Section 2: Prologue of a Demon
Chapter Eighteen: Raw Recruit
The blade rang out against my own with a shattering blow. With a one swift move, I tucked under the riposte and knocked my opponent backwards with a quick elbow. My opening was evident, but noting previous encounters, I knew the only killing blow would be to step into the opening and bring my blade across the waist, cutting deep to the spleen.
My opponent recovered fast, his armour taking the grunt of the blow, then bringing down his weapon in a fluid underarm motion I took my chance. I slid to the opposing side, and brought my weapon around to bare.
A whistle blew and my blade passed through emptiness.
“Well done.” Exclaimed an old looking man, donned in a light white and blue garment with minor armour plating’s for the shoulders and chest. “You’ve certainly come about these last few months. It’s good to see you’ve taken your training more seriously.”
“Thank you master.” I replied with a curt bow of the head. Sheafing my sword I walked over to a small outcrop of rocks and relaxed. My armour filled with stench from a long days training, both with on field duelling and track running.
My body ached from being overly abused, but I’d been taught to neglect any sign of it now, to ignore the pain and focus it into something useful, like adrenaline. The man sat down nearby, a flask of shimmer-water inside. A liquid concocted to relieve the tension after battle and restore energy. It’s method of brewing left it with a silver shimmer around the rim.
I took the offered flask and drained it, letting the bitter taste satisfy.
“You’ve made your father proud, Alexandria.”
I looked back up at my father, unable to hide my smile. Unlike the rest of my family, who’d been slain in a war years ago, my father, a great general, and even greater father, had done all to bring me up.
But I was of age four years back to be a warrior, and after those years of training I was ready to be initiated and become a warrior for the greatest force within the Daemon Realm. The Order.
I stood up, stretching out my arms and legs and finding my back aching from tension.
“I’m going to go bathe, then get some study done. Initiation is so close, and I don’t wish to fail.”
My father gripped my arm firmly before I could turn to walk off. “No, you have done enough this day. I am certain you have now what it takes to be a great warrior. Bathe, then rest. There is a big day tomorrow.
I paused to regard his face reflecting the pride he held for me. My senses drew in the moment, then with a curt nod and smile I agreed and took to taking the rest of the day off.
* * *
The next day was heated and the sun high in the sky as a bright reddish of fire, casting its glow against the dark hues that played across the skies with the movement of energy that pulsed through the realm.
I took my strides towards a large citadel-like building of spires and gnarled looking walls. The building stood out among all others, as most buildings were crafted to resemble the power and nobleness of their owners. This structure, however, was a remainder from an age more than a millennia old. It resembled the era perfectly, with the only changes behind some interior and the garden around it. It was the emanations of energies that pulsed from its peak that cast the red mix into the sky above.
A millennia ago, this building was a last bastion against a reckoning force whose name was lost among legend. But despite whatever the armies of past had thrown to it, it had never fallen. And it was through this that The Order had come to fruition. Here was now the formal hall where initiates were taken to their warrior-hood.
My father was already waiting for me within the antechamber, having been a great field general in his own era, along with many other generals who stood watching as initiates were granted entrance. Beyond the entrance was the main hall where the greatest of The Order would stand. Their seer like ability had served a guide for the realm, and it was them who would decide who would be accepted, and where their natural ability would be set.
A pale-green coloured creature with a frog like face and stout form stood at the door with a long scroll, admitting students through. Behind him, two apparitions in full steel armour stood, axes criss-crossed in front of the door to prevent anyone not permitted to enter.
A line steeped out. On this day there were many others hoping to be admitted, near enough to a hundred. Fresh young souls determined to find their place within The Order.
A voice called my name from behind just as I mounted to the stairs, turning I saw the face of one of my oldest friends, Adrianna. A cheerful, darkhaired with a few freckles across the nose. We were almost the same age, only separate by a couple of weeks.
“Wait up!” She called, panting through heavy breaths.
“You’ll have little chance of being accepted if you are always late.”
She blushed a little, then regained composure and mounted the stairs next to me. “Well, if I am accepted, then that will go to show what a determined mind and a little allowed rest can amount to then doesn’t it.”
I gave her a playful shove to the side and we laughed as we continued our way to the top. But as soon as we got within a few metres of the entrance, we were flooded with an almost overwhelming sensation. I motioned to my childhood friend that this was likely our first test.
The building, though always an abundant source of energy, now had its forces focuses around exterior in a concentrated mass. A warrior of lesser ability would be unable to cross and get close to the door.
Adrianna, determined as she was, levelled her abilities and calmly strolled up to the frog-faced man.
“Name?” He enquired.
“Adrianna Uthe’ Dalganus. Daughter of…”
“Enter.” Interrupted the man and the two guards uncrossed their blades.
With a brief hesitation, she took one last quick glance back with a “here goes” expression, then advanced through the doorway, disappearing into the black veil within.
The guards brought across their weapons just as I began to approach.
“Alexandria Du’ Belmonte”
The frog faced man did not reply as quickly. “Enter.”
The guards uncrossed their weapons again and allowed me to pass. I entered a thick mist that seemed to obscure any vision in front. Was this part of the test too? There was nothing but blackness, and the only sound to come was that of the guards weapons recrossing again with a metallic clang.
I pressed forward, using all my prior training to keep myself calm. My eyes focused into the darkness, seeking to gain any sense of direction, but the pure darkness was clearly not natural. It was fashioned by some power, and no amount of focus on my behalf would allow me to see through it.
Relying on my other senses, however, it was possible to make my way forward without bumping into anything.
Time stretched on, and it seemed I’d never reach the end. Panic set in that moment of realisation that within this darkness I’d become lost.
My heart beat heavily. Common, damn it. I thought to myself. Where is the exit to this place? I ran forward, unselfconsciously looking around in every direction, hoping to see anything that might indicate that the exit was nearby, but still there was nothing.
Suddenly it dawned upon me. How could I have been so stupid? I’d been running and walking for so long, that the distance between one point and another was unfathomable. This dimension between the entrance and the hall was nothing but a figment.
I stood my ground, closed my eyes, and focused my energies. Then through the darkness there was an odd ripple of energy that seemed apart from what was around me. The ripples pulsed gently, tapping lightly upon my mind. My training kicked in and my body phased through the darkness and towards the ripple. Within a moment, I’d appeared within a new room.
Tall walls dominated this new area, draped in a fine red cloth that hung loosely towards a marble floor. The ceiling stood high up above with a mosaic of a great lizard like beast, with gnarled claws and crimson scales. Something about the mosaic seemed to captivate me for, as I looked upon it, my eyes locked into its own eyes. Two black opals which when gazed into seemed to have a space as limitless as the darkness trap beforehand.
Then a small flame the size of a pupil erupted within and locked to gaze back at me. The mosaic cracked and moved, sending a tremble throughout the room. A strong ripple of energy slammed down and into me, shaking my core.
The mosaic continued to crack and fall apart, pieces of tile shattering upon the floor. Then a great serpent with black eyes locked it’s fiery gaze to mine as it fell to the floor and let loose a mighty roar.
I braced myself.
The serpent charged forward, it’s crocodile like head snapping out, bearing large ivory fangs down towards me.
My blade was drawn as I tumbled out of the way. My heart raced as my combat instincts kicked in. It came at me once more, trying to lock its jaws around me. I tucked underneath the head and thrust upward, catching my blade in the soft flesh below. But it simply reared back, bellowing out a long and angry howl.
I took note. This create was not of a natural fashion either. My blade came away clean and the wound already seemed to be no more. To defeat this fiend required a more tactical approach.
It charged again, whipping it’s body around to throw me off my defence. But I kept my eyes locked to its own and focused.
It bared down upon me, and I stood my ground, charging my energies to one single blast. Then as it came down upon me, it’s jaws agape and ready to devour, I thrust forward into its mouth and let loose a terrible blast of energy which arched its way up along the edge of my blade to strike through the skull.
Twisting myself around quickly before the jaws could close, I brought my weapon around and slashed through its neck.
The serpent withered to the ground as its head, both now severed and with a blasted hole in its skull. It trembled still and by some strange power, seemed to be trying to reform. I took action, quickly using my strength to force the body over to its side. With a swift cutting motion I pierced in its heart and sliced it out.
A crimson ruby slipped out as it’s body began to turn to a faint mist and evaporate. With a swift jab, my blade cut easily into the heart and with a sudden burst of energy, the world around me was destroyed.
My mind pierced suddenly with a sharp hot pain, as if something were trying to pry it upon with hot steel.
My body slumped to the ground, hands and knees as sweat beaded from my forehead. My energy seemed sapped and the ground before me seemed somewhat inviting and soft. My mind grew heavier as a deep slumber seemed to come down upon me.
No! I yelled to myself.
With the remainder of my strength, I forced myself up, fighting against the urge to rest. The pain returned, trying to force me to give in and relinquish myself to a long slumber, but my training told me that I’d need to continue. Giving up was not an option. I forced myself up, finally coming to a stand in another large hall where five sets of eyes regarded me.
Instinctively I bowed.
“Welcome to the academy, Alexandria Du’ Belmonte.”