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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 13th day of Eating, Yr 23
The Neopian Times Week 115 > New Series > Deathwoven: Part One

Deathwoven: Part One

by catlady87

The crowd of onlookers gathered in the hot sand, cheering rising from the throats of the many watching there. Scorching sunlight beat down upon their backs, but as the crowd was used to the sizzling heat, it did not bother them. Nor did it bother the two that they were watching so intently, cheering on so enthusiastically.

     Centered in the ring of onlookers, were two Krawks, twisting, ever moving, circling each other. To the casual observer, it would appear as if they were dancing, so graceful and exotic their movements were. However, they were not, as was apparent when their swords flashed in the blinding sun.

     Now it was clear that the two were fighting, and it was apparent that they were both very good at their trade -- swordsmanship. One was a dull brown, the earthy scales cooling in the sun. Eyes flashed dangerously as the other made a feint at him, dodging nimbly out from the blade's deadly path. The other however, was vastly different.

     Ebony scales, so icy black that they seemed to suck the daylight from the sky, consuming it, flashed. Dull, scarlet streaks cut and twisted through the obsidian scales. Tall she was, only a bit taller than the other, which was obviously male, and muscular -- the muscles lining and shaping her form. Steely grey eyes flashed in the blinding sun. The sword she was holding was a plain thing, the hilt unadorned yet practical. The odd thing about this strange Krawkess was simply her feeling -- she seemed as if she had no place in the world. As if she was a jigsaw puzzle piece that didn't fit. As if she was made of a completely different substance than the onlookers and brown Krawk was. Death.

     Whisp was her name, though now it didn't matter to her. She was woven in an intricate dance with death, dodging and thrusting the dangerous blade. Her opponent was a worthy one, almost as familiar with swordsmanship as she was. The cheering and gasping of the crowd seemed as if it was an eternity away; the only thing she was aware of was the connection between her and her sword, and her enemy. Nothing else mattered -- everything was simply a moment in time, passing onto the next. This was what made her so ideal to her lifestyle.

     Both lunged forward in another parry, metal glinting furiously. Whisp was going to win; she could feel it in the other's brief hesitations, minor exhaustion. She was barely tired at all, could keep going days if that was what was required of her. Her endurance was limitless.

     In another length of timeless time, moments blinking by as if only a second in eternity, she had the brown-scaled creature kneeling before her, her sword inches from his neck. The fight was not one to the death -- they had only gotten into a mild argument and she was certainly not one to waste the precious life of another. Anger showed in the Krawk's roiling green eyes however, for he knew he was beat.

     "Dost thou accept the defeat?" Whisp questioned, ignoring the howling of the audience. It was the customary inquiry of one who believed they had won -- and if the other accepted the defeat the fight was finally won. Her voice was calm and steady, yet distinctly feminine.

     "Yes," came the harsh, husky vocals of the beaten, broken Krawk at her feet. It was over. She turned to go -- he could not legally attack her.

     She was suddenly caught off guard however as he reared up, grabbed his sword and charged -- not at her, but at her blade. Before she had time to react, to even acknowledge the other's unfair advance, her beloved sword was scattered in the sand dunes, the metal dulled as the life bled from the broken metal. The crowd screamed its disapproval, and as the brown Krawk sneered in humiliation, the onlookers scattered -- already bored with the finished fight.

     Practically weeping in grief, Whisp felt as if half of her had been brutally ripped away and slain. She gingerly picked up the shards, aware that her constant companion and only friend had just been killed. Others may have thought that she overreacted, that because the blade was metal it had no spirit, but that did not matter to Whisp. To her, the sword had been a living thing. And now it was dead.

     She was suddenly aware of another watching her, wordlessly perched upon a sand dune. His form was unclear; she could not even discern his species, as he wore but an ebony cloak. The only thing she could see was his disturbingly deep blue eyes -- intelligent and sharp, yet strangely sympathetic, as if he understood her sorrow.

     Standing suddenly, leaving the broken sword in the sand, she regarded the stranger with a shield of icy indifference. Steely grey eyes flashed in the now unbearable sun of the Lost Desert. Surely he could not approach her now, not with her glaring at him so. She wished no company -- not now, not ever.

     Despite this, he strode forward confidently, looking her up and down as if he were analyzing her every detail.

     "Come with me," he said huskily, and despite the deepness of his voice, his vocals were calm and kindly. As if driven by something in this kindness, she did -- feet trodding over scalding sand bits, ebony scales drinking the sun that touched her. Whisp did not normally blindly follow a stranger this way, but something in his nature compelled her.

     Dipping inside of a tent, the harsh linen brushing by her face as she moved in the blessed shade, Whisp immediately observed what was inside. What she saw made her jaw drop, displaying neat, razor sharp teeth.

     "What…?" she questioned, breath stolen. Displayed in front of her were rows and rows of the most beautiful swords she had ever seen. The blades were polished until they shined, jeweled hilts gleaming. The cloaked stranger immediately moved to one, hidden, on a far wall, and removed it.

     "Did you make these?" she asked, moving among the rows, gazing at them more closely. She was amazed at the clarity and grace of the weapons, but tried not to show it. These were truly the finest swords she had ever seen.

     "Yes," he replied quietly, moving toward her with the sword he had chosen. "It is my trade, I labor many hours to make these. Not many are worthy of them." His words may have seemed proud to a casual observer, but Whisp knew he was speaking the truth.

     "This is yours," he murmured, parting with the blade with the air of a father giving up a precious son. Whisp's breath caught in her lungs at the stunning weapon. Its blade was narrow and long, exactly right for her arm length and height. The hilt was made of the same metal, a dragon carved onto the top portion of the hilt with loving elegance. The strange part about the sword was the metal it was carved from. It was the purest ebony -- like her. Only the dragon's eyes were a deep red. None of the other weapons in the tent were carved from this. It was truly a sword of kings.

     Dipping her lean body in a fighting stance, testing the sword, she was breath taken with the absolute perfection. The weight and length… even the way it fit perfectly into the curves of her paw -- it was perfect. It was if the sword and her were two halves of one absolute whole -- neither could exist without the other. Abruptly she wondered how she had lived her life without this glorious half of her.

     "I cannot pay for it." Whisp's voice was reduced to a mere whisper, still awed at the blade yet heartbroken that she could not have it.

     Almost crying out in pain as he removed it from her clutching black paw, she restrained a burst of rage. He would introduce this thing to her and rip it away again? However, her initial thoughts were not based in truth, as was evident when he returned the sword with a crimson scabbard -- almost as beautiful as the sword itself.

     "Think of it as a gift," he whispered in reply, his voice serious yet playful, still nothing visible of him but unearthly cerulean eyes. "Its name is Darkenbringer."

     Before she knew it, she nodded, wordlessly thanking him because her voice had failed her in her amazement. Before she knew it, she had left the tent, grey eyes squinting in the sun, sword slung at her hip as if it had been there all along -- already familiar with its presence.

* * *

Sliding into the dimly lit tavern as graceful as if she were liquid, Whisp maneuvered her way through the crowd, making for the bar at the back of the dingy place. This was the place where those of all natures lurked, sometimes drunken brutes but sometimes only those wishing peace from the rest of the world. Whisp, as a mercenary, got most of her jobs from here. However, to those who directed their greasy stare at her for more than a second, she shot a fierce raptor's stare at -- unwilling to speak to anyone but her only friend, whom she now strode confidently toward.

     Without a word to anyone, she pivoted herself onto one of the worn leather stools, gazing at the bartender. Her only friend. The cloud Krawk looked up and grinned at her, the expression of amiability hanging lopsidedly off his jaw. "The usual?" he questioned dryly.

     "Renah, what kind of greeting is that for a friend?" she teased lightly, nodding her approval at his query nonetheless. "Dark chava with ice, please."

     The chava, a popular drink of choice, was rich with coffee and chocolate -- an intricate balance. Also mixed was vanilla and mint. It was one of Whisp's favorites -- she loved the cool drink. As she picked up the glass, sipping the delightful icy flavor, the rich texture soothed her sun-dried throat.

     "Look at this," she whispered in delight, pulling the sword easily out of the scabbard and laying it before Renah. Even in the dimly lit tavern Darkenbringer practically glowed with radiance. A desert Lupe at the counter shifted slightly as his gaze lit upon the deadly weapon.

     Renah gasped and choked, the glass he was carrying slipping from nerveless fingers. "Where did you get that?" he demanded. "You didn't…"

     "No, I didn't steal it," she snapped back, hurt that he would immediately jump to conclusions. Despite her playful greetings to Renah, she was extremely reserved, even for a mercenary -- preferring cold isolation to kindness of any sort.

     "Excuse me," the Lupe at the counter voiced mildly, staring at Whisp as if he were gazing upon a horse he was considering purchasing. It was deeply unnerving.

     "What?" she snarled at him, grey eyes flashing in reserved tones of anger.

     "I was considering, miss, offering you a place to work in the palace."

     She pulled a mask of cold indifference, pretending to consider the prospect, but in truth she was stunned at the offer. It was a rare thing indeed, and the pay from the Sekhmet royalty was the best in the entire Lost Desert.

     "And what would I be required to do?" she finally asked.

     "You would be the bodyguard to the princess. The king has gotten more frightened of enemies in his old age, and the thing he most cares for is his daughter. He wishes a good fighter to be her constant companion and bodyguard."

     Great, Whisp thought to herself dully. Just what I need, to watch some arrogant young brat all day long. Even so, the prospect of so much money was tempting, and it wouldn't be all that bad. Renah watched the exchange with a shamefully stunned expression; head tilting from one to the other in amazement.

     "I will do it," she said mildly, weaving clever indifference into her voice. She carefully stood, and replaced Darkenbringer to her scabbard, following the desert Lupe out of the tavern. Only once, for a brief moment, had she wondered what she might have gotten herself into. If only she knew that her life was going to drastically change -- both for the better and for the worse.

To be continued...

Previous Episodes

Deathwoven: Part Two

Deathwoven: Part Three

Deathwoven: Part Four

Deathwoven: Part Five

Deathwoven: Part Six

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