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!

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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.

Ombre & Plumes – 12 – Essayage royal

Résultat de recherche d'images pour "cloitre"


D’ombre et de plumes

12

Essayage royal


Alors qu’il arrivait près de la jeune femme blonde et de l’homme aux cheveux blanc Thrista salua discrètement Todd et Hannah de la tête. Cette dernière lui lança un bref regard mais Thrista décela la noirceur qui s’y cachait encore. Il ne l’aurait pas avoué si on lui avait posé la question mais il réalisait qu’il prenait un certain plaisir à énerver la jeune femme brune. Il n’y avait aucune raison particulière à cela sinon qu’il trouvait cela étrangement satisfaisant de tester les limites de sa patience. Il s’arrêta à quelques pas de la princesse, sur la gauche de l’homme et attendit qu’elle le salue avant de la saluer à son tour. Siléna et son interlocuteur se retournèrent tous deux vers Thrista presque immédiatement.

« Ah Thrista ! Je suis contente de te voir !, s’exclama la princesse, gratifiant le jeune homme d’un léger hochement de tête auquel ce dernier répondit en s’inclinant.

– Moi de même chère princesse, répondit le jeune homme.

– Je ne crois pas que tu connaisse messire De Guidre, il est capitaine de l’un des trois vaisseaux de l’armada Galadéenne. »

L’homme aux cheveux blanc s’inclina alors à son tour et tendit une main que Thrista serra.

« Messire De Guidre, j’ai l’honneur de vous présenter Thrista Daener. C’est l’un de mes plus ancien et fidèle ami. Il est aussi le fils d’Ellias Daener, l’un des plus illustres gardiens du royaume. »

Thrista sourit légèrement, il était reconnaissant envers la princesse de le présenter ainsi. Il n’aimait pas se vanter de ses origines mais dès qu’il donnait son nom on voulait savoir s’il avait un lien de parenté avec « le grand » Ellias Daener. Cela avait eu pour effet de le décourager de se présenter complètement, il préférait en général ne donner que son nom, surtout aux militaires car ceux-ci ressortaient alors des tréfonds de leur mémoire tous les détails qu’ils connaissaient de la vie de son père. La princesse avait su comment s’y prendre, le présenter comme son ami avant d’annoncer sa parenté avec Ellias Daener permettait d’atténuer grandement le nombre de questions, recentrant la conversation sur l’amitié du jeune homme et de Siléna plutôt que sur son lien de parenté avec son père. Au grand soulagement de Thrista le vieil homme sourit simplement à la mention de son père et ne posa pas de question.

« Ah oui ! Je le connaissais peu mais, bien que cela ne fasse pas toujours plaisir à entendre, je vois la ressemblance. Vous avez une présence très similaire, remarqua De Guidre ce qui fit sourire les deux jeunes gens.

– Oui, je m’entends souvent dire que je lui ressemble. Cela ne me déplait pas mais il est vrai que ce n’est pas toujours réjouissant. Et vous maître De Guidre êtes donc l’un des capitaines de la flotte de Galaeda ?

– Tout à fait, je suis le capitaine de l’Archéniss, le meilleur des trois vaisseaux de l’armada !, répondit l’homme aux cheveux blanc en rigolant.

– Je ne crois pas que le capitaine du Leïkan soit du même avis, rétorqua Thrista un sourire aux lèvres. »

Le vieil homme eut un petit sourire à cette remarque.

« Non, en effet, acquiesça-t-il. Vous avez donc pu rencontrer Irina ?

– Non, je n’ai pas eu l’honneur de la rencontrer directement, mais j’ai eu la chance de croiser son second lors de la traversée et d’après ce qu’il m’a dit j’en ai déduis qu’elle est très fière de son vaisseau.

– Ah, ce cher Jacob, il à la vie dure le pauvre ! Oui, Irina Evinsky est la première femme à être devenue capitaine de l’un des trois bateaux de la flotte, elle en est très fière. Mais elle a aussi de quoi, c’est une très bonne capitaine et navigatrice !, expliqua le capitaine de l’Archéniss souriant toujours.

– La première seulement ?, s’étonna Siléna. Aucune autre femme n’y était parvenue avant elle ? »

De Guidre se tourna vers la princesse.

– Non, malheureusement aucune avant elle n’avait réussi à obtenir ce poste. Mais le capitaine Evinsky a du caractère et elle a passé toutes les épreuves qui se dressaient devant elle avec brio. Elle fait une très bonne addition à notre flotte.

– Evidemment, une femme apporte toujours du positif !, avança Siléna avec ferveur. »

Le vieil homme rit de bon cœur et approuva la jeune princesse.

« Tout fait chère princesse, ou du moins sa présence nous empêche de dire le contraire, répondit-il avec un clin d’œil. »

Ce fut au tour de Thrista et de la princesse de sourire à cette remarque.

« Attention à ce que vous dites messire De Guidre, l’une d’entre elles pourrait vous entendre…, le mit en garde Siléna. »

Le capitaine rit à nouveau avant de s’excuser.

« Veuillez m’excuser à présent mais, malgré tout le plaisir que j’ai a discuter avec vous chère princesse, le devoir m’appelle et je me dois de retourner à mon navire pour surveiller l’avancement des préparatifs. Je vous souhaite tout le bonheur du monde, à votre famille et au peuple de cette magnifique cité. A une prochaine fois peut-être. »

Il s’inclina devant la princesse puis devant Thrista.

« Et vous jeune homme bonne chance, même si le chemin n’est pas de tout repos il faut continuer à aller de l’avant. Passez le bonjour à votre père de ma part lorsque vous le verrez. »

La princesse le salua de la tête et le jeune homme s’inclina légèrement à son tour avant que le vieux capitaine ne fasse demi tour et se retire.

« Au revoir messire De Guidre, au plaisir de vous revoir !, s’exclama Siléna alors que l’homme s’éloignait. Elle se tourna ensuite vers Thrista. Tu n’imagine même pas le nombre de personnes ennuyeuses que j’ai dû saluer et auxquelles j’ai dû sourire et faire des courbettes ce matin…, soupira-t-elle.

– Tu n’avais pas l’air de t’ennuyer avec le capitaine De Guidre pourtant, la taquina Thrista. Mais heureusement que j’arrive alors, ajouta-t-il avec un sourire narquois.

– Ne te crois pas aussi intéressant que cela cher ami, tu vas prendre la grosse tête ! Mais je dois dire que ça fait du bien, la salle du trône était pleine à craquer au lever du jour. Je vais enfin pouvoir prendre une pause, la première de toute la matinée, et me reposer. Viens avec moi, marchons un peu, ajouta-t-elle avant d’entraîner Thrista à l’écart dans l’un des couloirs secondaires. »

Elle fit signe à ses deux gardes du corps avant de disparaître.

« Je leur indique qu’on sort, Père a menacé de me m’interdire toute sortie du château pour les dix prochaines années si je sortais encore sans être accompagnée avant le mariage…, expliqua la jeune femme devant le regard interrogateur de son ami. »

Ce dernier sourit à cette remarque en imaginant très bien le roi essayant de raisonner sa fille et devant en venir à des menaces pour se faire écouter.

« Je vois, dit-il simplement. Et où allons nous alors ?

– Me préparer pour mon mariage évidemment !, s’exclama la jeune femme. Mon futur époux est sûrement déjà en train de se préparer, il est temps que moi aussi je m’y mette. J’ai quelques derniers essayages à faire pour ma tenue.

-Très bien, je te suis alors, acquiesça Thrista. Mais, d’ailleurs, pourquoi n’était-il pas là ce matin, ton cher futur mari ?

– Mon cher Thrista, après tout ce temps passé à courir dans les couloirs du palais n’as-tu rien appris des traditions de Tébor ? Aujourd’hui est un hommage à l’héritière du royaume en honneur de son mariage, c’est-à-dire à moi. C’est seulement demain soir, après la cérémonie, que les hommages en l’honneur des mariés auront lieux. Et je vais encore devoir faire des courbettes à de nombreux hypocrites… Siléna soupira. Au moins je serais avec Thédric, ça devrait faciliter ces longues heures. Peut-être que je m’amuserais même un peu, qui sait ?, ajouta-t-elle avec ironie.

– C’est ton mariage Siléna, essaye d’en profiter, ça n’arrive qu’une seule fois. Enfin ça dépend pour qui…, dit Thrista. Et si ton prince est aussi charmant que cela il saura quoi faire. Sinon, je suis désolé de te le dire, mais c’est un imbécile…

– Eh !, s’exclama la princesse en donnant un coup de coude au jeune homme qui se mit à rire.

– Excusez-moi princesse…, répondit Thrista en s’inclinant jusqu’au niveau du sol. Cette réflexion était tout à fait inappropriée de ma part et j’en suis désolé. Mais c’est tellement drôle de te voir défendre ton âme sœur avec autant de passion !, ajouta-t-il avant de s’écarter précipitamment en riant lorsque que la jeune femme tenta de lui asséner un second coup.

– C’est ça ! Cours parce que si je t’attrape… !, alors que le jeune homme s’éloignait en parcourant le couloir à grandes enjambées.

– Si je puis me permettre, ce n’est pas digne d’une princesse de se comporter ainsi en public !, s’écria le brun alors qu’il disparaissait dans la cours intérieure du palais. »

Celle-ci était construite sur le modèle d’un cloître mais de taille bien plus grande et était ornées d’arbres, de statues et d’une fontaine en son centre, sur le même principe que les jardins. Le jeune homme avait juste eu le temps de voir le regard amusé de Todd, qui les suivait en retrait accompagné de son binôme, avant de se retrouver à l’extérieur. Lorsqu’il vit enfin arriver la princesse et ses deux gardes du corps il était assis sur le rebord de la fontaine et admirait la statue d’un des premiers rois de Tébor accompagné d’un oiseau de proie. La jeune femme blonde était rouge et lui lança un regard meurtrier qui signifiait sûrement « Tu ne paie rien pour attendre ! », mais qu’il préféra interpréter comme « On ne s’assoit pas sur le rebord de la fontaine ! ». Il se leva donc et alla rejoindre Siléna qui se dirigeait déjà vers l’autre côté de la cours.

« J’ai comme l’impression que j’ai provoqué le courroux de sa majesté…, chuchota Thrista au blond avec un sourire complice alors que celui-ci arrivait à son niveau. Pourtant je ne vois pas ce que j’ai bien pu faire… »

Celui-ci lui répondit par un haussement d’épaules et un petit sourire amusé avant de lui emboîter le pas à la suite de la princesse. Thrista croisa brièvement le regard plus sombre et désapprobateur d’Hannah à l’intention du blond et de lui-même et ne put s’empêcher de sourire, ce à quoi cette dernière soupira et détourna le regard. Le jeune homme rattrapa la princesse et marcha en silence à ses côté pendant un moment le long des immenses couloirs du palais avant de reprendre la conversation.

« Où allons-nous alors ?, demanda-t-il enfin en évitant de nouveau un coup de coude de la jeune femme. Mais je n’ai rien dit cette fois !, s’exclama-t-il.

– Mesures préventives, répondit simplement la blonde avec un sourire sarcastique. »

Elle s’arrêta devant une grande double porte pour répondre au jeune homme avant de les ouvrir d’un mouvement sec.

« Et pour ton information, nous allons dans les ateliers du palais, je dois aller me changer. Je te rappelle, au cas où tu l’aurais déjà oublié, cher ami, qu’aujourd’hui est le dernier jour de préparatifs avant mon mariage… »

Ils entrèrent dans une large salle où une dizaine de femmes s’affairaient autour de nombreux tissus et étoffes. Des coffrets de bijoux occupaient chaque centimètre carré restant des trois tables disposées dans la pièce. Seule une ou deux d’entre elles se retournèrent à l’entrée de la princesse et la saluèrent avant de se focaliser sur les étoffes à nouveau, ce qui ne sembla pas déranger cette dernière et ce qui n’étonna pas Thrista. Depuis le temps qu’elles la côtoyaient, les couturières avaient dû s’habituer à ses exigences familières en matière d’interactions, de gré ou de force.

« En parlant de mariage…, le jeune homme fouilla dans sa sacoche et en sortit une boite en bois rectangulaire, j’ai oublié de te donner ça tout à l’heure. »

La jeune femme le regarda un instant, la curiosité pouvant se lire dans son regard, puis pris la boite et la posa sur une petite table basse qui était dépourvue de tout objet.

« Merci, dit-elle avec un sourire avant de se diriger vers l’une des femmes se trouvant dans le fond de la pièce. Je le mets ton cadeau de côté, je l’ouvrirai plus tard si cela ne te dérange pas. On dit qu’il n’est pas bon de trop vouloir se précipiter dans ce genre d’événements. »

Elle lui tira la langue puis se tourna vers une femme âgée habillée d’une tunique pourpre.

« Madame Angelis, on m’a dit que vous aviez besoin de ma présence. Dites moi où vous en êtes. »

La femme se retourna et salua la princesse avant de la conduire vers l’une des trois tables se trouvant derrière elles.

« Mes hommages princesse. Votre robe est prête, il ne vous reste plus qu’à la porter pour que nous puissions faires les derniers ajustements nécessaires. »

Elle désigna une large pièce d’étoffe blanche et bleu marine reposant au centre de la table.

« Bien, allons-y alors, je préfèrerais que cela soit terminé au plus vite… Je n’aime pas les essayages…, répondit la princesse avant de se diriger vers un grand rideau beige dressé au centre de la pièce.

« Ma dame, ne voulez vous pas faire sortir ces jeunes gens d’abord ?, demanda la femme en désignant Thrista, Todd et Hannah.

– Non, ce sont mes gardes du corps personnels et un ami d’enfance, ils peuvent rester s’il ils le désirent. Je leur fais confiance pour qu’ils se tiennent correctement.

– Bien Ma Dame, elle s’inclina puis se tourna vers les autres femmes. Bien, nous avons peu de temps alors mettons nous au travail !, s’exclama-t-elle en frappant dans ses mains. »

Chacune des femmes présente connaissait son rôle parfaitement, pas une n’hésita avant de se mettre au travail, choisissant les étoffes et les bijoux nécessaires avant de disparaître derrière le rideau. Hannah alla se poster près de la porte d’entrée, s’appuyant contre le mur. Todd lui alla s’asseoir sur l’un des bancs en bordure de la pièce et Thrista vint le rejoindre. On pouvait entendre les courtières s’affairer derrière le rideau, la voix de la femme âgée donnant des ordres, prodiguant des conseils et s’informant des préférences de la jeune femme pour sa tenue.

« On dirait qu’elle me fait la tête, elle n’a même pas regardé mon cadeau plus de quelques secondes avant de le mettre de côté, dit-il après s’être assis sur la gauche du jeune homme blond. »

Celui-ci sourit à nouveau à cette réflexion.

« C’est le moins que l’on puisse dire. Mais cela ne devrait pas durer, elle à bien d’autre choses à penser en ce moment qu’une simple querelle avec un ami… Et puis, si je peux me permetre, au vu de son attitude depuis hier, je ne pense pas qu’elle t’en veuille beaucoup, elle te fais marcher.

– Je n’en suis pas si sûr, soupira Thrista. Même dans les pires situations elle sait se rappeler des choses les plus insignifiantes. Elle saura me le faire payer en temps voulu.

– Espérons que le futur prince saura la raisonner et tempérer son caractère…

– Il est vrai qu’elle a beaucoup changé depuis la dernière fois que je l’ai vue mais ça m’étonnerait… Enfin bon, je survivrai. Il faut juste que je trouve un moyen de me faire pardonner. »

Thrista lança un regard en direction du rideau, se rappelant les quatre cent coups que lui et la princesse avaient fait plusieurs années plus tôt, avant de reprendre la parole.

« D’après ce que j’ai cru comprendre ce Thédric Junon à l’air d’avoir un caractère plus calme et réfléchi que la princesse. Je n’ai pas grand espoir que cela la fasse changer radicalement mais qui sait… Peut-être qu’elle en oubliera mon affront de ce matin…, dit-il avec un petit rire amusé. En tout cas, Siléna à l’air de beaucoup l’apprécier. C’est plutôt bon signe.

– Vous vous connaissez depuis combien de temps ? Si je puis me permettre, demanda Todd.

– Je l’ai rencontrée pour la première fois alors que j’avais à peine sept ans. Mon père a été chargé de plusieurs missions pour le roi au cours des années et, lorsqu’il était parti en voyage, je séjournais ici, au palais. Ça a pris quelques temps mais nous sommes devenu de bons amis Siléna et moi. C’était elle la plus casse cou de nous deux, toujours à vouloir aller plus loin et elle refusait d’écouter qui que ce soit excepté elle-même. Cela fit sourire Todd. Elle est restée très indépendante très longtemps, toujours à s’éclipser du château et à mener la vie dure à ce pauvre Oscius. Même depuis tout à l’heure, depuis que je l’ai vue discuter avec Messire De Guidre, je ne peux m’empêcher de le remarquer. C’est subtil mais le changement est bien là. Bien sûr elle ne se laissera jamais dompter, la preuve avec son escapade d’hier qui, vu votre réaction, ne devait pas être tout à fait prévue ni organisée, mais j’ai l’impression qu’elle mesure plus le poids de ses actions. Je me demande si ça à un lien avec sa rencontre avec le futur prince…, ajouta Thrista, pensif.

– C’est possible, acquiesça Todd.Heureusement que j’ai l’habitude de faire avec les personnes têtues, chuchota-t-il en faisant un signe imperceptible de la tête vers sa coéquipière.

Le brun se contenta, pour toute réponse, d’afficher un sourire amusé hochant la tête. Todd et lui se mirent à rire silencieusement. Ils attirèrent les regards noirs de la Dame Angelis, par derrière le rideau, et d’Hannah, dont ils sentirent le froid dans leur dos.

« Et vous, comment en êtes vous arrivé à être gardes du corps de Siléna ?, demanda alors Thrista.

– Hannah et moi voyageons ensemble depuis un certain temps déjà. Pour découvrir le monde et nous entraîner à l’art de l’empirium. »

Thrista acquiesça.

« Oui, c’est bien ce que je pensais. J’ai senti son énergie magique quand Hannah m’a surpris dans les jardins du palais, dit-il.

– Oui. Excuse là pour ça, elle à tendance à prendre ses missions trop au sérieux…, répondit le blond en souriant l’air gêné.

– Aucun problème, elle ne faisait que ce qui lui était demandé. Thrista écarta l’incident d’un geste de la main. Et vous voyagez dans toute l’alliance ?, demanda-t-il.

«  Oui, nous parcourons l’Alliance à la recherche d’autres mages pour s’entraîner et de temps en temps nous offrons nos services en échange d’argent ou de nourriture.  Nous sommes arrivés en ville il y a trois semaines et nous avons appris que le roi cherchait des gardes du corps pour la princesse. Il a été convaincu lorsqu’on lui à montré ce qu’on pouvait faire.

– Il pensait sûrement qu’avec vous et vos capacités la princesse serait plus en sécurité.

– Sûrement oui. Nous sommes censé la protéger jusqu’à la fin de la semaine, après le mariage. Ensuite, eh bien, nous partirons sûrement vers le sud. Il y a quelqu’un à qui je dois aller rendre visite là bas.

– Et vous allez participer au prochain Tournoi ? Thrista vit Todd froncer imperceptiblement les sourcils à la mention du Tournoi des Sages mais ne releva pas.

– Je ne sais pas encore, commença le jeune homme blond. Hannah aimerait bien y aller, moi aussi, mais de là à y participer rien n’est décidé. Et puis, avec toi comme adversaire, ce ne sera pas simple…, ajouta-t-il alors que son sourire revint. »

Le brun sourit également à cette remarque.

« Oh je n’en suis pas encore là !, s’exclama-t-il. J’ai encore beaucoup de choses à apprendre. Mais j’espère vous y croiser tous les deux si j’y arrive moi-même. »

Todd hocha la tête.

« Alors je vais y réfléchir, répondit-il. »

Les deux jeunes hommes discutèrent pendant l’heure qui suivit, partageant leurs expériences de voyages et leurs impressions de la princesse. Thrista remarqua que la jeune femme blonde et la dénommée Hannah se ressemblaient sur plusieurs points. D’ailleurs, elle n’avait pas bougé depuis tout ce temps, remarqua-t-il en jetant un coup d’œil vers la jeune femme brune. Elle était toujours adossée au mur dans la même position, les yeux fermés. Quelqu’un de non initié à la magie aurait pu penser qu’elle se reposait ou même dormait mais Thrista remarqua qu’elle méditait, son esprit était replié sur lui-même et elle semblait ne pas être dérangée par les bruits provenant de la préparation de la princesse. Ni le bruit des outils de couture, ni les réflexions des femmes ou les jurons de la princesse ne semblaient la déconcentrer. Au bout de trois quarts d’heure de discussion vieille femme émergea enfin de derrière le rideau. Elle se dirigea vers Thrista et Todd et ces derniers relevèrent la tête.

« Je suis désolée messires, mais cette fois je vais devoir vous demander de bien vouloir sortir. La princesse doit essayer sa nouvelle robe et, comme le veut la tradition, personne autre que nous ne doit la voir avant la cérémonie. »

Todd se leva et se dirigea vers sa coéquipière mais Thrista s’adressa à la princesse.

« Es-tu sûre ?

– Certaine !, lui répondit la voix de la princesse depuis l’autre côté du rideau. »

Il sourit, sachant pertinemment que la princesse ne les congédiait que pour en finir avec les préparatifs, il s’inclina alors vers femme âgée.

« Dans ce cas Dame Angelis je me retire. Merci de nous avoir autorisés à rester. » Ce à quoi la femme le salua de la tête avant de se retourner et de se diriger vers le rideau. Il s’adressa ensuite de nouveau à la princesse avant de se diriger vers la sortie.

« A tout de suite votre altesse. »

Thrista rejoint Todd et Hannah au niveau de la porte et fit signe au jeune homme de le suivre.

« Ne vous inquiétez pas, tout va bien. Il ne faut pas contredire les ordres de la princesse.

– La tradition veut qu’aucun homme ne voie la princesse avant le début de la cérémonie. Je ne suis pas un homme, je reste au cas où, déclara la jeune femme brune.

– Hannah !, commença Todd, mais Thrista intervint avant qu’il ne puisse contredire sa coéquipière.

– Non, c’est bon. Elle peut rester si elle le souhaite. Après tout il est vrai que la tradition n’impose pas aux femmes se retirer. »

Todd regarda Hannah pendant un cours instant, le regard de cette dernière ne vacilla pas, puis levant les mains en signe de défaite il soupira.

« Bien, alors allons y. »

Ils se dirigèrent donc tous deux de nouveau vers la cours intérieure après avoir refermé les doubles portes derrière eux.

« Je n’y crois pas !, s’exclama le blond une fois qu’ils furent arrivés au niveau de la fontaine. Elle n’en fait qu’à sa tête…  C’est vrai que notre mission est de protéger la princesse mais quand même, elle prend tout trop au sérieux je trouve… »

Thrista sourit à ces mots.

« Ne t’inquiète pas, tant qu’elle ne ralentit pas la bonne marche de l’essayage en organisant une fouille de dernière minute, ce qui lui vaudrait les foudres de la princesse, tout devrait bien se passer.

– Elle en est bien capable malheureusement…, s’esclaffa le blond. »

Ils marchèrent alors dans les allées du petit jardin intérieur, profitant de la fraîcheur de l’ombre que projetaient les arbres et discutant de leurs différents projets pour la suite. Ils aperçurent parfois quelques servants et gardes qui s’affairaient aux préparatifs mais dans l’ensemble cette partie du palais était calme. Tout le personnel devait déjà être à son poste en train de veiller à ce que tout se passe bien bien lendemain. Une autre heure s’était écoulée lorsqu’ils virent enfin la princesse, suivie de près par Hannah, ressortir de l’atelier en soupirant bruyamment.

« Je sature ! Il est vraiment temps que la cérémonie commence ! Plus vite ce sera passé, mieux ce sera…, s’exclama-t la blonde en les rejoignant. »

Thrista ne put s’empêcher de pouffer légèrement de rire, ce qui eut pour effet de lui valoir un autre regard noir de la part de celle-ci.


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EoP – Part 122


Echoes of Power

Part 122


“So you mean to tell me that you spent the week-end exercising and meditating?”, Bryan asked in disbelief.

“Yeah, just as I said. I went running both Saturday and Sunday morning, around the hills to the south near the park.”, Alexandre said with a proud smirk.

“Nah, even after asking you a third time I don’t believe you… I mean, meditating, why not… But you, running and exercising on a resting day? No way!”

Alexandre almost laughed. If only his best friend knew all of it, he would probably freak out. Or perhaps not, considering… But he couldn’t very well tell him any of it, or ask him directly about his… condition, could he? No, that would be crazy. He would seem crazy. What if he had been hallucinating it all? Then he would really seem crazy, even to himself. And if he hadn’t well he’d still surely seem stupid, and that was inconceivable! Plus Damian had told him to keep his mouth shut about their arrangement. He’d had problems telling what was real and what wasn’t recently, which was completely understandable considering the strange ‘powers’ he had discovered, the monsters that had attacked him and the deep wounds that had just vanished under the shower…

“I swear to you my friend. I even got someone to give me a few pointers.”, Alexandre added, explaining his encounter with Damian but leaving out the important details.

No, if he was crazy he didn’t want to know it. Not yet anyways, he was finally living something interesting. Wait… Talking about vanishing wounds… He looked at his best friend’s face and noticed the thin pink line under his eye which was still there. That seemed to be the only trace left of his injuries after his violent practice session of the other day. His face was not bruised at all and his arm was not in a cast anymore. When had it disappeared by the way? Alexandre couldn’t tell, he had been so focused on other things that he hadn’t paid attention… Perhaps he was really a werewolf after all, and perhaps all of this was indeed real… Oh god, I’m going crazy!

“Hmm?”, he asked as he noticed Bryan had gone silent.

“Damn it, you weren’t paying attention again, were you? I was telling you I started training again this week-end. Softly, not to get hurt again, but I’m back in there!”, Bryan said as if reading his best friend’s mind.

“Oh! Nice! I was just thinking about the fact I hadn’t seen your cast the last few days! So, not too rusty I hope?”, he taunted Bryan with a smirk.

They had been sitting on a bench near the library since the morning classes had ended. It had been almost four days since they had been able to spend time together, the week-end had been really full for both of them and then the last few days had seemed to pass in the same way. Somehow their classes had been packed so tightly together and full of content that they hadn’t had a minute to breathe and each of them had things to do during pauses or after school, rendering their talking time almost nonexistent until that afternoon which, strangely, was almost completely void of any class.

Bryan had asked the question that he burned to know the answer to first: what about the date? To which Alexandre had happily provided details for almost a full hour, recounting how the evening had gone well and how he found Chloe amazing, which was very true, she was fun to be around and incredibly cute! Then, after ‘fangirling’ over that as he called it, they had moved on to other subjects, mainly filling the other in on what they had done up until that point. Alexandre noticed the rest of their group of friends heading in their direction and was about reply to their loud greetings when he spotted an unfamiliar redhead in the distance.


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EoP – Part 121


Echoes of Power

Part 121


Back. And forth. One way and then the other, slowly and gracefully. The blade of grass danced in rhythm with the beats of his heart, slowly swaying from left to right and the from right to left. He could see it as clear as day. His eyes were closed, the sounds around him had all faded into the distance and he could barely feel the soft breeze or the warm sunrays on his face. His concentration was solely directed at his inner self, his thoughts and his feelings were focused on a single image: a lone blade of grass. It was a strange sensation that Alexandre had never quite experienced before. He knew he hadn’t moved from his spot on the grass but it felt like he was somehow floating around, he could still feel his whole body but it felt weightless.

In any other circumstance it would have felt completely to him to say this but at that precise moment it was as if he was one with the grass: floating around lightly and without a care in the world. It wasn’t as easy as he had thought to keep focusing his mind on a single object but somehow he managed to drive away any distraction that came his way for a period of time that felt like hours. He couldn’t say how long it had been however, perhaps even just a few minutes, and therefore he did not dare break his focus in fear of being reprimanded by Damian. The teenager suddenly noticed something peculiar however: as the blade of grass kept undulating it seemed to begin to glow slightly. It was almost unnoticeable, a sort of thin halo running along the border of the plant, however Alexandre couldn’t tell if it was the way he imagined the light around it or if it came from the blade of grass itself.

Just as he was beginning to focus on that strange vision, it disappeared. The teenager felt like he was suddenly pulled backwards, he was falling! He gasped and opened his eyes with a start. He had tried to yell but it had come out as a sharp gasp. His heart was beating loudly as he looked around and he felt beads of sweat roll on his face and arms. The sky was still as blue and as clear as before, the wind blew lightly on the hillside. The only thing that was different was the sun which had risen higher in the sky. Alexandre somehow deduced he had remained in his state of meditation (or whatever that had been) for a bit more than two full hours! As he calmed down his heart, his eyes darted all around, looking for the silhouette of the older man but, after a few seconds and having looked everywhere, the teenager realised that his teacher was gone. He must’ve left while I was deep in the meditation exercise.

“Without even a goodbye or anything…”, he groaned as he stood up.

Alexandre started stretching, taking that time to think about what he should be doing. If he left, does that mean it’s over for today or should I wait for him to come back? The young man was pondering the best option, carefully weighing the possible consequences to the next decision he would make, when he felt his phone vibrate in his pocket. ‘Next week, same place, same time.’ That was all the message said, short and to the point. Even the number was hidden, but Alexandre didn’t doubt for a second that it was coming from Damian.

“Well then…”, he sighed after a few minutes of stretching his stiff limbs.

He ran off towards the city at a slow pace, preferring to warm back up a little before picking up the pace.


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EoP – Part 120


Echoes of Power

Part 120


Repetition?

Alexandre tried to understand what his master meant with that. Of course he knew the saying that said practice made perfect but how could this apply here? He was barely beginning training this way, how could he use his experience in something he hadn’t even seriously practiced once? Or… Perhaps Damian meant something slightly different? Bits and pieces of old memories flashed in his mind, his mother’s words, things he remembered having heard on television…

“Try counting in your mind,” his mother had once told him, “from zero to a hundred. My trainer gave me this advice when I started yoga. You just count and try to picture the numbers in your mind and you focus on it, you think of nothing but the numbers. Once you’ve reached one hundred you start again. Go on, try.”

She had smiled at him, inviting him to sit back down besides her and to try this exercise. It had been years since Alexandre had thought about these few days in the months where she would be home and try to do some activities with him. He had always been bored by her definition of fun -almost always doing boring things grown ups liked to do, at least that was how he saw it back then- but he still tried to participate to make the most of the time he could spend with her and to please her. He could also remember a few TV shows that she watched at the same time, giving pointers as to how one could relax and try to meditate. It was always the same thing: focus on a point of your body and just try to picture it in your mind.

So, something like a single thought. And then work from there?, he thought, trying to understand what Damian had tried to explain. Counting it is then? No, I always get distracted. His mind worked at full speed, trying to come up with a solution to his master’s request as fast as he could so as not to get reprimanded once more. Then what? What should I focus on? I’m never going to succeed am I…? He was starting to feel desperate, relaxation techniques had never really been his thing, especially when they were close to meditation. Come on, think! I just have to find something to focus on, it shouldn’t be that difficult! He took a deep breath and tried to relax.

The warm wind rustled in the grass. He could hear the birds singing around him and the distant shouts of children playing in the nearby school. Somehow a piece of an answer came to Alexandre. He listed in his mind all of the things that were in his surroundings, trying to form an image of something he could focus on. A tree. The sky. The sun. The birds. The sounds he could hear. But strangely the thing that left the most striking imprint on him was the grass. A single blade of grass. It wasn’t as if he could see it per say but if felt like he could somehow imagine a single blade of grass as it slowly danced in the wind.

He suppressed a proud smile, unwilling to unnerve his teacher, and tried to focus his thoughts on that image, replaying that moment like a short video. He saw it, small and green, dancing back and forth, to one side and then to the other. Flexible yet strong and tough. Somehow, and he couldn’t quite understand why, the blade of grass had taken over his thoughts without much difficulty. This is actually working!, he thought. Which he regretted immediately as he found himself distracted by his surroundings once more. Damn it… he swore before trying to focus back on the grass, hoping Damian had somehow not noticed any of this. The teenager slowly took in a deep breath before trying the exercise his master had imposed.


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EoP – Part 119


Echoes of Power

Part 119


“No.”

Alexandre shivered and corrected his body position for the third time in less than a minute as Damian tried to make him get in an uncomfortable sitting stance. The older man’s voice contained chilling accents and the teenager couldn’t help being affected by them.

“To begin training in the art of Empirium you must first learn the basics and to learn the basics you must first learn how to feel the flow of mana around you. Only when you manage to achieve the minimum requirements I impose on you, will you be able to begin trying to sense the energy circulating all around us. As I said, this training will not be easy.”, Damian said in a flat voice as he circled around the teenager.

The older man was slowly making Alexander correct his posture as he did so.

“Yes master.”, Alexandre replied.

“Quiet. You are not to talk anymore, not until I give you permission to do so again. Listen, learn and apply. That is all I require from you at the moment.”, Damian cut him off almost immediately.

“Now straighten your back, a little bit more… Good. This is the position you will learn to maintain while I teach you this exercise. Is that clear?”, he added as he kept circling his pupil.

“Yes master.”, replied Alexandre after an uncertain silence.

Damian did not speak, simply nodding (which Alexandre managed to guess, even with his eyes closed) and continuing to slowly walk around him. A few minutes passed like this in complete silence. The teenager could feel the warmth of the rays of light hitting his face and the soft wind rustling his hair. He tried his best not to move but he realized this was much harder than he had anticipated, it hadn’t even been ten full minutes (in his estimation) and he already wanted to get up, move his body, stretch his limbs and run around. He had also been able to feel the gaze of the older man fixated on him the whole time despite his lack of words. Finally, as he was feeling his legs getting numb, his teacher spoke.

“Good. Notice how your breathing has become slower and more even, this is proof that you are holding the right position,” Damian said, sounding satisfied, “what I want you to do know is to relax as much as you can, try to empty your mind as much as possible at the same time.”

Alexandre hesitated on whether to react to his master’s words or not, but decided to remain silent and simply do as he said. Moving or talking would mean breaking his position and he was almost sure it wouldn’t be well perceived. He tried relax, though it wasn’t really easy with him natural flexibility (or lack of, to be more accurate), so he quickly focused on emptying his mind. He had already tried a to do a bit of meditation in the past, mostly at the request of his mother and had heard quite a bit about it from her. Sadly he had never managed to completely focus on the task and always ended up distracted. This time was not exception. Each time he tried to focus on nothing in particular, a number of wild thoughts barged to the front of his consciousness. For a few minutes he struggled with it and it must have shown on his face because once more he head his teacher’s voice from his side.

“Stop. I can see you’re not doing this right, you’re going nowhere with this. You mustn’t force yourself to focus on nothing, don’t try to think about a void in your mind, you’ll only drive yourself crazy. That is the worst way to calm down and to clear your thoughts.”, Damian paused and Alexandre heard him walk in a circle around him a few times before continuing. “Exceptionally, and since this is only the beginning, I will give you a chance. Here is a piece of advice, the only one you’ll be receiving from me about this: don’t focus on nothing or on everything, start small. Try focusing on a single thought and work from there. Repetition is the greatest training.”


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EoP – Part 118


Echoes of Power

Part 118


The older man hadn’t looked away even once since he had begun his explanation. Alexandre could feel his cold blue eyes fixedly studying his reaction as he listened to him.

“What I am going to teach you,” Damian said after another short pause, “is how to sense, refine and use this energy to make it do your biding. It will not be easy, not even one bit. You will have to work extremely hard, harder than you have to this day, and potentially hurt yourself quite gravely to achieve any result. But if you do, in exchange, you will completely push open the doors to a world you can’t imagine yet, and perhaps you will be able to tread more safely along this path…”

“Now,” continued Damian, “I have already explained to you what geigers -the creatures that attacked you- were, I have given you a few indications about what Empirium is and you have seen for yourself some of what it could do. Do you have any question that you wish to ask before we begin? This is the perfect chance because after this morning, you will do everything as I ask. Though I must warn you: ask only questions that are worthy of answering because I am a firm believer that stupid questions exist!”

Alexandre nodded and remained silent for a while, pondering. He racked his brains in search of potential questions for a few seconds, unsure if he had any that wouldn’t seem stupid to his teacher (he couldn’t help feeling slightly weird at the thought of Damian being his ‘magic’ teacher).

“Yes master, I do have one question.”, he finally said.

Damian looked at him but did not reply, simply staring at the teenager as if silently inviting him to ask it if he dared.

“Why would you decide to show me any of this? You don’t know me so why help me back then? Why not… let me die?”

Alexander almost cringed as he spoke, only barely managing to keep a straight face. The question didn’t seem stupid to him, he wanted to know the reason why someone like Damian would decide to help him. There were a few reasons to that, the main one being that the blue-eyed man in front of him didn’t seem like someone who really cared about others. So why save him? Was there something behind this decision? He looked at his newly found teacher as the man seemed to ponder if his interrogation was worthy of an answer.

“Not bad,” Damian finally said, “that is a passable question so I will answer it.”

The man paused for a moment before continuing.

“It was not because I particularly cared nor because I am usually inclined to do this, I saved you simply because I felt it might be entertaining afterwards. The reason I am offering to train you now is mostly the same: I do this to entertain myself, nothing more. That is why, if I am ever discontent with your attitude or investment in what I kindly offer you, I will simply put a stop to it. So, if you want to learn as much as you can, you have better make sure to keep my interest up… Is that clear?”, Damian said in a casual tone, not looking away once as he spoke.

Alexandre swallowed with difficulty as his teacher went silent again. He had somehow been expecting that, that man wasn’t quite… normal, if that was the word. The teenager had a feeling things were not going to be very pleasant from then on…

“Yes master.”, he finally replied with a short nod.

Damian seemed pleased, or something akin to that, if anything. He stood up, towering over the teenager who was sitting on the ground, as walked behind him.

“Very well then, let us begin. Sit straight and close your eyes!”, he exclaimed, his voice clear but cold.


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EoP – Part 117


Echoes of Power

Part 117


“As I am sure you have noticed, there is something different about you, something… unusual, to put it in kind words.” Damian started as Alexandre sat besides him on the grass, “Those creatures that attacked you, they were real. I can assure you that much. You are not dreaming, this is not some hallucination, or delusion of your mind, this is reality. Cold and harsh.”

He paused to look the teenager straight in the eye. Alexandre had to refrain a shiver as he found himself immediately made uncomfortable by the two blue orbs, it felt as if the older man could look directly through him, into the deepest corners of his mind.

“If I hadn’t intervened, you would probably have died. It’s as simple as that.”

Once again he was silent, giving Alexandre time to take it in. If the teenager couldn’t at least come to terms with that then it was useless to waste time on him. At least he seems to be reflecting on that, Damian thought. That seemed a positive sign.

“I- I understand that,” Alexandre replied.

It was true, he did understand the point the older man was making. It had already started dawning on him some time ago and he hadn’t been able to refrain the icy chills since then. What if he hadn’t been there that time? The first time had been pure luck, the teenager still couldn’t say how he had managed to survive it… Plus he had a feeling it wouldn’t be the last time he encountered such strange -and dangerous- things, so he had to be ready, to be able to defend himself. Even if just a little. Damian silently nodded before speaking again.

“What I am going to teach you will not make you invincible, it will not make you strong. You will not learn to bend the laws of our world, at most, and depending on your hard work, you will be able to blur them a little, to curve them slightly. My teachings do not have the goal to make you a superhero or anything close. I will simply be opening your eyes to new possibilities and showing you the potential ways to go. Only you will be able to act upon this new knowledge and explore them. Is that understood?”, he then asked.

“Yes master,” the teenager replied, listening carefully.

“Good,” said Damian before pausing for a short moment as if he was pondering something. “Tell me, what do you know about mana?”, he then asked.

Alexandre furrowed his eyebrows, trying to think about what he knew. He knew that it was something used by video games as a magical energy but that it was based of beliefs and myths about a secret inner energy that could be shaped by one to affect their bodies and the world around them. Apart from the other names it had in different cultures he didn’t know much, though apparently it seemed important for what Damian was about to teach him.

Once again he older man nodded as Alexandre gave voice to his thoughts.

“Yes, you are partly right. Mana, under this name or others, appears in many cultures, mostly in video games nowadays. Why do you think that is? Because there is truth to it, like there is to many of the tales and legends that people tell,” the man in his forties explained. “To an empirist, one who trains in the art of empirium, it is the name of the energy -if you wish to call it that way- that we act upon to bend the laws of this world. It is somewhat akin to fuel that is used to power vehicles. To an empirist it is, to make another analogy, both the paint and the brush that we use to give form to our desires.”


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