Ombre & Plumes – 15 – Le vent se lève – II

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D’ombre et de plumes

15

Le vent se lève – II


« Non ! »

Cette fois le cri de la jeune garde du corps lui parvint et il la vit se précipiter vers le bord, il n’eut que le temps de lui attraper le poignet pour la retenir de sauter après la femme rousse.
« Arrête ! Ça ne sert à rien, tu ne pourras pas la rattraper !, s’écria-t-il alors que la silhouette disparaissait dans les profondeurs de la nuit. »

Hannah se tourna vers lui l’air furieux et Thrista cru qu’elle allait l’attaquer, mais elle n’en fit rien et se détourna en lançant un juron rageur. Le jeune homme regarda vers le bas un fois qu’il fut sûr que la brune ne tenterai pas de sauter mais ne parvint pas à distinguer quoi que ce soit, même les vagues n’étaient pas discernables de cette hauteur. Le vent soufflait toujours fort, aussi préféra-t-il se reculer. Il rejoint Hannah près du muret de l’autre côté du mur, elle s’était appuyée contre celui-ci, les bras croisés, et regardait l’endroit ou la femme se tenait quelques instants plus tôt, le regard noir.
« Il n’y a aucune trace d’elle…, dit Thrista alors qu’il s’appuyait également contre le mur non loin. »

Il n’obtint aucune réponse et préféra donc ne rien ajouter. Ils restèrent ainsi en silence quelques secondes avant qu’un bruit de pas ne lui fasse lever les yeux. Il aperçu Todd qui se dirigeait vers eux à vive allure. Il était suivi d’une dizaine de gardes.
« Que se passe-t-il ?!, demanda le blond en reprenant son souffle. Vous l’avez eu ?, ajouta-t-il en regardant Thrista. »

Le brun secoua lentement la tête et se tourna vers l’immensité noire en face. Le vent soufflait toujours et on pouvait entendre les vagues se fracasser contre les énormes blocs de pierre blanche qui formaient ce rempart infranchissable. Il y eut soudain un léger bruit sur sa droite et Thrista vit Hannah tomber à genoux au sol, Todd et lui se précipitèrent vers elle.

« Hannah ?!, s’écria le blond. Tout va bien ? »

Il la rattrapa au moment ou elle allait s’effondrer de tout son long, ses yeux roulèrent dans ses orbites et elle perdit connaissance. Thrista prit le poignet de la garde du corps et sentit le pouls saccadé et précipité de la jeune femme, elle suait à grosse gouttes.
« Quelques chose ne va pas !, s’exclama-t-il en regardant Todd. Elle est brûlante…
– Que lui arrive-t-il ?, demanda le blond, l’air inquiet.
– Je ne sais pas…, répondit Thrista en examinant la jeune femme de plus prêt. »

Il avait déjà vu plusieurs des fièvres foudroyantes mais jamais spontanées comme celle-là. Il remarqua alors que le côté gauche de la robe de la jeune femme était déchirée et en s’approchant aperçu une longue entaille sur son flanc. Du sang en coulait à petit filet mais ce sont quelques gouttes d’un liquide noirâtre qui attirèrent son attention. Du poison, reconnu-t-il soudain. Mais quand ? Il allait la montrer à Todd lorsque des voix retentirent derrière eux.
« Laissez nous passer !, il reconnu la voix autoritaire d’Oscius et lorsqu’il se tourna il vit le chef de la garde royale s’approcher d’eux à grand pas, suivi de près par la souveraine.
– Que ce passe-t-il ?, demanda cette dernière en arrivant près du petit groupe.  »

Elle semblait prête à ajouter quelque chose lorsqu’elle fut interrompue par une autre voix derrière elle. Un vieil homme, que Thrista reconnu comme étant Zani, le prêtre de Sha’ana, se faufila entre elle et Oscius avant de se pencher vers Hannah.
« Veuillez m’excuser dame Léna pour mon manque de respect mais je pense que les questions devront attendre, cette jeune femme est très mal en point. »

Il commença à examiner Hannah avant même que la reine ne puisse protester, mais elle n’en fit rien et mit fin au murmure désapprobateur des gardes.
« Regardez ici. »

Thrista pointa l’endroit ou la robe avait été déchirée.

« Je crois qu’elle à été empoisonnée. »

Puis, après une seconde de silence.

« Lorsqu’elle s’est interposée entre la dague et la princesse ! »

Il venait de comprendre. La dague devait être empoisonnée et avait dû la blesser ! Zani déchira légèrement la robe à l’endroit de l’entaille et passa un doigt sur la blessure avant de sentir le sang qui en coulait légèrement. Il hocha la tête.
« Oui, cela me semble être de la sève de sureau noir. Ce poison est extrêmement mortel, nous n’avons pas beaucoup de temps !, s’exclama-t-il en sortant une petite poche en cuir de sa poche. Je vais tenter d’en ralentir les effets un maximum mais il va falloir l’emmener au temple pour que nous puissions faire quoi que ce soit pour l’aider… »

Il sortit une petite fiole contenant un liquide violet et le tendit à Todd.
« Fais lui boire ça, c’est un élixir de Clélie, cela devrait la calmer suffisamment longtemps. »

Todd prit la petite fiole et la regarda un instant, semblant hésiter pendant que le vieil homme s’affairait déjà autour de la plaie, élargissant l’ouverture de la robe pour y avoir un meilleur accès. La peau autour de l’entaille commençait déjà à prendre une couleur grise et Thrista sut qu’il n’y avait pas beaucoup de temps. Il allait intimer à Todd de faire boire à Hannah le contenu de la fiole lorsque la reine s’agenouilla à ses côtés.
« Todd !, s’exclama-t-elle, le sortant de sa torpeur. Hannah est en danger, ce n’est pas le moment d’hésiter ! Tu peux avoir foi en Zani, je lui ferais confiance jusqu’aux portes de cendre s’il le fallait. »

Cela sembla réveiller le jeune homme blond et il déboucha la bouteille pendant que la reine ouvrait légèrement la bouche de la garde du corps, il y versa ensuite le peu de liquide que contenait la fiole. Hannah sembla immédiatement se calmer au soulagement visible du blond. Pendant ce temps Thrista observait Zani. Le vieil homme plaça la paume de ses deux mains au dessus de la blessure et ferma les yeux, après quelques secondes de concentration une faible lueur orangée en émana et un fin filament recouvrit la blessure. Il formula ensuite quelques mots et le filament explosa en une gerbe d’étincelles, laissant une odeur âcre dans l’air. La jeune femme brune, toujours inconsciente, eut un soubresaut de douleur puis se calma de nouveau.
« Je viens de cautériser la blessure et de brûler ce qu’il restait du poison autour, maintenant il faut évacuer ce qui s’est infiltré dans son sang. Il faut l’emmener au temple le plus rapidement possible !, ajouta-t-il en se relevant, l’air soucieux.
– Ce ne sera pas nécessaire, j’ai envoyé un méssager prévenir le temple, il reviendra au château avec de l’aide. Le palais est beaucoup plus près, intervint la reine en se relevant à son tour. »

Zani se tourna vers elle et s’inclina légèrement.
« Merci ma Dame, cela est bien pensé. Nous devons nous dépêcher à présent, chaque minute compte. »

Todd hissa la jeune femme sur son dos avec l’aide de Thrista puis il partit avec Zani en direction du château. Le jeune homme brun les regarda s’éloigner puis se tourna vers la reine.
« Ne t’inquiète pas, elle est entre de bonnes mains, déclara-t-elle en croisant son regard.
– Oui, je leur fais confiance, répondit-il en hochant la tête avant de se rappeler pourquoi ils étaient là. Siléna va-t-elle bien ?
– Oui, ne t’inquiète pas, elle était surtout choquée mais elle n’est pas blessée. Marco et Thédric s’occupent d’elle, dit Léna en acquiesçant. »

Thrista lâcha un petit soupir de soulagement..

« Maintenant, explique moi ce qu’il s’est passé… »

C’était un ordre plus qu’une demande mais Thrista ne s’en offusqua pas, la reine venait d’assister à une tentative d’assassinat envers sa fille et sa première réaction avait été d’aider la garde du corps, elle était donc dans son droit en demandant à savoir ce qu’il s’était passé. Le jeune homme inspira une gorgée d’air frais avant d’expliquer à la souveraine ce qu’il avait vu, repoussant l’image de la garde du corps inconsciente dans un coin de son esprit. La grande femme brune l’écouta tout au long de son récit sans trahir aucune émotion, pas même lorsqu’il lui annonça l’avoir reconnue comme l’émissaire des Iles Karnines. Uniquement lorsqu’il arriva au moment ou la femme rousse s’était jetée du haut du mur se pencha-t-elle pour observer l’étendue noire en dessous d’eux. Oscius en fit de même, intimant silencieusement à ses gardes d’enquêter sur cette affaire et d’envoyer une patrouille au pied du mur pour rechercher un éventuel corps. La reine resta un moment silencieuse à contempler les flots noirs avant de finalement donner l’ordre à Oscius de s’occuper de tout cela. Ce dernier hocha simplement la tête et se dirigea vers la tour de garde des remparts d’où sortait une patrouille. La reine et Thrista, accompagné d’une dizaine de gardes, repartirent ensuite en direction du palais. Alors qu’il marchait derrière la souveraine, Thrista ne put s’empêcher d’être impressionné et de se demander comment réagissaient les envoyés des autres pays lorsqu’ils se retrouvaient en face d’elle. Il ne parvenait pas non plus à se départir du sentiment que quelque chose d’étrange se tramait, pourquoi un émissaire des Karnines tenterait-il d’assassiner l’héritière du royaume de Tébor ? Il tourna et retourna cette question tout au long du trajet vers le palais, sans parvenir à y trouver de réponse.

L’astre solaire, qui était déjà presque à maxima, répandait une chaude et agréable lumière sur la ville, Thrista était content d’avoir choisi l’une des places à l’ombre, il pouvait ainsi profiter du beau temps sans pour autant souffrir des rayons cuisant du soleil à cette heure. Il n’avait d’ailleurs jamais compris comment la princesse, qui se trouvait à quelques mètres en face de lui, baignée de lumière, pouvait supporter la chaleur intense qui prenait possession de la peau lorsque l’on s’exposait trop longtemps et encore moins comment elle pouvait l’apprécier. La jeune femme était en grande discussion avec la fille du seigneur Junon, dont Thrista apprit un peu plus tôt qu’elle s’appelait Melodie. A sa droite se trouvaient le roi et la reine, accompagnés d’Oscius, de Todd, du seigneur Junon et de Zani, ce dernier se trouvait juste sur la droite de Thrista. Le groupe discutait à présent des événements de la veille, tentant de comprendre pourquoi un assassin des Iles Karnines avait été envoyé pour tenter de tuer la princesse. Thrista avait dû relater ces deux derniers jours, et à plusieurs reprises, l’enchaînement rapide qui avait mené jusqu’en haut des murailles du port étant donné qu’Hannah, la seule autre témoin de l’entièreté des faits, n’avait pas encore totalement récupéré. Zani avait, grâce à l’aide de deux autres prêtres du temple de Sha’ana, qui avaient apporté une étrange malle remplie de fioles, d’ingrédients et d’outils étranges, réussi à stabiliser l’état de la jeune femme brune. Il était parvenu à extraire la majeure partie du poison, permettant à son organisme de mieux se défendre contre ce qu’il en restait.
« Cela devrait suffire. Je ne peux en faire plus, son sort est maintenant entre ses propres mains. Mais elle est forte, je suis étonné qu’elle ait résisté aussi longtemps aux premiers effets de la sève avant de perdre connaissance. Elle devrait s’en sortir, il lui faut du repos à présent, avait-il au bout d’un peu plus de trois heures de soins intensifs. »

Thrista avait vu le soulagement sur le visage de Todd qui était resté fermé depuis qu’ils étaient de retour au palais. Le vieil homme était resté au chevet de la jeune femme toute la nuit pour veiller sur elle, permettant aux deux adolescents de se reposer, mais le blond avait insisté pour rester avec elle. Thrista était donc retourné seul dans la salle du bal après avoir dit au garde du corps qu’il pouvait avoir confiance en Zani. A sa surprise lorsqu’il arriva dans la grande salle rien de l’agitation à laquelle il s’attendait ne transpirait. Seuls quelques gardes supplémentaires révélaient la tension sous-jacente qui régnait dans le palais. La reine et les autres chefs de la garde avaient fait un impressionant travail pour que la panique ne s’installe pas. Ce fût la princesse qui le rejoint la première.
« Thrista ! Mes dieux, tu vas bien !, s’écria-t-elle en s’approchant rapidement. »

Le jeune avait sourit.
« C’est plutôt à moi de te dire ça Siléna, ce n’est pas moi qu’on a essayé d’assassiner…, répondit-il mi-joueur mi-sérieux. »

La princesse se renfrogna légèrement mais reprit rapidement la parole.
« Oh ! Et Hannah ! Comment va-t-elle ? Ma mère m’a dit qu’elle avait été blessée et me protégeant !, questionna-t-elle au moment ou Thédric les rejoignaient. »

Il parut soulagé de trouver Siléna et salua Thrista d’un signe de tête.
« Elle ne va pas bien, elle a été gravement blessée par le poison sur la dague. Mais le prêtre Zani et Todd s’occupent d’elle, je leur fait confiance. Zani à réussi à empêcher le poison de prendre complètement effet et il en a extrait autant que possible de son corps. Elle n’a pas encore repris connaissance mais d’après lui, elle devrait s’en sortir. »

Cela parut rassurer la jeune femme qui s’autorisa enfin à sourire légèrement.
« Ouf, tant mieux… »

Puis vint la question que Thrista attendait.

« Et l’assassin, vous l’avez retrouvé ? »

Le jeune homme hésita un instant mais su que quoi qu’il arrive, la princesse aurait les réponses à ses questions d’une façon ou d’une autre.
« Non, nous ne l’avons pas eu. L’émissaire des Iles Karnines à réussi à nous échapper en se jetant dans la mer depuis le haut du mur.
– Cette grande femme rousse ?, s’exclama la princesse un peu trop fort, ce fit se retourner plusieurs personnes.
– Oui, acquiesça Thrista. Je ne sais pas pourquoi elle voulait ta mort, mais je l’ai reconnue de ce matin. »

La princesse allait lui poser d’autres questions lorsque la reine arriva et les interrompit sous l’expression agacée de Siléna, mais la jeune femme se détendit rapidement.
« Je suis désolé de vous interrompre mais ce n’est pas le moment de poser des questions Siléna, pour le moment nous ne connaissons pas tous les faits et nous ne pouvons que conjecturer. Mais, continua la reine alors que la princesse allait protester, tu pourras poser toutes les questions que tu voudras une fois que je saurais ce qu’il s’est réellement passé de la bouche de Thrista et des gardes présent. Pour le moment Marco a réussi à faire taire tout bruit sur l’incident et à faire continuer la soirée dans le calme, profitez en, nous en discuterons à nouveau demain. Et pas de mais jeune femme !, ajouta-t-elle en direction de sa fille. »

Elle se tourna ensuite vers Thrista.

« Lorsqu’Oscius sera de retour nous aurons à te poser à nouveau des questions mais, pour le moment tu peux rester aux côtés de Siléna, dit la reine avant de s’éloigner et de rejoindre son mari. »

Thrista acquiesça silencieusement. Cela ne le surprenait pas, malgré la confiance que les royaux avaient en lui, ils voudraient vérifier l’exactitude de son témoignage et la concordance avec ceux de Hannah et des autres garde pour obtenir le plus de faits possibles. Il comprit également le discret message de la rein lui demandant de veiller sur sa fille pour le moment.
« Je te raconterai tout ce que je sais, promis, dit Thrista à l’attention de la blonde. Mais pour le moment, ne spolions pas le travail de ton père et profitons de la soirée. Elle est en votre honneur, raison de plus !, s’exclama-t-il avec un sourire légèrement forcé. »

Il était encore fatigué de sa course pour rattraper la femme rousse et fut donc soulagé de voir la princesse accepter son conseil sans protester.
« Une dernière danse ?, proposa le prince à sa femme, ce que Siléna accepta volontiers.
– Je te tiens à ta parole Thrista, ajouta-t-elle alors qu’ils s’éloignaient vers la piste de danse. »

L’adolescent passa le reste de la soirée à flâner autour du buffet, picorant ici et là des fruit exotiques, des pâtisseries et des boissons rafraîchissantes. A un certain point Todd le rejoint, lui expliquant que l’état de santé d’Hannah était stable et qu’elle dormait à présent. Ils discutèrent ensuite de tout et de rien, faisant des petit commentaires sur les invités, certains vêtus de tenues excentriques, d’autres ne possédant plus une seule once de sobriété. Thrista ne parvint pas à se détendre complètement, toujours tendu à l’idée qu’une nouvelle tentative sur la vie de la princesse puisse avoir lieu, mais il parvint tout de même à profiter du moment qu’il passait en compagnie du blond. Il fut rassuré lorsque les premiers invités commencèrent à partir et étonné qu’autant de temps se soit écoulé sans qu’il ne le remarque. Le septième septime de Primaire débutait déjà lorsqu’il se retira enfin, acceptant volontiers l’offre du roi de passer le reste de la nuit dans l’une des chambres du palais qui servaient à accueillir les invités. Il ne se changea même pas, déposant simplement son pendentif sur la table de chevet, avant de se laisser tomber comme une pierre sur le lit et de sombrer.
« Je n’arrive toujours pas à croire que quelqu’un ait tenté d’assassiner la princesse…, commenta discrètement le garde du corps blond à l’attention de Thrista qui était assis à sa droite. Quel intérêt les îles Karnines auraient-elles à faire une chose pareil ? Tébor est le pays avec lequel elles font le plus de commerce… » Thrista secoua discrètement la tête.
« Je n’en sais pas plus que toi. La femme rousse n’a rien dit avant de sauter… » Répondit-il la mine sombre.
« Personne ne comprends son geste, intervint Zani en se penchant légèrement vers eux, les deux jeunes hommes se tournèrent vers lui. Le fait qu’on ait attenté à la vie de la princesse est grave mais ne pas en connaître les raisons l’est encore plus. Cela ne présage rien de bon… »

Il allait ajouter quelque chose lorsqu’un groupe de gardes s’approchèrent de l’assemblée et s’arrêtèrent devant les souverains et Oscius en les saluant. L’un d’eux s’avança, tenant un parchemin scellé entre les mains, et prit la parole.
« Mes salutations mon Roi, ma Reine, dit-il en s’inclinant.
– Des nouvelles ?, demanda alors le roi.
– Non messire, répondit le garde en secouant la tête. Nous avons fouillé les eaux tout autour du mur, les falaises et les rochers mais il n’y a aucune trace de corps. Nous poursuivons les recherches mais il y a peu d’espoir de le retrouver un jour, il a sûrement été emmené au large. »

Le roi hocha la tête l’air grave en se tournant vers sa femme.
« Très bien, continuez ainsi et prévenez nous s’il y a quelconque nouvelle, dit-elle alors, le soldat hocha la tête.
– Bien ma Dame, répondit-il, mais il ne fit aucun mouvement pour partir.
– Autre chose ?, demanda la souveraine.
– Oui ma Dame. Une missive des forces galadéennes, expliqua-t-il en tendant le parchemin scellé qu’il tenait en main. »

Le roi Marco le récupéra et l’ouvrit, sa femme se penchant par dessus son épaule pour le lire. Lorsqu’il eut fini il avait l’air légèrement surpris, il le tendit à Oscius qui le lu à son tour.
« Puis-je me permettre de vous demande ce que c’est ?, intervint Zani d’un air curieux.
– Un message du commandant De Guidre qui nous informe qu’il a assisté à l’incident lors du bal et qu’il a ordonné des recherches de son côté. Malheureusement il nous informe que lui non plus n’a rien trouvé pour le moment, expliqua le roi. Je dois avouer que cela me surprend un peu. Je ne m’attendais pas à ce que l’armada galadéenne se soucie de cela. L’intention est cependant bienvenue.
– Je me chargerai de le remercier pour son aide, annonça la reine. Merci, vous pouvez disposer si cela est tou. Passez vous rassasier en cuisine si vous avez faim, ajouta-t-elle à l’attention des gardes qui saluèrent à nouveau le groupe et repartirent du côté d’où ils étaient venu.
– Nous devons la vie de notre fille et celle du prince à votre courage, annonça le roi en se tournant vers Todd et Thrista. Votre amie également, elle n’a pas hésité à mettre sa vie en jeu pour protéger Siléna, et pour cela nous vous seront éternellement reconnaissant.
– En effet, confirma la reine. Sans Hannah, notre princesse ne serait peut être plus là aujourd’hui. Nous ne savons comment vous remercier, si vous désirez quoi que ce soit vous n’avez qu’à demander et ce sera vôtre. »

La surprise s’afficha sur le visage de Todd et il regarda les souverains avec de grand yeux un instant avant de répondre.
« Je suis honoré par votre générosité, mais Hannah et moi n’avons fait que ce pour quoi vous nous aviez engagé. A vrai dire je n’étais même pas apte à réagir à ce moment. Vous avez sauvé la vie de ma partenaire et vous nous avez déjà payé, nous ne pouvons rien demander de plus.
– Balivernes !, s’exclama le seigneur Junon, faisant sourire Marco. Ne soyez pas si modeste jeune homme ! Votre amie est sauve et vous avez empêché un meurtre certes, mais ne gâchez pas cette oportunité, vous n’en aurez pas beaucoup d’autres comme celles-là, croyez moi !
– Merci seigneur Junon. » Répondit Todd, légèrement mal à l’aise. Mais nous ne le méritons pas. J’en parlerais avec Hannah mais pour ma part il n’y à rien que je désire, ajouta-t-il. »

Le père du prince allait répliquer à nouveau mais le roi le coupa dans son élan.
« Allons Stanis, si Todd ne souhaite rien nous ne pouvons l’obliger. »

Stanis Junon soupira avant de lever les mains en signe de reddition.
« Je ne vous force à rien bien sur. Comprenez juste la valeur de la faveur que vous souhaitez refuser, répliqua-t-il, un léger sourire amical au visage. »

La reine proposa alors des rafraîchissements et une collation, on fit venir des boissons et des plats légers des cuisines et les souverains reprirent les discussions à propos de l’incident de la veille et des préparations futures pour le jeune couple. Zani quant à lui préféra discuter avec Thrista et Todd, ce dernier le remercia longuement d’avoir sauvé Hannah d’abord, puis ils discutèrent des connaissances de Zani en matière de poisons et ce dernier leur expliqua en quelles occasions il avait acquis son savoir, leur donnant à plusieurs reprises des conseils pour reconnaître tel ou tel substance. L’après midi avança à grand pas et alors que le soleil déclinait déjà depuis un moment dans le ciel Zani prit congé du groupe pour aller vérifier l’état de la garde du corps brune. Todd en fit autant et suivit le vieil homme jusqu’à la chambre ou la jeune femme se reposait. Thrista lui resta quelques temps pour profiter des rayons faiblissant du soleil avant de rentrer, se promettant de passer voir la jeune femme plus tard. Le prince vint s’asseoir à côté de lui, prenant place là où se trouvait le blond un peu plus tôt et ils discutèrent pendant le reste du temps, parlant principalement de la princesse et du mariage. Le ciel était sombre et la nuit tombait lorsque le jeune homme brun rentra enfin au château, prenant congé du couple royal, du seigneur Junon et d’Oscius, seuls personnes restantes sur la terrasse après que la princesse, son maris et sa sœur aient décidé d’aller se promener dans les jardins.

Il marchait à présent dans le dédale de couloirs en direction de la chambre où se trouvait la garde du corps, profitant de l’agréable lumière qui filtrait à travers les fenêtres. Lorsqu’il entra dans la pièce il aperçut la jeune femme assise sur un large lit près de la fenêtre, elle était étonnement pâle mais en dehors de cela semblait s’être remise et fixait le ciel bleu à travers les immenses fenêtres. Todd, lui, était debout sur une petite terrasse qui donnait sur la ville et admirait silencieusement le paysage illuminé par le soleil couchant. Hannah se tourna vers lui lorsqu’il referma la porte et le fixa un instant sans rien dire ce qui rendit le jeune homme un peu mal à l’aise.
« Bonjour, dit-il un avec un petit sourire nerveux. Je venais voir comment tu allais.
– Je vais mieux, répondit la jeune femme brune en détournant le regard. Je ne suis pas encore en pleine forme mais le prêtre qui m’a soigné à dit que je devrais être sur pieds dès demain. Pas de quoi s’inquiéter, j’ai vu pire, ajouta-t-elle l’air blasé.
– Pas beaucoup pire, je dois dire, intervint le blond en rentrant dans la pièce, il salua Thrista d’un signe de tête.
– Qu’est-ce qui te dis que tu sais tout de moi ?, rétorqua la jeune femme. »

Son ton était resté neutre mais le regard qu’elle lança au blond indiqua à Thrista qu’il avait dû se passer quelque chose avant qu’il n’arrive. Il ne voulait pas interférer dans leurs affaires et préféra tenter de changer de sujet pour calmer l’atmosphère.
« Je suis désolé que nous n’ayons pas pu l’attraper, tu t’es mise en danger plus que nécessaire pour ce résultat…, s’excusa-t-il. »

Cela sembla marcher car la jeune femme le fixa à nouveau un instant, ses traits se détendirent très légèrement et un semi sourire s’invita sur son visage avant de disparaître aussitôt.
« Je sais, Todd m’a expliqué. Ce n’est pas grave, je ne faisais que ce pourquoi nous sommes payés, répondit-elle.
– Tu aurais quand même être plus prudente et me laisser y aller, commenta le blond, l’air morose alors qu’il vint s’asseoir sur l’un des fauteuils en face du lit. »

Hannah le fixa un instant mais ne répondit pas et préféra se tourner de nouveau vers le paysage.
« Hannah, tu ne peux pas continuer comme ça !, s’exclama Todd en se levant à nouveau. Ce n’est pas la première fois que tu agis comme ça, tu te mets en danger sans raisons. Un jour cela va- »

Il n’eut pas le temps de finir sa phrase, la brune se tourna vers lui d’un coup, le regard noir et les jointures de ses poings serrés presque aussi blanche que les pierres du palais.
« Laisse moi tranquille, répondit-elle seulement d’une voix basse mais emplie de colère. »

Thrista cru voir une lueur violette dans son regard mais cela s’était passé si vite qu’il pensa avoir rêvé. Todd se leva lentement et soupira.
« Je vais faire un tour, annonça-t-il avant de se diriger vers la porte. Je suis juste inquiet pour toi, ajouta-t-il avant de la refermer derrière lui et de disparaître dans le couloir. »

Le jeune homme brun resta là un instant sans rien dire, observant la jeune femme qui fixait le mur du regard, le poings toujours serrés.
« En tout cas je suis content que tu ailles bien, dit-il au bout de quelques longues secondes de silence avant de se retourner lentement vers la porte lorsqu’il comprit qu’elle ne répondrait pas. »

Il s’arrêta un main sur la poignée, hésitant à donner voix à ses pensées mais renonça finalement.

« Je te laisse tranquille, à plus tard, ajouta-t-il en jetant un dernier regard vers la jeune femme avant de sortir de la pièce. »

Il aurait juré qu’elle réprimait ses larmes mais, à nouveau, ne put en être sûr. Il marcha un certain temps, laissant ses pas le guider le long des colonnes de marbre blanc pendant que ses pensées volaient librement d’une idée à l’autre, et se retrouva dans la cours intérieure du palais. Il n’arrivait toujours pas à comprendre pourquoi la femme rousse avait tenté d’assassiner la princesse. Pourquoi le Îles Karnines auraient-elles intérêt à faire une chose pareille ? Plus frustrant encore, il avait l’étrange impression que les derniers mots de la femme rousse n’étaient pas destinés à Hannah mais annonçaient quelque chose d’autre, quelque chose de plus grave encore… Il soupira, sa rencontre avec Hannah et Todd quelques minutes plus tôt ne cessait de lui revenir en tête et il ne comprenait pas ce qui avait bien pu se passer pour les mettre en de si mauvais termes. Il n’eut pas le temps d’y songer davantage car, alors qu’il arrivait devant la large fontaine au centre de la cours, il aperçut le jeune homme blond et celui-ci l’aperçut également.
« Thrista !, s’exclama Todd en lui faisant signe de venir s’asseoir à ses côtés. »

Thrista se dirigea vers lui et s’installa sur sa gauche.
« Je suis désolé pour tout à l’heure, annonça le blond. Hannah et moi venions d’avoir une discussion qui l’horripile au plus haut point mais que je trouve nécessaire. Excuse nous si nous t’avons manqué de respect, c’est juste que…
– Tu es inquiet pour elle ?, finit le brun en hochant la tête.
– Oui, elle est toujours trop impulsive et prends trop de risques… J’ai peur qu’un jour cela finisse par finir mal. »

Le blond arborait un air sombre en disant cela.

« Et elle ne veut pas me l’entendre dire… Enfin, bref !, s’exclama-t-il en se forçant à sourire. Changeons de sujet veux-tu… Dis-moi, que compte tu faire maintenant ? »

Le brun lui lança un regard interrogateur.
« Je veux dire, maintenant que le mariage est passé. Tu disais que tu ne restais que le temps du mariage et qu’ensuite tu reprendrais la route.
– Ah oui !, acquiesça le brun. »

Il réfléchit un instant avant de répondre.

« Eh bien à vrai dire, je ne sais pas encore, je pensais repartir vers l’ouest, mais rien n’est fixé. Cela dépendra de mon humeur au moment de partir je pense. Et puis je vais peut-être rester quelques jours de plus, avec ce qu’il s’est passé…, répondit-il en portant son regard vers l’horizon. Il n’est pas encore temps de rentrer, je veux voyager, découvrir de nouvelles choses et apprendre encore plus. Pour être honnête je ne sais pas… »

Todd acquiesça et le regarda un instant, semblant réfléchir à ce qu’il allait dire, avant de sourire à nouveau, cette fois-ci sincère.
« Dans ce cas, que dirais-tu de voyager avec nous ? »


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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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The Phone

a short story by Sullivan P. Oopy.

*

handonphone

She jumped with a start as the phone rang again. The piercing beeps echoed in the empty house. A second time, a third time. It kept on ringing, and yet she wasn’t making a move to get up and pick it up. Instead she was rooted to the spot. Fear? Apprehension? Anger? Frustration? All of these feelings boiled inside her. She wanted to scream at the top of her lungs, to let her tears flow freely, to get up and run far away from that place. But she couldn’t. If she did it would only mean surrendering to her most primal feelings, it would also mean surrendering to him. No. That was not acceptable, it was not an option. She had to remain calm and strong. This was nothing. It would soon be over. She closed her eyes and tried her best to drown the sound of the phone out of her mind. One deep breath. Two deep breaths. As she exhaled for the third time she slowly opened her eyes. The ringing had stopped, the room was silent again.

She could feel her heart slowing down slightly, her breathing becoming less ragged. Oh, she wasn’t relaxing yet! No, not yet. This wasn’t over. It never was. Each time it kept ringing again and again for as long as she refused to pick up. It drove her mad. But this time, this time maybe… Maybe she would be stronger. Maybe she would stand up to him and not cower by answering. That was the kind of woman Hope Wien was, strong and independent, reliable and friendly, someone her friends could definitely count on. That came from her mother, Camellia, from the Wien side of the family, the strong side. Of course it was strong, her mother had somehow managed to convince her father to take her name when they had married, a feat that Hope had not seen repeated anywhere else. Wien was a strong name. Originally coming from the european city itself, and pronounced the same way, it had changed to a softer ‘ween’ when she had arrived to America all those years ago. Reluctant to accept this at first, she had slowly got accustomed to it, even getting her brother, who had remained in Austria, to say it that way when he talked to or about her.

Her brother. Thinking about him brought her immediately back to reality and made her shiver. He was the one responsible for all of this. Slowly and methodically torturing her with those calls. Each year, on the same day at exactly 6pm the phone would ring. Wherever she was, whatever she was doing, whether she was at home or only had her cell phone. It would ring without fail. How he got ahold of her, she would never understand, the point was he did. Every time. He would let it ring for as long as it would: once, twice, three times, as many times as it was necessary for her to pick up. Sometimes it lasted a few minutes, sometimes hours. Once she had just thrown her phone into the river out of frustration. However he somehow had managed to call the friend she had been spending the evening with. He never stopped, he was relentless. As if this call and the feelings it brought down on her was the sole purpose of his life on that precise day.

“You psycho!”, she wanted to pick up and yell at him. “Why won’t you leave me alone already?! What have I ever done to you to deserve this?!”

But she couldn’t manage to do it. Never. Because somewhere, deep down, she knew she deserved it. Once upon a time it had been her who had the role of the torturer and him the role of the victim. Oh how she regretted it! How much she wanted to go back and change it, make it up to him. But time only went forward and karma had caught up to her. She was too far away for him to actually come over but the psychological torture he imposed on her each time seemed to be enough to content him. She sighed once more and looked outside, anxiously waiting for the phone to ring again. Rain started pouring heavily over the city, night was dark and cold. She was prepared this time and yet, as the phone rung again, she couldn’t help jumping one more time. She closed her eyes, repressing her emotions deep inside her and inhaled one last time. Two rings. Then, slowly, she got up and walked to the phone. Three rings. She extended a trembling arm towards it. Four rings. Five rings. She quickly grabbed it and picked up.

“Y- yes?”, she said.

Damn it! She cursed inwardly at her trembling voice.

“Who is it?”, she added in a more confident tone, for the form, despite knowing perfectly well who it was and what he wanted.

Her heart had stopped beating as she now waited for the dreadful reply. At first there was silence, no, not silence, she could hear him breathe! But he said nothing. Then there was a slight change in his rhythm. The bastard is smiling, he’s enjoying this! She couldn’t see him but she knew it. Rain started pouring more heavily and the sound it created against the large windows was harrowing. Come on! Come on! Say it! She silently prayed, wanting this to be over. A flash of bright light momentarily lit up the sky. Tears welled up at the corner of her eyes and she was about to say something when, finally, he spoke.

“Hallo… Wien!”, her brother said as thunder roared outside.

*

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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Tales of Ore – Part 9

“My gods…”, Carmen started, almost in a whisper, “It’s been so long since I saw you last… How long exactly, two years?”, she asked, her brows furrowing as she tried to recall something.

“Yes, it’s been far too long,” replied the dark-haired teenager with a smile. “About two years now I believe. I didn’t think you would recognize me so easily though…”, he then added with a small pout.

“It’s your eyes that betrayed you.The same brown eyes as your father when he was younger…”, she replied, a large smile appearing on her face.

She moved towards him, opening her arms again so she embrace him once more. Even if he was expecting it this time, Thrista wasn’t anymore ready than the first time. She managed to knock the wind out of him a second time. But he couldn’t care less, he was happy to see the older woman again. He let his joy do the talking, embracing her in return once more, this time putting in a bit more strength and emotion.

“Wow, you’ve definitely gotten stronger!”, she commented as she let him go. “Could’ve crushed my bones there!”

The tavern’s owner chuckled as she said this.

“Oh, sorry!”, Thrista immediately began to apologize.

But she interrupted him.

“No, don’t worry, it’s fine! It’s good to know you’re happy to be back and to see you’re in good shape!”, she explained, still smiling.

“Yeah,” he nodded, “I’ve had the chance to travel in good company.”

“Good!”, was all she replied as she studied him.

The young man thought he saw concern in her eyes for a moment before it quickly vanished and was replaced with the usual cheerfulness. Suddenly she seemed to remember something important, she turned around without waiting for a reply and rushed towards the kitchen.

“Do you want something to eat or drink?”, he heard her ask from the other room.

“Yes I would, thank you. I haven’t eaten since this morning!” Replied Thrista as he put down his shoulder bag by the table nearest to him.

He also took off his cape, revealing a long staff-like object encased in leather and cloth and held to his back by straps . He hesitated to sit down but preferred to take a stroll around the room instead. The tavern looked a lot bigger from the inside than it appeared from its exterior appearance, the room was wide and usually luminous. A number of chandeliers were hanging from the ceiling in the center and several candle orbs could be seen on the walls, no light was emanating from them at that time of the day though. One could see the heavy beams made of old oak protruding from the walls to hold the ceiling in place, which gave an old but familiar air to the place. It also offered an unimpeded view of the room, giving it feeling of spaciousness. If the room had been emptied and the curtains opened it would have easily passed for a small temple, the carvings on the ceiling and the paintings depicting epic scenes hanging on the walls helped reinforce this feeling. The young man heard the innkeeper whistle a tune from the kitchen, he couldn’t help but smile.


Previous PartChapters — Next Part

Tales of Ore – Part 8

The dark-haired teenager immediately recognized the slightly raspy voice of the tavern’s owner, which made him smile, but couldn’t place its origin exactly. He had to walk forward a few steps before finally noticing the silhouette of the small woman cleaning a table in the corner. All the curtains had been pulled making it difficult to see the room clearly at first.

“Hello.”, he replied as he looked around. “I hadn’t seen you Carmen, I thought the room was empty. It’s crazy, it seems like nothing has changed since last time, it only feels fresher.”

Thrista noticed the inside of the fine establishment had been renovated slightly, most of the tables looked brand new and the paint seemed freshly redone. But other than that everything was exactly the same, in the same place. Well, except for dirt: not even a trace of dust was visible on the ground.

“Ah, yes! I apologize for the obscurity. I’m taking advantage of the fact that there’s no customer to clean a little, and I hate to do it when the sun beats down like today. Plus its really hot out there so I closed the curtains to keep it cool inside. Isn’t it much more pleasant like this?”, the small woman said, her arm actively scrubbing the wooden table to make every last stain disappear from its surface.

“But do we know each other sir?”, she added, finally looking up smiling, seemingly satisfied with her work.

“So you don’t remember me? I do admit it’s been some time but even so…” asked the young man with a small pout.

The small woman put her tools away and walked towards him, eying his face curiously, her brows furrowed as her gray eyes carefully took in his features. She remained like that for a few seconds and Thrista simply stood there, his smile slowly getting bigger as he waited for the realization to kick in. He had changed quite a bit since the last time she had seen him, he had grown at least a good fifteen centimeters, his shoulders had gotten broader and his hair was a bit longer. It now fell down on his ears even though he used to keep it cut short. His face had gotten thinner and longer and his features slightly sharper, he was almost unrecognizable. Almost. The older woman tilted her head slightly to the right as she slowly voiced her thoughts.

“Your eyes…”, she started while narrowing hers,”Yes, I remember! Thrista! My gods, it has been so long, I hadn’t recognized you! You have grown so much!” she exclaimed as she pulled him into a tight embrace.

Despite her small frame the woman, who was now well into her fifties, possessed an otherworldly strength. This, coupled to her iron will, made it difficult to prevent her to get what she wanted. The young man found himself struggling to breath for a moment before responding to the embrace with a slight chuckle. He was happy to see her again after his long journey, he hadn’t realized it until now but he had missed her warmth. She had been part of his fond memories of Eneleïa since the first time his father had brought him. She was an old friend of his, dating back to childhood if Thrista had understood correctly, and had introduced the strong-willed but incredibly kind woman to him as soon as they had arrived. The young man had become attached to her very quickly. And this had been true the other way round too, Thrista realized this as he saw a small tear roll on her freckled cheek as she finally let him go. She quickly turned around to blow her nose and wipe her cheek.

“It is me”, he nodded with a smile.


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Tales of Ore – Part 5

Thrista blinked a few times as he finally set foot on the solid ground of the harbor of Eneleïa. The sudden contrast between the cool shade of the clothed gangway and the illuminated docks was almost painful. When he got used to the brightness around him again, the young man was truly able to see the agitation that had taken over the docks and the whole harbor: people were shouting, running and transporting cargo everywhere. Though he had waited for the crowd to thin down a bit, there seemed to be an endless flow of passersby. One of the members of the crew saluted him and wished him an enjoyable stay in the city as he began walking towards the city center, to which he replied with a polite smile and a “thank you”. Slowly, and with great care, Thrista managed to make his way towards the outer rim of the harbor and to enter the eastern district. Passing through the huge building of the customs took much less time than expected, after all this wasn’t his first visit, he had come prepared. Soon he found himself on the other side. The eastern district’s streets were almost as crowded as the harbor itself and he had to smartly and swiftly navigate between waves of people going in every direction.

The young man’s pace was slower than he would have liked but it allowed him to enjoy the sights around him. Multitudes of multicolored pieces of cloth were hanging on the walls and from the balconies, hundreds of people walking all around, dressed in just as many colors. In some larger areas of the streets groups of musicians had gathered and were entertaining an ever-changing audience, small stalls accompanied by their merchants were also visible on the sides, tasty smells emanating from the food they tried to sell. Some chariots, which were being prepared for the great parade during the princess’s wedding, were even exposed here and there, still waiting to be completed. As he slowly progressed towards his destination he took it all in, a living and breathing rainbow of colors, tastes and sounds, animated by music and the city’s inhabitants. Thrista couldn’t help smiling at the memories this brought back.

Once he made it to the northern part of the eastern district the streets got quieter, slowly emptying themselves to leave a less dense flow of passersby. He let out a relieved breath, moving through that huge crowd had been more stressful than he had thought. Fortunately, this wasn’t the first time he came to Eneleïa, contrary to many a tourist, which meant that he knew his way around. Keeping an eye out for thieves was something crucial, a single second of distraction and one would find themselves dispossessed of the most valuable of their goods. He realized, as he had predicted, that the northern part of the city was more quiet than its counterparts. He paused a moment to look around at the indications, making sure he was in the right direction, before resuming his walk. The palace was visible on his left, tall and white in the distance. But his destination for the day was a small tavern a little bit more to the north.

He kept walking through the quieter streets, looking at his surroundings to check if he didn’t recognize something. The sun was beginning to set over the horizon when he finally noticed a few familiar facades, night wouldn’t be long to fall, an hour at most. A wave of warmth spread through his chest, it had been a long journey but he was finally coming back. The city of two worlds was slowly recovering the mysterious and charming atmosphere that had seduced him the first time. Yes, it was indeed time for him to come back. Thrista ran a hand through his short dark hair, taking his hood off at the same time, and let a smile spread on his face. This was where the voyage had begun and this is where it began anew.

Finally, he was back.


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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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