The Ranger of Severum – Episode 11

As they docked, Trillian immediately noticed the warm hues of various colored wood.  The buildings were designed in a pattern of wood and stone Trillian had never seen before.  The scent of wood surrounded them in a pleasing way the ranger found comforting, but something else had caught his attention.  In the sky there were several contraptions floating about in the air.  Remembering Yulissa’s warning to not stare, he tried to divert his eyes from the phenomenal sight, certainly noting to ask the woman about it later.

Yulissa directed them through the winding docks and into the city.

The people wore strange clothing Trillian was unfamiliar with.  There were laces on every piece of outer clothing.  The women wearing constricting contraptions that laced over top of their ruffles, and the men wearing lacing vests and various hats.  Even their shoes laced, which was not uncommon for some boots, but all shoes?

A few of the passers-by wore strange goggles, and every last motorized contraption had a series of metallic spokes all working in unison, causing them to move.

Such miraculous and odd things Trillian had never seen before, and he tried exceptionally hard to keep from staring as they passed one after the other.

His black outfit seemed to blend in, though he was without laces and vests.  Yulissa had changed into one of these strange outfits the other women were wearing, though Trillian hadn’t noticed until now.  Her skirt was shortened in the front, and dipped to the ground in the back, fluffed in ruffles.

“Fluffed seems an appropriate word.” Trillian thought to himself as they rounded a street corner and walked into a building.  The glass doors were also new and strange to Trillian, being able to see into most of the buildings through large storefront windows, and their similarly designed glass doors, all framed in wood.

“Hello!”  Yulissa called out, walking to the front desk.

“Just a moment,” a muffled cry came from somewhere behind the curtain spanning the doorway behind the counter.

Trillian wondered if this were a good moment to speak, and looked to Yulissa.  “Where are we?”

The woman held her hand up, shaking her head briefly.

A comical sort of man emerged from the back, his vest in brightly colored patches, while his unkempt white hair splayed about his shoulders, circling round his balded head.  He had a pair of strange large goggles on his head, with smaller circles of glass stacked on one another on one side.

“Yulissa, my dear,” he exclaimed.  “I wasn’t expecting to see you for another two weeks, what brings you back so early?”

“I could use some funds for these, Maxus.”  Yulissa pulled out her velvet bag of treasures, dumping the contents gently on the countertop.  Pieces she hadn’t been able to sell in Severum knowing she’d get a better price somewhere else.  “I haven’t much time, what are these worth?”

The shopkeeper picked them up one at a time, gemstones in various shades and sizes, pendants on golden chains, and a chain of pearls and gold.

Trillian didn’t see any reason to watch as she sold them and began wandering through the shop.  He was fascinated by the amazing things surrounding them.  Various decorative pieces, candelabras and smaller candle stick holders, unique sculptures crafted from metal and those strange spoked circles, what seemed houses for birds with numbers on small circular faces and tiny arrows that pointed to the numbers, hung staggered along a wall behind a counter.  More wooden and glass boxes containing the same circle and number pattern sat on the glass counter top, with even more various styles of them down inside the glass counter.

He’d never seen so many knick-knacks and decorations all in one place.  He knew smiths who could create such pieces, and Severum had oil lamps, but nothing quite like the lamps he saw here.  They had a glowing orb inside of them that seemed to shine by itself.

A few moments later, Yulissa was ready to leave and they were back out into the busy street.  Trillian had also never seen so many people moving about, the people of the city appeared to be free, untouched by darkness.  Trillian wondered what that kind of a life must be like, never worrying for your life or if the dark overlord was going to summon you to punish you for some deed or other.

“When we get to the next place, you can ask all the questions you like, thank you for being so patient.  You’re both doing quite well, I’m impressed, though worry what life at the Severum must have prepared you for.”  Yulissa turned briefly to Trillian, still guiding them on their way.

His lips drew to the side in a brief smile, “It doesn’t differ beyond what you have already seen, in your short visit, I assure you.  However, once in a while Lord Sideon hosts a public execution.”

A sullen shadow visibly passed the woman’s face.  With a gentle, sympathetic smile, “We’re not far. ”  Yulissa continued walking with more purpose to her step.

Trillian knew the concept had made her uncomfortable, himself beginning to wonder what kind of a life this woman must lead to be unaccustomed to the darkness.

 

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The Ranger Of Severum: Episode 3

Mulling over his explanation, Trillian watched the woman busy herself around their makeshift campground. Having disappeared into the forest a few times, the woman returned with a traveling pack, an arm load of wood, and a change of clothing.

As she stood over the pile of kindling, Trillian watched her breathe gently into her hands. They burned orange for a moment, then a tongue of fire danced out onto the top layer of dead leaves, catching the wood with a pop. His eyes caught the fading orange glow of an object slide into her pocket as she stood. With an alluring grace, enhanced by the firelight, she bent to pull a few things from her pack, and then sat next to the fire.

The smooth luster of a bowl glinted in the firelight when she set it down on a wire rack over the flames.

Trillian’s curiosity was heightened. “What is your name?” he asked.

The maiden’s lips formed into a gentle smile. Dipping pieces of cloth into the bowl, she glanced at him briefly “Yulissa. I was on my way to the Severum when the druids attacked.”

The Ranger inhaled sharply, wincing against the pain in his body. The weight of the splintered wing began causing his shoulders and back to drag toward the ground. Adjusting to accommodate proved more challenging than he’d thought.

In a steady rhythm of haste, she picked up the bowl and came to his side.

“What are you doing?” he grimaced, startled by the scent of the herbs in the pan she laid beside him.

“I am going to bandage your wounds and help with your wing.” She replied with a smirk, “What do you think I was doing with that bowl?”

Trillian pulled back, raising his hands in defense, “Thank you, but no, I will be fine, you mustn’t worry about me.”

Yulissa quietly but firmly insisted, “You need help, please allow me to repay you for rescuing me.”

Trillian attempted to remain calm and hold still as the woman set to work on his wounds. Her touch was gentle and compassionate. Under any other circumstance, he might admit that he rather liked the feeling of her hands on him.

“What were you possibly thinking, traveling alone at night?” the question burning in his mind, finally tumbled out of his mouth.

Her movement against his back slowed, “I was on my way to the Severum.”

Alone, and in the dark?” it wasn’t condescending, but the edge clearly conveyed his disbelief.

Silence. Her hands quickened again, and he felt a bit of a tug as she began pulling the bandages tighter. Obviously, he had struck a chord with her.

Really though, he thought to himself, what woman in her right mind travels alone at night? Surely she knew the druids would be out.

“You are a half-breed?” The question referred to his wings.

It was his turn to avoid answering. Instead he cried out -though she had done nothing that hurt him. At least her attention was diverted for the moment.

Her hands were much lighter than before as she apologized, “I am sorry.”

“Just be careful.” Adding extra breath to his sentence wasn’t very difficult, it felt as though his wing were ripping from his body. It took everything in him to stay alert while he was tended. Talking seemed to help, he decided, “I suppose you aren’t afraid of me, after you watched what I am capable of?”

A burst of laughter answered for Yulissa, “If you could see your wing.”

Unamused, Trillian waited until the cynical reminder that he was defenseless stilled.

Once she was able to contain her laughter, Yulissa continued, “By your appearance, you are obviously of the Severum, and you did rescue me from the druids.” She was finished now, the bowl clinked behind him, and he heard her getting up, “since you are friend, and injured on my account, it would be cruel of me to leave you behind.”

She set herself up across the fire from him. Her outward appearance reflected no fear — his wing must really look bad. It felt bad, that much was certain. Hopefully, the night wouldn’t tarry, and he could get it properly bandaged when he made it back to the Severum.

Dread suddenly washed over Trillian as he thought about having to explain the situation to Sideon. The Master was not going to be happy about this.

Thunder rumbled off in the distance.

Perfect. That’s all I need. The ranger shifted a bit, sighing with disgust.

He could see Yulissa’s eyes glinting, as they moved back and forth. She was staring at the sky, probably monitoring the clouds above them.

“Do you want me to set you up a tent?” She asked.

Trillian shook his head, “Just one more thing to worry about in the morning. I’ve weathered worse, we will be fine.” He met her gaze, “Thank you.”

With a gentle smile, Yulissa laid her head down on her arms, “Of course.”

Maybe it was the fire light, but Trillian thought for a moment that she appeared a bit sullen. Her eyes watched the tongues of flame dance in the wind, which was becoming increasingly stronger.

The sky rumbled again, this time a bit closer.

Trillian grimaced, dipping his head and crossing his arms as best he could against the strain in his shoulder. As the first drops of rain started to sputter in the fire, the ranger wondered why he had ever agreed to go out on the skirmish in the first place.

The Ranger Of Severum: Episode 2

Muffled pleas led Trillian directly to them. He crouched low behind the bushes and forest overgrowth to examine the situation.

The woman was fighting against the druid in vain, her kicks and shoves were obviously doing nothing but wearing her out as the druid seemed to be trying to remove her clothing.

The ranger slid his hands into the pocket of his cloak, pulling out a small knife. He ran his finger across the blade, making a small slit in his thick gloves. Satisfied, he rubbed a cloth filled with poison across the blade and then ran into the meadow. With great stealth he threw the blade. Having the element of surprise against the unsuspecting druid, it embedded perfectly in the druid’s side.

The foul creature cried out and turned as Trillian approached, pulling out his short blade and knife.

Shoving the woman aside, the druid stood to his feet and held up his hand, in an attempt to ward off his attacker.

Trillian spun quickly out of the way, and lunged at the druid with his knives. The first one caught him in the leg, but the second missed as the druid unsheathed his sword and caught the blade against his own in a clash of red sparks.

Angry, the druid spun around the ranger, letting out a blast of energy wrapped in red wind. Trillian easily dodged the gust, angering the druid. The adversary spat and jabbed his sword in a deadly thrust. Weakened from the poisons, the lunge made the druid stagger. Switching his choice of weapons, he held up his hands sending a radiant glow wrapped in a show of white light toward Trillian.

The ranger jumped out of the way as it flew at him. Dropping his knives, he took out a pre-dipped arrow, strung it on his bow, and let the arrow fly.

It landed in the druid’s side. He began to sway as the poison quickly attacked his system. The earlier injection of poison had rendered his central nervous system nearly inoperative, needing only a simple brush with the liquid kiss of death to bring his demise.

Trillian was quick to prepare another arrow, this one finding its mark in the druid’s chest.

The dark knight smiled, “I am sorry for you to meet your doom this way, human. If you knew what kind of power I have amid a state of weakness, you might have withdrawn your attempt to kill me slowly.”

Trillian did not speak as he watched. This will be fun, he mused to himself.

As the druid raised himself back up, his eyes flashed bright red. A tree uprooted next to Trillian.

The ranger watched in amusement, as the tree hurled itself at him. Moments before it neared, Trillian threw a large rock at it, causing it to shatter.

The druid looked surprised, if only for a moment.

The ranger laughed, his own secret emerging as black and red wings extended from his back. He flew up into the air, above his opponent.

Rising to the occasion, the druid also sprouted wings, following the ranger into the sky.

Trillian spun quickly out of the path of another burst of red energy. With arms extended, toes pointed downward, and his chin up, he rose into the air. Waves of white encircled about him, sending tendrils of light in every direction.

One of the curling flashes of light struck the druid’s chest. The druid held on feebly, through Trillian’s sudden show of magical abilities, as he felt the last of his energy drain from his body. In one last attempt, he shot a disabling bolt of light at Trillian. It caught the young man off guard, breaking one of the rangers wings.

Trillian faltered slightly, as he watched the last strand of life in the druid break and fall away. The creature descended heavily from the sky with a thud.

Trillian glided down to the ground again, giving careful protection to his broken wing.

While fighting to regain his breath, he turned to the woman, who was watching fearfully, waiting for what might happen next.

Trillian unlatched his cloak and handed it to her, hoping to further be of protection and comfort to her.

Her silver eyes questioned his as she accepted his gracious offer.

The woman was concerned for her rescuer. Having wrapped the cloak about her, she slowly approached her savior, “You are hurt.” she stated.

Trillian shook his head, “I am fine. I regain strength quickly.”

He could not hold himself up, though, as he fell to his knees, his injured wing hanging limply down his back.

The woman watched silently as the ranger sought to collect his strength.

“I will be fine in a moment. All I need is to rest.”

The woman furrowed her brow, “Can I do anything for you?”

Trillian shook his head slowly. Sighing deeply, he tried to steady his breathing. He knew that he could not hide his wings away with the one broken, he needed to return to Severum quickly. Lifting himself, he attempted a standing position to no avail, dropping once again to his knees. Feeling defeat, which was a poisonous state of mind to a Ranger, Trillian stayed where he was on the ground.

Seeing the young man was in serious need of attention, the woman helped to prop him against the splintered tree that now rested in the middle of the clearing. With him a bit more comfortable, she gave him a bit of a comforting smile, “I’ll be right back.” And with that, she disappeared into the forest.

The Ranger Of Severum: Episode 1

Cloaked in darkness, the ranger moved swiftly through the night. The scent of blood lingered in every inhale of cold air, it sent thrilling chills up his spine.

Trillian hopped swiftly onto a boulder for a better view of the battle grounds of Taar. His dark violet eyes scanned the moon washed fields for any sign of life, but all he saw were the carcasses of the trolls of Ganth, which had been left to rot in the open plain. The ranger had been sent back to find what his students had missed in the earlier scrimmage. Unfortunately, their training had turned into a real battle and the young rangers had fled in fear, leaving the experienced trainers and swordsmen to fight off the advancing horde of beasts.

Trillian searched the surrounding forest, but found no sign of life anywhere. He sighed heavily, it had been quite a day and a final kill would ease the tension.

After an hour, Trillian gave up. Nothing was out in the night. Not even the old white owl who haunted the battle grounds of Taar with his banshee-like wail.

“You know,” Trillian said thinking aloud, “if I had been harder on my students, they might have learned to fear me as they do Sideon.” He pushed his dark hood off of his head, letting his hair flow down over his shoulders. His long hair was jet black, naturally streaked with deep red highlights. He ran a gloved hand over his narrow face, massaging his high cheekbones, then rubbing his inset eyes. “Yes, were I as strict as our Master.” He laughed at himself.

Suddenly, a cry of distress in the most melodic voice he had ever heard broke the silence. Instinctively, he ran toward the screams. Drawing his hood low upon his face and replacing his black leather gloves, Trillian slid silently into the clearing from which the screams were coming.

To his horror, the young woman crying out for help, was surrounded by three of the druid knights from Câr. A small hunting knife glinted in her hand, paling in comparison to the broadswords the druids pointed in her direction.

Trillian strung an arrow on his bow, then hesitated, intrigued to see how the situation might turn out.

The woman threw her dagger at one of the knights, which missed its target and stuck fast in a tree just beyond him.

Seeing she was now miserably weaponless, Trillian intervened, bringing down one of the knights with his skillful aim. The other of the two turned, taken off guard as another arrow hissed through the air.

One of the knights grabbed the woman and carried her off into the trees as the other stood guard, carefully avoiding the volley of arrows rhythmically flowing in his direction.

Once the knight and woman were safely hidden in the forest, the druid hissed sharply, “Show yourself! You who dare to take away our prey, did you not see us here first?” Each “s” was spoken in snake like breaths of air through the knight’s teeth, which clashed brightly against his black lips and glowing green eyes.

Trillian knew better than to speak. These demons only needed to hear a voice to kill an enemy.

He moved swiftly out of the line of fire, lest the druid decide to throw some form of magic in the direction from which the arrows had been raining.

“You are a smart one, I will give you that. I sense your presence, but your silence disavowals my ability to summon power against you.” Raising his hand, the druid sent a ring of blue fire in the direction from which the arrows had come.

Trillian heard the mock sound of laughter in the voice of his adversary, as he stole silently around the druid.

The druid hissed, “I feel your breath, so I know you are still here. Why don’t you fight like a man and show yourself?”

Trillian dodged a radius attack of purple smoke as he slid around a tree. He tipped an arrow in the vial of poison he carried with him, strung his bow, and spoke softly to the arrow, bidding it fly quietly and quickly. He aimed for the druid’s heart, letting loose the arrow. It landed perfectly embedded in its target.

The druid cried out as he removed the arrow, grunting angrily as he realized the poison had already released into his body. “That is not fair. What did I do to you?”

Trillian tipped another arrow, as he ran stealthily to another location.

A burst of flame disintegrated the tree Trillian had been hiding behind.

The druid was losing strength. He whirled about, “Where are you?” sending another radiant plume of smoke into the forest.

Trillian held his breath and hid behind the tree to escape the toxic fumes.

This time the druid walked in and out of the trees, shadowing them with an inky black liquid.

Trillian recognized the fluid as Leuth, a cruel poison that melted any form of flesh, fur, or fabric that touched it. He strung his second arrow, and it hissed quietly into the back of the druid, siding into his heart.

The druid gave a blood curling cry as he shrunk to the ground.

The ranger waited for a few moments before coming out to examine his kill, satisfied that the druid was indeed dead, Trillian kicked the body harshly. “May the fires of Hell be comfort to your damned soul.”

He hurried with swift soundless steps into the forest to find the last druid, and the woman brazen enough, it seemed, to have traveled at night by herself.