Sanity is forbidden Circulation: 123,710,650 Issue: 248 | 14th day of Swimming, Y8
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Talek's Tale


by dan4884

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Also by imogenweasley

"Come on, Talek. Hurry up!" urged the excited voice of a Maraquan Draik.

     "Coming!" a young Talek shouted back. He loved to go out and play, and was as eager to do so as his brother, but first he had to put on his homemade armor. He had fabricated it himself and he was proud of it. He grabbed his toy sword and began swimming rapidly to the encounter of his brother.

     Talek went to the front door, but his brother wasn't there. He found that strange. That was where his brother always waited for him.

     "Terrance?" he said loudly. "Where are you?"

     "Whoa, come check this out!" was his brother's only response. His voice sounded distant.

     Talek noticed the door was slightly open. Guided by his brother's voice, he found him outside, not too far away, next to a large rock. Talek was about to ask what was so exciting about a rock when he saw there was something under it. Something that shone with might.

     "What's that?" murmured Talek, his eyes widening. A second later he answered himself. "An actual sword... wow, it's..." Talek was at a loss of words.

     "Incredible," his brother finished the sentence for him.

     "Yeah. How do you think it ended up there?"

     "Who cares! Hey, Talek, do you think it'll be wrong if we take it? Just a couple of minutes, for a quick game."

     "I don't think we should, Terrance," said Talek, serious. But his eyes never left the weapon. He kept staring at it like mesmerized. He had always dreamt of becoming a swordmaster.

     "What could happen?" said his brother, rhetorically.

     "Well, it is abandoned," reckoned Talek. "You're right, Terrance. What could happen?" Talek pulled the sword to take it from under the rock. The two brothers almost couldn't believe what they had just found.

     The sword was heavy. Talek had difficulty when he tried to swing it with one hand, as he was taught. It was made with a deep blue metal engraved with intricate designs that covered the sleek sword. Its blade was curved into slight half-moon.

     Talek grasped the sword with both hands and swung it with all of his might. The sword flew through the water easily.

     "That's odd. Usually when I swing a sword underwater it doesn't go very far," Talek commented. Terrance had been watching Talek's every move.

     "This sword must be different," Talek's older brother replied.

     "I like it," Talek said. He swung it around a few more times. "Let's practice."

     "Maybe I should go first, little brother," said Terrance, wanting to get a chance to hold the weapon too.

     "Let me go first," Talek pleaded, "just this time." His eyes were shining. His brother couldn't say no to a face like that.

     Terrance took one of the toy swords and assumed a duel position. "Give me your best, I'll block," he said.

     Talek grinned. "Ready?"

     His brother nodded.

     Talek wanted to try every move he had ever learnt. He was skilled, and even more so with a sword as swift as that. Terrance was finding difficult to block him. He got tired fast, but with his brother as excited as he was, he didn't want to say anything.

     Suddenly, Talek made an unexpected move. He accidentally severed in half the toy sword Terrance had been holding, leaving him with no defense. Talek gasped in worry as he saw his brother crouch and tumble backwards from the injury. He dropped the sword immediately and went to his brother's aid.

     "Terrance!" he shouted, his tail flicking back and forth rapidly as he rushed toward his fallen brother. Talek could only think of what had happened, the scene replaying in his head over and over again. He couldn't believe that one slip of the sword had caused so much trouble. He could only hope the damage was minor.

     Terrance was sinking swiftly to the bottom, his body limp. Talek did his best to catch up with him, but by the time he reached him, Terrance had landed on a cliff, eyes closed. Talek cried in anguish and grabbed his brother. He thought of all the adventures they had experienced together, and how Terrance had taught him how to spar. It was all too painful.

     Talek lifted his brother and painfully brought him back to their home. He laid him on his bed and cleaned him up, laying his destroyed armor in a heap on the floor. Talek closed Terrance's eyes and put his hands to the side of his body. Then, he left the room and closed the door. He would check on him in the morning.

     He swam outside to see if there was anything more to gather. He surveyed the area, to find nothing. As he was turning to reenter the house, he caught sight of the sword. He navigated his way to it and picked it up gingerly, turning it over, examining it. Then he threw it as far as he could.

     "I solemnly swear never to touch a sword again," he said to himself. And as he went back to his home, he knew that even if he wanted to, he wouldn't be able to.

     ***

     Time had passed. Terrance had survived, but barely. His injury left scars along the front of his body. The worst effect of the injury was mental, however. Terrance had not left the house since the injury. He moped around, saying little and doing less. It was hard to tell who the accident had affected more, Terrance or Talek. He still blamed himself for it.

     Nevertheless, Maraqua was a peaceful place. Sure, it had its ups and downs, but life was good for the most part. Having reconstructed the city secretly, the inhabitants of Maraqua felt there was nothing at all to fear. Ever since the whirlpool, however, the king felt they could never be too careful, and lived in a constant state of alert. He wanted Maraqua to be safe from any possible attack or invasion, and he would do whatever was in his hands to have everybody prepared for such situations.

     Talek finished reading the letter he had just received and put it down. He took a deep breath and sighed. The letter was from King Kelpbeard himself: he was asking for his help to teach the younger males the art of sword fighting. Talek and King Kelpbeard had lost contact some time ago. Surely the king thought Talek had gone on and fulfilled his dream of becoming a sword master, but Talek hadn't.

     Not only did Talek feel unsuited for the task, he didn't want to undertake it either, under any circumstances. He didn't want to break the promise he had made to himself some time ago. He didn't want to fail his brother, but he didn't want to fail his fellow Maraquans either. It put him in a very uncomfortable situation.

     Talek decided he must speak to the King personally. He told Terrance where he would be going, and left his house, swimming towards the metropolis called New Maraqua. Over the past few years, the city had really developed. It had doubled both in size and population in the past decade, in fact. Talek had grown with the city, and was now an adult.

     He passed through the gates to New Maraqua, and swam towards the King's quarters. As he swam through the paths, he noticed some guards, a Grarrl and Kyrii. They seemed to be having trouble with something. As he got closer, he realized they were fumbling with a sword. He stopped to watch.

     The Grarrl took a stab at the Kyrii, but he missed.

     "You're holding it all wrong," Talek told him. The Grarrl looked at him.

     "Aw, what do you know? You're just an old hermit," the Grarrl said angrily.

     "You're going to get hurt if you hold it like that," Talek said warningly.

     "How would you know?" the Kyrii said. He swung his sword towards the Grarrl, but the Grarrl counterattacked, and the Kyrii stumbled backwards with a grunt. The Kyrii fell to the ground.

     "What did I tell you?" Talek said. He helped the Kyrii up. "If you fight like that, you'll be killed."

     Talek gave an angry look at the two, and swam off. Maybe if they listened to him, the Kyrii wouldn't have been hurt! They needed formal training, but it wasn't going to be him. He had a promise to keep.

     ***

     "Your Majesty, a Draik who calls himself Talek wants to see you."

     "Ah, Talek! Please tell him to come in."

     Talek was waiting just outside the king's quarters. He fidgeted as he gathered the nerve to speak to King Kelpbeard. Finally a guard indicated him to enter, and he found himself facing the king, who was sitting on his jewel-encrusted throne.

     "So, if it isn't Swordmaster Talek! I was wondering when you would come," the King said with a smile when he entered. "I expected a written reply first, but this is--"

     "Your Majesty," Talek interrupted, taking a bow. He didn't mean to be rude; he just needed to get this over with. "Thank you for allowing me to see you," he continued. "I am here for the letter, but I'm afraid it's probably not the reply you expect."

     The King gave him a stern look. "Care to make yourself clear?"

     "I cannot assist you in war," he said bluntly.

     "What's this? Where's the loyalty to your king, Talek? If one of our best swordmasters won't help, then--" It was easy to see that the king was not happy.

     "I'm not a swordmaster, your majesty. I've never been. It's been a long time... "

     Talek proceeded to tell his story to the king. He listened politely, but his face remained firm. When Talek was over with his tale, he spoke.

     "And that's what keeps you from grabbing a sword? Swords may injure and harm, but they also defend. Will you leave the city defenseless, because of your guilt?" Kelpbeard shook his head. "If this is true, then I have misjudged you, Talek."

     Talek was utterly ashamed. To lose the approval of the king was horrible, and he knew it would take a lot of work to gain it back.

     "I... I don't know what to say, Your Majesty. I'm sorry that I never told you, but I cannot break my promise."

     "I admire your steadfastness, Talek, but in this case, I cannot accept it. I remember when all you could think of was sword fighting! You gave all that passion up because of a mistake? That's what it was, Talek: a mistake. I know you didn't do it on purpose, for I know the connection you had with Terrance. You need to understand: it was not your fault."

     "What am I supposed to do, Your Majesty? Ignore my promise to my brother by going against his honor?" Talek asked angrily. "I must tell you I do not care for the way you speak to me, as if I were a child."

     "Is this what your brother wants?" the King said, voice rising. "Are you telling me that Terrance wants you to stop doing what you love, because he can't?"

     Talek hesitated. Was that what Terrance wanted? He and Terrance had never spoken of the subject, as neither of them wanted to recollect that day. Talek hadn't even told him the promise he made.

     "No... I suppose not. Terrance would want me to follow what I love."

     "Very well then. Now, will you help me train the new recruits or not?" the King asked.

     Talek hesitated, and then relented. "Yes, I will. For Terrance."

     "That is all that I wanted, Talek. Be proud, for you are now helping your country more than ever. Now, I have something for you."

     The king rose from his throne, and turned to a box in the corner. He gave it to Talek gingerly. Talek looked at it, and slowly opened it. Inside was the sword he had found with his brother. He looked up at the king.

     "Thought you'd need it," he said.

     Talek looked down. He faltered a bit, but then his claws grasped around the sword. He lifted it up, and swung it rapidly a few times.

     For the first time in years, he felt complete.

The End

 
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