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Through the Eyes of Astrauld
A daily journal of personal opinions, and on occasion, a piece of one of my many stories.
The Drehal Legacies: Astrauld - Chapter Two: Vengeance
~Chapter Two - Vengeance~

PRESENT


It was the beginning of the afternoon and the light outside the cave was at its brightest. Since Astrauld told Imoro of his childhood, they had simply eaten more chicken and thought to themselves. Astrauld about Imoro’s nightmare and Imoro about Astrauld’s life. The cave did not grow any warmer, and the two still shivered violently, their bones aching and teeth chattering. It was most certainly not a pleasant experience.

“Astrauld, I need a distraction from this blisteringly cold environment. Could you tell me more about your life?”

“Well I suppose I should tell you more while we’re stuck together.” Astrauld could tell that Imoro was growing more and more comfortable around him because of the Wood Nymph’s eagerness to hear more about Astrauld’s life. “The next moment of significance was around five years later. I was growing stronger, my father only weakening. It was time for a change in my life.”

PAST


The Autumn season had fallen over Dweldren Valley. The few trees around that were not evergreen took on orange and red colors. The sun, though still warm, was beginning to cool down as the year went on. Behind the Drehal cottage, Astrauld chopped wood. His father was away on a hunting trip and would not be back for at least another day. It was time for Astrauld to ask his mother a question he had been longing to ask for years.

After chopping one last piece of cedar, Astrauld set down the ax and walked into the cottage’s living area, where Sofia sat in a rocking chair, reading a book titled Dweldren Valley Traditions. She looked up at her now tall son as he entered the room. “Hello, Astrauld. Are you done with the wood chopping? Your father really wanted that done.”

“I’m almost done, mother.” Astrauld replied in a soft tone. “But, while he’s away, I need to ask you something.”

“Go ahead, son.”

“Mother… Why didn’t you help me when father was beating me that one night?” The atmosphere of the conversation became extremely tense when Astrauld asked the question.

“Well, I…”

“He could have killed me, mother. You stood idly bye while he smashed a glass bottle on my head.” Astrauld recalled, his temper rising. “Don’t you care about me?”

A tear ran down Sofia’s face. “Son, I love you more than everything else, but I cannot stand up to your father… He’s a brute. He’d kill the both of us.”

“You could have called a guard. You could have done something to help… Do you know what he made me do that night?” Astrauld asked coldly.

“No.”

“It was pure evil.” Astrauld began to shake with anger. “He made me do something you would certainly not approve of.”

“What?”

“He and I killed Lyyrn and his brother that night. The arrows in their heads belonged to father.”

Sofia but a hand over her mouth, appalled by this stunning information. “I’m so sorry, Astrauld.”

“You could have stopped it! I’m only fifteen and I’ve murdered someone in cold blood!”

Many tears began to spill down both their faces. Astrauld’s face was red with his frustration and rage toward his mother.

“I’m so sorry! I’m a horrible mother!” Sofia shouted. She dropped the book and ran from the room back to her bed, where she cried for the rest of the day. Astrauld sat in the now vacant rocking chair and wiped his face of tears. After awhile he calmed down and became bored. Neglecting his wood chopping duty, he picked up the book Sofia was reading before the dramatic confrontation. He opened it to the first page.


A LITTLE BIT OF HISTORY: Dweldren Valley was named after the first inhabitants of the valley, a vicious crossbreed of Dwarves and Humans, called the Dweldren. They were strong, stupid beasts, acting like the common animal, which is why when the first settlers arrived here, it was made a game to kill the Dweldren like common beasts. It was called The Eradication.

Reading that short paragraph sparked a memory in Astrauld. “You’re behaving like one of the damn Dweldren!” Sofia once shouted. “Good observation, mother.” Astrauld said to himself. “All Dweldren should be eradicated of.”

PRESENT


“It’s about time I eat. I’m starving.” Astrauld grabbed one of the many chicken legs and bit into it, savoring the bite. “I’ve been talking too much about myself. I want to know a little more about you, Imoro.”

Imoro was surprised by the request. No one ever asked him about who he was, so he didn’t know how to reply. “Well, I was born in the forest in a treetop village called Krial’s Haven. I was the youngest member of the richest family in the village. We had a treetop manor that towered over all the other shops and households. My parents knew that their luxurious lifestyle would cause a stir of jealousy in the village, but they were not cautious enough. A few men broke into our house and killed my parents and two brothers. I ran from the house and was able to survive. Those fiends took our money and their lives.” Imoro breathed heavily. “Since then I’ve wandered these forests, fending for myself.”

“Interesting…” Astrauld said, scratching his chin. “That must be quite the life, being so free.”

“It’s a lonesome existence, I can assure you. Sometimes I question my own opinions on civilized life, but those thoughts wear away after awhile.”

“Anything else?” Astrauld asked.

“That’s basically been my whole life, Astrauld. I would like to hear more about you, honestly.”

PAST


The next morning started out normally. Sofia made some eggs for Astrauld and they went their separate ways, Sofia to clean the house, Astrauld to finish chopping the wood. Astrauld looked at the ax he held, imagining himself using it as a weapon against his murderous father. Astrauld imagined chopping his father’s head clean off, ridding the world of his vile soul.

The trees around the house rustled in the calm wind, their sound accompanied by a crack of Astrauld’s final chop. He bend over, picking up the two pieces of wood, tossing them on to the pile, as a chill ran down his neck. The front door of the house slammed shut.

“I’m home!” Warhal said as he arrived. Astrauld thought of all the ways he could go about ridding of his father. Quick and painless or long and agonizing. Well, realistically, Astrauld would not be able to choose. It would depend on the situation. Still, he imagined chopping up his father with the ax he left by the wood pile. Astrauld began to walk toward the house to greet his father, who now stood in the back yard. “Is the wood all chopped?” he asked.

“Yes, father.” Warhal walked over to the large wood pile to verify Astrauld’s confirmation. While he wasn’t looking, Astrauld picked up the ax.

Warhal bent over, examining the cuts. “You can finally chop the damn wood right. Good. You’ll be doing all of it next summer.” In the corner of his eye, Warhal saw Astrauld’s shadow. He noticed that Astrauld raised something in the air, far above his head. The ax! Warhal rolled to the side as the head of the ax made its descent, dodging Astrauld’s attack.

“Damn it!” Astrauld shouted. The ax was stuck in the ground, and as he tried to pull it out, Warhal gained his balance and walked toward his son.

“You’re trying to kill me?” Warhal punched Astrauld in the face, knocking him down to his knees. Astrauld let out a cry of pain, beginning to scurry away as Warhal picked up the ax. “You must want to die!” Astrauld hurried into the cottage, Warhal slightly behind him. The frightened adolescent slammed the back door shut, and the head of the ax penetrated it. “I’ll kill you!” Warhal shouted.

Astrauld stumbled into the living area where Sofia sat. She looked up at her son, shocked and scared. “What’s going on?” she asked.

“Father is trying to kill me!” Astrauld replied.

Sofia, in an instant, stood up and used her frail body to block the entrance to the living area. She put her hands on each side of the doorway, trying to be a blockade. Warhal looked at his wife angrily. “Move!” he ordered. “This is between Astrauld and I!”

“No it’s not!” she replied. “If you want him, you’ll have to get through me, you ape!” Warhal chuckled.

“Gladly.” He raised the ax and hit Sofia sideways in the head, cutting through her skull. Her body fell backward, allowing Astrauld to now see Warhal’s bloodstained figure. “You’re turn, son.”

On the end table by the rocking chair Sofia once sat in was a large, empty bottle of Drake’s Finest Brew. That’s it! Astrauld thought. He picked up the bottle and faced his murderous, ax wielding father. “Why would you try to kill me, son?” Warhal asked. “How stupid can a boy be?”

“Shut up and do it, you damn coward!” Astrauld shouted, raising the bottle. Warhal raised his ax you strike his son just as Astrauld threw the empty glass bottle at his face. It broke, and Warhal stuttered, confused.

“What in the world?” Warhal exclaimed. Warhal loosened the grip on the ax as he fell backward, barely conscious. Astrauld took the ax quickly, backing away.

“Have fun where you’re going, you b*****d!” Astrauld shouted as he ran up and kicked his father square in the face. Warhal was unconscious, and Astrauld was relieved… And he had the perfect way to rid of his mother’s corpse and his father’s soul at the same time.

Astrauld took a silver amulet from his mother’s corpse, putting it on as a reminder of her bravery. I’ll always love you, mother, he thought, shedding a tear. The dramatic moments were finally catching up to his fragile emotions. He began to break down in tears over his mother’s body, punching the wall in anger. “Why?” he asked no one. “Why her?” He looked over at his unconscious father. “You b*****d…”

Astrauld went back to his parent’s room and retrieved some fire stones. Fire stones are rocks that explode when they hit hard surfaces at high velocities. Astrauld packed some left over food and all of his clothes into a large backpack and walked into the front yard of the house. He held one large fire stone in his right hand, and another, smaller one in his left. He retracted his right arm, throwing the first stone. He threw the second stone after, and there were two explosions that ignited the house. Astrauld ran from the scene, down the trail that would take him out of Dweldren Valley soon enough.

After he was gone, the entire village gathered around the house, watching the roof cave in, hearing Warhal’s last scream. Many of them rejoiced, realizing that the Drehal family would no longer be in Ilkskava, but the person whose emotions were the most complex were those of Astrauld. He felt great happiness knowing that his father was dead, but felt a strong sadness toward the death of his mother. So, with the pessimistic and optimistic thoughts, he had a blank expression spread across his face. The emotions were so strong that they balanced each other out. There was no sadness or happiness now. There was only the memory of that night that Astrauld would always think about. He looked down at Sofia’s amulet. Her positive influence on his mind made him shed one tear. He wiped it off his face and continued his journey to another place.





The Drehal Legacies: Astrauld - Chapter One: Abuse
~Chapter One - Abuse~

PAST


It was a warm summer day in Ilkskava, the sun beating down on Astrauld as he picked raspberries from the berry patch behind his family’s cottage. It was a beautiful day, the mountains around the valley spiking through the clouds, blanketed in glistening snow. Yet, despite the beauty, Astrauld still felt uneasy. His father was home today, back from a hunting trip, and that was never good for Astrauld or his poor mother. He could hear his father cutting wood nearby, grunting and moaning. “Astrauld, get over here!” he ordered. Astrauld scurried over to his fatigued father. His father set down the ax and knelt beside him, putting a firm hand on his shoulder. “Your mother told me another child hurt you while I was gone.” Astrauld felt a sense of affection from his father, hoping that somehow he had changed over the trip.

“Yeah, it was Lyyrn Konnshal. He hit me with a fake wooden sword over and over again.” Astrauld explained. “It really hurt.”

His father sighed. “Well, what did you do about it?”

“I came home and told mom. I was afraid.”

“Astrauld, it’s going to be okay.” his father assured. Astrauld smiled, feeling his father sympathy for him. “Because you’re going to beat that kid to a pulp.” The feeling of affection suddenly wore away, and he realized his father didn’t change whatsoever.

“But he’s two years older than me! He’s too strong.”

“I don’t care how old he is. You’re eleven years old, Astrauld. Mommy and daddy aren’t going to be here forever, so get used to defending yourself.”

PRESENT


“Wait, you were only eleven years old?” Imoro asked. “Was your father insane?”

“He was, but in any case, he was going to make me hurt this adolescent child. I always did what he told me to out of fear. He was incredibly abusive, you see?”

PAST


Sure enough, an hour later, Astrauld was on the street, standing in the face of Lyyrn. It was a very scary confrontation for the poor child. Lyyrn stood five inches taller and was far stronger than Astrauld. “What do you want?” the thirteen year old enemy asked. In fear of his father, Astrauld did not answer with words, but with a punch to the face. The thirteen year old boy fell to the ground, and Astrauld began to kick him. “Knock it off!” Lyyrn plead. “It hurts!”

“How do you like it, Lyyrn?” Astrauld asked. “How bad does it hurt?”

“That’s my boy!” Astrauld’s father called from behind. “Keep going!” While Astrauld was focused, one of Lyyrn’s brothers came to the scene. Before Astrauld knew it, he was kicked in the stomach, falling to the ground, crying.

“Don’t mess with my brother, you Drehal rat!” the young man shouted. “Let’s get out of here, Lyyrn.” The brother picked Lyyrn up and began to carry him to their home.

“Son of a b***h! I knew he wasn’t tough enough!” Astrauld’s father spat in disgust, slamming the door to the cottage behind him. Obviously his father was disappointed and angry, and there was only one thing Astrauld’s father did when he was angry.

That night, Astrauld and his father stood by the kitchen table. Astrauld looked up at his off balance father in fear, and his father looked at him in anger. His father held a large glass bottle that said, ‘Drake’s Finest Brew.’ It was nearly empty of the liquid. “You b*****d child!” his father shouted. “I told you to beat that kid to a bloody damn pulp! Why didn’t you do that?” Astrauld’s father placed one hand on the table to keep himself steady.

“I tried, father, but I don’t like hurting people.”

“GET USED TO IT!” he screamed, smashing the bottom of the bottle on the table, breaking it and facing the sharp shards at me. “People are going to hurt you! DEFEND YOURSELF!” He smashed the rest of the bottle on my head, and I fell on my back, screaming. My scalp was bleeding, as well as some cuts on my face.

“Mom, help me! Dad’s hurting me!” Astrauld screamed, tears and blood flowing down his face.

“Why don’t you help yourself, Astrauld?” his father asked, raising his right hand.

“MOM!”

The backhand came quick and precise. Astrauld’s head hit against the counter, and he screamed in the nearly unbearable pain.

“Enough!” his mother bellowed from the kitchen. “You’re behaving like one of the damn Dweldren!”

“Cram it, Sofia. This is between me and our moron of a child.”

“If you lay another hand on Astrauld, I’ll… I’ll…”

“What are you going to do about it, b***h? Talk me to death?” his father began to laugh at his own joke. “Go make me some food. I’m hungry!”

“… Yes, honey.” his mother replied.

“Mom, no! He’ll kill me!” Astrauld insisted as his mother turned away and walked back into the kitchen. Another backhand came, and Astrauld was knocked unconscious.

PRESENT


“My childhood was very hard, Imoro.” Astrauld explained.

“How did you survive?” Imoro questioned.

“I honestly don’t know, Imoro.” Astrauld yawned and stretched his arms. “But I am very tired. I believe it’s about time we go to bed.

“But… What happened next?”

“That’ll be for the morning, Imoro.” Astrauld laid down beside the fire and shut his eyes. “Good night.”

“Good night.” Imoro replied.

Imoro woke up early that morning, just as the sun’s first light began to shine through the cracks of the cave’s blockade. The fire was out, and Astrauld was still asleep. As much as Imoro did not want to, he could not get the nightmare he had just had to leave his mind. Tears began to run down his cheeks, and he began to shake. He breathed heavily as he cried, most of his muscles flexing, trying to relieve the emotional pain he was suffering. Astrauld sat up when he heard the commotion.

“What’s going on?” he asked.

“N-nothing, Astrauld.” Imoro replied, wiping his face of tears.

“You can tell me, Imoro. What happened?” Astrauld asked.

“I… I had a nightmare.” Imoro sniffled. “I feel so childish.”

“Fear is not childish, Imoro, no matter what most ignorant men say.”

“It’s not fear. It’s sadness.” Imoro explained. “It was a nightmare in the form of a memory. I witnessed the deaths of my entire family, and that memory reoccurs. I wake up like this quite a lot.”

“I’m sorry, Imoro.” Astrauld acknowledged. “I witnessed the death of my parents as well. Definitely a horrific memory.”

The two men sat in silence for a few minutes, shivering in the bright, cold sunlight. “Is there a possibility we can restart the fire?” Imoro asked. “I’m freezing in here.”

“I don’t have any fire rocks handy, so no.” Astrauld replied.

“Weren’t you trained in the Elemental Arts?”

“Yes, but at this age… Using those powers would kill me. I’m not strong enough to withstand the magic’s powerful effects.”

“Oh.” Imoro said, disappointed. He looked over at Astrauld noticing the Draconic Daemon Armor again. “You sleep in that armor?”

Astrauld chuckled. “Yes. It’s got velvet pads on the inside. Feels like a bed.”

“Where’d you get that armor?”

“I got it from King Xallyr’s private smith as a reward for my achievements in the field of war.” Astrauld explained. The armor was red on the plates with a black lining. Very decorative.

“What was his name?”

“He never revealed that information, actually. He was simply referred to as Ornjolf the Mighty, Ornjolf, of course, being the name of the son of the Heathen.”

“Yes, the one who carries the Crystal Blade.” Imoro confirmed. “I heard you say that you witnessed your family’s death. When?”

“You’ll know soon enough. Reach into the bag and grab a chicken leg or breast while I tell you more about myself.”

PAST


Astrauld awoke that night with Warhal sitting at the dining room table, sipping on some ale, tapping his foot. “You’re finally awake.” he solemnly said. “Don’t touch your head. You’re mother put some bandages on to make sure you didn’t get infected. Bah!”

“Can I go to my room?” Astrauld asked.

“No. Have a seat while I go grab some things.” As Warhal left the room, Astrauld picked himself off the ground and sat at the chair directly opposite of his father’s. What’s he going to do to me, Astrauld worried. Am I going to live? Astrauld’s father stepped back into the room, carrying two bows and two quivers full of arrows. “Strap this on your back.” Warhal tossed one of the quiver’s into Astrauld’s lap. “And you’ll need this.” He tossed a bow on the table directly in front of Astrauld.

“Why are you giving me weapons, father?” Astrauld asked.

“Lyyrn and his brother both snuck out of the house with a few bottles of ale. I watched them. You’re going to go redeem yourself, Astrauld.”

“Redeem myself?”

“Yes. Now strap that on and meet me in the front yard. Don’t forget the bow.”

Astrauld stood up, strapped the quiver on his shoulder, and picked up the bow. He felt like a man readying for battle, though he gravely despised the idea. My father’s a madman, Astrauld thought as he walked outside. Warhal sat on a stump, pulling on the string of his bow, imagining an arrow was in his hand, ready to kill. “I’m ready, father.”

“Good.” Warhal stood and stretched his arms, holding the bow at his side now. He looked down on Astrauld with excitement. There was a devious smile spread across his face that shined white in the moonlight. “You’ll never forget what will conspire tonight.”

Warhal and Astrauld hastily walked off their property and made their way to the edge of the Dweldren Valley Grassland, an immense meadow full of bison and other field creatures. In the center was a small grouping of trees, and from their position, Astrauld and Warhal could see smoke billowing from its center. “That’s where Lyyrn and his rotten brother are.” Warhal and Astrauld began to walk through the field toward the forest. Each footstep Astrauld took made him more and more nervous. He began to hear the hearty laughs of Konnshal brothers, the clinking of bottles as they drunkenly toasted whatever they were talking about. Warhal and Astrauld reached the border of the forest area, and they began to circle it.

“Stop here.” Warhal whispered. “We’ve got them in our sights.” Astrauld looked into the small forest. The two boys sat on a couple of logs around a small fire, bottles of ale in their hands, laughing hysterically. “Do you remember how to fire an arrow?” Warhal asked with a belch. “You were quite the archer if I remember right.”

“Yes, I remember.”

“Aim at Lyyrn. I’ve got his brother.”

“Wait, what are you trying to do, father?” Astrauld asked fearfully.

“What do you think?” Warhal asked. “Now aim the damn bow and arrow at Lyyrn. Make sure it does all the damage needed.” The message was clear to Astrauld. The scared boy took an arrow from the quiver and aimed it at Lyyrn’s head. “Are you ready?”

“Yes, father…” Astrauld replied.

“When I say fire, take the shot.” Warhal ordered. “Three…” Astrauld’s heart started pumping rapidly. “Two…” He began to sweat nervously. “One…” He hesitantly closed his eyes, keeping the aim on Lyyrn’s head. “Fire.” Astrauld strummed the string of the bow, letting the arrow fly away from his hand. The laughing stopped. The only sounds made afterwards were the thuds of the bottles and their drinkers hitting the forest floor.





The Drehal Legacies: Astrauld - Prologue
~Prologue~


Imoro the Wood Nymph calmly wandered the forests of Oraklees, the sun beating down on his light bronze skin. This was his life. As a Wood Nymph, he served little to no purpose in the complex Oraklic civilization, and rather enjoyed the absence of organization. Yet, despite his love for adventure, sometimes he wished for someone to accompany him on his journeys through the Oraklic wilderness. Sadly, the Wood Nymphs were few and far between, and they were the only forest creatures of any intelligence. Though in the forests of Oraklees, intelligence was not an attribute of the feared.

The main predator of these evergreen wilds is the Lindworm, a fifteen foot long, wingless, venomous dragon. They have two small arms that crawl across the forest floor, dragging an enormous tail behind them, able to strike fast as a whip. Their head is three feet long, their teeth sharp enough to rear into any kind of skin and their eyes keen enough to dodge the fastest arrow. Lindworms were known to feed on all creatures, but that Wood Nymphs were a delicacy.

Behind a tall tree was a large female Lindworm, her tail wrapped around three of her surviving children. Her eyes were loosely shut as she tried to catch a small bit of rest. Her children had been keeping her awake for weeks, and it was wearing out her body and instincts quickly. The poor mother was deprived of most of her energy, and hoped very much for a little boost to help her raise her children…

A spike of adrenaline coursed through the mother Lindworm’s blood as she catches the scent of a traveling Wood Nymph. Her children needed food, and so did she. It was the perfect source of food for her entire family, something that she greatly needed. She kept her head low, her eyes open in small slits, peering through a large shrub into a small, grassy clearing. Pieces of armor and old, decaying bodies sat outside a large cave at the other side of the clearing, but that was not where the scent came from.

A low tree branch snapped, and the mother Lindworm flinched, nearly waking her children. The bronze body of a Wood Nymph stepped softly into the clearing. “What in the world?” Imoro asked himself, shaking nervously at the sight of a decaying Elven body. Most of the flesh was completely gone, but there were still bits of it hanging on the skeleton. Imoro knelt by the skeleton, observing it, attempting to figure out the cause of death. “Well, it wasn’t a Lindworm… What could it have been?” From behind a nearby shrub, there was a loud hiss. The hiss of a Lindworm. “Oh dear…”

Imoro leapt for the cave as the Lindworm, in a flash, hurled itself from behind the shrub, jaws wide open. With its speed, it caught up to Imoro, snapping its jaws shut around a small pack on his side. The Lindworm tore the pack from the Wood Nymph’s belt. “You b*****d!” Imoro cried, turning around and kicking the Lindworm in the face.

The angered mother staggered slightly, watching Imoro dash inside the cave. It whipped its tail into the cave, smacking Imoro directly in the side, smashing his body against the cave wall. His forearm cracked, and he screamed, falling to his knees. He began to crawl further into the cave, when an unfamiliar figure stepped from the cave’s black shadow. He was an old man, wrinkled and lean, his hair long, grey, and matted. He had a large beard that fell on his chest, and pale white skin. Yet he wore a set of armor crafted from the body parts of Draconic Demons. There was only one man who had the skill to create such armor… “What’s going on here?” he asked, his voice deep and scratchy. “I don’t really like trespassers. You should watch where you tread, Nymph.”

“Please help me!” Imoro plead. “My arm’s broken. I’ll die out there!”

The old man sighed, rolling his eyes. “Get up, then.” The old man stretched his arm out to help Imoro up.

“Sir, that’s my broken arm.”

“Oh! Sorry, my mistake.” The old man retracted his right arm and helped Imoro up with his left. “Follow me.” He ordered. Imoro followed the stranger deeper into the cave, and soon they reached a small fire, that, for some strange reason, produced no smoke. “Have a seat.” They both sat down by the fire, and the old man reached into a large bag. “Want a chicken breast?” he asked.

“Well, I don’t want to impose. I guess not-”

“Have a chicken breast.” The old man cut into Imoro’s sentence and tossed a chicken breast into his lap. “I’ll fix your arm after you answer a few questions for me.”

“What kinds of questions?” Imoro asked, biting into the warm, well cooked chicken breast. The taste of the chicken was magnificent, its flavor incredibly unique. “How’d you cook this?”

“Oh, that? Well this is a bag I had enchanted. Cooks any raw meet placed in it and keeps it nice and warm. Now, to answer your first question, they will regard everything that just transpired outside the cave.” the old man explained. “How’d you manage to break your arm?”

“I didn’t break it. A damn Lindworm did. Crushed my body against the cave wall with its tail and sped away right before you arrived.”

“A Lindworm tried to eat a Wood Elf?” the old man asked. “Unbelievable!”

“We are their favorite food.”

“Wait, really?” the old man asked. “I thought they liked elephant.”

“You’re thinking of the Wyvern. How long have you been in this cave? After all, this is common knowledge.”

“Too long, Nymph. Too long… What’s your name?” the old man asked, an expression of optimism on his face.

“My name is Imoro Falhart.” the Nymph replied.

“Well, Imoro, I’m going to put on a show for you. Follow me.” The old man stood and began to exit the cave.

Imoro stood, an expression of fear on his bronze face. “What do you think you’re doing?”

“Entertaining you. What else?” Imoro crept to the front of the cave, fearfully watching the old man step into the clearing. Old b*****d’s going to die… Imoro thought.

“Hello? Hey, free food, right here!” the old man bellowed. “Hmmm… Oh, perfect!” the old man picked up a small stone, gripping it tightly in his hand. In an instant, he hurled it toward a small shrub, striking a baby Lindworm, cracking its skull wide open. There were two shrieks of terror from its siblings. “That ought to piss the mother off.” As he said those words, the tail of the mother Lindworm struck the old man’s legs from behind, making him fall backward. To Imoro’s surprise, the old man was very agile, rolling backward and launching himself back on his feet. “Son of a b***h…”

The green tail came again, headed for the old man’s face, only to be stopped by the old man’s hand.

“You have no idea who you’re messing with.” He gripped the tail tight enough to break bones in the tail. The mother Lindworm screeched, clawing at the ground, trying to make an escape.

“Dear lord!” Imoro exclaimed, amazed by the old man’s power. The old man swung the Lindworm from the ground into a tall, old evergreen tree, knocking it down. It fell with a large crash, pines flying into the air. The old man dropped the Lindworm on the tree. He walked over to the head, which was sitting on the tree, the eyes looking fearfully up at the old man, the mouth partially open.

“You’ve fed on the blood of so many helpless creatures.” the old man growled. “How about you have a taste of your own.” he kicked the mother Lindworm in the jaw, cracking it into many pieces, leaving the Lindworm to choke on its own blood. The old man wiped the pines off of his red and black armor and walked back over to Imoro, who looked up at the old warrior, completely flabbergasted.

“How did you do that? No single man has ever killed a dragon of any kind! How are you not the highest member of the military? How is the world not at your mercy?” Imoro asked.

“It almost was, Imoro. My life was very complicated. You wouldn’t be interested, though.”

“Are you kidding me? I’m more interested than you can imagine! You’ve just displayed power that could be the envy of the world!” Imoro exclaimed. “Who are you?”

“Well… Let’s just say I’m a figure that most people strongly dislike. The life I was leading came to an end many years ago, and I guarantee you I am not the same man.”

“But you’re so powerful, yet so old. You must have been indestructible when you were young.”

“Quit talking about power, Imoro!” the old man ordered angrily. “I do not like the association of myself with power.

“But why not? I would love to be as strong as you! Who wouldn’t?”

“Strength and power are different. I’ve tasted both, and I’ve come to find that power is the bane of all intelligent life. Whenever you think you’ve got it, there’s always someone stronger who puts you in your place. It’s a waste of time, Imoro.”

“But… how could you go from there to here?” Imoro asked.

“You haven’t a clue who I am, do you?”

“How would I?”

“Come back to the fire with me. I’ll tell you more there.” Imoro followed the old man back to the fire and they sat down where they were before. “I was banished from Oraklees by the Council of Aarzhans many years ago and sentenced to death for a crime even you should know about. I escaped capture and have lived here ever since. Have an idea now?”

An expression of terror was plastered across Imoro’s face. “You’re Drachen’s Marauder! Admiral Astrauld Drehal!”

“I haven’t been called that in many decades.”

Imoro turned and began to scurry away. “Someone help! He’ll kill me!”

“If I wanted you dead, you wouldn’t haven’t made it into the cave, Imoro.”

“You’re a monster!”

“I am not a MONSTER!” I bellowed, shaking the entire cave. My powers got out of hand sometimes, but this time it probably doomed this Wood Nymph and I. I shook the cave so violently that many boulders that sat on the hillside above tumbled down, completely sealing the only exit of the cave.

“Somebody help me!” Imoro cried.

“There’s no way out, Imoro. You’re stuck here with me.” Imoro stopped struggling and walked back over to the fire, realizing that the old man would probably not kill him. He was still extremely cautious though. “Perhaps you’ll let me shed light on your misguided opinions.”

“Misguided opinions about what?” Imoro asked.

“My life.” Astrauld replied. “You think me evil, do you not?”

“I… I do. But why wouldn’t I? You’ve killed so many people I cannot fathom a punishment worthy for your demented soul.”

“My actions were not without reason, Imoro. All you’ve truly done is assume. Maybe you should learn more about me before making such quick proclamations. You see, the world has falsely labeled my identity as evil.”

“Well you are a murderer.”

“Not a murderer, but a man of war.”

“What’s the difference?”

“A murderer kills without paying heed to those powers above him. A man of war is told to do so by those powers. We live in a world of hypocrites.” Astrauld explained sorrowfully.

“Hypocrites that have kept Oraklees peaceful for decades!”

“The absence of war is not the definition of peace, Imoro. Have you ever been in a city like Nyswor or Helswor?”

“No.” Imoro answered.

“They’re incredibly corrupt, and it’s all because of the king.”

“The son of the man you murdered.”

“That is correct.” Astrauld confirmed.

“Were you not once in a position of power. Did you not contribute to the corruption you speak of?” Imoro asked.

“I did… and I regret it. I found that I was fighting for the wrong cause, Imoro. The king was depriving millions of people of their lives, so I took his life in their honor.”

“Those actions were evil.” Imoro proclaimed.

“Those actions were justified!”

“In what sense? The King never truly took the lives of our peers, Astrauld. It was an illogical punishment for an innocent man.”

“Oh he definitely took lives, Imoro. In his eyes, all of the soldiers were pawns in his cynical game of chess. Completely expendable. I was lucky enough to be a rook on his game board.”

“Why does that matter to you?”

“He was careless! He didn’t bat an eye if a soldier died! He just sat on his damned throne in luxury he never earned!”

Imoro fell silent for a few moments, thinking of how to reply to Astrauld’s latest words. Hesitantly, he asked, “Astrauld, why are you so passionate in this hostility toward the royal family of Oraklees?”
Astrauld thought deeply on how he was to present the reasons for his hostility toward the Royal family. Imoro was just a boy, no more than fifteen years of age. His question was valid, but he did not believe his answer would make sense without some background information regarding… “My life.” Astrauld replied. “There are many reasons, but for you to understand, I must tell you the story of my life. Maybe then you’ll understand the fiery passion of hatred I feel toward the rulers of this sadistic world.”

Imoro took a deep breath before replying. “How will this help my understanding?”

“If you know of my life, you’ll be able to see my viewpoint regarding the royal family correctly. My life has not been all that great, Imoro. I was raised in the small village of Ilkskava, just north of the great city of Nyswor. It is not the action that put my existence to shame, but what lead me to take such an action that is important. To truly make you understand, you must understand how it all began. I proclaim that my childhood was among the worst times of my life, and that the single worst person I ever met was my father.”





His Majesty Satan
Community Member
His Majesty Satan
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