“The brightest flame casts the darkest shadow.” ― George R.R. Martin.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Part II

Quick as a viper, the man drew his sword and plunged towards Jahlen, his blade a sliver of grey flame through the darkness, it glinted dull from the braziers, swallowing the light.

Jahlen's blade met the figures, steel rang on steel, clang. Then, both blades started to sing. A flurry of blows came toward Him, but Jahlen was fast, feline like agility kept him away from the thrusts. A swirl of midnight steel drank the flickering light.

Each blow was checked and parried by Jahlen, he lunged forward, but the man's shape seemed to merge with the darkness and Jahlen's blade cut through empty air. Again the steel met as one, an explosion of blades through the gloom, a paragon of finesse and grace. Both men seemed a match, and with that they stopped, stepped back and drew a breath.

"Good."  The figure brushed back his sleek black hair, and took a deep breath of cold air, it ran through his lungs, and out again.

"You have some skill with a blade, but that alone will not save you."

The man grasped inside his cloak and produced a vial, of black-purple liquid.

"Here, drink it"

Jahlen broke his silence, he was a man of little words, or at least, he seldom spoke.


"If we wanted you dead, you wouldn't be stood here before me now, I promise you that, simply."

The man stepped forward and placed the vial on the cobbled street, and strode back again.

Jahlen could feel his eyes on him, burning through the gloom. As he reached forward and picked the vial from the floor. It was heavy, heavier than such a small thing ought to be, and it felt strange.

"A gift, from Dranec."

Jahlen stepped back, How? he thought to himself.

"Hah, do not look so shocked, Brother. We of the shadow do not give such gifts idly, we know you, intimately."

How can this be? I have not even been in the city two days. Jahlen, taken aback.

"I.. I don't understand, who are you?"


"But you look like..

"Dranec, yes, I am his older brother." He smiled.

"Drink it, and we are done for this night, though I cannot promise you won't wake up in a ditch. Hah, many have, more have returned to dawn without their wits, it is a test in itself. If your body responds in the right way, return to my brother on the morrow."

Jahlen held the vial up to the light of the brazier, the liquid within swirled of its own accord, the light lent it the image of embers within glass, its colour shifted.

"Drink." Dranon said again, smiling. He had a wry smile that much was plain. And he liked to use it.

Jahlen un-corked the vial, lifted it to his lips, wearily. And began to swallow, almost instantly the muscles in his chest tensed and writhed, he fell to his knees, a flash of purple light burned behind his eyes, and the darkness took him.

"Hah." Dranon laughed, turned away from the sunken figure of Jahlen's body and merged himself with the night.

Part I

Jahlen's eyes were alive, watching everything. Dranec had told him this was the place. A dark mist shrouded alley with a cobbled path squeezed between two rows of towering, brooding buildings. A row of braziers flickered and danced with orange light on the walls and cast an indistinct shadow of his person upon the uneasy cobbles. One of the rows of houses stopped short of its parallel neighbours,  a river ran beyond them gloomy-green, silent and murky. He was in a dark place, he knew.

Jahlen was a tall, graceful man with busy eyes. Clad in dark attire that did nothing to define his slim sinewy figure, upon his belt hung two blades, on the right he lay his fingers, caressing the hilt. A dirk with a curved blade its handle inlaid with leather and bone, with a single dark red ruby on the pommel, his other was a short sword of un-noteworthy plainness.  'Relieve him of his life and you will have it'.

Waiting in the cold, his breath formed a torrent of silver steam as it left his lips. Nothing moved, and it was cold, Unnaturally so, it was infant autumn.

The darkness before him shifted, as if it parted to reveal a slightly less shrouded shape. The figures face was covered enough to omit its features from plain sight. A thick woollen hood of notable blackness covered his profile joined with a cloak of the same colour which seemed to cover his whole body.  The man was taller than Jahlen, with thick shoulders and an imposing physique, or at least what he could see despite the cloak.  He shifted his feet.

The figure stepped an inch closer, raised his bare hands to the brazier and warmed them.

"Cold, isn't it?".

Jahlen gave no answer, but his eyes did, they met the movement almost as if they and the figure were one. The wind sprung through the alley, fluttered the figures cloak, It purged the air of some mist, clarity, for an instant, and then the grey-gloom returned.  The man raised his hands, and brushed back his hood. Revealing a gaunt, white face, a small nose and small black eyes. His complexion suggested he had just climbed from his grave, white as snow. 

Jahlen moved a hand onto each blade.

"Careful, brother."  The man offered, with a deep tone.

Jahlen stood, unmoving.

"How far are you wanting to go ,brother? I can show you death, and not just yours."

The alley shifted in the flickering orange glow of the braziers, the light was playing tricks.