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Wed Dec 28, 2016 3:18 am by Sentinel

Hi all,

We're aware of a peculiar forum glitch that's causing some subforums to be locked.

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Anaphora: Pariah

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Re: Anaphora: Pariah

Post by WritingBookworm on Tue Aug 18, 2015 2:16 am

Haha, sorry for the false alarm xD This time it's the real deal, though.

Chapter 4: Lessons


"Lesson One: always play to your opponents' weakness. Acritudo soldiers may be able to manipulate metal, but they cannot control other raw materials. This is why a wooden staff is ideal."

I nod slowly. After another good day of essentially running around the desert and to Ars, we've finally stopped briefly this morning so we can get started on my training. We didn't have enough weapons, but it wasn't too hard to accommodate -- we simply plucked a thick branch from a tree, snapped off the adjacent, smaller branches from it, and made it as narrow as possible as to make an improvised bo staff. It's by no means something that can last in an actual fight, but it's decent enough for me to train with.

I lower myself into a defensive position, my feet a shoulder's length apart. While I definitely don't know much about using a staff, I was taught some basic swordplay during my days of royalty, so it's not like I'm going into these sessions completely blind about combat.

"Now, the best teacher is experience," Quintus says, "therefore it is best to learn through actual practice rather than simple verbal lessons. Try to attack me."

I take a deep breath and flex my fingers around my makeshift staff. All right. Attack Quintus. I can do this.

And so with that boost of determination, I emit a battle cry and charge straight at Quintus, swinging the end of my weapon straight at his chest --

I can't even hit him before I feel Quintus's staff slam straight into my ankles, sweeping me off my feet. I yelp, dropping my staff as I crumple to the ground.

Quintus's sigh is one of exasperation. "Lesson Two: don't swing a staff around like a blasted sword! This isn't a weapon you can't just slash back and forth with in reckless abandon, hoping to leave mass destruction in your wake. Given the staff's nonlethal nature, those who wield this weapon must be far more creative and versatile in their attack patterns."

I get back up to my feet as he continues. "But first, you need to at least learn how to hold it correctly. As I said, gripping the staff by its end and brandishing it like a sword isn't going to be effective."

I blow out an exhale. "So then what is effective?"

As though to give myself an answer, I look at Quintus's hands. For the first time, I really notice just how he's holding it: with both hands, like he's breaking it into thirds. His right palm is facing up, his left down, and both of his thumbs are curled around the wood.

He must have noticed my analysis, because he says, "This hold may not necessarily look cool, but it's quite practical. There are spins and strikes that require narrower and one-handed holds, yes, but this is likely what you'll be using for a good majority of the time. It allows for great control and versatility."

"G-Got it." Now suddenly embarrassed that I'd used it how I had before, I quickly modify my grip so that it matches his. My eyes dart back and forth between his grip and mine, mending the slight differences as I spot them.

Apparently I must have done it right when I looked back up to Quintus, because he gives a crisp nod of approval. "Good. Now, try attacking me again."

I pull up a heavy inhale, preparing myself like I'm about to run into a battlefield filled with Acritudo soldiers.

Then I run straight at him again, lashing the upper end of the staff at his head before he ducks and spears the end of his staff into my stomach. I stumble back, and he instantly uses to opportunity to deal a blow to my head. I fall to the ground, defeated within the span of two seconds.

"Well, at least you had the grip right this time. Again."

I groan, helping myself get up to my feet with the support of my makeshift staff. "Attack you again? Really? You're just going to defeat me again, and --"

The hard slam of Quintus's staff leaves me on the ground.

I cry out in surprised pain. I heave myself up into a sitting position before glaring indignant daggers at Quintus. "What the heck was that for!"

"Lesson Three: always be prepared. Do you expect your opponents to play fair? They won't. They will bear no qualms of playing against the rules, and as such aren't afraid to attack you right in the middle of a senten --"

Quintus steps away just in time to avoid my strike to his hand.

When he glances back to me, I've stood up once more. Trembling in anger, I stare straight at him.

"Two can play at that game," I snarl.

Quintus lifts his eyebrows.

Then I see it -- a slight, almost imperceptible crinkle around his lips, like he's smiling.

"Again," he says.

And so I initiate combat with him a fourth time. Then a fifth time, then a sixth time, until I stop bothering to count the number of times I've tried attacking him. The sparring sessions continue when the sun has reached its peak, and still continue when it begins its slow descent. During that time, I learn a few more things about the staff technique -- such as that narrowing the distance between your hands will make your strikes short and quick. In the meantime, widening the distance will allow for stronger, more powerful blows. I put these facts to use as best as I can, and during the fights I even manage to sneak in a staff spin or two.

Though while I do learn, I learn the hard way.

Every single battle -- if they're even long enough to be called that -- ends in the same way: with Quintus holding his staff to my throat. Some barely last a second. In others, it's evident that I'm making progress. I dodge, sidestep, and block Quintus's attacks, and even manage to land a few hits of my own.

But no matter what, in the end, he just knocks me to the ground.

Again.

And again.

And again.

After standing up for what has to be at least the seventieth time, I groan at my collection of blooming bruises. I need to beat Quintus, at least one time.

I step forward and thrust at his stomach, which he sidesteps with ease. Fortunately, I too manage to avoid an attack when I duck below a sweep to the head. I'm met by a block when I swipe at him, but I swipe again and again, my confidence building with each passing stroke --

Only to be knocked right off my feet again when Quintus's staff collides with my ankles.

I bite my lip, barely holding back a scream of sheer frustration. If I can't even beat an old man, what are the chances I can ever beat Vandor Zeidan?

I can't.

By the skies, I can't.

With the support of my stick, I get up. "We should probably get moving."

"Not quite yet. It would be better to cycle through a few more rounds -- "

"Why?" I snap. "So I can just get my butt handed to me again?"

"So you can be an effective combatant, that's why -- "

"But what's it going to matter in the end?"

Quintus is silent. And he is very, very still.

"What's it going to even matter?" I blurt again. "Vandor is brutal and powerful and terrifying and so is Warlord Guerre! So is Emperor Dasilva! It's three countries against a few scared teenagers that just don't belong. It's . . . it's . . . "

I bite my lip. I look down, and the end of that sentence presses into my back like a weight as heavy as this entire world.

It's hopeless.

My teeth grind together, like I'm trying not to bend or crack or shatter. But my eyes stray to my improvised staff . . .

And at the sight of it, I bend, and I crack, and I shatter all at once.

I shove my staff to the ground. Trembling violently, I puncture my eyes into Quintus's.

"Go find someone else to make a difference," I say. "Because I can't."

And before I can hear Quintus's response, I turn right around and run away as fast as I can.

~  ~  ~

Even though the route we've been taking goes around the desert, the heat of the hot sun still pummels its way into my skin like a hammer striking a nail. So I can't help but feel incredible relief when I put some ice-cold water on my face.

"Ahh . . . " I close my eyes, taking a moment to let the refreshing water dabble upon my face.

After a bit of searching, I managed to find a small lake, where crystal-clear freshwater sparkles under blinding white rays of the sun. I didn't need much motivation to immediately flock towards it and kneel at its shore, cooling myself down and quenching my burning thirst.

I let my eyes open once more. Unable to move or even think, I don't register the clumps of slender trees, or the cloudless sky ruling over all. I can only take in my surroundings when I look down -- when I see my reflection mirrored in the still waters.

Reflections never lie. So I know that my grimy hair and tattered suit is real. The desolate blankness in my eyes is real.

The coward presented before me is real, too.

My throat tightens.

I don't have Quintus's strength. I don't have his conviction or passion or experience. How Quintus actually thinks I have the capacity to make a difference is beyond me, because at the end of the day, I'm a coward who barely has the will to stumble forward. Surely he knows that.

Or maybe that's not quite it, a voice inside of me suggests. What if there really is something else that he saw -- something that you yourself have yet to see?

I furrow my eyebrows, slightly intrigued by this possible thought. My eyes return back to my reflection. My reflection follows as I tilt my head, peering in closer . . . like maybe, just maybe, there may be something truly worth seeing . . .

. . . But there's nothing.

I rip my eyes away. A tight knot forms in my stomach.

Then it unravels when I breathe out a soft, quiet sigh. It's time to go and find Quintus again. A lot of what I said earlier had stemmed from nothing more than a frustrated despair that had overpowered me in the heat of the moment, and I know it.

I'm just not sure if Quintus knows it.

Either way, he deserves an apology. He's gruff, sure, but in the end, he has nothing but the best interests in mind. Why, he's even the reason I've managed to survive this long in the first place.

I wipe my face with my shoulder, drying it off as best as I can. My eyes gradually begin straying back to my reflection again. Now to think of the best way to apologize to Quintus after --

I gasp when I see a man behind me in my reflection.

I launch up to my feet and whirl around. Just as I thought, the reflection didn't lie. Now, I stand face-to-face with a tall, bald man, clad in black.

My eyes wide, I can't bring myself to move. I can barely bring myself to think. How . . . what . . . how did I not hear or see him coming?

The smile the man gives is long and poisonous, like a snake. "Hello, Lucian Zeidan."

He recognizes me.

And I recognize him.

A renowned general, a distinguished Cruelty Bearer, and one of the most powerful men in Acritudo.

Abraxas Blackthorne.
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Re: Anaphora: Pariah

Post by Athena Lionheart on Tue Aug 18, 2015 9:17 am

Oh. GG, Luke, GG. Turns out he was always 2dumb4everyone.  Now I think Luke's actually been dead the entire roleplay. No way he managed for all these years with luck as fabulous as this. What we think of as Luke is his awkward undead self, animated by the power of stubbornness.
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Re: Anaphora: Pariah

Post by Mythie on Tue Aug 18, 2015 9:38 am

Oh Luke, what would your mother say smh
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Re: Anaphora: Pariah

Post by Ace on Tue Aug 18, 2015 2:48 pm

Even though your RPG posts are second to none, you're definitely one of the best (if not the best) storytellers on CC, Writing. Really great job.
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Re: Anaphora: Pariah

Post by WritingBookworm on Thu Oct 08, 2015 5:24 am

Heya! So I may have basically pulled an all-nighter to finish this chapter. xD Hope you guys like it. Now, to get some sleep . . .


Chapter 5: Abraxas Blackthorne


Abraxas takes a step forward. "You look quite disgruntled, Lucian."
   
"I . . . I'm not . . . I don't know who you're talking . . . " My tongue becomes thick and dry. The effort to somehow convince him I'm not the wanted son of Vandor is futile before I can even manage a complete sentence.
   
Sure enough, the general is unfazed by my words. His calculated smile still hangs on his face, and there is a polite air gathered around him.
   
"There is no need for fear," he says. "I merely wish to talk."
   
I can't bring myself to say anything.
   
The bald man clasps his thick hands behind his back, his gaze unwavering. "Your father misses you."
   
Yeah, 'misses'. "H-He tried to kill me. I'm a failure to him. He wouldn't miss a failure."
   
"A failure would be someone he completely wasted his efforts on," Abraxas corrects. "But you . . . you do not fall into that category."
   
"Wha . . . what do you mean?"
   
A grin leaks from Abraxas's lips.
   
"Do you believe that simply because you fled, you have completely changed in a single night?" he says. "Do you really think that you have completely lost your Cruelty? Is it truly your belief that you suddenly have no capacity for Cruelty whatsoever?"
   
I bend my head. Somehow, his words have given me strength. I'd like to test that out.
   
"I'm not like the rest of you," I say. "I don't have the Cruelty Trait. And I never, ever will."
   
To that, Abraxas calmly lifts his eyebrows.
   
"Really, now?"
   
My blood goes cold. He continues regardless. “Do you know what past studies have shown? That most children have a tendency to follow in their parents’ footsteps. This is no surprise -- after all, children are raised and taught by their parents. They see what their parents do and they emulate it, sometimes unconsciously. Very rarely is one an exception to this. Even you are no exception to this. Because after all . . . you certainly did try to follow Vandor Zeidan’s example.”
   
“I've changed now, I'm stopping --  ”
   
“But if the events of the nights before had not transpired,” he interrupts, “if your father had never tried to kill you . . . would you have stopped?”
   
The question cripples me, rendering me speechless.
   
Would I have stopped, had I never been slated to die? What would have happened if my father never wanted me dead? Would I have continued on the path I'd been on for so long? Would I still be taking out my anger on Therese? Would I be inflicting pain on others in the name of climbing my way up to become a distinguished Cruelty Bearer?
   
What would have I become?
   
"Even now," Abraxas's cold voice slithers into my skin, "it is not yet too late. There is still time to gain the Cruelty Trait in its purest form, and to do your father proud. There is still time for the Zeidans to become a family once more."
   
I try to force down the building lump in my throat. It doesn't work.
   
"All you have to do," he says, "is come. Leave the servant behind. Rejoin your father at his right hand."
   
To make my father proud. To become a family. To rejoin them. I would be lying if I said I didn't want these more than anything.
   
Unfortunately, that's the problem. He knows I want this. He's obviously using them against me.
   
He's lying.
   
He expects me to give in anyway, on the slight chance that he may keep his word. He expects me to be tired, to be desperate and broken. I am.
   
But I'm not broken enough. He doesn't expect me to have the strength to be a fighter.
   
That's where he's made his mistake.
 
So I bring myself to speak, just a little. "I . . . "
   
I snatch a nearby rock from the ground and hurl it at Abraxas as hard as I can.
   
And then I begin to run for my life.


~  ~  ~

   
Apparently my shot was a very lucky one, because I see Abraxas clutching a bruising eye when I look back.
   
Abraxas bares his teeth into a feral snarl, his affable exterior quickly dissolving into the vicious and cruel general everybody in Acritudo fears. He whips out a black object from his pocket before lifting it to his mouth --
   
A radio, I realize. He's alerting his other men and sending them after me and CRAP.
   
Fear blazes through my blood. I run faster. I was barely able to survive an encounter with two of his scouts. So how in the heck am I supposed to evade the general himself and his entire army?
   
If I want to live, I have to at least try.
   
I dart from the lake and the clearing and plunge into the forest, Abraxas now left far behind. Shouts and barked orders echo throughout the area and reach my ears. Barely even a second later, the thundering of hooves roll across the ground just as the first of Abraxas's men comes into view.

My steps become quicker, but the man is gaining on me faster than I can outrun him.
   
There's only one option, then.

I stop, turn around, and scan the nearby trees for a suitable branch to use . . .
   
There. One thicker than the span of my hand, located around the bottom of the tree.

I dart to the side and seize the branch with both hands. I tug down, down, down, and down again.
   
I pull with all of my strength, but the branch is so thick that it's not breaking away from the tree and the man is thirty, no, fifteen feet away.

My face becomes pale, and for a horrible second I'm as still as ice. Then I snap out of it and tug the branch down as hard as I possibly can . . .

The branch breaks free of the tree right as the man catches up to me.

He levels a handgun at my head, but I duck just before he pulls the trigger. Before he can fire again, I come right back up and swing the end of the branch at his head.

The man cries out as the impact knocks him off of his horse. The stallion whinnies as it continues running, leaving us far behind. And then it's just me and him, and I watch him grimace as he begins to sit up --
   
Before I slam the branch into his head again.

I kneel by the now-unconscious soldier and search his waist for any weapons. Two handguns, a few knives . . .

"There he is!"

I jerk my head up to see three other men riding toward me, coming from straight where the first one came from.

I go with one of the handguns. I scramble up to my feet, and then wait, wait for just the right moment . . .

I toss the branch to the ground and let it roll straight into the horses' hooves. One of them whinnies as the horizontal branch causes them to lose its footing, and it in turn spooks the other two horses. The riders shout their protest and confusion, working furiously to settle them down --

Now's my chance. I swipe the handgun up, turn off the safety, and, hoping they're not Cruelty Bearers, fire twice at each of the three men.

Again, luck is on my side. Or maybe it's just that they're around thirty feet away. Either way, my bullets bite into their shoulders, causing two to fall off and the other barely able to remain upright on his mount.

Out of breath, I lower the gun.

Then I turn around and practically fly deeper into the forest.

I don't know how long I run. I just concentrate on propelling myself further, further, further away from anyone and everyone in the Acritudo military. I don't know where I'm going and I really don't care. I just need to run away, make sure I lose them. Only then can I try and find Quintus again -- I can't just lead the majority of Abraxas's men straight to him. He may be a strong Trait Bearer, but that's not enough to take on nearly an entire legion.

Eventually, I slow my steps to a jog before flinging myself behind a tree trunk. I press my spine to it, and my ears strain for any voices . . .

. . .

. . . There's nothing.

Well, nothing, at least, that's close by. I still do hear a soldier barking an order to privates, but from this distance the command is weak and small.

I lost them. Thank God. Thank God I lost them.

I close my eyes and exhale, letting all of my body deflate all at once. That was so close . . .

An explosion of pain bursts inside my head.

I gasp, immediately dropping the gun and succumbing to my knees. The pain blitzes throughout my entire head, and I'm only barely able to lift my head . . .

And somehow, throughout the agony, I can make out a figure approaching me. The man is broad-shouldered, clad in black, and . . .

And it's General Blackthorne.

Molton dread seeps into my veins, and all I can do is stare up at the presence looming over me like a vengeful lord. I can't move. I can't think.

Until the thunder of footsteps registers.

I snap my head up, suddenly out of my stupor.

The rest of his men are coming. Abraxas has already given my location.

I jump up to my feet and dart to the left --

Only to skid to a halt when I see an endless stream of soldiers pouring down to mine and Abraxas's location.

I turn around and start in the other direction --

Another storm of black-clad men charges forward from that direction as well.

Raw terror seizes my throat. Frantically, I search the area for any opening, any opening whatsoever that I can slip through and use to escape, but more soldiers just keep on coming and coming and my eyes dart from side to side frantically.

Before I know it, they have all closed in, forming a complete ring around me and Abraxas Blackthorne.

It takes me a moment to realize I'm completely surrounded.

It takes me a moment to see that there's no escape.

I look back to Abraxas.

It just takes one look into his predatory eyes to send a wild surge of fear blazing through my core.

I take two steps back. Abraxas strides four steps forward.

"No," I say quietly. Still I stagger backward, putting as much distance between me and the General as possible. "No no no no, please -- "

I stumble straight into one of the soldiers, who just laughs and roughly shoves me forward. I don't even have time to yelp as I fail to catch myself, landing in a heap at the general's feet.

Grimacing, I pick myself back up slightly . . .

My heart skips a beat when Abraxas grabs my chin and forces my head up. He looks at me right into my eyes.
   
His lips stretch into a nasty grin.

"Your father is going to be very happy to see you."

And before I can do anything, Abraxas's hand seizes my throat like a viper.

Immediately my breath is stolen. I look up and open and close my mouth, trying to get some semblance of oxygen into my system as Abraxas gradually lifts me up off my feet and into the air, and suddenly I'm thrashing and kicking and trying to pry his hands off of my throat as much as I can --

But already the world begins to fade into a distant fuzziness. The forest, the ring of soldiers, and even Abraxas's cold stare melt into blurs of green, black and brown. Blackness creeps along the edges of my vision.

No. Despite my efforts, my movements are becoming increasingly sluggish. No, no, I can't give up, I can't, I WON'T.

I squeeze my eyes shut and grit my teeth, pulling down on Abraxas's hand as I try to crane my neck up in one last final effort to breathe . . .

Until finally I just can't help but slump down.

Darkness.
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Re: Anaphora: Pariah

Post by Salphirix on Thu Oct 08, 2015 5:52 am

Ahhhhh mmyyyyy goosshhhh

Writing that was really good ;-;
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Re: Anaphora: Pariah

Post by Mythie on Thu Oct 08, 2015 6:34 am

Why must you do this to me you evil person. The only thing you have running for you is that we know Luke doesn't die....

On a second note, Vandor was really a horrible father, he had two traitor children. He should really be ashamed of himself.
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Re: Anaphora: Pariah

Post by Athena Lionheart on Thu Oct 08, 2015 9:39 am

Oh my gosh Writing this is amazing and if I didn't know Luke has to live I would probably be flipping out right now D:
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Re: Anaphora: Pariah

Post by Wishie on Thu Oct 08, 2015 6:30 pm

Oh my gosh, Writing, that was amazing. :O
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Re: Anaphora: Pariah

Post by WritingBookworm on Fri Oct 09, 2015 1:22 pm

Thanks guys!

Also, I was ordering Therese's sidestory banner from Athena when she decided to surprise me with an alternate Pariah banner! Thank you again Athena!



LIKE SERIOUSLY LOOK AT IT IT'S SO BEAUTIFUL.
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