The Claw And The Blade

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    Sara
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    Name : Sara
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    The Claw And The Blade

    Post by Sara on Sun Feb 22, 2009 1:54 pm

    ((Mkay, this is the prologue to a story I wrote a few months back. It's still being worked on, but Ch1 and Ch2 are still in 'fragment' stage. If enough people like this, I might actually finish them. lol This is rather violent, because the prologue's a battle, and it's longish. You've been warned. lol))

    High above the earth, in the shadow of the highest peak of the Tangaro Mountains, a battle raged. The white ice and snow was soaked with crimson, and streams of blood trickled down the peak. The bodies of slain tigers and humans alike were strewn across the bloodied snow, some unconscious, but mostly they were dead. The sound of roars and cries of pain and of triumph rang through the air. Orders were shouted as the two sides moved against each other, each individual's eyes burning.

    Saejo watched the slaughter before him between Lady Amarantha's army and one of his own battalions, under the command of one of two tiger twins that had been appointed generals under his command. They were brother and sister, fraternal twins, but they thought alike and their minds were as sharp as their claws and their teeth. Their names were Yin-Xiang, the female, and Tai-Ling, the male. They led combined forces of humans and tigers as Saejo himself did. One other general was a human, whose name was Canthalion. It was he who would finish off their army's attack in an attempt to circle and surround Amarantha's ambitious main force and trap them within their bounds, so they would have to fight their way out of the ring of tigers and armor-clad humans while Saejo drove the main forces deep into Amarantha's. Amarantha, thought Saejo, had underestimated his army far too much. She was outnumbered greatly, unless she had some hidden reinforcement. Even in that case, Saejo was sure that he and the rest of his tiger army, with the help of several hundred humans, could put up a fair fight. It was this battle he hoped would end the war that had left a trail of blood through the past decade and had taken countless lives, tearing many families apart.

    Within the next few hours, the other battalions under Saejo's generals' command had made progress. Canthalion's soldiers were beginning to surround Amarantha's forces while Tai-Ling and Yin-Xiang swooped down and attacked them from behind. A torrent of blood rained down upon the snow the moment they engulfed each other and became a kaotic whirlwind of teeth and claws, and daggers and swords. Saejo led his army of tigers and the few straggling humans who they had taken as prisoners or had willingly joined the tigers' cause into the tumult, his sparkling blue eyes shimmering with the intense bittersweet energy that war gave him. His gilded onyx armor, strong to the point of being nearly unbreakable, catching the sun's dull, overcast light. His ebony-black claws were so sharp they could have split a blade of grass on contact, and his glittering white teeth were barred in a threatening snarl, directed at the head of the opposing side's army.

    Like a twisted embodiment of regality, Lady Amarantha rode high on her gilded black chariot, which was pulled by two enormous jackals with snarling mouths. There was no blood spattered upon her alabaster skin, but her cruel, double-bladed scythe-staff weapon, one of which Saejo did not recognize, was stained and dripping with crimson. Her hair was dark, nearly black, but it had a mysterious shine to it in the hue of a noxious green. Amarantha wore a green dress of silk, as well as a white cloak from the fur of at least three albino tigers, a race of tiger that had long since gone extinct. Her flashing emerald eyes gazed balefully at the figure on the horizon she knew was Saejo, full of cruel intelligence and bloodlust.

    Saejo roared a command to the battalion of soldiers he led, both human and tiger alike, and they charged forward. Amarantha was more cautious, but, realizing that she had waited a second too long, also shouted an order to her men and women, as well as her jackals, who pulled her forward with amazing speed that the two dogs, even for their size and brutality and clear visible strength, could never have hoped to accomplish under normal circumstances. But this was war, and normal circumstances just didn't cut it here, though Saejo, as he lunged toward a soldier with a drawn sword, raking his claws across the man's chest and killing him instantly.

    He fought his way through men, women and jackals alike. None were formidable opponents to him, for they were just common warriors, and people who had been forced into the battle against their will. His real goal was to kill those in his way, while keeping an eye on his own battalion of soldiers as well as others under the command of his generals, until he reached Amarantha. If Saejo was successful in driving her off, severely wounding her, or, if fate smiled upon him, killed her, the worst of his worries were over. Most of Amarantha's army would be taken as prisoners, for without her, they were defenseless. But she would not be easy to defeat, Saejo knew. In fact, the truth was far the opposite. It would require an extremely bizarre stroke of luck to wound her, and to kill her would be a remarkable feat. Still, his confidence did not leave him. She was not far off now; he could see her a few hundred feet from where he stood. It would require a bit more effort to force his way through her guards to reach her, though, as Amarantha's guards were her personally trained warriors, both humans and the same, strange breed of giant, muscular jackal-beasts that pulled her chariot.

    Although the jackals were large, they did not defend themselves well. They were masters of offensive attacks, and had teeth so sharp they had no need of weapons. But Saejo, with his stealth and feline agility, even for a cat his size, was able to outsmart them by taking them from behind and jumping on their muscled backs where their dagger-teeth and claws could not reach. They fell, howling and writhing in pain and bleeding excessively from the deep wounds on their backs. At last, Saejo confronted the last jackal in his way, a large male, perhaps the largest of them all, with piercing golden eyes and a saw-toothed snarl.

    The jackal howled toward the sky like a bloodthirsty wolf to the accompaniment of Saejo's earthshaking roar. Saejo lunged at the titanic dog, and managed to slash the beast's thigh with one of his claws, tearing the muscle beneath. Enraged, the jackal snapped his jaws at Saejo, his ears pinned back against his skull, and his eyes went wild with rage.

    Saejo growled deeply in his throat. "Wretched carrion-eater. Your raging tantrums shall cost you your life, as they have been the undoing of your comrades, most of which my armies and I have slain. You're a traitor, and a fool to think Amarantha would grant your wishes and free your race from their slavery to her after this war has ended."

    "Do not speak to me like that, you striped fur ball! And do not speak of my mistress with such disrespect! Your confidence shall be your end, tiger. She will kill you and your army of rebels in the end."

    "You are merely insulting your own race if you are claiming that half a dozen of them were killed by a striped fur ball. Now, stand aside! Your mistress and I have a battle we must fight, and I cannot stand around all day—" Saejo sensed a soldier behind him with a raised weapon, whipped around and knocked a dagger out of a man's hand with a swipe of his left paw, his claws slashing through the man's armor and knocking him to the ground, where his head crashed hard against a block of ice buried beneath the bloodied snow, rendering him unconscious, "—aimlessly taking the lives of the simpletons your great and powerful mistress has put against my army—especially mindless bloodthirsty bone-snappers like you—"

    At this, the jackal threw his head back and howled in a bloodcurdling pitch. He snapped at Saejo, taking advantage of his larger size and the fact that Saejo was not behind him and could not kill him easily from where he was. Saejo growled and snapped at the jackal’s neck as one of the dog's fangs stabbed through Saejo's armored thigh and tore the muscle. His sharp teeth buried themselves in jackal flesh, but he did not attempt to kill the jackal by biting his neck, for he knew this would give the jackal time to swipe a few blows at him. Instead, as the beast yowled in pain and tried to shake Saejo off, the tiger dug all of his claws deep into the jackal and began to climb up his neck and onto his back, tearing, biting, and slashing the jackal with armored claws and gleaming teeth. The jackal, without armor to protect him, was helpless against Saejo, and soon collapsed after various attempts to shake the determined tiger off his back. Saejo roared in triumph as the last guard jackal fell to his claws and teeth, the sea of battle raging around him.

    Then, from somewhere in the torrent, Amarantha screamed, "Jazul!" as she stabbed a soldier through the heart while gazing at the body of her best jackal guard. As she looked at Saejo's white striped form in his shimmering black armor, her gaze turned hot and cold, furious and treacherous, and she leapt off the chariot, stabbing three more soldiers with her double-bladed staff as she twirled it in the air. She raced toward Saejo and her fallen jackal guard, all those who confronted her cut down within seconds. Saejo watched her approach, his blue eyes flashing with hatred. One man had been wise enough to flee from her and had escaped her even after she had snapped his sword and broken one of his arms and one of his legs. Still, she pursued him, determined to kill the coward who had fled her presence.

    Finally, when she was just meters from Saejo, she caught up with the man and knocked him to the ground once more. He begged her not to kill him, for what good was murdering a disarmed and broken man? But she twirled her staff over her head, and brought it down upon him, impaling him through the chest. He screamed in pain, his face ashen, his face contorted from the torture she made him endure. She yanked her staff out of him, leaving him there to die a long, slow death. Saejo roared as she neared him, and charged forward. The man who Amarantha had impaled called out to him, "Please, my lord, end my life. Please...do not let me suffer here..."

    Saejo stopped, wheeled around, and leaned over the man. "I shall grant your wish. I promise you that one day, all those who died like you will be avenged." He closed his jaws around his neck, and broke it, in one swift, painless motion, killing him instantly and ending his awful suffering. I will not lose another to such cruelty, he thought, glaring balefully at the advancing figure of Amarantha. He abandoned the soldier's body, and resumed his charge toward her.
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    Sara
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    Name : Sara
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    Joined : 2009-02-14

    Re: The Claw And The Blade

    Post by Sara on Sun Feb 22, 2009 1:55 pm

    They stopped, a space of about twelve feet separating tooth and claw from the cruelty of Amarantha's staff. Saejo roared, his ears pinned back and lightning in his deep blue eyes. No one else seemed to exist but them. To them, the battle was frozen in time. It felt to Saejo as though all his soldiers, as well as Amarantha's, had been killed, and the battle could only be settled now between the two of them. One of them, he thought, would be killed that afternoon. And that, he thought would be that. Whoever walked away alive had won this war, this war that had lasted over five years and was still raging through the land. A war between poison and its bane, between darkness and light. Saejo suddenly felt the weight of responsibility fall upon his shoulders. If he lost, Amarantha was free to move from her citadel in the Arados Mountains and destroy the cities below, leaving a trail of blood behind her. She is a crazed maverick, thought Saejo coldly as they stared into each other's eyes, deep sapphire blue meeting envious, cold emerald. She's been consumed by envy and revenge, and she thinks of nothing else. It has made her wealthy and powerful beyond belief, but she lacks love for a single being on this earth, which makes her cause pointless and vain. She would kill just because she can. And she has.

    "Finally, Saejo," Amarantha said, in a hissing, low tone that emanated nothing but pure evil. "We meet. It has been a most pleasant war between us, has it not? To see the blood of mine enemies run like crimson veins through the frozen ice and snow, to feel them fall before me, just as you shall...it gives me a certain energy, an energy that I cannot explain..." Her emerald eyes flashed with rage, and Saejo thought for a moment he saw them turn from their frightening green to a haunted, lifeless black. "I should hate for it to end today, here, now, but it must. I can live in the past no longer, Saejo. Tonight, you will die, and my conquest will continue. I shall have revenge upon my ancestors, and avenge the death of my last jackel, Jazul, whom you have destroyed, and you shall not divert me." Saejo knew she had called a duel to be held between them. As her words spilled out of her mouth, the fighting around them stopped. Men and women stood with their swords and spears stuck into the ground, leaning against them. Tigers stood with their armored claws dug into the snow, and everyone who could see Saejo and Amarantha gazed at them eagerly as the sounds of clashing blades and snapping jaws and screams of pain and agony died into the late afternoon silence.

    The wind caught Amarantha's hair, blowing it across her face. Her deep green eyes flickered, as though lightning were playing over her hatred-infused irises. She had abandoned her tiger-fur cloak in her chariot as a serpent would shed its skin. Her green dress swept around her feet and her long, cascading sleeves caught the breeze and lifted into the air. Without a helm, her face was visible. Her thin eyebrows were arched in mockery and her pale lips were pressed together, exhibiting her smug confidence. The amulet she wore around her neck, in the shape of an ebony sun, glinted even in the overcast, its surface reflecting shards of light onto the snow. She appeared at first to be an unarmored woman with no defences whatsoever, her only weapon being her dual-bladed staff. But Saejo knew that her entire form had grown strong and unbreakable, strengthened by fibers of hate and evil. She would be difficult, almost impossible, to kill.

    "Hold your serpent's tongue, Amarantha," growled Saejo. "We shall see about that." He roared so loudly that the earth seemed to rumble beneath him. His fur bristled beneath his armor, his hackles raised and his ears pinned back. His mouth twisted into a ferocious snarl as he growled a challenge through his dagger-like teeth. His breath misted in the air like smoke rising from a dragon's nostrils. Yet Amarantha did not attack him. She stood watching him, observing his movements before she made any of her own.

    "Come now," goaded Saejo. "Surely, you can keep a promise to me, can you not?"

    "I have broken many oaths in the past, Saejo, but I shall kill you tonight, and take leadership over all who oppose me. My rule will extend from the mountains to the sea, pity you will not be there to see it."

    Suddenly, Saejo leapt at her, claws extended, jaws opened wide. She raised her staff just in time to block his attack, casting him down upon the ground with one motion of her right arm. Suffering no wounds, Saejo jumped to his feet, lowered himself into a springing position, and circled her. Her eyes followed him. He made a move to attack her from behind, and, misjudging his attack, guarded her back while he sprang suddenly to the right and slashed open her right side. The skin did not wound easily, as it was thick and cold, as if a layer of ice that never melted lay beneath it.

    Saejo landed on his feet before her, snarling. His eyes darted to the place where he had wounded her, low on her ribs. Tattered green fabric hung over the tear, but he knew it was paining her from the way she clutched her side. A dark red blotch that was almost black and far too dark to be human blood spread over the wound and engulfed it. It disappeared in the blink of an eye, and the dress, as well as the wound, were mended. Amarantha smiled at him mockingly.

    "You are quick, but your attacks, they are useless. I've no blood, I cannot bleed to death. I am not even sure I have an actual human heart anymore, much less a living one. But you are made of flesh, blood and bone, and you will be an easy kill, an easy enemy. You are no different than the scores of soldiers I have slain today. I was hoping you might present a challenge to me, but killing you would be like killing a churchmouse." She lunged forward, wielding her staff in her right hand. The metal from which the staff had been forged sparkled unnaturally in the dull, overcast sunlight. It was almost as though the staff were generating its own luster. The sharp point of the staff caught Saejo in his wounded thigh, and he roared in pain. Amarantha smiled again, baring teeth that were so white they could have been made of polished porcelain. She burried the weapon deep inside him, twisted it, and yanked it with great force from him. The bone had not been broken, but the muscle was torn in so many places, he could hardly move his leg.
    Amarantha smiled at him again, her eyes filled with a horrible coldness. "And now," she said, "I finish you."

    She lunged again, staff aimed at his heart, knowing that he would not move fast enough to evade her. But she underestimated him. Saejo was not just a common animal; he had a purpose in his life, and he would not put it aside because of a little scrape on his leg. He jumped out of the way, using his left leg more heavily than usual. As, to Amarantha's anger, her staff was plunged deep into bloody snow rather than flesh and armor, he used the precious few seconds he had to lunge behind her and slash her blindly against her back while she pulled the weapon free. As his claws raked across her back, one of his talons snapped the sharp, ebony chain that held her amulet in place in half. As if fell from her neck, she let out a piercing, bloodcurdling scream, feeling the pain from the wound in her back. She whirled around, clutching her staff and cursing herself for being so stupid. She shouted a profanity, green eyes turning black again, then back to green as rapidly as she blinked her eyes.

    She looked him in the eye and swore again as she felt her injuries throb without the protection she had been able to gleen from the amulet, which was now in Saejo's claws. But Amarantha's eyes smiled a terrible, cold smile, for she knew her end had not come yet. She would be back. The evil inside her would keep her alive.

    Saejo watched as she collapsed to the ground, one hand clutching her chest where, in any normal human, a heart would have been. She bent her head, strands of black hair falling over her face. Her cold eyes closed as little snowflakes fell onto her skin. They did not melt, for Amarantha was as frigid as ice. She whispered something that Saejo did not catch, just a few muttered words...

    And then she was gone, as though she had never been there.

      Current date/time is Fri Jul 28, 2017 3:32 pm