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Rated: · Other · Fantasy · #1877865
Fantasy, alternate reality, story, warriors, magic, monsters, subject matter.
II

Yami looked out across the golden sands of the Arena; he gripped the shaft of his M’ire. It was a gift from his father, taken from an X’andi warrior from J’iroch after the X’andi and his band had attacked his father's caravan__ the X’andi raiders lost, and badly. It was a terrifying weapon: the main part of it consisting of a heavy, ironwood pole wrapped tightly in sheets of leather. On one end of the pole was a wickedly flared and serrated blade at the very least two feet long; this was called a Tempi. The Tempi was made for cutting and goring and intimidation, while on the other end of the pole was a ten-inch blade about three inches wide and tapering out to a thin point called an M’ouri. The M’ouri was also meant for goring, but instead of cutting, it was designed for more of a stabbing/jabbing offense, rather than slicing. The entire effect of the weapon was horrifying, and served to terrify anyone who had the misfortune to be on the receiving end of it...
Yami crept silently forward; he could see the target, the bright red flag emblazoned with the Eye of Kantos. There were only four guards that he could see and, for a brief instant, Yami felt the nigh overwhelming urge to surge forward, eliminate the guards himself and seize the flag…but he knew that was not an option; he had to wait for the signal.
Minutes passed, and nothing happened.
The young prince watched with growing anticipation the guards who stood ‘round the flag. His eyes were delighted to see them shifting nervously, expecting the attack that they knew was imminent. The tension in the air was so thick that Yami was forced to consider the delightful notion that he might suffocate to death if something did not happen soon.
With terrible abruptness, the sharp cry of a hawk echoed its cacophonic way throughout the silent labyrinth of sand dunes and stone columns….
The signal.
Yami’s heart skipped an excited beat as he watched two warriors charge forward from behind the dunes. The warriors were bare-chested, clad only in the white-linen-kilt, called a tenewerh, that were common-place amoung the Aenoic soldiers, but emblazoned upon each and every one of their sun-darkened torsos was the blood-red emblem of their troupe: the Eye of Kantos. The glossy paint glistened along with the bright crystalline sands that surrounded them. That same emblem was painted upon Yami’s chest.
With a savage cry, the two warriors met in fury two of the guards that stood vigil over the flag. Yami grinned wolfishly as two pair of soldiers engaged in fierce combat. The guards were being slowly pushed back by his kinsmen, and the prince knew that his time would soon come.
A black mass shot into the air, promptly followed by a silver streak. With a silent pop, a cloud of red ashes was scattered into the wind from the point where the silver streak struck the black mass. That was Yami’s signal. With fire in his eyes, Yami rushed forward to meet his guard. In the corner of his eye, Yami spied young Xess__ a tall Durisian prince who had come to train under the watchful eye of A’dyth four years ago__ moving swiftly and silently to face his opponent. For an instant, Yami marveled at the grace with which the boy moved. It seemed so inhuman….
Yami shook off such thoughts, his own task was ahead of him; it would not do to be distracted by such trivial matters…not at all.
Up the hill of sand the red-and-golden maned lad strode, eyes locked upon the growing figure of his enemy. In what seemed an instant of time, Yami was upon his opponent.
The soldier who came against the young prince was no more than a child. Being smaller than Yami himself, which in itself was a tremendous accomplishment, the child must have been no older then eleven. His deep brown eyes were filled with trepidation, and his hands trembled slightly as he held the bronze sword tightly in his grip. The boy was nervous, obviously new to the Game of War, but he knew what he had to do. Despite his youthful age, the boy lunged forward against Yami. He fought viciously, slicing and hacking with his bronze sword like a madman.
Yami parried and dodged the blade, both hands gripping his M’ire tightly, trying to find an opening. He fought only with the shaft of his weapon, due to the stature of the boy and his weapon. This grouped with the boy's lack of training, and the prince’s vast amount of that thing the boy lacked was making it overly-difficult for Yami to find a weak point; he couldn't concentrate on strategy in light of the child's erratic slashes and hacks. This went on for some time: Yami and the lad circling each other, exchanging vicious blows…each of them trying to overpower the other. One of them was bound to find an opening.
That moment came.
The sharp stab of pain jolted through Yami’s shoulder. He stepped back, one hand held tightly over the bloody wound in his flesh. The boy had somehow managed to find an opening in the prince’s defense. It wasn't a very deep cut, but nonetheless, warm liquid flowed down Yami’s arm. It dripped onto the ground, staining the brilliant golden sands with the passion of a sickly-sweet crimson flower.
Yami stood still for a moment, staring at the stain in the sand. After a shuddering breath, he looked up at the boy. A cold smile marred his features, and he stepped to the boy, rekindled fury powering his strokes. Blow after blow he reigned down upon the lad, until the dark-skinned boy was scrambling backwards over the ground, attempting desperately to escape from the terror before him. Yami’s face was contorted by a cold moue; he followed step by demoniacal step. The boy could go no farther. Yami stood above him, eyes glinting frightfully in the sunlight. Yami swung his M’ire high behind his head, preparing to knock the boy unconscious with the blunt side of the Tempi. His muscles flexed in readiness for the attack.
His arm swung down the heavy weapon with crushing certainty. The Tempi fell like the tallest tree in the forest: hard and true. Its steel blade flashed in the harsh Aenoic sunlight, had nearly reached the boy’s temple when it ceased all motion.
Yami’s body trembled uncontrollably with the effort of halting the downward motion of the Tempi. His face shown with sheen of sweat; as he looked into the charcoal-burnt eyes of that child...his blood ran chill. What he saw was his own reflection, distorted and twisted with fury and bloodlust.
Pain erupted in Yami’s mind, and the world around him disappeared.
Fire, fire everywhere.
The world had become consumed in it…and a voice screaming run, run away from this place. The voice sounded so distant, as did everything. The world around him shuddered and trembled with a dream-like quality, forcing Yami to look away from the pyre. All at once, the sounds of the world he was in came crashing down upon his ears like the mighty thundering of the ocean waves. Yami’s hands launched to his ears, automatically attempting to protect the delicate organs from the deathly roar.
The flames rose ever higher, dominating the canvas with their brilliant, devastating dance. From the flames emerged the blackened figure of a man. His torso and hands were stained and glistening with blood. A gleam shone in the man’s eyes, and he lumbered drunkenly towards the small figures crouched in the shadow of a water well. A woman and a boy. The boy cried and cried, his small and shrill voice piercing the air like the head of an arrow. He gripped the waist of his mother, burying his face in her robes.
“Please,” she cried, “Please, let him go. Let him go.”
A mad cackle split the air above the roaring of the flames, and the world exploded into a fiery chasm of consuming blackness and screams…
Yami stumbled backwards, put a hand to his aching head. Images of fire and blood kept flashing through his mind; he dropped his weapon. A spray of sand went up from where it landed, scattering the crimson flower to the mercy of the desert.
The boy stared in confusion at the young prince, wondering what was going on. He gritted his teeth; he really didn’t care….not now, not while he had a duty to perform.
With agility beyond his years, the boy raised himself up on one arm, swept his leg around and caught Yami around the ankles. Yami fell to the ground with a surprised grunt. The boy raised the pommel of his sword to deliver the final blow, when he froze. The expression on his face was one of confusion. Desperately, one hand clutched at his neck; his fingers fumbled for something….and he found it. A small feathered dart protruded from his neck. He pulled it out and stared at the brilliant green feathers that fluttered in the breeze like the reeds along the River G’ilgol. His eyes widened, and then he collapsed in a heap on the sand.
Yami stared at the fallen boy for a minute, looked around with confused eyes. Xess stood not fifteen feet from him, and he was just lowering a blow-gun from his lips. The Durisian’s abysmal grey eyes stared at Yami, as if they were staring into his very soul. Yami looked down at the sand, a sharp feeling of shame bursting forth in his chest. He stood slowly, and brushed the sand off of his tenewerh.
The Arena pulsed rhythmically as a conch horn sounded. Yami turned around and saw Seti standing triumphantly in the spot where the flag had been. Said flag was raised above his head, and his face was lit with a broad grin. The war-game was over, Yami’s kinsmen had won. The young prince stood over the body of the Green Root that Xess had conquered. The boy was breathing slowly, eyes closed. He could have been sleeping. Yami shook his head, and hoisted the boy onto his shoulders. With growing weariness, Yami slowly trudged up the dunes to the open-air pavilion where the rest of the soldiers were gathering.
He set the Green Root down next to the others who had also been knocked unconscious. There were a total of nine, and not all of them had been Green Roots, only the one that Yami had faced. Yami chuckled in sardonic resignation, turned on his heel. He pushed through the pack of boys aging from seven to nineteen. They stepped aside for him, casting stony glares in his direction, but Yami pointedly ignored them. After a few minutes of shoving and wriggling through the crowd, he made it to his destination: the water trough. He looked longingly at the deep-green pool that sat at the very back of the pavilion. His arm ached in a painful reminder of why he had come to it. He needed to bandage the wound, which was bleeding profusely despite the mildness of it.
Yami knelt down at the edge of the trough, and plunged his entire arm into the pool. From his shoulder flowed a steady stream of copperish-looking liquid that diffused into the serene greenness of the pool with startling swiftness. It was a very good thing that the trough was not meant for drinking water, or the entire troupe of soldiers would soon be considered cannibal for the amount of blood that flowed into that water.
Yami sighed, the cool wet felt extremely good against his throbbing arm, and he was loath to remove it in order to bandage the wound properly.
He felt a hand on his shoulder. Yami whipped around, on his feet in an instant. Water sprayed over the sandstone floor, causing several boys to look his way, only to turn back again. Yami stood ready for a fight, but was surprised to see Khayman standing over him with an amused smile playing on his lips.
Khayman was much taller than Yami, indeed, most everyone was. He was broad-shouldered and muscled. His body plainly showed the results of the vigorous training that the soldiers of Aenon were put through. Khayman’s eyes were a sheer golden colour, and his hair__ which was shaved entirely except for a thick braid on the side of his head that marked his rank as Crowned Prince__ was as black as the stones in the River G’ilgol. His face was handsome. Khayman possessed the strong jaw of his father the pharaoh, and the high-cheekbones of his mother S’raia. His eyes were narrow and angular like those of his grandfather, and his skin was as dark as the husk of a fried grain of rice.
Khayman grinned at his little brother.
"Let me help you with that cut," He said kindly, holding up a small canvas sack as an offering.
Yami stared at the sack, supposing it to be full of linens for dressing wounds. He nodded, and allowed his older brother to take hold of his upper arm and lead him back to the edge of the trough.
Khayman sat Yami down on the edge of the stone structure. He took a rag from the canvas sack, dipped it in the now spoiled water and began to clean Yami’s wound; the prince winced as the fibrous rag touched his burning shoulder.
"What happened back there, Yami?" Khayman asked softly, brows knitted together as he worked. Khayman set the damp rag down and removed a roll of porous linen from the sack. Slowly, he began to wrap the roll around and around Yami's injured shoulder.
His younger brother chuckled sardonically,
"You saw that then, did you?"
"Yes,” Khayman paused in his work, pondering what he should say next. “What happened, Yami? You had that boy in your grips, but you..."
"I hesitated, alright?! I looked into the kid's eyes and I…I hesitated. Are you satisfied now?" Yami snapped, cutting Khayman off mid-sentence. Without waiting for Khayman to finish dressing his wound, he got up and began trudging back to the center of the pavilion.
Khayman stood swiftly and followed. He caught his younger brother swiftly enough, and blocked Yami's way, placing his hands on his younger brother's shoulders.
Yami looked up into the face of the future pharaoh, which was roughly two feet above his own, and saw genuine concern in his brother's eyes.
"I'm a failure, Khay. I'll never be the great warrior that Seti is, or you, or even dad. All I am is the midget failure of a prince who can't even defeat a Green Root in a war game."
Khayman’s eyes were filled with sympathy, and he finished tying the linen around Yami’s shoulder as he spoke.
"Don't talk like that, Yami. You are going to be the greatest warrior Aenon has ever seen, and you'll make an even better Pharaoh. I promise you that." He said, finishing the knot that would hold the linen in place.
Yami stepped away from his brother, turned to face him head-on.
"What are you talking about Khayman? I'll never be Pharaoh; you're father’s eldest son, I’m not even legitimate…”
“Do not speak like that!” Khayman hissed voice full of passion and authority.
Yami jumped slightly, it was a rare occasion that he ever heard Khayman raise his voice…especially against him.
Yami sighed, and continued with his thought.
“The birthright belongs to you alone, brother. I can never rule, and I don't even want to be Pharaoh; I’m not fit for such a task." Yami looked down at his feet, suddenly finding a keen interest in the scattering of sand upon the floor.
"You are fit for such a task, Yami. Do you know why? Because you’re my younger brother, and you’re father’s son and you’ve been trained by A’dyth. You have been raised to rule. It does not matter that you were not born into the royal blood-line; you will rule one day."
“No, Khayman, I can’t…”
“You can, and you will. If I were ever to cross the river without an heir, you must take my place. That is your duty as Prince Regent.” Khayman said, staring at Yami with as much intensity as Xess had not ten minutes ago.
Yami met his brother’s gaze with confusion.
“Regent? What do you mean?”
Khayman grinned, and reached around his neck. He removed from it a large medallion held on a golden-feathered chain. The medallion was carved entirely of golden-veined sapphire-coloured glass, and depicted the piercing eye of an eagle. Khayman reached around the back of Yami’s head, and hooked the medallion around it.
The heavy gold emblem fell on Yami’s chest with a thump, and all Yami could do was stare at it.
“Congratulations, you have now been officially promoted to the rank of Prince Regent. Do you think you can handle that?” Khayman asked, a large grin spreading across his face.
"Really?" Yami asked, still staring at the medallion.
"Really." Khayman replied, "Now, come on. A’dyth’s calling you little younglings to the Yard. Better get there before he’s forced to flog the Prince Regent.”
© Copyright 2012 Kami-nari Yari (kaminariyari at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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Printed from https://www.Writing.Com/view/1877865