There was no sound or light in the room where Myyrth sat clenching and unclenching his hands, digging his fingernails into the skin of his palm. The sharp pain distracted him from his ruminating. It cleared the suffocating darkness from his mind, allowed him to focus. He needed focus now more than ever. It had been months now that he had spent in the cold darkness of this dungeon. Months without contact with another creature other than the shadowy and commanding figures of his instructors. They came and went, never the same teacher. They hurt him, they pushed him. Yet he was getting stronger, more sure of himself with every passing week. He was not the same as the creature that had dragged itself out of the blight, wild and without discipline. He was becoming hard, lean, a true tool of the Great Lord.
Letting his grip relax he examines his palms, despite the pitch darkness he was able to make out the welling blood. He could feel it run down along his wrist before falling to splash quietly on the stone floor, consumed by the dust and dirt. Is this what runs through my vein’s; this bitter blood? He felt numb to the insistent whispers of the night that called to him from beyond the edges of his waking mind. He felt a hollowness in the pit of his stomach, as though he lacked something fundamental to his being. He knew that like all of his ilk he was unable to experience the confusing muddle of images that are known as dreams. He only had the vaguest idea of what a dream might be, pictures in your head. At least that’s what the Trolloc mystics would say over the blood sacrifice, as they saw the future in its entrails. Myyrth didn’t think he was missing anything, he preferred the emptiness of his sleep. It was like floating in a black abyss devoid of all light or sound. To wake again to this world of shape and contrast left him feeling hollow and cold. It made him want to kill something. This was the first time that a nights rest had left him uneasy, unfocused.
“Great Lord, give me victory over my enemies, let me drain their blood for you,” he murmured to the dark. What was this that he felt? Never before had a moment of self doubt clouded his clarity of purpose. He was a killer; he had no time for this.
“Come fadeling.” The deep and basso voice vibrated through the door; out of sight his summoner called to him. Taking his blade, an unadorned steel weapon, he sheaths it and steps out into the dark hallway. Only the rare torch giving off a rancid black smoke broke the pitch darkness of the hall. He was wearing a leather tunic now, a gift from his patron to “give him a chance.” Myyrth wasn’t the sort of fade to turn down even the smallest advantage when it came to armed conflict.
He didn’t know who was following behind him; the presence of a watcher was there but unseen. No doubt one of the Myrddraal that rotated through the training pits. One could never be sure what eyes were watching.
“Stop.” The same deep voice rose up in command as he approached a tall iron banded door. Myyrth didn’t look behind him, there would be nothing there. “Enter and prepare yourself, the test will begin shortly.” The door opened easily. Entering he shut the door behind him and surveyed his surroundings. The ceiling was high and vaulted; numerous torches lit the room in a flickering murky light. The ground was covered in rough stone, in the center a circular depression of sawdust and sand stained with rust brown blood stains. somewhere above a vent took the smoke up and out. He didn’t need to wait long, another Fade entered the room. The Eyeless was clad in the black armor of the initiated. He didn’t speak and crossed to a weapon rack that stood against the far wall. He seemed to melt against any dark background, seemingly losing his three dimensionality. Almost as if he wasn’t fully present, no doubt that was a dangerous assumption to make. For Myyrth this towering warrior represented everything he desired to come. Everything, that he desire to conquer and make his own. The menacing personal power that his self-actualization would bring was an intoxicating goal that haunted his waking hours. He would achieve recognition, status, power; he would kill anything that stood in his way.
“You have been training with the longsword.” This Myrddraal’s voice was rough and gravely, like perhaps his throat had been damaged. Curious.
“It wasn’t a question.” From within his cloak the instructor produced what appeared to be a metal cestus pared with an iron vambrace. “Use it.”
Upon closer examination Myyrth realized that it was far more than just a simple piece of armor. The vambrace itself was reinforced; beneath the iron forearm plate was padding that consisted of a layer of soft leather and a second hardened leather sleeve. The cestus, a metal glove designed both for offence and defense had a protective plate on the palm and delicate but strong looking articulated section that protected the fingers. Small edged ridges ran along the back of the hand and along the knuckles. Myyrth first slipping on the cestus and fitting it firmly he straps on the vambrace. The new weight felt unusual on his arm, but also solid. He could do some damage with this. Flexing his fingers he was astounded by how much dexterity he still possessed. He wouldn’t be tying many knots with it on, but it would be adequate. Turning his attention back to the instructor he waits quietly.
“With this you will have yet another weapon in your arsenal. No servant of the dark should ever be without a plan to fall back on. If you are disarmed, or your sword is locked or you are facing multiple combatants this tool will give you options. Now. Come at me.” That hoarse voice bleeds menace. Myyrth suspected that this lesson would end in pain if he didn’t stay on his toes.
“Yes Lord,” he murmurs in quiet acknowledgement. Moving across the room he takes a training blade from the wall and raises it into a guard position. Shifting into a light and mobile stance he keeps his weight firmly centered ready to move in any direction. His teacher merely stood observing hands hanging loosely at his sides. He had done remarkably well in his previous training exercises, becoming stronger, more agile and skilled with each passing day. So had his confidence grown. He would show this Fade that in Myyrth was a force to be reckoned with. Darting forward he fakes a lunge with his right foot before retracting his blade from a high attack and striking low at the instructors unprotected waist. Apparently he hadn’t been quiet as sneaky as he had hoped, in a flash of movement his sword was knocked across the line of his body and the hard wood smacked with bruising force against his arm. Moving like a snake the instructor slams his fist into Myyrth’s throat and pins him to the ground.
“You forget the tools at your command Fadeling, you stand before me a dead man already!” The vicious contempt in the Myrddraal’s voice caused Myyrth to grimace. The cold flower of rage blossomed in his chest and he shoved back against the older Fade. Striking out with the metal cestus he lands a glancing blow that forces the other Myrddraal back. He stands silently a short few feet away, studying his charge. “You embarrass us, a child could kill you. Now again.” They square off, once again his teacher leaves himself open, arm resting easily at his side. Mastering his anger Myyrth gets to his feet. He would not be made a fool of again.
He lunges forward blade held at a slight angle to cover his body and give him reach. His attacks were ferocious; he worked the strikes high and low trying to keep his instructor off balance. The sudden blow that strike him in the stomach knocked the wind out of him, doubling him over.
“Every part of your body is a weapon. As you seem to so easily forget. You waste your gifts! You are faster than a human, stronger. You are more cunning and vicious. Yet you fight like one of them, so narrow minded. If you have a sword, you use the sword. You forget where you are.” A sharp wet smack sounds in the room as the instructors fist connects with Myyrth’s face, blood spatters in the sand. “The hand is a weapon.” Myyrth grunts as the other Fade’s foot slams into his side throwing him onto his back. He reached weakly for his sword. Too far away it sat, mocking him. “The foot is a weapon,” gripping Myyrth by the jaw he wrenchs his head around till his eyeless face bore down on him. Even though he could not feel the fear that paralyzed lesser creatures, the pressure of this elder Fades attention was suffocating. “We are more than human, we are superior. In the eyes of the Great Lord you are dirt, you are the worm the burrows through the dung. Only the strong may gain glory before the end.”
With a suddenness that stunned Myyrth his oppressor was gone, so little time had passed! Wasn't he worth more than that? A wrenching cough rips out of his throat. Heaving himself to his feet he stumbles wearily over to his blade. Gripping the handle loosely in his hand he exits the room. He encountered no one on his return to the small cell that served as his room. At times it seemed like this great structure stood empty, haunted only by ghosts. In the silence he brooded on his shame. No matter that he was still a fadeling, no matter that he could not be expected to defeat such an opponent. Myyrth had come to a crushing realization, the Great Lord didn’t care. Nobody cared, and he was weak for expecting acknowledgment from his betters. As all must, so did he need to forge his own place in the Great Lord’s plan. Ambition flared inside his breast. Holding up the iron gauntlet that sheathed his hand, he laid his head down to rest. Dreamless, empty he floated in the void.
Shame - (Closed; Myyrth)
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