warband workshop. I felt him nuzzling into my neck from behind.
“I was working on the new prototype,” I said with a chuckle. I tossed aside the pencil in my hand and moved to embrace Garfas. “I take it you’re done with…whatever it was you were working on.”
“More shipments of metal and tools that we need,” said Garfas. “I’m working on my secret project now, and I need your help.” I arched an eyebrow.
“I need to know more about making energy travel through objects,” said Garfas. “Magical energy.” I was taken aback, why did Garfas want to know about magic if he wasn’t any kind of magic user.
“Well Magic acts a lot like regular energy,” I began. “You know enough about electricity to know how to hook up a turret.” Garfas nodded. “The same basic principle applies. It just travels more easily through different materials, that’s why you see asura using more gems and crystals in their technology.
“What about metal?” Asked Garfas as he took out a small notebook and jotting down notes.
“Metal still works,” I said. “It’s a bit more sporadic with metal but depending on what you you want to do with the magic you might not want it to travel in an ordered path. If you give me more information I might be able to help more.”
“Sorry,cub,” Said Garfas. “It’s a secret.” I rolled my eyes, I understood the whole confidentiality with secret projects but it did not make things any easier.
“Very well,” I shrugged as I took out my dagger. “Let me just give you a few examples and hopefully that will help you.” I began to channel magic through the small blade, and I performed a few spells in front of Garfas. They were spells I could perform easily at this point, I had been growing more accustomed to close quarters combat and having a dagger with me was good for when I needed magic. As much training as I had with a sword, I couldn’t quite get a good spell off of it, I didn’t know any spells that could be conjured by a sword anyway. Once I was done with the demonstration I noticed that Garfas was still taking quite a few notes.
“Is there anything else you needed?”
“No,” said Garfas putting his notebook away. “Also are you still fine for training tonight?”
“Of course,” I said. “You said you would help me with counters, right?”
Garfas smiled at me as he approached. He Kissed me and said, “yup, I’ll let you finish up then.” With that he made his way out of the workshop.
“S-see you at home!” I blurted out. Garfas rounded and met my eyes with a surprised glance.
“Yeah,” he said beaming, “see you at home, cub.” He left the workshop with a bounce to his gait. I felt my face blush as I sat down. It was true that I still lived with Thoc, we shared a small hut and I considered it to be my home, but lately I had been spending more time with Garfas and staying over the night for the most part. It had already been two months since we became a couple. And for the most part I had been staying with him, I saw his house as a home of my own at this point. For a while I had considered asking if he would allow me to stay with him permanently. There were many reasons to brush that aside however.
If I moved in with him Thoc would be alone, and the prospect of him being left to his own inventions sent chills up my spine. Our relationship would become a bit more obvious now, as if the warband was not suspicious enough. Finally there’s was always the possibility of him saying no. I decided that it was best to not say anything on the matter, no reason to ruin what we had. I was comfortable with our current arrangement. I continued working on the prototype for a bit longer before making my way to Garfas’ house.
I would always get this anxious feeling when approaching Garfas’ large hut, it was like a swarm of bees trying to erupt from my chest. I felt giddy yet at the same time nervous. I wasn’t sure why, I had trained with Garfas countless times before, the same when for visiting him. Two months with him and he still had me on my toes. This would have been my second training session with Garfas, the first one went well enough. I was still a bit uneasy from the incident so we ended it a bit earlier than normal. That was when Garfas decided to get a bit playful. A shiver traveled up my spine when I remembered that evening. I strode over to the door and knocked.
Garfas opened the door and his face lit up. He went ahead inside and left the door open for me. At this point he didn’t really have to say much, it was routine. He would get everything ready while I allowed myself in. I had found his training area a bit more equipped than it usually was. There was a pair of training swords as per usual, but now he had several training shields padded with leather on a rack.
“I thought we were working on counters,” I said as I took off my coat and stood in my loose fitting undershirt. Garfas was shirtless, as per usual, and took the pair of swords. He tossed one to me and I immediately caught it.
“We practiced a bit on counters last time,” said Garfas. “And I’ve seen you practice the motions on your off time. I’m pretty sure you’ll get it right in no time today. I wanted to follow up with something a bit more experimental.” Garfas took his stance and faced me. I followed suit.
“I’m curious now,” I said with a bounce in my stance.
“Counter me ten times and we can move on,” said Garfas with a toothy grin. We began, Garfas would correct my movements when necessary though that seldom ever happened now, he would give me a few pointers as I would strike but other than that is was him and me sparring. I would strike and encourage him to strike back, when he would I would snap my training sword into one of the various motions Garfas had taught me. The first few times were either too slow or incorrect. I even dropped my sword from garfas landing a blow on my fingers. After a few failures I began to get the hang of it. Then in no time I was able to strike Garfas after batting away his blade. By the fifth time I had knocked the blade completely off his hand. there were a few more failures but the final three were flawless.
“Alright, now we’re gonna get to more of the experimental stuff,” said Garfas as he took a shield from one of the racks. “All the training I’ve been giving you has just been mostly weapons training. You’ve mastered the basics and you know some of the advance stuff too.”
“Something tells me we won’t be going on with conventional sword techniques.” I said.
“…no,” said Garfas after a pause. He walked up to me, still smiling.
“And why not?” I asked intrigued.
“Because that’s not what you are.” Answered the white charr. “If you were a soldier, maybe even a spy, I’d bother teaching you more.”
“Are not all charr soldiers?” I asked.
“Not you,” answered Garfas with a chuckle.
“Then what am I?” I asked, a bit uncertain as to how he would answer.
“You’re a necromancer.” I paused after hearing that response. Of Course that answer was so obvious. And while I will admit to not practicing my magic as much as I used to, it was not proving to be much of a problem. I was even able to finally enter the Death Shroud.
“Are you saying I should go back to practicing my magic?” I asked with a notable air of objection.
“Yes and no,” said Garfas, I tilted my head at him. “You see, you have something most warriors don’t, and it’s about time we start mixing that with what I’ve been teaching you.” I was beginning to understand now. “So now we’re going to sparr, and this time I’m not holding back, and I want you to use your shroud thingy.”
“You want me to use my Death Shroud?” I asked in disbelief. While I was confident about using it now, it would still be my second time using it. “I don’t know, someone could get hurt.”
“You’re talking to me, cub.” said Garfas as he stood with a smug posture. “Are you really worried about hurting me or do you think I’ll have you on your ass before you even have a chance to block?” I looked at him with mock offense.
“Oh now you’ve done it,” I said as I took my stance. Garfas followed suit and stood ready.
“Remember, cub,” said Garfas with his mocking smirk. “I’m not holding back.” He gave me a wink. The wink had a myriad of implications, no doubt trying to get me flustered before the fight even begun. I simply lunged forward.
I brought down my sword and Garfas had predicted my move and batted my blade away. I countered and I was barely able to avoid his swing. I leaped back and went on the defensive.
“Remember, cub,” said Garfas as he began to walk towards me. “I’m the better swordsman.” I leaped in and I dived out of the way. He reacted quickly and spun while swinging his blade, I blocked but the shock of the blow sent me back. It was becoming painfully obvious that I was outmatched here, without magic that is. I needed enough time to focus. I began to tap into my energy and waited. Garfas charged, holding up his shield like a large white battering ram. I acted quickly and conjured an orb of black smoke into my hand. I shoved the magic into the floor and we were both surrounded by a cloud of darkness.
I leaped out and allowed Garfas’ momentary blindness to give me the time I needed to enter the shroud. I felt the shadows erupt from me. Coiling around me, enveloping me. I could feel the power once again, my body shivered as it surged up my spine.
The feeling was indescribable, I was faster, stronger, I felt like I had already won. I saw Garfas stumble out of the cloud of darkness and wipe off the lingering shadows from his face. He then saw me, enveloped by the shroud. A smile crept up his face and I felt a surge of excitement. I didn’t wait for him, in seconds I was before him and he reacted by stabbing towards me. My movements were instant, I jerked my entire body away from the blow and batted his sword away. The crack of wood echoed throughout the room as Garfas nearly released his training sword. I stabbed my sword and he raised his shield. The tendrils of shadow that clung to my sword augmented the blow and sent the charr backwards. He had nearly lost his footing. I still had plenty of life force, so I wasn’t about to let him rest.
I charged in with my wooden sword, Garfas struck, I dodged, but it was more of an immediate twitch. He struck again and I twitched once more. He was not able to land a single hit as I continued evading, at this point I was toying with him. I did not anticipate him charging into me and shoving me back. Of Course my shroud took the blow, I barely even felt it, but it did reduce my pool of life force. I had to end this soon.
I leaped back and readied my sword and slowly drew closer. I could tell Garfas could perceive the power I was emanating, he held up his shield and backed away a bit. I began to gather an orb of life force and hurled it at the charr, knowing that he would use his shield. The bolt of energy left large cracks all over the shield. Knowing that it was now useless he tossed the shield aside. I swooped in, and coiled my energies around my wooden sword. I charged in and readied to strike, my own magic carrying me through the air as I spun to deliver a devastating blow. Garfas blocked but his sword was shattered from the impact of my attack. He recoiled backwards and stood weaponless. I walked forward and planted my wooden sword at his chest, with a snap of my fingers a skeletal hand sprouted from the floor and yanked Garfas off his feet. He was at my mercy now, and I released my shroud. The rush I felt lingered, I could still feel the power, the dominance. I knelt down to Garfas with my own smug grin.
“How was that?” I asked looking down at him. An air of disbelief remained on his face, he snapped out of it and went into an adorable pout.
“You were good I guess…” He said half flustered and half amused. I chuckled and placed a kiss on his lips. I got back up on my feet and tossed the training sword aside.
“Let’s conclude training for today,” I said. “I’m out of life force anyway.”
“Quitting while you’re ahead aren’t you?” Said the larger charr, a bit disgruntled. He was probably still jittery from all the adrenalin in his body. I walked over to him and looked up at his frustrated face.
“You’re cute when you scowl,” I said smiling at him. Apparently that was worse than any sword I could have driven through him. His reaction was priceless however, so it was worth it.
“I am not!” Said Garfas with his face reddening.
“If you say so,” I said offering my hand. He seemed to have calmed down a bit. He lowered his head towards me and I rested my forehead on his own. “No more death shroud while we practice,” I said. “Lets save it for the enemy.”
“Alright, cub,” He said. I began to pull his hand, guiding him upstairs. This time I took point, and he was more than glad to oblige.