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Arjun Baxi

Action Fantasy


5.0  

Arjun Baxi

Action Fantasy


The Path Of The Warrior

The Path Of The Warrior

17 mins 13.4K 17 mins 13.4K

As he drew the sword from its sheath, the pale metal reflecting in the harsh light of the room emitted one single shard of blue light, which meant that he truly was out of the city of Ilverium. Just as he put the protective shoulder guards back on, he noticed a faint glow from underneath the door frame. He just had barely enough time to utter one single gasp before he descended upon him.


The new comer didn’t look dangerous though his face was covered with a cloak. He had a benign, even scholarly air around him, reeking of old books and cramped closets. What a weird combination, Krios mused as he lunged at him, his sword held ready to lop the enemy’s head off, though his strokes could be considered mediocre at best. This man, however, was ready for that.


His staff sprang to defend him. As the smooth wood of the staff met the sharp, sleek blade, shards flew in all directions, the slow parries and strokes of Krios matched by the quick movements of the man with the staff. There was a slow intake of breath as both the fighters stopped for a short interval, their weapons held at their sides, when Krios suddenly felt a sharp pain in his gut. As he looked down, he saw blood pouring out of his stomach- a bleeding hole that would drain his life. As he slipped into unconsciousness, the only thing Krios could think of was now he was free, free from his dues, his responsibilities towards the fenrost and most of all, free from the teacher.


His dreams were anything but peaceful. Krios woke up in a cold sweat. His pale blue eyes showed fleeting fear and anger, a stirring, rising anger. The world was confused and crumbling in his visions. Was he dead? No, that couldn’t be! He glanced around – he had just woken up in a room with lamps and swiveling doors. The walls were made of wood that woodworkers had heaved for ages. The floor was a gorgeous shade of white, his face reflecting off the clean, shiny surface. The lamps on the ceiling were familiar, a comforting kind, but just as Krios got up, his back flamed with pain, and he fell onto the bed, his body aching.


When he finally returned into a dreary state of consciousness, his back was covered with a bandage,infused with something warm. Krios suddenly realised the fact that somebody must have been watching over him. He woke up fully, realizing that they might have taken him back to the city of Ilverium. Or the fenrosts had taken him?


Just as these questions burst forth, the door opened, revealing the only person alive who could ever say something insulting to Krios and get away with it: the teacher. His face was hidden behind a cowl of the darkest fabric Krios had ever seen. This thin husk of a man could stop armies and dropped kings with one glance at them. No matter how many kingdoms paid tribute to the fenrost, they eventually knelt to this commander of millions.


As he walked towards Krios, he caught a glimpse of the dark face underneath; nothing but shadow and bone. If the rumors were to be believed, he was the purest soul totally corrupted. He became the teacher, the feared warrior who troubled Ilverium like none other. But as these thoughts raced through his head, the teacher took out his hand from his cloak and presented Krios with an orb. He was still a member of the fenrost and would be healed...until he realised that wasn’t to be. The teacher spoke. “You, Krios, are accused of going to the ancient lands, breaking the law of the sheath, and telling a stranger our secrets. Despite these grave actions, we rescued and rehabilitated you, and we now demand payment. You are to be exiled, never to be seen again in the lands of the fenrost.” The teacher had come not to heal, but to extract a favor.


Krios simply stared at him. What was the teacher saying? He had not been to the ancient lands, he had only heard of them in stories and fables. How could he have told the citizens of Ilverium anything? Only once he’d been out of the kingdom of fenrost. Even then, he was apprehended by some hostiles. What were these unfounded allegations? Even as he struggled to utter a protest, the teacher teleported Krios out to the temple.


The temple was a swirling mass of black and purple, its magnificent carvings marred by the years of projectiles fired upon these mighty walls. With the bitter taste of betrayal on his lips, Krios sighed, and began remembering the temple as it was...Magnificent oak walls, with golden inlays, this temple was nothing like the previous one...Wait. Was this even fenrost? He was sullen and desperate, tears choking him up, barely being able to stand up as his injuries took their toll.


The only place Krios could go to was to his own house, the only place safe place he could rely on. So he went across the rolling hills of the fenrost, encountering various people he had never met gaping at him, shouting words of worry and fear. What had happened to the peace loving people who had welcomed him into their fold? Why was everyone shouting and acting as if they had seen a ghost? All the towns he asked for food, medicine and welcome shunned him. As anger, frustration and eventually, desperation seeped into him, he realized too late that they were scared of him. Scared of a mere boy? A boy who had not even learnt how to survive a night in the forest?


When he finally, after hours of walking with aching feet, reached his stream, the very stream where the teacher had first found him sinking in, he stood shock still. The house was aflame- dark magenta flames gushing from every door and window. He tried to use weak water powers to douse the fire, but when he did manage to clear the rubble and runic spells on the now-desolate house, Krios found no clues. Nothing at all. This was not the work of a normal, sane person. This was the work of a higher being. Who else could cast such powerful spells in such a short time? Who else could find his home so accurately and set it afire so quickly?


As if somebody was reading his thoughts, Krios saw a cloak billowing in the wind a few meters away from him. Before he could do anything though, the cloak had disappeared, and then Krios saw him. The dark, rich hair of his own, the same pale, freckled skin like him. The same blue eyes, but unlike his lively, bright ones, this stranger’s eyes were filled with a deep, sharp feeling of emptiness and... pain, raw, desolate pain. His shirt was black in colour, so were his trousers. As he looked at Krios, the younger boy’s blood froze. This was himself, but in a different, subtle way. Just as he was about to get up and hail the person, he felt a sharp jolt in his legs, and collapsed on the floor. The stranger rushed to help him, but before he could do anything, a dark, swirling mass of clouds approached the burnt house, destroying everything in its wake. Krios could barely look up from his position, longing for a warm hug, or a blanket. All he could think of was to get out of this place forever, and think it was all a dream.


Just as he was about to enter a deep slumber filled with horrible dreams, the stranger picked him up, dragging him across the floor roughly. Well, the boy didn’t get time to complain about his predicament and scream, for the cloud that hovered above their heads suddenly burst, revealing a man unlike any other. His face was convoluted with hate, the bones of his jaw visible underneath the dark mask that his used to hide his eyes. The stranger muttered a single word, and the ground beneath the other man’s feet cracked with volcanic rocks and ash.

Krios was woken up quickly from his drowsy slumber by this sudden move. Only when he managed to look through the white halo of light did he recognize the person behind the mask, the very warrior that he feared the most, the teacher himself had come to kill this stranger helping him.


As Krios looked on, this battle between two of the most powerful beings started with only a few parries, swords that were as sharp as any ever made. As sparks flew all over, the two people rose into the air, their capes billowing in the gale that surrounded them. Krios looked on, amazed at the sight in front of him. As he watched on, the stranger bellowed into the endless darkness that was slowly eating the light of the day, shouting one word after the other, although most of them were lost to the gale, Krios managed to hear a few of them”. Punish him! He’s the only one that’s out of the equation. You know you can’t touch me as long as he’s alive. Then I wouldn’t be alive if you did, fighting at the moment with you! Stop this madne-“then suddenly, the teacher removed his sword, his actual sword, not the ceremonial one he was fighting with and the land, the gale, krios’s thoughts, everything froze.


The stranger seemed to resist, though, with the best of his effort. His body was working like a clockwork machine, the sword moving almost mechanically as the teacher tried to knock heavy blows. People would have been felled by strokes lesser than these. The darkness was creeping around the stranger. The man seemed to be crying, his very face a symphony of pain and hopelessness. The teacher, realizing that he was near victory slashed at the stranger, whose face contorted with a soundless scream, and he fell, fell from the gale that held them together. The teacher then came down to the ground and looked at Krios, his eyes, if you could call them that, looking into Krios’s soul. Krios struggled to get up; He shivered in the cold that the teacher brought with him. The sword that was lying on krios’s back suddenly shuddered and broke, like fine glass, spraying metal all over the young warrior’s back.


Just as the teacher was about to reach for Krios’s throat, a horrible, echoing scream came out of the boy’s mouth, a scream that shook the rocks around him. His eyes turned a dark, nightmarish blue, filled with waves and crevices. The teacher looked shocked. So did the stranger, who had apparently recovered from his life threatening fall. Just as the stranger was about to reach out for the boy, the teacher lunged at Krios. Krios got up, His frail body looking strangely menacing to the eyes of a well-trained warrior. He took his hand out from the pocket of his trousers, and uttered a single word. This word apparently had disastrous consequences for the teacher, who withered away from Krios, the dead hand’s skin burning at the sound of the word. As the teacher writhed and burned, the stranger quickly ran across to Krios as fast as he could. The poor boy was panting and gasping for breath when the stranger propped him up. Amid all this, however, the teacher teleported away without much pomp. Just as he did so, the boy gasped,” do the fenrost even have these powers?”


The stranger tried to answer his question,“ the fenrost, as you know, are an ancient body of people, people who are as old as the trees, but they suffered a loss of their wealth, prestige and power, betrayed by the corruption of those whom they revered. The teacher nurtured the angry, dark side of the people and slowly raised them to attack the institutions of king and kingdom that had betrayed them. This institution they attached is, of course, Ilverium, the ancient city of the emerald order. The disenchanted were taken in by the teacher, whose powers granted his the power of advanced thought, advanced physique, and advanced life... it was a great day of rejoicing when the teacher and his pupils finally invaded Ilverium with all their might behind them, their collective power completely ruining the mighty walls of the city.


But with such great power, came great responsibilities -something that the teacher was not interested in. Now, he had to care for thousands of residents, all to fit in one, small, stately city, and not enjoy power? So, with their new abilities, he let the fenrost spread, spread all over the other kingdoms, carving out their own territories, often overrunning entire populations, reducing his responsibilities and yet expanding his control . That is where we come in, as the-“


Krios got up with a jerk. “’We? What do you mean? ’’

The older boy sighed.”When you were on your first journey to Ilverium a few days ago, the teacher had plotted to kill you- he could only do that by transporting you to the ilverium of the past, when your powers were weak. They were afraid of your skills which would grow more powerful as you aged; you were widely regarded as being the one that destroys the empire of the fenrost- and the teacher. He went after everything he knew about you - the house was burnt by the teacher, for once they figured out that your powers had multiplied; he automatically laid waste to the places where he was sure you would go as you struggled to find yourself. I myself am a hunted figure, having done things that would scar even the teacher’s soul, if he even has one. We have to get to safety now, my younger self, for this house of ours is still haunted and watched.”


Krios got up, picked his sword and started traversing the fields and forests that surrounded the ruined house.

Let us take a break here, dear reader, and look upon the fate of these two people, who were the same, yet two very different souls. The name Krios originates from the ancient myths of the lands of the forgotten, before the great purge. The name is mostly used in silent regard to the ancient thrones of the town of Ilverium, referencing to the seats of kings long forgotten, and to the leader of these kings, being the most powerful of the lot. It is said that the city of Ilverium was founded by this king. He built this town out of the purest stone of all, emerald, using mighty men from the east.


The boy Krios, was, however, a far cry from the origin of the name, for he was weak, inefficient and, to some extent, pathetic with the sword. Both his parents were rich, aristocratic members of the society of fenrost, and held sway over the outer territories of the empire. Their parents were thrown out of Ilverium in the great purge, never to be seen again. Had Krios gone up the ranks of the fenrost as he intended to, he would have become a great orator, or worse, a good politician. But none of this was to happen, as we shall see...

Krios and Krios lunged at the two people who were following them, their swords on the scalps of the attackers in a matter of minutes. As the swords were sheathed, the younger of the two krios’s decided he had enough of running around in circles, trying to avoid being chopped into a million pieces by members of his own ex-community.


The older boy had said nothing about staying in the wild for a week; he hadn’t even told him that they had to live amongst trees for sleeping sans shelter. The older boy sighed, and said, “Not far from the city now, Krios, we should reach in about an hour, two if we are unlucky. As soon as we reach the capital, we can rest in peace. That is one place that you can count on- if we can get the teacher in the temple, he will fall- he cannot stand the purity of the place. So we must get him in there.”


Krios the younger just looked at him. It never occurred to him that he had been travelling with an utter stranger who, apart from being literally the same as him, was almost completely different.

The city of ilverium suddenly came to view on the horizon. Many legends and myths have been spread about this magnificent town, but they did little justice to the sight that was in front of them.

Huge walls the size of the temples overlooked a vast and flat plain of fields, and what glorious fields at that! Huge farms had crops of wheat, corn, and barley. The guards in the towers surrounding them were beaming with pride, looking at the magnificent walls of emerald, literal emerald, glistening in the moonlight, the arches of the gates that allowed entrance into the city inlaid with jewels and gold.


As the two people progressed toward the gates, a chill ran down the spines of the two boys, though the older one was more alert due to this, the young boy regarded these as mere creeps. Just as they were about to enter the guards gate, the dark shadow of the teacher loomed over the two boys, his sword glistening in the shadows, whose fading darkness led the guards to truly believe that the feared one, the teacher, had appeared.

Although the residents knew that they had nothing to fear from the dark leader of the fenrost, they still had their beacons and battlements in place by the time the shadow of the teacher even loomed over the city. As both the boys removed their swords, the older one lured the enraged teacher towards him, throwing the younger boy away from him, and shouted to no-one in particular.”Krios! Go! We shall meet in the temple where your powers will be absolute then! Leave before HE-“This sentence was cut off by a sharp blow in the hand by the teacher’s fists- but he knew the teacher had heard, and hesitated before he attacked.


The sounds of their epic fight echoed all across Ilverium’s walls, but luck was not on the boy’s side, as he failed to keep up with the masterful parries of the teacher, whose sword now reached out to kill the guards who had come to attack him. All this while, Krios had been watching the city inside the emerald walls. As he gazed upon the magnificent stone buildings, whose surfaces were covered with the very gem that kept them safe, for the teacher’s greatest fear, if more so than krios’s power, was a deep, dark hatred and fear of the emarldic runes, and the stone itself. Krios ran towards the temple, whose hard, dark red clashed rather brilliantly with the light green color that the city was adorned in. The archaic runes of the tower or spire that preceded the temple were now visible to him, and Krios ran towards it, his peripheral vision just catching the helm of the teacher’s cloak. He had done it. The teacher had been lured to the temple


If temples in the extensive lands of the fenrost had taught him anything, it was that there were always extremely busy markets that if you knew how to hide, could act as a protective barrier between the opponent and the victim, providing Krios with an escape plan if anything else was necessary. He ran towards a fruit seller, who, if not surprised by the young boy running at him with full gusto and energy, was definitely shocked when he felt a chilling presence of the teacher. Unfortunately for the teacher, Krios had lost himself in the market. The only place the teacher knew he would definitely find the boy was the temple, the very temple that he could not enter, the very temple that weakened his bones, that made him feel sick, and mortal above everything else.


As the teacher approached the steps of the temple in front of him, pain clenched at his heart, his powers and wizardry seemed to be fading. Behind the teacher, stood the older boy. His unsheathed sword glistening in the moonlight, ready to kill the man who had tortured their existence for so long.


How hard was it to run up the steps of a temple? Well, really hard, especially if the temple was cursed. In spite of the creeping weakness, the teacher was sure that he would seize and kill the boy as soon as he laid his eyed on him. The silhouette of a boy just came into view. Rage appeared in the teacher’s eyes. He lunged at him, completely unaware of the fact that, by this time, his powers had been reduced to mere fractions of their original.

He tried to parry a few strokes with the sword he held, but his arms grew weak, his breathing became unsteady, and at last, he fell to his knees, at the foot of the boy. Krios the elder ran towards him, His sword arm outstretched, and the sword shone with a dull blue light.

The almost lifeless body of the teacher suddenly twitched and flicked-and just like that, the spirit of the teacher left his body. The older boy prodded his body with his sword, but there was no reaction. The dark spirit had gone. Ilverium was free. The air lightened and the day looked brighter. But even as Krios watched, the city walls crumbled into stone and useless emerald dust. It was almost as if nature wanted to wipe it all out, and start afresh. Krios looked around. The people were dazed, struggling to understand.

Krios stood tall, and raising the sword high, shouted, “People of Ilverium, a new age begins!”


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