Kael paced his room, he was all nervous energy and no outlet. Further back than he could remember this was what he had wanted, to see the worlds beyond, to visit an actual gadern city. He would wander through ancient ruins, travel beyond the forgotten ranges, a hundred languages would tempt him, a thousand faces would tell him tales. A journey starts with a single step, Iyrie had told him.
This is more than a step, it's my first leap and no matter what my father plans it won't be my last.
It had always confounded him the way Iryie had taken the time to sow the seeds of wanderlust in him, had taken the limitless curiousity of a broken little boy and given him a direction. How much of this intense desire was ochestrated by Iryie. He could see now how easy it would be to take a dejected child who been spurned by all and give him a purpose. It would grow to be greater than his very sense of self.
The way I was back then he could have made me a willing slave, so why this, why fill my head with fantastical places and stories. Why teach me to think for myself?
Kael stopped pacing, Iyrie wasn't the problem here, the problem was Kael had spent all his free time preparing for this and it was time now and he was not ready.
'Not even close to ready, I don't know how to get ready. All that time spent asking questions and I never thought to ask what I would need'
Nervous energy and fear, fear of the unknown.
'No man could ever hope to pierce the secrets hidden behind the Despair'
The thought had him grinning from ear to ear, he, Kael, was leaving this crappy building, more than that he, Kael, was going beyond the town wall and into the Despair. Nervous energy, fear and excitement.
'I want this, more than I have ever wanted anything. My thoughts are a mess, best to put it down on paper'
He forced himself to sit down again and continued working on his list with great zest. Something for the cold? Definitely, sleeping outside walls was bound to be chilly, what though? a blanket or a woolen jacket? Both then. He'd find out for himself which he preferred when he finally got there. Hurriedly he penned down the words, as if his haste could make it happen sooner. Now what...?
His eyes wandered his room for the upteenth time, searching for anything he might need. The room was rather large and ecessively furnished in Kaels opinion. He didn't need such a large bed, the dining table was big enough to seat five -four too many- and the living room furniture set would see no pratical use, not when he was never going to entertain any guests. No, all they did was impress on him how alone he really was. His gaze raked the proud bookshelf, it carried his tomes, texts and several little curiosities Iyrie had brought him from everywhere. The act was a futile attempt to distract himself, he stared at every single one of them half expecting them each to have taken a new shine but they seemed like everything else to be their mundane selves, oblivious to the change that had just rearranged Kael's world. He forced himself to keep looking. He began to search his bed, the obtrusive thing was a mess. He had strewn clothes and knickknacks across it earlier on, in a half assed attempt to make deciding on what to take easier. He would have arranged the items in an orderly manner but as he was now, he couldn't bring himself to do it right. Too much excitement to concentrate on the task. Finally he spotted a small pocket knife, partially hidden by this or that, the small thing was no weapon, not against the manner of creatures that he would have to be wary of, still he could see the practicalities in bringing it along. Again he searched the room, only this time, minutes passed without a single addition to the list. This wasn't working, he needed something to do, something calming or exhausting even but not this. Kael pinned the sheet beneath a random book and rose to his feet.
The complex was designed much like a rectangle, with a chain of multi storied rooms making up the rectangle's edges and a large field of well cut grass in its midst. The various members of the guild came here to use weights, spar, develop their martial forms or perform just about any other physical activity. This is where Kael came to run, where he run as if he was running away from all of it.
He took off his shirt and exposed his broad dark skinned chest, his body was well muscled from frequent excersises. He was proud of it, which was funny because he was surrounded by men who could leap buildings and yet his own meager strength filled him with bubbles of pride. It was the product of mainy long tiring sessions and it wasn't even dificult to pretend it was as much by his effort as his father's and so yes he was quite proud.
A forceful push, almost angry, had him racing down the track, he thrust with all his might behind each step. No warm ups, nothing to get his body ready for exertion, he needed this. He needed the deep even breaths. He needed the thundering of his heart and feet. He needed the world narrowed down, no distractions, to just let all of it past him and focus on the exertion, on the burn.
Minutes passed and what was originally an all out sprint had slowed to a steadier more relaxed run. Kael's body was slick with sweat, his pants drenched and his muscles protestant, he had achieved his goal. The restless energy was gone, burnt. His muscles groaned and he welcomed the pain. He could end the run now and after a relaxing bath, tackle the preparations again.
'This will ache tommorow' he smirked.
A girl was waiting for him with a towel and a bottle of water in hand when he was finally done. She was attractive; rather short, with large brown eyes, full lips, a button nose and a round face. The combination resulted in a cute and youthful appearance. Her body however seemed determined to contradict the innocence her face presented with soft luring curves that were all the more pronounced by her short stature. He took in her appearance as he approached, watching for signs of nervousness. He knew why she was here, he would have to be blind, deaf and stupid not to, and even then he would have had his suspicions. He was the boss's only child, young, not a heavy drinker or much of a drinker for that matter, single and to crown it all there was talk that the strange black lines on his right breast were a GodMark. So what if he was kind of weird and probably didn't like women? All that could change, right?
Even so this one was staring at him too intently, she no longer met his own gaze with the confidence of a proud seductress. Rather she seemed transfixed by his bare chest, although it was broad and well defined it was hardly so entrancing as to enamore a woman who so obviously knew her way around men. Kael felt his stomach sink, the only thing about him that could garner a reaction like this were the abyss black markings on his right breast. For the most part the mark looked to be the doodling of an erratic toddler rather than the handiwork of a God, if one ignored the unnatural deepness of their black. However every once in a while the marks would move, thats right move, be it writhing, convulsing, wiggling or spiralling. This was what she saw now, Kael stifled the urge to groan when he looked down at his chest and confirmed it. One half of the mess of wiggly lines on his chest were earnestly attempting to unknot itself whilst the other half remained still. Now that he was aware of it's movement he could feel each strand twisting to free itself and he could feel how somehow against all reason each action only managed to get the strands more intertwined than before. Kael searched the womans face for a reaction and watched as it shifted from revulsion, to fear and then finally to awe. The mark stilled and she met his eyes moments after, she had taken on an expression that bewildered Kael in how it appeared equal parts innocent and alluring.
'The sorcery of an accomplished temptress, no doubt' he quipped but his heart continued its erratic beating.
With her baffling expression still in place, she sauntered over to Kael. Who absent mindedly took the bottle from her and downed it's contents. He stared up at the sky, lost in his thoughts. It has moved twice now today alone. Whatever's happening is happening soon.
The mark, in a lot of ways it had all began from the mark. It was the most note worthy thing about his birth. Overshadowing his gender, colour, resounding health and even Kael suspected the death of his mother. It was his identity, it coloured every interaction he had ever had, with anyone aware of it more strongly than any action he performed. He could blame for his father's loathing for him on it. Hell, the things it's existence had caused led people who did not know for certain what it was to act differently than they otherwise might have. It was the basis of his own hopes and aspirations and therefore pivotal to every action taken to make them realities.
To understand how a marking that usually appeared to be a freshly done tattoo inked by a distracted three year old could be such a great influence, you first have to understand what it truly was.
Millennia ago man's continuous acts of heresy managed to incur the wrath of the greatest of the pantheon, the silent screamer, she who was before there was, the Void. A being so feared that no known race dared name her, only referring to her by her titles or element. It is said that she was so incensed by mankinds atrocities that she did what she had only done once before at the birth of time and existence, she spewed forth from her endless womb a new force. You see prehistoric man apparently prided itself in some system of obtaining infallible knowledge through stringent obsevation and experimentation of recurrent natural phenomena, whatever that meant, and so she broke it. The new force later dubbed Despair was found to be not only largely undetectable by conventional methods but unpredictable and wimsical. The only thing one could reasonably expect was that given enough time and exposure to the pseudo force any object in contact with it would change, and not even that could be taken for granted. As if that was not enough the effect of Despair on non human flora and fauna was generally positive whilst its effects on man however were physically beneficial, mentally degrading and aesthetically unappealing on the whole. Luckily for mankind The Void in her cruelty left safe zones free of said force so that mankind could survive, extending its suffering. So the rest of existence continued to flourish in this new era, some beings goinging so far as to develop man's touted sentience whilst mankind regressed, continuously beset with brief never seen before plagues. Eventually man was broken an all but extinct species and The Void finally relented in her anger, the Despair would no longer seek to destroy man, rather they would be immune to it for the most part. Still the harm was done man would never return to its former glory should it survive at all. Surrounded by rapidly evolving lifeforms man could only wait for its quiet demise. Historians and theologians disagree on various parts of the account but no where so strongly as here. For some reason whether nebulous or benign a God, who might have been the deity of War, Chaos, Time and Order, Nature and Coexistence or Fire gifted a man with a mark. He or she would be the first deviant, the first to not only positively benefit from Despair but bear children who too might, only they would face the risk of negative shifts. For equally contested reasons the act caught on, until man was the only known being to have the potential to deviate under any of the pantheon. Still compared to the other species man's odds were slim with only small percentage of deviants and so the once proud rulers of worlds set out to survive in an ever changing world.
"Is there another way in which could I help you?" Not so subtle there.
Kael set aside his musings, right now he needed to get rid of his new groupie.
"I'll need a bath prepared" he answered dismissively. The sooner she got around to resenting the better.
For a moment it seemed like she was going to reply, maybe even refuse but then she gave him a quick nod and hurriedly set off.
Kael had to speak to his father now. Gods know he didn't want to but he had to. His mark had finally deigned to move again and that had complications. His dark thoughts reminded him of years back when his mark had stopped its constant dance for the first time. A young Kael had taken this to be a sign, which it was, just not of the things he had first supposed. Kael had thought it meant he would finally deviate, reality was almost the opposite. Nothing happened, after a half hour or so of complete stillness it resumed it usual activities as if nothing had happened. It stopped four more times before it finally went dead. This caused quite a bit of furor, so much so that his father payed for the services of a priest of AelleA, goddess of Time and Order, transportation costs and all for the sole purpose of inspecting Kael or rather his Mark. For then unknown reasons the Mark 'happened' to be quite active on that day. It was infact only for this reason that the priest managed to spot the Mark for what it was, the Mark of the deity of Chaos, a deity who had no human name because it had no human following. Which was as far as being a GodMark was concerned shit luck. Why? Whilst every other Marked deviant was all but assured a positive deviation with negligible down sides, not so for Chaos deviants. First there was the big problem of when Chaos Marked people would deviate, for most GodMarked it was simply the matter of significant exposure to Despair... well not so simple. A few Gods were known to have conditions recquired but nothing quite as elusive as the trick to deviating Chaos GodMarked if there even was one. In fact there were stories of Chaos deviants who had deviated on their death beds only to die regardless days later. This aside there was the problem of the unpredictable nature of Chaos deviations, normally deviations tended to repeat themselves with multiple people possesing the same abilities, Chaos however did not follow this pattern in even the barest sense with it's deviants realising random and ocassionally utterly useless abilities.Those who graced with stints of sheer luck managed to get pass all these bariers run into the final problem, chaos deviants had a tendency to either go insane or develop warped bodies over time. For anyone who knew what it entailed, Chaos was the one element to avoid.
For obvious reasons Kael's father was not happy to hear this. He had spent a small fortune preparing Kael to be his ace and now he found out it was all up to chance. It broke Kael's heart, the dissapointment, the rage and finally the rejection. All his life he been told he was special but in a moment it was all gone. A couple of years after his father would try to prepare him for what had once been his destiny but it would never be as it was.
The weight of a hand on his shoulder broke Kael from his thoughts, Kozen. He gave the man an absent minded pat on the hand and continued unabated. The large man laughed, amused few dared to show him such disregard.
"We have a problem, don't we?" His father asked irritation writ on his face.
"Maybe" Kael shrugged "It's my mark, its been moving"
His father scowled for a moment before asking.
"You are certain it has nothing to do with the garden watch"
"I think so, if what I am interpreting is correct whatever it is, is going to happen today"
His father cursed under his breath. The very Gods were conspiring against him. He was tired and bruised. Twenty three days, twenty three cursed filled days he had trailed the nightreaver, waiting for a chance before he killed the blighted thing. He lost four men, one to the nightreaver itself and the other three to the horrors the woods but it had to be done the shadow beast had developed a taste for the blood of men and now was not the time for those kind of losses. Now two days after the utter waste of a doomsayer was here telling him something was about to happen. He couldn't even rely that the event would have anything to do with his men, it could concern Kael alone but lady luck had never taken a liking to him and so it would not. So close, that he could taste it but of course something had come up.
He tapped his fingers against the desk in certain rhythm and the ever vigilant Kozen walked in.
"Tell the men to double the watch, get the useless louts out of the bar and get me Elvyah, no wait hold off on getting Elvyah just yet"
A nod and the man was out of the room, he would see that it was done. The efficiency, strengthened Carl the way hash would have strengthened another man.
They didn't have to wait long, the patrols had found something. Kozen had returned, with Elvyah in tow and the last man Carl expected to see here. Covered in blood and innards was Dreil, known by some as Last Silver, a deviant, capable, deadly one at that, responsible for team 5. One of the two teams currently on garden watch, that he was here meant something had happened during the watch. The man looked like he had ran from the garden to the complex, probably the case from the way he was panting.
"We haven't got all day" Carl prompted, anxiety plain on his face.
"The Staves assualted us, they came at us with what have been the full force of their might and crushed us. We had no chance"
Impossible, if they made a move like that they would effectively have left their base ungaurded. It would be childs play to destroy the thing and leave them without reasonable fortification then pick them of one by one in the coming days, hells the Tenlight family wouldn't hesitate to join in at that point. It was too stupid a move, there had to be more to this. Unless they agreed to take the initiative and attack us in exchange for the family's support.
"Where there any new deviants you were not previously aware of amongst them or from the Tenlight family"
"No" the man shook his head "nothing like that"
This made no sense. Why had his plants amongst the Blood Staves all failed to inform his forces about such a move.
"Kozen get some men over to both the Blood Staves base and the family, we need eyes"
The large man nodded once and rushed out. A story had began to take shape in Carl's mind, the Tenlight family definitely had the power to out the majority if not all the spies he had amongst the Staves, if given enough time to prepare. They truly where the greatest power in the shitty town of Tenlight. It would mean whatever this was had been in the working for at least six months just inorder to figure out who his plants were. The caught spies had been killed swiftly and the remainder had either been intelligent enough to do nothing or stupid enough to get caught trying something, either way he was beat. If so then all this time the Tenlight family had been playing him for a fool. Striking up talks with him with the lure of an alliance to keep him from sniffing out the greater scheme. For so long the three forces, his own Demolishers guild, the Blood Staves gang and the Tenlight family had found themselves in an unstable power balance. One threatening to slip at any moment but today it would slip however this went. If the Tenlight family and the Staves were really working together he had no hopes of winning. Somehow the family convinced the Staves to trust them. The attack on the garden was only a start, they would strike together whilst the iron was hot. The minutes trickled by in uneasy silence, he yearned to see for himself what in the hells was happening but he couldn't leave the room to gather information himself. The moment he left the room he would be surrounded by men looking for answers, answers he didn't have.
The door burst open, and a subordinate of his came rushing in.
"We have spotted the Staves boss, they are moving in to try assaulting us!"
"Their forces, are the Tenlight family's men with them?"
"No boss man, just the shit Staves and some conscripts. They seem a fair bit larger than their usual numbers but its too little to be help from the Tenlight's"
Kozen chose this moment to return and wasting no time he explained.
"The Tenlight's have set the base of Stave's on fire after looting the place"
A ruse? Why bother? Old fashioned betrayal? Why now? He just couldn't peice it together, there were too many missing pieces.
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