Friday, April 4, 2014

The second story I'll post utilizes an idea even older than Watcher's, an idea so small it was pretty much two sentences. It was so small I'm not even going to explain it. But, I was going through my notes and decided I could develop it pretty well into a one-shot story, so I sat down and wrote for about an hour and a half and this is what I ended up with. And yes, I realize this post will be higher up on the blog than the first and so it doesn't make much sense to call it the "second story", but I don't know what to do about that other than do the posts backwards, which makes even less sense to me.

Anyway, without further ado, this is:

The War Of Brothers

Itzal Walker sat on his knees, arms held out to the sides as shadows twined themselves around and around his supple form. He did not flinch or shiver as the shade attached to both itself and him, slowly, laboriously forged and spun by his assistants. The two demi-lords, Ascobal and Ascoran, ran their hands up his bare arms and the dark followed, until he was weighted down by the gloom that had collected into spikes and plates that were harder than even steel forged in will-fire and quenched in vampire blood. The making of his ceremonious armor was an honor, although it was one all his own. By the end of the next night, the twins would almost certainly be dead, their blood seeped from their bodies, and their work undone by their passing.

They stood by his flanks, and his army by them. The moon hung high in the dusk, directly overhead and a little in front, as if it were the line between him and his foes. Across this imaginary, soon to be broken, line, these enemies stood as if he were looking in a mirror. At their head, one that he recognized all too well. He thought to call out, the familial bond strong within his heart, but decided they would meet sooner than he wanted already. He sighed as the moon itself seemed to swell, ticking and throbbing with the beat that would soon reach a crescendo and call the war to open. Then the night's calm, something he wished could last forever, was broken by a battlecry, then shattered further by an answer from his own side. And then the night itself was lost in battle.

Itzal stood stalwart against the backdrop of death and anger. All around, blood spurted already cold from vampire veins and entrails and limbs dropped into the dark red muck being created and threshed by combatants intent on killing. He did not mind the scene, as it was one he had already been witness to a hundred times in his immortality.

A warrior, foolish, perhaps half blinded by the blood streaming into his eyes, tried to attack him, sword raised as if it could break the sky open and call cool, cleansing rain down to quench their flaming wills. But Ascoran ran him through without a second thought. He kicked the twitching corpse back into the fray and regained his position at Itzal's side. The three knew it would not be long. Already pillars of light were seeing their genesis inside the battle, spawning like footsteps, no, as footsteps as their maker made his way to them.

He appeared through a clump of vampires. All of the fighters, regardless of their allegiance, were reduced to ash immediately by the light that shone from the ground his heels graced. An even brighter light covered his torso and arms, so radiant that the twins had to cover their eyes, their pride dashed away by his power. Itzal had no such problems however, his eyes wide open despite the glare. His brother called to him.

“Hallo, Itsie.” The voice carried above the clash of swords and pitch of screams.

“Lucasta.” Itzal's own voice rang confident.

“I see you wear Azrael's armor.”

“And you Saint Sailucian's. I cannot help but recall that it was absent during our last encounter. Is it possible that you fear me more today than you did a thousand years ago?”

“Pish posh, Itzal. You are a weakling, just as you were forever ago. A thousand years does not change anything.”

“We will see, brother.” Itzal took half a dozen slow steps, the twins following him. Where his bare feet touched, shadows arched from the ground, writhing as though they were a hundred tiny arms waving for want of something. The feetprints grew, expanding and swimming with ever more shade until they were like a moat, disconnecting the four of them from the war and world. The gloom stretched into the sky until nothing could be seen beyond.

“They are no more complete than they were last we met. I can still see straight through your obfuscation. The shadows are nothing more than a veil to hide what should be seen. Light is stronger. I am stronger.” Lucasta droned.

“You are not better than me. The light is nothing but a lie. You pretend to give the people safety, but you will always disappear, leaving them scared and helpless as they try to adjust. At least while shadows are eternal, the people are not in fear of the light being taken from them. They will see what they can and want more, but they will not be in danger of losing sight.”

“Your view is flawed.”

“As is yours. Neither of us can be correct.” Itzal replied. Then he asked the question that had been on his mind. “Is Ixchel not with you? She has always taken your side, but I do not see her now.”

“Our sister is dead, Itzal. I killed her.” Lucasta said without emotion.

“Oh sister.” Itzal shook his head, letting free the tears he had been withholding. “Why, brother? Why would you break the triad, leave us as two?”

Now Lucasta couldn't keep his face impassive. Anger began to shine through his handsome features. “She dared to see your side. Her, the Rainbow, impossible without me, the Light. And yet she dared to try to see something other than what I saw. So I killed her. Now there are only two, two of the originals. And soon there will be only one.”

The brother of light stepped forward and light shone as he stepped. A beam stabbed into the veil around them, tearing into it, sending droplets flying like blood from a ragged wound. The dark sizzled and crackled, its pain echoing into Itzal and finding even more pain inside him. The wall held.

“Brother, my only brother, my only family left in this world.” Itzal said, his voice tight with his own agony and that of his living shadow. “Why do you do this? Why do you hate all those around you?”

“It is the nature of light to burn those who come close to its source. You were all doomed from the start. You especially, my opposite brother. How could fate see fit to give me a brother whom I will be constantly at war with?”

“Fate will do what she does, but if you do not fight her decisions then how can you complain about them?”

“You are correct, Itzal.” Lucasta admitted. “But I have come too far to fight her now. You will die.”

And he leapt to the attack.

Itzal sank to his knees, chest bursting in want of breath. Hours had passed. Outside his constructed veil, the war had ended. There were no survivors, nothing to move among the graveyard of scattered corpses and torn flesh.

Sweat dripped from his brow and cool blood slipped from the hole in his side. The twins had died already, their forms reduced to nothing but shreds and the magic they had woven into his armor torn apart alongside them. His wound had come as a result. He did not mourn their passing. They had served their purpose and would see themselves rewarded in the afterlife.

Lucasta stood, unhurried. His own life seeped from half a dozen scratches and scrapes where Itzal's power had managed to pierce his armor. But it would not be enough to kill him.

“You fought hard, Itsie. But I told you you were weak and I was right. To trust someone else with the construction of your armor was foolish.” He stepped lively but painfully, limping from a blow to his ankle. The light that followed his steps shone dimmer than before, but still bright, still more full than the shadows that danced by Itzal's toes, which were now the color and gleam of denim, their luster faded.

Several beams lanced from the pools of light, stabbing into Itzal, drawing a scream from his lips and a sizzle from his burning flesh. Lucasta Walker knelt by his brother, gripping him by the chin as blood dribbled down his face, flowing from where Itzal had nicked himself with his fangs as he wailed.

“I tire of games.” Lucasta snapped his fingers and the smell of burning meat renewed itself, the light intensifying.

“This whole battle has been nothing but a game, brother.” Itzal panted. “My decision to allow my assistants the creation of my armor was nothing but a gamble, my risky playing of a piece that will draw out your king. You should not have gotten so close to me, Lucasta.”

“What did you say?” His brother's grip turned to steel, his sharp fingernails digging into Itzal's cheeks and drawing blood. He thrust his other hand to the side with a sort of finality. The beams of light embedded in Itzal's shoulders swept upward, breaking flesh and bone. Gristle and bits of burned meat flew into the air amidst flutters and ribbons of blood as his arms fell to the ground, severed. Itzal Walker screamed anew as agony overcame him.

But it was too late. The larger agony came from within himself, as the darkness that pervaded his body, nestled between his organs and encased in his skin, writhed and twisted. His flesh bubbled as the shade tried to escape, bouncing off of living walls and feeding off of him. Lucasta reared back, disgust and fear plastered upon his face. With a final scream from Itzal joined by one from his brother, the darkness escaped, blowing him apart and raining pieces of him down before picking the pieces up and carrying them among the flood.

It seemed there was no end to the rain of shadows. It bounced against the veil and rocked back and forth, carrying Lucasta until he melted into it, becoming part of the shade. Finally, as the veil followed its maker's path and twisted apart, whisped away, the roiling dark was released onto the broken battlefield and seeped into the ground, drenching bodies before slipping away, leaving nothing remaining of the two brothers. Silence reigned the field as the East skies turned light blue, then pink, and then, finally, yellow.

And as the sun rose upon the vampire graveyard, the bodies, hacked apart and laid together by the course of battle, began to smoke, wither, and finally burn, the smog that slowly filled the air the only remnant of the war of brothers.

© 2014 Havin King

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