Sin - By Firebrand, Chapter 3, Fantasy

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Sin - By Firebrand, Chapter 3, Fantasy

Post  Firebrand on Fri Mar 02, 2012 6:53 pm

Sin climbed out of the river, toweled himself off, and donned clean clothes. He had just finished his guardsman shift, and was returning home to Harrison’s, after a quick bath, of course.

Just over two weeks had passed since his birthday. He was already becoming a better swordsman, and Antonius, one of his partners on his watch, was helping with his archery. He could feel muscles in his arms and legs developing. He’d always liked running, but his endurance was much better now. He could run from one edge of the village to the other and back, a full eight miles, in just under three quarters of an hour.

He jogged back to Harrison’s house, ready to go to work in the sorcerer’s fields. Harrison met him on the porch. “Hold on there now,” the middle aged man said. He signaled to Henrietta. “Pour us three glasses of water, please.” He glanced at Sin. “Lisana’s coming over, by the way.”

“For what?”

“Well, her birthday was a few days ago, remember? She’s hit her majority, just as you have.” Harrison paused. “I know this will be hard for you to hear, since you two are such good friends. Derrian has been talking about sending her to Castle Town for training for a few years now, and tried to see if I could pull some strings, find her a mentor.”

Sin snorted. Everyone in the village knew that Harrison had severed all ties with the Castle and Sorcerer Council years ago, but Lisana’s stubborn father refused to accept that Harrison held no political power anymore.

“I still don’t understand what this has to do with me.”

Harrison sighed. “Well, Derrian has sent several letters to the Council, and he recently heard back from an old friend of mine, High Mage Arick Vonrist. He has agreed to train Lisana in the Capitol. And Lisana is going in just a few days.”

Sin rolled his eyes. “I know, Harrison. I see Lisana all the time. It’s not like she hasn’t told me already.”

Harrison nodded. He said nothing as Henrietta laid out three glasses of water with two ice cubes apiece. Then, when Henrietta left, he started again. “It’s just this, Sin. The Capitol is a long way away, and one has to go through the Forest to get there.”

“Lisana has Anjaru, Kelrick and Thalia to protect her. She’ll be fine.”

“Still,” Harrison said, tapping his chin with one finger. “I’d feel better if I could send someone with her. A guardsman, to protect her from all those nasty feral demons and highwaymen she’s likely to encounter on the way. Now, where could I find a man like that?”

“I don’t know,” Sin replied. “Ask Damin. He knows every man’s strong points, so he’s bound to have one or two candidates.”

“Oh, I already have someone in mind.” Harrison winked at Sin, the boy he raised as a son. “Come on, you’re a clever one. You must have some idea.”

“You mean me,” Sin said with a scowl. “Harrison, I’m hardly the most experienced. Besides, I’ve never been more than ten miles from the Wall. I know barely anything about forestry. Sure, I’m pretty good with a sword now, and my arrow skills are getting better, but still! Be logical, Harrison!”

The sorcerer stretched out his arms behind his head. “It’s not your weapons prowess that makes me want you to be Lisana’s escort. It’s the fact that you know her best out of all the men in the village. If I send her on a journey with, oh I don’t know, Antonius, she’ll only see him as an escort. But with you, it’ll be two friends who can stand by each other in a crisis.”

At that point Lisana ran up to Harrison’s porch. She was not accompanied by any of her demons, but Sin knew that if he were needed, Anjaru would be at her side in a heartbeat. A dog and a cat skulked in the shadows nearby.

Sin waved discreetly at them, for they were the disguised forms of Kelrick and Thalia, used only when they did not want to be seen for what they were. He did not doubt that Anjaru was drifting above the house in the form of a falcon.

“Hi Harrison! Hi Sin! Why’d you call me here?”

Harrison smiled. “Well, you’re off to the Capitol in a few days, aren’t you?” Lisana nodded. “The Forest can be a dangerous place for a girl just past her majority, so I’ve decided that I’m sending you off with an escort.”

Lisana blinked. “But I have Anjaru, Kelrick and Thalia to protect me!”

“That’s what I said,” Sin grumbled. Harrison kicked him under the table. Lisana did not notice.

“I know, but I’d feel better knowing there’s a human by your side as well.” Harrison smiled at her.

Lisana was not convinced. “Harrison, all my life, you’ve taught me that demons are our friends, not our pawns or slaves. We have to treat them like we would treat humans. Aren’t you just being a hypocrite?”

Chifumi scampered out the open door of Harrison’s house. “Hippogriff? Where? Everybody hide!” She dove into Sin’s lap and buried her face in the material of his shirt. “It’s gonna eat me!”

Sin picked her up by the fur on the back of her neck. “Hypocrite, Chifumi, not hippogriff. It means someone who says something is bad and does it anyway. A liar, basically.”

The monkey-like demon was not convinced, and nervously scanned the sky. “If a hippogriff swoops down and eats you in one gulp, you’re going to regret not listening to me.”

Harrison laughed and took the little demon from Sin. “I’ll remember that when I’m in a hippogriff’s belly.” He smiled at Lisana. “Now, to address your point. It has nothing to do with demon discrimination. It’s just that certain spells and amulets can incapacitate demons with incredible ease. If you were set upon by a sorcerer with even a little training, it would be simple for them to bind your demons and rob you, perhaps even kill you. However, a human guardian would still be able to fight.”

“I see the logic,” Lisana said with a nod. “And okay, I’ll play along. Who do you have in mind? Obviously, my father would have to approve.”

Harrison shrugged. “Of course, of course. Well, I was thinking Sin. He certainly has become proficient with a sword, and he knows you quite well. I think you would be quite comfortable with him protecting you.”

Lisana blushed slightly, and narrowed her eyes. “P-Protecting me? I’m no damsel in a fairy tale! Light knows I’ve saved Sin enough times!”

“Actually, your demons have saved me. Technically.”

The glare Lisana cast him made Sin wish he had never spoken. “I think that my father will need to be consulted on this matter.” She turned on her heel and stalked away. Kelrick and Thalia slunk after her.

Anjaru, in the form of a large peregrine falcon, lighted down on the porch railing. Chifumi, not really paying attention, heard the beating of wings and rush of wind.

“Hippogriff!” she shrieked and dove into the house. “Sin, protect me!”

Anjaru changed back to his human form and swung his legs over the railing. He blinked his deep, intelligent eyes. “I apologize for startling Chifumi.”

Harrison shook his head. “Think nothing of it. It’s just been one of those days for her.”

“I also wish to apologize for Mistress Lisana’s abrupt reply.”

“Anjaru, you don’t need to. It’s fine. I’ve already talked to Derrian about sending Sin with Lisana, and he has agreed. Nothing Lisana can say will change this.”

“Anjaru!” Lisana snapped from a ways down the street. “Come over here now!”

“Yes, Mistress Lisana.” Anjaru shrugged. Then, he shifted back into a falcon, opened his broad wings and took off.

Harrison took Sin into the house. “Now, I’ve arranged with Damin to send you away. He’s already fixed the guardsman schedule. But you need to prepare. So, I’ve put together some basic supplies for you.”

He led Sin into his study, and procured a leather pack. “This has three changes of clothes, a leather breastplate and a cloak. Damin has agreed to lend you a mail shirt if you want one, but I think that will just weigh you down. I’ve enchanted the leather with several spells, so it’ll stop most arrows and fire, and keep out the cold. The cloak is likewise enchanted.

“There’s some trail food, but you’ll mostly have to hunt and gather what you can, until you get to Hollyvale, forty five miles or so away, on the other side of the Forest. Still, under ideal circumstances, that won’t take more than two days on foot, three day at the most.

“Damin’s going to give you a bow and quiver with twenty arrows, but you know how to make your own now. So if a few get lost or broken, you should be fine.”

“Harrison, wait!” Sin cried. “I don’t even know if I can do this journey!”

Harrison smiled. “Of course you can. I was going to have to bring you to the Capitol soon anyway.”

“Why?”

“Oh, a few reasons. You’ll understand soon.”

“Harrison, I’m an adult now! Don’t treat me like a child! Give me straight answers!”

“And ruin all the fun? I think not. Anyway,” he reached into his desk drawer and pulled out several bracelets and necklaces, made from clay beads, bone fragments and ivory pieces. “You’ll need these amulets. These,” he made a pile of a few bracelets, “are for defensive purposes. Put them on your right arm and use your left hand to activate them. These however,” he put the remaining bracelets in a second pile, “are for offensive use, in emergencies only. Wear them on your left arm, and activate them with your right hand. Finally these talismans,” he held up the necklaces, “are only for dire circumstances. They will activate automatically, to fit the given situation. And you know the rules for amulets.”

Sin nodded. “One use only.” Once he had used one, then it was just so much broken pottery. It would lose all magical properties it once had.

“Now,” Harrison said, using his ‘teacher voice’, “what are the three schools of magic? This will be important when you get to Castle Town."

Sin sighed. “Amulets and Talismans are the first school. They can be used by anyone, sorcerer or otherwise, provided a sorcerer made them in the first place. They can store a spell, meaning that a person can cast it without the preparation needed for a standard casting. Amulets are one use only, and have to be activated, usually broken too. Talismans tend to have a passive effect, and are good for several uses, a lifetime if they’re made right.”

“Casting is the second school, and these spells are more potent than those stored in amulets, because they have not aged. They feed off the emotion of the caster. They require a price, usually in blood or energy. Only a sorcerer can use this type of magic. An incantation is usually a part of this, but an adept sorcerer can cast without one.

“The third school is Demon Magic. Only a demon can use this type of magic. It varies from the most basic to the most powerful, something as simple as scrying to as complex as conjuring a firestorm. Each demon has an affinity with an element, animal or aspect. Chifumi is a demon that is connected to monkeys, and is used for messages. Kelrick is a more powerful demon, associated with fire and canines, Thalia is linked to ice, water and felines, and Anjaru is linked to birds and the air.

“Except Harrison, why should I care?” Sin flopped down in one of the armchairs around the study. “I mean, it’s not like I’m a sorcerer. I can’t actually use any of these things, except amulets and talismans. And I need a sorcerer to make those.”

Harrison smiled thinly. “Knowledge is power, Sin. You need not fear sorcery because you know how to combat it. Your whole life, I have prepared you for this. I’ve known from the moment of her birth that Lisana would be the one to bring equality between humans and demons, and she’d need your help.”

Sin scoffed. “Yeah right, Harrison. Artos the Demon King couldn’t bring unity. His strongest three attendants fought as he fled, and then he died too. How could we succeed where he failed?”

Harrison sat down opposite Sin. “Artos was slain in our Forest, did you know that? Not five miles from here. Do you know the names of those three demons that fought for him?”

Sin shook his head. The retired sorcerer smiled. “Their names were Kelrick, Thalia, and Anjaru.”

“No way!” Sin gasped. “Impossible! They Bonded to her when she was born, which is strange, but no! That’s utter craziness.”

“Perhaps. But have you ever wondered why you bear your name?”

“Sin? A few times. It’s a strange name, but I never really thought about it.”

Harrison pulled a bottle of wine and a crystal goblet from his desk. He poured the crimson liquid into the glass and took a sip. “When you were born, your mother looked at you, and said ‘Forgive me my sin’, and then died. Her father was a powerful man on the Sorcerer’s Council, and I think she was asking him for forgiveness, but she might as well have been asking you.

“You see, she and your father were fleeing the Capitol, for she was a sorceress on the Council as well. However, they had heard of the Chancellor’s movements, and wanted no part of them. They came to seek sanctuary with me. Your grandfather sent demons after them. It just so happened that other demons were also fighting in the Forest.”

“Artos and the Chancellor’s demons."

“Right. They were nearby when Artos’s caravan was attacked, and one demon, named Liath, chased them and led the others here. Your father took up arms to defend my holdings with the other men, and died fighting Kutayara, the Poison Brewer. Your mother went to the Light soon after.”

“So I’m called Sin because my mother asked for forgiveness on her deathbed? Touching. But that still has no bearing on Lisana’s destiny.”

“Right, right. My point is that you were born on a night of great turmoil. That has to mean something. The old order changed. But you came into the world. I’m sure that there’s a deep significance.”

Sin remained silent. Harrison got up and moved aside a part of the wall. Seven swords of varying length hung within the hidden panel. The sorcerer picked up one blade. It was slightly curved, and sparkled in the sunlight.

“You’ll need a sword to protect you,” Harrison muttered. “Take this one. It’ll serve you well. It’s enchanted, so it won’t break, but you still need to make sure it won’t rust.” He pulled the leather scabbard from an umbrella stand. “There’s a strap, so you can wear it over your shoulder. Or, you can fasten it to you belt.”

Sin shook his head. “Harrison, I’m not going to the Capitol, not until I get some solid answers.”

“Sin, you don’t even know what questions to ask. Look. Just get Lisana to the Capitol, and then come back. It’ll take about a month, round trip. Then, you and I can sit down and I’ll answer any questions you might have.”

Sin scowled. “You’re dodging the point. Harrison, I’m not sure what to think of you right now. But I’ll go, because Lisana’s my friend, and Light knows she probably needs me.”

He picked up the sword, the pack and the clothes. He trudged to his room and dumped the things for his journey on his bed. He found Chifumi curled up under his pillow, hiding from hippogriffs.

“C’mon Fuzzball. I’m going to go practice my swordsmanship. You’re coming with me.” He picked up the monkey-like demon and placed her on his shoulder. Then, he took the sword Harrison had given him and left the sorcerer’s home.

***

Sweat dripped down his back as he hacked at the straw-filled practice dummy. A village child had scribbled a snarling animal-like face on the burlap sack that was it’s face, and Sin cleaved through the coarse material as he finished the set Damin had taught him.

Chifumi shrieked. “Look out behind you!” Sin threw up his blade, but only the diminutive demon was there. The monkey preened. “That’s what I’d say if it was a real fight and there was someone behind you. Like a big scary monster.”

Sin smiled. “I appreciate the thought, Fuzzball.”

Look out behind you!”

“Chifumi, it’s okay. I get it.”

“No, look out behind you!”

This time Sin whirled faster, and his blade caught on a practice broadsword. “Good reflexes, kid,” Kelrick grunted. “You got potential. A lot of it.”

“Where’s Lisana?”

“Not here. I snuck off to see how competent our escort was. Forgive me for looking out for my mistress’s interests when she’s too stubborn to do it herself.” He glanced at the blade Sin held in his hands. “Just be careful with that thing. It’s enchanted steel. It can seriously hurt a demon, and just a touch can kill some of the weaker ones.”

“Hey!” Chifumi shrieked.

“I didn’t name any names, did I? Now come at me. Let’s see if you can match two centuries of experience.”

Sin nodded. “Get ready.”

He brought the sword up diagonally, barely missing Kelrick’s ribs. The demon snarled and blocked with his own blade. Kelrick braced his feet and held the sword diagonally across his body, the wide blade protecting him.

He swung out with the flat, and it caught Sin in the chest, winding him. “Be careful,” Kelrick cautioned as he prepared another strike. “Not everyone we’re going to meet out there has studied Damin’s particular brand of swordplay. There are a lot of styles to learn about. Fortunately for you, between Anjaru and myself, there’s not a lot we don’t know.”

“What about Thalia?” Sin asked through clenched teeth. Kelrick was strong, and the pressure on his blade was intense, like keeping back a landslide.

“She focuses more on her demonic powers,” Kelrick answered, pressing down harder.

“But she must have some skill with weapons,” Sin replied, pushing back. “I mean, she was in the inner circle of the Demon King.”

Kelrick lessened his attack in surprise, and Sin knocked the demon off balance with a shove. They fought in silence for a moment. Kelrick switched from his defensive style to one that involved a lot of darting, trying to slip past the enemy’s guard. Still, Sin used his trained reflexes to parry the blows.

“Harrison told you about that, did he?” the demon finally said.

“Yeah.”

“Lisana doesn’t know yet, so don’t tell her. The knowledge might put her at risk.”

“All right.” They clashed again, and finally Kelrick let up.

“You have a lot of talent. Your father would have been proud.” Kelrick returned his sword to the rack. Then, he shrugged his shoulders. Immediately, the lean, muscular man was replaced by a black rottweiler with red highlights in its fur.

The dog nodded, and trotted off into the fading daylight. Sin motioned to Chifumi, and the two returned to Harrison’s house. A lot of preparations had to be made before he left with Lisana.
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Re: Sin - By Firebrand, Chapter 3, Fantasy

Post  luckynamegame on Fri Mar 09, 2012 10:18 am

Another good chapter. This one had a lot of backstory and explanation, a little more than I could keep up with. Harrison seems to be beating around the bush with Sin, and I was glad for that, giving him a bit of personality.
I also really like the character of Lisana; I was confused too as to why she needed a human bodyguard while she had three demons with her. Anjaru and the others seem more than capable of taking care of her. But Harrison's explanation made sense. It has that feel of 'Chosen One' for Sin that he has to go, and that nobody else can go with Lisana. As well, I was surprised that it was Lisana's destiny that she bring peace between the humans and demons. I've a feeling that Lisana and Sin are going to grow closer together in the future, *nudgenudge* style. Hehe.
Can't wait to read more, keep it up!

--Luck
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Review

Post  Vagrance on Sat Mar 10, 2012 3:37 am

Characters:

Sin (well the story is about him), is again the stand out. Lots of personality came out from action and dialogue.

Harrison: outstanding fatherly figure.

Lisana: much stronger this time round; feels more like an important character now

Chifumi: good comic relief; likeable little monkey

Kelrick: comes across as dark, grim and wise mentor

Plot:

This is a good build up. The details put into the preparation shows gives real gravity to the upcoming journey. The flow is controlled at an even pace.

Writing style:

The details you expand on the magical items is an interesting note. I felt that there was a bit of information dumping going on when Sin was reciting the different types of magic; it's informative, but I thought it somewhat similar to a lecture. Could you arrange a scenario where someone would "show" the said disciplines?

Everyone in the village knew that Harrison had severed all ties with the Castle and Sorcerer Council years ago, but Lisana’s stubborn father refused to accept that Harrison held no political power anymore.

Perhaps you could tell us what those ties are instead; or maybe elaborate as to the kind of things that Harrison is capable of. Something like...

"There wasn't a footman in the Castle that Harrison didn't know. Rumour says that there isn't a quill in the Sorcerer Council that he hasn't touched."

Of course, not asking you to adopt these changes, but would really like to see some anecdotes to show the full extent of Harrison's influence in those institutions.

Lastly, your action scenes are fast-hitting and strong. The flow from one motion to the next is probably the strongest part of your writing. Just one suggestion though...

Kelrick lessened his attack in surprise, and Sin knocked the demon off balance with a shove.
I think "lessened" is unusual, if not awkward. Perhaps you could consider "relented"?

Overall:

Though I may come across as pedantic and petty, I really enjoyed this chapter.

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Re: Sin - By Firebrand, Chapter 3, Fantasy

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