Editor's Introduction: Every other Sunday, we're publishing "Neverdie", a serialized fantasy novel. This is an original work of fantasy fiction and is not set in an MMORPG world. Today, we bring you chapter six. If you're just getting started, you can go back and catch up:
"Neverdie" (Chapter 6), an original fantasy story by Jon Wood
Hours had passed in almost near silence as the valiant Knight of Rah, Ashley Guildarm and his newly rescued charge, the apprentice mage of Greengem tower, Rowan Tallfelter, went about their own business in the camp. Ash himself felt as though all that needed to be said had been said. He had a job to do, and he reminded himself of that face time and time again as the hours passed and he tried to get to sleep. Still, the woman stirred something inside of him that he hadn’t felt in a long time. Acknowledging that fact, on the other hand, was something that he would not allow himself to do. Not while he was on mission.
“I’m not sure what it is you want to know,” he replied, thankful to have been pulled away from his own thoughts. When no direct answer was forthcoming, he began to tell her the story of his order. How they were formed in a time when the church was run by a corrupt dictator. How he formed the Knights of Rah as a personal guard, thinking that instilling within them a sense of honor and fealty in the name of their God would guarantee their loyalty. When the knights learned of his treachery and deceit, they rose up against him, but the man’s teachings remained, leaving a dedicated order of knights to worship their God through their actions and deeds. He told her about his new orders, probably more than he should have, truth be told, but he told her anyway, about how they had been sent to Mylund and that he had been told to serve this king as though he were a leader in the order.
The pair talked for a long time, totally unaware that they were being watched very carefully but not one, but two pairs of eyes. The first, were evil eyes, cloaked in the appearance on and angel, but as devious and hateful as any creature to walk the face of Terria. The other set of eyes was kinder, but curious and wary of those who had wandered into his territory.
“What do you think Raab?” The watcher asked of his companion, not really expecting an answer. The two had been traveling together for four years now, the watcher and his companion who never said a word. The relationship between the two existed as one in which both could understand the other through nothing but body language. The watcher, a half-elf named Talis with chocolate brown skin and a bald head that emphasized his only-slightly pointed ears. His companion, incapable of speech, was a large shaggy grey dog, who only responded to his friend’s question was what almost seemed like a dog version of a shrug.
“You’re right,” Talis said, continuing his own line of thinking. “I’m not sure what a vaunted Knight of Rah, accompanied by an elf-woman, are doing here, but one would not think that they were seeking trouble.” Talis had never ventured into the small town himself, and was relatively unaware of the dangers that had faced the elf-woman, and would undoubtedly face him, should be decide to break from his own instincts and wander in. He could not fathom what could have led this pair into the wood that he wandered and protected. Whatever the reasons though, Talis prided himself on his knowledge of societies and those who dwelt within them. While he did not often venture toward civilization, he preferred the solitude of the trees and the animals who allowed him to think without intrusion, he did take the time to speak to people, and to learn. His curiosity sated insofar as the pair went, Talis stood to leave. Raab, his friend and companion for so long, had other ideas.
“You coming?” Talis asked his friend in a low whisper. Neither did the dog respond, nor make any move to accompany the half-elf. Talis would never dream of giving the dog a command. While men and women of “civilized” lands might keep pets and expect their obedience and subservience, out here, in the wilderness, the relationship between man and beast was different, at least for these two. Their friendship was based on trust and companionship, neither man nor dog serving in the role of master. Even without the benefit of words, Talis knew that his friend would not move, that Raab wanted to stay here, watching over this pair. Whatever the dog’s reasons, Talis would not question them. Sighing ever so slightly, he sat patiently beside his friend, watching and waiting for the great gods only knew what. He sat, not really paying attention to the knight’s tale. He allowed his mind to wander, as he often did. He found himself thinking about his own past, and how he had come to be where he was today. His thought, however, did not wander back to a childhood, as would most. Talis’s memories began only five years ago. He had woken from sleep on a cold winter’s day to find himself lost in a city that he did not recognize, surrounded by people who he had never seen. He had been terrified, not knowing who he was, or how he had come to be there. Even now, remembering that feeling, his heart picked up a beat. Since then, he had never been so scared, not even the many times that he had been convinced that his life would end at the tip of a goblin spear or orcish axe. No, it was not death that Talis of the Forests feared, it was in not knowing that his fears were found. He spent a year after that, trying desperately to unlock the secrets of his mind that would tell him who he was and where he had come from. For that year, it had become an obsession. He thought of nothing else, did nothing else. Eventually, his quest began to consume him as surely as any flame. It wasn’t until he came across a dog, cold and hungry in the streets, that he had been able to put his past, both remembered and unremembered, behind him. In the starving Raab, he had found a friend, the first that, as far as he knew, he had ever known. After that, the pair had set out to the forests where each could use his own skills and natural instincts to provide all that they would need.
While Talis and Raab sat, absently keeping watch over the knight and the woman, they too were being observed by the unblinking, obsidian eyes of a praying mantis. The creature, despite its newfound girth and power, moved gracefully and silently through the forest. It moved without the instincts that would have served it well against its natural predators. Those were something of its previous existence. He was guided now by the will of the Gee’ar.
“Hunt and stalk,” a voice told it without words. “See the elf-wench, know it. Do not rush toward the coming battle, but choose your tiem and you will know feast as you never have. You will know the rush of warm blood as it washes over you, down your throat. When you know that, when your task is complete, then you will be set free upon the world.”
So, the creature stalked. It saw with its unblinking eyes both pairs of companions, comfortable in the safety of each other. It did not attack, for it had been told not to, it did not plan, for it had no real ability to think. Instead, it observed, and waited for the kill.
You can commet on this chapter here.