Vine Wars-The War of ComicVine

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FirstHunter

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#1  Edited By FirstHunter

King SodamYat rode at the head of the small military contingent, dressed in his battle gear, wearing the distinctive burnt-orange armor of the Yats. A tall, stout man, twice as wide as any other, there was little fat on him, with a short, cropped red beard, long hair that was mostly gray, a wide nose, crushed from too many battles, and an even thicker neck, he was a man who feared nothing in life. He was already, having just reached his fiftieth year, famed as the most aggressive and brutal Yat that had lived. It was a reputation he cherished.

SodamYat was a man who had always squeezed life by it's neck for whatever it could give him. And what it would not give him, he would take. In fact, he liked to take, more than to receive; he enjoyed making others miserable, and enjoyed ruling his kingdom with an iron fist. He enjoyed showing no mercy, keeping his soldiers in line with a discipline unlike any Yat had ever wielded. And it worked. His dozen men rode behind him now in perfect order, and none would ever dare speak back to him, or do the smallest thing against his will. That included his son, the prince, who rode close behind him, and a dozen of his best archers, who rode behind his son.

SodamYat and his men had been riding hard all day. They had breached the Eastern Crossing of the Internet early in the morning, and his small armed contingent had continued east, charging without a break through the dusty plains of the Web, on guard for an ambush. They rode and rode, as the sun rose and slipped. Now, finally, covered in dust from the plains, SodamYat spotted the Troll Sea on the horizon.

The galloping of Users filled his ears and now, the smell of the forum air reached him. It was a cool summer afternoon, the clouds long in the sky, casting shades of turquoise and pink on the horizon. SodamYat felt his hair being blown back in the wind, and looked forward to arriving on the shore. It had been years since he had seen the ocean: it was too risky to venture here lightly given that they had to breach the Forum and then ride fifty miles in unprotected territory. Of course, the Yats had their own fleet of ships in the waters, as the Yats had on their side of the Ring—but still, it was always a risky business, being beyond the energy shield of the Canyon. Every now and again the Altpire took out one of their ships, and there was little the Yats could do about it. The Altpire vastly outnumbered them.

But this time, it was different. One Yat ship had been intercepted at sea by the Altpire, and usually, the Empire took the Yats for ransom. SodamYat had never paid a single ransom, something he was proud of, Instead, he always let the Altpire kill his men. He refused to embolden them.

But something had shifted, because this time they had freed his men and sent the ship back with a message: they wanted to meet with SodamYat. SodamYat assumed it could be only about one thing: breaching the Forum. Invading the Vine. And partnering with them to take down the Chews. For years, the Empire had been trying to convince the Yats to allow them to breach the Forum, the energy shield, to let them inside the Vine so that they could conquer and dominate the last remaining territory on the planet. In returned, they promised a sharing of power.

The question burning in SodamYat’s mind was this: what was in it for him? How much would the Altpire be willing to give him? For years, he had turned down their overtures. But now, things were different. The Chews had grown too strong, and SodamYat was beginning to realize that he might not ever achieve his dream of controlling the Ring without foreign help.

As they neared the beach, SodamYat glanced over his shoulder at his son’s new bride, riding with him, his trophy wife from the Chews. How stupid Chew had been to give his daughter away. Had he really thought this would cause peace between them? Did he think SodamYat was that soft, that dumb? Of course, SodamYat had accepted the bride, just as he would accept a herd of sheep. It was always good to have possessions, to have bargaining chips. But that didn’t make him ready for peace. If anything, it emboldened him. It made him want to take over the Chew side of the Vine even more, especially after that wedding, after entering King’s Court and seeing their bounty. SodamYat wanted it all for himself. He burned to have it all for himself.

They rode onto the sand, the horses’ hooves sinking, his weight shifting, as the group of them neared the water’s edge. The cool mist struck SodamYat in the face, and it felt good to be back here, on this shore he hadn’t seen for years. Life had made him too busy as a King, it was on days like this that he resolved to give up all of his duties, to spend more time living again.

Above the waves, in the distance, he could already see the caravan of black Altpire ships, they sailed with a yellow flag, with an emblem of a black shield in its center, two horns protruding from it. The closest was hardly a hundred yards from shore, anchored, clearly awaiting their arrival. Behind it sat two dozen more. SodamYat wondered; was this just a show of strength? Or was the Empire going to ambush them? This was the chance he took. SodamYat hoped it was the former. After all, killing him would do no good: it would not help them breach the Forum, which was what they really wanted. This was why SodamYat only brought a dozen men with him: he figured it would make him seem stronger. Though he did bring a dozen of his best archers, all with poisoned arrows at the ready, in case something should happen.

SodamYat stopped at the water’s edge and his men stopped around him, their horses breathing hard. He dismounted and the others followed, huddled close around him. The Empire must have spotted them, because SodamYat saw a small wooden boat lowered down its side, towards the water, inside it at least a dozen of those savages. They were preparing to come ashore. SodamYat looked at those sails and felt his stomach turn: he hated dealing with these savages, these creatures who he knew would gladly betray him, would gladly breach the Forum and override both sides of the Vine if they could.

SodamYat’s men gathered close around him.

“At any sign of trouble, light your arrows and let them fly. Aim for their necks. They don't have the feats to survive them."

“Yes, sire,” came the chorus of voices.

His son, Tedirey, stood at his side, while his newfound wife, the Chew Woman, next to him, looking nervously at the water. It had been SodamYat’s idea to bring the woman here. He wanted to instill fear in her. He wanted her to know that she was Yat property now, that she relied on them and them solely for her safety. He wanted her to learn that her father and his kingdom were far behind, and that she would never return.

It was working. She stood there, terrified, practically clinging to Tedirey’s side. Tedirey, the stupid son that he was, reveled in it. He didn’t realize the value in any of this. To SodamYat’s disgust, it even looked like he was smitten by the girl.

“What do you think they want from us?” Tedirey asked him, coming up close.

“What else could they want?” SodamYat snapped. “Stupid boy. To open the gates to the Forum.”

“Will you let them? Will you make a deal with them, father?”

SodamYat turned and glared at his boy, sending his wrath through his eyes, until finally his boy looked away.

“I never discuss my thoughts with anyone. You will know my decision when I make it. In the meantime, stand and watch. And learn.”

They all stood there in the thick silence as the Altpire boat neared shore. It was still several minutes away, rowing hard against the waves, which crashed outward, towards the sea, in these strange currents of the Trollbrek. They broke about a hundred yards out, and one had to fight them, to get over them, to make it to shore. It made SodamYat happy he was not rowing: he remembered from his youth what hard work it was, as he watched the boat crest and crash in wave after wave.

Suddenly, SodamYat heard the galloping of a horse. It made no sense. there was supposed to be no one within miles of him, and he was immediately on guard. His men spun, too, and they all drew their swords and bows, as they prepared for an attack. SodamYat had feared this: had it all just been a trap?

But as he watched the horizon, he did not see an army approach; he was confused by what he saw. It was a single horse, galloping over the plains, raising a cloud of dust, and continuing to ride right onto the beach, right for them. The man who rode was one of his: dressed in orange, with the blue stripes of a messenger across his shoulders.

A messenger, racing towards them, in this barren place. He must have followed them all the way from the kingdom. SodamYat wondered, what could be so urgent that his people would send him a messenger here, in this place? It must be significant news.

The messenger rode right up to them and dismounted from his horse while it had barely stopped. He stood there, reeling hard, gasping for air, took several steps toward SodamYat, and kneeled down before him, bowing his head

“My liege, I bring you news from the kingdom,” he said, gasping.

“What is it, then?” SodamYat snapped, impatient, checking back over his shoulder at the Altpire ship, rowing its way closer. Why, now, of all moments, had this messenger had to come? At the moment when he most needed to stand on guard against the Empire?

“Quickly, out with it!” SodamYat yelled.

The messenger stood, breathing hard.

“My liege, Chew has departed."

A surprised gasp erupted from his men—most of all, from SodamYat himself.

“Gone?” he asked, uncomprehending. He had just left him, a king at the height of his power.

“Departed” the messenger replied. “Rode to lands unknown.”

A horrible shriek arose beside him, and SodamYat turned to see the Chew daughter, wailing, flailing her arms hysterically.

“NO!” she screamed. “My father!”

She was shrieking and flailing, and Tedirey tried to stop her, to grab her arms, but she could not be pacified.

“Let me go!” she cried. “I must go back. Right now! I must see him!”

“He’s dead,” Tedirey said to her.

“NO!” she wailed.

SodamYat could not afford to have the Empire see one of their women screaming, out of control. Nor did he want her to give away the news. He had to quiet her.

SodamYat stepped forward and punched the woman across the face, so hard, he knocked her out. She collapsed into Tedirey’s arms and he looked up at his father, horrified.

“What have you done?” Teidrey called out. “She is my bride!” he snapped, indignant.

“She is my property,” SodamYat corrected. He glared at his son long enough, until his son looked away.

SodamYat turned back to the messenger.

“Are you certain he’s gone?”

“Quite certain, sire. Their entire side of the Vine mourns. He is gone."

"Furthermore,” the messenger added, “they have already named a new king. His firstborn son. WillPayton”

WillPayton, SodamYat thought. How perfect. The weakest of the lot, the one who would make the worst king. SodamYat could not have asked for better news.

SodamYat nodded slowly, rubbing his beard, taking it all in. This was opportune news, indeed. Chew, his rival, gone, after all these decades. He could hardly believe it. Gone. He wondered why. But it did not matter.

This changed everything.

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KrleAvenger

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Whaaaa...

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decaf_wizard

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Good.........it begins

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phillip33

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Hahaha this is great

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BLACK3STPANTH3R

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@firsthunter: You write very well actually, it kind of reminds me of Game of Thrones, with a mix of the old Testament King David Story, mixed with Samaurai Jack.

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FirstHunter

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destinyman75

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Mm this is interesting and clever, the anticipation begins well done and well penned as we say or in this case typed...

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EcstaticGrace

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Damn. As hysterical as this is, your writing is honestly superb. I hope your doing more with your writing.

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TheVoidofDeath

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You better be in college picking a writing major, because this quite good by dear.(youve got some talent)

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Hungry_Sharky

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tensor

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Lol

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Cosmic_Lantern

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#14  Edited By Cosmic_Lantern

@firsthunter:My god this is hilarious, and original +1 indeed. Is this on-going? Do you wan't people to continue? or something like that? If you're gonna continue add it to the fan-fic board as well.

@emperorthanos Daily debater short, make it happen.

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deactivated-5a2b0053414c5

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BlueHope

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#16  Edited By BlueHope

wow

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deactivated-5b9a7b52ce5df

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@firsthunter: awesome writing skill you have mate.

they should pin it.

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Ultimate_Knight

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This should be transferred to Fan-Fic section.

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Battle123axe

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This is good.

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FirstHunter

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deactivated-5b9a7b52ce5df

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LpnQ

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#22  Edited By LpnQ

Cringe

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Lvenger

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Nice work, this is some entertaining imagining of the Vine in a feudal/medieval style. I'm curious whether this setting is more inspired by Imperial China or by medieval Europe.

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FirstHunter

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FirstHunter

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#25  Edited By FirstHunter

SodamYat turned back, took several steps towards the sea, and watched the Altpire boat get closer and closer. It crested the waves, and was now hardly thirty yards from shore. SodamYat stepped towards the water and stood there alone, several feet away from the others, hands on his hips, thinking. This news would change his meeting with the Altpire. With Chew Gone, and with that Hillary supporter as king, the Chews would be vulnerable. Now, indeed, would be the perfect time to attack. Now they might not even need the help of the Altpire.

The boat came to shore, and SodamYat stepped back as it reached the sand, his men flanking him. There were at least a dozen Altpire men inside, rowing hard, all savages, all dressed in the bright red loincloths of the Alts. As they all stood, he saw how huge and imposing they were. SodamYat was a huge man himself, but even so, each of these savages was at least a head taller than he, with broad shoulders, muscles rippling on their red skin. They had huge jaws, like an animal, their eyes sat too far apart, and their noses were sunken into their skin in a small triangle. With narrow lips, long fangs, and curled yellow horns coming from their bald heads, SodamYat had to admit to himself that he felt afraid. These were monsters.

Their leader, Loki_D, stood at the rear of the boat, and he was even taller than the others. He was a specimen. Nearly twice as tall as SodamYat, his yellow eyes flashed as he smiled an evil smile, showing rows of sharp teeth. In two strides, he jumped from the boat, and stood there on the shore. He wore a shining necklace, its rope of gold, and on it hanging the shrunken heads of his victums. He reached up and fingered it, and his hands, like the others, ended in three sharp claws.

As he jumped onto the sand, his men jumped out around him, forming a circle with their leader in the middle.

Loki_D. SodamYat had heard stories of this man. He had heard of his cruelty, his barbarism, his Steel Grip over the Entire Altpire, every single province except the Forum. SodamYat had never fully believed the stories of how imposing he was, not until now, as he stood before him. He felt it himself. For the first time in as long as he could remember, he felt in danger, even with his men around him. He regretted calling this meeting. He began to massage his neck

Loki_D stepped forward and brought his arms out wide to his sides, palms up, claws glistening, and smiled a wide smile, more of a snarl, a gurgling sound like a snarl coming from the back of his throat

“Greetings,” he said, his voice impossibly deep. “We send you a gift from the Alts.”

He nodded, and one of his men stepped forward and held out a large, bejeweled chest. It sparkled in the late afternoon sun, and SodamYat looked down at it and wondered.

The attendant pulled back the lid and reached in, and held out the severed head of a user. SodamYat was horrified as he looked down at it, the man looked to be in his thirties eyes wide open in a death stare, with a bushy gray beard, blood and tears still dripping from what was left of his neck. SodamYat stared at it, and wondered. He looked up at Loki_D and tried to seem unaffected.

“Is it a gift?” SodamYat demanded. “Or a threat?”

Loki_D smiled.

“Both,” he answered. “In our kingdom, it is a ritual to give as a gift the severed head of one of your enemies. It is said that if you drink the blood from the neck, while it is still fresh, it will give you the power of many trolls.”

The attendant reached out and SodamYat grabbed the bloody, matted hair of the skull, and held it out. The look of it disgusted him, but he did not want to tip his hand to these savages. He calmly reached back and handed it to one of his people, without looking at it again.

“Thank you,” he said.

Loki_D smiled wider, and SodamYat had the uncanny feeling that he was seeing right through him. He felt off guard.

“Do you know why we have called this meeting?” Loki_D asked.

“I can guess,” SodamYat answered. “You need our help to access the Vine. To cross the Web.”

Loki_D nodded, his eyes twinkling with something like excitement and lust.

“We want this very badly. And we know that you can provide this for us.”

“Why don’t you go to the Chews?" SodamYat asked the question that had been burning on his mind. “Why choose us?”

“They are closed-minded. Unlike you.”

“But why do you think we are different?” SodamYat asked, testing him, wanting to know how much he knew.

“My spies tell us that you and the Chews do not get along. You want control of the Forum. But you know by now that you will never have it. If this is truly what you want, then you need a powerful ally to help you gain it. You will let us into the Vine. And we will help you gain the other half of the Website.”

SodamYat studied him, wondering. Loki_D's eyes were inscrutable, large and yellow and flashing; he had no idea what he was thinking.

“And what’s in it for you?” SodamYat asked.

Loki_D smiled.

“Of course, once our army helps you overtake the Vine, then the Vine will be part of the Altpire. You will be one of our subordinate territories. You will have to answer to me, but you will be free to run it as you wish. I will allow you to rule all of the Vine. You will keep all the spoils for yourself. We both win.”

SodamYat studied him, rubbing his beard.

“But if I gain all the spoils and can rule it as I wish, what do you gain?”

Loki_D smiled.

“The Vine is the only site on this planet that I do not control. And I do not like things that I cannot control.” Suddenly, his smiled turned into a grimace, and SodamYat had a glimpse of his fierceness. “It sets a bad example for the other kingdoms.”

As the waves crashed all around them and the sun dipped lower, SodamYat stood there, thinking. It was the answer he had expected. But he still didn’t have the answer to the question burning most in his mind.

“And how do I know I can trust you?” SodamYat asked.

Loki_D smiled wide.

“You don’t,” he answered.

The honesty of his answer surprised SodamYat, and, ironically, made him trust him even more.

“But we, too, don’t know if we can trust you,” he added. “After all, our armies will be vulnerable inside the Vine. You could seal off the Website once we were inside. You could ambush our men. We must trust each other.”

“But you have far more men than we do,” SodamYat answered.

“But every life is precious,” Loki_D said.

Now SodamYat knew that he was lying. Did he really expect him to believe that? Loki_D had billions of alts at his disposal he could send out with the click of a button, and SodamYat had heard stories of his sacrificing entire armies, millions of men, to gain a small piece of ground, just to make a point. Would he do the same to betray SodamYat? Would he let SodamYat control the Vine, and then, one day, when he wasn’t expecting it, kill him, to?

SodamYat thought it over. Before today, it had been a chance he’d be willing to take, after all, it would enable him to control the Entire Vine, to oust the Chews, and the way SodamYat saw it, he could betray the Altpire first, use their men to conquer the Vine, then re-activate the shield, and kill the Altpire men stuck inside.

But after today, after hearing that Chew was gone, that WillPayton was the new king, SodamYat felt differently. He might not need the Altpire after all. If only he had received this message sooner, before he’d agreed to this meeting. But SodamYat didn’t want to completely reject the Altpire either, they might come in useful, at some later date. He had to stall them, to buy time while he tried his new strategy.

He reached up and stroked his beard, pretending to consider the offer, as the waves crashed all around him and the sky turned red.

“I am grateful for your offer, and I will consider it thoroughly.”

Loki_D suddenly stepped forward, so close that SodamYat could smell his awful breath, as he scowled down. He wondered if he had offended him, and had an impulse to reach down for his sword. But he was too nervous to do so. He felt this man could slice his neck in half if he chose so.

“Don’t think too long,” he seethed, all his humor gone. “I don’t like a man who needs time to think. And my offer will not stand long. If you do not let us in, we will find a way in. And if we find a way in our own, we will crush you. Keep that in mind as you consider the possibilities.”

SodamYat glowered, reddening. No one ever spoke to him this way.

“Is that a threat?” SodamYat asked. He wanted to sound confident, but despite himself, he found his voice shaking.

A deep, throaty sound rippled through Loki_D's chest, then up through his throat. At first SodamYat thought it was a cough—but then he realized it was a laugh.

“I never threaten,” he said down to SodamYat. “You will come to learn that about me very, very well.”

Next part is out (tell me if you want your name removed)

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Super_Sayian_Beyonder

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BruceRogers

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Bravo mate. Bravo

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Lvenger

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This is brilliant, moar please.

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INeedHealing

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Looks good.

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Shepard-Croft

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Not interested in reading bullshit

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BruceRogers

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Shepard-Croft

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#32  Edited By Shepard-Croft

@brucerogers: I guess I should feel bad for not finding this funny. And I didn't read it. I glanced over it, saw it was unfunny nonsense and gave my two cents.

Leave me alone and have a nice life. Toodles.

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BruceRogers

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@mass_fantasy: That's not what I meant and of course you are not obligated to find this funny. But to visit threads for the sole purpose of spreading negative comments because of your own personal bias or whatever is just bad form. Don't like it, don't visit it. It's as simple as that.

But sure, I just wanted to say my piece and I don't want to derail this thread. Buh byee

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FirstHunter

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Not interested in reading bullshit

And you could write better?

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FirstHunter

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#35  Edited By FirstHunter

The boy stood on the highest knoll of the low country in the Western Vine of the Forum, looking north, watching the rising sun. As far as he could see stretched rolling green hills, like camel humps, dipping and rising in a series of valleys and peaks. The crisp orange rays of the Sun lingered in the morning mist, making them sparkle, lending the light a magic that matched the boy’s mood. He rarely woke this early or ventured this far from home and never ascended this high knowing it would incur his father’s wrath. But on this day, he didn’t care. On this day, he disregarded the million rules and chores that had oppressed him for his fourteen years. For this day was different. It was the day his destiny had arrived.

The boy MysticMedivh of the Western Kingdom of the Southern Province, known to all he liked simply as Mystic the youngest of four boys, the least favorite of his father, had stayed awake all night in anticipation of this day. He had tossed and turned, bleary-eyed, waiting, willing, for the first sun to rise. For a day like this arrived only once every several years, and if he missed it, he would be stuck here, in this village, doomed to tend his father’s users the rest of his days. That was a thought he could not bear.

Conscription Day. It was the one day the King’s Army canvassed the provinces, hand-picked volunteers for the King’s Legion. As long as he had lived, Mystic had dreamt of nothing else. For him, life meant one thing: joining The Silver, the king’s elite force of knights, bedecked in the finest armor and the choicest arms anywhere in the two kingdoms. And one could not enter the Silver without first joining the Legion, the company of squires ranging from fourteen to nineteen years of age. And if one was not the son of a noble, or of a famed warrior, there was no other way to join the Legion.

HOF Day was the only exception, that rare event every few years when the Debaters ran low and the Moderator’s men scoured the land in search of new recruits. Everyone knew that few commoners were chosen and that even fewer would actually make the Hall of Fame

Mystic stood there, studying the horizon intently, looking for any sign of motion. The Keyboard Warriors, he knew, would have to take this road, the only road into his village, and he wanted to be the first to spot them. His flock of users protested all around him, rose up in a chorus of annoying grunts, urging him to bring them back down the mountain, where the grazing was choicer. He tried to block out the noise, and the stench. He had to concentrate.

What had made all of this bearable, all these years of tending users, of being his father’s lackey, his older brothers lackey, the one cared for least and burdened most, was the idea that one day he would leave this place. One day, when the Silver came, he would surprise all those who had underestimated him, and be selected. In one swift motion, he would ascend their carriage and say goodbye to all of this.

His father, of course, had never considered him seriously as a candidate for the HOF in fact, he had never considered him as a candidate for anything. Instead, his father devoted his love and attention to Mystic’s three older brothers. The oldest was nineteen and the others but a year behind each other, leaving Mystic a good three years younger than any of them. Perhaps because they were closer in age, or perhaps because they looked alike and looked nothing like Mystic, the three of them stuck together, barely acknowledging Mystic’s existence.

Worse, they were taller and broader and stronger than he, and Mystic, who knew he was not short, nonetheless felt small beside them, felt his muscular legs frail beside their barrels of oak. His father made no move to rectify any of this and in fact seemed to relish it leaving Mystic to attend the users and sharpen weapons, while his brothers were left to train. It was never spoken, but always understood, that Mystic would spend his life in the wings, be forced to watch his brothers achieve great things. His destiny, if his father and brothers had their way, would be to stay here, swallowed by this place, and give his family the support they demanded.

The worst part was how, that Mystic sensed that his brothers, paradoxically, were threatened by him, maybe even hated him. Mystic could see it in their every glance, every gesture. He didn’t understand how, but he aroused something in them, like fear or jealousy. Perhaps it was because he was different from them, didn’t look like them or speak with their mannerism, he didn’t even dress like them, his father reserving the best garments the purple and scarlet robes, the gilded keyboards for his brothers, while Mystic was left wearing the coarsest of rags.

Nonetheless, Mystic made the best of what he had, finding a way to make his clothes fit, tying the frock with a sash around his waist, and, now that summer was here, cutting off the sleeves to allow his toned arms to be caressed by the breezes. These were matched by coarse linen pants, his only pair, and boots made of the poorest leather, laced up his shins. They were hardly the leather of his brothers’ shoes, but he made them work. He wore the typical uniform of a herder.

But he hardly had the typical demeanor: Mystic stood tall and lean, with a proud jaw, noble chin, high cheekbones and gray eyes, looking like a displaced warrior. His straight, brown hair fell back in waves on his head, just past his ears, and behind them, his eyes glistened like a minnow in the light.

Mystic knew that today his brothers would be allowed to sleep in, be given a hearty meal, sent off for the Selection with the finest weapons and his father’s blessing while he would not even be allowed to attend. He had tried to raise the issue with his father once. It had not gone well. His father had summarily ended the conversation, and he had not tried again. It just wasn’t fair.

Mystic was determined to reject the fate his father had planned for him: at the first sign of the royal caravan, he would race back to the house, confront his father, and, like it or not, make himself known to the King’s Men. He would stand for selection with the others. His father could not stop him. He felt a knot in his stomach at the thought of it.

The first sun rose higher, and when the sun began to rise, a mint green, adding a layer of light to the purple sky, Mystic spotted them.

He stood upright, hairs on end, electrified. There, on the horizon, came the faintest outline of a horse-drawn carriage, its wheels kicking dust into the sky. His heart beat faster as another came into view; then another. Even from here the golden carriages gleamed in the suns, like silver-backed fish leaping from the water.

By the time he counted twelve of them, he could wait no longer. Heart pounding in his chest, forgetting his flock for the first time in his life, he turned and stumbled down the hill, determined to stop at nothing until he made himself known.

Mystic barely stopped to catch his breath as he sped down the hills, through the trees, scratched by branches and not caring. He reached a clearing and saw his village spread out below: a sleepy country town, packed with one-story, white clay homes with thatched roofs, there were but several dozen families amongst them. Smoke rose from flame wars, and he knew most were up early, preparing their morning meal. It was an idyllic place, just far enough a full day’s ride from King’s Court to deter passersby. Just another farming village on the edge of the Ring, another cog in the wheel of the Western Vine.

Mystic burst down the final stretch, into the village square, kicking up dirt as he went. Chickens and dogs ran out of his way, and an old woman, squatting outside her home before a cauldron of bubbling water, hissed at him.

“Slow down boy!” she screeched, as he raced passed her, stirring dust into her fire.

But Mystic would not slow not for her, not for anybody. He turned down one side street, then another, twisting and turning the way he knew by heart, until he reached home.

It was a small, nondescript dwelling, like all the others, with its white clay walls and angular, thatched roof. Like most, its single room was divided, his father sleeping on one side, and his three brothers on the other; unlike most, it had a small chicken coop in the back, and it was here that Mystic was exiled to sleep. At first he’d slept with his brothers, but over time they had grown bigger and meaner and more exclusive, and made a show of not leaving him room. Mystic had been hurt, but now he relished his own space, preferring to be away from their presence. It just confirmed for him that he was the exile in his family that he already knew he was.

Mystic ran to his front door and burst through it without stopping.

“Father!” he screamed, gasping for breath. “The Keyboard Warriors! They’re coming!”

His father and three brothers sat, hunched over the breakfast table, already dressed in their finest. At his words they jumped up and darted past him, bumping his shoulders as they ran out of the house, into the road.

Mystic followed them out, and they all stood there, watching the horizon.

“I see no one,” Beacon, the oldest, answered in his deep voice. With the broadest shoulders, hair cropped short like his brothers, brown eyes and thin, disapproving lips, he scowled down at Mystic, as usual.

“Nor do I,” echoed AthiestKnowledge, just a year below Beacon, always taking his side.

“They’re coming!” Mystic shot back. “I swear!”

His father turned to him and grabbed his shoulders sternly.

“And how would you know?” he demanded.

“I saw them.”

“How? From where?”

Mystic hesitated; his father had him. He of course knew that the only place he could have spotted them was from the top of that knoll. Now Mystic was unsure how to respond.

“I…climbed the knoll—”

“With the flock? You know they are not to go that far.”

“But today was different. I had to see.”

His father glowered down.

“Go inside at once and fetch your brothers swords and polish their scabbards, so that they look their best before the king’s men arrive.”

His father, done with him, turned back to his brothers, who all stood in the road, looking out.

“Do you think they’ll choose us?” asked Sophia, the youngest of the three, a full three years ahead of Mystic.

“They’d be foolish not to,” his father said. “They are short on men this year. It has been a slim cropping or else they wouldn’t bother coming. Just stand straight, the three of you, keep your chins up and chest out. Do not look them directly in the eye, but do not look away, either. Be strong and confident. Show no weakness. If you want to be in the Keyboard Warriors, you must act as if you’re already in it.”

“Yes, father,” his three boys answered at once, getting into position.

He turned and glared back at Mystic.

“What are you still doing there?” he asked. “Get inside!”

Mystic stood there, torn. He didn’t want to disobey his father, but he had to speak with him. His heart pounded as he debated. He decided it would be best to obey, to bring the swords, and then confront his father. Disobeying outright wouldn’t help.

Mystic raced into the house, out though the back and to the weapons shed. He spotted his brothers three swords, objects of beauty all of them, crowned with the finest silver hilts, precious gifts his father had toiled for for years. He grabbed all three, surprised as always at their weight, and ran back through the house with them.

He sprinted to his brothers, handed each their sword, then turned to his father.

“What, no polish?” Beacon said.

His father turned to him disapprovingly, but before he could say anything, Mystic spoke up.

“Father, please. I need to speak with you!”

“I told you to polish....”

“Please, father!”

His father glared back, debating. He must have seen the seriousness on Mystic’s face, because finally, he said: “Well?”

“I want to be considered. With the others. For the Legion.”

His brothers laughter rose up behind him, making his face burn red.

But his father did not laugh; on the contrary, his scowl deepened.

“Do you?” he asked.

Mystc nodded back vigorously.

“I’m fourteen. I’m eligible.”

“The cutoff is fourteen,” Beacon said disparagingly, over his shoulder. “If they took you, you’d be the youngest. Do you think they’d choose you over someone like me, five years your elder?”

“You are insolent,” Atheist said. “You always have been.”

Mystic turned to them. “I’m not asking you,” he said.

He turned back to his father, who still frowned.

“Father, please,” he said. “Allow me a chance. That’s all I ask. I know I’m young, but I will prove myself, over time.”

His father shook his head.

“You’re not a soldier, boy. You’re not like your brothers. You’re a herder. Your life is here. With me. You will do your duties and do them well. One should not dream too high. Embrace your life, and learn to love it.”

Mystic felt his heart breaking, as he saw his life collapsing before his eyes.

No, he thought. This can’t be.

“But father....”

“Silence!” he screamed, so shrill it cut the air. “Enough with you. Here they come. Get out of the way, and best mind your manners while they’re here.”

His father stepped up and with one hand pushed Mystic to the side, as if he were an object he’d rather not see. His beefy palm stung Mystic’s chest.

A great rumbling arose, and townsfolk poured out from their homes, lining the streets. A growing cloud of dust heralded the caravan, and moments later they burst in, a dozen horse-drawn carriages, with a noise like a great thunder.

They came into town like a sudden army, and their caravan came to a halt close to Mystic’s home. Their horses stood there, prancing, snorting. It took too long for the cloud of dust to settle, and Mystic anxiously tried to steal a peek of their armor, their weaponry. He had never been this close to the Keyboard Warriors before, and his heart thumped.

The soldier on the lead horse dismounted his stallion. Here he was, a real, actual member of the Keyboard Warriors, covered in shiny ring mail, a long sword on his belt. He looked to be in his 20s, a real man, stubble on his face, scars on his cheek, and a nose crooked from battle. He was the most substantial man Mystic had ever seen, twice as wide as the others, with a countenance that said he was in charge.

The soldier jumped down onto the dirt road, his spurs jingling as he approached the lineup of boys.

All up and down the village stood dozens of boys, at attention, hoping. Joining The Keyboard Warriors meant a life of honor, of debate, of renown, of glory along with land, title, and riches. It meant the best bride, the choicest discussion, a life of glory. It meant honor for your family, and entering the Legion was the first step.

Mystic studied the large, golden carriages, and knew they could only hold so many recruits. It was a large kingdom, and they had many towns to visit. He gulped, realizing his chances were even more remote than he thought. He would have to beat out all these other boys many of them substantial fighters along with his own three brothers. He had a sinking feeling.

Mystic could hardly breathe as he watched the soldier pace in the silence, surveying the rows of hopefuls. He began on the far side of the street, then slowly circled. Mystic knew all of the other boys, of course. Some of them he knew secretly did not want to be picked, even though their families wanted to send them off. They were afraid; they would make poor soldiers.

Mystic burned with indignity. He felt he deserved to be picked, as much as any of them. Just because his brothers were older and bigger and stronger, didn’t mean he shouldn’t have a right to stand and be chosen. He burned with hatred for his father, and nearly burst out of his skin as the soldier approached.

The soldier stopped, for the first time, before his brothers. He looked them up and down, and seemed impressed. He reached out, grabbed one of their scabbards and yanked it, as if to test how firm it was.

He broke into a smile.

“You haven’t yet used your sword in battle, have you?” he asked Beacon.

Mystic saw Beacon nervous for the first time in his life. He swallowed.

“No, my liege. But I’ve used it many times in practice, and I hope to...”

“In practice!”

The soldier roared in laughter and turned to the other soldiers, who joined in, laughing in Beacon’s face.

Beacon turned bright red. It was the first time Mystic had ever seen Beacon embarrassed usually, it was Beacon embarrassing others.

“Well then I shall certainly tell our enemies to fear you—you who wields your sword in practice!”

The crowd of soldiers laughed again.

The soldier then turned to his other brothers.

“Three boys from the same stock,” he said, rubbing the stubble on his chin. “That can be useful. You’re all a good size. Untested, though. You’ll need much training if you are to make the cut.”

He paused.

“I suppose we can find room.”

He nodded towards the rear wagon.

“Get in, and be quick of it. Before I change my mind.”

Mystic’s three brothers sprinted for the carriage, beaming. Mystic noticed his father beaming, too.

But he was crestfallen as he watched them go.

The soldier turned and moved on to the next home. Mystic could stand it no longer.

“Sire!” Mystic yelled out.

His father turned and glared at him, but Mystic no longer cared.

The soldier stopped, his back to him, and slowly turned.

Mystic took two steps forward, his heart beating, and stuck out his chest as far as he could.

“You haven’t considered me, sire,” he said.

The soldier, startled, looked Mystic up and down as if he were a joke.

“Haven’t I?” he asked, and burst into laughter.

His men burst into laughter, too. But Mystic didn’t care. This was his moment. It was now or never.

“I want to join the HOF!” Mystic said.

The soldier turned and stepped towards Mystic.

“Do you now?”

He looked amused.

“And have you even reached your fourteenth year?”

“I did, sire. Two weeks ago.”

“Two weeks ago!”

The soldier shrieked with laughter, as did the men behind them.

“In that case, our enemies shall surely quiver at the sight of you.”

Mystic felt himself burning with indignity. He had to do something. He couldn’t let it end like this. The Debater turned his back to walk away but Mystic could not allow it.

Mystic stepped forward and screamed: “Sire! You are making a mistake!”

A horrified gasp spread through the crowd, as the soldier stopped and slowly turned.

Now, he was scowling.

“Stupid boy,” his father said, grabbing Mystic by his shoulder, “go back inside!”

“I shall not!” Mystic yelled, shaking off his father’s grip.

The soldier stepped towards Mystic, and his father backed away.

“Do you know the punishment for insulting the Keyboard Warriors?” the soldier snapped.

Mystic’s heart pounded, but he knew he could not back down.

“Please forgive him, sire,” his father said. “He’s a young child and—”

“I’m not speaking to you,” the soldier said. With a withering look, he forced his father to look away.

He turned back to Mystic.

“Answer me!” he said.

Mystic swallowed, unable to speak. This was not how he saw it going in his head.

“To insult the Keyboard Warriors is to insult Chew himself,” Mystic said meekly, reciting what he’d learned from memory.

“Yes,” the soldier said. “Which means I can give you forty stompings if I choose.”

“I mean no insult, sire,” Mystic said. “I just want to be picked. Please. I’ve dreamt of this my entire life. Please. Let me join you.”

The soldier stood there, and slowly, his expression softened. After a long while, he shook his head.

“You’re young, boy. You have a proud heart. But you’re not ready. Come back to us when you are weaned.”

With that, he turned and stormed off, barely glancing at the other boys. He quickly mounted his horse.

Mystic stood there, crestfallen, and watched as the caravan broke into action; as quickly as they’d arrived, they were gone.

The last thing Mystic saw was his brothers, sitting in the back of the last carriage, looking out at him, disapproving, mocking. They were being carted away before his eyes, away from here, into a better life.

Inside, Mystic felt like dying.

As the excitement faded all around him, villagers slinked back into their homes.

“Do you realize how stupid you were, foolish boy?” Mystic’s father snapped, grabbing his shoulders. “Do you realize you could have ruined your brothers’ chances?”

Mystic brushed his father’s hands off of him roughly, and his father reached back and backhanded him across the face.

Mystic felt the sting of it, and he glared back at his father. A part of him, for the first time, wanted to hit his father back. But he held himself.

“Go get my users and bring them back. Now! And when you return, don’t expect a meal from me. You will miss your meal tonight, and think about what you’ve done.”

“Maybe I shall not come back at all!” Mystic yelled, as he turned and stormed off, away from his home, towards the hills.

“Mystic!” his father screamed, as villagers stopped and watched.

Mystic broke into a trot, then a run, wanting to get as far away from this place as possible. As he ran, he barely noticed he was crying, tears flooding his face, as every dream he’d ever had was crushed.

He Immediately spotted a wheel barrel of supplies, heading straight for King's Court. This was his only chance.

Next part is out (tell me if you want your name removed)

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INeedHealing

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#36  Edited By INeedHealing

Add me. This ain't bad.

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destinyman75

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I'm in for sure curious indeed. Well written again...

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BruceRogers

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Add me too

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lettsplay10

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Add Life

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cptstormsword

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Not interested in reading bullshit

the why comment broseph?

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deactivated-097092725

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I don't know how I got here or what I just read, but I do know I enjoyed it. How entertainingly peculiar!

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decaf_wizard

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FirstHunter

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Ganstaz003

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FirstHunter

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comic_fan123

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hmmmm interesting

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Eternal_Knight

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@firsthunter: I don´t want to be a dick but you pratically stole my ideas.

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FirstHunter

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