Image by Epona Schweer via Flickr
If this is your first visit, you can catch up by going to the first episode of Friday’s Fantasy, then simply follow the links at the bottom of each post to move on to the next episode.
Tirashar woke early as usual, before the days sun had even crested the horizon. She enjoyed the calmness and peace of the early morning, relishing the solitude. She spent the first few moments watching as the sun made it’s presence known. Slowly lighting the Dark Forest, first in shadows and mists, then a fire orange brightness among the low clouds that could be seen through the tree tops. After renewing the fire, so it would warm the others when they woke, she moved farther into the glen where she could concentrate and practice her defensive art in private with clarity and focus.
She started off with an offering to Ohta, the god of warriors, prayed whole heartedly to Senda, goddess of peace. She spent time in deep mediation to help focus the mind and link the body. Tirashar then began her ritual, much like a dance, but with moves designed to improve agility and create a muscle memory response. designing a rhythm in her head, Tirashar moved with grace and purpose. Using her short sword as she had been trained by Qirdan of the Tari-Varda. Selectively adding blocks, parries, and strikes to her choreography she would improvise her practice each day, avoiding a routine or pattern. The forest provided a perfect setting for her practice, with an abundance of obstacles and perches or platforms for her graceful launches and tumbles. Each move having a purpose, adding skill and deception to her strikes and parries. Tirashar practiced with intent, but allowed Otha to guide her strikes, and Senda to dominate her soul and graceful purpose.
Her practices always took her spirit back to her youth, when Quirdan had taken an interest in her. She never knew why, but they had ended up being like siblings, with Quirdan always pushing her to improve. Quirdan was the Second Guard of the Tari-Varda of Shashardan. He had taken a liking to Tirashar at a young age, and begun to train her, against all traditions, to be a warrior. She had never told her mother in those early years. It had caused much friction between her and Rainsilim, her mother. Rainsilim on many occasions had questioned Tirashar in depth trying to figure out where the myriad of bruises that she inevitably received came from. As any mother would want, Rainsilim had hoped to steer Tirashar along the path of a healer as she had been, but could never gains her daughters interest. Tirashar had since regretted not learning her mothers healing art, and paying closer attention to her, but she had followed instead her own path.
While Tirashar was busy with her morning practice, Tabitha had awoken, and followed the slightest noise to where Tirashar was practicing. Tabitha sat at the edge of the trees and watched in wonder as Tirshar moved in such beautiful graceful ways. Realizing the purpose behind Tirashars’ ballet, Tabitha longed to learn, to become a student, and she wanted Tirashar to be the teacher. Tabitha watched in silence and wonder until it was obvious Tirashar was finishing up. Tabitha stealthily made her way back to camp, and started picking things up in preparation for the new day. She found some tea in Tirashars’ bag, and set about boiling water, using bowl made of tree bark, careful not to let the flames get above the water line.
“What is that you were doing?” Tabitha asked as Tirashar came back to the fire. “I have some water coming to a boil if you want some tea.”
“Thank you, that sounds good, I was practicing a form of sword play taught to me by an old friend. He was a guard in the royal protectorate of my home village.”
“It was beautiful, and I could tell the skill required must be hard to achieve. Do you think I would be able to learn it, I would study and practice hard?”
Tirashar looked approvingly at Tabitha. “I could teach you a few things, but we all have to learn to walk before we can run. I think maybe we’ll start with a few basic tactics and weapons after a little while. We need to see what skills you may have a knack for, perhaps your not meant to be a warrior, only time will tell.” Tirashar got up and moved to her pack, digging through it, she came up with a leather strap that seemed to have a wide spot in the center. “There it is, I thought I still had this old sling. Tabitha, I’ll show you how to use this, first we’ll have to look for good rocks, I’ll show you which ones make a good projectile.” With that, she handed Tabitha the sling, then grabbed a cup and filled it with boiling water. Adding a pinch of tea leaves, she stirred them around with her dagger, adding a drop or two of cold water to settle the leaves, she took a drink.
“Umm, what's that I smell?”Darfrain groaned as he sat up, wiping the sleep from his eyes. Looking at Tirashar, Darfrain was struck by the way the morning sun glistened through her hair, making it look aflame with vibrant fire. Noticing the twinkle of moisture across her forehead, he was taken once again by the beauty he saw sitting before him. Catching himself staring, he shook his head, and stretched trying hard to hide his flagrant infatuation.
“Not much of a morning person are you, we have been up for some time now” Tirashar said whimsically. “Time to get moving again sleepy head, we have far to travel do we not.”
“Uh, Um, not too far we made good time last night. We should reach the gates of New Town sometime before the noon sun. I really need to introduce you to Cloemilla, I think she may have been waiting for you to arrive.” Darfrain said with an inquisitive look.
Tirashar raised one eyebrow, and looked at Darfrain with contemplation and wonder. “Why would she be expecting me?”
Darfrain laughed at the glimpse of green fire that sparked in Tirashar’s eyes. “You’ll see when you meet her, I can’t explain it to you in any way that would make sense.” Darfrain got up, and started collecting his things, packing them up and getting ready for the morning ride.
Darfrain joined in the morning chores, packing and readying the horses. Tirashar then set about extinguishing the fire, scattering the rocks from the fire pit, and tossing the spent ashes to the wind. “I give back that which you have given so freely fair Drykar’s. Use it to renew your youth and replenish your spirit.” A farewell prayer if you will, Tirashar was sure to bow to the spirits and gods of the forest, paying her respect.
The trio left the small glen, Darfrain on his majestic white stallion, Tirashar and Tabitha on Moru. Re-entering the trail through Dark Forest they felt as if someone were watching. For some reason though the meanacing feeling was no longer there. THis was more of a comforting protective feeling. In daylight, the forest trail was less intimidating, and held many beauties for the eyes and spirits pleasure. The three rode quietly, enjoying the morning sun shinning through the trees, illuminating the flowers and plants hidden till now. Time passed quickly, and the trail seemingly shortened. Before long, they had emerged from the Dark Forest, and found themselves with in view of New Town.
Castle by *Fallenangel5772 on deviantART
They rode towards the south gate. There was a ruckus from with in, Tirashar spurred Moru on, and raced to to the gate entrance. She arrived just as a group of riders were entering, they were all wearing cloaks of dark brown weave, with full hoods that seemed to hide their faces well. These riders, small in stature and mount, were obviously in a hurry, and headed for the disturbance she saw just inside.
There were castle guards fighting a large group of these small men in brown cloaks. A coach obviously belonging to a person of some importance seed to be at the center of the quarrel. Tirashar saw a woman, a warrior with flame red hair riding a massive black horse enter the fray. She was a blur of action, glints of steel shone as she dealt strike after lethal strike. Tirasahar was impressed with this woman's skill and ability. Letting Tabitha off at the gate, Tirashar rode towards the center of the fight. Seeing the warrior woman was attempting to save what appeared to be a swaddled baby from the clutches of these little hooded men, she spurred Moru on faster.
Riding through the crowd of men, Tirashar drew her short sword from below the saddle where she kept it concealed. She dropped one of the attackers with a hilt strike to the head. Blocking a swipe by another attacker with her dagger, she swung the sword under and through the block, catching the attacker under the arm and across the chest. crimson blood squirting from the wound as he fell to the ground gasping. Tirashar saw more attackers moving toward the red haired warrior. She was struggling with a couple of them trying to get the swaddled baby away from them, while maintaining her attack. Tirashar rode in, vaulting from the horse with acrobatic grace, while preparing her own strike on those trying to take the baby. Landing behind one of the little culprits, Tirshar swung her sword, cutting the blanket corner free and allowing this woman to take the baby in it’s blanket.
“I’ll take care of these, you ride from those” Tirashar said while indicating more riders entering the City gates. The woman’s eyes took on a surprised look, as she glanced at Tirashar. “Tirashar, daughter of Raensalim, at your service, mistress” The warrior swooped up the baby, rendered a salute with her sword, and was off on the massive black horse. Tirashar turned her attention to the task before her. More of the small men entered the fight, both on foot and mounted. seemingly from everywhere. Last she had seen Darfrain, he had been near the gate, launching carefully aimed arrows at the attackers. She lost track of all others when she was surrounded by a seeming horde of men in brown cloaks. A strange emotion entered her thoughts, FEAR, something she was not used to.
It was a wild fight, arrows flying from all directions, blood splattering here and there. Tirashar’s concentration was such that she failed to notice Darfrain and the guards forming ranks and moving to contain the attackers. She continued her fight, intent only on survival, strike after strike, taking little note of the damage she caused. She had entered the blood frenzy Quirdan had warned her of. It was an experience she had never had before, and would frighten her later. At that moment though it focused her mind and her muscles, creating a fighting menace to any who may oppose her.
Tabitha stood near the gate, mouth agape, shocked by the violent carnage she was witnessing. She had seen plenty of death and violence in her life, but nothing quite this brutal. Tirashars aggressive, even berserk attack scared her, she had not expected her to be capable of this level of violence. It seemed to Tabitha that a completely different spirit had entered Tirashar, and was controlling her movements. The grace and beauty was gone, being replaced by a strange and uncomfortable brutality.
Darfrain, while being shocked, understood what happened. He was experienced in battle, and had seen this before. Although he was surprised to see a woman as the source. Two very conflicting thoughts entered his mind. He was going to have to discuss this with Cloemilla, and figure out what it meant.
**To Be Continued**