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Forum Bug

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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Imperii Res

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Imperii Res

Post by Omni on Tue Oct 27, 2015 11:40 pm



"Some marks never fade."

1|2|3|4|5|6|7

-Prologue-

Now...

Even torn by years of war, Ald Ruhn was a magnificent city, a stunning congregation of domes and arches and towers, with marvels of magic and technology, it seemed to Caria, around every corner. Even the wreckage that dotted the city only served to add to its grandeur, weighing its lofty spires down with a measure of history. Above it all hovered the massive sphere of the Generator, glittering in the light like a second sun. Caria wove her way carefully through the streets, past shops and restaurants and vendor’s stalls, turning right, then left, then right again. Finally, she stepped into a long, empty stretch of alley which cut around the back of a small residential neighborhood and provided a shortcut to more shops.

The hair along Caria’s arms began to rise as she walked down the alley, and when a figure stepped out from behind the concealment of a pair of garbage cans she jumped, reaching for Dedication’s hilt. The man stood easily, his sharp, narrow face twisted into a contemptuous sneer. “Been looking for you,” he said. “Been looking for you for a while.” Caria’s heart hammed in her chest. Focus. Breathe. She felt her equilibrium return and stood straighter, facing the man.

“Report.”

Constantine narrowed his eyes. “You’re late.”

“And you’re insubordinate. My husband put me in command of this mission, not you.” Caria let go of Dedication. “Why weren’t you at the Reactor? You were supposed to follow me.”

“I was at the damn reactor!” The hate on Constantine’s face conveyed every bit of profanity that propriety—and common sense—would never let him say.

Caria sighed. “You followed the wrong hovercraft, didn’t you?” Constantine remained silent. “Yes, you did. Oh well. Fortunately, I was able to integrate myself into the Row without you forcing them to ‘protect’ me again. It seems our first performance was sufficient.”

“I found the Zehn’aliem bitch,” Constantine said. “She’s agreed to work with me.”

“Really? That’s good news. Anything else?” Knowing him, it probably happened entirely by accident. Constantine was an effective attack dog, but not much else. Still, he was the tool she’d been given, and out of all of them, Constantine was the only one who might be able to take down Fe when the time came, if he took her by surprise.

“She had some kind of illusion magic. That wasn’t in any of our briefings.”

Caria nodded. “Noted. I’ve had some results myself. This continent is even worse than we feared; a number of powerful demons have recently been released, the Row is disorganized and poorly led, and from the members I had a chance to talk to morale seemed quite low. We may need to advise my husband to move up his timetable.”

Constantine bared his teeth. “So. We’re in. What do you want me to do now?”

Caria considered. “Before I forget… I heard a rumor about a new group operating out of Swynborough. Send Khin to infiltrate them; we may be able to use them. More importantly, if you can do so without arousing suspicion, eliminate Arker Zenh’aliem. We can play Fe and the Row against each other, but I suspect that he’s more trouble than he’s worth. However, maintaining your position with Fe is more important. When the time comes, she has to go.”

“And you?” Constantine asked. “When the time comes, will you be ready to destroy the Row?”

“Yes,” Caria said. There was not an ounce of hesitation in her response.

“You’d better. Just remember, Sicaria: God may have put you in charge, but he sent me to remind you what’ll happen if you fail.”

-Chapter 1-

Three Years Ago...

Sicaria Emprestes tore down the dirt path towards town, skirts bunched around her legs, sweat dripping from her brow and running down her back. Her mother would have a fit when she saw her; such running about was all well and good for a girl, but at fifteen Caria was a woman grown, and as a member of the only free family in their nameless mountain village she was expected to be proper. The way her mother carried on about proper this and proper that, you’d have thought that Caria was a true Imperial, like them from Anothen or even Hieropolis itself, and not some goat-girl from a no-name highlands town lucky enough to have a grandfather who’d served his thirty years.

As she entered the village proper, she caught a number of the village folk staring. On each one’s forehead, the Brand pulsed with sullen red light, Holy God’s sign of sinfulness unredeemed. As members of the third generation to enjoy the redemption Grandfather Emprestes had won, Caria and her brother were the only two in the town never to have borne the Brand, and already the signs of her family’s divine favor showed. At fifteen, Caria was already the tallest of the village’s women, with smooth, lush back hair, a full frame, bright eyes, and a rosy glow in her cheeks. Next to the pale, bony women of the village, she looked like a great lady out one of the stories, and though she tried not to brag, she knew that she was sharper of mind as well.

On another day, perhaps, the village folk might have yelled. Caria often wondered if they hated her. She tried to remain humble, but her body itself radiated Holy God’s power and favor towards her family. Under the circumstances, she could understand why the Branded might be jealous. So yes, on another day they might have jeered, at her pace, at her sweatiness, at the way her skirts left her calves bare as she held them up to run. But not on that day. On that day, they knew why she ran, and they were silent.

Caria burst into the house, pounded heedlessly across the fine wooden floor, and flung open the door to the back room, her breath coming in gasps. “I—I heard what happened. Is he…?”

Khimaira Emprestes looked up from her husband’s bedside and took in her daughter’s sweat and dishevelment. While she shared Caria’s dark hair and blue eyes, Khimaira more resembled the town’s other women. The dead, lightless brand on her forehead was broken by a horizontal scar, given on the last day of Grandfather Emprestes’s service as a soldier. “You left the flock?” she asked, and Caria’s heart sank. Not a single word about her appearance. Things really were bad.

“I left them with Akrea,” Caria whispered. “She came to give me the news.” A pause. “How bad is it?”

“Bad,” her mother replied. “You’re a woman grown now. You can see for yourself.” She rose and moved aside, leaving Caria a place next to the bed. On the other side of the bed, Caria’s older brother Eslos hunched over her father’s wounds. Like Caria, Eslos was tall and marked by the favor of God; with his broad shoulders and thick arms, Eslos could lift twice as much as the other village men. His passion, however, lay in medicine. He bought every book on the subject the peddlers brought, and spoke longingly of studying surgery in Hieropolis as soon as Father could hire a man to replace him. Caria had always found the dream a little silly; some Imperials could mend flesh with a touch, after all, so what was the point of surgeons? The proper place for a free man of the third generation was the priesthood, directly serving the God who had blessed him. But as she saw her brother laboring with sure, steady hands over the ruin of her father’s leg, Caria had never been more thankful for anything in her life.

As long as Caria could remember, Eurren Emprestes had been a bull of a man. It wasn’t so much his size—like all who had ever borne the Brand, her father had been short, of a height with Caria herself—but rather his personality that made him a towering, unshakeable presence, quick to laugh and quick to comfort, and none of the other village men cared for their flocks half as well as he did. That morning, he and Eslos had gone out to look for a nanny who’d wandered from the herd with her kids. Caria didn’t know what had happened on the expedition, but she could guess. Her father’s leg had been savaged, skin and flesh torn down to the bone. Only one thing would do that to a man. “A mountain cat,” Caria whispered.

Without looking up, Eslos nodded. “With cubs. We found the missing nan too, but not in one piece.”

“Holy God. Are you okay?”

“Yes. Dad saved me.” Eslos wiped his hands on a rag. His touch stained the fabric red. “I was able to stop him bleeding out long enough to get him back to the village, but now…”

Caria couldn’t stop looking at the leg, at the little peek of white bone, pale as mountain chalk, through the red gore. “Can you save him?”

“I don’t know, Cari. I’m not a real surgeon. And even if I do... At this point, I don’t think I can save the leg.” Cari felt another spike of fear, and regretted it instantly. It was selfish. If her father lived, that would be a miracle and a blessing, leg or no leg. But without the leg, he wouldn’t be able to work, and there was no way Caria and Eslos could manage the flock on their own. Even the extra income from her mother’s weaving wouldn’t be enough to offset the loss. At best, the family would have to leave the village; if Eslos really did go into the priesthood, he’d bring home enough for them to live on, if only just. At worst, they would all starve.

“I see,” Caria said. “I…”

For the first time, Eslos looked up from his work, and Caria saw in his eyes that he’d reached the same conclusions she had. “It’s okay, Cari. It’ll all be okay in the end.”

“There has to be something we can do.”

“There is, and we’re doing it. We’re family. We’ll get through this. Together.”

“I could go to Hieropolis. I’m the right age for it.”

“Absolutely not!” Caria jumped slightly as her mother’s voice cut into the conversation. “I won’t be having my only daughter leaving to become a Bloody Bride! I won’t hear another word about it!”

“Mother!” Caria blanched and shrank back. “You, you can’t say— It’s blasphemy!”

Khimaira froze. “You— You’re right. I spoke… You’re right. But you’re my little girl, Caria. I couldn’t give you up. Not even for him.”

“Not even for dad?” Caria pressed. “Or for Eslos? For all of us?”

“Please just drop it.”

Caria was preparing to respond when Eslos interrupted. “Mother, I need fire and the good butchering knives. Can you get them for me?” Khimaira nodded once and hurried from the room.

“You’re amputating, then?” Caria said.

Eslos nodded. “No other choice.” He began binding a tourniquet tightly around their father’s leg, above the mauled portion. “Don’t do it, Cari.”

“Don’t do what?”

“Don’t go to Hieropolis. I know you’re still thinking about it.”

Caria shrugged. There was no point in hiding it. “I could be a queen, Es. I could fix all of this. Dad would never have to work again. You could study, become a real surgeon. Maybe I could even order someone to remove that stick from Mom’s ass.”

“There’re dozens of queens. You don’t even know if he’d pick you.”

“Oh, so you’re saying I’m not pretty enough now?”

“I’m not saying that,” Eslos said, smiling despite himself.

Caria crossed her arms. “I’m the prettiest girl you’ve ever seen.”

“That is both true and, considering we’re siblings, unfortunate.”

“For you.” Caria grinned. “I bet there’d be lots of pretty girls for you in Hieropolis, all clamoring to meet some brilliant young surgeon—“

“Okay, I get it.” Eslos stood, wiping his hands one final time. “I still don’t think it’s a good idea. It’s a good dream, but dreams don’t some true for free. Just promise me you won’t do anything stupid, okay?”

“Sorry, Es. Stupid is basically what I do.”

“I mean it, Cari. We already might lose Dad. Don’t make me lose you too. Now, come over here. Mom’s almost back with the knives. I need you to hold Dad down.”

1|2|3|4|5|6|7
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Re: Imperii Res

Post by Athena Lionheart on Tue Oct 27, 2015 11:48 pm

Wow, this is awesome! I look forward to reading more! Very Happy
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Re: Imperii Res

Post by Hime on Wed Oct 28, 2015 12:07 am

Omni, yes! You astound me. I can't wait to read further!
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Re: Imperii Res

Post by Fix-It on Wed Oct 28, 2015 12:52 am

This is amazing! I anticipate the next chapters Smile
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Re: Imperii Res

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