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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Stanley – 31


 STANLEY

Season 2

Part 31

Rated M for mature content.

Previous Chapter


The dark-haired young woman and her more-light-colored-hair friend were about to move out of the apartment towards the staircase when they suddenly heard the police sirens that had been in the background since a few minutes ago ring out much closer and tires screeching as cars came to a halt in front of the building. They both stopped in their tracks as they were about to walk towards the elevator and looked at each other.

“Do you think we should go check it out très chère?” Asked Michel after a few seconds spent trying to figure out what was indeed happening.

Stephanie simply nodded before rushing back into the apartment and looking out the window. She immediately froze as she saw almost a dozen policemen in uniforms rush out of their cars and enter by the front door. The young woman somehow immediately knew they were coming exactly where they were, how she knew that would remain a mystery but somehow she did.

“Damn it!” She swore as she backed away and looked at Michel who had looked out the window too.

“What do we do maintenant?” He asked with a tense expression.

“I don’t know…” Replied the young woman as her brain fumed, trying to come up for a solution to get out of the hellhole they were trapped in.

They couldn’t leave by the front entrance, it would seem to suspicious but they couldn’t very well stay there either because it would almost certainly insure their capture and their prosecution as The Duck’s murderers. No one would believe them if they tried to explain what they were doing here, especially not her. Plus everything would come to light, everything she had had to do. The young woman shivered at the thought. No, it couldn’t happen, they had to get out.

“This way?”

She turned towards the bearded man as she heard his voice, he was pointing towards the window. As her eyes followed his well muscled and tanned arm she imagined herself being wrapped in it and relishing the moment as her mind went back to the previous night. Then she saw the staircase and it all became clear, the fog clouding her mind seemed to go away and she let a smile spread across her face as she understood what he meant. Of course! She thought. The emergency staircase! 

“Yes, you’re a genius!” She exclaimed as she gave him a kiss on the cheek before rushing towards the red metallic structure outside the window.

Michel followed her closely after closing the window as best as he could behind him. They ran as fast as they could up the stairs, hearing the sounds of policemen entering the apartment soon after they had exited it. The young woman thanked the upcoming summer and all those sessions at the gym for her cardiovascular system’s good shape. They finally arrived on the roof after a few seconds of silent effort and she didn’t have time to catch her breath as they started moving again.

To be continued…


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The rider in the storm

Image source unknown


Night. The darkest hour. When all hope disappears. Thunder is rumbling, the wind is howling madly. The grass on the hills is bending under the power of the storm. Rain is falling hard on the ground, plundering the earth. A dark shadow is moving. A horse is running, a rider on its back. Running as fast as it can, as if its life depended on it. Running as quick as the wind. He rides, never looking back, hoping they are okay. Praying to reach them in time. The world seems against him; as if the gods were mad at him. As if they had unleashed Hell on Earth. Droplets of water, as cold and hard as ice hits him in the face, rendering him unable to see more than a few meters in front of him.

Lightning strikes, once, twice, giving shape to the shadow of a ghost. A ghost from the past that is catching up on him. He knows he should run away but he can’t. He has to cope with that growing unease growing inside him. They need him! He has to get there at all cost! He has to make it, his steed knows it also. The mighty stallion gains speed, outrunning the heavy gusts of wind. Its mane buzzing frantically as it gains more speed, sparks forming around its legs. Getting bigger and more frequent with each new step. Suddenly it lights up in a thunderous boom, thousands of tiny lighting bolts coming out of its mane and its tail, covering its entire body. It gains even more speed, running so fast it outruns even the heavenly flashes. Cutting through the mad rain, leaving a burnt trail behind it. He runs an impossible race. A race for his friends. A race against time, against himself. A race against death…


Here is a text I wrote some time ago, a scene from one of my stories that I have had in mind for some time.

EoP – Part 114


Echoes of Power

Part 114


Alexandre was left there, standing before the bus stop, unmoving. His mouth hung half-open as he could still faintly feel the slight coldness of the trace of moisture on his cheek. His eyes were looking straight forward but were unfocused, he could still see the red lights of the bus slowly disappearing far down the street. The night was cold and the light wind didn’t really help but the teenager was completely impervious to that, it didn’t bother him in the slightest. He even felt a bit hot at that exact moment. He closed his eyes, replaying the previous instants in his mind and couldn’t refrain a wide smile from spreading on his lips once again. Slowly he raised his hand and traced along them, from one corner of his mouth to the other, having a hard time believing what had just happened.

His skin was still tingling intensely at the touch, as if her lips were still on his, as if Chloe was still there, kissing him. A few moments passed before he opened his eyes again and let out a nervous yet overjoyed laugh, they had kissed… He and Chloe had kissed… This all felt like a dream, it was too good to be true, it had to be! As if the universe had sensed his doubt however, and had somehow decided to punish him for not believing hard enough, his phone rang at that exact moment. Alexandre sluggishly took it out and checked his notifications, he had one unread message. He felt as if someone had poured cold water over him as he read it.

‘Tomorrow, 8 o’clock, the hills. Dont be late. D.’

He had given Damian his number a few days before when he had agreed to teach him about Empirium. Alexandre had felt pretty good and confident at that moment but now it didn’t seem like such a good decision, he had the feeling the man wasn’t someone to trifled with, dangerous even, but the light-haired teen also began to fear he was going to be a very strict teacher… On the other hand he wanted to learn more about his abilities and Damian was the only one who knew something about it and cared to explain (not counting Bryan of course, but telling his best friend was not an option). No he had to go.

“Well,” he said out loud, though more to himself than to anybody around –there is no body around anyways– as he locked his phone and put it back in his pocket, “at least the evening was worth it. So worth it!”

He couldn’t help the giggle that escaped him and hastily looked around to make sure there was nobody around. He let out a small relieved sigh when he realized he was indeed all alone ont he street.

“Yes!”, he exclaimed again, throwing his fist in the air with a large smile.

Alexandre started to walk back home, the house was almost half an hour by foot but he didn’t want to take the bus. He wanted to take some alone time to wander around and think. He took out his headphones and started the music where he had left it earlier that evening while he waited for his date to arrive. Everything had went so well, he had a hard time believing his luck. Chloe was such a beautiful and nice girl AND she seemed to enjoy spending time with him and talking about all sorts of things (most of which interested him). Alexandre wasn’t really sure why she was interested in him, he wasn’t really that handsome per say and he was a bit dorky on the side, but somehow she had set her eyes on him and she hadn’t seemed disappointed after that evening with him, on the contrary! After all she had been the one to kiss him… And what a kiss! Wait ’till I tell you how this evening went Bry’, you’re gonna be so jealous!


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EoP – Part 112


Echoes of Power

Part 112


“Sorry, could you repeat that? I didn’t quite catch what you said…”, he quickly apologized to his date.

Great. Very smooth Alex, very smooth… he scolded himself silently with a mental smack.

“Yeah, I guessed from the look on your face…” Chloe replied with a laugh. “Well you know what we say about ears and a good wash, don’t you?” she added, taunting him with a smirk.

“Yeah, sorry, I uh… sort of lost track of the conversation here…”, Alexandre explained, cringing slightly.

“It doesn’t matter, I know I’m not that interesting anyways…”, Chloe nodded as she took a sip of her drink and shrugged.

“No! That’s… it’s not what I meant,” Alexandre tried to explain, starting to uncomfortable.

He suspected she was just toying with him but he didn’t want a moment of inattention to ruin the evening… Plus she had seemed serious as she spoke earlier so he was pretty sure it was something important.

“I’m sorry for not listening,” he repeated once again, “so what were you saying?”, he then asked with curiosity.

The blonde girl looked at him for a moment, a look that Alexandre couldn’t quite describe or understand. There was something deep in her eyes as they sparkled with her usual playfulness, but at the same time he could tell she was slightly nervous. She was looking straight at him, as if she was pondering her options. He couldn’t for the life of him guess what was going on in her head at that moment, that was one of the things he liked about her. She slowly put her glass back on the table and he saw her shoulders rise as she took in a deep breath.

“Ok,” was all she said for a moment, breaking the silence only to let it take over again.

Alexandre was about to say something when she opened her mouth and cut him short.

“I quite like you, you know…” she added, pausing again. “That’s what I said…”

Alexandre almost didn’t catch the second bit, the short justification was drowned in a torrent of white noise as his mind went blank. Had he heard right? Had she really said that? Did she mean what he thought she meant? What was he supposed to reply? Why did the room suddenly seem to shrink? What kind of fish was that on the table over there? Focus damn it! He scolded himself as he looked at her, unable to (and mostly unwilling to make the effort to) hide the half-blank half-shocked expression on his faced.

“Uh…”, was all he managed to replied after a few seconds.

“‘Uh…’ what?”, Chloe asked, not looking very fazed by what was happening. “I just said that I liked you, is ‘uh…’ all you have to say to that? I thought you were better than that Alex, has a kitten gotten ahold of your tongue Mister Parson?”, she added, a small smirk spreading on her face once again.

Alexandre almost choked as he tried to speak, falling into a coughing fit for a second as he tried to get his breath back. He felt the heat quickly rise in his cheeks, which probable had turned scarlet red by that point. Damn! What a fool he was making of himself… Having seen his difficulty, the blonde teenager had leaned over towards him and given him a few energetic pats on the back to prevent him from really choking.

“Deep breaths, deep breaths!” she exclaimed as she did so, her smirk still half there.

The other half of her expression was something akin to worry. Oh god, she’s worried about me! Alexandre felt his cheeks become even warmer, if that was even possible. They would probably catch on fire very soon if this kept going on.


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Ombre & Plumes – 1 – De retour

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D’ombre et de plumes

1

De retour


Une brise calme soufflait sur l’étendue bleue. La mer était, à l’instar du vent, calme et sereine. Les trois navires se rapprochaient tranquillement de leur destination sous le ciel parsemé de quelques moutons blancs. Le vent était agréablement frais, il contrastait, pour le plus grand plaisir des passagers du Leikan et des deux autres vaisseaux de la Trinité, avec la chaleur qui régnait depuis le début de la traversée. Même la tempête qu’ils avaient dû affronter quelques jours plus tôt n’avait permis de refroidir que temporairement l’atmosphère, le soleil d’été était très rapidement revenu réchauffer l’air. Il semblait même à Thrista que ce dernier brillait de plus en plus fort à mesure qu’ils se rapprochaient des côtes du royaume de Tébor. Le jeune homme brun se tenait sur le pont avant du Leikan. Il avait fait route depuis Simeriah à bord du camarade de l’Illilda et de l’Archéniss et après presque trois semaines en mer il arrivait enfin à destination. En effet on pouvait apercevoir au loin la côte Oréenne commençait à se dessiner à l’horizon, plus précisément les hautes falaises d’Eneleïa, la capitale du royaume de Tébor. La cité portuaire était encore à plus d’une bonne heure de distance mais la côte jaillissait déjà petit à petit des flots. C’était là que la Trinité se préparait faire son avant-dernière escale avant de rentrer en Galaeda. Thrista observait tout cela avec attention et affichait un large sourire, cela faisait bien trop longtemps qu’il n’avait pas foulé le sol du continent d’Ore. Enfin, il rentrait.

La foule déjà présente sur le pont s’étoffa encore à mesure que le Leikan se rapprochait de la côte et que les falaises d’Eneleïa se précisaient, chacun voulant les apercevoir. Et Thrista se doutait qu’il devait en être de même pour les deux autres navires de la Trinité. La flotte tenait son nom du nombre de vaisseaux qui la composait, ils étaient au nombre de trois : le Leikan, l’Illilda et l’Archéniss ; elle était le joyau de la marine Galaedienne. Bien que réduite en nombre, elle ne pouvait cependant être qualifiée de « petite flotte » car ses effectifs réduits étaient largement compensés par l’envergure des navires qui la composaient. Long de presque de trois cent mètres pour plus d’une centaine de haut, leurs coques étaient d’un blanc éclatant. Chacun arborait le pavillon bleu marine sur lequel étaient visibles trois oiseaux de mer de couleur blanche ainsi que la lettre G de couleur gris clair en son centre. C’était le symbole du royaume de Galaeda, l’un des plus petit mais des plus influents états membres de l’Alliance d’Ore. La flotte devait faire halte à Eneleïa pour les prochains jours avant de reprendre son périple retour vers Port-Varenne, la capitale de Galaeda. Thrista avait saisi l’opportunité de ce voyage exceptionnel pour revenir en Ore après avoir passé plusieurs mois sur le continent de Simériah, au nord-est. Ils avaient navigué sur plus d’un quart des mers centrales pendant presque trois semaines et arrivait enfin à destination. Le jeune homme n’avait pris la décision de rentrer que lors de son séjour à Mellona, située sur la côte sud de Simériah -maintenant de l’autre côté de l’océan-, lorsqu’il avait eu vent de l’annonce du mariage imminent de la princesse de Tébor. Cela l’avait décidé à revenir et le départ presque fortuit de la Trinité depuis Mellona avait achevé de le convaincre.

La vue était époustouflante. Au loin les falaises d’Eneleïa semblaient couper l’océan en deux, d’un côté à l’autre de l’horizon et continuant bien au-delà. Alors que les navires s’approchaient de l’entrée de la cité, ces dernières grandissaient et se détaillaient de plus en plus, cela donnait l’impression de les voir s’élever depuis les fonds marins comme une immense forêt de roc. Ces murs gigantesques de granite et de calcaire s’élevaient à plus de deux cent mètres au dessus des flots et avaient, depuis toujours, servit de fortifications naturelles à Eneleïa. Aucune des nombreuses invasions ennemies n’avaient 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 un illustre inconnu mais la renommée des Portes d’Eneleïa, elle, rayonnait dans toute l’alliance. Elles trônaient au centre des falaises, un immense mur blanc qui dépassaient ces dernières de plusieurs dizaines de mètres. Sur chacune des trois parties du mur de pierre blanche on pouvait apercevoir un symbole différent, marquant les différents points d’accès au port. Les Portes s’ouvraient et se fermaient plus ou moins selon l’intensité du trafic qui transitait par la cité des deux mondes, nom qui avait été donné à Eneleïa de part son statut de passerelle entre le continent d’Ore et les mers centrales.

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 escale obligatoire pour qui voulait se rendre aux Iles Karnines ou en Simériah. L’édifice gigantesque permettait à tout type de navire et de flottes d’accoster et de reposer dans son port en sécurité, assurant le développement stable du commerce et des échanges. Tout cela était possible grâce au mécanisme qui permettait de contrôler les portes et ainsi de les relever ou de les rabaisser au besoin grâce à un habile mélange d’ingénierie mécanique et de magie. 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’arrêta en face de la porte centrale, les deux autres navires de la flottille Galaédienne se placèrent devant les deux autres entrées, un de chaque côté du Leikan. Cette disposition imposante était nécessaire de part l’échelle des trois navires, chacun n’ayant que très peu à envier à la muraille elle-même. Tout marin ayant eu le privilège de mettre pied sur le pont d’un des navires de la Trinité ne pouvait que ressentir un intense sentiment de pouvoir et d’invincibilité. Chacun des trois vaisseaux était obligé de se mettre à quai séparément afin débarquer leur cargo et leurs passagers. Cette fois-ci la Trinité était tout particulièrement chargée du fait que de nombreux passagers se rendaient à Eneleïa pour célébrer le mariage royal qui allait y avoir lieu quelques jours plus tard. Nombreux aussi étaient les marchands qui avaient fait le voyage, préférant le tarif plus élevé de la flotte Galaedienne mais une réelle assurance de sécurité pour eux et leur marchandise par rapport au risques de l’affrètement d’un navire personnel.

Un silence solennel se fit sur les ponts respectifs des trois navires à mesure que la tension grandissait, seuls quelques cris étaient audibles ici et là, s’échappant des bouches des plus jeunes qui perdaient patience. Les moteurs étaient arrêtés le temps que chaque capitaine reçoive l’autorisation finale d’entrer dans le port. Soudain, après ce qui sembla une éternité à Thrista, l’air se mit à vibrer et on put entendre retentir une corne de brume 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 était retombé, les cornes de brumes retentirent à nouveau, suivant le même schéma deux autres fois avant de s’éteindre pour de bon. Un autre moment s’écoula alors, semblant encore plus long que le premier. Puis ce fut alors au tour du mur et des falaises de se mettre à vibrer. Le jeune homme aperçut d’abord les remous de l’eau avant de voir les portes bouger. Mais lorsque les deux immenses battants commencèrent enfin à se séparer il 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 la terre s’ouvrait en deux pour révéler un passage vers un autre monde. En à peine quelques minutes 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, qui plus est au complet, aussi chaque passager ne pouvait s’empêcher d’admirer ces trois bouches géantes prêtes à les dévorer. Tout se passa alors très vite : les moteurs se remirent à vibrer et l’Illilda, le Leikan et l’Archeniss s’ébranlèrent à nouveau, glissant ainsi sans problème à travers les ouvertures, et se retrouvèrent bientôt à l’intérieur des remparts anciens.

Placé à l’avant du Leikan, 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 alors son cours. Les passagers furent assaillis par l’intense brouhaha et les cris de joie des habitants d’Eneleïa attendant l’arrivée de la flotte 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 prendre son mal en patience cependant 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 débarquer son cargo. Il entendit les cris de la foule s’amplifier à mesure que le Leikan s’approchait des quais et put observer plus distinctement ce qui produisait ce bruit : une foule immense 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, affairés à charger ou décharger les marchandises. 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 princier. Cela rendait la ville encore plus vivante aux yeux de Thrista, lui rappelant sa première visite dans la cité des deux mondes dix ans 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 intimé son père alors qu’ils entraient dans l’enceinte de la cité, tu pourrais aisément te perdre.

Où allons nous ?, avait demandé le jeune garçon, les yeux ébahis devant les merveilles qui dansaient devant lui.

Tu verras très bientôt !, lui avait répondu l’homme plus âgé avec un clin d’œil. Mais peut-être aurons nous la chance d’apercevoir la princesse de près… »

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’était enfin arrêté. 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, les passagers 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 les 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 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 et de la blancheur pure des murs des bâtiments, mêlant élégamment bois et pierre, petitesse et grandeur, droiture et arrondis. La cité était un mélange de nombreux styles et de diverses cultures, sa diversité se voyait notamment au niveau de sa population mais aussi de son architecture et de son économie, c’était précisément cela qui la rendait si attractive auprès des ses habitants comme auprès des étrangers qui venaient y séjourner.

Quand 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 dans la cabine 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 proche, 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’ils occupaient et pourtant Thrista avait vu les marins obéir immédiatement à leurs ordres et cela sans répliquer. Le capitaine, bien que de plus petite taille que la majorité de son équipage et qui plus est une femme, et son second, pâle et presque maigre, ne faisaient pas forte impression. Tous deux semblaient se métamorphoser cependant 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 luminosité du ciel était presque douloureux. Lorsqu’il se fut réhabitué à la luminosité ambiante, le jeune homme put réellement mesurer l’agitation qui avait lieu 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 bruyant. 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, néanmoins, lui permit de profiter de la belle architecture de la ville. Les couleurs dansaient tout autour de lui, autant sur les murs des bâtiments que sur les habitants et les touristes qui formaient la foule compacte. Sur une place un peu plus loin il put entendre quelques notes jouées par un groupe de musiciens dont l’auditoire était un flux ininterrompu de passants. De petits étals étaient visibles ici et là, les marchands hélant la foule pour essayer de vendre leurs biens. 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 en repensant à sa première venue à Eneleïa.

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 et 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 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 ses cheveux sombres et ne put que laisser son sourire s’élargir tant l’excitation le gagnait. C’était ici qu’avait commencé son long périple et c’était ici qu’à nouveau il faisait escale avant de repartir à l’aventure.

Il était enfin de retour.

*

Sur un quai non loin du point d’attache destiné à la Trinité, attendait une patrouille de la marine Galaedienne. Les hommes étaient debout en rangs serrés, leurs armes au pied. Ils chuchotaient discrètement pendant qu’un homme aux cheveux grisonnants faisait les cents pas devant eux. Soudain l’homme s’arrêta et fixa l’eau eu centre du grand bassin circulaire
«Soldats, présentez armes !, annonça soudain l’homme aux cheveux grisonnants. ils ne vont pas tarder à arriver alors je veux que vous soyez le plus discipliné possible. Pas une bavure, c’est bien compris ?!
– Oui caporal ! répondirent-ils tous simultanément.
– Bien. Ajouta simplement celui-ci avant de retourner à son observation de l’eau. »
Ce quai, en forme de cercle au trois quart fermé, s’étendait sur huit fois la largeur des quais ou s’étaient arrêté les vaisseaux de la Trinité, il avait été spécialement aménagé pour les vaisseaux de la marine Galaedienne et accueillerait aujourd’hui les trois géants. Le Leikan, l’Illilda et l’Archeniss devaient venir accoster ici après le débarquement civil pour débarquer le reste de la cargaison.
Le premier des trois vaisseaux apparut alors à l’entrée de la baie et longea le quai par la gauche avant d’aller lentement se ranger sur le côté droit. Il fut rapidement suivit des deux autres navires qui firent de même sur la gauche et au centre. Ils cachaient ainsi la vue à toute personne ayant par hasard ou non l’envie de regarder ce qu’il s’y passait. Alors que les capitaines et leurs différents équipages commençaient à descendre des trois navires, le caporal s’avança vers eux d’un pas ferme pour les rejoindre à mi-chemin. Il leur souhaita la bienvenue, s’enquérant immédiatement de l’organisation du débarquement de la cargaison. Les capitaines étaient au nombre de trois, une jeune femme brune, capitaine du Leikan, un grand homme aux longs cheveux blancs, capitaine de l’Illilda, et un petit homme d’une quarantaine d’années aux cheveux blonds coupés court, capitaine de l’Archéniss. Ce fut la jeune femme brune qui répondit.
« Ne vous inquiétez pas, tout est déjà prévu. Vous n’aurez qu’à veiller à ce que personne ne pénètre dans ce périmètre pendant les prochains jours et tout devrait bien se passer. Nous n’attendons plus que les retardataires, comme d’habitude, annonça-t-elle en souriant, ce qui étonna le caporal.
– Les retardataires ? N’êtes vous pas que trois navires ?, demanda alors celui-ci.
– Disons que oui et non, dit la femme en souriant toujours.
– Mais… »
Alors que le caporal rouvrait la bouche pour parler des bulles, puis des remous se formèrent à la surface de l’eau au centre de la baie. L’eau se mit à vibrer. Quelques instants après un morceau blanc sortit de l’eau avant d’être rapidement rejoint par le reste d’un navire à l’apparence étrange : sans hublots et aux formes complètement arrondies devant et derrière. Il se stabilisa à la surface et une trappe s’ouvrit sur son toit. Avant même que l’étrange navire ait touché le quai, un homme aux cheveux châtains et à la moustache fine ainsi qu’une femme blonde en sortirent, se laissant prestement retomber sur la coque qui dépassait à peine de l’eau. L’homme se tourna vers eux avec un grand sourire et leur fit un signe de la main.
« Eh bien alors, on ne nous attend pas pour faire la fête ?, s’exclama-t-il joyeusement.
– Dépêchez vous Stone, nous n’avons pas toute la journée, lui répondit le capitaine aux cheveux blonds, qui avait l’air d’être amusé par la conduite de son collègue.
– La cargaison est avec l’Odenon, annonça alors le plus vieux du quatuor. Il est tout à fait normal que vous soyez surpris, très peu de personnes savent que la Trinité est en fait composée de quatre vaisseaux, trois vaisseaux cargo et un submersible, expliqua-t-il devant l’air surpris du caporal.
– Cette flotte de trois navires peut se transformer à tout moment en armada de guerre, comme vous le savez déjà, mais lorsque sa mission se limite à transporter des marchandises ou des passagers, elle n’est pas totalement fonctionnelle et est donc vulnérable. Un quatrième vaisseau submersible et indétectable à donc été ajouté pour assurer une protection complète, compléta la femme brune.
– Vous comprendrez bien sur qu’en raison de sa dangerosité et de sa valeur, cette cargaison est, et doit rester, un secret total pour le moment, elle doit être remise uniquement au général. Ce que nous transportons est de grande importance pour la préparation du Tournoi, annonça enfin l’homme qui venait de sortir du submersible.

– Bien sur !, affirma le caporal, essayant de se remettre de sa surprise. Vous pouvez la décharger dès à présent, l’entrepôt de stockage provisoire est prêt.
– Parfait , acquiesça la femme brune. »
Elle se retourna alors vers ses hommes pour leur donner les ordres de débarquement.
« Soldats ! Vous pouvez débarquer le système Ortheus ! »


Récits d’Ore *-* Sommaire *-* Chapitre Suivant