Act 2 – Part 1
Prelude – The Last Diary Entry…
I can’t sleep tonight, so I thought I would write. Yet my thoughts are muddled and I don’t know how to make sense of what is troubling me when nothing is troubling me. I keep having odd dreams about a girl near my age, someone I have never met but I think I should know. Not my sister, but like my sister.
I can hear her voice, I can describe her clearly. She speaks to me at night and yet I don’t know her. In my dreams I see her wrapped in darkness, yellow eyes haunting…
Seizon-sha scribbled out the description in frustration, unable to focus on the dream swiftly escaping his mind. He closed the diary with a thwack the pencil skipping off the bed and rolling across the floor and laid back to stare at the ceiling flustered and wide awake. The night felt still, humid and uncomfortable, crickets filled the air beyond the open window and the moon hung low, tired looking.
Sleep continued to escape him with a gnawing feeling of anticipation, so he ambled to the kitchens to get some milk… His sister, Kireina, was already sat by the dwindling embers of the fire with two glasses of milk and their Dad’s cat curled up on her knee.
“You’re unable to sleep again?” She said with a half-smile handing her brother the glass. He simply nodded sipping the drink and taking a seat by her side.
“Same dreams again?” Kireina leaned against his shoulder… Again he nodded, he trusted his sister without question and their late night conversations were not uncommon.
“You know she is going to need your help…”
“How Kireina? I’m just a kid…”
“You’re not *Just* anything!” She swiftly replied before he could cast doubt upon himself and his abilities. The cat raised her head… A moment later the children heard laughter from a few rooms down.
“Ah… the Lady Vixen Hunter is visiting!” Seizon-sha chuckled into his glass of milk.
“Sha… You know that’s not her real name!” Though she shared his giggle, the nickname had stuck and though neither of them knew the actual name of the whore that visited their Father, the name Vixen suited her, a wild red head with long legs and a sharp tongue. They were known to fight as savagely as they played, she never even pretended that there was a relationship, displayed no shame at her profession and treated both children with respect and kindness. She was a gypsy and would often vanish for weeks at a time, always returning with unusual books for them. The cat, however, hated her…
“Do you see the Demon in your dreams?” Kireina returned the conversation back to matters that drew them to the kitchen in the night…
Yellow… Eyes… Haunting…
Sha blinked, trying to get the image clear in his mind, they were the last words he had wrote in his diary… “I’m not sure… There is something… A shadow, gloom?”
A thundering at the main gates startled both children and the cat shot off into the night… There was loud shouting, a clattering of horses’ hooves and cries for help in the darkness Kireina and Sha looked at each other in fear and understanding, this was the point everything changed and their lives would never be the same again…
Act 2 – Part 2
What value can you place on the price of freedom?
Fenroux Palace was in uproar when Royal Guards returned with Kane and his family. The Queen hysterical, Guards and Barbarian forces alike tore apart the castle like wild dogs fighting to dig a rabbit from its hole…
Sha stood tall and silent by his father’s side, while Kireina clung to his arm, eyes wide curious and observant. There was no form of outside attack, yet every armed man appeared on edge, sharing some measure of their Queen’s hysteria.
The Lord King Fendor was alone in his calm resignation, for he alone knew the truth.
“This is your boy? This is the lad Seizon-sha?” The King mused, hunched over a desk of scrolls and tomes. Black books of hidden powers, cryptic runes etched into thin metal pages… Dark, questionable magic oozed across the surface of the desk. Kireina clung to her father’s arm even tighter, uneasy with the diabolical chaotic power.
“I am Seizon-sha.” The boy replied. “Your Highness.”
“Ahh… Kane, he is tall, strong a lot like you my Captain.”
“What is this about Fendor?” Kane skipped over the formalities
“My daughter has been taken, snatched in the night on this day, the day of her thirteenth birthday…”
“And just how does this relate to my family? Why have you summoned us here?” Though Kane already feared he understood the nature of the summons, the unspoken connection that linked their children by sorcery.
“The boy, Kane, your boy… he is the embodiment of The Guardian… born from magic, the same magic that granted my daughter breath… their connection exists beyond this realm. He can find her, seek out her location and liberate her from the beast which has snatched her from her warm bed…”
“He is a child Sire.”
“So is my girl, a mere few months separate their ages. Yet I see the man he will become, I see a strong warrior such as his father.”
“Such flattery.” Kane replied with sarcasm.
“Let’s skip through this pointless debate … we are wasting time!” King Fendor uttered strong magical words under his breath, summoning a crimson cloud that enveloped Kireina, holding her immobile in a magical grasp.
“How much do you value the freedom of your daughter Kane?”
Kane swore under his breath, his hand reaching for the hilt of his sword, fury overwhelming his respect… Yet Sha halted his father’s arm, before Kane did anything regretful.
“I will go.” The young teenager spoke softly, standing between the two men. “I want no harm to befall my sister, but I can’t venue upon this quest alone. I need my father.”
“So be it… find my daughter and I shall release yours…”
The thick red cloud encircling Kireina slowly dispersed, the girl vanishing into the mist.
Kane bit his lip so hard he drew blood… Sha hit his arm… “Let’s not waste any more time Father…”
King Fendor smirked smugly as they left upon their impossible quest…
Act 2 – Part 3
A Quest for a Child.
Kane was utterly livid and beyond frantic when they met up with The Lady Vixen at the City Gates.
“Where’s Kireina?” Her eyes searched the crowd that followed behind them, a mere dozen guards the King had sent with them upon their quest. As the gate was shut and there was still no sign of the child, her hand went to her mouth to stifle a panic stricken gasp. “Kane?” She gripped his arm tightly, he was so tense and shrugged out her grasp.
“My Sister is staying with The King as his guest while we aid his troops seeking the missing Princess Ataraxia.” Sha spoke calmly, with a half-truth, knowing that his Father was close to allowing his aggression to overrule his common sense. They were in a difficult situation. The Guards at their heals were security and an added guarantee that they do not fail in their task. They were also a dead weight and a nuisance.
Vixen blinked as she absorbed his words. “The Princess is missing?” She replied carefully. Kane was muttering under his breath, in his fury he could quite happily turn against all twelve guards just to unleash his aggression, his fists curled tightly at his sides, lip slightly still bleeding.
“Then we have a duty to aid the Royal Family.” Vixen said softly, Sha nodded agreeing with her observation and thumped his Dad in the arm.
Kane reluctantly nodded in accord, though his mind was clearly distracted.
“Now where to start?” Sha pondered aloud, it was a huge world out there and the kidnappers could have fled in any direction, to the mountains beyond the Northern Clan Territories, through DarkWood Forest towards the Wastelands. To the jungles in the East or even by ship out to sea. It was a daunting task for even the Palace Guards to comprehend, even more so for a boy.
Yet there was a connection, there was a sensation that he couldn’t explain, something he had known all his life without really understanding what it was. The girl in his dreams, which whispered secrets into his thoughts. He had believed her to be an angel, a guardian or a figment of his overactive imagination. Now he could trust his instincts more, could tap into that silken voice at the back of his mind. That it was real and the purpose behind his desire to train in combat with his father since a very early age.
“We start in the woods.” He said without hesitation. “We need to talk to Hera.”
Act 2 – Part 4
Just a mere taste of her Power…
They could not escape, not by magical means at least, which had been his intention. He had everything so carefully set up, he even had aid within the palace. He had been planning this for years and it was his very right to claim the child as his own, as agreed with a pact with her Father. The very purpose of the abduction was to spirit her away to the demonic realm, to sacrifice her life to the Lords of the Higher worlds, to absorb her power and join their ranks.
However his immaculate plot was ruined by the simple fact that his own magical powers were null and void in the girls’ presence. His energy reduced to nought more than simple parlour tricks. An apprentice mage could conjure more impressive illusions than he could. He felt mortal, felt insecure and felt trapped upon a realm he could not, currently, escape from with his prize.
The girl herself appeared completely unaware of her skills. She was tiny, even for her age, rather nymph-like and frail looking. Now sporting an ugly looking bruise upon her temple. There was no panic, no fear. She never once cried out in fear, even though he had turned to violence to subdue her.
They had been forced to flee on horseback, across territory unfamiliar to the abductor, without aim, lost for direction all intricate plans ruined, by now he had hoped the child would have been slaughtered and he would be received into the arms of his superiors as an equal. Stepping away from her a dozen paces and he could feel his strength return. Up close… Void…
She blinked at him with huge pretty blue eyes, her stare making him feel uncomfortable. “This isn’t going at all well is it?” She broke the silence, regarding the demon in human form, tall, magnificent, elegant. He pushed a loose strand of dark hair from his face and growled at her under his breath.
“Not at all well indeed.” She smiled sweetly, “Do you even have a back-up plan? A route? What shall we do now?”
“You will shut up or I will not hesitate in striking you again!” He snapped.
“You, Sir, will never hit me again!” Her words carried with them a magical command that rattled around his skull, echoing, resonating with power that, if harnessed, could manipulate his actions. That was unsettling.
He had to think quickly, he had allied among the Six Empires…
“That would be too obvious.” She tapped into his thoughts.
Forcing himself to empty his mind from her reach, the beast with No Name stepped backwards until he could feel his power return. Put up magical wards around his mind, hoping they would protect his thoughts from her powers.
Then returned to the bound child…. She frowned… “That’s cheating!” She narrowed her eyes… He checked her ropes and tied her once again to the pommel of the saddle, mounting behind her, he lead the horse on, at least now he could think clearly and try to formulate some plan from this chaos…
Act 2 – Part 5
Chasing the Minotaur
When the Mirror Shatters
Then all Hope is Lost
A Fallen God – A Mortals Fight
A Lover’s Loss – A Demons Flight
All Fates are Intertwined
Old Enemies – New Friends
Will Fight Again – To What End
Life from Death
The Sacrifice to a Lost Cause
Snare the Dancing Temptress
The missing Piece of the Puzzle
Holds the Key
To an Uncertain Future
Beware Ignorant People
Beware Demons take Flight
Darkness will Fall upon Thee
When the Mirror Shatters
Leaving Eternal Plight
Seizon-sha hung on Hera’s every word, a child enthralled by the Hags tale. Sat crossed legged by the fire-pit in the clearing outside her cottage. Kane paced impatient with this waste of time, yet the handful of guards which accompanied the small party had took it upon themselves to camp down for the night.
Brynn, a constant guest at the cottage, shared mulled wine among the troops. Half listening to the myths and legends the Witch wove by firelight. Seizon-sha asked for more stories, sitting closer to the old lady he adored.
“Have I ever told you about ‘Chasing the Minotaur’?” She lit her pipe and watched Kane’s reaction as he halted mid-step and turned to interrupt the conversation.
“No… Tell me more?” The child begged, chewing on a length of liquorice root.
Lady Vixen Hunter, stepped before Kane and placed her hand on his chest to halt him. “He’s old enough.”
Kane shook his head, “He’s far too young!”
Vixen could feel his heart, thudding wildly under her touch, Kane had been on the very edge of panic since they had left the city. Constantly licking his lips, subconsciously annoyed at a nervous sweat that beaded upon his top lip. Fretting for his daughter, Kireina, taken hostage, fretting for his son, burdened with an impossible task. As a loving father he was consumed with anxiety.
“You are going to be useless upon this quest if you do not get your act together!” Vixen whispered close to Kane’s ear, her words sharp and stern. She half smiled and reached for the front of his trousers. Pushing him backwards into the darkness of the trees beyond the campfire light. “You need to calm down!” Vixen purred, sinking slowly to her knees…
Sha hadn’t noticed their departure, hooked on Hera’s words…
“In days gone by there was always a tradition among potential warriors to ‘Chase the Minotaur’ this was a rite of passage that was performed upon their sixteenth year to prove their worth as loyal Guardians. Some of these fine men and women here would have had to have completed this task to become Royal Guards. Though it is not an essential requirement anymore, some of the older families like to respect this tradition. I believe your Father also went through this trial… Most fail, a few pass, just barely… Then there was one man who excelled… He was known as ‘The Guardian’ and he was a very dear friend of mine. He died.
There is a maze, deep within the mind and within this maze roams a Minotaur, and this is the embodiment of your very own fear. I cannot tell you how to succeed, for everyone must face their deepest fear alone, by themselves, for themselves, against themselves. Yet to succeed, to conquer the Minotaur, is to conquer fear, to emerge from your own mind free from the boundaries of fear, stronger, wiser a true Guardian of the magic that the Minotaur bestows upon you.
Would you be up for that challenge?”
Seizon-sha blinked rapidly, drinking in the fabled story. Eyes wide with wonder and a hint of fear, trying to grasp the idea of a monster living inside his head. The King had called him ‘the embodiment of The Guardian’ he hadn’t understood this at the time, he understood little other than he had been ordered to find a missing Princess, an impossible task for a child, who had no idea where to start.
He had hoped Hera would be able to guide him and this trial, the challenge to face his fear, to become a true Guardian might give him the inner strength to face this impossible task and give him insight to recover the lost Royal.
Hera was waiting for an answer…
Seizon-sha simply nodded…
Act 2 – Part 6
Taking Fate by the Horns
A strong hand grabbed Sha tightly around his throat, hoisting the young lad off his feet and slamming him hard onto his back in the dust. Blasting air from his lungs, his head spun, dizzy and disorientated from the swift action. Blinking dust from his eyes just in time to see a fist aimed at his face, no time to react, unable to even turn his head for the vice like grip on his throat, stealing his breath. The fist slammed into his nose with a bright flash and sickening crack. He tasted blood, pain shot through his head, he gasped for breath, struggling, panicking, anticipating a second blow. Sha turned his face aside shortly before a following punch landed heavily on his jaw. He bit his tongue, lip split.
He had to gather his senses, to swallow back his fear and the blinding pain. He knew he needed to remember his training, to recall the correct manoeuvre before he ran out of air in his lungs and got his head dashed in against the hard earth. The pace of the raining punches were slow, deliberate and forceful, Hi attacker really pulling his fist right back to put as much strength behind each blow that he could. This gave a short period between each punch, yet Sha was struggling now to remain conscious.
Blood filled his eyes, his mouth, his ears rang, muffling sound. His lungs burned… Yet somehow the boy raised his knees towards his chest and kicked upwards with the last fragment of his fading energy to force his attacker backwards kicking the bastard in his ribs, forcing him backwards… Stumbling… the grip on Sha’s neck was released and he gulped in air desperately and rolled out of the way, attempting to stand, fighting nausea, knowing that he had just mere moments before the vicious attack resumed.
His sight was blurred red and Sha saw the beast he opposed… A man… clad in Northern Clan garb, but his head, his head was that of a beast… The beast snorted, steam billowing from flattened wide nose. His boot dragged up the dirt, the beast lowered his head, a circle of vicious sharp horns crowned his forehead. Two longer, sharper, like curved scimitars aimed at Sha’s torso and it charged…
Sha fought the urge to flee, reached for his sword, the scabbard empty upon his hip, the beast narrowed the gap between them howling unnaturally. Sha freed the scabbard from his belt and swung the empty sheath at the creatures eyes by the narrow edge, putting as much strength as he could behind the blow, using the beasts own momentum to add power to the blow.
Cracking violently across the bridge of its nose, blinding the creature temporarily. It bellowed in rage, human hands reaching for its bull like head… Sha swung the scabbard again and again, aiming at the back of the knees, at its ribs. He wiped blood from his eyes, hammering blows to try and prevent the creature from rising again against him. His scabbard bent and broke apart… Yet the beast was on his knees!
Sha clambered clumsy onto the creatures’ shoulders, keeping his body behind the giant bull head, he reached round and took hold of the two largest horns to twist the head aside. Though he wasn’t sure of himself, his strength was fast fading and the Minotaur was regaining energy. He was huddled behind the giant head, gripping the horns, riding the thrashing wild monster with little thought of action. He wasn’t strong enough to twist the head, it took all his effort to cling on and he was starting to slip.
As he slipped Sha pulled the two horns apart and there was a slight give… The Minotaur howled… It hurt him… Sha wrenched harder, pulling the two main horns apart with all the strength he could muster. There was a splintering crack, but it wasn’t enough. The bull man bucked and struggled to reach the young lad tugging at its head, however its own actions aided Sha the horns gave a little more, as it shook its head the sharp bone cut into Sha’s hands, blood causing his grip to slick. He tumbled, fell backwards from the Minotaur’s shoulders.
Landing with a crumpled twist of limbs, his body afire with pain, energy fast leaving his body, darkness threatened to overwhelm his senses. Yet Sha had kept a firm grip on both horns and as he slipped and fell both horns were torn free from the bulls head.
The Minotaur crumpled to his knees gripping its head as blood gushed freely over its fur muzzle it gripped the bleeding stumps and tore its face in half with a fierce tearing of flesh and a desperate cry. Pulling the Bulls head free from his shoulders Kane gasped for breath, letting the torn flesh fall from his hands, and running his hands over his face, through blood clotted hair. His human head free from the restraints of the bulls skull.
He turned to face his son, the lad trembled in fear and understanding.
“You killed him!” Sha uttered, spitting blood, backing away from his own Father… “You killed him… You killed the Guardian!”
Kane lowered his head, ashamed … Yet Sha had already drifted into an exhausted unconsciousness…
Act 2 – Part 7
The Demure Hostage
King Fendor circled around the demure child, seated silently. Kireina was just slightly younger than his own missing daughter yet appeared far smaller. She watched the fattening King with contempt, understanding perfectly her role as motivation, manipulation to force her Father and Brother to seek out and recover the lost Princess.
Fendor ceased his absent circling to stand over the girl, she was so unusual, with clear delicate skin, as white as a Lilly petal with caramel curls and honey coloured eyes. The King mused over the possibility that maybe Kireina, like her brother held some magical qualities. His gaze was making her feel increasingly uncomfortable, lecherous and intimidating.
The King had changed drastically throughout his thirteen years as Monarch, having ceased to train in any form of combat, the former General had become fat and lazy, gorging himself on fine dining and exotic wines. He had little or nothing to do with his wife, The Queen, since the birth of their son and heir, which secured his bloodline to the throne and in turn condemned her first born son and his children. His obsession was with the Dark Arts, foul demonic magic that he used to maintain fear over his people.
He oozed evil, a thick black aura of corruption emanated from his very soul causing Kireina to feel sick.
“I need to know!” He blurted out suddenly, causing her to near leap from her skin. With surprising swiftness for such a large man, Fendor darted forwards and snatched Kireina by her wrist, yanking her arm up sharply, painfully. He reached into the thick folds of the elaborate robes he wore and drew out a long thin bladed knife. Dark sparks of energy flashed up the length of the wicked blade, which appeared to be made of glass.
Kireina yelped as he jabbed the point into her wrist… “I need to know!” He muttered again, glaring at the child from under a hooded brow. He drew blood and sniffed at the wound, then licked her arm. She cringed as his rough tongue lapped at the running cut. A warm tingle grew in the pit of his tummy and the demons he had within him awoke, lured by the taste of blood. The tingle became static, cloaked shadows surrounded the King, drawn by the power they felt.
She tried to withdraw, her fear mounting as more evil allies emerged to surround them… Some ghost-like, some more tangible, some possessing the guise of rats or more twisted ghouls. It was her blood which they craved, fresh, virginal, magical…
A mere essence of her brothers qualities hidden in her soul, something her Father had picked up on when she was so very young and Kane had encouraged his daughter to learn from the hag, Hera. This training had stirred the magic lying dormant and Kireina started to show potential as a gifted Shaman.
However, this power was now exposed in the face of pure evil and King Fendor concluded that she was no mere demure hostage…
Act 2 – Part 8
night sky – barley lit by a thin crescent moon
ink black and alive with sound
a deep darkness hugged the ground under the thick canopy of full summer trees
mist lingered brushing the tips of tall rich grasses
grasses swayed – mist swirled
disturbed by the lone woman – clad in tattered layers
this was her time – night time – moon time – dark
the mist hung to her form as she appeared to float from the trees into the clearing
the boy laid near the centre – yet he was not there
his journey was in the inner realm
he would struggle
he would cry
she watched over his journey – a silent guardian
this was something he needed to face alone
a strangled sob escaped his form
sparks – dancing fae drew close
imps curious – drawn by the raw magic
they surrounded the boy – dancing on moon beams
the hag – noticing the father – ushered him away – sent him back to the shadows
somewhere a wolf howled – calling to his mate
as the thin moon circled low atop the tree line
night relinquished its hold upon the forest – a pink light grew in the sky
it was time for travellers to return from the inner realm
the boy stirred
the hag knelt by his side
offered him water – laced with herbs
he shook – he trembled – he cried
hung his head and wept – the painful truth laid naked
he killed the guardian did he not
my own father
the father of the guardian
as the sun rose early upon that midsummer morn
it lit the path before the boy
the guardian reborn
Act 2 – Part 9
My Body, My Rules…
He was slick with sweat and had bit his tongue, yet Hera supported his head as she helped the lad sip at the herb laced tea.
“Steady, don’t try to stand too soon.” She helped him to sit up slowly. Seizon-sha coughed and shuddered, blood ran freely from his chin, he tried to talk. Yet his words were lost in a groggy mumble, disorientated and exhausted.
Kane paced like a caged wolf along the tree line, anxious yet hesitant to approach, Hera had warned him back allowing his son to go through the trial unhindered. He hadn’t slept, hadn’t moved… Haunted by memories of his own experience.
Vixen caught his arm, turning him about to face her. His constant stress was grating on her nerves…
“I can’t do this, Kane. I cannot come on this quest with you, but neither am I going to neglect you.”
“I don’t understand?” He shook his head… Still rather distracted…
“I’m a whore Kane, I’m not a soldier, not an adventurer. I’ve never hidden who I am from you and you’ve never demanded I change.” She lightly touched his face. “This journey, to find the Princess that is for you and your son.”
He glanced back to the clearing then, to where Hera had Seizon-Sha seated in the long grass supping her infamous healing tea.
“If I accompany you, I’ll only be a distraction for you and the guards, I’m too fond of you to cause issues, so I’m going to return to the city, I know I can get into the Palace grounds because I know the girls that work there, I might as well use my position, my body, my abilities to try and find Kireina, where ever she is being held. She is like a daughter to me and you need to focus on one thing at once. Constantly fretting over both your children will keep you distracted and only get you killed.” She planted a soft kiss on his lips.
Kane sighed heavily, her words slowly sinking in, making sense. He wrapped his arms around her, drawing her closer and resting his forehead against her shoulder. “Why are you always so dreadfully sensible?” He spoke into her curls…
“Never underestimate the wisdom of a whore with curves.” She laughed softly then stepped away from his embrace. “Just don’t get yourself killed.” Vixen turned to leave. “Come back to me Kane!”
Act 2 – part 10
Kane watched Vixen leave, until she was out of sight, then returned his attention to his son. He was stood with Hera in the clearing, Kane smiled with relief, yet the expression of utter contempt Sha wore stopped him dead in his tracks.
The lad cleaned his face and stepped towards his father.
“You killed him, didn’t you? You killed the guardian.” His voice was full of grief, his words cracked as tears sprung to his eyes. “I am The Guardian father, yet you, you killed him!”
Kane swallowed hard and nodded… He had never lied to his son and he was not about to do so now…
“Yes, I killed him, without knowing his name or who he was…”
Hera, remembering the scene, closed her eyes. Her anger still raw. “He was my friend.” She croaked. Sha sensed an underlying conflict between the old friends, this was something that Hera could never forgive…
“I wasn’t Captain at that time, I was a foot soldier under the command of General Fendor. Our patrol, with the Prince leading the troops had finally captured The Child of Prophecy and her Guardian.” Kane recounted events truthfully.
… “There was an air of celebration among the troops, wine flowed a little too freely and they turned violent… Drunk, they set upon their captive, I watched the guards beat him, break his body, his bones. Stamped on his chest, hacked off his ears, his nose, crushed his hands… “He ceased with the description, watching tears flood down Hera’s face…
… “I cannot tell you what made approach him, I don’t know why the rest of the patrol didn’t stop me… But I remember his expression, his grief, the pain of his loss, too great to bare. An emotional pain far more intense than any injury inflicted upon his body. He knew my intention, somehow and simply nodded… I broke his neck…”
Kane sat down abruptly, the truth spilling free… “He gave up his life and within a year you were born, born to be his next vessel… I’ve always known this to be true, Alleia knew this too…”
Sha sat next to his father… “It all feels too much, I’m too young, I just want to play with my pony Dad, and I’m not ready for this!” His eyes pleaded…
Yet, somewhere deep in his soul he heard her voice, The Child of Prophecy, he had always heard her voice, felt the invisible connection for they had never met. He heard her crying at night and knew he could lead the way…
Anne Harrison 02.08.17