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Thread: Faith United

  1. #11
    Thayneslayer

    EXP: 192,814, Level: 19
    Level completed: 20%, EXP required for next Level: 16,186
    Level completed: 20%,
    EXP required for next Level: 16,186


    Breaker's Avatar

    GP
    12,205
    AP
    202
    Name
    Joshua Breaker Cronen
    Age
    29
    Race
    Demigod
    Gender
    Male
    Location
    Corone
    The trees and grass became a blur as I raced toward the Coronian port city. Worry flitted through my mind like a razor-winged butterfly, carving fresh concern wherever it lighted. Birds and small animals scattered from the thunderous sound of my approach, and insects stirred in the slipstream of my wake. I had never run so fast, not in training, not when I outpaced a stallion from Suravani’s Oasis, and not when I ran for Am’aleh. Kinley was different. Kinley was special. She needed me.

    I looped around Gisela’s outer wall in a matter of minutes, faster than an Alerian steam wagon and almost as loud. My metal boots pounded the earth, leaving deep treaded prints. For once the salt air was not a welcome smell. It struck me in the pit of my stomach, a sick foreboding note of dread.

    My eagle eyes could see far out over the waves. The sun stood low in the sky behind the city, casting the scene in dull twilight. Wind whipped the waves high enough to bring curling white to their caps. A lone craft braved the waters, a longboat rowed by six familiar men. The deserters. The ringleader stood at the prow, clutching a quaking and screaming McKinely. Her screams carried over the water, loud enough for my sensitive ears to hear the panic in her voice. The deserter struck her across the face and stuffed a rag in her mouth, and I forgot all caution and dove into the sea.

    Uncertainty flooded my mind as I fully submerged, kicking with both feet, scything through the water like a dolphin. Who could have manipulated me to give my own men such a command? Khal’jaren? The sage god would certainly have the wisdom to find a way to cast a spell on me. I shuddered to consider a second possibility, but it crept into my mind like seeping gas. What if Am’aleh was responsible? The last time I questioned her I’d been ever so wrong, and paid for it with a portion of my power. But who else would demand a death at sea? Unless that was what Khal’jaren wanted me to think.

    I surfaced and cut the waves with powerful, confident strokes, gaining on the longboat. As I rose with a swell I saw the ringleader tying McKinley’s wrists behind her back and laughing to his compatriots. Evidently I’d picked the right men for the job. My teeth nearly cracked I with the force I ground my jaw. I would not hesitate to kill them.

    As I drew within a hundred yards one of the rowers spotted me and lifted a warning cry. The leader did not hesitate. He tipped McKinley into the sea and the longboat veered off, heading back to port.

    I am the ocean…

    I paused, treading water. Kinley bobbed like a cork, struggling to free her hands.

    I am the sea…

    That voice. Am’aleh’s voice. I had not heard it in so long. The way it emanated from the back of my mind, it might have been a memory.

    Wherever you may flow, always return to me.

    A woman of water took shape around Kinley, cradling her, keeping her head above water and smoothing back her soaked auburn hair. Am’aleh was there… saving my mortal lover. I could see her smile in the sparkle atop each wave. I could hear her laugh beneath whipping wind. I relaxed, swimming forward slowly. There was no need to rush…

    “Josh!” A different, equally familiar feminine voice screamed. “Help me!” The words vanished in a stream of gurgling sounds.

    The vision flickered. Am’aleh vanished.

    McKinley had freed her hands and torn the gag from her mouth, clawing at the waves to keep her head above water. She was failing. Horror struck me harder than a bolt of lightning. What had I seen? Where had my goddess gone?

    A third possibility invaded my mind like an auger. What if Khal’jaren was not to blame, nor Am’aleh? What if all the godly notions had been constructs of my overactive mind?

    What if I was going mad?

  2. #12
    Thayneslayer

    EXP: 192,814, Level: 19
    Level completed: 20%, EXP required for next Level: 16,186
    Level completed: 20%,
    EXP required for next Level: 16,186


    Breaker's Avatar

    GP
    12,205
    AP
    202
    Name
    Joshua Breaker Cronen
    Age
    29
    Race
    Demigod
    Gender
    Male
    Location
    Corone
    “Josh!” Kinley cried again before sinking beneath the waves. I shook my head forcefully and dove after her, grasping her around the middle and pulling her back up to clean air. It took too long; by the time we surfaced she was unconscious, her head lolling limply against her delicate breastbone. I held her close and kicked toward land in the longboat's wake, cutting away from the vessel's path as it made for a harbor inlet. I pulled Kinley through the water, up the beach, and onto the stony shore. She lay still as I set her on the ground and knelt beside her, my hands applying compressions to her chest, forcing the water out of her lungs.

    The tiny woman retched, and I rolled her on her side until all the seawater had left her lungs, but still she did not awaken. I pressed my lips to hers and breathed into her and her crystal blue eyes snapped open over a loud gasp. She croaked my name and clung to me, shaking like a scarecrow in an earthquake. She sobbed brokenly as she gained the energy and asked me why, over and over again. I had no words – my mind was lost. I could only hold her against the warmth of my wet body as I wondered what was happening in my world.

    I closed my eyes and breathed deeply, meditating for the first time in months. The first time since I started the Faith United. As my breathing deepened Kinley calmed somewhat, her wails becoming whimpers, her sobs dainty sniffles. I felt her pain like a knife in my heart. She would never know it, but I was equally confused. Could Am'aleh really not be real? Or was this some type of ruse perpetrated by Khal'jaren? Whatever it was, it had nearly cost my lover her life. Someone would pay. Blood would spill.

    As if drawn by my thoughts, the longboat appeared around the harbor's long seawall. The deserters had not entered the safety of the city. They were coming for me. Coming to me.

    The fools.

    They made land with the boats prow scraping up the stony beach. They leaped ashore wielding swords and axes, and drawing on the Eternal Tap to fuel arcane weapons. I had taught them too well. I took in each of their faces, all scarred and experienced. They were seven of the hardest mercenaries I'd recruited. Seven of the most fanatical devotees to the cause. And they had learned well. A ball of crackling fire appeared above one man's hand. A halo of molten ice crackled around the shoulders of another. Without my connection to Am'aleh, I could not touch the tap. I could not snuff out their powers, or even defend myself or Kinley.

    “Lord Breaker,” called the ringleader, sarcasm lacing his tone. Even so, they came halfway to attention. They still respected me, or wanted to. “Relinquish the woman. We won't fail to complete an order sir. She must die at sea.”

    I kissed Kinley on the forehead and stood up between her and the zealots. I found my voice as my hazel eyes bored into each of them individually.

    “Listen to me carefully,” I said tiredly, feeling the exertion of the swim. “You'll get your hands on her...” I bent my knees and charged forward, arms spread wide, releasing an animalistic roar.

    Over my broken body!
    Last edited by Breaker; 01-11-2018 at 03:12 PM.

  3. #13
    Thayneslayer

    EXP: 192,814, Level: 19
    Level completed: 20%, EXP required for next Level: 16,186
    Level completed: 20%,
    EXP required for next Level: 16,186


    Breaker's Avatar

    GP
    12,205
    AP
    202
    Name
    Joshua Breaker Cronen
    Age
    29
    Race
    Demigod
    Gender
    Male
    Location
    Corone
    The deserters recoiled away from my charge like same-poled lodestones repelled by a larger, stronger magnet. I gritted my teeth in a gruesome smile as I caught the slowest of them by the back of his cloak. For a moment his feet churned the sand in place, and he let out a panicked yell. Then I snapped his spine so forcefully blood spattered from his nose.

    The remaining six backed away, weapons upraised, mana crackling. They formed a loose semi-circle around me, ignoring McKinely. The woman still lay on the beach curled in a ball, watching from the corner of her eye as she relived the horror of nearly drowning.

    “Take him together lads!” Roared the ringleader. “Whoever lands the killing blow gets to keep the boots!” He leaped forward and swung his axe, while two swordsmen stabbed as one. The weapons converged on me like a three pronged pincer, all sharp and expertly wielded.

    I slithered sideways, my boots leaving a single long line in the sand, and caught the first swordsman's wrist. His weapon countered his compatriot's with a loud clang, and the axe missed so cleanly that the wielder nearly lost his balance. I broke the first swordsman's arm in two places with a single decisive twist and then hit him with an uppercut that snapped his head back in a spray of teeth and crimson saliva. He dropped to the ground as if weighted by an anchor.

    And then a fireball struck me in the back. I hadn't felt it coming – without my connection to the Tap, I could not even detect the use of magic. But I felt it burn through my shirt and scald my shoulders, skin bubbling and breaking beneath the heat. I roared and turned toward the caster but had to duck under a barrage of icicles launched by the deserter with the sparkling aura.

    “Something's wrong with him,” the fire mage shouted, “use your magic boys. He can't stop our spells!”

    I winced. I had never been able to stop their spells in training either, but a little confidence and swagger had gone a long way. Coupled with my knowledge of the arcane arts and ability to teach others, no one had ever challenged my power.

    Ice cascaded at me from one side while fire stormed from the other. A set of shackles formed out of the stones beneath my boots and snapped at my ankles, and an unnatural gust of wind buffeted my head.

    I rolled with the wind and leaped at the ringleader. The shackles missed my ankles and the fire and ice collided in a whirling maelstrom of mana. The zealot dove and rolled away from me, and then magic struck me from all sides. The remaining deserters had combined their powers to form a single giant hand of air that gripped my arms and spread them wide, freezing me in place. The ringleader straightened up, a smirk on his face, and sauntered toward me. I struggled against my invisible bonds but could not free myself.

    “Sorry about this, my lord,” the mercenary mocked, “but you did say your broken body.” He nodded to his cohorts, and another invisible hand of air gripped my ankles. While Kinley and the zealots watched, the invisible shackles began to fold me in half backwards.

  4. #14
    Thayneslayer

    EXP: 192,814, Level: 19
    Level completed: 20%, EXP required for next Level: 16,186
    Level completed: 20%,
    EXP required for next Level: 16,186


    Breaker's Avatar

    GP
    12,205
    AP
    202
    Name
    Joshua Breaker Cronen
    Age
    29
    Race
    Demigod
    Gender
    Male
    Location
    Corone
    Agony ripped through my back, legs, shoulders and arms as my wrists and ankles drew closer together. I could bend further than most, but eventually my muscles would tear and my bones would mangle. There was no end to the strength of the five magic-wielding warriors working as one.

    “Let him go, bottom feeders!” Kinley cried, lunging in and swinging a driftwood spar. One of the zealots laughed as he easily fended off the attack and picked her up with one arm. Kinley screamed and went for his eyes like I'd taught her. He stumbled sideways, placing himself directly in line with my right palm.

    A brilliant flash of white light exploded from my hand, penetrating his chest like a mythril-headed crossbow bolt. The man released Kinley and dropped to the ground without a sound, his heart no longer beating.

    Suddenly the grip on my limbs weakened, and I shattered the shackles of air with my furious strength. I landed crouched on the beach in front of the ringleader, shaking with exertion, my face a darker than the falling night.

    “You forget,” I growled, “I am the Breaker!” I had my own sources of energy even more powerful than my absent Tap related abilities. I hadn't shown my soldiers all of my tricks, after all. They came at me like a wave, wielding their magics and weapons, but they broke on the shores of my fists and feet. In seconds all of the mercenaries lay dead. Blood speckled the sleeves and collar of my burned up shirt.

    Kinley looked about, driftwood bat held high, searching for something to strike.

    “Josh,” she gasped when she realized we'd won, “what was all this? Why would your soldiers try to kill me?”

    “It won't ever happen again,” was all I could tell her. I didn't have answers for her questions, or for my own. But somehow, I knew McKinely would be safe. I knew everything would be fine. Somehow, I knew what to do.

    ~*~

    I spent the night holding Kinley in her bed and promising I'd keep her safe forever. I did not dare sleep. I crept away from her cabin early the next morning before she rose. I made my way through the fields and forests to the encampment of the Faith United, and picked up an important item... an item in sore need of some modification.

    The seamstress who had designed it for me agreed that she could make the changes for a reasonable fee, and told me a date and time. I paid her with thick Coronian gold crowns and left the shop, my mind busy with plans for the future of the Faith United.

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