Chapter Eleven: Pompeii

Chapter Eleven: Pompeii

A Chapter by Greystone

"Father!" Screamed Mirage, dropping her sword, which greeted the ground with a loud clang, and sprinting towards the pit's edge, "FATHER!" Unlike Mirage, Arathas made no move to go towards the cliff. He blinked once, then twice, then three times; his multicoloured eyes catching the faint light and gleaming softly.


"Your efforts are useless," he said quietly, "you know as well as I, Mirage. There is no bottom to the Pit of Aelstró, it will lead them straight to flaming hell."


"Hell is not fiery," she replied, rather distractedly yet still managing an air of annoyance, ruefully turning her attention away from the edge of the cliff, "Ask Persephone."


Arathas gave a demure chuckle.


"Oh?" Mirage had no reply, but Ariadine recognized the significance of the event and ran to Arathas.


"I am sorry for your loss," Ariadine said in her lovely way, gripping Arathas' shoulder with an elegant nod at Mirage, "I am sure that the heavens will roll out to greet such noble men."


"Such a noble man, Aria," corrected the hunter, his voice shaking slightly, "Such a noble MAN." Mirage growled at him, glaring with a furious passion. Her eyes began to glow, despite her exhaustion. Anger filled her as water fills a cup-- she might have killed him, but Fabien found her first.


"Mirage," he said with a sort of maternal voice that Mirage had never heard him use, "There's nothing we can do." Mirage looked at him.


"You're bleeding!" she said, "Let us leave, I bet we can fin--"


"No, Mirage." He said steadily, though it was obvious from the winces on his face his wound was painful, "No." His bright blue eyes found hers. "Leave me here," he said in a voice that resembled sternness, "I cannot go fast enough--Don't you hear them?" Normally, the young stormbringer would be against listening to advice from a vassal. But this day was passing quickly, faster even then the thoughts that clouded her mind. So, without further ado, Mirage closed her eyes, and listened.


Unfortunately, Fabien was right. Thousands of feet rumbled on the ground above, while barking dogs followed the scent of their owner. Yells of a savage triumph filled the tainted air above the group, while the sound of long swords scraping the ground as the dragon's talons had done to that very cavern in which they stood. Sons of both noble lords and farmers from austere orgins, prepared to face death for the promise of sparkling coin. Mirage had had such tools of war once, but now she lacked them, now nearly all lay dead on that battlefield-- her reinforcements an entire world away.


This time, Mirage had no army to protect her. No thousands to die without a thought merely to keep their God-given rights open to Sharpstar use.


Arathas did.


Even if his soliders lacked proper motivation or training, the hunter did not care for his soliders as she hadcared for hers. She and her remaining forces would be overwhelmed by numbers alone, even if they were wide awake, well rested, and full of energy. Mirage knew who had dug those very tunnels in which they stood, and there was no escape route besides the way in which they had come. The dragon had been well trained, but now her own method of defense for holding her keep turned awry. From Arathas' grim smile, he had considered this from the moment her beast's first roar had greeted the world. Mirage, whose mind lacked in strategy and who was preoccupied with killing the beasts, had not.


Cursing her lack of strategy, Mirage bent to pick up her sword. As she did, she felt a cold talon on her back, prickling through her cloak.


"Decided to join our forces, eh, step mother?" growled the hunter with clear satisfaction at this little turn of events, "Good. It will help you live, in the end. I'll bet I can even have your human body restor--"


"Shut up, so I can address your guest properly," snarled Armide, "I do not forget why my husband died, it was due to your simple misconception that this cliff would give you the higher ground!" Arathas was silenced, so Armide turned her attentions to her captured stormbringer.


"Stay where you are," Armide the phoenix ordered harshly, "or I'll gut you clean." Mirage gulped.


"Stay where YOU are, Phoenix," came back the injured Fabien, "Or I'll--" Ariadine's arrow pierced his heart, and forced him off the cliff-- into the pit.


"Fabien!" Cried Natalia, running to the edge only to have her wrist taken by Arathas.


"Let go of--"


"Stay a moment," he said, "There is much here to discuss."


"You do not know your place," she snarled, "Release me."


"I'm afraid I must insist," Arathas said, in a voice with just as much venom, “You see, I have guests…” Thepounding of many feet could be heard now, and the hunter had to raise his voice to speak over them, “And they would REALLY LIKE TO MEET YOU!”


“Guests in my camp?” Said Mirage, though her voice was muffled by Armide's body, “How typical.”


“Recovered so quickly, have we?” Ariadine snapped, “I suggest you hold your tongue, else I will help you hold it!”


“I don’t think so,” said Leberecht, stepping out of the shadows and holding his sword to the Siren’s neck, “See, you forget-- I don’t like you.”


“Don’t you?” said Arathas, raising an eyebrow, “I must say, that is a new seven words for Ariadine.”


“Rare is the word known to Ariadine,” snorted Natalia.


“How dare you!” growled Ariadine, invisible steam rising from her ears, “Even if that were so, you are hardly better off!”


“Pleasantries in a time of war?” Natalia remarked, ignoring Aria’s comment and turning to her husband (who was again turning that strange shade of purple), “It is amazing what you can do with proper obedience training, eh?”


“Husband.” She said the one word in her strange accent, but the harshness in her tones put a flicker of fear in his brown and blue eyes.


“Wife.” He said the word with the fear in his eyes escaping to his tone, but there was an unspoken question in there. He looked at her: The golden powder on her eyelids, the blush applied so daintily to her cheeks. The lips that were so perfectly formed, and the message in her clear blue eyes.


Abandoning his present action, he covered his ears.


As his hands released her wrists, Natalia ran. She had caught onto the couple’s little game, and as her first foot hit the step Ariadine’s first note escaped to the world.


“I’m sorry, Mirage,” She murmured to the cavern-- and ran.




“General!” A solider called, “There’s a woman on a glowing white horse riding out-- she had blue eyes!”


“Who saw this?” General Bennett asked calmly, military monotone forgotten with the absence of Arathas.


“I did, sir.”


General Bennett stabbed the solider, and he fell to the ground, dead. He threw down his tainted sword, and smiled.


A moment of silence passed.


"That was unnecessary," observed Susan, "You could have just told him it was nothing, one solider didn't matter, whatever you--" The general drew his short dagger and pressed it to her neck.


"You have no power here, Raoul's keeper," he said calmly, pressing the steel against her neck harder, and she quieted. "This is your only warning."


"You would warn me?" She observed softly, at which point more blood seeped through her wound, "You would dare-?" The general pressed his sword harder, and she quieted.


"There may be a purpose for you yet," he said in reply, shething his blade, "if not for Arathas, than perhaps as one of my planners. You have a strong mind about you." Susan flushed.


"Rare is the man who would compliment an outcast, sir." She said cautiously.


"An outcast in a world of thieves must be an honest woman." said the general, first removing his dagger and then tipping the hat perched upon his head. Susan stared at him for a moment, and put a hand hand to her injured throat.


"Yes, Sir," she rasped finally, and curtsied.


“Tea?” Offered Arathas, pouring some and holding out the mug to Mirage.


“Go to hell,” she spat, her blue eyes filled with an ainguish beyond compare.


“Tut, tut. I suppose that’s a ‘no’?” She glared at him. “You are really not very civil, you know,” he tried, raising an eyebrow, “You’re not going to be very appeasing at your trial--hardly the charismatic young lass who lured innocents into her reign of blood.” For the first time in the long hours of her returning to what had once been the Stormbringing citadel, Mirage's will faltered.


“You started that reign, you cruel little--"Her brain ran over what he was getting at. "Trial!?”


“Yes, Mirage, trial. The Pompeiians consider you a traitor to their new country, that with my help they have conquered.”


“Aboroae is not theirs! I am the last Stormbringer,"--here she unknowingly straightened--"that right is mine!”


“If you are not acquitted, and Timuir doesn’t die during the trip, then of course you will both be named honourable vassals to them.”


“You go too far!” Mirage roared, “I am not now--nor shall I ever be-- a vassal to the men that ordered the murder of my kindred!”


"Oh, but they didn't do that." He paused, staring at her with a deformed expression of pity. "Didn't you know?"


"Your games have no effect, Arathas! It matters not who hired you-- I am still not a slave to be won by Pompeii!"


Arathas went on as if she had said nothing. "Your father was--perhaps is, if your theories about the dead standcorrect--that this whole affair is entirely your fault. It was you who killed Sariel, Liae, Henry, and Violet. He believed you a traitor to his line, and paid me to have you killed." Mirage's head spun at this information. Her mouth was agape with the pain of such betrayal.


"You lie, sir!" She came out with eventually, her voice shaking and trembling with the force of her anger, "You LIE!"


"I think not." Replied the hunter. "However, I can only offer so much information to you at one time, Stormbringer... ARIADINE!"

The beautiful red-haired siren strode into the room. Unlike Mirage, she was perfectly washed and her hair combed: the image of perfection.


"Yes, dearest?"


"I would prefer you prepare Mirage for travel."


"Travel, husband?" She said, feigning surprise for Mirage's sake, "Where to?" Arathas grinned, his fang-like teeth giving Mirage a stirring of fear.


"Pompeii," he replied, and exited.


Natalia bowed at the mountain. There was a small silver statue--it appeared to be Merlin-- and candles where she knelt.


"I'm sorry," she murmured to the statue, "But I couldn't do it, Merlin."


It is not too late.


"Yes, it is! Arathas is going to end the Stormbringing line."


Ah. So you allow a murderer to murder, if it serves your own ends?


" mean..."


You are worried about what you have done. It was not a question. Redeem yourself, and let me sleep.


"Oh no you don't. You have foresight--instruct me! For God's sake, Merlin, TELL ME WHAT TO DO!"


"No, wait!"


There was no reply.


"WAIT!" Natalia grew angry. Her eyes flashed that strange blue colour, and she found that power in her fingers:


Her hair was abruptly brushed back by a wild, untamable wind. She raised her hands and from them came great bolts of savage blue lightning, which struck the mountain tops and then dispersed in one hundred different directions. The wind which had blown her hair howled with bloodcurdling intensity, it ravaged the trees and robbed them of leaves until their branches were bare. It blew barns to smithereens and hurtled unfortunate Aborieans to the walls of the nearest building. The sky grew dark, as though it were night without sweet stars to brighten it, and massive grey clouds swurled angirly in that sky, waiting to strike, as more of the blue lightning went from her hand into the broken sky.

"And so begins the Maelstrom of Lunlia," she murmured, and vanished.

© 2008 Greystone

Author's Note

Note: At one point, Arathas says: 'such a noble man.' The implication of the statement is that Mirage's father, John, isn't noble. I know, it's overdone--DEAL WITH IT.

This is NOT The end of the Story, but it'll be awhile before I can dig that out--the only copy I have is a hard copy, which I have yet to seize back from my English Teacher. Sorry.

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Wow~good job i reallly enjoyed this, its really interesting.

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Added on December 23, 2008
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Fort Atkinson, WI

I've been writing for about five years. Mostly, I focus on fantasy, although to be honest I've dabbled horribly in Romance, Science Fiction, and modern-day roleplays. I enjoy drawing, painting, wood c.. more..

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