Vincent returns home after a sweeping darkness treads on new lands.
|The sullen, war-torn fields spoke volumes to the lone figure that walked softly across them. To him, the area was not simply just ruin in the wake of a wicked force, it was his home. Every memory of this past now possessed a thorn, and every emotion attached only drove that growing spike in even farther. Naturally this allowed for Vincent Yatr's capacity for hate to grow beyond the bounds of his mortal coil, to a place on the edge of sanity and where vows of the sweetest kind of vengeance are formed.
It wasn't difficult to find a reason to fight the "dark bloods", demon possessed fanatics who've seeped into the civilized hemisphere of Nijeda, but fighting them at all was a whole other matter.
It seemed an act of the gods that the wicked forces never approached a proper foothold to overcome the allied kingdoms of Sun-tier in their initial onslaught, but it was an act repaid by Vincent's line of reasoning.
In the greater continent Sun-tier, north of Vincent's homeland, the most vicious battles raged against the dark kind known as Demi. Dyric Thei-urn had taken up his father's mantle from the previous campaign decades before, in which the Demi first broke the shores of the western kingdoms. The second coming of the Demi could not have been a bigger slap in the face.
He remembered every scream now, walking through the decimated halls of his father's keep. In that almost unreal panic-stricken moment only months ago Vincent recalled clearly how the dark raiders flew through the shadows created by their strange powers. They appeared to not only slaughter but to reap the souls of their victims, literally tugging at spiritual substance to evoke the most unique and unforgettable symphony of agonized howls.
Vincent stopped before a decrepit doorway down a once lavish hall, mostly out of instinct or habit. His gaze sank lower as he realized whose chamber this had once been. The intricate carvings of vine and trellis were barely noticeable on the charred remains of door frame. His sister, Ezharene, had been barred in the sturdy room the night the shadows rose. Vincent had been the one to suggest that she stay hidden and secured while he went to find their father.
Vincent uncontrollably dropped to his knees as images of her frightened tear-streaked face filtered in. His beloved little sister was so scared, so vulnerable even in the locked room. And he did leave her to die, he knew. Her desperate tones accepted Vincent's judgment and as he left she had spoken words that burned him up inside now.
"Come back to me Vin!"
Amongst the swirl of memory and guilt Vincent remembered that he did find his father and his older brother. They were racing toward the castle courtyard with dozens of soldiers mustered from the city nearby. Vincent was still two floors up when he noticed their frantic pace from a high window. From that vantage he also saw the shadows on the edges of the courtyard move strangely, like flames wavering in the wind. Whether the Demi were already there waiting or had somehow appeared, Vincent could not warn the group fast enough.
The first wave of jutting, ghostly black spikes erupted from all around Lord Vinik and his warriors, a coordinated combination of the Demis' strange attack methods. The barbs grew as they rose from the ground and into the ranks, spearing up through plated armor, and worse for some, from anus to cranium. With every readied blade bypassed by the unexpected assault, most men were dead or wounded in less than a minute.
Vincent shouted a primal protest before allowing instinct to master his movements. Out came his fine blade to shatter the thick pane before him, glass flying outward for many yards. He leaped from the sill and glided down the lower roofing, but still had to make a thirty foot drop onto the stone walk.
Undaunted, Vincent raced down the road, spurred to even greater strides at the sight of some survivors stuggling to counter the assault. The Demi had boldly stepped from the shadows to finish the band up close, showing their pale white skin marred on every inch with dark markings. Vinik still remained, surrounded by a handful of staggering survivors. Maliphor, Vincent's older brother, stood strong next to his father, easily marked by his shining circlet, though it dripped with the blood of many.
Two swords were raised against the closest Demi prowling forward, but it deftly countered the attacks, shattering the two-handed claymores with something more than just simple brute strength.
As the noose tightened for Vinik and his men, the lord of Yatr lashed out with his unique sword, cutting horizontally at four Demi that were just out of reach of its length. The wave of piercing light that came forth surged toward the creatures, taking them by surprise. They immediately fell back and into a black fog, the vaccum of their retreat still visible for a few seconds.
Vincent rose fiercely from his visions of the past, unable to recall what more had occured at that point. The next thing he knew were the faces of Nuwa'ai soldiers from the neighboring kingdom. He had sustained wounds that surely should have taken him to the grave, but Lady Nuwa'ai had amazing methods for fighting the specter of death.
Vincent tore himself from Ezharene’s corridor and hurried through to his own chamber, constantly searching for some clue that may provide the slightest bit of insight into his foe. He knew his father’s sword had been more effective than average weapons, but the craft was no where in sight, even around the courtyard. Lady Nuwa’ai had made no claim to its recovery, but Vincent didn’t want to believe that it had been lost forever.
Wreckage and ruin remained as all that could be found. If any of the Demi had even been wounded, there was no sign of it.
Vincent made one last circuit before entering the grand dining hall of the keep. Pushing open the ragged double-doors he strode in quickly, scanning the large area from top to bottom. His eyes rested on a solitary form at the far end of the room.
As Vincent approached, hand on hilt, the figure turned from the vivid painting that he’d been looking at.
“What are you doing in my home?” Vincent demanded.
Hardly even surprised, the dark-haired man’s face bordered on the verge of a disarming smile as his hands went up.
“Just passing through stranger. What man calls a ruined keep his home?”
“Vincent Yatr of the kingdom you now stand in. Should I assume you have pillaged a lord’s domain?”
His eyes widened a bit at that. He knew that someone else was roaming around the area, but surely not a surviving Yatr. After eying what his hand was resting on, the stranger decided to believe his claim.
“Whoa now, we may be getting off on the wrong stop here. My pockets are empty friend. I just had to see this to believe it. The capital of Yatr crumbling in one night? Surely you have a tale to tell.”
“The ruins can be seen from the city, yet you seem to be nearsighted,” Vincent said through partially clenched teeth. He noted that the man didn’t seem to possess anything except simple clothing and a plain brown jacket.
“Ah no harm done sir, I did make quite a trail from Slai’krinn though.”
The man stuck his hand out, “Rinor, native of an ally of Yatr, last I checked.”
“Be gone from here before your curiosity crosses my foul mood.” Vincent pointedly turned from his offered hand and started for the exit, not really caring anymore about the random stranger.
Rinor did not respond, supposing easily enough as to why this "son of Yatr" seemed so distraught. He had heard that there were no survivors of the Yatr line.
He gave one last look at the slightly blackened painting of the nearby coast and city before disappearing into a small room opposite that of where Vincent had exited.
Rinor blew a relieving breath for the fact that he had left his sack of valuables stashed two rooms away while he explored the dining area. He quietly hoisted the ample gains onto his shoulder and headed for the window he had entered through, a slight swagger in his step.
Lifting one leg onto the wide sill Rinor scooped up the rope that was secured by grapple, gave it a tug and coiled it once around his now gloved hand. With a smirk at a recollection of his close encounter he prepared to drop before catching a slight movement just outside his vision. Too little too late for Rinor.
Vincent only made a sound as the thief turned, his ferocious stalking becoming a mad bull rush instantly. Rinor tried to put his hands up in defense, but that didn’t help much.
“A tale to tell now?” Vincent growled as he rammed the awkwardly positioned man through the window. Rinor flailed wildly during his descent with Vincent practically on top of him, one hand grasping the line.
Three stories later Rinor lay flattened. Vincent dropped from the last bit of rope and rushed to the bag that was next to Rinor. He tore it open and exiled its contents, immediately disappointed to not have found the blade he sought. Various bits of dirty jewelry, gold and silver wall fixtures, an ornate dagger and many other things that Vincent was all too familiar with. He clenched his fist around the gray sack and hurled it. Turning toward the crumpled figure attempting to raise his head, Vincent kicked him roughly to turn him over. Out came his sword, piercing the earth next to Rinor’s face.
“Consider my foul mood crossed. I’m looking for a king’s sword, hard to miss and worth your life.”
“No sword! I found no sword! I-It’d be in the bag!”
“No more. I swear!”
The amount of sweat and panic on Rinor’s face told Vincent much of the value he placed on his own life. He decided to cut his losses before the man soaked his pants as well.
Scooping the blade up, Vincent rolled the prone man over and fed the back of his thigh about an inch of steel, forcing a shout. Not worrying about any swift pursuit now, the lord of Yatr gathered the bag and certain items from the pile.
The look on the fallen thief's face was a mixed pallete of embarrasment and frustration. He made no move though, more than willing to let this one slide if it meant his life.
“Fair travels Rinor of Slai’krinn,” Vincent said as he walked toward the main road, "I will return home soon enough, and keep hope that you can crawl far away and fast before then."
Smiling and exhausted from his frustrations, Vincent just wanted rest at this point. While his head still swam with the weight of his crippled kingdom and the knowledge that it was his alone to bear, his body took him toward an old inn within the nearby city of Tauromere.
He did his best to avoid anyone who seemed to recognize him. The youngest son of lord Vinik returning unannounced took many by surprise. No one really knew the official position of the only surviving Yatr, and he didn’t want to give one quite yet.
Lord Vincent Yatr crashed heavily into an itchy but soft gray mattress, ignoring the slight smell of urine and the dankness of the room. His mind whirred with demons and images from his youth when he had first heard of the Demi scourge, a foreign nuisance across the sea and no threat to his home.
Falling into dreams his spirit sailed across worlds to find a remedy for his turmoil, touching stars to see their secrets for stealing the darkness, Vincent opened doors and fell through their light. His soul had witnessed what could be done and found many ways to do so, but the sea he soared in now did not often shed that which is sought.
Vincent’s pain demanded he enact the grandest vengeance, but his duty bade him to restore that which his homeland had lost.
Utterly torn, Vincent’s subconscious mind ached for the clarity to see him through his trials. He awoke with a deep unrest in the morning light, and yet it seemed to him a brighter day than he had ever experienced before.
Perhaps there was more to this dream than any could ever know.