• The trees were too quiet, no birds sang, no bugs mad noise. Further upon the path, the smell of blood clung to the air. Around the corner to the old mans place, blood soaked the ground. Bodies lie cleaved in half, with limbs missing, or with no limbs at all. There had to be hundreds of them, stacked in piles, almost as if they were killed as they stood. But that is not possible, what kind of beast could do these kind of things? A better question was, what the hell were they doing here? As he continued to his sword, the bodies became thicker, and thicker, until he could not help but walk across them, all the while their numbers increasing.

    The smell of blood was over powering, waking up the most primal of senses. He pulled his sword in just enough time to be smashed by a gigantic war axe. The blow sent him flying, if he had not pulled his sword, he would have been cleaved in half. If it had not been for the reddish glare of blood off the axe’s blade, he would have never seen it coming. The man swinging the axe was a terrible sight; he was about seven three, and nothing but packed muscle, which was hard to see under drying layers of blood, his own, and the enemy’s. His axe was scarred and chipped from over use. The blade was in the shape of two crescent moons, concave instead of the usual convex, obviously meant for killing, and nothing else.

    Shaun sheathed his sword and ran at the huge man. When he swung, Shaun jumped on the handle and ran up it, jumping off behind him, and towards the shed that held his sword. Crashing right through the door, Shaun rolled into the small room, grabbing the handle of his sword as he went. Just as he cleared it the rear wall of the shack, it exploded inward, a cry of anger from the leviathan giving his position away on the other side. Shaun crashed through the debris of the back wall and out into the night, with the leviathan close on his trail. In his mind he went over the situation, a huge man with a bigger axe is chasing him, and he doesn’t even know why? Well that just sucks.
    But there was something else… The leviathan was injured. He could be defeated. Shaun stopped, turned, and drew his smaller sword, his broad sword strapped to his back.
    The leviathan was coming trough the tree, not around them through them. The forest shook with each of his steps. But the big man was slowing down. By the time he got to Shaun he could barely stand. But yet the big man still swung the axe, and sent Shaun back another twenty feet, to rest painfully on his back. The leviathan shambled over to him and raised his axe, preparing to remove Shaun’s head. Then the gigantic man got a good look at him. He smiled, dropped his axe, and passed out.

    The man may have tried to kill him, but in the end, he had spared him. So Shaun would try to help him. He could barely carry the man, no way in hell could he also carry his weapon. The thing was damn near as big as him. In all though, it was possible, the only problem was the man was bleeding from over fifty holes in his body. Trying to hurry nearly killed Shaun, and by the time he came crashing through the door, they were both half dead. From Cybele and Athena’s point of view, they were eating lunch when a mass of bloodied and almost dead bodies roll onto the floor. There was an awkward moment of silence and then all hell broke loose. Athena lurched forward, and began to pull Shaun out from under the gigantic man, and Cybele drew his sword as if there was a threat.

    Even after the man was off atop him, Cybele kept his sword trained on Shaun. The look in his eye was that of pure hatred, and the look of the kill was on his face. Slowly he approached Shaun, even though he could not stand on his own, still Cybele kept his swords drawn. Shaun did not know what his problem was, but he was not sure he wanted to find out. As he approached, Athena stepped in front of him, stopping his progress. The world began to darken as exhaustion finally swept Shaun away and at the worst possible time, Shaun fell asleep. When he awoke, a solemn figure stood towering in the door way, Shaun’s smaller blade in his hand. The leviathan stood over him as voices from the next room floated in.
    “But he holds the sword!”
    “And with what he did to us before, are you foolish enough to try to get past him again?”
    “The boy must die”
    “Why is that?”
    “He holds the sword!”
    “And you know he is evil?”
    “He must be!”
    “And why is that?”
    “Because I say only one of pure evil can wield that sword.”
    “Do you even know if he can?”
    “Well it is implied…”
    “And what of the possibility of a bond formed by pure rage?”
    “Nobody can be that angry at the time they pick up the sword”
    “Are you sure?”

    Every body went quiet, the silence becoming more pressing by the second. The leviathan shifted, sitting in the door way now, with the sword to the ground. He looked weary, and his wounds were not yet dressed. Shaun was sprawled out on the floor, as if he had been thrown into the room. He actually probably had been thrown into the room.
    Shaun stood up and took a cautious step towards the large man. He appeared to be sleeping, but as Shaun got closer, he lifted one heavy lid and gave him a wink. Shaun walked up to the doorway, and standing behind the leviathan, began to speak to his friends.
    “What the hell is going on here!?”
    “We would ask you the same”
    “Why do you carry that sword?”
    “I actually found it.”
    “Why do you lie to us?”
    “I don’t”
    “Then how did you come by this sword?”
    “It was in a ditch”
    “It is not common to find swords in ditches my friend”
    “It was a dagger at the time.”
    “That makes no sense, magik is sparse around here, and magik items are even scarcer, but I suppose…”
    “That it’s possible I’m telling the truth?”
    “Tell me the whole story”

    Shaun had forgotten that neither Cybele nor Athena had heard his story. With a subtle “you’re not going to believe this” he began. By the end of the story, both Cybele and Athena were very confused looking. Athena was still trying to figure out why you would get in trouble for hurting someone, when not killing them was sparing their lives. And Cybele asked only one question; “what is a ‘car’?” Shaun explained it as a horseless carriage. But other than that they took it very well.

    Shaun began to step past the leviathan, when his hand snaked out and grabbed Shaun’s foot. He looked at Shaun and in that one look said “help me” and his hand fell limp. It took all three of them to lift the large man onto a bed, but eventually it was done. The wounds were near fatal, every one of them. But somehow the man was still alive, even after he was cleaned, and bandaged, he still looked like s**t. The entire lower half of his body hung off the operating table, which made it hard to keep him comfortable.

    It took nearly all of Cybele’s herbs to keep him sedated, and he would sometimes wake up to Shaun and Cybele pulling arrow heads out of his body, or the occasional spear tip. After they had done all they could, they left him to lie in a damp puddle of his own blood, with only a blanket for protection. It sounded cold, but it was all they could do to help the poor warrior. Two long days passed, and the man did not so much as roll over. All they could hear from the room, was labored breathing, and a man in a fight to the death, with what ever it was that was still plaguing him. On the fourth day he allowed him self to be arose from sleep, to have water poured down his throat by Shaun.
    In the breath of the early morning on the sixth day, the man awoke, and began to pull himself up, reaching for his axe. With a sudden stroke of panic he realized that it was not there. He flailed his arms about in the darkness of predawn, hitting something soft and fleshy. A cry of pain erupted from his lips as a recoiling blow caused him to stagger backwards, he reached out and grabbed a hand full of someone, and suddenly he remembered. He stopped, and let the struggling man go, standing still and quiet, awaiting the orders of his master. On his quest, he had never been so sure in his life, that he had found the sword. The fact that a kid was wielding it was only a minor detail. If the kid could lift the damn thing then it was destined to move to his hands. An old priest had cursed him, telling him that he was on a quest for this sword, that until he found it he would feel not the pleasures of life. Until he was cut by this blade, with the permission of the owner, not only could he not touch the blade, but he would never again feel anything, but loss.

    And then he felt it. He had stepped on a twig, near a burnt down old place, and the pain reached him through his bare feet. It was not much but that one little pang made him weep with happiness. This was the first time he had felt, anything besides a pressing sense of something wrong in many, many years. All at once they came back to him, dropping him to his knees. The feelings were pure, and real. The sword must be very close. Searching, he came upon an old tiny shack; the sword leaned against the far wall, glowing ever so slightly by the escaping light. He came within ten feet of the sword, and felt a presence.

    Spinning he drew his axe. The person fell to the ground in two parts. He knew that if he had let him live he would have lost the sword forever. Angry shouts came from the forest. Hundreds of yells and screams… They could not have the sword; he had waited for so long. An arrow struck his shoulder, the sudden pain almost crippling him, he had to fight away from the sword, and this pain was almost too much for him to bear. So he ran towards the forest, killing as he went. The pain subsided, but with it so did everything else. No more could he feel the soft breeze, the grass under his bare feet, all he felt was an immense need to return.

    Somebody had obviously put a barrier of some sort around the sword, because on his return, the men were trying to break through it. With his feelings returned, he grew enraged, and the slaughter began. Body parts were flying this way and that as his giant axe, cleaved them from their sockets. The blood rained down continuously as the men kept coming, driving him closer and closer to the shack. Every arrowhead hurt, and more than the last, every spear head felt as if it were a shot from a Batista. The men seemed to never stop coming. The waves of men on him now had seen the last die, and were learning from it. They stood at a distance using projectile weapons, and they hurt. A sudden brutal attack from a broad sword caused him to fall back. He fell right around the corner of the shack, and the men stopped as if they had hit a wall. The barrier from the sword, caused a pocket, just big enough for him to fit through the opening, and protected him. Every once in a while they would come near the entrance, but they would just be smashed down into a pulp by his axe. The ground was mud, made of the blood of many enemies, and soon they began to fall back.
    It had been quiet for a while, but now he could feel the presence of another. This being was just around the corner, parallel to his breech. He went to crush it as he had all the rest, but it blocked (somehow) and rolled into the shack. The man moved around back to try and stop him, and stubbed his toe on an old looking statue. With a scream of anger, he hurled it at the shack, and dove after. The pain was slowing him down and after a few minutes it became clear he could no longer fight, he had to end this. Tackling him he drew his blade for the final blow. A stream of light fell on the beings face, and it was all ok. He lowered his axe because he had no reason to fight the man he trusted D... and darkness swept over him.

    He slowly came back to consciousness, to find himself alone in an empty room. It was cold, and he hurt all over. But it was okay, because he felt the pain! The sword must be near by, so it was safe. He felt empty, as if he had been pulled apart and they had forgotten to put his insides back in. These people did not die, because it was obvious that the master had trusted them. He did not know how he knew this, but he did. His whole life up to this point had been nothing but loss… but around his master, he could feel everything. He lay there in the darkness for hours, just thinking. The inability to feel pain in battle was just too valuable an attribute too useful on the battle field to lose. He could stay with him… battle by his side, and leave when he needed more than human capabilities. This was the first time he had thought of the curse as a gift. It could make him great… But he would use it for good not bad, if at all possible.

    He stood up slowly, he had realized they had sutured his wounds, and had removed all of the foreign items that had been gathering up over the years, he had never felt them, but he knew they were there. It was such a relief that they were gone that he almost went back to sleep. The others were asleep, and he had a nagging feeling that something was wrong. The boy’s small sword was still here, he could use it. Picking it up, he moved into the hallway.

    The air was dark and cold, but he could still not shake this feeling… Somebody was near by… And they were not friendly. The sword was to light, he was used to his axe, and it was the reason for his size. A long time ago, when the curse was first set upon him he could feel nothing, and because of that he could wear his body to near death, before he rested. It made him strong. And then a name… Aux. Aux. His name? It had been so long. Nobody had said his name for many years, and now he thinks it. Aux. wasn’t there more? Oh well. At least now he had a title for his master to call him.

    The dagger slid cleanly down his back, cutting muscle as it went. Aux felt blood begin to pool around his feet. He turned slowly to see a man, cloaked in the deepest darkness of night, smile a smile foul enough to kill a man. The wound was a bleeder, but that was it. It would be fine if it could be caught in time. Aux fell to his knees with a bang loud enough to wake the whole house. Shawn was the first out, his legendary sword in hand. The man smiled deeper and stepped out of the darkness.

    Shaun ran forward, forgetting all of his training and swinging wildly at the intruder. He merely smiled and stepped out of the way, tripping Shaun as he went. He spun and pulled another dagger, dropping with practiced precision to give Shaun a kill blow. “Father!” Athena screamed, throwing a kunai at him in such a way that he had to stop and block it. That was all the time it took for Cybele to step around the corner fully garbed for battle, swords drawn. He saw Athena’s father, and a fire lit in his eyes that Shaun had never seen before. Some how to fast to see, the two met in the air, just a flicker and they were gone. It sounded as if they were nowhere but everywhere at the same time.

    Unlike all of Shaun’s battles this one kept up for at least twenty minutes. That is twenty minutes before they slowed down enough for Shaun to see them. They were bleeding from everywhere. The floor was covered in blood, and Cybele was loosing, he was on the defensive, and he was growing weak. Shaun just had time to see the flaw in his defense before the strike was thrown. With a frustrated scream, Athena’s sword was there to stop the blow, and just like that, it was two on one.

    The battle ragged on, but over time, Athena began to weaken to. The man was just too strong… from the corner of his eye a flash… The man was cut again as Aux threw his blade at him. The blade sank deep into the wall, penetrating to the outside. He lept up with way too much stamina for an injured man and joined the battle. His right hand was severely burned… when did that happen? Without a sword, Cybele was less than useless. So he grabbed the nearest heavy item and charged in. it was four on one. The odds were still against them. It was Cybele who started the end. Cybele rushed forward and faked an upper blow while attacking low. Aux grabbed him by the throat and began to squeeze, while Athena buried her sword in through his arm, and her dagger through the other. And Shaun finished it, bringing a chunk of jagged metal down on his head.

    It was a scene of pain at the place where pain knows best. In his home Cybele had to deal with, his own injuries, Shaun’s injuries, Athena’s injuries and feelings, and Auxe’s once again critical condition. It was all too much for the poor old sword master. Not only was his home destroyed but also he ha to deal with the missing sword of Shaun’s. It was going to be a long day. The sun was just rising from over the wall. He looked around at his ruined house, and turned back to his bedroom, to sleep off the fight. After patching up Aux, everybody passed out, in a place where blood had managed to avoid somehow. Athena curled up next to Shaun, her tear streaked eyes finally getting some reprieve, on the foot of the bed was Aux, snoring softly in his new bandages, and more than slightly hanging off the bed. And slightly uncomfortable, but also asleep was Cybele, Occupying his own little corner of the bed.
    It was peaceful, and only slightly comical to see them all so vulnerable, so open to attack. Yet so close to each other…

    They slept all through the day, not worrying about anything but themselves. It was a good rest, one that they greatly deserved. As night began to roll around, so did every one from their peaceful dreams. They awoke one by one, piling out of the bed and mumbling their way to the facilities. Soon all that were left were Shaun and Aux. Shaun looked at Aux, at his slowly rising and falling chest, and whispered “If only you could understand how grateful I am…” And he heard a soft “Oh but I do.”
    “You can speak?!”
    “Don’t be surprised, most people can.”
    “But I thought you were some sort of monster.”
    “Most people do…”
    “I’m sorry I eh…”
    “It’s okay; I know you are not like the others.”
    “What is your name?”
    “Is that all?”
    “It is all I can remember…”
    “Okay Aux, what in the hell is going on?!!”

    So Aux spent the next part of an hour telling his story. All the while the others listened from the other side of the wall. So it seemed that there were four of them. Shaun, Cybele, Athena, and Aux. They did not know what it was that fate had brought them together for, but whatever it was had built one hell of a team. They had Shaun, and while his mastery was not quite clear, he had potential in all fields. Next was Cybele, a renouned master of broad sword, and long sword, combined battle. Just recently they added Athena, an apprentice, but near master in the art of silent killing. And finally, to balance the team out, there was Aux, an obvious master of the slow, but extremely powerful war axe, and can hold his own with a long sword. This was a team of elites, brought together by fate to stop a great wrong. That much they knew. He hard part was what, where, why, when, and how.

    And it had only been a few days sense Shaun had first met Cybele. And already so much had happened. Shaun had a feeling that the next two weeks were going to bring a tidal wave of confusion, and one hell of a headache. Cybele later announced that everyone could stay, but we would have to rain together if we wished to live through the month. We all agreed it was a good idea.

    All that was left to do now was to wait for the inevitable hammer to drop, and crush this sense of serenity, and normalcy that the training was bringing on. The beginning of a great journey was near. The death of the old man will be avenged. And the wrongs brought on by Athena’s father will be righted, and maybe Aux will remember his full name. There was only one thing certain right now; everybody hurt every where all of the time, and to start this epic journey, Shaun probably aught to find his sword. The coming months would be trying, but if he pulled through, he would be stronger than ever.