25 December 2011

Merlin 2:23 “A New Day Yesterday”

Merlin 2:23 “A New Day Yesterday”

A wit of the ages gives import to the obvious clues, the way footsteps trace the hallway through the door, how clean the wall is there at closer examination, and it surely isn’t the first secret chamber ever found. Glancing the ceiling and the craftwork with the groove in the ground where it slid over the years the façade is quite flawless, the old timber portrays as built against old millwork and stone foundation so much that it does not sound hollow when knocked nor budge with hearty stock, a depth of deceit yet to know. Merlin checks the wall with patient concern and finds to turn an old rusted mounting point for torches that a latch releases the lock and with his feet against the wall the door’s base swings inward enough to be slid aside itself. There is a small set of stairs the height of a child into a root cellar, an impressive collection of liturgy on chess and art, manuals of war and tactics, candles on old barrels between spears and pouches and bottles of powders and herbs, and a decent bed kept clean but the blankets not tucked, half the room with a woman’s touch the other half her bridegroom.

Where the headboard is supposed to be a fixture of crossbows and blades hangs, the bedposts are loose and hide cleverly secret daggers and the loose boards of the stairs reveal clothes with sprigs of rosemary in cedar drawers to mask the wool from moths. Aside the bed a small table holds a journal written in a cypher of numbers and letters such that only days are not encrypted, atop a wonderful sketch of a wife perhaps the artist’s. As usual does Merlin begin reading through the pages of the journal as Ana smells the herbs and smells the cork lids of perfume vials, he looks to her and waits for she to notice him, when doing so he uses his hand to allude to the book he reads, she looks around the chamber then snaps her fingers and the candles in the room ignite.

From abound they hear a sound that garners their attention, alarmed Ana makes a fist and forces the fire die as fast she can. To come in from the cold and barring the defenselessness of night Nickolas asks them within the castle for their protections to which they humbly oblige whilst Troy and phoenix Alerion survey the forest at dusk. Timid and wary the suspicious strangers from outside enter behind Nickolas who is looking for his book to enter prosody of calumny and shock.

Merlin: (asking Nick): “What are you doing?”
Dyved: “It was…we were…”
Geneva: “…just leaving o great ones.”
Merlin: “There was a war, a phoenix, and an ogre awoken from at least two score years smashing invalids and you’re still here?”

Nickolas lowers his small book before perusing or writing and looks to them also glancing upward to notice the superb majesty of a phoenix flying over them.

Merlin: “This is obviously your hideaway.”
Ana: “We mean peace upon you.”
Nickolas: “I reserve a candid suspicion.”
Merlin: “We’ve seen your bunker and mean you well, we’re merely going to make camp for a night and be gone by morn.”
Dyved: “I am Dyved of Samsara and this is Geneva, we thank you for your battle against the evil.”
Merlin: “That’s the spirit, come, help us build a fire out of this old lumber and we’ll talk about how you’re likely the king by now.”

The ceiling of the keep is open from time of disrepair and fires that dry the lumber burned on the fuel of the old milling machinery, it had been broken and used as fuel recently and is covered in pieces of the roof, the boards of the grinding wheel are still connected and the groove from the second wheel is still mostly filled with old flour that has long since molded and rotted into a fine black silt that covers various areas of the lumber and floor. After collecting firewood a gracious entrance of Troy as the majestic phoenix lands with a gust, he slides from the familiar spryly off the back of it and dusts his coat as Alerion sits on the large wheel on ashlar with a peevish squawk and they begin a fire where they share epistemological autonomic discussion and intellectual education. Troy has a slab of venison nearly as long as his arm, he takes it to a plank then carries it to Nick.

Troy: “Venison.”
Nick: “Is the rest outside?”
Troy: “No, I was going to leave it for the wolves not far off, but stubborn to leave it the bird decided to eat it, most actually.”

Dyved and Geneva are speechless by the sight of the phoenix, the meat, and the bird moreover again, dressed nicely they are starving and thin.

Merlin: “How long have you been here?”
Dyved: “More than 300 moons, it belonged to the duke Enoch who died in the raids in service of the kingdom. The raids ended living quietly and when the evil abroad came to assault we hid here.”
Merlin: “And the hidden room? It is so furnished.”
Geneva: “Enoch owned it in fealty.”
Dyved: “It has long been a secret meeting place destroyed only recently. Tell me wizard, what grants ye thine powers?”
Merlin: “You may call me Merlin young majesty, I reckon at most if not all we are cambions, half this or that. He is probably half Valkyrie for his bleeding but not dying.”
Nick: “How do you do.”
Dyved: “How do you do sir?”
Nick: “Hungry likely enough.”

Nickolas has finished cutting the meat into slices and is putting it on the ready fire, resting the pieces on the logs above and directly on coals, a sizzle sounds the air.

Merlin: “I am a bit of elven and Midgard and she is a mix of Muspel fire and Vanir.”
Dyved: “and him?”
Troy: “I am a man blessed with resurrection by the fires of darkness.”

Alerion touts a squawking and the travelers laugh as the refugees sit confuted, the phoenix in misapprehension is peckishly perturbed, in a fugue the bird quiets and the fire brightly rises whilst Nickolas jumps to his feet pulling a long dagger and stabs the steaks one by one from the flames. The bird returns to a dull sheen and sardonic dolor with eyes bluing. Still on his feet all the while Troy turns to look and approaches to comfort the phoenix as the band begin to eat.

Nick: “Tell that fowl I said go chase a sunset.”
Dyved: “Wherewithal by survivors are scourges of this land’s former strength, like wolves, to destroy through death, what is the name of our devil?”
Merlin: “Your faith in the almighty blessed be, the disorderly also trust to do what gods do and tremble, there is good in all of us and an evil in all of them, and for such we are their devils.”
Geneva: “We shan’t go to the temples to beseech the gods for fear of the heathens irreverent.”
Merlin: “Have you any wine tucked away?”
Dyved: “You’re in luck.”
Troy: “What was this place?”
Geneva: “A flour mill once upon a time.”
Dyved: “Four score and seven years.”

Dyved goes and fetches a bottle sliding the secret door closed behind him and throwing a handful of dirt over the path.

Ana: “Is it any good?”

He pulls out the cork with his teeth blowing the cork on the ground, takes a drink, and spits it at the fire that responds flashily. On this day turned night when these children of the gods come and reward themselves the blackguard shape-shifter demon has come near to speak with the witch of the mist, cautious of the darkness.

Mist: “Abandon your fears which would suffer unto thee, witness it thusly passing, and the wizard must put some of you to the underworld for trial, a transgression, of your liberal birth stay you the course and I won’t kill you.”
Dak-Clis: “I cannot fathom how thou art not yet spurned and disowned, you and your bright lord severed, as you have poison in the forest of the minds to the men of this realm.”
Mist: “If dissent were a wedge, we would corrupt ourselves, how now doth your kingdom stand?”
Dak-Clis: “The wizard Merlin has impugned my work; he has an earthly measure and has for the time bested me milady.”
Mist: “Thou art repulsive unto me, wherewith thy understanding my power divines thine memory seems an unbecoming impunity of these humans.”
Dak-Clis: “The devil that bested my soldiers, august of an insipid familiar, a phoenix, with his face of white leather kith to the wizard, I could not stand to taunt even wiles and whilst.”
Mist: “Bite your tongue, barring his faith delivers him, I am a much worse warden and I will not release you to the deep.”
Dak-Clis: “What will ye have me do milady?”
Mist: “I would have ye take these black diamonds to Pethuel, there is a school for war there where the Sherriff magistrate answers questions of wisdom and domestic qualms each morning. Wait in line with a question using these stones to lure him into privacy then supplant him. As before divide and conquer, and if you see the wizard, assume regency and kill him.”

One of the heathens of the melancholic horde seeks to be an opportunistic thief but his stomach is turned into a cursed knot followed by fatality as Mist vanishes in the cold of night by the fog on the ground in the bleak moonlight abandoning absolute darkness.

Merlin and the others rest around the fire still fading and the phoenix largely content sleeping with a mental serenade by their hale language. Merlin desires a better bastion to offer refuge but is not ashamed to be considered distinguished among men, knowing the things that most humans do not.

Dyved: “You had mentioned I should be king, from one of men to one of nothing, who will end this war?”
Merlin: “I am not lost in these dark times of all times, but the darkness hides from me.”
Troy: “For what way heretofore the darkness spills, they scatter and mire, we will bring order or justice.”
Ana: “The shadowy hearts, their black destructive souls, will kill you both without call.”
Merlin: “A forsaking we will make, in their heartless oblivion fearing our revelation, because their deeds were evil.”
Ana: “The fates would have us light the dark, is any whom has put a song inside our heart of hearts, and burn the fires of our souls without mercy in the face of the martyrs who would put you slaves of fear.”

The witch of the mist has listened and at once leaves into the night because the phoenix senses her. In unbelief of danger it drops its head back into sleep.

Merlin: “There is a snake in the grass, which is the foe and feral demon winnowing the sands of time.”

Merlin 2:22 “Patterns in the Ivy”

Merlin 2:22 “Patterns in the Ivy”

Swift soldiers without uniforms pass through the trees mostly young with bedraggled chagrin, amongst them youth of fighting age and a few eldest strong and battle-ready dragging the rear, they are all showing signs of everyday combat. They travel toward two wagons adorning short boarded sides covered by burlap fabric behind a bench with driver beset a spotter both, and a transport of import guarded by perhaps a handful of sentinels walking on foot. Without cavalry or archers the forest children silently attack the small caravan of rakish thugs on a road against the trees aside a small hill, bloodshed ensues as two men from each wagon ambush and irrupt with crossbows and maces, with many wounds and no losses the children of the woods kill their enemies. For their result of the trap the wagons holds rusty pikes, crooked staves, some rope, and enough flat bread to feed half their ranks a single meal. They sit and eat quietly discussing their options as a deer happens upon them, in hunger they fell it and endure the setting sun. Elsewhere another small tribe of children teeming the hunt attack their enemies sitting at a campfire at night, first by arrows, lastly by daggers, brutish kids with facefills of muddy war paint, the same hunger that haunts them is nourished less civilized.

Merlin, Nickolas, and Ana are still on the trail toward the river or clearing they had destined.

Merlin: “Give me one of your blades.”
Nick: “I normally have more; there is at least one in the wagon of that fire wench.”
Ana: “What did you say?”
Nick: “…very funny.”
Merlin: “Did it look like this?”
Nick: “You shouldn’t take from me when I’m sleeping.”
Merlin: “I didn’t, it used magic and took it from you when you were awake, chin up. I’m going to find Troy now.”
Ana: “Good, I’m tired of mucking about in this mire.”
Merlin: “I’ll just balance it on its tip, and it will lean and fall toward him.”
Nick: “How do you know it works?”

Merlin balances the dagger and lets it fall, and then he looks the opposite direction.

Merlin: “Take it and throw it at that tree yonder there.”

Nickolas humors him and takes the blade as Merlin walks to a specific tree and points to it with an open hand, Nick throws the dagger at the tree but the blade falls short, the magic binding the knife will not let it thrust.

Merlin: “Now hang on to it but don’t throw it the other way, it might go twice as far and we’d have to hunt for it.”

Condemned and abandoned the children do not speak much keeping their movements in the night until dawn and sleeping in the quaint warmth of daylight, both ragged hunting parties through county Samsara and beyond, and move they into contact of the other on this next night where they plan a coup of another campsite larger than the priors. At dawn they siege the fresh encampment taking loses and are forced to fall back, two from their victimized enemies follow the marauding children into the forest.

They are swift and lean trackers silent in the night and long in the eye during the day, following them to their first camp stead, one returns to report the whereabouts while the other reconnoiters. Through the woods leaving a system of unrelenting return and markings on trees the scout returns to his masters.

A smallish ring tent waits in a glen as soldiers near it attend seething pots at two distinct fires while the tent curtain opens to reveal a small firelight within, from it exeunt a woman in a fur coat flush around her neck as long as her feet and a blackguard man with pricey armor, that of a hunter and not battler, she points to the ground beside her and he kneels looking to her obsequiously. She lifts her foot from the dirty ground and steps on his knee revealing a plethora of tattoos and not much else beneath her posh robe, she slaps him without saying a word and he does not reply as he ties her boot secure then the other.

Scout: “We’ve been hit again, but we’ve found them, perhaps the last, half a days’ ride by my mark and another tracker marking them anon.”
Dak: (Blackguard) “We will ride on them and end this, we ride!”
Warlord Tatiana: “Cower and hold your tongue, enough nonsense, take every scout and kill them while they sleep.”
Dak: “How doth your bidding effect?”
Tatiana: “We have lost too oft, and must keep our numbers in horses. We will return to the castle, these are more than games and I need more than my toys.”

She grabs him by the throat and kisses him, wrapping her bare leg around his side from her coat.

Tatiana: “Make this camp without us and head our homestead, we prepare a trap of war.”

The scouting children having sighted their next target run through the woods toward the sign of distant fire in a field, their slaughter in the dawn will be swiftest, new light and exhaustion of night an attack of disparaging atrocity occurs and blood spills, the arrows of the enemy scouts wound many and kill none, without enough arrows they move to strike fatality. The swords clash and weapons gash as heroes and harbingers are murdered in the new day, there are more in the encampment than insurgents, the blood spatters into the fires and battlers are burned, children launch arrows or dash from hiding in the tall grass at the villains each time they claim emolument. As a rite of passage when the scouts are all dead the oldest boys hack an arm of their foes and drink the blood like a sack of wine whilst it has life, afterwards they cut strips of meat for putting on the hot coals of the fire for the starving young to eat.

Far along the forest line in these same fields Merlin emerges with his friends, looking skyward and outbound, searching for Troy and the phoenix Alerion, the skies are blue, the leaves are gold, and in the distance the field is bloody red.

Ana: “Where do you suppose he is?”
Nick: “He’s abandoned us…”
Merlin: “Nonsense, he’s gone to fetch us breakfast, or at the river, or at some entirely inconvenient danger.”
Nick: “No reason to seem chipper chap.”
Merlin: “I suppose I’ll endeavor to fetch what scurries.”
Ana: “People, there, a high fire in the distance.”
Nick: “Should I take the lead?”
Ana: “We thought you’d never ask…how kind.”

Nickolas smiles with cynical amusement as he moves into the grass, he is swift and keeps low and lowest as they look over the grassland, but he is not stealthy among the children of the field, he is found by many little ones with knives and sees the camp leader approaching with a spear from the savage carnage.

Nick: “…Merlin!?”

Merlin approaches from the field with one hand in the air, Ana walks beside him with both her arms behind her, and they are emissaries of utter mystery.

Merlin: “Hello? Hello! It seems you’ve found my friend, we are in search of another, and he is much ado piloting a large animal bird and we were wondering…”
Nick: “There are bodies here.”
Merlin: “You’ll have to forgive my clumsy companion…he’s frightful and detests violence…”

Merlin puts his hand into the air again, without stopping he blinks and a blast of wind, light, and sound, echoes from his raised arm, he does not slow as the force momentarily stops Ana in her tracks as she bows her head, the momentum is so strong it shocks the campfire and knocks everyone else to the ground, the grass is windblown sideways and no longer hides children. Nickolas stands and kicks a child in the bottom to push it toward the others as he grabs his knife.

Nick: “Now, instead of showing me, you can tell us what happened.”
Merlin: “I’ve killed more people than natural causes, forsaking time until fate cowers, and hell as my witness, antiheroes, until all are free!”

The children dive at his feet and hold his ankles, many all small, terrified by fear of a black terror.

Child: “You are a wizard o great, save us from a terror elder one.”
Ana: “We have found a terror with you.”
Child: “They are the first of a dirge for our survival, you must help us.”

The child is desperate and crying, too scared to tell lies as more children come to hold him to the earth. The young warriors hardened by plight mimic their leader and kneel upon knee, throwing their weapons into the bent grass then putting their hands on the earth before them, sacrosanct and sacrificial, except for the leader who does not put down his hands.

Keith: “We are survivors but our elders are not, from village to town a tribe from the sunset distance seeks to kill the children of the corn, save us and we will be forever grateful.”

Ana walks to one of the wounded, she takes her blade and stabs one of the dead, and she smears the blood of the deceased into the wound to wash the dirt of the dirty soldier’s hands. She holds her hand into the air holds a flame and heats the blade then cauterizes the wound. Merlin looks to Nickolas for advice.

Merlin: “What do you think?”

Other children jump for Nickolas’s feet and begin hugging his legs, which he pushes aside and walks to Merlin.

Nickolas: “Do we fight armies?”
Keith: “It is not an army; our parents and we constituted the army. They are the people gone mad. For a season clans have formed, they killed our elders, then all the nobles and any rune of faith. The clergy that did not submit were crucified, and eventually those who swore allegiance were made to join them.”
Ken: “We are forbidden even silent prayers to our silent gods. Do they have a word for this from whence you came?”
Ana: “Genocide, but I’m sure it’s a typical evil…”
Merlin: “Will you join us old boy?”
Nick: “What makes you think she’s even going?”
Ana: “I’m going. Their game doesn’t hold a candle.”
Nick: “Sure why not, if caught it’ll take years to escape.”
Merlin: “Before counting heads, we’re going to need good maps.”

The encampment of the regulars is sheik and ready to move of a moment’s notice, and are ready for malice aforethought. Those too wounded to ride or run rest on stretchers attached to horses with a bow by their side. There are fires burning as most rest, a few train or sharpen weapons, and there are many gathered, around them the ivy grows strong with bright green leaves at the end of vines and the floor sparsely littered with the black stems of flowers they had eaten, in all there are as many fighters as discarded black leaves on the floor.

Keith: “Come, I will conceal nothing from you. These are our old lines, and this is the line we hold now, against their stronghold somewhere here. You found us strike the last garrison. We are gathered to strike as soon as morning, except for those who have fled.”
Yeadon: “Keith and Ken, we’ve been found out, we’ve killed scouts to find there are many more.”
Nick: “How many more?”
Yeadon: “…”
Keith: “They’re with me.”
Yeadon: “By seem at twice as we.”

Yeadon still catches the last of his breath as the forest troops begin to rally forth, Merlin weaves his fingers and stretches his palms above his head, his knuckles crack as he stretches his chest, and awhile Nickolas stretches his neck by tilting his head one side unto the other and his knuckles in clenched fists.

Keith: “How soon are they here?”
Yeadon: “Thirty verses at most.”
Keith: “We ride on them now or never again!”
Merlin: “Malarkey! We need a plan, I’ll talk to them and you fight them from the trees as you have.”
Ken: “Well that’s just a plain idea.”
Merlin: “An ethereal plane.”

A rainy day misery begins to shroud the small fires, Merlin holds in his hand a glass ball that begins to shine, from above a loud squawk from the phoenix lets into the air. Merlin tosses the orb to Ana with the glass visibly red hot she catches it and wields the fire cooling the orb.

Merlin: “That’s our friend we were tracking. Not to be alarmed, please don’t attack when he lands!”

With gasps of the soldiers Troy lands next to a fire allowing the phoenix to eat the embers, as soldiers not clasping weapons hide behind trees.

Troy: “I’ve been wondering if you were down here for a day. Did you know there’s a rugged army heading this way?”
Merlin: “…we’re going to battle now…”
Troy: “Battle?”
Nick: “What happened to meeting us in the pasture?”
Troy: “I thought you said river, oddly if I wanted in it I would’ve had to jump, the bird wouldn’t land, so I turned back.”
Merlin: “It is time to march.”

The troops are reinvigorated yet aversive, suspicious of the magic that they follow to their last battle or first of many, the sky struggles to be blue through the clouds and the day-moon. With the wounded behind them at camp they arrive at the edge of the forest, as foretold an army stands to greet them at the edge of a muddy field.

The tattooed woman completely covered with thin lines and her reddish king stand behind a formidable showing, a dark dress the colors of blood and gauche jewelry drinking black wine from an ornate golden palm goblet. Every soldier of the black army wears armor and jewelry touting the weapons of the innocent they have raided over the past seasons, gold chains and crowns, rings and gauntlets of silver, salvers melted into gaudy shields, evil agendas brood and interlay.

Ana: “How many are there Troy?”
Troy: “Twice as many.”
Merlin: “I’m going to have a word.”

A parliament in the woods and darkness at noon, the evil tribe to greet them is a mixture of the worst from seven realms and five wars, led foremost by the blackguard in armor piqued by red scales and the tattooed priestess.

Tatiana: “…friends with an army?”
Dak: “I once was…and now am not…but with this I will amass a great tributary of life.”
Tatiana: “The ink still shining on the page.”
Dak: “Carrion angel.”

Long sought for liberty or death the army of youth stands at the forest watching the decadent power mad and thirsty for a coup.

Merlin: “Troy, make an entrance mid field.”

Troy and the phoenix bolt into flight, spiraling into the air, fantastical they swoop over the encroaching frontline and the forest line, then slams into the muddy midfield, it plummets to the ground landing with the sound of vaulted pillars and thrown stones, letting a terrible squall of howling fervency, the phoenix steps once or twice timid of the tides of war.

Troy: “You will stay and wait or run from the wizard.”
Nick: “He’s quite good at that.”

Ana hits Nickolas in the arm then crosses her arms as she looks to the fearful boys standing in wait. Merlin flipping through tarot cards puts them in his sleeve and walks into the clearing, all are quiet and fearful from the forest as their enemies begin grunting while grinding teeth and blade, eager to battle the phoenix and fueled by ignorance.

Merlin walks passed the phoenix, slapping it on the shoulder a couple of times, letting the powder touch his hands. He walks to a stone’s throw from the enemy line. The tattooed priestess stands on her carriage and shouts to the other side, and Merlin.

Tatiana: “Cambion, demigod of mortality, the word is the truth and only truth; no blade can turn from I.”
Merlin: “The blood you sought was the blood of your divination, but the truth will be that you were fooled by your fears.”

The ground dries beneath the phoenix and the rain lessens soigné they gather toward Merlin.

Dak: “Loyalists taking ear, hear me now, this threat, we will not tolerate less than your devotion to the revolution.”

The tattooed woman stands and puts her hand on the blackguard’s shoulder, causing him to step aside.

Tatiana: “I need to know, that if necessary you will die for me.”
Merlin: “I will, and I have brought a tithing.”

Merlin holding his arm close to him places his other hand over the first to unveil the glass sphere in his palm, its effulgence is low but steadily growing in strength, he holds the crystal ball forward and moves toward the army, they begin anxiety and when his brinksmanship tenders impatient limit the glass explodes with power and light, two dozen wounded or dead a battle properly begins. Tatiana points to the woods with a sign of disgust on her face, as the mercenaries charge toward the trees. The ink on her fingers seems to swirl in coquetry while the flesh of the dreamer becomes a course bark bitterly dismal of distaste Dak moves into battle abandoning his futurist.

Dak: “My dark flower, remain here not pruned.”

Watching the phoenix take to flight when the battle ensues, Dak moves toward Merlin destined to strike him dead, eternal regret beyond loveless forbidden reservation and austerity he draws the hateful legion aback the trees. Acquiring as much purity as regret the forest legion charges to support the wizard, the decaying sedge floor mid the rushes amid wind quickly turns to mud beneath the trodden common curious file, but the wind still blows over their vulgarity horde covered with tattoos, carrying the phoenix who quickly turns and grabs an enemy in its talons, too heavy to carry far the body is dropped on the cavalry of evil men, when it grabs another it does not bode well for the assailants, those who slash the phoenix without permanent effect serve to insult it, it drops the soldier with talons having been put through to grab the others instead, a dangerous fire pet hitting enemies with molt armor.

The villains reach for Troy and pull him down from saddle, but he grabs the harness of Alerion and they retreat into the air, his weight on the wing it turns midair, with him giving them an obscene gesture. The sinister mercenaries watch him begin the fatal catch and release in another edge of the field, again slowed by weight he begins to run the aerial cavalry combat, begrudging they make their way for revenge.

The wicked minds of godless heathens are tomes stocked with ranks of nomenclature, vulgar insults which they shout at the heroes. It only serves to remind them who they are killing with precision in silent wroth. A trodden muddy pasture abuts the sky, ruthlessly trampled bare by many a down-trodden soldier, brazen without the sense the infantry turn to the phoenix, indurate talons lift anew from the murky muck and flies to Merlin across the front, he volleys scores of winds that burn around the phoenix and rider as a fiery wind, an exhaustion of fire magic for them both that quickly ends, the bird flies from Merlin as if it were assaulted bursar, the wings open and push a final gust of hot sand at their enemies.

Nickolas flanks as a doppelganger and repudiates their defenses with terror, once slain and raised by the same inability to remain dead that Tatiana had prophesied, to deathly wound their evil blood of their veins until he is stuck by a spear like a wild boar, body and limbs, and then the body several times again. Ana immolates the boughs and hedgerows despite the dampening mire of the humid fog and drizzle from the Samsara Forest. She pauses with grief for her lover before remembering his penchant mortality and continues her desecration of enemies swift but often discourteously, from within the trees having made her way to the forest edge, Troy nearby assists her with a slaying by crushing a foe.

Troy: “You’re welcome.”
Ana: “Save them in the forest.”

Troy looks back at a war field half dead and takes to flight. She proceeds to the field of battle, from her pocket she pulls a flask and takes a drink then spits fire at her foes, their attention taken she unveils a whip and unfurls it, running it through her had it becomes fire and her weapon for the living and the dying low, where her enemies come close to her she does not hesitate to stab them in the throat or where men most hate being wounded, the heart.

Merlin watches the woman of tattoos play with her already wounded prey. With a luminary telepathy she knows their next move but wastes time with more ceremony than slaughter. He stares withal of contention for the soldiers clumsily throwing each conflict, she walks around them cutting them down, a belt is cut and one bows into a blade, for the next a ballet of blades alternating twixt legs and arms at the sinew tendons until the sad young soldier cannot stand nor hold arms as his throat is slit, not an eye pores Merlin or the soldier attacking from behind her who takes a blade to his tongue in cheek and another to throat, the spray of blood blinds another soldier who is double handedly thrust through the heart only after the first blade is thrown into the brow of the man behind him. With lust of contempt their weapons are gifts given to her and used against them. A morose heartache startles Merlin from nonplus and he takes a bow and arrow from a dead man and shoots at her, she steps clear of the shot without seeing it launch and looks to Merlin. The wizard fears death at that sultrily bellicose moment, with two more arrows from a fallen comrade he looks to Nickolas cringing and screaming beneath lance and pike,

Merlin shoots and kills one about to behead his ally and another anent, awhile Tatiana approaches new victims with an aberrant smile and abetting stare. Three remaining soldiers skewering Nick begin screaming as they run to Merlin that he sends flying with a blast of air.

Merlin: “When you wake I need you to dance with the devil.”

Merlin looks to Tatiana and back to Nickolas who closes his eyes, though the gruesomeness the battle for whichever primal chase is clashing in the forest, the field of the dying is abandoned as he moves into the trees where unbalanced battles ensconce a violent insurrection.

Dak through pure brutality has a face covered in blood, twice this day the blood of his allies in furor, but he paces beyond the clearing in the underbrush weary of Merlin. Ana battles diligently as a maven of forcible peach, reproach or exception, with each cry that she hears she runs toward it to help the children escape; she battles with the discarded heat of the sunlight, using ash and embers often of explosion.

Kneeling on the ground in scandalous attire Tatiana washes her face with the blood of heroes as Nick arises, his armor has holes of bore and pierce, she picks two knives ready to hammer the blades into his eyes, a leaderless confrontation she does not walk a straight line, her path winds to the side in silence and sedition, confident her wiles are the whims of battle he hurls a knife at her, cutting her arm wistfully barely. She screams and charges him over body swiftly barefoot running across bodies until heavy to his tumultuous threat, stealth of all skill she is faster than he and the quick battle ends as her many others, again the silence embraces him as he lay quietly dying and singing blood. The patronage of manna or the ability to kill only his mortality his immortality acquiesce he counts her measure, with a blade in her chest and bathed in blood she falls in the mud.

Dak watched and now feigns indignant pain and remorse walking to Nickolas standing over the body. Nick runs into the trees but avoiding stragglers throws another dagger, this time at Dak. The blade lands in his neck, but pain is not on display has he pulls the throwing knife and snaps it in two with his bare hands while giving a growl from a loud whisper, Nickolas dismisses the priority of conflict for justice in the forest defilade, but Dak does not follow. He stoops to comfort Tatiana on the ground, she has propped herself against the dead and slut her wrists, she dies in earths final embrace with Dak intentionally beyond her dying grasp.

She rests eternal in the autumn sun, outdoors before a fire, as the wild dogs contently feast, the forest full of disaggregate victors playing waylaid deceit as Dak kneels over Tatiana. He looks over her rakish form and puts his hand to her face, smearing the drying blood with his touch. Looking over her he sees a bracelet on her wrist that he strips from her forearm, he holds it in his fingers if to adore it, and then suddenly with anger on his face he breaks the armlet within the power of his fist, the crippled shattering pieces fall from his hand beside her soulless kinship. He thus closes her eyes and opens his to the dagger, tho dead her body is warm and slightly fogs, having seen her killer he seeks to study the weapon, he pulls it from her chest and studies the quality tool.

Dak: “What seeks to hollow repletion leaves a dagger such as this that is not mad or evil?”

To this locus arrive two soldiers from the distance, in their minds fine warriors of a terror that is to them a revolt of reason, their tyranny had been led by Tatiana without true knowledge of Dak, to which they demanded ignorance of anything but needless conflict, and in their eyes commander Dak has committed treason, anxious that their Volva is dead and taken a successful campaign with her to the grave.

Amicus: “He’s killed the volva.”
Clis: “Than we shall kill him for justice and take his rank.”

Clis fires an arrow at Dak, it misses and strikes the ground next to him, he looks over his shoulder and darts toward the trees escaping a second shot from Amicus, they launch two more arrows each at him but they miss again as he moves fast as if chasing a deathblow and not escaping one. Into the forest they pursue as the sky begins enshrouding the light. Dak hides in the shadows, waiting and stalking, he doth not stop to hector the soldiers hunting him, and in silence he crushes the throat of Clis and impatiently breaks his neck.

This sacrifice signifies imitation conception, what would an alchemist playact a new form for Dak is a Draugur, using a type of black magic called trollskap he changes shape in body and face as he becomes the imposter of his victim. He takes the undamaged pieces of armor from Clis and begins to hunt the other as silent as before.

Amicus: “What happened to you, and what happened to your face?”

Veracity of the scar without sophistry Dak the Draugur mangles Amicus, just as he had the other as quiet as prior. Dak, the knight errant, has become an arrant knave without nature’s approval, abandoning the bloody pit of horror he has helped create.

Alerion attacks and tears an enemy by landing, Troy jousts each swift foe that are torn down by children and distraction. Elsewhere Merlin blasts fools with marks in the volatile soil, the magic is simple and costs him more time than health, a price that shades the stubble on his face grey as others are annihilated by his alchemical mastery, a nut turned into a bomb for shrapnel if close enough is trapped by his enemies’ armor if placed properly to shred them contained. Erstwhile puerile evil complicity wilding an innocent woman Ana watches a moment as the victim sees her, she drops her weapons and her eyes turn redder than that which can be most red, her hands begin to wash of fire, the deviants attack her all but one, just as Merlin approaches. He watches them run to Ana before grabbing the miscreant by his collar and taking his manhood from him, with a howl of pain the ravens laugh, she walks to him slowly, the villains are dead, they have fallen dead aside her path of aguish heatstroke bodies, thru them she is not concerned.

Ana: “Stand him up!”

There are not words for pure massacre, she opens the wound then draws the blade only to slit his throat. Clutching a green dress the naïve girl kicks and breaks the dead man’s face giving a scream of regressive anger, then spitting on it.

Ana: “…we do not let them live…”
Merlin: “I thought you wanted a piece of him?”
Ana: “Shut up Merlin, get up strumpet, go and find a man of god.”
Merlin: “This is why you don’t talk to strangers.”
Ana: “Only to let you think it’s your idea.”

Ana squats next to the broken boy and begins poking him in the eyes and other painful vulnerabilities while the mind is still with the body, torture duly until death. The fragile ginger-haired girl runs toward the sound of swords.

Then there is Nickolas, looking for support while encircled by enemies, swords and spears, torches with fiery ashes flying where knives do not maim, an interwoven defilement, to those with earned title to prescient death, forsooth the burning horizon the scope may newly be drained of blood and milled anew a swifter victory with Nickolas as their captive, and the gatherers’ greed for wealth a gift to their augur Tatiana, whom they know not has died. The dilettantes enjoy true delusions in grandeur built for redolence and high esteems. Waving their weapons and fire at Nick they turn argumentative about the right to claim credit for his capture, at the drop of a hat he fights nine soldiers, young and strongly old, taking some cuts and only one spear to his back. Formative of exposed vitality levied through his skin by some spear by his combatants, he has had enough and puts his anger to the test, in a quest for battle’s absolution with death as an illusion he cries havoc in anger such as war could only excite.

Merlin and Ana approach from the distance to assist, hastily approaching they watch him defeat the final four as if it is a simple ceremony of bone and blood, he looks to them approaching with a smile on his face. Standing near him he falls to his knees and then on his chest and looks across the forest floor as if it is a wall.

Nick: “Being your friend is murder.”
Merlin: “The fortune is no doubt a suitable reward.”
Nick: “What is that love?”
Ana: “Is what strapper?”
Nick: “…anon a foolish castle…”
Merlin: “…deliver us…”
Nick: “No, look where I look. I’m some drunken guide?”

Sure enough a castle of disrepair peeks over the horizon far into the fare of trees, upon approach it is an old chaplain hall turned grist mill, abandoned for many years there are new tracks near the entrance. Wary of raucous they stalk in shadows to seek the roots of evils and atrocities, sunken haunting and silhouettes with gauche tapestries caked in dust and collecting further debris from the broken windows and many holes in the roof beneath the darkness only broken by the few random beams of light owed to the undulation of whispers. Small desiccate trees grow through the cracks next to massive roots from the trees outside, among stone and cobweb interior is a palatial quarters filled with blood velvet rugs and rancor adorned with golden cordon and lace much unlike the forgotten outer chambers, strewn lighted candles of black and white flames and scattered crystals taken from abound the surface of the earth, all behind a secret door.

An ulterior murdering efficiency of swift candor as opposed to brawn is vaulting spears into the phoenix, bruising when uncaught, and ecumenist mendacity for an interdiction that had not occurred, several tyrants in rampancy taunt hostages as Troy lands to do battle. In the trees enemies lynch him from his phoenix, jumping to hoist him, Alerion clamps it’s beak on the ankle of the roper and flings him into the distance, with the acumen of a bird with a simple leap another foe in the tree does not bode well, a hefty peck and release dropping a bloody dead body to the ground.

The earth trembles beneath the soldiers who want the phoenix and rider for their own, they scream and wave their hands as if insult to the quaking below their feet that neither they, nor the phoenix, nor Troy had set to cause.

Through the stratified layers of leaves from seasons of winters and walking feet a fierce ogre rises from the soil, large and stoic fast by size but laggard in ways the creature from the earth beats the evil nomads with a piece of an old tree petrified white with age, and when they are dead or running away it slightly bows its head to the phoenix and falls to the ground oafish. As Nickolas approaches in the haze of shallow sunlight remaining, at every notice staring thus, the ogre decides to close its eyes and return to sleep, it snuggles the forest floor briefly until comfortable shaking even more leaves a deciduous blanket of red foliage from the trees as it does.

Merlin: “See how well things are when we’re left alone?”
Ana: “Of all my days I’d never expect to see that, what could it be?”
Merlin: “That, is an ogre. Probably builder of this place ages ago. Troy, come inside through the roof. Nickolas, check the perimeter and then come inside to investigate, we’re staying the night.”

The ogre peaks from one at to look at Merlin, with a sigh it closes again when Merlin smiles as he gestures his hand to hail before walking into the castle. Nickolas walks around the old stone millhouse until finding the couple who were captive obliviously arguing the dangers of their plotted way into the old mill.