Legends Of The Genemage: The Eternal King, Chapter Three

Read Chapter One here

Read Chapter Two Here

Aerron opened his eyes slowly, taking a moment to adjust to the dim light surrounding him.  When he could at last focus his vision, Aerron studied the foreign room he found himself in.  The first thing Aern noticed was that he lay in a soft, comfortable bed, covered in a warm blanket.  To his left, a small fireplace built into the wall of the room provided warmth, as well as the soft light cascading over the room.  To his right, Aerron could see a small wooden nightstand with a glass of water sitting on top.  Beyond the nightstand, a large window built into the wall provided a glimpse of a meager town situated at the bottom of a small hill lit by the light of the moon and stars in the night sky.  Aerron looked past the foot of his bed and saw a large door with a bright light pouring through the gap between it and the floor of the room.

Aerron struggled to sit up in the bed he occupied and cleared his sore throat.  Aerron opened his dry mouth to call out to someone, but could not find his voice.   Instead, the attempted call resulted in a fit of coughing that forced Aerron’s body to convulse so violently he almost fell out his bed.  As he attempted to control his fit of coughing, the door opened, and a woman walked through.  The woman, middle-aged and human with soft, brown hair and green eyes, walked over to Aerron and placed her hand on his chest.  Aerron soon felt his coughing fit subside as a comforting warmth spread out from the woman’s to his chest muscles and down to his very lungs.   Aerron lay back down on the bed and breathed a heavy sigh as the woman smiled down at him.

“It’s good to see you alive,” the woman said, choking back tears of relief.

“Where am I,” Aerron asked, his voice a hoarse struggle.

“You are in my home,” the woman replied.  “Do you remember who I am?”

Aerron looked up at the woman and tried to focus his still blurry eyes on her face.  As his vision began to clear, memories of the woman began to fill Aerron’s mind.  Memories of warmth and kindness, of calmness and caring, and memories of a time lost to Aerron long ago.

“Ielsa,” Aerron whispered at last, finally able to focus both his eyes and his mind on the woman’s face.

“Yes,” Ielsa replied, gently caressing Aerron’s face.  “It’s me.  I’m so happy to see you again.”

“It is good to see you too old friend,” Aerron wheezed.  “But, how did I get here?”

“You can thank Grann, Zigg, and Kierick for that,” Ielsa said with a chuckle.  “They worked tirelessly for the past eight years to find you and then break you out of that dungeon.”

“Of course,” Aerron said with a coughing chuckle.  “I should have known they would dedicate their lives to rescuing me.  I owe them a great debt.”

“You certainly do,” Grann said as he entered the room.  “But you can repay that debt by finishing what you started so long ago.  Destroy the Sovereign and his oppressive empire.”

“Grann my old friend,” Aerron said, smiling at the dwarf weakly.  “It is so good to see you again.”

“Aye,” Grann smiled back.  “And it is good to see you regaining your health.  When Zigg and I busted you out of that dungeon, you looked like a strong wind could break you in half.”

“Well, I am feeling stronger now,” Aerron said.  “But I am still not back to full health.  I was in a sad state back in that dungeon.  They left me so weak that I could barely function.  My mind was so damaged, that I was unsure what was real and what was actually just fever dreams.”

“Well, to be honest,” Grann said grimly, “you were in horrible shape.  I was not sure you would survive.  But Ielsa has been using her powers of healing to bring you back from the brink of death and restore your body to full health.  Or, at least as healthy as she could get you.”

“I am grateful for your healing Ielsa,” Aerron said.  “I can only imagine how difficult and draining that must have been for you.”

“True, the last few weeks have been taxing on my own body,” Ielsa admitted gravely.  “But, your body has an amazing self-healing ability of its own, and that did a lot to ease my burden.”

“Well then,” Aerron said, smiling weakly again, “I’m glad I could help you heal me.”

“Yes,” Ielsa said, “and I will need more help from your body to get you back to full strength.  It is good that you are finally awake, but we will let you rest the night and then try to actually get you back on your feet and walking around tomorrow.”

“Good,” Aerron said, nodding his head in approval.  “Because there is much work to be done before any of us are strong enough to take on the Sovereign again.  To begin with, I need to know everything that has gone on while I was incarcerated.  How long did you say I had been the Sovereign’s captive?”

“Fourteen years,” Grann replied.

“Fourteen years,” Aerron whispered dolefully.  “I have lost fourteen years of my life to that monster.  He took my life and destroyed my family.  For that, I will make him pay.”

“Yes,” Grann said, nodding his head slowly.  “And in that time, he has tightened his grip on my people and on the ogres.  Where once we were simply treated as lesser beings, now the Sovereign has turned many of us into slaves.  My fellow dwarves are forced to serve the higher class citizens as house servants, while the ogres are forced into manual labor for the bastards.”

“That is everything we fought to prevent,” Aerron said grimly.  “How could we have failed so horribly?  This is all my fault.  I led you all down this path.  It is because of my failure that you must suffer.”

“That is nonsense,” Grann barked.  “I will not let you take the blame.  The Sovereign had a more powerful army than any of us could have ever anticipated.  He had a power that we could never have dreamed of.  The power of the ancients that we could not possibly hope to defend against.  It is that power that he now uses to enslave us all.”

“Tecknowlegy,” Aerron stated.  “He gains his power from tecknowlegy, which he keeps for himself, forcing the rest of us to live as animals while he and his ‘nobles’ enjoy the benefits of this tecknowlegy.”

“How do you know that,” Grann asked.

“I met someone in that dungeon, a woman who was also a prisoner that explained it all to me.  That woman was a teacher of this tecknowlegy and was imprisoned for trying to spread her teachings to the lower castes.  Something strictly outlawed by the Sovereign himself.”

“Of course,” Grann growled.  “Leave it to the Sovereign to use something like that to keep himself and his family above the common folk.”

“His family,” Aerron repeated quietly.  “That bastard stole my family from me.  Just one more reason for me to destroy him.”

“Yes,” Grann said wistfully.  “We tried to free your family as well, but that proved far more difficult.”

“What do you know about the fate of my wife,” Aerron asked anxiously.

“Your wife was sold into slavery by the Sovereign,” Grann replied.  “She was traded several times to several different masters.  We tried to track her down, but there were just too many leads to follow.  I’m sorry my old friend, but we do not know the current whereabouts of your wife.  We have not been able to find your son either.”

“I know where my son is,” Aerron growled, his eyes turning dark and angry.  “The Sovereign has him.”

“Really,” Grann asked, shocked to hear such news.  “Was your son also a prisoner in that dungeon?  I had no idea.  We would have rescued him as well.”

“No,” Aerron replied.  “My son was never put in that dungeon.  My son suffered a more horrible fate than mere imprisonment.”

“I don’t understand,” Grann said.

Aerron turned his gaze to the night sky outside his window, and let out a deep, sorrowful sigh.  “When they captured me, they tried to torture me to give them answers about our army.  They wanted to know things like the size of our army, where they were located, things like that.  Because of my advanced healing ability, I was able to withstand their torture, and I refused to give them any answers.   For weeks they tried to get the information out of me, but I would not give into the pain they inflicted on me.  Finally, they stopped torturing me and left me to rot in my dungeon.  Sometime later, days, weeks, I could not be sure, they came back to interrogate me again.  This time, however, they did not bother torturing me, knowing it would have no effect.  This time, they brought my son to see me sitting in that dungeon, dirty and beaten.”

Aerron paused at that moment, and Grann could tell that his friend was attempting to hold back tears.  Grann put a comforting hand on Aerron’s shoulder and told his friend to take what time he needed before continuing.  With tears welling in his eyes, Aerron looked to Grann, took a deep, shivering breath, and let it out slowly.

“I hated for my son to see me like that,” Aerron continued.  “But I wouldn’t let even that break me.  That is when they started torturing my son.”

“Oh Aerron,” Grann whispered.  “My friend, I am so sorry.”

“They took a metal knife that had been lying in a nearby fire, and they started burning and cutting my son’s face!  I will never forget the screams of my son being tortured and burnt by the Sovereign and his torturers.  I will never forget the horrors they unleashed on my innocent son.  I will never forget, and I will never forgive them!  I will make them pay for what they have done!”

“You will,” Grann said.  “And we will do all we can to help you.”

“That is when they broke me,” Aerron said, lowering his head into his hands.  “That is when I gave them all the information they asked for.  I’m sorry my old friend.  I am so sorry.  I couldn’t bear to see my son be tortured.  I would have done anything at that moment to save him.  Including putting all of your lives in danger.”

“You don’t need to apologize,” Grann said, patting his friend on the shoulder.  “Any of us would have done the same in your situation.  Any single one of us.”

“Thank you, my friend,” Aerron said, lifting his head and sighing again.

“I hate to ask this,” Grann said cautiously, “but it is important to know.  Did the Sovereign kill you son after that?”

“No,” Aerron said, his voice catching in his throat as he spoke.  “He did something far more horrible.  After torturing my son and getting me to give up my information, the Sovereign then made it his mission to brainwash my son.  Every day he would bring my son to my cell and spend hours tearing down my son’s mind right in front of me until one day my son, my own flesh and blood, no longer recognized me as his father.  The Sovereign broke my son’s mind and rebuilt it so that my son believed himself to be the son of the Sovereign.  Then, the Sovereign convinced my son that I was the one who had tortured him and burnt his face.  The Sovereign brainwashed my own son into thinking that I was an evil man that had hurt him to get to the Sovereign.”

“Your son is the burnt prince,” Grann whispered in shock.  “I don’t believe it.”

“The burnt prince,” Aerron asked, confused.

“The son of the Sovereign,” Grann replied.  “Part of his face is burnt so badly that he hides it behind a mask.  The Sovereign has spread word across the realm that you were the one that damaged his son’s face.  I had no idea the truth behind that story.  Or the horror behind it all.  Aerron my dear friend, I am so very sorry for everything the Sovereign has done to you.”

“And I too am sorry for everything the Sovereign has done to you and your people.  And all the people of the realm.  But, now that I am free, we can rebuild our army and fight back.  This time, we will finally kill the Sovereign and end his cruelty!”

“It will not be easy,” Grann said.  “But you know I will follow you anywhere, as I always have my friend.  But, we have a lot of work ahead of us to rebuild our armies and bring them back to fighting strength.  I don’t even know where we will start.”

“With Leighta,” Aerron stated his voice steady and confident.

“With what,” Grann asked.

“Leighta,” Aerron repeated.  “The woman who was a prisoner along with me.  The woman who taught me about the Sovereign’s tecknowlegy.  We need to break her out of that prison too.  She will teach us everything that we need to know to stop the Sovereign.”

“You want us to return to the place that held you prisoner and try to break in again,” Grann asked, shaking his head in disbelief.

“We have to Grann,” Aerron replied.  “She is the key to defeating the Sovereign.  We need her if we are going to have any hope of success this time.”

“I told you I would follow you anywhere,” Grann said.  “So, if that is your plan, then I will be there for you.  But, it is not going to be easy.  I hope you realize that.”

“I know my old friend,” Aerron said.  “But it is necessary.”

“Then we will need a new plan,” Grann stated.  “Because we can’t use the same one we used to break you out again.”

On Blackened Wings: Part Four

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Written by Derrick Nadeau

Part Four

You Are Reborn

 Rand stared at the black wings bolted to the side of his farmhouse as his mind swarmed with mixed emotions.  From the moment his son had been murdered by the monster once attached to the black wings, Rand’s life had become a whirlwind of anger, hatred, and sadness.  Rand picked up the ax he had used to remove the wings of his Seraph captive, and his mind swelled with the memory of what it felt like to chop the wings off of the monster that had attacked his family.  Each swing of the ax allowing Rand to expel his anger while the sound of the monster’s flesh tearing recharged his hatred for the next swing of the ax.  Rand stared down at the blood covered ax and found himself wishing he had been allowed to kill the Seraph instead of being forced to watch the monster that had destroyed his family crawl out of his village, wingless, with two huge, cauterised wounds on his back.  Though it seemed unlikely that the Seraph would survive the long journey back to his people, the small possibility that the monster could make it home filled Rand’s heart with bitterness.

Rand tossed the ax back on the ground, disgusted with the weakness of his village elders for letting the Seraph just leave.  Rand walked up to one of the wings, grabbed a hold of the crossbow bolt anchoring it to the wall of the farmhouse, and attempted to wrench it free.  Rand pulled on the bolt with all his strength while attempting to wiggle the bolt free, but could not get it to move at all.  As he tried to force the bolt out, Rand’s hands became sweaty, eventually slipping off the bolt and sending Rand reeling backwards.  As he slipped back, Rand tripped on the ax he had tossed on the ground, altering his fall so that he bumped into the wall of his farmhouse, landing between the two black wings.  Rand leaned against the wall for a moment, regaining his composure from the fall, when he suddenly began to feel a burning sensation on his back.  Rand attempted to push himself off the wall as the burning intensified, but found himself inexplicably paralyzed.  Panic began to overtake Rand’s mind, and he let out a scream filled with fear and agony.

Rand’s wife, Meleda, was preparing dinner when she was startled by the sound of her husband’s screaming.  Grabbing a nearby kitchen knife, Meleda ran outside to discover her husband writhing on the ground, covered by the black wings of the Seraph, and screaming as though he were being torn apart.  Meleda attempted to run to her husband’s side, but was blocked by the flailing wings.  Meleda lifted the knife in her hand, and stabbed at the closest wing, which seemed to only cause her husband to let out another agonized scream.

“Rand,” Meleda shouted, hoping her husband would hear her over his own screams.  “What is happening?  What can I do?”

Rand did not respond, continuing his chorus of pain, and Meleda began to feel panic set into her mind.  Desperate to help her husband, Meleda began to stab at the black wings again and again, ignoring her husband’s frantic cries after each stab.  After several hacks, one of the wings swung up and hit Meleda square in the chest, knocking her to the ground brutally.  Meleda placed her hand on her chest, sore from the impact of the wing, and felt for broken ribs as she tried to catch the breath that had been knocked out of her.  Meleda pulled her shirt open slightly, and examined her chest.  Meleda was not surprised to see a large, deep black bruise on her chest, but was relieved to see that no bones appeared broken.  As she watched a large welt begin to form on he skin, Meleda realized that the screams of her husband had abruptly stopped.  Meleda looked up to see rand lying still on the ground, covered by the black wings, his body slowly undulating as his breathing became deep and heavy.

“Rand,” Meleda cried, her voice barely able to produce more than a harsh whisper.  “My love, are you hurt?  What happened?”

Meleda paused, staring at her husband and praying for his response.

“Rand,” Meleda shouted, “Husband, please answer me!  Are you all right?”

Meleda struggled to get to her feet and move to her husband when suddenly, she saw the wings of the Seraph begin to stir.  Meleda watched in shock as the wings spread wide and her husband slowly rose to his feet.  Horror began to fill Meleda’s heart as she witnessed the sight of her husband standing before her with the black wings of the Seraph somehow attached to Rand’s back.

“Rand,” Meleda whispered, choking as she did.  “What has happened to you?”

Rand began to slowly move each wing, testing the strength and flexibility of his new appendages before turning his gaze to his wife.  Meleda was startled by the look in her husband’s eyes, a combination of awe and elation.

“My wife,” Rand said, smiling at Meleda.  “My love.  Look at me.  Look at what the gods have given me.  Look upon your husband as he has been reborn!”

“Reborn,” Melada whispered.  “I-I don’t understand.”

“Neither do I,” Rand laughed.  “Not fully.  It seems the will of the gods that I should be given this gift of our enemy’s wings.  Though the pain was exquisite, I am now truly blessed by the gods.”

“But why,” Meleda asked.  “For what purpose?”

“Who am I to guess at the whims of the gods,” Rand replied.  “Blessed though I be, I have not been given a glimpse into the will of the gods.”

“This is no small matter,” Meleda stated.  “We need to seek the counsel of the elders.”

“Yes, perhaps you are right my love,” Rand responded.  “Very well, let us seek the advice of our village elders.  I will meet you there my wife.  But first, my heart is aching to test out these wings.”

Before Meleda could answer, Rand began to flutter his wings, causing a wind to blow the dirt around.  Meleda covered her eyes to block the wind and dirt as her husband began to lift into the air.  With a cry of pure joy, Rand launched himself into the sky, leaving his wife behind.  Meleda watched her husband fly away, but instead of feeling awe or amazement, found only fear and concern filling her heart.

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