The Blood – Torin, Part IV

by disperser

What went on before:

Part I – We are introduced to Torin, a young man just coming into his own.  He feels responsible for his friend’s death.  A death brought about by advanced age, even though he had seen the same number of winters as Torin.  Torin is recognized as being of The Blood, and is taken by the men of the region’s Ruler.  Though near the maximum age for training, Ledanai is charged with teaching him about the ways of The Blood.  He learns he was indeed responsible for the death of his friend, but in the process he learns he is something more than just part of The Blood, with abilities members of The Blood do not have.  He also learns of the history of The Blood, The Spirit, and The Elders The Blood defeated those of The Spirit in a war over the use of Magic, specifically the cost of using Magic, as it drained ordinary humans of their lifeforce.

Part II – Torin learns he may be the result of a forbidden union between a Spirit and a Blood descendant.  He also learns Spirit descendants, used with care, are virtually unending sources of lifeforce, as their replenishes.  As such, they are of great value to The Blood, and assigned based on rank.  He learns the Spirits don’t know of their abilities.  He, as the forbidden “monster”, may have abilities beyond that of The Blood, such as the ability to shield his own lifeforce, and possibly that of humans, from The Blood.  He learns of the Library, the depository of ancient documents.  He also learns that upon his 15th winter, he must either Challenge or Bow to his Ruler.  Bowing includes ceding part of his power to the leader, and risk being found out as “different”.  But for now, his training continues with exposure to sword fighting.

Part III – Torin meets Aendein, one of the three persons of The Spirit in the compound.  She is charged with his initial sword training.  Herself an apprentice to Bedarin, the Weapons Master, and only a couple of winters older than Torin, she is surprised to learn he wishes to be trained without the use of Magic.  Bedarin is also surprised, but agrees to it.  In doing so he warns Torin this might not be something for general knowledge, and that it might be best to keep it quiet.  For his training, Torin is given a sword much like Aendein’s.  Torin begins his training, both in sword making and swordsmanship.  At the same time, he continues his lessons with Ledanai, and also begins clandestine visits to the Library.  There he discovers copies of ancient scrolls, and with the aid of language key, begins to read about the actual history of the war between The Blood and The Spirit.  A war triggered by The Blood killing a human child The Spirit had adopted.  He also learns the war was undecided until some of The Spirit betrayed their kind in exchange for promises of favors from The Blood.  Torin continues his Blood training, his sword training, and his research, all the while counting down to the time where he must Bow or Challenge the Ruler.  Nearly two winters have passed.

The Blood – Torin, Part IV

by E. J. D’Alise (Disperser)
Copyright November, 2012

During those two winters, sword-making occupied more of Torin’s time than he had initially thought it would.  He practiced various techniques, learned about the working of iron, steel, and eventually Blood Metal, a combination of steel, minute traces of impurities, and Magic.  By varying the impurities, one could bind Magic to the sword, achieving desired characteristics.  The advantage was the swords were truly exquisite in design and properties.  The disadvantage was the swords were limited in what could be achieved with them after they were finished.  The more magic poured into them, the harder it was to do anything else with them.  The Blood favored less restricted weapons; weapons they could mold and shape during fighting.  Weapons malleable to the workings of magic.

Torin had an idea for his sword, but Master Bedarin warned him the process to obtain what he wanted would require luck; as much luck as skill and Magic.  Torin persisted.  Working with Bedarin when learning something new, and on his own when experimenting, each attempt got closer to his objective.  He achieved it just after sunset, less than a moon cycle before his Challenge to the Ruler.  

For his decision, after weighing all the possibilities, was to Challenge the Ruler.

He looked at the sword.  He hated using as much magic as he had, but his plan hinged on this weapon working, and his plan would eventually save lives.  The slightly translucent blade looked fragile, almost glass-like, but it was nearly impervious to damage.   A corner of the anvil sat on the ground, the face he had sliced through just now cooling from fire-red to its normal dull gray.  The sword likewise was losing the fine sun-yellow color from its cutting edge.  At the instant of impact, the whole cutting edge had flashed to an intense yellow.  The anvil had offered little resistance as the sword sliced through it as one might slice through thin reeds.

It was a protective reaction.  The Magic worked into the sword was not there to do anything but protect the sword from damage.  It would require a lot of Magic just to dent the sword. The magic was focused, through the aligned impurities, on both edges and on the fuller.  To that end, it was superficially similar to the typical sword; lots of Magic woven into it for strength and toughness.  But in the typical sword, those were static qualities.  

His previous sword, and Aendein’s, had been constructed to resist what came at it, and both swords were incredibly tough, flexible, and able to withstand tremendous impacts.  This sword was  light, thin, and not very flexible.  That’s because it did not need to absorb impacts.  

On contact, the Magic within the sword reacted proportionally to the applied force, focusing magic to the edge; an edge thinner than a hair.  Close examination would find the reactive edge looking as if hovering a small distance from the rest of the sword.  This was an illusion caused by the fact the translucent material was so thin near the edge, as to be nearly invisible.  The edge itself, when not active, looked like a fine strand of gold.

When Torin first proposed the idea, Bedarin had been skeptical.  Torin did not tell him of where he got the idea, nor what the process actually entailed.  And he did not elaborate on the extent of the properties he envisioned, nor of the magic required to make it work.  

The scrolls in the Library had much to teach to the patient researcher, and Torin had read them all, each many times over.  He knew of how much had been lost in the ancient conflict between The Spirit and The Blood.  

The sword he made could not have been made by either The Blood or The Spirit.  It required input from both.  It required the balance of the two powers to be infused, and to work against each other, in balance, within the weapon.

Neither Blood nor Spirit could wield this weapon, for it would react to their individual ability.  Before the war of The Elders, similar weapons, mostly knives, were made for, and gifted to, loyal humans.  They were handed out as rewards for services rendered.  Torin was neither Blood or Spirit; he was both.   His initial tests confirmed what he had guessed; the balance of the two powers within him would allow him to both construct and wield the sword.

The last feature Torin had added to the sword was a stone embedded in the hilt, much like that on the sword Bedarin had given him, two winters prior.  He had thought to transfer the stone from the original, but he had too much respect for that sword.  No . . . his stone too would be unique.  A plain quartz, with a stylized representation of a swallow.

He unsheathed the sword Bedarin had given him, and hung it back on the wall of swords.  He picked up his sword.  The new wrap felt comfortable in his hand, and he swung the sword experimentally.

“You have succeeded?”  Master Bedarin walked into the armory, unbuckling his sword belt.

Torin hesitated, his sword poised in mid-air.  He did not want the full abilities known, yet he owed Bedarin much.

“Yes,” he replied, “I believe I have.”

“Well, let’s test it out.”  Master Bedarin unsheathed his own sword, and turned to place the sword belt onto the anvil.  He stopped and stared at the piece laying on the ground.  

“I’ve heard of stories, passed on from . . . “ Turning, he looked at Torin, who was now holding his sword at the ready and shifting his feet to a battle stance.  “. . . you aim to Challenge the Ruler.”  Bedarin sheathed his sword as he spoke.

The older man stood a couple of lance lengths from Torin, who now stood relaxed.  

“Yes.” Torin replied, then continued.  “Master Bedarin, I must ask you what you intend to do.  Or say.”  Torin could not afford a warning to reach the Ruler’s ears, but he was not prepared to harm Bedarin.  The man had always been fair, and Torin was indebted to him.  Not to mention Aendein’s attachment to Bedarin.  She would not take kindly to Torin harming the man.

“Torin, I am an old man.  I serve at the pleasure of the Ruler, and obey the orders.  I have no choice.”  Bedarin walked to the wall, and hung his sword-belt.  “But no man is born with the desire to serve.  It is thrust upon men and women, and enforced by Magic.”  Bedarin walked back to Torin, stopping a at arm’s length.  “May I hold the sword?” He asked, extending his hand.

“Master Bedarin, it may cause you some discomfort, possibly hurt you to hold this sword.” Torin’s words triggered a surprise in Bedarin’s face, but not as much as his next words.  “You have a trace of The Blood in you, and while faint, the sword may react to it.”

Bedarin’s slowly lowered his hand.  “But you are also of . . . “  His words trailed off as realization hit him.  the shock transmuted into fear, his eyes going wide, and darting to his sword on the bench..

“No . . . it can’t be.  It is forbidden!”  Bedarin backed away slightly, tripped on the quenching bucket, and fell back, landing with his back to the anvil stand.  

“Master Bedarin, I wish neither you nor anyone any harm.  I just want to be allowed to live my life.”  As he spoke, Torin offered his free arm to help the Bedarin up.  They stood like that, poised, for a number of heartbeats.

“Master Bedarin! Torin!” Aendein’s words had them both looking at her. Unsure what was going on, she had her sword half drawn, and was looking to each in turn, trying to understand what was happening.

A few more heartbeats, and Bedarin spoke, his voice steady and business-like.  “Aendein.  Good.  I need help cleaning up the work area.  I tripped on the quenching bucket, and Torin was helping me up.”  Grasping Torin’s arm, Bedarin  rose to his feet, and dusted off.

“Come to think of it, would you please run to the kitchen and see if they have a late snack for me?  I missed the evening meal, and I need something to carry me until the morning.”  He turned his back and picked up the bucket.  

Aendein looked on, a confused look in her face, hesitated a few moment before replying.  “Uh, sure.  I’ll be right back.”  She took a long look before exiting the armory.  

His voice just a murmur, Bedarin addressed Torin.  “Beware, Torin.  I don’t care what your plans are for the Ruler or the Blood.  But I will not stand by to see . . . the Ruler is a lot of things, but he has a measure of care for the people living under him.  What kind of ruler will you be?”

Torin was taken aback.  Bedarin did not understand anything but the desire of The Blood to rule.  He did not know Torin just wanted to assert his independence, to claim his right to live as a free man.  He stood watching the older man, even as the scope of his decision hit him.  The Challenge, if he won, would win him this compound, and all that lived in the surrounding area.  He would be the new Ruler.  

“I don’t want to be Ruler.”  Torin spat it out, an edge of anger in his voice.  The sword he was holding glowed in reaction to his anger.  Torin realized he was drawing Magic without even thinking about it, and willed himself to stop, sheathing it as he did so.

“Master Bedarin,” his voice was back under control as he continued.  “I just want . . . “

The armory doors burst open.  Ledanai, the Ruler, his top advisor, and five of the elite guards came into the room.  

“What . . .” Bedarin never finished.  A hand-wave from the Ruler, and Bedarin flew backwards as if pulled by a rope.  He hit the wall before slumping, stunned, to the floor.

The Ruler and his advisor stood in front of Torin as the others fanned out to each side, forming a semicircle.  All of them were in battle mode.  Torin looked at them.  They looked huge to him.  He had trained with both Aendein and Badarein, but this was different.  Magic made everything different.  Still, he shifted his stance, and readied his sword.  “Empty your mind of fear, of courage; there is only you, and your sword; your opponent, and their sword.”  

The words had been drilled into him.  Countless training sessions.  Bedarin had made him repeat the mantra at the beginning and end of each session.  It worked.  His focus shifted from worrying about the number of opponents, and onto the technical aspects of sword-fighting.  He did not remember drawing it, but his sword stood at the ready in his hand,a very faint glow on each edge.

“I hear you’ve been visiting the Library.”  The Ruler’s words registered, but Torin did not answer.  Ledanai to his left, and one of the guards to his right, were both tensing.   They would move first.   The others likely waiting for the outcome before moving.  The Ruler continued.  “I don’t like people going behind my back, be they of The Blood, or not.”

– To Be Continued –


5 Responses to “The Blood – Torin, Part IV”

  1. Due to the dearth of comments, I’m adding my own . . .

    Actually, and this will not reach the eyes of previous readers, I had used the term Master when I meant to say Ruler. Readers after this comment goes up will benefit from having waited.

    • Lol, I’m still behind on blogging, so I’m actually reading this at a good time to see this update. 🙂

      I like the drama in the last few paragraphs. And it’s interesting that Bedarin didn’t say anything about Torin’s power to Aendein. I also like that Torin is still staying true to himself, and not getting all power-hungry. Looking forward to the next chapter. 🙂


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