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Friday, June 2, 2017

EMBEREDGE first chapter


          Moonlight broke through the clouds this night, casting shadows throughout Yar Yu City. A lone figure moved swiftly across the cityscape. Jumping from roof to roof, the figure found its target outside of the magnificent structures as he reached the border between Avalonia and the Ancient Forest. The figure sees a solitary transport carrier traversing the back roads of the Forest. The city was normally quiet at night, but the rumble of the massive vehicle’s tires could be heard for miles.       
          The sound was so intense it rattled the men’s insides. It crunched the already beaten down gravel under its wheels as it backed in to the dock of the Hornetblade Industries equipment factory. Two security guards were on hand this fateful night.

           Both guards were adorned in the latest high tech defensive armour that Hornetblade Industries had made public.  As well, they were armed with the latest armour-piercing rifle rounds that the company could afford. Yet both guards covered their ears in vain as even their helmets couldn’t drone out the deafening roar of the transport carrier rolled into the small area to its eventual stop.

          “Hey, you’re early!” one guard yelled at the driver clumsily climbed down the steps of the massive vehicle. “You’re supposed to drop off the cargo tomorrow morning!” The guards walked towards the driver as the lights of the massive vehicle revealed a surprise.

          The second guard leaned towards his comrade’s ear to voice his concern. “Dude, the guy who is supposed to deliver is a penguin, not a cat.”
          “What, you didn’t get my call?” the driver said surprised, stretching his legs, careful not to knock off his top hat. The guards weren’t certain if they should raise their weapons or not. This cat looked more like a street performer than a threat. But they were not paid to make assumptions.

          “Hey fellas, I’m just as confused as both of you, I figured when my buddy told me he had called you boys ahead of time, he meant that he was going to call you boys ahead of time! Ahahaha! The doofus must have forgotten! Guess he partied too hard, eh?”
          The guards looked at each, then raised their weapons.

          The second guard spoke; “Well then if he’s your buddy, you should be able to tell us his name.”

          The cat man’s gaze at the guards changed from jovial to annoyed.

          “Ah man I was kind of hoping I wouldn’t have to do this…”
          From his hands, the cat called out “GLACIAL ORB!!!

          The two guards, and the concrete beneath them, flash-frozen in an instance. Unable to move, the guards were powerless to stop the remaining criminals in the carrier begun to stir.

          The door opened on the passenger’ side door on the transport carrier.
          “Are you done fooling around Trigger??” screamed a large, crimson ceratopsian like lizard man.

          “Would you relax Viaton???” the cat man Trigger screamed back. “The carrier’ sensors only showed two heat signatures from within the factory! And now they’re none.” Trigger smiled slyly. He was prideful of his work. “Raiding this factory will be easy work now!”

          A third criminal emerged from the passenger’ side door. A massive blocky robot with a purple painted body with grey trim walked towards both Trigger and Viaton, holding a massive case in its right hand. “If you organics could stop squabbling for five minutes, we might yet be able to get our task completed on schedule.”

          “Dangit Roboxer, relax! Everything’s going to be fine. Our only possible threat has been neutralized. We are good to go!”

          Neither Roboxer nor Viaton were convinced of Trigger’s optimism.

          “If the Edge-wielder shows up tonight, you are not to attack it Trigger.” The feline magician was surprised by Viaton’s uncharacteristic caution.

          “Brother, I am one of the best magic conjurers in all of Elysian, I can handle myself against any lunatic with an oversized sword! You ask me, he’s compensating for something if you know what I’m saying! Nudge, nudge, wink, wink!”

          Viaton grabbed Trigger by the back of his neck and lifted him off the ground. “I don’t care how powerful you think you are, if the damned Edge-wielder shows up, we leave. The device is too valuable for us to risk damage in battle.”

          The tenseness of the moment was broken when the fourth criminal, a small gecko like creature, fell out of the carrier onto the ground with a thud. His giggling irritated the others greatly as he stumbled over his own tail while trying to get on his feet.
          “Trigger, you want to go help Soleia out?” Viaton released Trigger and just shook his head, not being able to believe he had such foolish idiots assigned to his raiding party, despite their talents.

          Roboxer punched down the dock door as the security alarm sounded. Several beacons beamed with swirling lights as Trigger called out “GLACIAL ORB!!!”, freezing the beacons and halting their incessant noise.

          Trigger stood there snickering as Viaton approached. “A man has to keep his hearing healthy afterall.”

          “And what if there were devices rigged to repel magic? Where would your health be then???’ Trigger had had enough of Viaton for one night. He knew Viaton was cautious and did not like to leave things up to chance. However, Trigger was not one to pass up a chance to ridicule someone.

          “You, uh, you, did you just notice our comrade Roboxer? You know, the guy who just went all postal on that big metal door? What, do you want me to apologize to the nice alarm system?? Huh? Maybe take it to an alarm system mechanic? Huh? Maybe write its family a nice condolence letter???”

          “Could you yell louder?” Viaton’s patience was wearing thin. “I don’t think they heard you in Pomikku Town.”

         About five minutes later, the devious quartet emerged from within the factory, Roboxer now carrying the massive case precariously on its back with both arms. The four had achieved their goal. And they had no time to celebrate.

          The ice had melted and the guards were gone. And the transport carrier’s wheels were slashed.

          “Form a circle! Quickly!” Viaton shouted to his teammates.

          “It’s too late for that.” Trigger’s cat eyes saw the silhouette of the warrior before the others did. They could hear the footsteps getting closer.

          “You’ve arrived, haven’t you?” Viaton said, his voice cracking.

          Trigger laughed hysterically. His blood boiled for a fight. “So we’ve finally ran across the fabled Edge-wielder! Come on out little man, come face your cold end!!!”

          The clouds passed by the moon, revealing his visage in full. A majestic cape flowed in the wind from behind the carrier before a warrior clad in white and gold armour emerged. His helmet glistened in the light.

          Viaton shivered in fear momentarily. Here standing in front of him, illuminated by the light of the moon was the scourge of the Astarean forces. Although he towered over the armoured warrior, he knew none of their weapons and magic were powerful enough to stand a chance against that legendary sword, the Emberedge.
          “That’s quite a beautiful sword you’ve got there.” Trigger slowly approached this mysterious warrior, unaware of Roboxer and Soleia cowering, or Viaton’s temper rising.

          The warrior watched Trigger’s movements from within his helmet’s visor. He stood still as Trigger approached, his claws extend, his vicious grin revealing his full set of sharp, dagger like teeth.

“Quite the beautiful sword indeed. I can see why it’s so revered in Avalonian culture. And yet they don’t even know that it’s not in a museum because it’s in use. Think it’ll sell well after I take it sword from your frozen corpse?!? GLACIAL…”

          Trigger felt something move down his ears.

          It was his top hat. Sliced in half.

          The Edge-wielder had moved so quickly, that Trigger hadn’t even seen him move.

          The sword had now moved from his side to his front, both hands on the hilt. He was ready for whatever came next.

          “Trigger move your tail now!!!” Viaton screamed. “That’s the Emberedge, it doesn’t to connect with you to cut you!!!”

          The warrior glimpsed Trigger’s head and made a startling discovery.

          “No horns?” the Edge-wielder spoke silently. “You’re not an Astarean?!”

          Trigger tried his best to appear cool under the circumstances but his voice come out squeaky and stressful. “So…so what if I’m not?”

          “What could the Astareans possibly have offered you to betray your own countrymen, cat?” the warrior shouted in anger, only to be interrupted by Viaton.

          “He chose the winning side Edge-wielder!” Viaton was weary of this foe, but was far more concerned for the device contained in the case carried by Roboxer.

          Trigger scurried away from the Edge-wielder as Viaton rushed towards him, murmuring ancient enchantments under his breath, engulfing in dark lightning.

          “Ready yourselves, apprentices, we can take this fool down!” Viaton took his battle stance, put his left arm and leg forward, and bracing himself with his right leg and tail.
          Trigger threw his claws in the air and ran. “Screw you horn-head! Suicide wasn’t in the mission specs!”
          Grabbing Soleia over his head, Trigger jumped upon Roboxer’s back. “Time to fly!”
          In an instant, panels in Roboxer’s sides and legs flipped opened, as rockets emerged and activated, launching the trio into the night sky. Trigger laughed maniacally as they vanished into the darkness.

          Viaton was simply dumbfounded by what he had just seen. This incompetent troop of nimrods had just left him high and dry.

          “Can’t find good help these days, huh?” The Edge-wielder didn’t sound surprised by what he had just seen. “I’ll tell you what Astarean. You leave now, and I won’t stop you. You stay, and you’ll find out just how sharp the Emberedge truly is. The choice is yours and yours alone.”

          Viaton’s fear left his face, replaced with rage. “Is that what you said to all my comrades you slaughtered?”

          The Edge-wielder tensed his body, ready to defend.

          “Actually I did! It’s more mercy than you showed those guards, or the driver of the carrier! And your predecessors attacked anyways!! ”

          “Bah, typical Avalonian spittle!” Viaton charged, wildly swinging his fists at the Edge-wielder’s head. Instead, his wildly-flung fists hit the Emberedge’s rain guard. The Edge-wielder lead his shin-guard right into the Astarean’s gut.
          Viaton fell to one knee, the magical fields around his hands deactivated once he lost his focus. As he opens his eyes, he could make out the silhouette of the Edge-wielder hovering over him, pointing the Emberedge directly at his head.

          “I have given you more mercy than you have given on this night! If you tell me what you’ve stolen, I promise you let you go free. This is the last chance I’ll give you. You can’t beat me.”

          The Edge-wielder lowered the sword, and stepped backwards. Viaton was in complete disbelief. The Edge-wielder could just as easily have sliced through his body with the legendary artifact of a far-more violent time. But here he was, sparing him.
          The wind changed.
          It was just enough of a warning for the Edge-wielder as he turned around just quick enough to avoid being hit by a huge fireball at eye level by deflecting it with the Emberedge’s blade. If the Edge-wielder had not have rolled out of the way, he would have been incinerated right then and there.
          Both Viaton and the swordsman looked into the air as an all-black figure floated down to the concrete. Viaton arose quickly to greet the figure.

          “Master Dragos, you came just in the nick of time! I ordered the others to bring the equipment to yo…”

          The black figure’s claw sunk into Viaton’s chest.

          The Edge-wielder was in utter shock. So much so he had lost his calm demeanor in his body language as Viaton trembled, unable to speak as he slumped onto the ground, motionless. He had fought all this time to repel his opponents, not eviscerate them.
          “Have you Astareans so little respect for life that you’d kill your own???”

          “Only an Avalonian would be so quick to speak of matters he not understand.” Dragos moved faster than the Edge-wielder’s helmet sensors could detect. Only his trainer could save him from a similar fate as he just barely dodged Dragos’ razor like claws swiping towards his chest. But the claws did connect. The entire left shoulder piece of the Edge-wielder’s armour came off with a sharp swipe from his hand.
          He saw the crimson flowing from his arm before he felt the pain. Still wielding the Emberedge in his right arm, he deflected another slash from this powerful creature.

          In the light, it could be seen that Dragos was some sort of insectoid, perhaps a dragonfly. Among the features on his jet black exoskeleton, the Edge-wielder clearly saw a purple tie and large black derby.

          This Astarean wasn’t wearing armour. He was, essentially, naked.

          The Edge-wielder was at no advantage whatsoever. This Astarean beast was powerful enough, he didn’t need armour.

          Dragos hit the swordsman with a roundhouse kick with enough brute force to launch him straight through the front window of the transport carrier. He laid on the carrier cockpit floor, still bleeding. Crawling to his feet, he was cautious not to disturb the broken body of the penguin driver.

          He could hear the sound of Dragos’ wings flapping in the air. The loss of blood was starting to make him feel faint and weak.
          His firm grip on the Emberedge was starting to loosen. He looked around for any advantage he could possibly utilize to defend himself. Looking at the dashboard, he scrambled to find whatever would hopefully be his ticket to living another day.

          In a heartbeat, Dragos popped into the passenger’s side window. “Shall I kill you with my claws, my teeth, or my flames? Decisions, decisions…” Dragos crawled through the window, licking his razor sharp teeth as his massive wings bent the metal of the doorframe.

          The Edge-wielder retorted; “I always preferred option D!!”
          As hard as he could he hit one of the big red buttons sitting in the middle of the dashboard. The sound of air escaping was deafening.
          It caught Dragos by surprise, but not as much as the rooftop opening and the chair launching him into the night sky howling!

          He had survived the battle. But he knew he had to move fast if he was going to survive the night.
          He searched the cockpit for any medical supplies he could, only finding a small, partially broken box of bandages and some cloth. It would have to be enough for him to stop the bleeding, but with his armour broken he wondered if he could survive another melee.

          He placed a cloth over the face of the penguin driver after haphazardly wrapping up his arm. He made his way to the driver’ side door, greeted by the recovering guards.

          “Y-y-you saved us??”

          “The sword cuts through magic…magically created ice is like paper to it…”

          The guards moved closer to him. “Here, let us help you.” The Edge-wielder declined their help as he managed to walk down the steps of the carrier. The Edge-wielder held out the Emberedge with his undamaged right arm. It disappeared in a flash of light. The guards were astounded. Magic was not common place in their lives. “Your friend…I couldn’t save him…I’m sorry…I’m so so sorry.”

         “Oh…Percy…” One of the guards started to make his way towards the door of the carrier. The other was fighting to contain his emotions.
          The Edge-wielder slowly hobbled his way past the second guard, whispering to him; “Would you please make certain they don’t find my blood?”
          The second guard removed his helmet, revealing his frost-bitten face, the human guard nodded his head.

          The least they could for this mysterious armoured swordsman was to keep his identity secret.

          “Okay Dash, what’s this all about? Why did you call me in so early?”

          The offices of Hornetblade Industries were abuzz from the previous nights’ incident.

          President Henry Hornetblade, vice-president Dash Doberman and Walt Raccoon, vice-president of Xylonox, a close partner of Hornetblade Industries, all sat and watched what little security footage there was on a large wall-mounted screen.

          They were slightly amused as the lizard man Soleia and cat magician Trigger argued vehemently over how to break into the vault to claim their prize, until Roboxer ripped the vault off of the ground.

          Dash spoke after the video finished playing. “The guards last night didn’t give much testimony as to what happened. We know what was taken, and we identified the deceased. The driver was Percival Penguin, husband, father of four.” Henry tried to hold back his feelings. He never lost an employee before, let alone one who served his parents. But the bad news was going to get worse.

          ”The other dead body, the horned one who appeared on the camera, was not found but he was identified as being from the Astarean territories.”
          “An Astarean???” Walt almost fell out his chair. “That cannot be! They cannot enter Avalone territory!”

          “Well, you’d best tell them that” said Henry in a frustrated tone. “They’re stealing our equipment and they’re using Avalonian riff-raff to do it. Do we know what was stolen?”

          Dash breathed in deeply. “Last time, they took a device typically used in machinery that grows enriched meat for consumption. But it looks like last night…uh…last night…they took the prototype.”

          Henry stood up quickly from his chair. A look of fear swept the room.

          “But there is a ray of light in this situation!” Dash exclaimed. Henry looked at him puzzled. “How can there possibly be a ray of light?” It was then that a second camera activated on the wall-mounted screen.

          A map of the continent, with a small, blinking red light. The prototype was bugged.

          It was later that morning when Henry Hornetblade made his way back to his office on the second floor of the building, the whole way holding his mobile computer screen in his hands, studying the movement of the blinking red light on the map. He held the screen up to the door’s digital lock, as usual. And as he opened the door, he felt a cool breeze, as usual.
          “Is that you Tom? Y’know I told you that you don’t have to go through the window, just as long as your armour’s deactivated, the front desk shouldn’t pester you too bad…”

          Propping himself in the corner sat the warrior clad in white armour, his helmet still on, the bandages on his shoulder bright red.

          Henry forgot all about the robbery and ran towards his friend as fast as he could.

          “Oh my goodness Tom! Why didn’t you go to a hospital? Why did you come here? How did you even get in here without alerting security??”

          “It’s probably better that you don’t know.” Tom tried to force a smile. “I tried to patch myself up. Guess I still need practice on that, huh?’

          “You’re lucky I have a med-kit in this room!”

          Tom rested on an old bed that Henry had been refurnishing, reminiscing over the previous night’s events. He couldn’t come up with a reason why the Astarean would kill one of his own, but he hoped Henry could illuminate on his other immediate question.

          “What did they take?”

          Henry put down his mobile computer screen and placed it on the table, right next to Tom’s armour in its stasis form, a small green jewel on a necklace. “Oh, you’re awake?” Henry breathed in deeply, gathering his composure. He knew what he was about to tell
          “I’d say it’s probably better that you didn’t know…but I’m sure that wouldn’t fly too well at the moment.” he half-heartedly joked.

          As he envisioned, Tom was stone-faced. Henry didn’t know how to say it so he just said it.

          “It was a proto-type for a portable energy-converter.”

          Tom looked puzzled. “And that’s worth killing for?”

          “Well, that’s largely dependent on what they plan on using it for,” Henry walked towards him, talking with his hands. “It will convert any energy into any other energy. So you know, these crooks probably don’t have the best of intensions at heart. They could sell it to the highest bidder – if we’re lucky!”

          “Considering this is the Astareans we’re talking about, luck is something we don’t have.”

          Silence fell over the room until Henry spoke up once again. “We need to plan.”

          “This isn’t a ‘we’ thing Henry. I do the ground work. You do the patch work.” Tom stood up abruptly and walked towards the green jewel, before slumping over in pain.

          Henry managed to get to Tom before he would have fallen over, propping his arm up on his shoulders, taking care not to scrape his arm with his horns.

“You are the top swordsman at the Academy, heck, maybe in the entirety of Elysian, but I’m the fastest striker at the Academy. Like it or not you could use the help!”

           “This is my family’s duty. This is my legacy to them and all of Avalonia.”

           “But you don’t have to do this alone Tom. None of your predecessors who wielded the Emberedge ever fought completely alone!”
          Henry helped Tom over to the table to try to keep him steady.

          “My predecessors may have united the species and fought off interdimensional invaders, but they never had to deal with things like portable energy converters.” Tom said in a sarcastic tone.         
          Henry grabbed his mobile computer screen. “See this?” The red light glowed on the small screen. “Let me make some calls. Get some of the boys in tech on board, some of my grandpa’s old drinking buddies and I guarantee you. We can end all of this by the end of the week.”

          “No. I couldn’t forgive myself if something happened to you, much less anyone else! So, there’s going to be no army! I’ll get your prototype back myself.”

          Henry both admired and loathed Tom’s stubbornness. He had been best friends with Tom since childhood. They had been each other’s support during the hardest times of their lives.

          They had defended each other in fights against bullies and even feral beasts. They had entered the Warriors of Avalonia Academy at the same time.
          And when Tom discovered his family’s legendary career as defenders of Avalonia, it was Henry who he had confined in first.
          Afterall, when Henry inherited his family business, constructing suits of armour among other machinery, it was Tom who had defended his newly mega-rich friend from those of the Academy who had grown jealous of his sudden success, despite the immense personal cost.

          To say that their lives were complicated was an understatement, but despite it all, the two men supported one another as best they could.
          Henry had even recently employed Tom as his personal assistant, mostly to give him an alibi as to why he had been absent from the Academy so often.
          After all, having titanic battles for the fate of one’s world wasn’t conducive to studying.
          “So how about a one man army?” Henry asked.

          Tom’s eyebrows rose.

          “Let me introduce you to a new friend of mine.”


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