Excerpt From "The Tales of Ollundra"
The Fall and Redemption of Davaldion
Selina’s heart pounded as she ran through the forest, her arm outstretched as her guardian Damitri guided her through the thick undergrowth.“Quickly,” he hissed, “they are gaining on us.”
His warning rang true as two of their pursuers sprang from the undergrowth, their obsidian blades glowing with a purple fire. Yet for all their cunning their ambush was for nought, as Damitri quickly threw Selina to the ground before drawing his own silvered blade in a swift arc. Such a sense of honed purpose and precision, it caused the attackers to freeze in their steps as the first of Damitri’s assailants’ heads fell from his shoulders and the second could only stare down at the long silvered blade that now protruded from his chest.
Withdrawing his blade Damitri quickly resheathed it as the remaining swordsman fell to the ground. His eyes quickly darted to the surrounding trees before returning to Selina who was staggering back to her feet. “You killed them,” she said her voice shaking. “I am your guardian, we all have a purpose m’lady,” came his stoic response. Their brief respite was quickly broken by the sounds of a large beast in the distance. “Come,” Damitri soothed as he offered his hand. “There are many more behind us.”
As they started to make their way again she whispered to him, “why do they want me so badly?” “Because m’lady, they fear your purpose.”He slowed and turned to face her, a look of confusion on her face. “I promise I will explain everything to you as soon as we’re safe.” He turned from her again and resumed his pace: “If we can make the edge of the forest by daybreak, we have a chance.”
Damitri knew that if he was alone, escaping would be easy. Vastly outnumbered, he was fearful of his charge falling into the hands of the lords that dwelt below the black and twisted forest of Ur.
A swift movement to his left brought his attention back to the situation at hand and he quickly spun on the heel of his boot as a black barbed arrow grazed him across his cheek before striking the tree next to him. He quickly led Selina through the trees to his right and, as he became aware of their pursuers behind them he realised he was being coerced into a specific path until finally he found himself staring at a group of those that were following him the Nightfell marauders.
Damitri’s hand flew to his hilt when a deep voice rang out, a voice that Damitri knew too well. “Enough of this,” the voice thundered as a tall figure steeped into view. The black leather plates of his armour seemed to merge into the darkness of the night, a pair of swords hung comfortably at his waist and his long black hair was tied back giving Damitri a clear view of his face.
Damitri’s eyes were drawn, however, to a figure he was dragging by the throat; from his garb he appeared to be a bowman. “You have done well, son of Decar, but this merry chase must now come to a close.” The figure took a several steps forward dragging the struggling bowman with him. “But first, my apologies about the cheek, it appears that when I say I need them intact and undamaged there seems to be some confusion on this.” The figure suddenly raised the bowman off the ground easily with one hand while gesturing to the bowman with the other: “This is what an intact person looks like.” Without another word he quickly and expertly snapped the bowman’s neck, the noise of which echoed within the now still forest. “And this is what a damaged person looks like. Do I need to demonstrate on someone else or do you all understand now?” The figure waited a moment before taking another step forward: “Good, so now we have that cleared up we can continue” his eyes falling on Selina before settling on Damitri. “Hello Damitri, it’s been a while.”
“Davaldion,” was Damitri’s single response.
After a brief moment passed Davaldion broke the silence again. “Give me the girl and out of respect for the man your father was, you can go.” Without hesitating Damitri took a step forward. “You will not be having her,” his voice defiant as he drew his sword.
Davaldion stood still, a look of dissatisfaction upon his face that quickly changed to one of amusement. “Very well, you may both leave, but on one condition.”The malice in Davaldion’s voice was not lost on Damitri. “And what is your condition?”
Davaldion smiled and drew the sword that hung to his left. “It’s simple really; just beat me in a duel and you can walk free.” With those words Damitri knew that he was truly trapped as before him stood Davaldion Du’Laraine, a swordsman whose skill demanded the respect of even the great elven blade dancers. Yet regardless of this, Selina’s only hope lay with him beating a legend. “Very well,” Damitri replied as he released Selina’s hand. “Fear not, m’lady,” he said as he looked into her frightened eyes, “this is not where my story ends”.
Turning back to his foe Damitri took a defensive stance: “Shall we?” Davaldion smiled.
Selina closed her eyes and prayed, prayed for the man she had despised and hated for doing the task that had been given to him, a task to keep her safe, a task that had now pitted him against an unbeaten foe. She prayed he would win and that she could be safe again.
Selina heard the clash of steel and opened her eyes.
* * *
Damitri stirred within his damp cell as the full realisation of his failure returned to him; for all his skill and training he lacked the ability to beat the likes of a thousand year old swords master. He tried to move and found himself chained to the wall.
“Selina,” he called out desperately as the finality of the situation dawned on him.
“I’m here,” she said from a dark corner of the cell. Unlike Damitri she had been placed within a cell and looked untouched.
“Are you ok?” His voice was dry and his face and ribs hurt. “I’m fine,” she replied “it’s as though they were scared to touch me.” A confused look was plain on her face, though Damitri knew why Davaldion’s men feared her he had to think of a way to use that to help them escape.
A noise from the lock brought their attention to the doorway, and the imposing figure of Davaldion entered the chamber.
“Ah, you’re awake,” his gloating tone fuelling Damitri’s anger at the situation he found himself in. “I would have hated for you to have slept through the sacrifice of something so delicate.”
His words cut Selina deepest and tears quickly formed in her eyes. “Damn you, Davaldion, I will see you die for this!” Damitri roared his anger, blocking out the pain that ran through his body as he strained against his chains.
“Be quiet, half breed,” came Davaldion’s response as he punched Damitri knocking him back against the wall. “You are alive at my bidding and I would be mindful of that fact”
“Which brings me to you.” The cold stare of Davaldion fell upon the trembling girl that sat chained to the wall. “You are an agent of superstition and, if I may say so, a needless waste of my time.” He suddenly flew at her grabbing her, by the throat and lifting her from the ground. “Tell me girl, why is it the powers greater than myself fear you?” “I don’t know,” she sobbed. “Tell me!” he shouted at her, “what power do you have over them?” his grip tightening.
The world darkened for Selina, but as she was about to give up she felt warmth within herself; a glow of hope that seemed to spread across her whole body, a warmth that settled within a single tear that ran down her cheek and landed on Davaldion’s wrist.
Davaldion felt the magic immediately as a white fire burst from his hand, causing him to drop the girl to the ground. The burning pain from the flames intensified as they spread across his body making him cry out in anguish. “What did you do to me, you bitch!” he yelled at her, but Selina was laid unconscious on the ground. His mind was on fire and he staggered out of the chamber into the tunnels beyond.
Damitri looked at Selina still figure and upon seeing her draw breath he relaxed, “so you have final awoken morning star” he mused to himself.Deep below his prison a lone figure staggered the corridors; agony wracking his body as he staggered into an empty chamber where his body collapsed to the floor. Davaldion felt the darkness around him the void of the abyss opening below him as his master called another of its agents home. “And so it’s oblivion” he thought as the blackness engulfed him. Though just as the last of the light had left his vision, a single star of light appeared and with that, Davaldion was gone.
Selina found herself very much alive when she regained consciousness. “Welcome back,” Damitri quipped. “What happened?” she asked. “I don’t know exactly what you did only that you protected yourself,” came Damitri’s solemn reply. “But that’s impossible I don’t know magic,” she said a defiant tone in her voice. “No, you just didn’t know you could use magic,” Damitri sighed. “The fact you have this power is the reason I was given to you as a guardian and why we were heading to see Vermillion.” He shuffled against his chains: “If anything, the fact you are able to manifest anything is a good sign that we may be able to get out of here. I’m just hoping the spectacle you made of Davaldion will buy us enough time to come up with something.
”Davaldion’s body awoke suddenly as he took his first breath in what appeared to have been an age. The realisation of what had come to pass fell upon him: the deaths he had dealt and innocents that he had corrupted. He wished it was only an age-old nightmare from which he had awoken but he knew it was true. A throbbing in his hand drew his attention to a burn scar; within it, a small crystal sat embedded in his hand and as he pulled it free, he remembered the white star and the words it had told him. “The girl,” he whispered as he clambered to his feet and headed back towards the prison chamber.
Damitri watched from a helpless position as two more of the corrupted mercenaries poked and threatened Selina, gingerly tried to unchain her without getting too close. He knew he could try and break free of the chains but would they kill her before he had the chance to stop them?
As they finally removed her chains and Damitri considered making his move, the shadow in the centre of the chamber seemed to shift as it took the form of a single figure; a figure whose two swords rang out in unison, cutting the guards heads from their shoulders; a figure that both Damitri and Selina recognised. “Davaldion?”
“Listen to me carefully,” Davaldion whispered, “they are waiting for her and more will come looking for her soon.” When Damitri went to object Davaldion waved him down. “You have no reason to believe me as mere hours ago I would have seen you all dead” he quickly turned to Selina “but you did something to me that removed his hold over me, for when I awoke I had this.” Slowly Davaldion produced the small crystal from his pocket. “It can’t be,” Damitri said, a look of awe upon his face, “a soul stone; no one has seen one of these for over a hundred years.” “Indeed,” Davaldion replied, turning back to Damitri “and he will know it’s gone, which is why we must get you out of here now.”
“And how do you expect us to trust you, regardless of what you say?”Davaldion paused for a moment. “Look at it this way, you have two options: wait here and die because they will come back for her or take a chance that I am telling the truth and at least have a fighting chance of getting out of here,” his tone now carrying a greater sense of urgency.
“Then I guess we have no choice other than to trust you,” came Damitri’s dejected reply. “No, I guess you don’t,” Davaldion responded as he cut Damitri’s chains and handed him his sword belt. “You will need this; I’m not expecting this to be a walk in the woods.
”Davaldion turned to help to Selina to her feet and as she shifted away from him, he said “I know why you fear me and there is little I can do to change what I did to you, but I can use whatever time I have to make amends for what I have done.” he knelt down before her and showed her the burns on his hands. “The world makes a point of offering second chances sparingly and I do not intend to waste mine, therefore I swear you will see the light of day before this day is through.” It was with his words that Davaldion showed her the crystal and, as he did so it glowed with a perfect bright light. “Even the greatest of mages cannot make a soul stone lie,” he whispered as he offered his hand. “Please m’lady, we need to go.” Selina glanced at Damitri who nodded and she slowly took his hand.
“This way and keep close, they have all been drawn for the sacrificial meeting so for the most part the tunnels should be clear.”With the guidance of Davaldion they were able to quickly move into an outer tunnel where they found themselves moving away from the main concentration of chambers and Damitri began to feel a little more comfortable, even if he still didn’t trust their benefactor.
“Wait here a moment,” Davaldion said suddenly, “I need to slow them down.” He quickly drew one of his swords and cut a support holding a segment of the ceiling in place causing it to collapse, blocking the tunnel behind them.
“How much longer?” Damitri questioned. “An hour if we’re lucky, it depends on how long it will take for them to get through this,” came the reply. “Then we’d better keep moving” Damitri said as he offered Selina his hand.
They had not been traveling long when they heard the sound of movement beyond their makeshift barricade. “We don’t have much time” Again Davaldion cut the supports of the tunnel which collapsed behind them. “There is only one more junction like this before we get to the surface.” As the words left Davaldion’s mouth the tunnels shook as the pursuing minions broke through the first barricade.
They ran, ran as fast as they could, until in the distance they could see the faint glimmer of daylight through the tunnel opening, but behind them they heard the second barricade buckle under the weight of their foes.
“You won’t have time to reach the exit before they are upon us and this barricade won’t hold them long enough,” came the defeated response from Davaldion. “We have to try,” cried Damitri.
Davaldion slowed to a walk: “This is the last of the interchanges,” he said turning to Selina. “M’lady, I wronged you. I said I would make amends and that is something that I still wish to see fulfilled so I give to you two gifts.” Again he produced the crystal soul stone and, taking her hand he placed the stone on her palm. “I give to you the freedom that you returned to me: keep it close and may it always remind you that even those that have strayed the furthest from the path may find it again someday.
”Letting go of her hand he took several steps backwards. “It’s ironic, don’t you think that I would walk the same path of your father so closely,” he laughed at Damitri. “Get her to safety Damitri, get her into the light.”
“You can’t seriously be thinking of staying behind, they will tear you apart.” Selina pleaded. “M’lady I have lived more in the last hour than I have in the last thousand years, which reminds me…”
His sword shone cutting the supporting beam, causing the tunnel to buckle as it began to collapse. “For my second gift I give you the gift of time, the time to get out of here and a moment of reflection for when you need it most, use them wisely.“
“No” she cried, “we can all escape”
“Goodbye m’lady” and with that the tunnel fell between them and he was gone.
Davaldion listened to her muffled cries as Damitri led her away.
“So, this is how it ends” he laughed to himself in the dark.
Drawing his swords he stood there alone in the corridor, closed his eyes and cleared his mind, Using the foul magics that he had mastered over the centuries he listened for the ripples in the air for the shadow walkers; he knew they would be coming first for they would be unseen by most, but not undetected by him.
It was a delicate vibration in the air at first but soon he could feel them coming and just as they were closing in on him, he struck.
His blades spun as a conductor with his baton would as he played through his dark symphony of death, each telling blow revealing the location of the next. It was mere moments that had past but for those who had fallen upon his blades it was an eternity as they fell from the shadow plane back into view, their bodies covering the floor.
“I would suggest the rest of you face me head on,” he called out into the shadows.
And as if the darkness heard him they moved before him until the host of Ragnor stood before him.
“You are a fool to betray us, Davaldion” a heavy set axe-wielding bandit called forth.
“Then please come and punish me,” he retorted.
The bandit was cowed by the challenge and Davaldion laughed.
“What is the meaning of this Davaldion?” a deep voice cried out as the large muscular figure of Ragnor came into view, his large glave held firmly in his hand.
“What can I say, I had a change of heart and decided to work for the other side,” came Davaldion’s flippant response.
Ragnor’s tone grew deadly “You will die slowly for what you have done”
“Will that be from the conversation or do you have something more interesting planned?”“Enough! Kill him!” Ragnor roared.
But enough was the reputation of Davaldrion that none dared step forward to meet his blades.
“You cowards.” Ragnor brought his glave to bear on the nearest bandit, rending him in two. “Kill him.”
“To the death” Davaldion told himself as the bandits and mercenaries charged.
Again the twin blades of Davaldion swung free and the first five of his assailants fell immediately and, though they were quickly replaced, the following fighters were not so sure of their numbers. A sixth fell quickly followed by a seventh and an eighth. Throats were cut, limbs were severed, bodies were impaled and still he carried on.
“I am death incarnate” Davaldion roared as his blades swung round, beheading another target, “is there no one among you up to the task of ending me?
”Ragnor suddenly leapt into the fray his glave spinning in a cruel arc cutting down one of his own men. Davaldion’s blades clashed with the glave and, for the first time Davaldrion found himself being forced to retreat.
But Davaldrion was not so easily defeated. He quickly changed his footing and after weaving past Ragnor’s next blow he moved to his side, striking a quick glancing blow against the giant man’s shoulder, who quickly reversed a sweeping blow behind him. But Davaldion was already moving to attack his intended target and his blades quickly cut through Ragnor’s tendons causing him to fall to his knees.
Leaving him the opportunity he needed to finish his foe, Davldrion moved to finish the fallen Ragnor. But as he did so the very shadows seemed to rise up against him, and Davaldion knew that his time was over, for the darkness looks after his own and Davaldion had turned his back on his previous master.
“You backed the wrong side Davaldion” Ragnor gloated from the floor as tendrils of darkness burst from the shadows, impaling Davaldion and lifting him from the ground.
Blood flew from his mouth as he felt the all familiar cold of the dark entering his body, but Davaldion had one last act of defiance. With the last of his strength he threw his sword at the gloating Ragnor where it impaled him through the mouth.
His defiance, however cost him dearly, and he found himself crashing to the ground as the tendrils moved around his limbs and pulled his body tight.
“You were wrong to side with the light Davaldion” the disembodied voice called, “the followers of light will only find death within this world.”
“On the contrary,” Davaldion grimaced, “I will be waiting at the gates for what’s left of you once she’s finished with you and then we will see what’s waiting for us beyond this world.”
“We shall see,” and with that the tendrils of darkness tore the body of Davaldion apart.
* * *
Damitri finally found himself at the entrance of the tunnel and let out a sigh of relief as he felt the sun on his face. Turning to Selina he smiled, “he really did come through for us”
“I know” she replied.
Unbeknownst to either of them, the soul stone she carried glowed one last time.
The Tales of Ollundra, The Three Vow's, The Tempered Blade and The Chronocles of Ollundra and all associated works are under copyright © Composite Games Limited 2013 - 2014