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Luthra's Awakening: Death, Thy Father
Banshee Words and Names
Danem - tribe, group, caste, division
Triakar - Council of three
Mashagar - "Warrior of Darkness
Luthra - "Foe of Light"
Alafra - "Exalted Daughter"
This is the second story in a trilogy of stories that centers around Luthra. To see the first story click here. She is a Banshee elf, who ends up rejecting her people's culture that is fixated on death. She is also a character in my Nanowrimo plans for this year, The King's Bride. I do also apologize for the concept art not being of the finest quality. I am not a good artist.
Lying there on the field of fearful death, I watched as the man in white moved slowly amongst the corpses, which lay scattered about the ground like rotting leaves having fallen from their tree. As I looked on the man, my heart was filled with terror. My soul wished to cling to every last breath, no matter how painful, and I feared that he came now as the avenger of all those whom I had slain. Then his eyes fell upon me, and a kindly smile graced his lips. There in the deep wells of sorrow and regret that were his eyes, I saw something completely foreign to me. I saw compassion.
He is weak, I thought. Was that not after all what I had been taught? Was not compassion weakness? Then, I could not help but laugh at my own stupidity and foolishness. Had I not already realized that the teachings about Death, which I had learned from my people, were lies? Why could their teachings on compassion not be the same? For all I knew, compassion was in truth a strength as death was the enemy of all that lived.
As that thought crossed my mind, the memory of a night long ago came unbidden to my soul. I shuddered at it. On that night, another person had shown me compassion. Why, I wailed within my soul, why am I tormented so here at the end? Why only now, do I see the lies for what they were? Am I to be given no comfort, no peace?
Then a question rose within my heart. Did you ever give comfort or peace to the ones you slaughtered? Did you give Alafra peace?
As those questions crushed me with their unbearable weight, my mind was flooded with images of that night so long ago.
*** *** ***
There were twelve of us. We were veiled and wrapped in thick cloth to hide our skin, made pale by generations spent beneath the earth, from the blazing sun, which had shone down on us all day, but now, as the blessed coolness of night wrapped the earth, we dropped our veils to show our ghostly skin to the heavens, which abhorred us. Turning our eyes to the small village, which lay before us, we wondered why Mashagar had brought us here of all places. Yet none dared question his will for he was as the voice of the gods to us.
Slowly, Mashagar moved down our line. His face was as dead and emotionless as it always was. “Reports have indicated that a knight of The Order of the Silver Sword is in this village,” he began.
All of us looked shocked at this announcement. The Order of the Silver Sword was one of the most famous and terrifying orders of knighthood in all the world. It had one simple task, to hunt down and kill monsters. “Obviously,” Mashagar said, “we cannot allow such a challenge to go unanswered. We will make an example of this village so that all may understand what we do to those who harbor such men. The knight himself shall also die by Banshee hands. This task I assign to Alafra and Luthra as a test to prove their worthiness to stand among our number. Are my instructions clear?”
“Yes, Lord Mashagar,” we all replied at once.
“Then go forth and show no compassion,” Mashagar growled. “Send your foes unto Death, Thy Father.”
With our weapons at the ready, we rushed from the trees and down the long slope towards the village. There were a few men patrolling the border of the village as was often the custom of such places in the lands, which humans called The Wilds, yet they did not expect the Banshee Screamers that now descended on them. We were silent as we moved. The darkness cloaked us. Yet as we hit the border of the village, our voices rose in the undulating scream, which had earned The Screamers their name. It was a cry that struck terror in the hearts of all that heard it for Banshee Screamers left no survivors.
The patrolling guards quickly fell to our blades and spears as we entered the village. The buildings there were made of wood for it was a poor community that could not afford the stone from the human quarries. Grabbing a torch, one of the Screamers hurled it at a building and set it aflame. The fire leaped and danced. People came rushing out. We struck them down. Glancing over at Alafra, I nodded, and we began to move as one towards the village square.
Fires leaped around us as our fellow Screamers continued setting the village aflame. There in the center of the village, as was often the case with these villages, stood an inn that would provide shelter and sustenance to any that traveled The Wilds where Orcs and Banshees made their home.
As we approached it, the door to the inn swung open. A large group of men stepped forth. Most of them wielded crude cudgels or quarterstaffs, but one bore in his hand a gleaming sword. His eyes were fierce, and even though he wore only a simple tunic and no armor, I knew at once that he was the knight.
Glancing once more at Alafra, I saw her smirking. Gone completely was the girl, who had just a year before trembled at the thought of killing an Orc ambassador. Now, she delighted in the bloodshed. “Take the knight, Luthra,” she hissed, “I’ll clear the others out.” Then she snarled and rushed forward. The staff with iron shod ends, which she bore in her hands, began to spin. It struck with wild abandon among those who opposed us. I heard the sickening sound of bones snapping and breaking at its blows.
Raising my sword, I rushed at the knight. Our blades met, and we began to dance with death. The knight moved with deadly grace and precision, but I met him blow for blow. Then with a laughing voice I said, “Look around you, sir knight; these people die because of you.”
The knight made no response to my taunting words, but he redoubled the ferocity of his attacks. His blade struck hard against mine, and then to my horror, my blade snapped. The knight struck at me, and his blade cut into my thigh. As he pulled his blade back, I knew that the killing blow was about to come, but I simply laughed. What did I have to fear after all?
I was a Banshee Screamer. Death was no enemy of mine. Then I saw the sorrow and regret within the knight’s eyes. He had no wish to kill me, and that sorrow and that regret nearly stayed his hand.
The swing of the blade never came. There was a dull thud, and the knight’s body went limp. I saw Alafra standing over him with her staff, and my legs felt weak. I fell to the ground.
“Oh no you don’t,” Alafra snarled as she knelt down next to me. “You aren’t dying here.” She picked me up in her arms and carried me back to the rest of our kind. That decision would cost her her life.
*** *** ***
The man in white approached me slowly, and the kindly smile still graced his lips. Kneeling down beside me, he placed his hand on my wound and shook his head. Then he leaned down and whispered in my ear, “Today is not the day you die Luthra, Screamer of the Banshee. Another purpose has been prepared for you.” Then he scooped me up in his arms, even as I felt myself plunging into darkness, and carried me away from the field of fearful death.
An article that discusses the ideas of compassion, mercy, and love as they are present in fairy tales. Specifically in Disney's Beauty and the Beast.
An article that discusses how the Jedi view on emotion is wrong, especially when you look at their own history.
The first in a series of short stories focusing on mouse, who becomes a knight to an Elvish King.
© 2014 Joseph Ray