Elyria at War Part 8: The Dras

Oh boy... here we are. When I started this little series, it was basically because I had an idea about the Kypiq and there was a lot of salt and vitriol flowing around against them. A sort of challenge to myself; could I make the Kypiq badass?

It sort of grew from there as during my Kypiq story I had an idea for the Brudvir. So Elyria at War was born.

Now I'm at Part 8 and all the tribe write-ups are done. Only took me six months or so. :D

I'll probably write the missing 4 if and when we ever get write ups, but for now, without further ado, I present the 8th and final Elyria at War.

Oh and I used the word animalcules for basically any microscopic creature (bacteria), since that was the word first used to describe creatures of a microscopic nature in the 1700s, the first time they were seen; it's latin for 'small animals'

Elyria at War: The Dras

The bone blade bit into the pustule. A short pop and the angry red protrusion deflated as foul smelling yellow pus bled forth. Saxas crinkled his nose. Throughout the years he still hadn’t gotten used to the smell of pus, that smell of putrefaction. He held the glass jar underneath the leg watching the viscous fluid drip into it.

The patient, a Neran with sun kissed skin and hair, squirmed and struggled against the straps holding him down but they held tight.

“Don’t move so much.” Saxas said off handedly. “We need to drain the boils or they’ll fester, poisoning your skin, liquefying it.” He’d seen it happen all too often, once the flesh went necrotic there was little he or anyone could do but take the leg so a bit of unpleasantness was preferable to a lifetime as a cripple

The mann didn’t stop squirming or moaning but Saxas continued his work, heedless of the patient’s cries. This was for their own good after all.

They all came here. The diseased, the plagued, the rotting and the dying. From far and wide across Elyria they came to seek treatment. Strange as it was to Saxas, they sought out Dras physicians.

Some were exiled and could live nowhere else, infectious and dangerous for the larger population. Those Saxas could understand.

His own people had once been such, seen as vermin, as impurities corrupting the bloodline, something to be purged and so those were made welcome, to be cared for, to spend their final days at peace. For most of those Saxas and his kind could do little but ease the pain.

Then there were the others. The swamps provided a vast cornucopia of toxins and curealls, of harmful and beneficial substances so vast most of it was still unknown. And so many came seeking the swamp's bounty.

Once the final boil had been drained, Saxas put the stopper on the flask he motioned to a young assistant standing in the corner. Oh to be so young again, so innocent, Saxas thought as he handed the flask to the golden eyed young mann.

The flask would be taken to a toxin cultivator to be refined and tested to see what could be done with it. Saxas knew it was an open secret, even to outsiders, the cultivation of toxins, of virulence, that was so typical of the Dras.

Saxas wiped his hands on a cloth and patted the mann’s shoulder who looked at him wide eyed and fearful, skin pale and sweat covered.

“Rest easy, sir.” Saxas said reassuringly in his kindest voice. Bedside manners were only proper. “I have drained away the pus. Now we let the wounds air dry first and then a herbalist will come by to explain the proper application of a curative ointment.”

The Neran only nodded, face still wide eyed. Saxas’ smile deepened, the corners of his eyes wrinkling. He hoped it was reassuring. One could never know with these outsiders.

They all looked at the Dras with horror filled eyes, as if they were death come calling and yet when death actually comes calling in the form of plague and pestilence, it is the drasean doctors and herbalists they turn to.

Saxas turned away from his patient, leaving the mann to rest and regain his strength. The straps would stay in place until the wounds had dried, otherwise who knows what kind of butchery the mann would do to his work. With patients it was always best to have a firm hand.

Saxas walked out of the treatment room and down the corridor. He was greeted with nods of respect and the occasional lip service. Idiots, the lot of them. Just because he was the obverse of the coin did not mean he was any more important than the others. His second in command was waiting by the entrance of the hospital for him.

“Lifegiver.” Has said with a bow. “Good to see you.”

“Oh stop with the whole Lifegiver thing. It’s ridiculous. I’m no more important than anyone else.” Saxas said.

“On the contrary master, you are of the highest importance to us. You are a manifestation of the Queen’s divine will. You and your brother.” Has replied easily.

They’d had this conversation over a dozen times in the last year so Saxas was sure that Has already knew every argument by heart. The younger dras was half a hand shorter than Saxas with pinker skin that showed some mixture in heritage, but his hair was black as midnight, his face was covered in black stubble as well, a sure sign that the young mann hadn’t slept, again.

“What have I told you about coming to me after a night not sleeping?” Saxas said.

“That I shouldn’t, Lifegiver.”

“Stop calling me that.” Saxas replied. “I hear it too often. Everyone and their mothers call me that. Call me Saxas, or Master Saxas or Teacher, none of this Lifegiver nonsense.” Saxas knew he wouldn’t, but it was worth a shot.

“Now, tell me about my appointments and then you should seek rest.”

“Yes… sir?” Has said questioningly. Saxas gave a short nod of encouragement.

“You have an appointment with the Gardener at midday as well as a few more patients afterward. Then there’s a meeting with the Head Cultivator, he wants your advice on a new strain of animalcules he and his have developed. It is supposedly quite remarkable.” Has said rattling it down matter-of-factly. There was no hint of emotion there. The young mann might not be good at taking care of himself but he had a mind like a trap, sharp and deadly, which Saxas made good use of.

After all what use in having a right hand if not to use it?

Saxas reached down to his belt pouch and grabbed a handful of roasted beans. He popped them in his mouth, crunching away merrily.

“Anything else?” He asked, still chewing. He noticed a slight dried measure of pus still on his fingers and wiped them on his tunic.

“There’s your… other appointment.” Has said cautiously.

“Oh right. That appointment.” Saxas said. Was it already that time? Odd, it seemed both shorter and longer since his brother had made an appearance. Still, it was something to look forward to.

Darax slid his black blade along the Janoan raider’s throat. The mann gurgled helplessly, blood soaking his leathers, dyeing them a dark red.

It was a mercy. The substance coating his blade was a worse sentence than death, something the fleeing raiders would notice sooner or later as their blood burned and their eyes, ears and noses would start to bleed.

Even the tiniest scratch was fatal. It had to be.

The Janoa possessed an annoying resistance to most drasean decoctions so only the deadliest was enough to ward off janoan invaders.

Apparently it was a mann made one, cultivated from a particularly virulent strain of hemorrhagic fever. Darax had never been interested in what the toxiners and poisoners did exactly, the only thing he cared about was that it worked.

The Mergoin Captain looked around to see his dark armoured patrol finishing off the remainder of the enemy. Darax grabbed the Janoa’s arms and dragged him a few feet into a hip deep pool. Let the swamp have him. The carcass would give life through rot. Such was the way of things.

It was strange though, strange that a group of raiders could have gotten so far inswamp without being noticed. They sure hadn’t seemed particularly skilled at scouting and raiding. Maybe they were lucky?

Darax didn’t know the answer and didn’t care to know. Janoa didn’t talk to Dras, at least not the raiding kind. Years of violent border conflicts had taught him that much.

They’d rather die with their own tongues bitten off. He and his patrol had been on their way home when the patrol had caught sight of the raiders.

They could have avoided them and alerted the local detachment but Darax had decided it was easier to just contain them now.

“Right lads!” Darax shouted, raising his voice so his twenty mann patrol heard.

“Finish up. Dump the bodies. We’re but a few short miles from home and I don’t want to waste another minute.”

A chorus of agreements greeted him. He and his men had spent the last three months patrolling the borders, so the chance to get home to family and friends was a welcome and warming thought.

Darax sheathed his blade and noticed his all arm wrappings were soaked in blood, the worn black cloth tinged red. Odd, it didn’t hurt but when he unwrapped it he saw a deep gash on the outside of his forearm, still bleeding.

“Tenves!” Darax called out to the patrol’s cutter. “Wrap this up for me, would ya?” He held up the bleeding forearm sending a small spray of droplets flying.

Tenves came up and took out a roll of bandages. “Deathbringer, this needs stitching.” He said after examining the wound. “It will only take a moment.”

Darax waved him off. “No need. We’re only a few hours from home. Just wrap it up. I’ll get my brother to have a look at it later. Give him something to do, eh?”

Tenves smiled nervously. “Sir.” He just replied and started bandaging the wound.

They all knew who his brother was. Head of the Healers as he was the Head of the Mergoin; Lifegiver and Deathbringer they were called.

Twin brothers. One destined to be a warrior, a killer, a taker of life, the other a protector, a healer, a giver of life. At least that’s what the priests had said.

Darax never put much faith in the words of religious figures. He knew the Queen was real and her laws were those of balance. No need to over complicate things by the interpretations and misinterpretations of the Al’tifali priesthood. To him it was simple.

Life gave birth to death which gave birth to new life. So best to just enjoy living as death came for all.

The priests words were the reason why both of them had been locked in to roles they had never chosen. Not that he was complaining, mind. Darax had always thought he would have joined the Mergoin regardless of his birth.

Other Dras had the freedom to choose while he and the others like him, twins, never did. Twins were a sign of the Queen’s favor and as such were meant for great things.

Darax liked to think it was his own skill that had elevated him to his current position but he was under no illusion that his birth had been a contributing factor, the reason he sat at the Host’s right hand and even had the ear of the Palus. His brother on the other hand always balked at his duties.

Saxas was night to Darax’s day. Saxas was disobedient and irreverent, but rationally brilliant and inventive. He held no love for his role, always trying to come up with ways of shirking his duties, of giving them to someone else.

Darax was the obverse in a way. He was obedient to a fault and he prayed daily, yet he knew himself not to be the most maverick of thinkers. He was intuitive rather than logical.

Darax shrugged off these concerns. Never one to overthink he walked over to his patrol.

“Let’s go home, shall we?”

Saxas yawned at the sight of the vast array of sealed containers in front of him.

The Toxin Cultivator’s laboratory looked more like a kitchen than an alchemist’s workplace, with crockery and pans everywhere, different spices and ingredients ranging from soil to hanging animal remains.

Anything and everything that might be required for cultivating the various strains and pathogens in use.

From his days as an apprentice he knew well enough that every culture was different, some were grown on the blood of menn, some on animal blood, some on soil and water, some on spit and feces. It was an art rather than a science, establishing a new culture, and resulted in many more failures than successes.

Saxas stared at the rabbit in its cage. A monstrous beast of the canis variety it looked like it had been drugged and just leaned against the side of the wooden cage.

“Ah Master Healer!” Kirion, the Head Cultivator said as he entered the room. Never one to give undue respect, Kirion was a good deal older than Saxas, skin wrinkled and almost translucent with a head of white black hair. “How good of you to come! Such a pleasure to see you again.”

The mann’s purple eyes twinkled in the dark laboratory as Saxas shook the mann’s hand with surprising strength in the elder’s grip. They then separated, standing within a few feet from each other.

“I’m here because you asked me to come.” Saxas replied.

“Yes, of course. Yes. Right.” The mann was about as un-drasean as it was possible to be, with a big booming voice and a laugh that could fill a room or even a building. He smiled frequently and his facial expressions almost danced.

“So I’ve got something I’ve got to show you. Something remarkable. Something I needed your help on. A new strain. Something particularly nasty.”

“What is it?” Saxas asked.

“A rather virulent animalcula, something we discovered just recently in conjunction with a rather innocuous species of fungi.”

Saxas shrugged. “And? You discover new strains almost daily. Most aren’t particularly useful.”

“Oh this one most assuredly is.” Kirion replied. “Here, let me show you.”

He motioned towards the canis rabbit in its cage. “This specimen was but recently procured and it exhibits a rather violent streak, greater than even its rabid brethren. So we’ve had to keep it sedated for prolonged periods and we cannot keep it as an incubator for further study. But it should suffice for demonstration periods.”

Saxas nodded. He knew this from his apprenticeship. The problem with any kind of toxin was cultivation. Some, like animalcula, the tiny mobile miasma barely visible through a microscope were cultivable in culture, yet others, such as viruses needed a living host, ideally a non-specific host. Canis rabbits for creatures such as cattle and mann for example, used as incubators. Yet other toxins were procured by the harvesting glands or even milking.

Toxin cultivation was a wide area of immeasurable complexity and not something Saxas had ever truly bothered with. He’d only ever needed to learn about the effects of disease and poison and the treatment not the cause or cultivation.

Kirion took a large ceramic jar from a container opened the lid and took out a thin needle. The old mann dipped the needle into the jar and went over to the cage. He opened the top and with a quick surefire motion stabbed the rabbit.

Saxas waited, not expecting much. To be quite frank this was the antithesis of his work and it did not much please him. He knew it was necessary as killing was sometimes necessary but it was still much removed from what he would consider good. The destruction of life.

The canis rabbit’s reaction was almost instantaneous. It shuddered and started convulsing, froth forming at the mouth. The eyes, previously half lidded from sedative, shot open and it started squealing in torment.

Saxas’s hands almost went to his ears, so agonizing was the sound. Pure torment.

The reaction only lasted for half a minute or so, then the creature was lying on its side, its hind legs twitching slightly with post mortem spasms.

“Well… that is certainly something.” Saxas said, not knowing how to reply. A part of him was almost admiring the brutal efficiency with which the rabbit had perished and another wanted to wretch. A strange duality.

“Indeed. The victim perishes almost instantly. From what we can tell it attacks the brain in some manner, though how exactly is a bit of a mystery.” Korion said, ignoring the dead rabbit.

“We assume it is some form of toxin secreted by a pathogen, because we have not encountered a single disease as fast acting anywhere else.”

“Interesting…” Saxas replied noncommittally. “So you developed a fast acting toxin. Congratulations.” He said. “But you still haven’t told me why I’m here.”

Korion nodded, smiling. “Ah yes, now we come to the crux of the matter. We know this culture is particularly toxic in animals, but we do not know if the same applies to menn. So we need to field test it and we need a healer along to perform the autopsies, if any.”

There it was.

The reason Saxas had been called.

He groaned inwardly. Everyone wanted a piece of him, of his people. The Mergoin, the Gardener, the Host and now even the Toxin Cultivators. At the same time his people were responsible for caring for the sick and injured. It was an important source of revenue for the entire duchy, healing, and it was not like healer’s just spout from the ground like swampweed. It took ages to train them up. Especially given that most Dras had never been ill a day in their life, the concept of illness was a hard thing to convey to them, for them to understand.

“Now before you answer.” Korion interjected. “I have already written to the Palus who expects great results from this project. Great results.” Now Saxas knew he couldn’t refuse. Toxin cultivation was of national importance. Without it the safety of the swamps could not be guaranteed and thus every form of progress was of particular interest to the King.

Saxas knew his people weren’t warriors, they were scholars and scientists, farmers and artists. People of the mind, not the body, but the fruits of the mind could destroy the body.

Before he gave a final answer, the door opened and a solemn looking young mann entered the laboratory. A student by the look of him with a plain brown robe and a sour expression on his face.

“Excuse me.” The mann said quietly. “I did not know you were in here masters.”

“What is it?” Korion asked.

“It’s the snakes, sir. They need milking.”

“Well then get to milking them!” Korion replied. He turned to Saxas again, shaking his head. “Students…”

Saxas nodded in solemn agreement. He heard a barrel lid shifting behind him, then a short cry of pain and before he could reply again he saw Korion’s eyes widen.

“No you idiot! Not like that! Put on the glove and carefully grasp the serpent behind its neck. Do you know what you just did? You injected yourself with the most potent venom! All you’ll milk out of that one is the dregs! Get another one!”

Saxas had to chuckle. Most Dras never left the swamps, the harsh light of day and the foul looks they received ensured that much, but it was easy to forget how strange his own people were when it came to the dangers of poison, toxin and disease. He himself sometimes realized that he hadn’t washed his hands after a procedure.

Before was an unforgivable sin, but afterward most of his healers just plain forgot. Familiarity breeds contempt as they say, or just plain forgetfulness.

Saxas watched quietly as Korion harangued his student, chiding him and shouting at the lad. When it was over Korion turned back to him.

“Please excuse me. Now, let me ask again. Would it be possible to get a healer or two to help test out this substance in the field.”

Saxas nodded. “It would. In fact, I’ll do you one better. I shall personally oversee field testing.” He didn’t want to, but it was the perfect excuse to get away from his life of hum drum boil lancing and wound stitching.

Korion’s eyes widened in amazement.

Good, always keep them on their toes.

Darax moved his white game piece, taking one of Saxas’s black pieces off the board.

“Your move.” He said looking at his brother. He had to admit that his brother didn’t look good. Though they were twins, they’d never shared that true twin bond he’d heard of in the outlands.

He could never read his brother’s mind and could only sense when things were amiss but never the cause.

Saxas hand hovered over his game piece, fingers almost touching. Then he withdrew it, put his hand back and withdrew it again.

Decisiveness was not Saxas’s strong suit.

“What’s on your mind, brother?” Darax asked, finally having grown too impatient.

“Nothing.” Saxas replied, hand still hovering.

“I know you brother. Better than most. As only your other half can. I can tell when something is amiss. You only overthink when something is troubling you.”

“Have you ever wondered about destiny, Dar? About what you were truly meant to do?” Saxas had finally withdrawn his hand but still had not moved a game piece.

“Sometimes. I’d like to think I’d be a warrior, born to it or not. Why?”

“Because I keep asking myself ‘Is this truly what I’m meant to do with my life? Is this truly the Queen’s desires?’ And I keep failing to find an answer.” Saxas replied.

“You’ve been asking yourself that question since the first day you entered the healer’s academy; haven’t stopped asking that for a good two decades. What’s so special about today?” Darax asked.

Saxas sighed morosely. He took up a clay cup, swirled it and drank. “I’m overseeing a field trial of a new toxin. Highly lethal. Highly dangerous.”

Ah, there it was. Darax knew why his brother was in a bad mood. Saxas had never been one to see the value in taking a life, even though his brother should know that only death could make way for new life.

Saxas hated the poisons and the viruses, respected them only for what curatives one could sometimes derive from them.

“Here’s the thing brother.” Darax said. “Take a good look at me. What do you see?”

Darax knew they were a study in contrasts. Saxas in his white robe, both his arms in white unlike most Dras, Darax the opposite, clad in a black tunic, black pants, his arms wrapped with black cloth, a testament to their deeply ingrained roles in drasean society.

“I see a male of middling years in excellent physical condition, well defined upper body with short black hair and pale skin. A warrior in my estimation, judging by the calluses and bearing.” Saxas replied matter of factly.

“Yeah, well I am in my prime. I’m as fit as I’ll ever be. I’m strong, I’m smart, I’m deadly. So are most of my patrol. Now believe me when I say, I can’t beat a Janoan pureblood on my best day in strength. Skill is another matter but when the janoan purists come, trying to cleanse us from the earth, when the Neran come with their false smiles and greedy eyes, when the To’Resk come wishing to claim our resources, me and mine would die. The Mergoin are tiny compared to the other warriors out there. We are outnumbered. Always outnumbered.

Our people are not martial by nature, but it’s a harsh world out there brother, a ruthless one. Step outside the borders of the swamp and you’ll find enough blood to fill lake, nay an ocean even.

So what can we do? We few who are willing to pick up blades and shields? Not much, not without help. We need the bounty the Queen provides us, the toxins and poisons, the fruits of fang and slime. When a Mergoin falls in battle, he smiles knowing that each cut he has dealt is death.”

Saxas sighed again. “I know you are right, logically, yet my gut tells me I cannot think that way. It is my duty to preserve life, not to take it.”

“Quite right. That is my job. My work. I give death as you bring life.” Darax replied.

“Oh stop it with that overblown nonsense.” Saxas snorted. “We both know I could have easily been the warrior and you the healer if we’d been born in different order.”

Darax slapped the table softly, the jet and bone game pieces jumping slightly. “Come on, let’s finish this game.”

He didn’t want to talk about this. Darax was a firm believer in the Queen’s foreknowledge.

Saxas nodded and finally took the game piece he’d been hovering over before and moved it.

Darax had an idea then. “Brother, I’ve decided. I’ll join you on your little field test. Next time we hear report of a raiding party, I’ll make sure you join us.”

Best to keep an eye on his self-righteous younger brother. Only the Queen knew what he'd get up to if left alone in the field.

Mud squelched underfoot and flies buzzed in his ear as Saxas walked behind the Mergoin border guards, Darax by his side.

The overgrown trees of green moss and black bark standing starkly against a grey sky that looked like it wanted to start drenching them.

Which was a good thing in Saxas opinion, at least he didn’t need to cover his head. It was nearing winter and the leaves had all but fallen away, leaving behind black spindly arms like dark bones and the air smelled of iron and sulfur, a thick stench, bloodlike and of rotten egg.

Saxas shivered in his long coat. The Mergoin beside him, faces stony most certainly stony and expressionless behind their black shawls showed no signs of cold or fear. Their blades had all been coated in the new culture. This was a risk and they all knew it. A new toxin could very well prove useless on the blood of menn and if it did, then the Mergoin would be forced to rely solely on skill of arms.

The vanguard held up his hand and Saxas felt a hand on his shoulder. He turned to see Darax standing by his side.

“Take cover.” Darax whispered, half pushing half dragging him behind a tree.

The patrol had left behind the covered walkways and wooden roads for the boggy soil and fetid pools to avoid being seen and now Saxas feared he was being dragged into the deeper reaches of the rotting waters.

Instead he was shoved into the hollow of a tree.

“Stay there.” Darax said, holding his hand to his mouth. “We’ll call when we need you.” Then he disappeared from sight.

Saxas held his breath in fear. What was he even doing here? He wasn’t a warrior! He could barely hold a sword without stabbing himself, let alone fight. Sure he was fine with blood, fine with suffering but most certainly not his own, which he feared was about to happen.

Stupid idea, one damned stupid idea. Queen’s Breath! What had he been thinking?

His panic lasted only a few moments as he took a deep breath, his face taking on the same expressionless look the Mergoin had most probably worn. He was fine. He was going to be fine. His brother was there.

Still why had he though it a good idea to go personally? Pride, perhaps. Or a desire for something different. To avoid somehow get rid of his rut, his daily routine which had grown so boring.

In the distance Saxas heard a raven caw, or perhaps it was a crow? He saw a flash of black in the corner of his eye take off into the evening sky.

Silence filled the air, the only sound Saxas could hear was the pumping of his own blood, the sound of his own now calm breath. For the first time in forever, Saxas felt the urge to pray.

Then the air changed.

“Charge!” He heard a voice cry. His brother’s. This cry was echoed by others and then new voices joined the roar, different voices.

Saxas didn’t dare look up from behind his safe haven. Not as blades clashed and cries of pain issued forth. Not as he heard the sounds of death and despair, the sound of people in agony.

It felt like it lasted forever. One continuous howl of pain.

Then it stopped. Just as suddenly as it began the sounds of battle abated and there was only the sound of pain.

Was it over? Had they won? Saxas’ felt his blood rushing through his ears, as if torched by wildfire and a deep icy fear grew in his stomach. Was he about to die next?

Then he heard it.

“Brother we need you! Come quick!” Darax’s voice cut through the sound of his own blood and Saxas found himself responding on pure instinct. Rushing forth from behind the tree towards the site of battle.

A quick glance told him all he needed to know. The Janoa were all dead or dying, spasming on the ground or in tiny pools of water. The Mergoin on the other hand looked to be all hale and hearty. At least until he saw one lying on the ground, the other eleven having formed a half circle around him.

Darax waved him over.

“Spear to the gut.” He said in way of explanation, which Saxas most certainly didn’t need. It looked like the spear had hooked itself under the rim of the mann’s breastplate and been driven deep into the flesh. Saxas surveyed the ruin of flesh and knew it to be hopeless. The wound was jagged and wide, the intestines torn judging by the smell. Those he could still save.

A gut stabbing for a Dras wasn’t fatal. The wound wouldn’t rot and poison his own blood. The problem was the amount of blood. He didn’t need to even feel to know. The abdominal aorta was cut, probably torn to ribbons.

His patient was gurgling blood, trying to speak, to say something. Saxas knew it would be in vain. He was a dead mann breathing.

“He’s dying.” Saxas said.

“I know he’s dying!” Darax said. “Do something about it!”

Saxas nodded. “I need a knife, a sharp one, untainted.” He wouldn't cut a fellow Dras with a tainted knife meant for the invaders.

He didn’t look to see who it was who pressed the knife into his hands but Saxas nodded in thanks and knelt down by the mann.

“The Queen watch over you.” He said, holding the knife to the mann’s throat, caressing his cheek. “You will pass, knowing you bring new life to the home of the Dras. Your body will nourish these waters, your blood feed the beasts of the land, your bones will shield your family.” Saxas whispered it into the mann’s ears and he saw the understanding in those panic filled orbs.

A short nod, at least it looked like it and then Saxas shoved the knife home.

The life left the mann’s eyes quickly, painlessly. It was a mercy.

He looked up to see that the Mergoin had all removed their shawls, stony eyes looking at him with gratitude, respect, even fear.

There was a long silence until Darax finally said. “Well at least we know the toxin works.”

The other Dras chuckled slightly. It wasn’t a good joke but even Saxas managed a short smile.

That night Saxas sat alone on his porch, a warm cup of swampweed tea in his hands.

His brother was the brave one, he thought. The shield that protected the realm. The sword that vanquished those who would threaten and destroy. He rushed into battle, heedless of the personal cost to himself. Heedless of the dangers he faced. Black armored he faced what the outside world threw at their people and beat them down. A protector. A savior.

His own contribution was middling in comparison. He ensured that people did not suffer, he ensured that people could rise up again to fight, to sacrifice their lives for the greater cause of their people.

Darax sat silently next to the corpse. He was sitting vigil for the fallen. One less Mergoin to stand up and stem the tide, one less soldier to fight. It was always something a leader struggled with, always something he struggled with. The loss of a soldier, a friend.

His brother had surprised him this day. In a way he had not anticipated. With steel in his spine.

In a way his brother was the braver one. The one who entered the battlefield armed only with needle and thread, armored only in white robes of healing. He was the one who sewed up the wounded, the one who took care of the pained and the suffering. The one who killed without a moment’s hesitation not his enemies, but his friends, his family.

When the suffering was too great, it was the healer who ended life not the warrior.

Part 1: The Kypiq

Part 2: The Brudvir

Part 3: The Janoa

Part 4: The Neran

Part 5: The Waerd

Part 6: The To'Resk

Part 7: The Hrothi

12/1/2017 11:30:13 PM #1

"The bone blade bit into the pustule. A short pop and the angry red protrusion deflated as foul smelling yellow pus bled forth."

Pure poetry! Another example of the finest writing in this community.

12/2/2017 12:08:51 AM #2

Well done! Another awesome story!

12/6/2017 7:58:19 PM #3

Good one! Too bad the series is somewhat over... So when is the next one starting? :D

12/22/2017 12:01:35 PM #4

Thank you for another great story of Elyrian life. I hope to read more from you, Scy.

12/23/2017 11:46:37 AM #5

You have a great talent in writing this stories. Very GOOOOOD job.