Chapter 17: Aedain's plan

Chapter 17: Aedain's plan

A Chapter by Gosia

A couple of days passed since May became Aedain’s hostage. She got used to the new daily routine �" their group would wake up every day at dawn, then May and Eren would eat breakfast. Next, they all were marching till dusk and then set camp for the night. It was clear to the girl, that Aedain had some purpose, he was searching for something and May had a hunch, that Eren’s kidnapping were and the upcoming lunar eclipse were somehow connected to it. The lizard demons, who attacked Aedain’s group the other day, mentioned a spear and it was the only clue May had.  Not that she didn’t try to investigate �" she did, but every time she tried to ask Baltar or Eren, the long-haired demon sent them a warning glare, efficiently silencing them.

May realized that she could only wait patiently for a convenient opportunity to escape. For the time being she managed to maintain a fragile truce between herself and Aedain. They spoke to each other as little as possible, May refrained from talking back to him and Aedain controlled his habit of grabbing people’s throats.

She tried to befriend Meirch as she now was riding on the creature half of the time. May kept bribing the demonic horse with fruit and had an impression that it liked her a little more now. At least it wasn’t scaring her on purpose anymore. Much to her amazement, Meirch turned out to be a very friendly animal despite the fact that he looked fearsome, and was a sworn vegetarian.

However, May had a hard time getting used to the everyday hardships. Her back was sore from sleeping on the bare ground. During nights, she was covering herself and Eren with Aedain’s cloak, he gave them, but she was always shivering before dawn anyway. May also made a discovery that grass in the world of the Callesmere Empire was edible, but it tasted awfully anyway.

Surprisingly, the other demon, Baltar, turned out to be not as horrible companion as he thought him to be. He seemed crude, violent and somewhat cruel, but he liked good laugh nearly as much as he liked a good brawl. His personality reminded May a bit of an unruly child who enjoyed bullying the weaker. The bald man was clearly happy that he found a listener who would withstand the endless tales of his adventures and lame jokes.

May was quite shocked, when the muscled demon told her that he was nearly one hundred and fifty years old, whereas Aedain was a little over a hundred years old. When May inquired further, the demon betrayed to her that fate brought the two demon warriors together about eight decades ago, when Baltar’s long-haired superior was only a little boy much like Eren. Ever since then they had travelled together, facing numerous foes and bettering their fighting skills with every battle they fought.

“Baltar,” May spoke, once more trying to get some information on her captors. “Tell me, where exactly are we going? We have a destination or something like that?”

“Not your business,” Baltar grunted, cautiously glancing at Aedain. “But, I can tell you something else.”

And so May learnt, there were all kinds of demons inhabiting the lands of twelve human dukedoms, from the sea in the east to the mighty Bradan Mountains in the west, called in the demons’ language Ard Briahdain. Baltar betrayed, that his kind lived in the places, where the humans were afraid to venture �" in the ancient woods, hidden in the mountains, inhabiting the swamps and the sites thought of as haunted. After three long centuries of war between the human newcomers and the native folk of the Callesmere, called by Baltar Kal Laismarr, the fragile peace came and both races were mostly ignoring the existence of another for the next six hundred years, not invading the territories. From time to time incidents happened, when a brave human warrior came to an idea of slaughtering demons or a hostile Laismaran, as it was the proper name of a member of Baltar’s race, decided to murder the villagers.

May learned the basic differences between demons and humans. The native inhabitants of Kal Laismarr were born in huge diversity of forms: some of them resembled normal animals, others were like beasts from European legends or forest spirits. However, the demons could disguise themselves as humans, many even spent their entire lives in such form, rarely reverting to the one they were born in. But, no matter how hard they tried to copy human appearance, they weren’t able to change the naturally golden color of their eyes.

The individual abilities of the Laismarans and their strength varied greatly, depending on the type of demon they were, the power of the bloodline and sometimes luck. Baltar said that he and Aedain were exceptionally strong among their race, their senses far more superior to the ones of a human; they could spot a rabbit from a mile and track the scent of a person like a hound.

Baltar continued his tale, sharing with his human companion, that some Laismarans lived in castles of their own, far from the human’s reach, preserving the relics of the long lost magnificent civilization. The centuries of war and the destructive influence of the humans made the Laismaran traditions fade, many of Baltar’s kin forgot the language of the ancestors, most of the cities fell and the his people were forced to live in hiding. The contemporary demons were merely a faint shadow of their powerful ancestors, fewer in numbers, their will to fight crushed by the long years of defeat.

“But, it won’t be long now,” Baltar voiced his opinion, a confident and proud smile playing on his lips as he petted his prominent goatee.

“What do you mean?” May asked.

The demon patted the heavy battle axe on his back.

“Aedain, son of mighty Keallach, will soon get the power to return the things they once were,” Baltar stated firmly, with unwavering faith reflecting in his yellow eyes. “After the eclipse, once he finds the ancient spear, all Laismarans will get together under one banner.  Aedain will lead all those lazy b******s and he’ll make sure that not one of the stinky humans remains. No Laismaran mother will have to fear that humans will kill her offspring. Every Laismaran man, woman and kid will be able to come out of hiding, with their heads up and back straight, proud to be who we are. The golden ages will return to Kal Laismarr once the plague is destroyed.”

May felt drops of cold sweat gather on her forehead, as she listened to Baltar’s zealous speech. Finally she made him spill beans, but now she regretted it.

“Baltar, what exactly is going to happen after this eclipse?” she asked her companion.

Eren stared at the big bald demon, clutching May’s hand, as they were walking side by side. Baltar made a smug face, like he was satisfied with himself.

“After the eclipse… there will be a war,” he replied, visibly pleased with the impact his words had on May and Eren. He had such joy on his face as though in his mind a war was an equivalent of Christmas. “It will be the biggest war since the time of the Great War six centuries ago.”

Eren blinked, furrowing his brows.

“What was Great War?” he asked.

Baltar rolled his eyes at the question.

“Humans are truly stupid,” he groaned, before beginning to explain it to May and Eren. “Nine hundred ago, something terrible happened. Something, that destroyed the peace in the kingdoms of Kal Laismarr. Ships came from the east, from across the sea. They were carrying many warriors each. They landed on the shores and began building fortified settlements in the east. At first, my kind ignored the danger, thinking of the gael, humans, as of no threat to us. My ancestors thought that weak, fragile beings, who live so short and die so easily, were harmless. But, they were wrong. Very soon the humans began breeding, quickly multiplying their numbers. More were coming every day in the ships from the east. They learnt of our existence and began preparing to fight to claim Kal Laismarr as their own lands. The four kings recognized the threat, but it was already too late. If only they had acted earlier…”

Baltar frowned, crushing in his palm a rock he was holding. When he outstretched the fingers, sand fell onto the ground.

“The war lasted for nearly three centuries, the humans were stubbornly conquering one piece of land after. Kal Laismarr was ruled by four powerful kings: one in the North, one in the West, South and East. All of them were prideful as hell and instead of uniting, they were arguing with each other for years.

Three hundred years after first human set foot on the Laismaran soil, the four ancient kings of Kal Laismarr summoned all of our race able to fight, men and women, to gather on the fields of Daranoth. The summer was long and hot, the live-giving waters of An Thalain nearly dried up, leaving a muddy ford. And there stood the two greatest armies, the world had ever seen �" gathered there, separated by the muddy riverbed of An Thalain. The number of humans and Laismarans was equal, but we were stronger by nature. The kings and the clan leaders were conceited, sure to win, what contributed to the defeat. The humans’ positions were fortified, but the leaders ordered to attack head-on, leading the charge without even checking of the humans didn’t have a trump card.”

May and Eren held their breaths, listening to the tale of a long forgotten battle.

“And,” May urged Baltar to continue. “Did they have it?”

The demon nodded.

“Of course they did. The most of the clan’s forces leapt forwards and got into a trap. It turned out, that the human sorcerers set up a fancy spell, which was supposed to hold the enemies inside, taking away the ability to move. The human archers began killing the trapped Laismarans one by one. The rest of the forces attacked the human army, but then he stepped out. It became legendary, the moment, when the crowd of bearded human warriors let him through, so that he could face our army alone. He was tall for a human, carrying a massive spiked armor on his back. The cloak of silver hair covered his shoulders, the long beard had the same color. He was fearless, when he stood in front of the armies of Laismarans of all shapes and sizes, all wanting his blood. He was an enemy, but my ancestors harbored great reverence for his courage and skill. The human wielded a spear, dark as though it was forged out of the very essence of the night. He lifted it and Laismarans began dying, defeated by the great power of the weapon. He killed three kings, the clan leaders, one by one. No one was a worthy adversary for him. No one except king Kaegan mab Ruanaidh, the most powerful of the Laismarans. They battled for hours, while the Laismarans and humans fought, steel against claw, blade versus fang.”

Baltar raised his voice, with passion describing every blow and the counterattack as though he saw the duel with his own eyes.

“The sun was setting, when both Kaegan and the human fell, mortally wounded. By that time most of the two armies were destroyed; An Thalain’s empty riverbed filled with the blood of the fallen, never to run dry again. It’s because of that the humans call it the Red River. Kaegan and the human called the “Dragonslayer” were buried with honors side by side, saluted by humans and demons, who recognized their courage.”

Mai furrowed her brows, noticing the inconsistency in what Baltar said.

“I thought, that the demons lost this battle, but what you said, it looks like it was a draw,” she shared her doubts.

“It was,” Baltar agreed. “No one really won that day. But, it was what came after the battle, that decided about the fate of Kal Laismarr. The humans grew in numbers much faster than our kind did. They began to prosper, pushing the Laismarans out of their ancient territories. To survive, we had to learn how to assume human-like appearance and speak their language. Eventually the humans united into one nation and built their capital on the bones of dead kindred and enemies, fallen in the Battle at An Thalain.”

“Thorongard,” May whispered, recalling the name of Callesmere Empire’s capital city.

She knitted her forehead, connecting dots in her mind. Baltar had said, that a spear will be found. This spear, could it be the very same weapon as…

“The Dragonslayer’s Spear,” she whispered. “You two are looking for the Dragonslayer’s Spear.”

Baltar cursed loudly, when he realized, that he had said too much.

“Just forget…” he began.

“Aedain wants to get it and start a war, after the eclipse, doesn’t he?” May questioned Baltar, angry look on her face. “He can’t do that!”

May was so fired up by the talk with the huge demon, that she didn’t notice Aedain coming closer.

“I can and I will.” Both May and Baltar stiffened, hearing Aedain’s deep voice. The black-haired demon sent a scolding glare at his sidekick. “I hope, that you are pleased with yourself.”

Baltar stared down at his feet like a child who just had been scolded by its father. He reluctantly gazed up into Aedain’s cold eyes.

 “I didn’t mean to blabber out that much,” the bald demon admitted with shame and guilt clearly written on his face.

“Now humans know of my plans,” Aedain said calmly. “It is unfortunate. Tell me, Baltar, do you want this female and the boy dead so badly?”

Baltar glanced at May and Eren, who stood petrified at his side and then he slowly shook his head, meaning is as a “no”.

“No?” Aedain shifted his gaze from Baltar to May. “Pity, for they will die because you couldn’t watch your tongue.”

Baltar furrowed his brows and May brought Eren closer to herself.

“No, please. Don’t kill us,” May uttered, protectively embracing the child.

Aedain’s gaze wasn’t leaving the pair. His eyes didn’t show and ounce of compassion or mercy. His face was perfectly emotionless.

“I intended to let you go after I get the Spear,” he said. “But I cannot risk you leaking my plans to your kin.”

“I won’t tell anyone! I promise!” May hastily assured Aedain, wanting to save her own and Eren’s skins at the moment.

However, the black-haired demon snorted, as though he just heard a good joke.

“You promise?” he repeated, speaking in a mocking manner. “Human’s promises are worth just as much as dirt. Betrayal and deception lie in the very nature of your kind.”

May clenched her fists and glared back.

“And senseless cruelty is in yours!” she accused Aedain in a meager attempt to come up with a witty reply.

Aedain smiled, showing his sharp fangs.

“Cruelty is better than weakness, human,” he answered.

 

 

Riada Swamp

 

“Ach, beer!” Sigurd’s eyes gleamed with joy, as his cousin brought a pint of beer and the both men sat on the bench outside the inn, relaxing after a long day of hard work in the fields. Thankfully the sowing was successful, as all Sigurd’s sons helped him this year.

“There’s still no rain,” his cousin stated, boring as always.

Sigurd shrugged his shoulders and took a gulp of the golden liquor, decorating his beard with the foam. He outstretched his tired legs and looked in front of himself. The settlement in the very heart of Riada Swamps was a hidden paradise. The village, where Sigurd and the other lived was surrounded by deadly marshes. The forest around was treacherous �" one wrong step and Riada Swamps swallowed a careless traveler. The marshes went for miles, the whole northern part of Rimmisth Dukedom. The place had the opinion of haunted and not without a reason �" it was the lair of forest witches. The creatures were known for having close ties with forbidden magic and having a form of beautiful ethereal women, who seduced and lured the travelers into depths of the swamp to kill them. Or to do something else.

The dukes of the neighboring dukedoms were often banishing the criminals into the Riada Swamp, sending them for long, painful death, far more worse than an executioner’s axe. Most of them died, but some survived, living with the red-haired witches in the village. The boys were born very rarely, so the males were always welcomed. With the flow of time the population grew and the both kinds coexisted peacefully, lending each other a hand and mixing.

 “You know, what’s the best in living here?” Sigurd asked his cousin, drinking the rest of his beer in one gulp.

“Views?” the other man asked.

“Screw the views!” Sigurd waved his hand. “Taxes, or rather no taxes. We’re living in the middle of the freaking Riada Swamp, with a bunch of witches and no tax collector has the guts to suck us dry from our money!”

“We don’t have money here, Sigurd,” the cousin reminded him, stoically sipping his beer.

“Oh,” Sigurd muttered, remembering the fact. He opened his mouth to share another wisdom, but instead whistled, as a tall slim forest inhabitant passed by, dressed in a short dress, a bow on her shoulder and flamingly red hair flowing behind her. “My dear cousin, we’re damn lucky to live here.”

The cousin mumbled a response and continued drinking. Sigurd sighed, cursing his gloomy relative.

Then, someone caught his attention.

“The witch!” he elbowed his cousin, pointing the figure.

“What?” the cousin asked without much energy for gossiping. “The witch? Which one?”

 Sigurd rolled his eyes.

“The old bat,” he hissed out and straightened his back to observe, what was happening.

An old woman was stalking down the street from her house �" the secluded tower  with ancient wines growing all over it. Despite her age, which Sigurd didn’t even dare to guess, her back was straight and she was tall for a woman, like most of the witches. The wavy silver hair with a single red lock were done up, the green robe was loosely hanging on her thin shoulders. When elderly, some women tend to get plump, the others go dry, as though time began sucking the life of them already. The witch belonged to the secondcategory.

“What an ugly bird,” Sigurd commented, pointing the finger at a balding eagle. The big bird looked rather like a chicken readied for the dinner that the king of birds. The miserable eagle was desperately clutching some scroll in his beak, refusing to let go when the witch tried to retrieve it. The old woman was loudly muttering the curses in some ancient long forgotten language. Sigurd felt grateful, that he didn’t speak this language, because he suspected that the witch’s cursing vocabulary could be surprisingly extensive.

“Look, she has a bag,” Sigurd’s cousin whisperef, pointing his finger at a large leather bag the witch was carrying.

Sigurd tilted his head, interested; the old hag looked like she was about to set off to some journey. He cleared his throat.

“Granny, are you going somewhere?” he called to the old woman.

The witch huffed and pointed her skinny finger at the bird.

“Oh yes I am!” she exclaimed. “I sent my eagle to deliver a scroll translation to a friend of mine. He’s name is Arnstein, He’s a priest in a temple right outside Thoen Stronghold in Farn. The eagle returned with the scroll; something must have happened to Arnstein. He’s a useless bum, but he should have sent some reply. I have a bad feeling about this…”

Sigurd watched as the old witch stalked away and looked at the clear sky. No rain, the hag leaves her house for the first time in his lifetime… it can’t be good. He had a hunch, that something dark hung in the air.  

 



© 2013 Gosia


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Reviews

I really liked the awkwardness the witch felt getting hit on... the last time being 60 years ago! hahaha.
Aedain is still a d****e. I really dislike him. I'm glad May is standing up to him.

Posted 10 Years Ago


Gosia

10 Years Ago

Yeah, he deserves a good whacking. The witch is actually my favorite positive character (I can't hel.. read more
JR Darewood

10 Years Ago

she is crafty. she does give the reader a glimmer of something to propel them forward, a central ten.. read more

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Added on August 26, 2013
Last Updated on October 1, 2013


Author

Gosia
Gosia

Poland



About
Hello, my name is unpronounceable for most of humankind, but fortunately it can be shortened to Gosia. I’m an university student in my twenties, about to face the real life very soon. I’ve.. more..

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