Exile

Davrin held the sword, studying each aspect of the blade with a master’s eye. It was well-balanced and exceptionally crafted. This is the culmination of the blacksmith’s work, a masterpiece of art, he thought as sunlight was captured in the steel. His art would reveal the weapon during battle, its fullest potential and greatest beauty made known for all the world. Years of strenuous training would now be put to the ultimate test. The edges of the blade began to glow blue as Davrin thought of one of the many spells he knew.

Davrin felt the witchcraft coursing through his veins. Sweat had formed on his brow, the result of focus and heat. Senses and perceptions were enhanced by a sudden surge of adrenaline. What a feeling! he thought as excitement rose in his breast.

“Easy, boy,” Davrin’s father, Lord Godia, growled from beside him. The man gripped his shoulder with a firm hand. With great discontent, Davrin dissipated the half-formed lightning spell.

“Your eagerness is understandable, boy, but save it for the battle. Do not waste your energy on showing-off; keep it for when you swing your sword toward your enemy. Let them feel your want for them to die.”

Davrin nodded as he studied the enemy army amassed across the green meadow. They numbered perhaps fifteen thousand, a large army meant for a rout of the eighteen hundred Gadonians. Something so spectacular would not occur. Three dala of archers and fifteen of swordmages would be more than enough to annihilate the cocksure enemy.

Some wondered how Gadon was able to achieve such dominance. Davrin knew they questioned the superiority of the Gadonian warriors. If they were ignorant of Gadon’s ways, then they could live in that ignorance.

Gadon, Davrin had been told since infancy, was not some ninny who trained when attack was imminent. Gadon bred their men and horses for battle and crafted only the best weapons and armor. Any shoddy piece of work, be it man, beast, or sword, was disposed of quickly.

Davrin had once helped to rid the world of one such person. His name was Azander, and he had been Davrin’s brother. When the younger boy was found to be deaf and mute, Davrin had been more than happy to do the honorable thing: he’d sent Azander’s soul back to Hudshan to be reborn in a better, more perfect body.

Davrin smiled inwardly. How he longed to deliver this blessing to many others!

Kill the fools who oppose us, he thought, and when they return to this world, they are Gadonian. Such a thought was savored for but a moment and then pushed aside. He had better things to concentrate on.

 

As Davrin shifted his focus back to the enemy, a sudden chill fell over him.. It was odd, to be sure, for the sun shone brightly overhead, no cloud visible in the sky. He looked at the soldiers nearest him. Each one looked grim. It would seem that they had also felt this gloom.

Stillness and an eerie silence had fallen over the two armies as if death had washed over them. Not a pony stirred, not a man took a breath. It was as though time had taken upon itself to stand perfectly still, and there was nothing that could be done to get iit moving again. How frightening could waiting be!

Across the field, the enemy ranks began their charge. Horse hooves pounded through the grassy sea. Lord Godia raised his hand, saying, “Archers: ready!”

As one, three hundred bowmen lifted their longbows and nocked arrows, awaiting the next command. For a few moments, all was tense and deadly silent but for thundering hooves as the enemy closed distance.

“Are you ready, boy?” Lord Godia inquired.

Davrin found himself unable to speak so merely nodded in answer to his father.

“You’ve had the best training in Gadon. Make me proud.” Davrin nodded again, swallowing. He would try—no, he would live up to his father’s expectations.

The low rumble of hooves hitting the ground had crescendoed to a roar and so had Davrin’s excitement. He watched eagerly as the enemy horses came within range of the longbows. Lord Godia’s hand came down with a loud, “Loose!”

The twang of bows and the whoosh of three hundred arrows filled Davrin’s ears.. He turned his eyes skyward and felt awe at the numerous shafts flying overhead, looking for all the world like a horde of hungry locusts blocking out the sun. Following their trajectory, Davrin watched as the missiles fell into the enemy ranks.

Man and horse alike screamed as iron bit into flesh. A thrill of excitement ran up the length of Davrin’s spine as he witnessed the carnage before him. This was honor and glory to a warrior: death in the name of your country and death to protect those you loved.

The enemy was not yet near enough to engage hand-to-hand. Seeing this, Lord Godia yelled, “Archers: at your will!” The Gadonian bowmen greeted this order with a cry of mirth.. Arrows rained down on the men across the field. Bright green grass was marred the crimson red of blood, the stench of death rising in the air.

A single horseman, both incredibly brave and foolhardy, made it through the slaughter. The idiot charged for Lord Godia. The king of Gadon was making to kill the man when Davrin stopped him.

“Father! Allow me this kill!” he pleaded. Lord Godia nodded in grateful acquiescence.

Davrin fell into form, right leg bent at the knee and left held straight out beneath him. The longsword stood vertical in his right hand while the other hand was curled into a fist but for two fingers held erect. Mumbling a spell under his breath, he smiled as yellow appeared at the edge of the blade.

The young warrior flew toward his intended victim when the spell was ready. “Hell’s gale!” he screamed, swinging his sword. A small cyclone appeared around the horseman. When the storm dispersed, man and horse fell in gore-covered, lifeless bits to the ground.

“Good, boy!” Lord Godia yelled appreciatively from somewhere behind him. Davrin had barely registered the wanted praise when a group of horsemen surrounded him.

“The little swordsboy killed one of us, did he?” one of the men said, laughing. “How about twelve?”

Fools! Davrin chuckled to himself. How deliciously arrogant! As they charged him, his sword was thrust into the ground, another spell forming on his lips. Great chunks of earth were gouged out of the ground as if by an invisible hand and hurtled the horsemen. “Earthen strike!” he shouted as the meteors crushed the imbeciles.

A feral smile splayed across Davrin’s face as he witnessed the carnage. Gadon’s might grew with every death. What a feeling this was! He would be remembered as one of his kingdom’s greatest warriors! Turning, he rushed towards another group of enemy soldiers and quickly dispatched them with only his sword. His skill, as anyone could plainly see, was far superior to any foe he faced.

The young man ran through the field hacking and slashing at every enemy, each man falling victim to his blade. Davrin lost himself to the frenzy of battle. He ran faster and swung harder, adrenaline pushing his body. He took delight in the savagery he poured on the enemy.

“Enemy archers!” someone yelled. Davrin thought he knew the voice and heeded the call. Scanning the battlefield, he spotted them n a hill overlooking the battle. There stood half at least 2 dala of men if not more. He was positive they were the enemy.

Davrin charged towards them, scouring his mind for an appropriate spell to use against them. When he came within three dala-lengths from them, he dropped to his knees and once again plunged his blade straight into the ground.

“Cleave the ground!” he screamed with all the fury he could muster. A small crack formed in the earth in front of him. It snaked its way toward the archers, growing larger and larger until an enormous chasm had appeared. The enemy soldiers feebly shot a few arrows at Davrin then abandoned their weapons. They could run but they would not escape. Very suddenly, each archer was swallowed by the earth.

Davrin stood, his sword high in the air, and deflected the arrows racing towards him. One made it through this defense and struck his eye. Davrin fell to the ground, blackness taking him.

 ***

Freezing water hit Davrin’s face, rousting him from his dreamless slumber. Groaning, he sat up felt as though his head might split in twain. A poor attempt was made to assess his situation but darkness permeated all. David strained his ears but could hear no sounds of battle, not even a faint whisper.

“Give me light,” a voice, hard to recognize, commanded in a gruff whisper. A small fire flared to reveal Lord Godia’s face, as grim as Davrin could ever remember seeing it. He turned away from the light, his head protesting to the new source of discomfort.

“Do you know what has been done?” Lord Godia inquired gravely. Was that sadness? What reason could there be for that?

“No, Father,” Davrin answered weakly.

“You… You have… been maimed.” The words were hesitant and quavering. Something was very wrong. Sorrow had been more than discernible this time. “Look at me, Davrin.”

Lord Godia had never called his son “Davrin”. The young man turned towards his father in shock, such was the effect of the simple phrase. Davrin’s vision was a little… odd. His sight was no longer centered as it should be. Instead, it was angled toward the left now. Why?

“What’s happened, Father?” he asked, his voice cracking.

“Your eye is gone, Davrin. No longer will you be of Gadon, no longer my son.”

“Yes, Father.” This was his fate as one of the maimed. He had become imperfect and welcomed the chance to return again.

“I cannot lose a second son, Davrin. I banish you from Gadon. Even if you are not here, at least I may know you are alive.”

“But Father!” Had his father suddenly lost all sanity?! This was anathema to a Gadonian! His sentence should be death, clean and swift, not exile!

“No!”

“Father! Please reconsider!” He had to convince the man. “This isn’t right! I shou—”

“DO! NOT! BEG!” Lord Godia yelled in rage. “Begging is for the weak!”

“Yes, Father,” Davrin said meekly. There was but one way to reclaim his stolen honor. It was, however, a coward’s move, guaranteeing eternal damnation in Hudnesh. That was not the way of his family. Davrin would accept this punishment with hate for his father and a fire he’d never known in his belly.

“Leave Gadon and never return.” Lord Godia snuffed the candle and disappeared into the darkness.

Davrin wondered how long before he would return to Gadon from his exile. Patricide would be committed. Lord Godia had proved he was no longer a capable ruler. It was Davrin’s turn.

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