CROSSED SWORDS AND SUNSET: A DUEL AT THE ASHEN PALACE

A HISTORICAL TEXT FROM NYBELMAR

 
Nybelmar: A Collection of Chronicled Happenings   
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Introduction. The following text is attributed to the journal of Ishalude Aramashal, one of Mistress Landaria Celene's 'Disciples of the Blood', her personal retinue of bodyguards. It details the only occasion in history wherein a Marmarran Witch Queen has been challenged to a duel by a member of the militant 'Red Sisters' organisation. Considered to be the most important event in validating the strength of the Order in all history, the clash between the Red Sisters' elusive brand of Blood Magic and the archetypeal Marmarran art of Eludian Sorcery demonstrating that the Red Sisters are most definetely a force to be reckoned with.
 

e walked directly behind Mistress as she forcefully marched up the gargantuan staircase of Kyera's Ashen Palace, brandishing a black handkerchief, the symbol of a challenge on the Witch Queen's life. The ornately decorated Household guards, accustomed to cleaving our kind down if we came anywhere near this building, stood confused as our contingment of around one hundred sisters cascaded into the Solemn Chamber. The small square of jet black cloth held in Mistress's hand was our shield against any violence from the imposing soldiers that slowly enveloped our travelling legion, surrounding us from all vertices.

Landaria Celene

View picture in full size Image description. Landaria Celene. Picture drawn by Bard Judith.

As we ascended further to the throne room of the Tyrant herself the guards scattered, gradually reforming behind the woman's throne as though she were the boss of a gang in one of outer Marmarra's web of slums. As our sisters too began to form a hundred-woman strong wall behind our noble Mistress, a sudden stillness invaded the room. Silence gripped everything. A mild breeze fluttered through the palace columns. My spine tingled.

'Landariaaaa!' The Witch Queen bellowed.

'What is your business here!' the neurotic woman roared, glaring animalistically at the calm and collected woman, adorned in her finest red spilk robes, inlayed with Tarshiinite goldspun. The woman, a picture of elegance, took the black handkerchief in her grasp and threw it onto the floor. Both sides of the feud- the iron formation behind the Witch Queen and the anxious devotees behind Mistress- stood captivated, mystified by the small cut of night-hued fabric fluttering to the ground.

'I am here to end this' Mistress said softly.

'This?!' the enraged tyrant yellled, obviously confused, driving her nails into the seams of her serrated golden arm rest.

'You have caused damage to our great Marmarra. The Sisterhood will not stand for this.'

The Queen curled up into herself, withdrawing slowly, as though seeking herself. The woman, dressed in the regal gown, the Lillivear frock belonging to Eluda'shi Lashmara, began to laugh to herself-manically. Grasping one of the small wooden instruments laid agaisnt the left side of her jewel-encrusted throne, Kyera raised her face to meet the eyes of Mistress Celene, the insane, silver eyes of the power-crazed monarch expressing nothing but delusion.

'I am Marmarra!' the ruler screamed, throwing the small, birchwood lyre in the direction of Mistress. With one esoteric gesture from the Witch Queen's part the instrument exploded into a flurry of splinters, two particularly large fractions of the remnants flying into the direction of Mistress. With an amazing feat of dexterity and precision, Mistress grabbed one of the wooden missiles and used it to swipe the other airbourne shard.

Brandishing her sword and revealing a small vial of blood, Mistress stepped out of the main formation, walking, confronting Kyera. After sucking the contents of the glass cylinder, swallowing it down and raising the blade towards the direction of Kyera, Mistress envisioned a dramatic pause. Anxiety ripped through me.

Mistress let out a mild sigh.

'Let us begin.'

Screaming like the Gaisho she manipulated, Kyera lept from her seat armed with the classical Zhunite preferred weapons, the dual 'Throatblades' characterised by their length and thinness. The decisive face-off had begun.

The two paused momentarily. Whilst the distance between was about half of what it was before the Witch had flung herself from her seat, neither were in adequate range of each other's assaults. Mistress was at a disadvantage. Blood Magic was no match for Eludian Sorcery in a missile contest. If Mistress was to win this, she would need to get close and finish it quickly. Luckily, speed was no issue. In a blink our Mistress could be behind Kyera.

The interim silence was broken by the squealing Witch rampaging towards Mistress, still not faltering from her stance. As the sprinting woman, a picture of pure rage, unstoppable approached Mistress there was a unified sense of tension between the disciples and myself. At the first sign of assault we were taught to prepare- What was Mistress doing?

Suddenly at breakneck speed Mistress Celene lept forward, ripping her blade through the air, leaving a drail of dust idly fluttering behind her. In hearing the recognisable crack of bone we were contented- the blow surely most of hit the tyrant, and knowing Mistress's precison, at least wounded her. To our despair, a sly acrobatic figure emerged, somersaulting through the air above Mistress, through the dust. As the cloud quickly cleared we saw a gaping wound in the stone floor. She had missed! As the Witch Queen landed from her gymnastic feat, crouching to regain stamina, she began muttering to herself. Whilst we knew Kyera was insane, what was she doing at a time like this? As she retrieved a small scroll from her waist, we knew what was occurring- it was a gaisheno encantation. As her eyes developed an irridescent green glow, sudden realisation grasped us. There seemed to be no hope for Mistress now.

The scroll exploded in a flurry of what appeared to be concious black fluid, like a creature composed of Kerostone, the monstrous entity within started to fly around the chamber, screaming, with even the guards assembled behind the throne noticeably terrified. Gaisho were not called 'Touch of Death' spirits for no reason.

The now less-than-presentable Kyera still lay knelt on the floor. She rose quickly, never faltering with her incessant yet incomprehendable muttering. Her eyes, previously a rich silver, had absorbed wholly into a disturbing green hue that continued to glow irridescent. The spirit she had released, still attempting to persue Mistress, was beckoned back to its own commander with a loud squeal on Kyera's part. The creature, a seemingly animated mass of etheral black cloth, catapulted back into the palm of the tyrant- as though disappearing up her sleeve. Almost instantly the Witch Queen began to convulse violently, her whole body taken up by an unnaturally prominent seizure. While the woman stayed on her feet, this was seemingly the only bodily function she could muster as the rest of flailed uncontrollably.

I heard a whisper behind me- 'If she manages to mesh with that monster, Mistress hasn't got a chance'. Obviously following a similar passage of thought, the sheer amount of fear conveyed by Mistress's face was incredible. Once she noticed that all her disciples had looked upon her though, her expression immeadiately changed to one of determination, one of cunning, one that definetely suited her better.

The Queen's convulsions stopped. As the violent shuddering came to its end the woman leapt up, almost acrobatically, with an amazing feat of strength. As she assumed a relatively self-assured stance, her contorted expression revealed itself. A face not only brewing with insanity, but positively enveloped in it. The schleras of the silver-irised woman had decayed, yellowed, almost turning green in the etheral light of dusk that made its way through the window panes. These were only signs that they had meshed. Surely now, she was unstoppable.

Kyera the Tyrant

View picture in full size Picture description. Kyera the Tyrant. Picture by Bard Judith.

Mistress charged at the monstrosity. With one fell swoop of her blade, Kyera launched a crackling black lightning bolt, passing straight through Mistress like cutting through butter. The thick torrents of blood, somehow showing so clearly over the woman's blood red dress, flowed with consistency and speed. While I was not close enough to deduce whereabouts the blow had struck our Mistress, I was sure it would be fatal. Poor Landaria fell to her knees. She clutched her stomach, from where the blood was pouring, and coated her hands in it. She then, unusually, began frantically licking it from her palms, covering her cheeks in the process. She fell, once more, from her knees to her chest like a falling tree. Our lady had been slain.

We stood dumbfounded. For all our lives we had been told that Mistress was invincible, indestructible and undefeatable. A sense of something between grief and disappointment enveloped the sisters and I, but our mourning was short-lived.

A twinge of life rippled through Mistress. The fingers of her left hand began to awaken themselves and like a burning wick resurrection flowed through her until, seconds after he had seen the woman killed before her eyes, she was was stood before us once again, defiantly. One sister, awestruck, mumbled 'It's the 'Undying Vengance!''. The phrase was oddly familiar. I had remembered our Sister Superior told us that our Blood Magic could allow us to do amazing things, claiming that the founder, Kashina Scaralus, took three wounds in the heart and two in the skull and still managed to route a detatchment of invaders before succumbing to death. I had assumed that the feat was only a myth, but this suggested otherwise.Kyera was not amused.

'WHAT! What! How are you alive Landaria?! None can survive the might of Marmarra!'

Landaria, still drenched in her own blood with her gaping wound on show, merely chuckled

'It is the spirit of Marmarra that possesses me now, and you are right about one thing Kyera...'

'What?!' the Tyrant interjected.

'None can survive the might of Marmarra.'

Mistress darted towards Kyera with pace too quick for my eye to comprehend, presumably collecting her blade in the process. Caught completely off guard a sense of sheer terror encapsulated Kyera. Her paling, fear-ridden face froze as the blood-drained from it, our Mistress's steel slicing one clean cut through the woman's throat effortlessly. As the partially severed head of the woman began to slowly separate itself from the rest of the neck while the corpse tumbled to the ground, our Landaria fell to her knees.

'I am spent' she uttered, looking back with a smile.

She clutched the seeping gash penetrating her chest before descending to the floor with the grace befitting of Marmarra's Martyr.

Let Not Our Lady Be Forgotton.


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Historical text written by Decipher Ziron View Profile