Friday, May 17, 2019

Serialization: "The Arcane Warrior’s Apprentice" by Roberta Downing: Chapter Five

The Arcane Warrior’s Apprentice
Novel by Roberta Downing
Cover artwork designed by Jerry Langdon

Chapter Five

Jotar, Lily, RavenDance, Bell and Cwell sit at the elegant Elven made wooden dining table in Jotar’s home. The only people at the table that are calm seem to be her father, RavenDance and herself. Lily and Cwell are in shock from Bell’s huge bombshell.
Lily begins to argue with her husband telling him that their little girl will go to the bardic academy.
“Enough! Would you have this child be someone she isn’t or to be something she’s not?” Cwell chimed in. “I am as shocked as all of you are. I feel the anguish this beauty has been through concerning this issue and I can see why she has made this difficult decision. She is a Singer. We are a very diverse family with many different races and professions and because she has chosen what path she will follow doesn’t fit in with anyone’s hopes or dreams does not invalidate what she must do. Bell, I feel the loss of you as a follower and I understand. You have my blessing and my love to follow your own path.”
Everyone in the room was silent as the head of the clan decreed that his granddaughter will go to the Arcane Island and train to become an Arcane Warrior. What else was there to say?
Bell repacked her items and placed the bardic gifts she had received for her birthday into separate bags then went to sleep.
She kissed and hugged her parents as RavenDance finished securing her belongings onto the horses.
“Bell? Please just answer one question for us” her mother pleaded. “Why?”
The little red headed girl answered “It is because I love my family too much” and with that she walked out the front door and mounted her horse.
At their first rest stop the Arcane explained the types of Arcanes there are, what they do and the hierarchy to his brand new apprentice over lunch.
“Ok little one, tell me why and don’t tell me the same answer you told your parents. I want to know the real reason” her master said.
Bell told him about the nightmare and how she knew no matter which path she took that it would come to pass and that she would rather be able to hunt that thing down and kill it before it could harm anyone she loved than to just write tragic songs and stories about what will happen.
“I will do anything to protect those I love from harm. Bards sit back and watch, paint, sing and write. I will kill that thing or die trying” she said.
“I must insist on complete honesty, loyalty and obedience. We must trust each other” he went on to tell her that her nightmare was not only prophetic but that a demon, had in fact, been in her room which was the trigger of the vision.
Over the next few weeks Bell begins to learn the arcane language and gets started on basic combat. The language seems to come easier than she had thought as does the combat. Her brother, Clef, who is apprenticed and enlisted with the Katanas, a very talented and unique sect of fighters, tried to teach her some basic combat but it did not go over well. In that moment, she realized she never said goodbye to her brother.
In as much fervor as the little girl watched the Katanas and how they moved; how they walked she did the same with RavenDance. She began to copy his movement.
Spring had now turned to summer and the new apprentice was no longer a fan. It was hot. She consumed more water than she normally would have and complained at every chance to her master. She stopped eating cooked foods because the heat was making her feel ill. The heat wasn’t bothering her master as much. They began traveling at night and sleeping under the shade of the trees during the day. His apprentice started feeling better.
Just as they pull into the imperial city of Draconos and it was very hot. The city guards were passing out to those coming into the gates. Bell looked at the flier and smiled. A circus had come to town. It read “Darklyn’s Macabre Circus. Come one, come all! You’ll just die!”
Apprentice Bell had never been to a circus or seen one despite that she comes from primarily a family of bards.
“Master do you think we could go to this circus?” she asked speaking in arcane. He shook his head no.
“We have business here with the arcane warrior of this domain and we cannot afford to lose any days. Classes will be starting next month and we must make sure you arrive on time.”
They rode to a large estate and were greeted by, of all things a demon. The student had never seen a real demon and she was filled with both fear and excitement. She was fascinated that the demon knew arcane and in fact it spoke it as if it were its native language. They were escorted inside the gates and to the stables.
The arcane priest and courtesan had met them at the stables. The courtesan bows before RavenDance.
“Welcome Warrior RavenDance. My master happily awaits you in the main compound. I shall escort you and your youngling.” The courtesan stated.
“I would like my…youngling to stay with your Arcane Priest and talk with him. This is her first time in meeting other types of Arcanes. Would you mind?” he said.
The priest nodded in agreement and took the young one to the Arcane Temple that was erected on the compound.
The priest was dressed much like her master except that he wore all white. The temple was cool and Bell was quite happy to be out of the sun.
The temple was adorned with portraits of Arcanos Demonos the same as any temple would be decorated with pictures of the deity of which it was dedicated to. She had never seen an image of Arcanos before. As it turns out, he has a duality and it was clearly depicted in the portraits; half demon and half human. From the story her master told her in the beginning the duality made sense.
She felt a peace come over her. It was most welcome. She had been lost ever since she lost her faith as if there was a vast emptiness within her.
The priest bowed before her and waited for her to signal his rising. She was confused. She wondered why anyone would bow to her as she was not really royalty, despite being of the direct blood line of the god of bards. She finally signaled for his rising.
“I’m confused. Why did you bow to me?” she asked.
“You are training to be an arcane warrior and it is the custom to bow to the warrior’s child.” He answered. He wrapped one arm around her. “Come, we have much to talk about you and I.” He led her to the first pew and motioned for her to sit. He would not sit until she had.
“Welcome to the Temple of Arcanos Demonos. Have you been told about who he is?” the priest asked.
Bell remembered her first arcane history lesson and recited it almost word for word to the man.
“That’s right! You have learned the ancient history! Most don’t learn that until they are into their history studies at the arcane academy on the island. You must be quite inquisitive. That’s a good thing” he said.
The priest continued to talk to her about religion and about her own spiritual wellbeing. He was very kind and quite understanding. He didn’t get upset with the mention of another god’s name being spoken in the temple. She admitted that when she made her decision to not go to the bardic academy or be a bard and took off Cwell’s holy symbol that she felt guilty and thought that she betrayed him. She still felt that way. The priest suggested that she try praying to Arcanos Demonos and see what happens.
Bell knelt at the altar and began praying while the priest left her in the temple to conduct some other business.
Within moments Bell was standing in a beautiful oasis that had not only a water fall but lava spilling from a volcano, steam, ice burgs in the middle of the water. Standing with her was the red headed man holding a mandolin which she knew was Cwell and Arcanos Demonos and the spitting image of duality.
“Hello Belly Bell” Cwell spoke as he tapped her head. Bell was in tears.
“Hello there Arcane Warrior Apprentice” Arcanos spoke.
Cwell told his granddaughter that she should not feel guilty for the decision she made or for letting go of a faith and god that could not help her in her new chosen life path and that he still loves her as his granddaughter. He said it was now time for her to find a new faith and fill the void. He disappeared. She was now standing with Arcanos. The two of them spoke for what seemed to be hours.
Then she found herself in a comfortable room and sitting on a bed. She felt better than she had in a long time. She felt at peace and for once the temperature of the room was very comfy. Her master came into the room wearing a sweater.
“Are you feeling better?” he asked.
“Yes I am. No more being lost. No more not feeling loved and finally a comfy room.” She said.
“Arcane Warrior Koriatar and I didn’t know if you would like this room or not. I had to put on a sweater to come in here because for me it’s quite cold. But glad you like it.” He said as he now had some kind of clue as to what type of warrior she is. For the first time since taking on his first apprentice, he reached out to hug her.
“You need to get some rest my dear. We have to go to the imperial court tomorrow evening as we have been invited to a feast for the Emperor’s birthday. The courtesan is working diligently on making you appropriate clothing for you to wear. I hear she is quite the seamstress.”
Bell had the best sleep of her life in that bed. She didn’t want to wake up or leave the room. The courtesan knocked on the door then came in. She helped the youngling bathe and get dressed. She was now wearing the dress attire of an arcane warrior apprentice. Black silks. The courtesan instructed Bell how to put the head dress on.
“I’ve also taken the liberty of making your regular daily wear uniform. Your master has instructed you that you are to wear your uniforms from now on.” With that she laid the daily wear on the chair and left the room. Bell packed the daily wear in her clothing satchel.
She went to the mirror to see how she looked. For a moment she thought no one was ever going to see her face again except for her eyes, nose and mouth and that this is what a Katana must feel like when he or she put on their apprenticeship mask. That feeling passed and she thought she looked lovely in the black silks. This was just another step toward her goals.
That evening after dancing and having her favorite meal which seem to be quite plentiful in Draconos the young apprentice excused herself to go find her master. She was quite tired. She walked out of the feasting hall and into the corridor where she saw a huge pitch black figure standing before her master. She allowed herself to let her master in and through trust also came to love him. Her nightmare was happening before her eyes.
She ran toward her master, she pulled his blade out of its sheath and began to size up the demon by swaying back and forth as if she were stalking the thing. She remembered every little detail she had learned in basic combat. Basic or no, she was not about to let this thing take her master from her.
It laughed and began to do the same with her. The demon was much better at the stalking than she was but that was not going to stop her. Her master moved aside, leaned up against the wall with his arms folded.
“You foul beast! You shall not have him. You will never take those I love away from me. Do you hear me?!” She spoke in arcane knowing full well it would understand her.
They stalked each other and then when she found an opening, she took it. She swung her master’s sword and actually made contact with it. It jumped back and the look on its face became angry which was just fine with her because she was full of anger and rage. The stalking continued and it took a swing at her and somehow she was able to block it. She gave an evil grin.
“Your time has come to an end you foul thing. I shall send you packing to the afterlife” she said matter of factly.
Her mentor stepped between the both of them shouting “HOLD!”
The demon complied yet Bell was out of control from the rage that had over taken her. She continued to attempt to stalk it. RavenDance had to grab her and wrap both arms around her and disarm her.
“Apprentice Bell, may I introduce Arcane Warrior Koriatar, Duke of the Arcane Isle.”
“She’s an icy one you got there my friend. She’s full of rage with a heart as cold as ice. I like her already. Bravo young apprentice.” He said.
He isn’t the one. His voice was as smooth as silk not loud and booming in her ears. No, he wasn’t the one. Then the words of her master finally reached her, this wasn’t a demon he was her master’s friend and an Arcane Warrior.
Breathing heavy from the sparring she apologized for her actions and asked her master what her punishment shall be. Koriatar and RavenDance were laughing and those that were in the corridor watching were applauding for what they thought was a demonstration.
After arriving back at the compound and getting into her room, Bell’s master entered her room. He put his arm around her.
“Bell. Though it is very frowned upon to attack another Arcane Warrior without proper cause, I do understand why this happened. I understand that you thought I was in danger from the demon from your nightmare. I am glad that you have come to love me as I have come to love you as a daughter. I must say, I don’t think I have ever seen a first year apprentice, let alone one that has yet to attend the arcane academy, enter into a combat situation with as much vigor and flawless execution of the basic combat techniques you have learned. I am very proud of you and of course this will go into your permanent record for combat. Just don’t do that again.” He laughed, brushed her hair back and then left the room.

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