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The Archangel Sword

By @MCKapo

1.1 Charmaine Duschant

A/N:

Here is the very rough first draft of this Work In Progress. I will try to update regularly.

Please comment any inconsistencies or weak writing so that I can fix it.

Chapter 1 Updated 4/5/18

Thanks for reading!

We are worried. 

Yeois is in turmoil. We did not foresee the humans becoming tyrants, devoid of compassion and kindness. We did not see our children becoming slaves. Yeois slowly crumbles under their rule. 

Perhaps we were wrong in creating them, in thinking that they could live peacefully with our children. We thought they would be wonderful, a joint creation between the Stars and the Dragons, what could possibly go wrong with a vision such as that?

But they are not… 

We seem to be backed into a corner and the only way out is to seek advice from the Pale Lady. Even Yaseer, whom I admire most, the greatest of Dragons, knows next to nothing of this otherworldly Lady. I will meet with her tonight with Yaseer and then we convene at the Sky Temple on the morrow. 

Excerpt from The Divinities 1390 b.d.r.

Moon

Dominant Star

Light of the Sky

__________________________________________________________________

Charmaine tightened the knot to her mare’s reins, before giving her horse a pat on the head. “I’ll be just a few minutes, then we’ll go rest for the night.” The mare, Kooks, grunted in response, and Charmaine made her way through the inn’s open door. 

Verin was a small village, but heavy with foot traffic, as it was a popular way stop for those traveling to the capital of Draggedon, Saint Veruse. Charmaine hoped desperately that the information she was seeking would be here, as she detested the large, devoutly religious city. As a hybrid, especially, she knew she would be unwelcome, and there was the slight chance she’d be detained and put in a cell for just being herself, an unsightly blight on the otherwise perfect Yeois. Charmaine scoffed at the idea. It seemed as though hybrids were more common than any of the three races wanted to admit, and they still showed disgust at the thought. 

“Can I help you?” A gravelly voice asked. Charmaine looked up, clutching her cloak tighter against herself as a cold breeze swept through the inn. It was fairly crowded, men and woman drinking and laughing, rambunctious as they celebrated a good week of business and trade. She’d forgotten that the crowning of the prince was happening in the next two weeks, which would further increase the number of guards and patrols in Saint Veruse. She sent a silent prayer to the halois gods that she wouldn’t have to travel there. 

The bartender eyed her, his dark amber eyes, a tell-tale sign that he was a demura, squinting suspiciously as he looked her up and down. “We don’t get many halois around here.” That was right, Verin was a predominantly demura village. The bartender, she guessed was almost fully demura, as he had thick, short horns protruding from his forehead, and clawed hands and feet, with wisps of green energy trailing off him, likely his spirit form.

“I’m looking for someone.” Charmaine said, taking a seat at the bar, hands clasped in front of her. “Dawnbringer.”

The bartender’s eyes narrowed even more. “I don’t know anyone by that name here.” He said, tossing a dirty rag onto the counter to wipe up spilled beer. 

“Are you sure?” Charmaine asked, a slight desperation creeping into her voice. She needed to find this man. She’d been searching for weeks, and she feared she was almost out of time. Her father had helped her sneak out of her village when they’d come, and she had no idea if he was still alive or not. Or if her village was still standing. 

Her father, a full-blooded halois, had been a respected teacher of history, and had traveled all around Draggedon. They’d just settled into Loxe when it had been attacked. For the most part, Charmaine wouldn’t have cared about a random village, but the townspeople had treated her father with great respect, and had kept his secret soundly. Even when the attackers had demanded news of any wayward Stars, they had said nothing. Charmaine felt she owed it to them to at least try to find the Sword in order to rescue them. 

“Very sure,” the bartender said, though his red eyes flashed at the lie. Charmaine pursed her lips. Most halois were adept at reading ****** expressions, and as Charmaine’s father was essentially a father to all halois, she had inherited the ability, though for some reason on a much smaller scale, and could pick out most lies, if the person telling them wasn’t very practiced at the art. 

“I’ll be staying in one of the rooms upstairs. I’ll be here for a few weeks, so if you hear anything, anything at all, please let me know.” She fished out a handful of coins from her ever-shrinking coin purse and slammed them on the table. The bartender nodded, and went back to wiping the table with his grimy rag. 

Charmaine huffed as she made her way to an open corner in the room, free of anyone close, but still near enough that she could eavesdrop. She sat at a lone table, the chair groaning underneath her, and pulled her hood down so she could hear better. A few patrons glanced at her, and whispered amongst themselves at the sight of the small feathery wings that grew out from the edges of her temples. They followed the curve of her head, the ends tucked behind her ears, and so weren’t too obtrusive, but Charmaine hated them all the same. 

Most halois species had large beautiful wings on their backs, and Charmaine had once had them too, her father had always told her, though she’d been born with two sets. Gorgeous bird feathered wings on her back, that her father had said were the most beautiful he’d ever seen, and the smaller set on her ********* head, that didn’t serve any purpose other than to make her stand out. The wings on her back though, had long been sawed off, leaving two bony protrusions on her back that ached day and night, a reminder that she’d lost something precious. She’d asked once what had happened to them, as the memory that surrounded that event eluded Charmaine, but her father had no answer, as he too couldn’t remember. 

“That fake prince is to be crowned soon,” a burly man to Charmaine’s right, said, leaning in close to his companion, a stout woman with a beautiful face. Both demura hybrids, by the animalistic features they possessed; the man had thick paws with matted fur, and canines that extended past his chin, the woman with three extra sets of eyes on her forehead that all blinked at different times and thick corded hair that moved on its own. 

The woman shook her head, “Long live the great king Samaal.” She whispered, clanking her full cup of beer against the man’s. Charmaine perked up. Followers of Samaal, the great demura king of old. He had been banished to Sioey, along with all the first and second children of the Dragons and Stars, hundreds of years ago, and there were still people that were loyal to him. 

King Samaal had ruled over Drageddon, and the demura and halois had lived in relative peace while the rest of Yeois had been overtaken by the humans. So many slaughtered, all for the humans greed and blood-lust. That was when the Separation and subsequent banishment had happened, though Charmaine questioned if it was really banishment, as the priests of Kralle taught. 

The feeling of someone watching her brought Charmaine back to the present, and she looked around until she caught the gaze of netama that sat at the other side of the room. She grimaced; she’d seen this netama before two villages behind her. He was small, as all neko hybrids were, with large black stripes over his rust colored fur, almond shaped amber eyes, large fluffy ears atop his head that increased their already sensitive hearing, clawed hands and feet, and a tail that forked down the middle. The netama grinned, and Charmaine stood to go to her room. In the morning, she’d confront the little nuisance and ask why he had been following her, but for now, the journey to Verin had exhausted her. 

She stomped her way up the inn’s stairs to the room’s, finding her empty one a the end of the hallway. It was quaint, exactly what she had expected for the price; a small bed with a creaky mattress and a dresser with a small circular lamp lit with glowflies. They ate the dew that collected around the glass bowl at night, which in turn made them glow and perfect for lamps. They usually left again in the morning, or if you disturbed their eating, only to come back again when there was more dew. Charmaine discarded her worn cloak, draping it over the desk, and pulled off her tunic and leggings, leaving her in only an undergarment, a thin white dress shirt that reached to her knees. The material was soft against the exposed bone on her back, and she lay face down on the bed, enjoying the cool breeze of air that came through the open window. In a matter of minutes, Charmaine was asleep. 

***

A knock at the door had Charmaine bolting up in bed, racing to the door to unlock it. Was it the bartender? Did he have news of the Dawnbringer? 

The netama stood there, grinning up at her when she opened the door. 

“You,” Charmaine growled, “You’ve been following me. Why? And what do you want?”

“I know who you’re searching for.” The netama said, his voice soft and inviting. “Dawnbringer. I can bring you to him.”

“You know where he is?” Charmaine asked, incredulous. Finally, after searching for so long! She’d heard stories of this Dawnbringer since she was young, and her father had told her he was possibly the most powerful being in all of Yeois for his ability to harness the ancient magic of spirit, the energy that came from all living creatures, said to be the most difficult magic to do, with the added effect that many who tried were consumed by other living spirits they tried to control. With the rumored ability to project the spirit to Syvyet, and therefore contact those in Sioey, Charmaine figured if she couldn’t find the demura king, Dawnbringer would be the next best thing. 

After the Separation, the ley line network had weakened considerably, cutting off most access to natural magic, the magic that had flowed freely throughout Yeois, and the ley nodes, areas where ley lines met and formed a magical stake of incredible power, had become unstable to the point of creating rifts between Yeois and Sioey, that opened occasionally and either deposited those in Sioey to the land they’d longed for, or sucked in unsuspecting citizens to the realm of darkness and despair. 

Charmaine shivered at the thought of ley nodes; she’d come across only two in her lifetime, when she was younger and had not yet been able to sense natural magic, and the experiences were ones she’d never forget. Both times, her father had been the one to bring her back, as she’d been lost in Syvyet, the spiritual plane of existence between both dimensions. It had been dark and frightening, and had given Charmaine waking nightmares. 

“I know,” the netama nodded. “I’m Kash, by the way. The owner gave me your room number after he told me what who you were looking for. I’ll take you to him.”

Charmaine eyed the demura, her distrust apparent. “For what price?” 

“No price,” the demura said, shrugging. “Kaleb told me to bring any who seek him, though I hadn’t expected a halois.”

Kaleb… why was that name so familiar. Kaleb Dawnbringer… she knew she’d heard that name before, but where?

“We leave in ten clicks,” Kash said, “I already have your horse ready.” He turned and stalked off down the narrow hallway. Charmaine stood there dumbly for a second before grabbing her few meager belongings; her coin purse, her matching throwing knives (that she wasn’t very good at using, but had been practicing for a few weeks and was slowly getting better), and the large faded cloak that had been her father’s. Pulling on her tunic and leggings quickly, she threw the cloak around herself, and pulled the hood over her wings, flattening them against her head. Much better. She pulled on her fur lined walking boots, lacing them up before stuffing the laces into the sides. 

She ran out of the inn in time to see Kash feed Kooks an apple. He looked up as she exited. “We won’t be needing your horse. It’s just a short walk into the forest. I’ve asked the innkeeper to keep an eye on her.” He gave the horse a pat on the head, then motioned for Charmaine to follow him. They walked between the inn and a bakery, coming out the other side to a small downtrodden dirt path that led into the trees. 

“Is he like everyone says?” Charmaine asked, pushing past overhanging branches. Without the presence of humans and demura that disgraced their own nature, the forest was mostly undisturbed. A family of kitsune skittered past, eyeing the two intruders as they made their way deeper into the forest.

“You’ll find out soon enough,” Kash said. He glanced and her and smiled. “You know, you’re really trusting. For all you know, I could be leading you to a group of religious zealots, for a large sum of coin. They love their indentured halois servants.”

Charmaine frowned. She hadn’t even thought of that. “Well, are you?” 

“No,” Kash said, his eyes crinkling at the edges as his grin grew wider, fanged teeth jutting out over his bottom lip, looking oddly adorable in a menacing kind of way. “But that’s exactly what I’d say even if I was going to sell you.” 

“… I trust you,” Charmaine said; she felt no red flags as she read his face. True, she didn’t have the best intuition, but six out of ten times, she was right to trust her gut. “So, how do you know this guy? I’ve gotten the impression he’s nigh impossible to find, and then you just pop up out of nowhere, telling me you’ll take me to him.”

Kash cocked his head, a thoughtful look on his face. A few of the stripes on his face fluctuated, growing longer and thinner, an odd quirk demura with body and ****** markings had. It made him even more endearing. Charmaine hadn’t noticed it, but the little netama had suddenly grown on her. “Well, I guess you could say, we’re… friends. Of sorts.” He shrugged. “Now, hold on a moment.” The path had gone from dirt to small pebbles and rocks that surrounded the base of a steep cliff, a large boulder jutting out of the side. 

Kash pressed his ear against it, rapping his knuckles over it every so often. There was a sudden clicking sound, the ground emitted a low rumble and the boulder slowly dropped into the ground until it was as if it had never existed, revealing a passage carved into the side of the cliff. Kash winced at the noise, beckoning Charmaine to follow him. 

She did so, marveling at the dark passage. “I’m going to assume the halois helped in this?” She said, stepping into it, the boulder moving back into place. Darkness shrouded over them, Kash’s luminescent eyes the only light in the pitch black. Halois technology was said to have been marvelous hundreds of years ago.

“I assume you’re right, since this was built before the Separation. Probably a safe place for the halois to escape the human tyrants.” There was edge to Kash’s voice, as he gripped her hand in the darkness and led her forward, though Charmaine still managed to stumble over a few mis-laden rocks, cursing inwardly at her stubbed toes. 

“Almost there,” Kash said, before he let go of her hand and fumbled around in the dark. Another click sounded, and a light began to show through an opening in the side of the passage. Kash pushed his body against, until the rock slid enough for the two to squeeze out of the tunnel and into daylight. Charmaine used her hand to shield her eyes from the glare of the sun, looking around at the plush green scenery before her. Large spruce trees clustered together, surrounding a small unimpressive stone building, their overreaching limbs almost hiding it completely from view. Around the shack, immense power emanated from it, curling around Charmaine, as if to envelop her in its embrace. 

The power pushed against her soul, making the hair on her arms and neck stand on end. She had felt this before, this raw consuming energy. 

“You didn’t tell me he lived by a ley node.” Charmaine hissed, the energy pulsating inside her body. Fear bubbled up inside her. What if she exploded in a million pieces of flesh and blood? Instinctively, Charmaine backed up a few steps, wanting to run back the way they’d come to escape this, but she ground her teeth and pressed forward.

“Not by,” Kash whispered, pulling on her arm. “In. Here,” he said, handing her a small jewel, the same kind he had hanging around his neck. As soon as the sapphire touched her skin, the power that had surrounded her pulled back, no longer forcing its way into Charmaine’s soul. She breathed a sigh of relief, holding the jewel up to her face. “Kaleb’s invention. He knows what the ley nodes can do to certain people, especially humans.” Then he looked back at her, an expression of confusion on his face. 

It was well known in Yeois that humans were the most skilled at harnessing the natural magic that had once flowed throughout the planet, and there were a handful that were able to sense the ley lines, an invaluable skill that was one of the main reasons the humans had been able to overtake Yeois. Yet, Charmaine was not human, though she had a highly developed sense of magical awareness. Something she assumed came from her father, though she had always been able to point out ley lines faster than he had. She knew she was an anomaly, and it frightened her, so she tried to play off her talents as underdeveloped. 

“You sure you’re not human?” Kash asked, raising his thick eyebrow. He shook his head, pushing forward, before opening the door to the small hut, an earthy smell emanating from the room.

It was unbearably tiny, with a simple bed in the corner, a fireplace carved into the stone next to the foot of the bed, and a desk in the adjacent corner, where a stagyr sat, back facing them. Charmaine’s jaw dropped as she beheld the most magnificent set of antlers she had ever seen on any demura. Stagyr were highly sought after for theirs which had led to a massive decline in their numbers, as they were often butchered in terrible and inhumane ways. The only way to get a pair of antlers from a stagyr was to kill them, and then they would immediately fall from the head of the stagyr, full of whatever magical energy the owner had possessed, just waiting to be displayed or mounted on a wall so others could admire the beauty. Or used for more nefarious spells and dark magic.

These antlers started out black at the origin, before blending into a rich gold, arching over the head to the back, branching out into different directions, though all eventually curved upwards, before ending at the tail bone. From the waist down, the stagyr’s fur was a light copper, a beautiful color that meshed well with his lighter skin tone. 

“Kash,” the stagyr’s voice was deep, though gentle. “I didn’t expect you to be here until later this week.” He turned his head to face them, and Charmaine almost gasped, but bit down on her tongue at the last second. Over what should have been his left eye, a large decagram covered the area, made up of light blue lines that pulsated every few seconds or so, drawing one’s eye to the center where the lines all met in a small circle that was devoid of any color, a black hole of nothingness. The lines branched out like small veins from the decagram, almost like they were leeching outward to cover the rest of his face, but had only made it to the outer right eyebrow, the top of the left lip and the left ear. He would have been immeasurably handsome, if not for the grotesque curse. And curse it was; Charmaine could feel the ugly power, could barely see the ethereal chains that covered the stagyr’s body, snaking over every limb, pushing through the flesh to come out the other side. What in Yaseer’s name was that?

“I’m Charmaine Duschant,” she said quickly. “I’ve been searching for you for quite awhile.”

“Hm.” The stagyr said, rising to his feet, a full two heads taller than Charmaine, even without fully extending his legs. He peered at her with a curious eye, red as blood. It unsettled her, as she tried to focus on the good eye, but that curse kept pulling her gaze back, almost forcing her to get lost in the endless pit of darkness.”Duschant. That’s a name I haven’t heard for many years. I’m Kaleb Dawnbringer.” He inclined his head forward in greeting, and Charmaine had the brief thought of how he could hold his head up and move it without falling, as his antlers must have weighed at least 20 stone, if not more. “I assume you’re here because you want something from me, as all do at some point or another. Though, I’m not much use,” he motioned to his curse, “in the way of natural magic.” 

“I’m not here for natural magic, or even spiritual magic.” Charmaine said, clutching the small jewel in her hand. She wondered what Kaleb had done to it to keep the surges of magic from tearing into her and threatening to send her to Syvyet, or worse. “I need information. About the Archangel Sword.”

Kaleb narrowed his eyes. “That’s just a legend, it doesn’t really exist. I don’t have time to waste on imaginary objects.”

“No, it does!” Charmaine said, a feeling of dread washing over her. She hadn’t come all this way just to be turned away. “My father… he told me things, about the Sword and the Separation and Samaal. He told me the king would know about it, where it is maybe. But, he’s trapped in Sioey, so I figured you were my next best shot. Please, I need to find the Sword.” 

“And what would an ordinary halois know about the Archangel Sword?” Kaleb scoffed, turning back to the strewn about papers on his desk. 

“He’s not an ordinary halois!” Charmaine said through gritted teeth. “He’s a fallen Star! And he’s been taken by Kralle priests. They say he’s an abomination, and they’re going to destroy the entire village for hiding one once they get affirmation from the Prince.” She reached out and gripped Kaleb’s shoulder. “I can’t let them kill all those innocent people, and my father is a good man. He didn’t choose to fall, the Moon made him.”

She hadn’t spoken these words to anyone. They were her father’s darkest and most terrible secrets. If there was anything any race detested more than hybrids, it was fallen Stars; gods of Yeois that had sided against the Council of Stars and Dragon Elders in the Separation, and had therefore been stripped of their godly powers and banished from the sky to forever live in exile on Yeois. There had been a handful of Dragons also, but her father had told her they’d been shredded to pieces by the Elders and their remains cast into the outer reaches of space, never to rest in hibernation. 

Her stomach twisted in knots as Kaleb stared at her, an unreadable expression on his face. “Well, this is certainly… interesting.” Then he smiled, though it was lopsided, as if the left side of his face was partially paralyzed. “It seems we have something in common. I also happen to be searching for information about the Sword, though its best we keep this between the three of us,” he included Kash, who had finally grown bored with whatever it was he had been searching for to tune in to the conversation. “Did your father mention anything else about the Sword? Because I’m afraid my information is quite limited at the moment.”

“Um…” Charmaine racked her brain, going through past conversations with her father spoken in hushed whispers. “He did say something… about a diary of sorts. That the Council kept. I can’t remember the name,,,” It was a memory that had been fragmented, around the time her wings had been brutally cut. 

Kaleb tapped his knuckles against the side of face, pondering. “… the Divinities. The thoughts of the Council and Elders before the time of the Separation. Kash, I have a new job for you.” He grabbed a piece of paper from his desk, dipping a quill in spilled ink. He scribbled a few words on it, then handed it to Kash, who quickly tucked it into his satchel. 

“Let’s make a deal,” Kaleb said, turning back to her. “I’ll use my connections to help you locate the Sword, but only if you agree to come with me to Syvyet, the realm in between here and Sioey. And you let me use the Sword after you free your father.” Syvyet; the word sent a shiver of fear down Charmaine’s spine. She clutched the jewel even harder, he didn’t need to know she could go there by herself. No one had to know that. She stole a quick glance at Kash. But he’d seen her, seen the way her body had shifted out of focus, the terror on her face. He might not know exactly what had happened, but he knew something, and that was more than anyone else did. 

Charmaine nodded, “Agreed. Now, can we get away from this ****** ley node already?” With the Sword, she could possibly use it as a bargaining chip against the Kralle priests, though Kaleb didn’t need to know the specifics of what she planned to do. She’d use his information, find the Sword, and then free her father. There was the added bonus that the Sword might be able to seal the tear in her memory. Her father had told her it was a spatial-temporal Sword, existing in hundreds of places at one, and none at all, able to mend reality, and tear it apart. So, maybe, just maybe, it could mend her broken memories. 

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