The sun had just kissed the horizon when the birds hushed their daily calls; the howls of the wolves died and the owls fell silent. The darkened sky gained an orange hue even as the wind shuffled the leaves that remained on the trees. The foxes abandoned the forests surrounding the Seine Mountains and in a distant forest a sword began to hum.
Deep within the mountains, a boy stirred. His peaceful slumber was disturbed by something he did not know, something that shook his core and awakened his soul. He knew that he had a duty to fulfill.
He flinched as he emerged from the cave that had been the place of his slumber for a millennia. His hand raised to the block the rays of dawn and his eyes squinted to see the path. He didn’t know what he was going to do. He didn’t even remember why he was asleep in the first place. But something told him that he wouldn’t be able to escape his destiny for a second time, despite the fact that he didn’t even remember the first.
His bare feet sank in the mud and his hands pressed against the surrounding trees as he tried to regain his footing. He could feel the fear that plagued the life in the forest. But what terrified him the most was the aura sweeping the land. He didn’t know what it was, but he recognized it. He had to do something.
Most of the time, a new member has mastered the techniques of his or her clan before they were exiled. On the other hand, almost all of the new recruits were older than their newest member. He still had the techniques of the Protectors, he just lacked the experience to execute them proficiently. So when one of the more skilled members agrees to train him, the others garner to watch; though not to learn the techniques of the most sacred clan.
The watching members of clan laughed as the former Protector pulled himself up wincing as he put weight on his right ankle. His opponent chuckled quietly, picking up the fallen blade. “You can’t charge at an opponent of Isidore’s caliber,” Siven shouted, picking his way to the two. “Isidore focuses mainly defense, reacting to his opponent’s every move. Charging head first against an opponent like that can only work if you are as skilled as or more skilled than him.”
“I see,” Itel murmured gently, accepting the blade from the elder Loner. “I don’t believe we’ve met. I’m—”
“Itel, the former Protector,” the black haired man chuckled, nodding a greeting in Isidore’s direction. “I was one of the party that found you. Its good to see you up and about.”
Itel flinched, a hand moving to rest against his recently mended ribs. “Thank you,” he murmured softly following his two elders to a nearby table. Siven nodded, smiling gently at the two words that were referring to more than just his advice.
“Don’t mention it.” The trio fell into a comfortable silence even as the chattering of the clan filled the morning.
“I don’t get it,” Itel stated, his quiet words barely reaching the ears of his two elders. “Why don’t you ask me why I did what I did? Why did you help me in the first place? And why are you letting me stay here, when I have already caused so many problems?!”
“Because we’ve been in the same position.” Itel glanced at Isidore, sapphire eyes remaining steady as he met his junior’s stare. “Intentions have been misunderstood and we know whats its like to be constantly questioned. We know what its like not to have a home and wonder if every day if going to be our last. Nilast and I were 24 and 23 respectively when we left our clan and we had a hard time adjusting. You’re younger than that. We don’t want you to feel what we felt back then. If it means waiting for an explanation, then so be it.”
Itel bit his lip, his brown locks covering his eyes as Siven laid a hand on his shoulders. “You should be warned though. If that trust is betrayed, this clan will not give you another chance. The only mercy that will be given is a quick death.” Itel nodded, his eyes still covered as he took in their words.
“Are you done scaring him yet?” The trio jolted in surprise, their eyes swinging to stare at the white haired woman that stood a short distance away. “When I agreed to let him out to get some fresh air, sparring was not on the list. And warnings about the clan rules were most definitely not included in the fresh air description!” The two older men looked sheepish as Itel jolted in guilt.
“Rhea….” The words died in Isidore’s throat at the glare the younger woman sent him. “We’ll see him back to his tent.” Rhea nodded in agreement, forcing the two older men to stand, pushing Itel in front of them.
Once they were out of her earshot, Siven sighed, a hand running through his hair. “Sheesh, she really lives up to the healer reputation.”
Isidore chuckled and even Itel had a small smile gracing his face as the trio arrived at his tent. “You better get some rest Itel, especially if you don’t want Rhea to tie you to the bed .” The teen nodded, slipping past the flaps that Siven held open.
The gathering occurs every 6 months. Every clan would send a representative and issues that had risen would be settled then.The Liaru clan was never invited, being nothing more than a rumor and composed of traitors and deserters. But it didn’t mean that they didn’t send their own representative to report back any news. Nilast sat, perched in the branch of a tree overlooking the clearing, out of eyesight but within earshot. His sharp eyes only picked up one form he recognized: Roland, the Protector that he had forced back several days ago, stood in the clearing, his form tensed judging by the death grip he had on his sword.
“Shall we start?” A woman, dressed the shades of green spoke, her voice hushing the side conversations. “I believe all the clans are now represented? Why did you call this emergency gathering Roland? We were not supposed to gather unless for the most dire of–“
“The Blade of Sorrows has been stolen,” Roland cut her off, his eyes scanning the stunned crowd. “One of our most promising members joined the Liaru clan, bringing the relic with him. The elders of the Protectors raised the alarm and wished for me to alert the remaining clans to remain cautious. There is no telling where they will strike next.”
“You mean the remaining artifacts are in danger?” a man dressed in shades of grey questioned. “You think they will target the clans possessing them?”
Roland shrugged. “We never thought the Blade of Sorrows would be stolen and look at where that got us. We need to stay alert and not take chances. The last thing we need are rogues and traitors possessing the ancient relics, especially when they know how to use them. Think of the devastation they could cause. “
The group collectively cringed before an old man stepped forward, a younger one supporting his weight. “The Liaru Clan cannot hold the ancient relics. They are far too dangerous even more so in the hands of those who know how to use them. Our top priority is to reclaim the Blade of Sorrows.”
“Yes, Head Elder!”