Ombre et Plumes – 2


D’ombre et de plumes

2


Les quartiers est étaient principalement composés d’habitations et de résidences, ce qui avait pour effet d’attirer bien moins de touriste que le quartier centre ou les quartiers sud. L’agitation du débarquement laissée derrière lui, Thrista naviguait donc à présent dans des rues où seuls une poignée de passants se baladaient tranquillement. Il aperçut quelques locaux en train de décorer le bord des rues et les façades des bâtiments de draps et de fleurs multicolores. Ils profitaient de ce moment de répit et de calme pour se préparer à la tempête qui allait venir avec le début du festival deux jours plus tard. Lui même avait décidé de revenir quelques jours avant pour se donner le temps de flâner dans les rues alors que celles-ci étaient encore relativement peu en proie à l’agitation. Il pouvait cependant déjà sentir la tension qui montait à l’approche de la célébration du mariage princier, tous attendaient l’annonce du début des trois jours de célébration pour se laisser aller à la joie et à l’ivresse. Il passa par l’une des nombreuses rues secondaires, déjà peu fréquentées par les locaux et encore moins par les touristes, et se retrouva devant une petite bâtisse faite de bois et dont l’enseigne était usée par le temps mais toujours bien lisible : En Carménie.
Malgré sa taille peu imposante, encore réduite par les deux hautes résidences s’élevant de chaque côté, la réputation de l’établissement n’avait rien à envier aux autres auberges. Elle était réputée chez les connaisseurs comme l’une des meilleurs du coin, une des perles cachées d’Eneleïa grâce à la popularité de son plat spécial préparé par la patronne elle même. Un excellent minestrone de légumes de saison, de viandes hachées tendres, d’un peu de pâtes et d’épices fraîchement cueillies, dont la recette exacte était soumise au plus grand secret. Rien que d’y penser, Thrista en eut l’eau à la bouche. Cela faisait tellement longtemps qu’il n’avait pas goûté à la cuisine de Carmen. Il comptait y loger le temps de son séjour. Il connaissait bien la patronne, une petite bonne femme approchant de la cinquantaine et dont les cheveux couleur rouille commençaient tout juste à grisonner. C’était l’endroit où il avait séjourné à chaque passage dans la ville portuaire avec son père et il en gardait d’excellents souvenirs. C’était aussi là qu’il avait passé ses quelques jours avant de quitter le continent au début de son périple. Le jeune homme se dirigea donc droit vers l’enseigne au fougueux cheval noir, qui semblait avoir été repeinte depuis la dernière fois. Les rideaux étaient tirés aux fenêtres, signe que l’établissement ne rouvrirait qu’au prochain repas, mais il poussa tout de même la porte et entra. Il ne fut pas surpris de voir la pièce déserte, par une journée pareille et à ce moment de l’après midi il était tout à fait normal de n’y trouver personne : tout bon touriste s’était déjà éclipsé depuis un moment. Il salua tout de même dans le vide, plus pour signaler sa présence à quiconque serait dans l’arrière cuisine que pour se présenter réellement, mais fut surpris d’entendre une voix familière lui répondre du fond de la salle.
« Bienvenue. Entrez, entrez ! Je suis à vous tout de suite ! »
Thrista n’avait pas eu le temps de s’habituer à la pénombre mais dès qu’il entendit la voix il ne put s’empêcher de sourire. Nul besoin de voir pour savoir qui venait de lui répondre. Il s’avança et dut attendre d’être au milieu de la pièce avant que ses yeux ne se soient entièrement habitués à l’espèce de pénombre qui y régnait pour apercevoir la petite silhouette penchée au dessus d’une table.
« Bonjour ! s’exclama-t-il à nouveau, toujours en souriant. Je ne t’avais pas vu Carmen, cachée dans la pénombre comme tu l’es…

– Ah ! Oui, je suis désolée pour l’obscurité. Je profite de l’absence momentanée de tout le monde pour faire un peu de ménage et je ne supporte pas de le faire avec le soleil qui me tape dessus. En plus il fait une de ses chaleurs aujourd’hui ! On est bien mieux à l’intérieur, répondit la femme tout en continuant de s’affairer sur la table qu’elle s’efforçait de faire reluire. Mais, nous connaissons nous ?, demanda-t-elle enfin en relevant la tête en souriant, l’air satisfait.
– Tu ne te souviens pas de moi ? Remarque cela fait un moment que l’on ne s’est pas vu, concéda le jeune homme. »
La dénommée Carmen rangea son chiffon et s’approcha alors de plus près pour l’observer, elle resta ainsi à le regarder, les sourcils froncés par dessus ses yeux gris, pendant quelques secondes. Le sourire du jeune homme s’agrandit lentement alors qu’il attendait que la patronne de l’auberge le reconnaisse enfin. Il avait changé depuis la dernière fois, plus grand d’au moins dix bon centimètres, les épaules plus larges, ses cheveux sombres avaient poussé, ils lui recouvraient à présent la nuque alors qu’il les avait toujours gardé très courts auparavant. Le duvet qui lui recouvrait la mâchoire s’était également épaissit, transformant légèrement la forme de son visage. Il n’était pas méconnaissable, mais il n’était plus non plus le même qu’un peu plus de deux années auparavant. La femme fronça soudain les sourcils.
« Tes yeux…, murmura-t-elle, Thrista ! Mes dieux, je ne t’avais pas reconnu ! Comme tu as changé… Combien de temps cela fait-il ? Deux ans, trois peut-être ? », demanda-t-elle alors que son sourire, disparut au profit d’un froncement de sourcil un moment auparavant, refaisait surface.
– C’est bien moi, acquiesça le jeune homme, toujours le sourire aux lèvres.
– Mes dieux, cela fait longtemps…  », murmura Carmen avant de franchir la distance les séparant en quelques pas et de le prendre dans ses bras.
Malgré sa petite taille la quinquagénaire possédait une force surprenante, cela, couplé à un caractère et une volonté de fer, créait un mélange détonant. Thrista eut un instant le souffle coupé mais lui rendit ensuite son embrassade avec joie, heureux de la retrouver après tout ce temps. Dès sa première visite à Eneleïa avec son père, ce dernier lui avait présenté l’aubergiste, une vieille connaissance à lui, et le jeune homme s’était attaché à cette bonne femme au caractère bien trempé mais à la gentillesse sans pareille. L’attachement avait visiblement eu lieu dans les deux sens car Thrista vit une larme rouler sur la joue parsemée de taches de rousseur de l’aubergiste alors que celle-ci le relâchait enfin. Elle lui fit un sourire avant de se retourner pour se moucher légèrement.

« Je pensais que tu mettrais un peu plus de temps à me reconnaître, avoua-t-il alors, presque déçu. Il espérait pouvoir la faire marcher un peu plus longtemps..
– Je reconnaîtrais tes yeux entre mille, répondit-elle en se tournant à nouveau vers lui, tu as beau avoir grandi, tu as toujours le même regard que ton père quand il était jeune. Et encore plus maintenant. »
Thrista acquiesça avec un petit sourire. Elle n’était pas la première à noter sa ressemblance à son paternel.
« Tu sais, reprit Carmen avant qu’il n’ouvre la bouche, je pensais vraiment que tu courais à ta perte en voulant partir seul comme cela… Tu n’étais qu’un enfant, trop jeune pour ce genre de choses… Mais je suis heureuse de voir que je me trompais, puisque te voilà revenu en pleine forme ! »
Le jeune homme pu voir l’éclair d’inquiétude qui passa dans l’œil de la patronne de l’auberge et imagina aisément tout le souci qu’elle avait pu se faire pour lui, aussi lui fit-il un grand sourire. Ce périple n’avait en effet pas toujours été simple, au contraire, il avait fait face à des situations dangereuses plus d’une fois, mais il était revenu sain et sauf et, il l’espérait, plus fort. C’était tout ce qu’elle avait besoin de savoir.
« Oui. J’ai eu la chance de voyager en bonne compagnie, dit-il en posant sur l’épaule de l’aubergiste une main rassurante.
– Tant mieux alors. »
Carmen sursauta soudain, semblant se souvenir de quelque chose d’important.
« Que je suis bête ! Je ne t’ai toujours rien proposé ! Je reste là à discuter avec toi et je ne remplis même pas mon rôle d’hôtesse… s’exclama-t-elle en se donnant une légère tape sur la tête. Veux-tu t’asseoir ? Et quelque chose à manger ? Tu dois être affamé après ce long voyage…
– Ne t’inquiète pas, les repas étaient très bon à bord du Leikan ! répondit Thrista avec un petit sourire. Mais je t’avouerai que je ne suis pas contre une petite collation… Si tu as quelque chose de prêt ! ajouta-t-il immédiatement, ne voulant pas la faire se déplacer pour rien.
– Bien sur mon choux ! s’exclama Carmen en lui adressant un clin d’œil avant de se diriger vers la cuisine, j’ai toujours quelque chose pour toi. Assied toi où tu veux, j’en ai pour deux minutes. »
Thrista acquiesça et s’installa à une table non loin, posant sa besace et sa cape à ses pieds et profitant de l’absence de l’aubergiste pour jeter un regard à son établissement. L’auberge paraissait minuscule de l’extérieur mais une fois à l’intérieur elle dégageait, grâce à son aménagement intelligent et efficace, une impression d’immensité. Plusieurs chandeliers pendaient du plafond haut, loin au dessus de la tête, aucune cloison ne venait entraver la vue des clients, seules quelques énormes poutres en chêne massif soutenaient le tout de ci de là. On aurait dit l’intérieur d’une église faite de bois au lieu de pierre. Thrista entendit Carmen siffler depuis l’arrière cuisine et ne put empêcher un petit rire. Cela lui rappelait de nombreux et bons souvenirs. Peu avait changé depuis son dernier passage, la seule différence qu’il pouvait apercevoir était le nombre de tables qui avait légèrement augmenté et l’apparence de la salle, tout semblait comme neuf. L’adolescent savait cela dû à la grande attention que l’aubergiste prenait à astiquer, rénover et conserver son mobilier mais il ne pouvait s’empêcher d’être impressionné. Son ventre grommelait son insatisfaction lorsqu’il aperçut la petite femme revenir vers lui les bras chargés d’un large plat recouvert de nourriture.
« Ne t’inquiète pas, c’était sur le feu et le reste je l’ai pris dans les placards, rien de bien compliqué. Je comptais moi-même manger de toute façon, expliqua-t-elle avant que le jeune homme ne puisse protester. »
Thrista se contenta donc d’accepter silencieusement, préférant ne pas provoquer son hôte en protestant car il la savait extrêmement persuasive quand elle le voulait. Il se servit donc de la viande grillée dans une assiette. Il mangèrent un moment en silence, le jeune homme piquant dans tous les plats disposés devant lui, mangeant biscuits secs, légumes,viande, et fruits avec grand plaisir. Carmen elle dégustait une soupe à ce que Thrista pouvait dire et semblait grandement l’apprécier. Le jeune homme en déduisit que ce devait être le célèbre ragoût de poisson de Wlad, le cuisinier habituel de l’établissement.
« Comment se fait-il que tu sois déjà de retour ? Je croyais que tu n’avais prévu de revenir que pour le tournoi… s’enquit enfin la patronne avec un soupir de contentement en reposant son bol vide sur la table.
– A vrai dire j’ai changé d’avis, commença-t-il en prenant une dernière bouchée de son morceau de viande, au cours de mon voyage j’ai eu l’occasion de voir d’innombrables choses et de rencontrer de nombreuses personnes. J’ai appris énormément, seul mais aussi avec des compagnons de voyage que j’ai pu rencontrer. Mais je crois que lorsque j’ai appris pour le mariage j’ai réalisé qu’Ore me manquait et qu’il était temps de rentrer.
– Oh ! s’exclama Carmen avec un petit sourire en coin, ton retour n’est donc pas une simple coïncidence !
– Oui, répondit Thrista, se retenant pour ne pas sourire de trop. Je ne pouvais pas louper ça… »
Carmen le regarda un long moment avec attention, le fixant de ses prunelles vert-de-gris, avant de sourire en hochant la tête, comme si elle approuvait silencieusement ce qu’elle venait juste de penser.
« Eh bien en tout cas, tu as bien raison ! dit-elle en prenant une gorgée de son verre d’eau. Tu ne peux pas savoir à quel point ça me fait plaisir de te revoir ! Combien de temps comptes-tu rester cette fois ?, demanda-t-elle. Le temps du mariage j’imagine.
– Oui, le temps de la célébration, acquiesça Thrista.
– Eh bien mon humble auberge t’est ouverte autant de temps que tu le souhaites, tu es le bienvenu ! s’exclama-t-elle en désignant l’établissement de la main. »
Elle se leva ensuite et, une fois assurée que le jeune homme n’avait plus faim, ramena le plateau en cuisine avant de revenir presque immédiatement. Thrista s’était levé et regardait à nouveau autour de lui lorsqu’elle reparut à ses côtés.
« Viens, je vais te donner une chambre. Je dois en avoir une ou deux de libre au deuxième qui sont très calmes et très confortables si cela te convient.
– Tout ce que tu auras à me proposer, tu sais que je ne suis pas difficile. Et puis je me sens toujours bien ici. »
Il aperçut les joues de la femme rosir légèrement à son compliment alors qu’elle passait devant lui pour le guider jusqu’à ses quartiers le temps de son séjour. Elle attrapa au passage une clé sur un large tableau de bois fixé au mur. Ce dernier était presque vide, ce qui indiquait que l’établissement était quasiment complet, pourtant tout était silencieux et le jeune homme n’avait vu personne depuis son arrivée. Il en déduisit que les clients devaient soit être en train de faire la sieste soit en train de flâner dans les rues d’Eneleïa. De plus l’heure du repas n’étant pas encore arrivée, tout était et resterait calme un moment. Lorsqu’il eut fait le tour de la pièce et déposé ses affaires à côté de son lit le jeune homme redescendit dans la grande salle, fermant la porte à clé derrière lui. Il retrouva la patronne en train de nettoyer fenêtres au fond de la salle.
« Tu as eu le temps de t’installer ?, demanda-t-elle en lui adressant un sourire sans s’interrompre dans sa tâche.
– Oui, merci, répondit Thrista en hochant la tête. D’ailleurs, combien te dois-je pour la chambre ? »
Le jeune homme n’eut même pas le temps d’insister tant le refus de l’aubergiste fut immédiat et catégorique. Elle refusait de faire payer un ami de longue date qui logeait dans son établissement et il n’allait pas l’en dissuader. Thrista ne put que se résoudre à accepter la décision de la patronne avec un léger soupir, il savait qu’insister était peine perdue. Aussi préféra-t-il proposer son aide pour les tâches ménagères, ce que Carmen accepta avec plaisir après un court débat. Le jeune homme se mit donc immédiatement au travail, assistant la petite femme dans le nettoyage de la grande salle. Ils discutèrent ainsi pendant les quelques heures qui suivirent, astiquant les surfaces boisées, récurant le sol et disposant les couverts sur les tables pour le repas du soir. Le jeune homme en profita pour prendre des nouvelles d’Ore, et raconter à son hôte les découvertes et rencontres qu’il avait pu faire au cours de son périple, notamment sur Simériah, terre que Carmen n’avait jamais visitée jusqu’à présent.
Lorsqu’ils s’arrêtèrent enfin la nuit tombait déjà et, à travers les fenêtres dégagées pour laisser entrer la lumière affaiblie du soleil, on pouvait apercevoir les rues commençant s’illuminer et à se remplir de curieux. Les chars, en préparations pour le défilé depuis de longues semaines déjà, étaient sur le point d’être achevés et prenaient enfin véritablement forme. De nombreux badauds venaient en observer l’apparence. Quelques clients commencèrent à affluer et Thrista aperçu Wlad qui rentrait visiblement de sa pause de l’après-midi alors qu’il montait en direction de sa chambre. Le jeune homme se résolut à aller le saluer plus tard et prit sa cape avant de se diriger vers la porte. Une fois dehors il se dirigea vers le nord de la ville, il aurait tout le temps de visiter les quartiers sud et ouest ainsi que ceux du palais lors des prochains jours. Le jeune homme préféra la tranquillité du nord de la ville au vacarme croissant dont il savait faire preuve le sud dernièrement. Cela lui permit de réfléchir à ce qu’il allait bien pouvoir faire à partir de maintenant, par où il allait commencer son voyage et quels allaient être ses objectifs à présent. Il marcha ainsi, perdu dans ses pensées, se laissant guider par ses pas, jusqu’à ce que la nuit tombe définitivement, rencontrant ici et là bateaux, guerriers géants et autres dragons faits tout de bois qui attendaient patiemment leur heure de gloire lors du défilé débutant quelques jours plus tards. Lorsque les dernières lueurs du soleil s’éteignirent derrière l’horizon il se décida à rentrer à l’auberge, la journée avait été longue et il n’aspirait à rien d’autre qu’un bon repos avant d’entamer les prochains jours.
Le jeune homme observait les étoiles en marchant et remarqua que le Joyaux de la Rosace, la plus large et la plus complexe de constellations parsemant le ciel semblait briller plus intensément qu’à l’ordinaire. Elle sembla même, pendant un instant, prendre un éclat orangé. Il ne se souvenait pas d’avoir observé un tel phénomène lors des nombreuses soirées passées à admirer la voûte céleste avec son père lorsqu’il était plus jeune. Cette pensée fit remonter une foule de souvenirs en lui, les soirée à la belle étoile, sa découverte de l’éther, son désir ardent d’en savoir plus, la réaction de son père… Elle lui rappela aussi ce pourquoi il avait entamé ce voyage, et ce pourquoi il était revenu : bientôt le Tournoi allait commencer, et il devait être prêt. Le chemin à parcourir était encore long, mais il s’était juré de faire le meilleur usage de ce temps restant.


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Ombre et Plumes – 1


D’ombre et de plumes

1

De retour


Le contraste fut ce qui le frappa le plus. Thrista sentit un frisson lui parcourir le corps lorsque l’ombre du gigantesque mur les avala tout entier. Ce n’était pas la première fois qu’il avait l’occasion d’admirer les portes du port d’Eneleïa et pourtant, malgré la taille imposante des trois navires de la flotte Galaedienne, l’immense mur de pierre blanche qui en gardait l’entrée n’avait d’égal. Cela faisait un peu plus de deux heures déjà qu’ils pouvaient apercevoir les côtes de Tébor et celles-ci n’avaient cessé de s’élever toujours plus loin au dessus des flots jusqu’à ce qu’ils en arrivent au pied. Le soleil de plomb qui régnait maître presque incontesté depuis le début de la traversée s’était alors momentanément éclipsé pour laisser place à une fraîcheur digne d’une nuit de printemps. Un silence profond s’était installé à l’avant du Leikan – celui des trois navires sur lequel avait embarqué Thrista – et le jeune homme était sûr qu’il devait en être de même à bord des deux autres : l’Illilda et l’Archéniss. Les passagers attendaient avec impatience le moment où les portes s’ouvriraient et laisseraient enfin la flotte pénétrer dans le port. La Cité des Deux Mondes, tel qu’aimaient à l’appeler les allochtones en raison de son statut de passerelle entre le continent d’Ore et les mers centrales, les attendait.

La Trinité avait fait route depuis le continent de Simériah, plus à l’est, afin de rallier Ore et Eneleïa à temps et après presque trois semaines en mer elle arrivait enfin à destination. Ou plutôt, elle se préparait à faire son antépénultième escale avant son retour à Port-Varenne, ville centrale du continent et capitale de l’archipel de Galaeda. Elle tenait son nom du nombre de navires qui la composaient, au nombre de trois, mais ne pouvait cependant être qualifiée de « petite flotte » car ses effectifs réduits étaient largement compensés par l’envergure de ceux-ci. Longs de presque trois cent mètres, pour plus d’une centaine de haut, ils étaient les joyaux du petit archipel. Leurs coques, du même blanc éclatant que la muraille, produisait l’effet totalement inverse à un contraste, semblant se fondre l’un dans l’autre pour ne plus faire qu’un. Enfin, chacun des trois navire arborait le pavillon Galaedien bleu marine sur lequel se superposaient trois oiseaux de mer respectivement de couleur noire, grise, et blanche.

La foule déjà présente sur le pont s’étoffa encore lorsque que le Leïkan vint s’arrêter complètement à une vingtaine de mètres seulement des portes de la cité. Thrista se doutait qu’il devait en être de même sur les ponts des deux autres navires, aucun des passagers de la Trinité ne voudrait louper ce spectacle. Après avoir navigué à travers les mers centrales pendant plus de trois semaines, ils arrivaient enfin à destination. Ce simple fait justifiait déjà un telle attente, mais assister à l’entrée de la Trinité dans le port d’Eneleïa depuis le pont de l’un de ses navires était une motivation suffisamment rare pour pousser la quasi totalité des passagers à y monter. Le jeune homme avait pris la décision de rentrer presque en hâte, lors de son séjour à Mellona – maintenant de l’autre côté de l’océan -, lorsqu’il avait eu vent de l’annonce du mariage imminent de la princesse de Tébor. Le départ presque fortuit de la Trinité au même moment avait achevé de le convaincre.

La vue était époustouflante. Les murs de granite gigantesques s’élevaient à plus de deux cent mètres au dessus des flots et avaient depuis toujours servi de fortifications naturelles à Eneleïa. Aucun des nombreux assauts au fil des siècles n’avait pu en venir à bout, ce qui avait donné la réputation de forteresse imprenable à la cité portuaire. Les immenses portes du port y étaient aussi pour quelque chose, presque aussi hautes que les falaises elles mêmes, elles avaient été construites un peu plus de huit cent ans auparavant, à peine un siècle et demi après la fondation de la cité elle même. L’esprit brillant qui avait imaginé et fait exécuter ce projet titanesque était resté inconnu mais la renommée des Portes d’Eneleïa, elle, rayonnait dans toute l’alliance. Elles trônaient au centre des falaises, un immense mur de pierre blanche qui dépassait ces dernières d’une douzaine de mètres en son point le plus haut. Sur chacune des trois parties était gravé un symbole différent, marquant chaque point d’accès au port. Les Portes s’ouvraient et se fermaient plus ou moins selon l’intensité du trafic qui y transitait.

La cité portuaire avait depuis bien longtemps obtenu le statut du plus important centre de commerce du royaume de Tébor, et se trouvait presque sans rival au niveau du continent lui-même. Les Portes avaient grandement contribué à cimenter sa réputation de passage sûr le long de la côte et comme point d’escale obligatoire pour qui voulait se rendre aux Îles Karnines ou en Simériah. Le gigantesque édifice permettait à tout type de navire et de flottes d’accoster et de reposer en toute sécurité dans son port, assurant le développement stable du commerce. Tout cela était possible grâce au mécanisme qui permettait de contrôler les portes, les relevant ou les abaissant ainsi au besoin grâce à un habile mélange d’ingénierie mécanique et d’éther. Cela permettait également de se prévenir contre tout assaut par la mer car, une fois les portes fermées, Eneleïa devenait virtuellement imprenable par voie maritime.

Le Leikan s’était arrêté en face de la porte centrale, et les deux autres navires de la flotte en face des deux autres entrées, un de chaque côté de ce dernier. Cette disposition exceptionnelle était nécessaire de part leur échelle. Les trois vaisseaux ne pouvait faire autrement que de se mettre à quai séparément afin de débarquer leur cargo et leurs passagers. Cette fois-ci la Trinité était tout particulièrement chargée du fait du nombre important de passagers qui se rendaient à Eneleïa pour célébrer le mariage princier. Nombreux aussi étaient les marchands qui avaient fait le voyage, préférant le tarif plus élevé de la flotte Galaedienne mais une réelle assurance de rapidité et de sécurité, pour eux et leur marchandise, par rapport au risques de l’affrètement d’un navire personnel.

Un silence solennel tomba sur chaque pont à mesure que la tension grandissait. Les moteurs avaient été mis en sommeil le temps que la Trinité reçoive l’autorisation finale d’entrer dans le port, ils reprendraient ensuite vie. Au bout de ce qui sembla durer une éternité à Thrista, l’air se mit à vibrer au son d’une puissante corne de brume située sur les hauteurs du mur. Puis une deuxième vint se joindre à la première et ce furent bientôt tous les remparts qui sonnèrent pour annoncer l’arrivée des trois gigantesques vaisseaux dans le port. Ce signal de bienvenue se prolongea pendant de longues secondes avant de s’éteindre petit à petit, s’effritant sur les flots et disparaissant au loin. Et alors que le silence fut complètement retombé, les cornes de brumes reprirent leur chant, suivant le même schéma deux autres fois avant de s’éteindre pour de bon. Un autre moment s’écoula alors, moment qui sembla encore plus long que le premier. Le jeune homme aperçut d’abord les remous de l’eau avant de voir les portes bouger. Il savait déjà ce qui allait se passer, mais lorsque les deux immenses battants commencèrent enfin à se séparer Thrista ne put que retenir son souffle; la vision gargantuesque qui s’offrait à lui le bouleversait autant que la première fois. On aurait dit que les falaises elles-mêmes s’ouvraient en deux pour révéler un passage vers un autre monde. En l’espace d’à peine un trentaine de battements, la voie fut complètement ouverte pour les trois navires et la Trinité put s’engager d’un seul mouvement dans les ouvertures. Il était peu commun d’être témoin de l’ouverture de plus d’une seule des trois portes à la fois – qui plus est au complet -, aussi chaque passager ne pouvait s’empêcher d’admirer ces trois béances prêtes à les dévorer. Tout se passa alors très vite : les moteurs se remirent à vrombir et l’Illilda, le Leikan et l’Archeniss s’ébranlèrent, glissant sans problème à travers les ouvertures, et se retrouvant bientôt à l’intérieur des remparts anciens.

D’où il était placé, Thrista avait une vue imprenable sur ce qui se déroulait devant lui. Le mur était au moins deux fois plus haut que les trois navires, ces derniers s’étaient donc retrouvés caché dans son ombre le temps que les portes s’ouvrent, mais une fois que ce fut le cas ils baignèrent à nouveau dans l’intense luminosité. La vie, qui semblait s’être momentanément interrompue, reprit son cours. Les passagers furent assaillis par l’intense brouhaha provenant d’un peu plus loin sur les quais. Seuls quelques centaines de mètres séparaient à présent la Trinité de sa destination mais, à mesure qu’elle avançait, Thrista eut l’impression qu’il vivait la partie la plus longue du voyage; il brûlait d’envie de débarquer enfin ! Le jeune homme dut cependant prendre son mal en patience car la flotte devait encore rejoindre les débarcadères prévus à son effet et s’y amarrer avant de pouvoir commencer à laisser descendre les passagers et faire débarquer son cargo. Il entendit les cris s’amplifier à mesure que le Leikan s’approchait des quais et put observer plus distinctement ce qui produisait ce bruit : une foule immense et compacte était massée sur toute la longueur de ceux ci et saluait chaleureusement les trois vaisseaux. La clameur s’amplifia encore lorsqu’elle obtint une réponse de la part de la Trinité : les navires firent tous trois simultanément sonner leurs cornes de brumes pour signaler leur arrivée.

Depuis le pont Thrista pouvait observer le port entier. Ce dernier était immense, à la mesure de ses portes, et ne pâlissait pas devant le Leikan, l’Illilda et l’Archéniss réunit. De nombreux autres navires, des plus grands aux plus petits, étaient amarrés ça et là, et une myriade de personnes fourmillaient, affairées à charger ou décharger les marchandises vers ou depuis de longs hangars. Le reste de la surface de pierre claire était couvert par la foule accueillant la flotte Galaedienne.

Un observateur suffisamment averti pouvait également déjà apercevoir des traces de décorations, des draps colorés et des ensembles floraux qui avaient commencé à apparaître en préparation du mariage. Cela rendait la ville encore plus vivante aux yeux de Thrista, lui rappelant sa première visite, plus d’une dizaine d’années plus tôt. Il avait six ans à l’époque et la cité célébrait alors le dixième anniversaire de la princesse. Il y était venu avec son père, qui voulait lui montrer Eneleïa sous son plus beau jour.

« Ne t’éloigne pas trop !, lui avait-il dit alors qu’ils entraient dans l’enceinte de la cité.

Où allons nous ?, avait demandé le jeune garçon, les yeux ébahis.

Tu verras très bientôt ! Mais peut-être aurons nous la chance d’apercevoir la princesse de près…, avait répondu son père avec un clin d’oeil »

A l’époque, il n’avait pas été capable de dire si son père plaisantait ou non mais il n’avait pu retenir l’excitation qui montait en lui à l’idée de visiter la citée Téboréenne. Le souvenir se dissipa lorsque Thrista sentit les secousses familières indiquant que le navire s’arrêtait enfin. La foule en contrebas acclamait toujours chaleureusement la Trinité et ses passagers répondaient avec de larges sourires et des saluts énergiques. Thrista jeta un regard autour de lui, tous commençaient déjà à se diriger vers les passerelles de débarquement ou bien vers leurs cabines pour récupérer leurs affaires. Il hésita un instant avant de se diriger d’un pas lent vers le point le plus avant du bateau, ne s’arrêtant que lorsqu’il fut tout au bout de la proue. Il observa alors le va-et-vient plus bas sur les quais. Le jeune homme préférait attendre avant de débarquer lui même afin d’éviter la foule impatiente de passagers désirant mettre pied à terre ainsi que celle qui attendait une fois en bas.

Le jeune homme dirigea alors le regard au loin vers le palais royal, le bâtiment imposant et d’un blanc pur trônait au dessus des nombreuses autres constructions alentour et était clairement visible malgré la distance. Il laissa échapper un léger soupir avant de laisser son regard se balader sur le reste de la ville, elle ne lui semblait pas avoir changé tant que ça depuis son départ et pourtant elle lui semblait différente. Plus grande peut-être ? L’architecture élégante qui lui était propre était composée de myriades de couleurs contrastant avec la blancheur pure des murs des bâtiments, mêlant élégamment bois et pierre, petitesse et grandeur, droiture et arrondis. La cité était un savant mélange de cultures diverses et de styles nombreux, autant au niveau de sa population et de son histoire, que de son architecture ou de son économie. C’était précisément cela qui la rendait si attractive auprès des ses habitants comme auprès des étrangers qui venaient y séjourner.

Lorsqu’il ne resta plus qu’une poignée de passagers sur le pont Thrista se décida enfin à débarquer. Il se dirigea vers sa cabine – une petite chambre avec un lit simple et une fenêtre – pour y récupérer ses affaires. Il enfila une cape légère et remonta la capuche de celle-ci au dessus de sa tête pour se protéger du soleil avant de passer son sac par dessus son épaule. Il vérifia une dernière fois que rien ne restait avant de sortir. Alors qu’il se dirigeait vers l’un des ponts de débarquement, recouvert d’une toile bleue pour le garder à l’ombre, il remarqua le capitaine du Leikan et son second qui se tenaient sur la terrasse du pont supérieur. Le premier était une jeune femme brune de taille moyenne au regard azuré assuré tandis que son second était un homme d’âge équivalent, fin et à la tignasse rougeoyante. L’homme sembla remarquer Thrista et tourna la tête dans sa direction, lui adressant un discret salut de la tête accompagné d’un léger sourire avant de recentrer son attention sur le débarquement des marchandises plus bas sur les quais. Le jeune homme les avait vu en action tous les deux ; à première vue aucun ne semblait taillé pour la fonction qu’il occupait et pourtant Thrista avait vu les marins obéir immédiatement à leurs ordres et ce sans répliquer. Le capitaine, bien que de plus petite taille que la majorité de son équipage et une femme, et son second, pâle et presque maigre, ne faisaient pas forte impression au premier abord. Tous deux semblaient néanmoins se métamorphoser lorsqu’ils étaient à leur poste et savaient maintenir leur autorité tout en gardant le complet dévouement de leur équipage sans jamais être questionné ou désobéi.

Thrista cligna des yeux à plusieurs reprises alors qu’il mit enfin pied à terre sur le quai d’Eneleïa. Le contraste soudain entre l’ombre agréable de la passerelle et la clarté du ciel était presque douloureux. Lorsqu’il se fut réhabitué à la luminosité ambiante, le jeune homme put réellement mesurer l’agitation qui prenait place sur les quais et dans le port entier : des marins couraient, criaient et transportaient des marchandises de part et d’autre, les passagers se bousculaient et les habitants et touristes venus pour assister à l’arrivée de la Trinité étaient toujours aussi nombreux et bruyants. Il attendit quelques instants que le flot de personnes diminue légèrement pour pouvoir quitter le quai mais se rendit vite compte que cela n’arriverait pas de si tôt. Les membres de l’équipage du Leikan qui aidaient au débarquement des passagers lui souhaitèrent un bon séjour lorsqu’il se décida enfin à braver la cohue. Il n’eut le temps de répondre qu’un simple merci avant de se faire happer par le mouvement de la foule. Lentement, à force de patience et d’obstination, Thrista finit par se frayer un chemin vers l’extérieur du port et à pénétrer dans le district est. Le passage obligatoire par la douane pour quitter le port prit beaucoup moins de temps qu’il ne l’avait imaginé, le fait que ce ne soit pas sa première visite aida grandement, et il se retrouva bientôt dans Eneleïa même. Les rues des quartiers est étaient quasiment aussi peuplées que le port mais petit à petit il parvint à naviguer à travers cet océan vivant et à traverser les vagues de passants qui allaient et venaient dans toutes les directions.

Le jeune homme trouvait cependant sa progression trop lente, il aurait préféré pouvoir atteindre les rues moins bondées plus vite. Son allure réduite, toutefois, lui permit de profiter de la belle architecture de la ville. Les couleurs dansaient tout autour de lui, autant sur les murs des bâtiments et les colonnes que sur les habitants et les touristes qui formaient la foule compacte. Le brouhaha ambiant se mélangeait au centaines de bruits de pas, aux cliquetis des sabots et aux quelques notes de musiques jouées un peu plus loins par un groupe de musiciens ambulants l’accompagnant dans leur valse folle. De petits étals étaient visibles ici et là – les marchands hélant la foule pour essayer de vendre leurs biens – et même les odeurs semblaient s’amuser à se jouer de lui puis à le prendre par surprise. Du romarin, de l’aigre-doux, du pimenté, une rose entêtante et une touche de sel flottaient ici et là. Il aperçut également des constructions en bois placées sur le bord des rues. Ces chariots encore en construction allaient bientôt se mettre en branle et parader dans la ville pour célébrer le mariage de la princesse. La ville était un mélange de myriades de couleurs, de sons et d’odeurs, animée par la musique ambiante et ses habitants. Thrista ne put réprimer un sourire nostalgique. Nombre de souvenirs semblaient vouloir à présent remonter en lui, mais il prit sur lui pour les réprimer et rester vigilant.

L’agitation s’était presque complètement dissipée lorsqu’il arriva dans la partie nord des quartiers est, les rues s’étaient petit à petit vidées de la foule. Seuls quelques passants croisaient à présent le chemin du jeune homme. Thrista laissa échapper un soupir de soulagement, toute cette agitation l’avait exténué plus qu’il ne s’y était attendu. Ce n’était pas la première fois qu’il venait à Eneleïa ou qu’il se frayait un chemin dans une ville bondée, contrairement à de nombreux touristes. Garder l’œil ouvert et l’esprit alerte était absolument crucial, un seul moment de distraction et on pouvait se retrouver dépossédé de tous ses biens. Il s’arrêta un instant pour regarder les indications autour de lui, s’assurant qu’il était dans la bonne direction, avant de poursuivre son chemin. Le palais était toujours sur sa gauche, blanc et imposant malgré la distance. Mais la destination du jeune homme était tout autre : une petite taverne un peu plus au nord.

Thrista marchait le long de la grande rue, jetant des coups d’œil aux alentours à mesure qu’il reconnaissait les bâtiments. Le soleil avait bien entamé sa descente dans le ciel lorsqu’il aperçut enfin sa destination. Il ressentit une vague de joie à l’idée d’être enfin de retour dans la cité portuaire dont il gardait tant de souvenirs. Eneleïa était à la fois telle qu’il se la rappelait dans ses souvenirs les plus lointains, et bien différente : elle était vivante et joyeuse mais, après si longtemps, lui semblait aussi avoir recouvré son air légèrement mystérieux qui l’avait séduit la première fois. Oui, il était décidément temps qu’il revienne. Le jeune homme passa une main dans sa tignasse sombre et ne put que laisser son sourire s’élargir tant l’excitation le gagnait. C’était ici qu’avait commencé son périple et c’était ici qu’à nouveau il faisait escale avant de repartir à l’aventure.

Il était enfin de retour.


ChapitresSuivant

Seven sentence or less

Nerio, the Hero of the Shield

*

It all began long before the events near the small village on the outskirts of our world but the Fates had placed them both under the moon that night.

An Armageddon between the battleworn hero, who valiantly fought to protect his family and his country from the darkness that was to come, and the tortured demon seeking to quench his thirst in seas of blood.

One became none and the other less than even that as the hero became the villain and the villain came to no more be.

Having lost the blood of his blood and the flesh of his flesh but not the heart of his soul, he ripped his heart out before it became foul.

Exiled from his life, banished from his death, he sought revenge and wandered the nether and the never only to become stranded in the silver city with barely a sliver of a hope or a chance.

And yet he made the spark of life come from his still heart, becoming what he hated most and learning the accursed arts of the new family that hosted his rise to power.

The wrongs he wrote were the rights he wronged, what was lost became found again, though in another way, as simply as the bloody moon turned back to the ocean’s jewel.


Another little experiment of mine. Oh but don’t mind me, do keep reading!

An unusual request

The shop had been quiet for a few days now, which was completely normal, mind you, with everything that was going on around the Curve and its gates. It was like this every damn season: Leaf had its refreshing resorts opening their doors, Tear, its holidays and family reunions, Sand had holidays AND great weather, always, and Zephyr and the rest managed to make people get off their asses to move even though she couldn’t understand why after all those years… But what was the most mind-boggling was the people themselves, those who stupidly thought that by starting a few hours or days early they would manage to wiggle through when, after so many cycles, it was always the same thing. The same damn thing, always. Too many people would all think of getting an early start at the same time and it would end up like always, with the gates over-packed and her shop more quiet than usual…

This time was no exception. It even seemed even more quiet than the previous cycles. She knew that clients would always end up coming back at one point, often in much higher numbers in the first weeks following the change but it still managed to freak her out to an extent, even after all this time. I am no better than those idiots, am I? Thinking it’ll be different this time… She sighed and adjusted the new items she had received the previous day. Dust-globes of the citadel, animae of the shuttles gliding along the Curve’s rainbow paths, a bunch of Nat’ur magazines – stupid hipster name – and, last but not least, a dozen pairs of the latest lenses of truth by Trigon, supposedly able to display events past and future of the location you looked at. She knew it was a scam, as most merchants and tourists did – even Trigon themselves, the product’s distributing guild had admitted it sometimes operated in ‘unpredictable ways’ for Io’s sake! – but it never seemed to stop selling, the speed at which they disappeared even seemed to increase.

She was in the middle of putting the contents of the last box on display when the gong echoed. She looked up and saw a red-haired mudborn walk towards her. No, a human, she corrected herself silently. Not cool Vee, not cool… Those were the remains of the old her, she tried to let those apprehensions fizzle out in the far reaches of her mind but it was much more easily said than done. She had learned to see past what her clan had taught her when she had left her home all those years ago but it wasn’t perfect yet. Who is perfect anyway? Nothing it lost as long as you know it’s bad Vee, as long as you know it’s bad, she repeated the words of the preceptor as a mantra. She stood up and dusted her hands on her robe, everything needed a good scrub anyway and she still had some time to get the shop clean and proper before the number of clients soared again.

“Hello, how may I help you?”, she asked, putting on her best smile as the woman walked up to her.

“Hello”, the woman replied with a slight accent, which she found cute, “I am looking for a specific item and have been… unlucky in acquiring it in the shops I have visited previously. I was told that if I asked for a certain Verian here, they would be able to help me…”

The way she had paused in the middle of her sentence had caught Vee’s attention, she studied the woman a little more closely. She looked and sounded like a tourist passing through with her light clothes – an ample white blouse, an equally floating lilac-coloured skirt and a large curved straw hat – and her slightly rolling accent. The only thing missing to complete the look were large sunglasses. But as Vee observed the red-haired woman a bit more closely she noticed the small wooden stick – probably a wand – hanging by her side and the deep yet cold brown of her eyes. Not a passing client, she is dangerous… Vee immediately settled the broad smile on her face so as not to let on her thoughts. Now that she thought about it, the woman had an unfamiliar and spicy aura around her, which was definitely not common. And if he had been recommended to her by her peers, it must mean she was ot a usual client either.

“Of course, I am Verian,” Vee replied, “what is it that you seek to obtain? I may already possess something of the kind in my inventory.”

She went straight to the point and the woman seemed to appreciate that.

“To be frank, I am not looking for an object, rather… a creature. One of great power. I was hoping you would be able to provide counsel on this.”

Interesting, thought Vee. Usually when clients came to her with special orders they were seeking materials or objects, those who came to obtain other types of merchandise like living creatures or other were even more rare. And yet she felt that woman in front of her was of another kind still. She seemed to know exactly what she wanted already and someone who had the means to acquire it by private circuits rather than through merchants or guilds. So why would she come here?

“Come with me.”, Vee said before moving to the back of the shop, not even locking the front door as she was sure no one would disturb them.

The woman followed her to a larger, more lit room which served as a meeting room for the rich and important clients. Windows displaying different landscapes were placed along the walls. Of course they were false, this room had no other physical entry or exit that the one leading to the shop, and it was tailor-made to become a very, very sturdy safe-room if anything went wrong during or after a deal. Or if anything went wrong in general, with her establishment so close to the Curve it was always a risk, no matter what the officials could say, she trusted her judgement more than their corrupted one.

“Have a seat.”, Vee gestured and a row of different seats appeared behind the woman.

She sat on the one covered in pale blue fur. Nice choice, Vee thought, it was the most comfortable one, after her own of course, which she outed immediately after. She also outed a small table with refreshments, she always kept some in case of unexpected business.

“So,” she sat down in her own seat, a thin layer of ochre sand cut into the shape of an armchair, “what exactly brings you to see me?”

She shifted slightly, taking a cookie from one of the jars in front of her, resting her tale on her shoulder. The woman filled a small cup with the sweet ruby liquid in the bottle next to it and took a sip before replying.

“I have a – let’s say a project in mind, small and inconsequential to the scale of the Curve but which I hold quite dear right now. I am very peculiar on the details of this project but it requires a piece that I have not yet been able to put my hands on.”

She paused and took another sip, she seemed to enjoy the drink. Vee did not speak and simply bid her time, she knew when to respect her clients’ pace.

“The creature I am looking for is a dragon,” the woman said after a short silence.

Vee couldn’t help the slight surprise but nodded to hide her small frown. Why would a client come to her for such a simple task as this? There must have been something else…

“As you might expect, I am not looking for simply any kind of dragon, I wouldn’t have come to you if it was the case. I have specific requisites that must be met.”

Of course, it couldn’t be that simple.

“I understand. Would you care to give me these details? I will know immediately what preparations are needed.”, Vee said.

Dragons. She had a few of those in her own inventory but they were common and relatively easy to obtain. They would most likely not be what her client was looking for. That wasn’t a problem though, she hadn’t gotten her reputation by chance, if it existed, she could most likely get her hands on it and most assuredly make a nice deal of it.

“What I am looking for is a hybrid, cross between the black Zora and the small Iyor. It must still be in the egg state, that is very important.”

Vee was mentally reviewing her database to see if she could already pinpoint a location or at least a first move as to how she would fulfill this task and she visibly frowned at the second part of the request. A dragon, whether purebreed or crossbreed was relatively easy to find for someone with her background, but a specific crossbreed and adding the absolute condition it needed to be an egg made things more complicated. Not impossible, though she was confident she could achieve that by going through a few unusual channels. However she froze when the woman added a third condition.

“And you have to bring me along to choose the egg. I would normally ask for its location and go there myself but I am not familiar with these parts and I need a guide…”

Vee checked to see if this was joke, but nothing in her client’s attitude indicated anything of the sort. The red-haired human was completely serious. Damn… I should have expected this…, she silently cursed. Usually, for such a request, she would have her few trusted associates work for or with her and only move once the product was located, or not even move at all sometimes. But that damn woman wanted her to do it herself and to tag along, this was trouble, definite trouble! She did not want to be a babysitter to this human girl, even more so when she had this uneasy feeling about her. She was about to voice her refusal when she felt the spiciness of the air. The woman’s eyes were not cold, nor did they reflect any malice but she felt pressured nonetheless; there was power in those eyes, she could feel it and she wasn’t sure if she was ready to go against her request. She wasn’t even sure she could as she opened her mouth to speak.

“Very well,” she said, refraining a sigh, “I believe I will be able to fulfill your request. However, for this special treatment, the fees will be higher than usual.”

The red-haired woman simply nodded her approbation and Vee waved her hand, vanishing the food from the table and outing the documents to validate this contract.

“Usually for requests like these, I require a month. But since you wish to come with me, I will need a few days to prepare, no more than three, to get the shop in order and to gather some information as to the place where we will begin our search. I hope this is fine for you.”

“I see no problem, it will give me time to continue my preparations and to take a closer look at the citadel.”

“Then if you would press your finger here…”, Vee said, pointing to the thin silver sheet before her on the table.

The woman followed her instructions and Vee did the same on the other side, explaining the exact details, the dangers and the rules that would have to be followed. A copy was then made and one was kept by her, the other given to the woman. Then she accompanied the red-haired human to the door with a smile. It was only partially forced this time, this trip would not be pleasurable to her, she was sure of it, but she would making a nice profit, whether she succeeded or not. However, considering her impression of the one at the origin of the request- no, the demand, she had a feeling that failing was not an option she would enjoy… Vee watched with mixed feelings the woman only known to her by her initial, a cursive E on the contract, take out what she believe was a wand only to have it grow to the size of a broom, and hop on it with elegance before silently flying off.

“Well, this is going to be fun…”, she muttered, her tail purring with apprehension at what was to come.


Prompted by a Reddit thread.

The Shore

The waves had carried the small boat to the shore. She didn’t know where it could have come from but somehow it felt it had arrived right where it should be. As she approached she noticed the young man, lying in it, his face pale and his side bloody. His breath was ragged, his skin was cold and yet he was obviously burning with fever. He was dying. She knew it immediately. He was dying and there was nothing she could do. Nothing to save him at least, but perhaps she could ease his pain. The heavy wrinkles were unmistakable traces of the suffering. They were not scars and yet they were, momentary scars of the turmoil that went on inside. He was dying and she wanted to help.

How she managed to make her voice carry to the castle she couldn’t say, all she knew is that it had and somehow the guards had found her. She had given orders and the young man had been carried to a room in the high tower, her room – she would sleep in her sister’s, it was long unoccupied anyway. Her father had come with the doctor, finding her on her knees, by the large bed, lost in her patient’s form. Her patient he was now, for even after the doctor repeated the words she had already formulated in her own mind, she insisted that she would nurse him. Perhaps not back to health but at least to a more painless death. She would nurse him if none other would try, even if were to fail, even if he died. He wouldn’t die though, she could feel it. Or at least she hoped so with all her heart, day and night, by his side, she hoped and hoped. She would not stop hoping. She simply could not. Even thought she knew perfectly well that she didn’t know him, he was nobody to her, but she had found him on the beach and thus it had become her duty to take care of him.

Day and night. Night and day. Day after day. Week after week. For months she remained by his side, only leaving to attain to the basics of her status as the castle’s lady and to sustain her self. A full moon came and went and he remained bed-ridden, shivering with cold and burning up at the same time, unresponsive but breathing. He was alive. Alive weeks after the short time the doctor had given him, alive in spite of all common sense. Hanging by a thread of sheer willpower, or luck, or divine clemency – she could not say – and taking in breath after breath, each ragged and difficult, but taken in nonetheless. Finally, one fine morning, as winter began to melt upon the world and the sun rose to the east, after refusing to go away for so long, the wound at his side finally shed its last bloody tear.

No matter the cataplasms, the potions or the spells, nothing had worked, it had kept spilling the life out of him, each day annulling the care that the lady had put into treating and keeping the young man on the edge of the last breath. Nothing had worked. It was cleaned, disinfected and stitched shut each night, and every morning it would be found open again, spewing blood. Not profusely but never a small enough amount to hope for him to recover. However, that one morning it had stopped, after hours upon hours of sweat and prayers, after days of struggling and nights of wakes, as the young woman woke up she saw no blood. It had refused to close, the deep and fateful cut as fresh as on the first day she had laid eyes on him, but bleeding no more. The day had passed and although his state had not changed in any way, it had not gotten worse. Then came night and then day again, with no sleep on her part, no rest for her weary heart and mind, which over time had grown accustomed to his uneven breathing and the boiling chill of his skin.

It was on the first light of the next day that the countless prayers she had thrown into the air, all the hopes she had kept afloat for so long, for the first time, crystalized into something beautiful. A single tear, running from the corner of the eye to the corner of the mouth. It glided soundlessly on the pallor of his skin, stopped only by her finger as she ran it on his cheek. Awestruck, she had seen the water collect and the power of gravity slowly do its deed as it attracted the painful rains to the ground. She could barely believe it but, refusing to let this miracle be lost, she let her hand shoot to his cheek without a second though and collected the living pearl. Reflexively, as her fingers touched the cold and gruff surface, she let them keep contact and run further, along the hill of his cheekbone to the ledge of his jaw line. A small beard had begun growing again and the fever had kept him at the edge of freezing and boiling, and yet, under her finger, nothing had ever felt more soft.

Still in the most complete of silence, a small wind began to blow through the half-open window and sunlight poured in over the bed. Suddenly, the world seemed to halt as she felt it. It was lightning quick and softer even than the songs of birds outside, yet she had felt it. As clear as she saw the tear run along her finger now and as strongly as she heard his ragged struggle for life, something she felt she had not in an eternity. A heartbeat. A single, solitary heartbeat, lacking strength, lacking its ever-present echo, but a heartbeat nonetheless. There, in the morning-lit room, where the dead man had kept bleeding for so long, and where silence reigned unchallenged, her shoulders began to shake…


The scene where it all begins again.

In a part of the story inspired by an old legend.

Stanley – 32


 STANLEY

Season 2

Part 32

Rated M for mature content.

Previous Chapter


She had the impression they had been running for hours as they finally slowed down to a normal walking pace. They entered the fast food, trying to act as normal as possible despite their heavy breathing and the fact that both of them were drenched in sweat. They sat down at a table after ordering something to eat; Michel had insisted he “fill his belly with the sweet delight of fast cuisine” and she hadn’t had the heart to say no, her stomach rumbling at the smell of those delicious fries. Her partner started devouring his meal immediately and she followed in turn, both famished after having to run away from that horde of cops.

They had been halfway through the second rooftop when they had heard the shouts of police officers telling them to stop coming from the stairway behind them. How they had managed to get up there so fast was something Stephanie couldn’t explain but they had managed it. Of course neither of them had hesitated even a single second before starting to run faster, she couldn’t get caught, especially not after what she had done. She didn’t manage to stop herself from cringing at the thought, it had all been for naught… Plus she didn’t have a very fond memory of prison cells. Apparently Michel wasn’t too keen on letting himself get caught either because he lead the way without slowing down.

Where the shouts of the police officers had not even fazed her a bit, the first gunshots had almost made her freeze on the spot, almost. It had been surprising, she had never heard a gunshot from such little distance and the whizzing of the bullets as they rushed past both of them was quite surprising too but, since Michel didn’t skip a beat in his run, she didn’t stop and kept running. They had cut it close, very close even, she had to admit that. Even with all her good will and the energy she put into moving her legs one in front of the other at the highest speed possible she couldn’t help but being a little scare, or, more precisely, a bit apprehensive. Being on a rooftop wasn’t that dangerous in itself if one knew how to keep one’s balance and not to do anything stupid. The problem is that they were doing all the stupid possible at that moment: running at full speed, not caring where they stepped, running away from cops and being shot at. Not the most clever thing she had done in her life…

She had barely felt anything as the bullet had grazed her on the right side of her chest, making a hole in her jacket, it had been the feeling of wetness and the dizziness that had come after that had alerted her that something was wrong. She hadn’t said anything though, not before they had managed to get back down to the street. Then, and only then, as the cries of the police officers on the rooftops could still be heard, she had told Michel.

“Let’s get to the car first , we’ll see that then,” she had replied as he had advised to check her wound.

They had driven off as quickly as possible, somehow evading all the police cars on the way and had finally ended up in the commercial zone. Michel had parked the car near a mall and had bought a few supplies to treat her wound while she was evaluating the damage. In the end it hadn’t been to serious, a gash on her side and nothing more. Still hurting but with a clean wound and a reassured mind, they had walked in the nearest fast food to grab a quick bite. And here they were, unsure of what to do next, if they had been tracked by the police or if they were now fugitives. After all, the cops hadn’t been close enough to get a look at their faces so they most likely were safe, but one never knew. Stephanie was starting to relax, thinking back to the apartment and the clues they had found as she ate her chicken burger, when she saw the three men in black suits walk in the room.

To be continued…

Over the edge

Here you finally are, on the edge. Not of glory -oh no, silly- you’re on the edge of the world, frightening isn’t it? From here you can contemplate the vast unknown, the dark emptiness, the infinite abyss. From here on it’s just nothing, on and on, for thousands upon thousands of leagues. Out there is the cold reality, the source of the fear that has been crippling your kind since the beginning of time, out there is the void. No light, no sound, no life. Nothing. From this point on to eternity. Few have reached this place -oh many tried but so many didn’t make it this far- and fewer yet have tried to continue further, to go… beyond. But -hear me well when I say this- none has ever come back. Once you jump over the edge there is no coming back. There is not going forward either. Heck! There is not even a forward to go to. Are you scared? Of course you are. But, my dear adventurer, my sweet sweet brave one, the question is: are you willing to take the leap? This is not a leap of faith, if anything it is a leap of foolishness -of complete and utter stupidity if you ask me-. This is a simple choice. No arguments, no pondering, no reward for your bravery, no prize for your achievement, just a simple act of will. A simple decision: whether to take the plunge or not. It is simple but of course it is not easy, is it, my friend?

Hahaha. I can feel your fear, your indecision. I know. But will you be man enough to make a decision, will you be foolish -or brave, whatever you prefer- enough to choose? Or will you just cower away like so many other before you? Don’t kid yourself, if you do this you will never come back. But if you don’t do it how will you ever know? Aha! There it is, the greatest weakness of your kind: curiosity. I can see its fire burning in your soul, the flames may waver at time but it is there, always burning, waiting to devour more and more. Whatever you choose, whatever you do, is entirely up to you. I will not stop you either way. But will you be able to live with the consequences of your decision? In any case, never will you come back here again. Oh…! Interesting. You have made your choice. So it’s gonna be like that huh? I’ll admit, I couldn’t be sure but I really hoped it would happen this way. The fear in your eyes, the crippling doubt eating at you, are always so much fun to watch, I can’t get enough of it! Well, not that it matters anymore, you’ve made your decision, now you will have to live with it, forever. But don’t worry, you’re not the first to make this choice and, if I may say, certainly not the last one. Leave your regrets behind you, no need to go crazy over this. Anyways, adieu my dear adventurer!, for we will never meet again. Know, however, that it has truly been a great pleasure meeting you and I thank you for this. … Oh come on now! You have chosen, no more hesitation, no more stalling, off you go now! The first step is always the hardest but don’t forget: your new journey awaits! Hahahahaha…

I don’t want to go to sleep.

I’m in that state right now where I feel a bit tired but not too much and where I feel I could do anything I wanted, as if I could take on the world. It’s hard to describe, that sort of feeling happens to me from time to time, usually at night when I’m listening to music. Which is exactly my case right now. And I feel inspiration seeping through my veins, I have many ideas during these moments but I always a tad too tired to start anything and I end up doing a lot of thinking and not being very productive.

Right now I’m thinking about my story, Tales of Ore, and what I should do once I catch up the french text with the translation I’m currently working on. I have many ideas and many projects about how the story should continue, but I also have many uncertainties and questions about the plotline. I’m constantly trying to answer these questions and to make story something as good as what I have in mind when I think about it, but it’s really hard.

I know what I want to do but I don’t really know how to do it and when I finally try to get to it, I feel as if everything I do is kinda useless and that I will never reach my goal… Perhaps I will try to continue the story from where I stopped in the french version and fill in the gap as time goes? I could even post the next chapters and give you a quick summary of the event up until that point so that you could follow? That would give me all the time I want to post the chapters that go in the middle.

But doing that means not knowing when you will have the chapters and forcing you to get spoiled a bit to continue reading. It might help me in the long run but I’m not too comfortable with that… I don’t know.

Yup, as I was saying, a lot of questions I try to answer in times like these… Oh well, ‘la nuit porte conseil’ as we french say. I might have an idea or a revelation as I am sleeping, who knows?

Enough music is never enough!

I couldn’t live my life without music, this is an absolute truth. I don’t simply like music or enjoy it, no, it’s something much deeper than that. Music is a bit like the weather to me, as strange as it may seem it influences my emotions and my attitude much more than most other aspects of my life. When the sun is up and the sky is clear I feel extremely happy and motivated to do whatever I want to do, whereas when it’s raining or cloudy I almost automatically feel depressed or unmotivated/lazy.

The difference between night and day also impacts my writing, I’m a lot more inspired to write during the early mornings or the late evenings, when the sun is either rising, setting or completely down, like during the night. I don’t know why but it seems to stimulate my mind and my imagination. That can be a problem from time to time as I finally get inspired to write when I am completely exhausted… (Yep, that’s annoying when it happens.)

Well music also plays an equally important role in my life. With music I feel happy, emotional, inspired, I feel alive and free somehow. I don’t know why or how but some songs just have this deep effect on me, they touch something deep inside my mind and they give me strength, imagination and love. I just realized that I had already made a post about this subject a few weeks back, you can find it here : Music is love, music is life, so I wont expand too much on this subject since I believe I’ve already said a lot back then.

I will simply say this : today the song that makes me feel alive and free is Louder, Harder, Better by Galantis, that I just found yesterday on SuicideSheep’s Youtube channel, it’s really an awesome piece of sounds. I don’t know why but it resonates within me and it make me smile. In these sort of situations the only thing I can hope for is to one day be able to make people feel and smile with my writing, just as this song makes me feel and smile!

Enjoy! ;)

The demon

night sky

Credits to Elias Stern / LordDoomhammer for this amazing piece called Graceful Moonlight.

It the olden days there was another,

A sphere of light high up in the sky,

That lit up the world just like a mother

During the dark nights, high up it would fly.

 *

The night was dark but the sky was clear. One could see the stars and the soft light of the moon. The night was dark and the air was cold. He could see the creature’s breath shimmer slightly before disappearing mysteriously. He should’ve been cold but the fight had lit a fire in his heart, each breath spread the warmth all over his body. He could feel his blood pumping in his arms, in his head and in chest. He was alive. No, he was still alive. How could he still be alive? How could he have survived so long against such a monster? He saw its red eyes shine in the dark, looking intently at him as if they were piercing his mind, as if it could see directly into his soul. His breath was heavy as he tried to recover from the exhaustion. His muscles were burning, his mind was getting fuzzy by moments and, even if he was still standing, he knew it wouldn’t be long before he crumbled under the immensely powerful attacks of the beast in front of him.

The only thing that kept him alive and standing was that he couldn’t fail. It wasn’t a question of honor or pride, no, he simply couldn’t fail. He had to protect them. He had to protect everyone. If he died here it didn’t matter as long as he took the creature with him, but he couldn’t be defeated, he couldn’t lose. For if he was… He shivered as images of the burning village flashed in his mind, his wife and child, his friends and his neighbors, so many innocent slain by one single being. No! He definitely couldn’t let it happen. He was the only one that could stop it, the only one that had a chance. He couldn’t lose but he didn’t see how he could win either. They had been at it for so long and he hadn’t managed to injure it even once yet. How do I defeat that thing? How? The question echoed endlessly through his mind as he parried and counter attacked over and over again. How do I kill it?

He had felt its aura long before it had reached the village, the deathly smell that characterized its kind. He had known it was coming long before he had seen its bloody eyes glow menacingly at him. He hadn’t been able to believe it at first; they hadn’t been seen for centuries. Why had it appeared now? And why here? How could it be possible? He had no answer to the many questions that had flooded his mind, answers were not important though, action was. He had known what he had to do almost immediately: he had to go face it. He had to kill it before it killed them. Night had already begun to fall when he had jumped on his horse and had left them, not even looking back once as he disappeared in the horizon. He had ridden for hours before reaching the place where it had appeared and a few more before he had encountered it. The night was dark but the light of the moon offered just enough vision to survive its attacks, at least until now.

It was tall, much taller than him, with long limbs and skin darker than night, red eyes and claws so long and so sharp they could tear a man apart without difficulty. The only reason he had managed to survive until was because he had been a royal knight in another life, he had become the protector of the village after years of faithful services and the armor he had donned all these years was reinforced with magic. His lion shield had been enchanted to resist to the strongest blows as well as the passing of time and his sword was a cursed blade, it was the only way to injure a magical creature. And boy, what a creature he had in front of him. Easily over two meters tall with sharp with teeth and deadly magical power, it was easily a mediare daemonis, a middle class demon. A very powerful creature that was said to come from the burning fires of hell. One must have been crazy or foolish to go up against such a monster but he hadn’t lost his mind, he had no other choice if he wanted to keep them safe.

Claws clashed against shield and sword against scale, over and over, relentlessly. Each time he could see the hellish fire burning in its eyes and felt as if the demonic glare was tearing his mind and soul to shreds. He parried and counterattacked, throwing mad sword thrusts at the dark limbs but never succeeding in wounding them. The demon would smile from time to time, as if it enjoyed toying with him, displaying blood-red teeth as sharp as knives. Suddenly he jumped and rolled to the side to evade another blow, the large arm passed right by him and hit the ground with so much strength it crumbled the rocks beneath it. He used this single instant to get back to his feet and thrust his sword at the creature’s exposed chest but the demon was faster and caught the sword between its claws, turning towards him with a wicked smile.

“Foolish human… You cannot defeat me, not even with your sacred weapons…” Its voice was deep and it seemed to echo in darkness.

No, he thought, not in darkness. It was as if its voice was the darkness and as if it took form as it left its mouth. I’m never going to be able to kill that thing… he thought, his mind slowly going numb. He felt as if his body had suddenly been tossed into water, his movements were sluggish, his breathing was ragged and he had difficulty moving his chest to take in a new wave of oxygen. The world had suddenly solidified around him and he could literally feel the weight of it on his shoulders, forcing him to the ground, dragging him to the depths of the underworld. He fell to his knee, only managing to stop himself from falling to the ground by burying the tip of his sword in the dry dirt under his feet. Images flashed before his eyes, the village in ruins, every house burning up in flames as dark as the night, his family lying on the ground, in each other’s arms, dead. No… No! This can’t be happening, no! His head was about to explode, he couldn’t go on anymore, it had to stop.

“Do you see now, it will only end in death and suffering… And that will all be my doing. You cannot stop me, it is already too late!” The demon spoke again, boring its eyes into his, breaking every wall and piercing every barrier to touch his soul.

As soon as it happened he felt a searing pain, this time his head had exploded, it couldn’t be otherwise. He had died and gone to hell where the demon was tormenting him. Hahaha. You are a mine and so are all the others, I will crush you like the insects you are… This time the voice was in his head, it echoed endlessly, sending flashes of unbearable pain and images of his family. His wife, bloody and crying over their son’s body, all torn up and burnt. A sword pierced her heart and a single cry echoed in the night before she fell to the ground next to the young boy. Now die! The voice added and he felt a searing pain in his mind as the demon’s consciousness retreated from it.

He felt it was an eternity before he finally opened his eyes again, he was still on his knees, his body completely paralyzed by intense pain. The demon was towering over him, its dark form expanding in two large wings on each side and its eyes glowing a deep dark shade of red. The creature was holding a large silver blade in its hand, its edge seemed like it was made of a different material than the center and glowed with an eerie purple light. The sword was much longer than what he had ever seen and the edges seemed to be made like teeth of a saw, as if it had been forged to tear apart instead of cutting. The creature lifted it in the air and displayed a wicked smile.

“Now die.” Its voice sounded mocking and amused as it brought down its large and dark arm.

As the deadly weapon was about to hit him an image flashed in his mind, the last look of his wife as he had left and the fear in his son’s eyes. He felt a sudden warmth in his chest as his blood started to boil again, anger coursed through his veins. He couldn’t let it win, it was simply not a possibility!

“No.” He managed to reply, planting his foot on the ground and raising his shield once more to protect himself.

He parried the blow and quickly took a step back, readying his sword once more. He would not fall now, he would not let his loved ones get slaughtered by this monster. He saw surprise flash in the demon’s eyes as he got back up and could have sworn he had seen a hint of fear.

“Impressive…” The demon’s voice was still as calm and deadly as before, there was no hint that he was worried by his opponent just getting back up. “You have a noteworthy resolve for a human.” The creature added before thrusting his sword forward.

He parried with difficulty, feeling his arm go numb as the sword hit his shield. The lion head resounded for a few seconds as the shield shook powerfully under the assault. He could only try to parry as best as he could as the creature attacked relentlessly, over and over again with a blood lust and rage he had never felt before. Its aura was overwhelming and had he not known that they would all die if he didn’t kill it he would have succumbed to it and been utterly destroyed. Dust flew around them as the danced furiously under the moonlight. One might almost have viewed this scene as poetic if they hadn’t known it was a fight.

He tried to fought back, parrying and counterattacking as fiercely as he could, but he was still getting overwhelmed and he knew it was only a matter of time before he would be defeated. Even with the sacred weapons that had been given to him by the royal smith himself he couldn’t match the creature’s natural raw power and strength. It was from another realm and very few men had fought one and lived to tell the tale, all of which were far stronger than he had ever been. Still he hung on, still he fought back. He couldn’t let them be killed, he was the only one who could protect them.

Another unbearably strong hit on his shield, then a clash of swords that sent him a few feet backwards, his arms were starting to give out. His armor was dented and bent everywhere, his shield was close to breaking, he could feel it, and his sword never got close enough to lend a hit. Blow after blow he was pushed back and toyed with, as if the demon was taking pleasure n chipping away his spirit and soul, piece by piece. Another block with his shield, it effectively cutting of the trajectory of the ethereal sword but this time his legs gave out and he was sent flying backwards, landing painfully on his back.

As he tried to get back up he felt something wet on his side. A large gash was open in his top and blood was flowing from the wound, tainting his armor with a deep red color. The demon had finally managed to wound him seriously. He felt the cold spread in his left side, the arm with which he was holding his shield was starting to grow weak. Damn it! He thought, it can’t end like this. I can’t die now! Ugh! A wave of pain coursed through his body and he winced as he tried to get back up. The demon was looking at him, slowly walking to him, as if it enjoyed this moment.

“Sadly you are still nothing but a human…” It said as it stopped before him, preparing to strike.

Finally, with great effort and a wave of pain he managed to raise his shield to try to protect himself. The demon was about to strike when suddenly the light of the moon changed, it went from the usual bluish shade to a deep red one, the reflection of the light on his shield seemed to take the creature aback. Its eyes widened with surprise and fear and it took a step back. He used this moment of distraction to get back up and, stumbling to keep his balance as his wound hurt, he got back in a fighting stance, readying his sword to strike once more. The demon got its balance back, suddenly looking at the moon and letting out a furious roar.

“How?! How could you…!” It turned back towards him, the fire in its eyes burning with much more intensity as it let out its rage.

The demon raised its sword once more and launched a furious series of attacks. However he was ready for this and he managed to block the first two before the creature’s unmatchable strength blew his shield away. He was wounded once more on his right arm this time and almost dropped his sword as his hellish opponent caught him by the throat and lifted him up from the ground. Then, before he could even have a moment to notice he couldn’t breathe, the creature readied its sword again and struck. He felt a deathly cold pierce his chest as the silver and violet blade plunged in him before a hot searing pain took over.

This time he couldn’t suppress the cry of pain as he felt his mind explode in a myriad of pieces. His vision went blank for a second before he saw the fire once again. Its eyes that had been burning with an intense and hellish fire up until now were dark, the fire had turned black and seemed to suck out any light around as if it was consuming it.

“You are just a puny human, you are not even worthy of my efforts…” The demon said as he looked directly into his eyes.

It was all over. He had lost. He was going to die here and so were all the other, massacred by a ruthless creature that took pleasure in inflicting pain in others… Damn it… How could I let this happen…? He thought with dejection as he felt his consciousness slip away. He felt the weight of his sword in his hand and as he felt like his soul was slowly getting sucked in by the darkness in the creature’s eyes another image flashed in his head and realization dawned on him. This was his chance! He just needed to get close enough to land a blow, this was it… He felt the pommel of his blade start to slip away and swore inwardly. Come on! You can do this! He grunted, trying to make his hand move.

Everything was happening in slow motion now, he felt his fingers move, gripping the blade as he caught it before it fell. He then looked into the demon’s eyes and tried his best to display his determination. He readied his arm, tensing at the pain he felt and he was about to feel. The creature’s eyes narrowed a split second before he struck. Its mouth opened and slowly his opponent looked down at its chest, following his arm, the pommel of his sword and finally the blade which had sunk all the way in its chest. After what seemed an eternity it looked back up and stumbled on its feet.

“H- How…?” Asked the demon, its voice was soft, almost a whisper as incomprehension took the place of surprise.

He saw the creature look up at the sky and the reddish colored moon, its eyes now back to their normal hellish fire and filled of fear. He felt all the anger and the determination he had swell up inside him and forced himself to smile. His breathing was ragged but he still managed to get the words out, the first one since they had started the duel.

“Humans… are not weak…” He said and the creature looked back at him.

“No… no…” The demon’s voice was but a whisper now. “No, no, no… NO!!!” Its voice became louder each time it repeated the word, not believing what was happening.

He felt the grip on his throat loosen and fell to the ground. His vision was getting blurry but he still saw the creature fall to its knees as it pulled his now blood-red blade out of its chest and threw it on the ground. A dark liquid was gushing out of the large wound, forming a pool around the creature’s knees. Come on, die you bastard! He thought, almost praying to all the gods he knew for it to die. The demon looked at the moon for a moment, its breathing getting heavier, before raising a raging fist and letting out a deafening roar. It seemed like an eternity before the sound faded away and he saw the monster slowly fall to the ground, face first.

Its body jerked a few times before becoming completely still. At what seemed to him to be the same time as it drew its last breath a flash of light momentarily blinded him. As his sight came back he noticed that the silver and violet sword had disappeared and that a pool of blood was forming around him too. Breathing was getting more and more difficult, he didn’t have the strength to move anymore but still a small smile formed onto his face as he realized he had killed it. Finally… He let out a painful sigh. Thank you, thank you… He didn’t know who he was thanking but only the gods could have allowed such a miracle to happen. He had defeated the demon… Now they were safe. You are safe… The world around him went dark as the thought crossed his mind. He felt his consciousness slip away as a comfortable cold slowly took over his body.

He was dying and he knew it, but he didn’t care, they were safe and that was all that mattered. They were safe. As the man that his village would later know as a hero lay there, unmoving, the moon’s light slowly went back to its usual bluish color. A small breeze blew over the two corpses, slowly blowing away the demon’s body as if it was sand. That night would later be known as the first night of the red moon, when a demon had been defeated by a brave human who had managed to protect everyone by sacrificing his own life. None knew what happened to him after that though, his body was never found, only his shield with the mighty lion head engraved on the front side, planted in the ground where the fight had taken place.