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Devils Among Us?

Naythan & Fyra

By Tomos JacksonPublished 6 months ago Updated 2 months ago 13 min read
1

"They’re so unsettling aren’t they?"

Naythan looked up from the fire he and his fellow sergeants of the Cloenaid Order were sitting around, towards his companion, Jay'san, who was looking out towards the dryads huddled in their charge.

Naythan turned and peered out into the darkness partially illuminated in the flickering light of their camp fire. The dryads in question were three young women, dark skinned at least compared to Naythan and other humans Naythan had met, beautiful in a strangely alien way, dressed in long white dresses with red trim at the ends. They were all chained together but by far the strangest and most disturbing aspect of them was the peculiar colour of the eyes. They were bright and burning reds, oranges and purples that seemed to give off a feint, near imperceptible light of their own, even in the darkness.

Further to the back other fires from of troops of sergeants around their camp surrounded the trio of dryads. It was often thought best to keep the sorcerers close to the center of any camp where the Brothers of the Cloenaid were near to still them if they made any attempts to escape.

Despite the precautions and the presence of a large body of men and Brothers to keep them from trying anything, Naythan couldn't help but shudder at the thought of what those deceptively beautiful alien creatures were capable of, and quickly turned his gaze to look back towards the fire. "Don't look at them. Who knows what they are capable of doing to us without us even realizing. There's a reason that they are kept in the Tower when we've no use for them after all."

Jay'san tore his eyes away still obviously enamored by the strangeness of the beautiful sorceresses, but fearful at the same time. "Well," he began nervously, "all the same I'm glad we have the use of them for this one. A Necromancer is not something I'd like to face with steel alone."

"I can't say I feel the same way." a gruff voice piped up as another of the soldiers, Naythan pulled his attention to another of their troop, Kay'sar, a longer serving soldier than the rest of them, who rarely spok. A gruff older man with a short beard whose skin was rough from long periods of time in the wilds. His voice as he spoke was low and deep, a far contrast from the bellows that Naythan new he was capable of in battle. Although baring the same rank as themselves he commanded undisputed respect and authority amongst them for his experience. His tales of adventure and the battles he had survived as a member of their order were often a welcome relief from the tedium of guard duty, or as a distraction when nervous. He even claimed that he had taken part in the Battle of High Cliffs where the people of Civitas city had driven back the encroaching Poenician Confederation seeking to seize yet more of the silver mines plentiful on the Asimi Peninsular.

Kay'sar

Kay’sar looked up from the wire he had been twisting into various shapes as they had been sitting by the fire. His latest version was in the rough shap of a small bow and arrow about the length of Naythan’s finger.

Meeting his gaze Jay’san laughed a little nervously "You can't think that we could deal with a Necromancer on our own though surely Kay'sar? Kay'sar, met their questioning gazes evenly. "They aren't weapons ya see. Not like steel is at any rate. Steels reliable if you know your business, but these lot..." he trailed off as he took a long look at the dryads sitting dejectedly a few meters away. "Dryads may look different to us, but they're thinking people with desires and dreams just like us. Makes em unpredictable and dangerous, which is why they're only brought when the Order think they need em."

Seeing that he had piqued the interest of his two younger sergeants Kay'sar cleared his throat obligingly and continued. "I was on a mission one time, standard stuff you understand, one of those lot," he said jerking his chin towards the sorceresses chained up a few meters away, "had been identified and the locals had called us in to deal with it. It was in a village to the West near the peaks, so it was a fair trek away from the Tower and the Order house in Civitas, and I was one of those called up for the mission, though I was still just a lad at the time, green as either of you." He said this giving them a small chuckle at the thought.

"Anyways, the commander, a certain Brother Calsa'ar I believe his name was, decided that it might be useful to bring one of our own dryad sorcerers with us, just in case this particular rogue sorcerer turned out to be more than he could subdue on his own. A pretty thing she was, as they often are, she looked young but she might just have easily been in her eighties, you know how one can never quite tell their ages given their unnatural powers. It was an understandable idea on behalf of Calsa'ar, after all, its not unheard of that our reports were less accurate than we might wish and he was just taking precautions he felt. Precautions that would in the end see most of us all dead it turns out.

Naythan felt another shiver run through his spine at Kay'sar's ominous tone. He now had Naythan's full attention, and a quick glance at his fellows saw that all of them were likewise hooked to the old veterans tale.

"The journey was largely uneventful. A Brother of the Cloenaid Order and a troop of Order Sergeants with a sorceress in tow isn't really something bandits would want to deal with even if they'd had us outnumbered five to one. However, we eventually reached the village and found that the villagers had this sorcerer cornered in his house. The sight of this relieved me as if the villagers were enough to scare him into hiding, the mission ought to be nothing more than a quick snatch and grab. We might even be able to bring him to the Tower to be trained for the Order. Sure enough we pushed through the baying crowd which parted for us gladly and dragged the poor sod out. Skinny little bastard he was, and he put up no resistance aside from squirming."

At this point Kay'sar's eyes dropped to the fire and he seemed to be lost in the memory as it played out again in his mind. He continued. "It was when our own sorceress laid eyes on him that it all went wrong. One look at that poor bastard and she let out a terrifying scream. Filled with shock and rage it was. Were it not so sudden and so terrifying it might have been piteous."

Kay'sar met their gaze once again, "All at once hell was unleashed. The brother was focusing his gift on the one we brought out, thinking he might try something. None of us were expecting what happened next. Our own sorceress let loose a storm of her own magic, obliterating the three men around her instantly before they even knew what had hit them.”

Kay’sar sighed. “From there is was just shear chaos. Other sergeants rushed to stop her and a number fell to blasts of magic. Brother Calsa’ar began to panic and switched his gift from dampening the as yet harmless sorcerer at his feet to quieting the wild sorceress from our own ranks. He subdued her, but none of the weapons from our soldiers could touch her as a seemingly invisible barrier, impenetrable to our weapons now guarded her as the one sorcerer freed from his restraints used his dark magics to shield his new ally. The sorceress, seemingly invulnerable now, picked up a weapon from a fallen soldier and started swinging wildly uncaring for her safety as her ally kept her safe, carving down the sergeants around her that tried to bring her down. Brother Carsa'ar faltered again switching back, and his indecisiveness cost him his life. no sooner had he dropped his gift on the sorceress did she turn on him and blast him with a great deal of her magic killing him. At this we scattered and ran, as did all the rest of the villagers."

Kay'sar sighed and poked at the fire with a nearby stick. "They are wild and powerful beasts, and one should never feel comfort from their presence. They are a necessary evil we need to endure to keep our people safe, but they are not to be trusted or relied upon."

"But what happened to the two sorcerers?" Naythan asked. He had been deeply engrossed in the story and didn't want to leave it unfinished.

"Well, I heard they slaughtered and burned the village after we left and then disappeared. Probably for the best that Carsa'ar had died in the fighting, for such a cock up would surely have meant living the rest of his life in disgrace expelled from the Order, if not outright executed. As stupid as he was, at least he died paying for his mistake, unlike a great many other superiors I've served under.

"Monsters."

Naythan and Jay'san jumped a little at the voice. It had been a female voice, soft, but firm in its resolution. Naythan turned with the rest to where the voice had come from, and sure enough, much to his surprise, one of the dryads, the sorceress with red eyes was staring at the group intently. The others with her held her and were clearly trying to hush her, but the girl was not backing down. She stared hard at the sergeants and Naythan couldn't help but be impressed by how this small dryad girl was staring down a band of armed men while chained.

After a moment Kay'sar regained the use of his tongue as the word she spoke sunk in. "What did you say?" he growled. He stood up, tucking the small wire he’d been toying with into his belt seemingly without thinking, and before Naythan or any of the others could reach out and restrain him he had paced across the space between the sergeants camp fire and the dryads they were guarding standing tall above the dryad girl.

He towered over her and though his presence was clearly intimidating to her now, she continued to glare up at him defiantly, and Naythan thought he saw the feint red glow from her eyes intensify ever so slightly. Naythan couldn't help feeling his admiration grow for this girl and he rose from where he sat to stand in case things got out of hand, but didn't yet move closer.

"Were you there little girl?" Kay'sar growled between gritted teeth. "Did you witness this? She killed the men she was meant to protect!"

The anger in the young dryads face matched Kay'sar's own and it seemed to give her courage, "You enslaved her, you dragged out one of her own and expected her to help you do to him what you did to her! You're monsters, and all of you deserved to die!"

This bold reply shocked Naythan and he saw Kay’sar pull away a little, presumably just as surprised to see this defenseless dryad speak up to the towering soldier in front of her. Kay’sar recovered though and, enraged, he grabbed her by the shoulder, Naythan was already moving, the dryad struggled jostling against him, and the other two dryads started crying out in fear and anger. Kay'sar drew back his fist, and punched the girl full in the face just as Naythan's smaller frame slammed into Kay'sar, sending the man stumbling back under the weight, dropping the dryad girl. The other dryads came forward to help the girl, as Naythan sprawled into the ground with the bigger man. Kay'sar began to resist, but Naythan was on top of the bigger man grabbed his lapel, "Stop it you bloody idiot!", and then Naythan punched the man in the face, "snap out of it!"

Kay’sar looked up at him baffled and suspicious, “Your with her in this boy? Are you sure you are yourself right now? You know these creatures are capable of manipulation.”

Naythan himself wasn't completely sure what had caused him to act, but almost immediately a plausible reason occurred to him, "We're here to guard the sorcerers. If in the morning the Brothers find them roughed up then it will be all of our heads on the block." Naythan got up, seeing that Kay'sar's anger, while still presented, was cooled to sanity. He cast a dismissive hand at the dryads, "Who cares what they think anyway, lets not get ourselves into trouble over that." Naythan brushed the snow off his legs and arms and offered a hand to the bigger man

Kay'sar's expression softened slightly as he thought through Naythan's words, though his suspicion remained written in his face. Naythan could see that he'd gotten through and Kay'sar begrudgingly took his hand, "You're a lunatic boy." was all he grumbled as he stood.

"What is all this about then? Someone tried to cast a spell through my barrier." Brother Lor'kan stood at the edge of the firelight, the light of which played on the silvery heraldry, a cloud partially covering a sun, on his blue tunic and on his sword. He took in the situation at a glance. The two men, Naythan and helping Kay'sar from the ground, both their uniforms roughed up from the brief scuffle, the young dryad girl lying, cut and bleeding next to them, being sheltered by the other two. "I will be needing a very good explanation. These witches are valuable property of the Order and are NOT to be trifled with." The Brother gave both Naythan and Kay'sar a hard stare. "Now one of you find a suitable explanation before both of you end up strung up to the nearest tree."

Kay'sar seemed at a loss for words, but as he was stammering a thought struck Naythan, "Sir," he interposed and the Lor'kan's hard gaze fell on him, "if I may?" He nodded for Naythan to continue. "Sir," Naythan began "sergeant Kay'sar here was narrating a tale for us involving previous experience with dryad sorcerers and this one," he pointed towards the girl on the ground, "took exception. We thought we saw her stirring up a spell and sergeant Kay'sar stood up and struck her before she might be able to cast."

Lor'kan looked skeptical at this explanation and paused for a long moment looking between the three participants. Finally he nodded, "Very well, I'll let this slide this time, but please be more careful with your charges in the future and know that you are perfectly safe from their arcane arts when a brother of the Cloenaid is nearby." He thought for a second more, "You." he said finally, pointing at Naythan, "take this one to the surgeon for a quick check up, make sure she's ok. Then the both of you will come to my tent.

Naythan nodded crisply, but felt dejected inside. This was what he got for trying to be helpful he thought, "Yes Brother." was all he said though. He walked over to the young dryad girl's chain staked into the ground, passing Kay'sar as he did, who gave him a slight thankful nod as they passed each other. Naythan released the chain so he could take it with him muttering at the girl on the ground, "come on then."

She stood anger smoldering in her eyes at him as they walked away. After a while of walking he could still feel her boring holes in his back with her glowing red eyes. It was clear she didn't appreciate how she was portrayed in Naythan's narrative of events, but Naythan didn't care.

Naythan sighed as he maneuvered his way past the tents and other camp fires to the camp's surgeon. No good deed goes unpunished it seems.

Series
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About the Creator

Tomos Jackson

I love how inspiring stories and character can be. I try and replicate that in my own writing to not only give inspiration, but also to encourage the reader to consider important matters through a more enjoyable and digestible fantasy lens.

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  • PJ Watts2 months ago

    I can see now, I have read your work out of order! I like the snapshots of your world though!

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