The Savages

Vypec is initiated into his new squad.

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Built into the cliffs overlooking the Suvan Sea, Riverfall resides on the edge of grasslands of Cyphrus where the Bluevein River plunges off the plain and cascades down to the inland sea below. Home of the Akalak, Riverfall is a self-supporting city populated by devoted warriors. [Riverfall Codex]

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The Savages

Postby Vypec on December 18th, 2016, 2:53 am

The home spoke of a minimalist proficiency, an ideal warrior. But Vypec had to remind himself that Telavar and Plex were not just a warrior who had given themselves for Riverfall. The squad seemed to be familiar with them home, as if they belonged here. Kazma stepped through the doorway into the only other room and disappeared. The twins crouched and sat on the ground with their backs against the wall. Delric was still examining the glass case and Mirrix was watching Vypec carefully with somber eyes. The fallen were warriors, they were not victims. But, as he stood in the Akalak's old home almost warm with a presence, Vypec was forced to remember that all those who had perished before him were also individuals with ties to the people of the city. Telavar and Plex had been someone's son, and a friend to these warriors. He had been a being of feelings, perhaps even love. As he looked around the home Vypec felt that sentiment hit him in a way he had not beforehand.

He had pledged to protect a legacy. When he had made that pledge he had been thinking of honor and duty, of respect. But now, he saw that legacy as one great, incomprehensible sacrifice. The un-lived lives of those Akalak who had loved and raged and smiled and cried their way through a shorter than just life. It appeared to him as a cascade of strangers all seen not in those final glorious moments of battle, or tragic defeat, but as a thousand laughs, conversations, night-time bar visits, friendly sparring sessions, or intimate kisses. Vypec looked at the ground to avoid Mirrix's gaze. Because there was nowhere else to go, he stepped through the doorway Kazma had gone through.

This was an even smaller bedroom, complete with a small wooden bed-frame topped with a thin, unyielding mattress. In the corner was a small table with a pair of intricately carved statuettes. One was a woman carved from a dark purple stone, the other was a man carved of blue. Vypec immediately recognized them as the Lord of Discipline and the Night Mother. He reactively knelt and bowed his head towards the statues, placing a few fingers tenderly on the table in reverence.

"Religious?" Kazma asked, his wide shoulders slumped in an easy curve forward and his elbows resting on his legs. It left his face in shadow as he gazed at the floor.

"Yes, I am." Vypec said, his words clipped and rigid. The spot on his back where Akajia's mark was seemed to itch with the gaze of the squad leader. Though he could see through the shadows that covered his visage, Vypec could not gaze through the stoic expression beneath them.

"It is an uphill battle, friend." Kazma said as he ran a hand through his hair in a tired way.

"What? Religion?" Vypec was confused.

"That too." Kazma said as he stood and made to walk out of the room. He stopped and said, without looking at Vypec. "You know, I brought you here to show you the cost of this." Kazma turned to face him and tucked his thumbs in his belt. The longsword at his waist shifted slightly with the movement. "Its not the cost of success, or the cost of failure. This is the end, always. An empty room and an old sword."

"It's worth it though, right?" Vypec said reflexively.

"Yes. Yes, of course it is. Life is always worth it, worth whatever cost." Kazma said. "Just know that this life puts you very close to the cost." He gestured at the empty bed, the vacated household. "We're got a squad meeting back at the Lodge. You..." Kazma glanced at Vypec and frowned at the look on his face. "You can stay awhile if you need to. I know it's not a small thing. I'll leave the key on the table. Tomorrow morning is your first training day, we'll come get you." And with those words he was gone. Vypec heard them filing out. He was now sitting on the floor, staring at the empty bed. He felt as though he was within this sanctuary of reflection, and that to stay that mental place he could not leave the house.
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The Savages

Postby Vypec on December 18th, 2016, 2:56 am

Vypec felt as though something vague and familiar had finally slid into stark relief. As though the true depth and seriousness of their racial situation was finally evident. He had strove for a stoic, tough existence. He had embraced the pain, thinking this sacrifice that threaded itself through every aspect of his life was some acceptance of pain, some trial through which he moved to become something better. It had always been in terms of himself and his ability. Now he saw more clearly. The sacrifice of which every Akalak was painfully and deeply aware was that unloved life, the silent half-remembrance. The loss of the present for the potential of the future. Would his father have lived long enough to have a son if he had not been crippled? Their existence, as a race, was a dance upon the edge of some cruel blade.

We are not prepared. Vypal's voice shook Vypec from his dark thoughts. This was always a goal, but I hadn't seen until now how prideful and ignorant that was. We thought we could just stroll into the Kuvay'Nas and call ourselves warriors when there are those who have actually died as such. Here, this is the relic of one such dead warrior. - Vypec cut his brother's stream of dark words off.

We will become prepared. This isn't something you can prepare for by yourself anyway. Kazma and his squad will teach us. Our task, for now, is to learn and adapt. Vypec said, assuring his brother. He sighed and stood. He walked across the room and sat in the spot Kazma had vacated.

What makes you think that will be enough? Vypal asked.

It is the way this has worked for generations. We will become better, or we will not and we will die. Vypec forced the words into an emotionless tone. It was the way it worked. There was no use trying to think around it. He stared down at the shadows beneath the bed as Vypal launched into another stream of worries about the squad. But, Vypec was not listening. He was looking at something peculiar under the bed frame.

There was a thin layer of dust over almost everything. Through it, it was almost unnoticeable, but with Vypec's gift he could just make out scratch marks starting at the leg and ending at a point a few inches deeper under the bed, as though it had been moved out from the wall with force. Vypec reached down slowly and brushed the dust away from the spot. It was definitely scratch marks.

The Akalak slid from the bed and knelt next to the leg in question. He gently pushed the bed back until it hit the wall. He had been expecting something, but there was nothing under where the leg had been. He felt the rush of excitement leave him as he made to stand up. But then it caught his eye. A peculiar shadow on the wall just next to the wooden leg of the bed.

What are you doing? Vypal asked, noticing his brother was not paying his mental lecture much mind.

Scratches on the floor. Vypec explained inadequately.

Wha-

Look at this! Vypec hissed, silencing his brother. He brushed his fingertip over the small, thumbprint sized dent in the wall. It looked like it had been made with some sort of symmetrical wedge, and was barely a fingernail's length deep, and angled slightly down. What is this? Vypec asked, desperate for understanding.

Vypal was silent, now immersed in the dent as well. Vypec could feel his scrutiny. Vypec looked back at the door, then back at the dent in the wall. He stood up and slowly he walked backwards towards the door, keeping his eyes on the dent. When he reached the door Vypec raised a finger and pointed it at the small discrepancy in the wall and felt a shiver run down his spine.

What are you doing? Vypal hissed.

It was an arrow, or a dart, or something. Vypec said in a low hush, his skin crawling.

What was?

Whatever killed Telavar and Plex. Vypec said, rushing forward to examine the dent again. The attacker must have missed...once. And then he moved the bed to cover it up. Look. Vypec pulled the bed back out and watched the small dent disappear as he placed it back where he originally found it.

Gods above. Vypal said. What do we do?

Vypec was staring into nothing. He stood and gripped the edge of the doorway as he attempted to make sense of what he had seen. Telavar-Plex had been murdered, or drugged and kid-napped. He was gone and it had happened right here. Vypec stumbled into the adjacent room and scrambled for the key.

It's got to be a dart, right? The impact was so small it couldn't have been a crossbow bolt. Vypal was saying.

Vypec didn't understand what had happened, but he was fairly certain Kazma and his squad didn't know about the dent.

Vypec, what do we do?

Vypec opened the door and stepped out into the darkness. We tell Kazma.
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The Savages

Postby Aladari Coolwater on July 3rd, 2017, 3:59 am

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"The sea always filled her with longing, though for what she was never sure."
- Cornelia Funke
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