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 Graceless Union (Finally!)

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Arata
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PostSubject: Graceless Union (Finally!)   Thu May 30, 2013 4:58 pm

Prologue

The night was cool and damp; a chill breeze swept over the group camped on Rondo’s outskirts. It was small circle of people, seated around a bright fire. Small tents lay just outside the ring. The circle was quiet, except for the light tinkling of a lute, and the faint humming of a mother to her son, who lay half-asleep in her lap.
Another crisp zephyr blew over. The boy shivered; his mother edged the two of them closer to the fire around which her people gathered. The boy cracked open his eyes, looking once ‘round the circle. Most were adults; his aunts and uncles, and their children, his cousins, all of which surpassed him in age. Some murmured quietly to one another, while others simply stared into the fire or up at the stars. The boy’s gaze drifted to the man absent-mindedly tinkling the lute. He was the boy’s father, whose hands were made strong by work and whose fingers were callused from playing the instrument religiously. He had a shock of steel blue, almost black, hair that fell over his forehead.
All members of the group looked similar, for all were related, yet one feature shared within the family was the most alarming. All gathered, besides the boy, had an area on the body where the paths of their veins were jet black. To the boy at least, it seemed that the black veins were most profuse on the eldest members of the family. According to his mother, they had the most advanced cases of “Black Blood,” or what he had heard his father and others call “Creeping Death.”
One of the boy’s grandparents, his mother’s mother, sat to his right. His mother’s father was gone; the “disease” had claimed him before the boy was born.
A groan of pain came from the tent to the left of the circle. The boy looked over, shaking. Inside were the parents of his father. The “Creeping Death” had finally crept to the heart of his father’s father, and his father’s mother was staying with him through his final moments.
Another groan came, louder, more painful. The boy turned away and buried his head in mother’s stomach. His mother brushed away her long silvery hair from his face and looked at him. “Whenever you feel sad or frightened or alone, remember me and this melody.” He watched as she closed her eyes and hummed a melancholy melody. Her humming grew louder, yet never harsher, and soon everyone in the circle was humming along. The boy’s father played along on his lute, his light plucking matching the sweetness of the voice of boy’s mother. When the tune reached its end, all was quiet. The tent had gone silent as well, and the boy’s other grandmother left the tent and sat by his father.
All was still for a moment.

Suddenly, the sound of metal clunking shattered the silence. The circle turned towards the city as one. The boy withdrew his head from his mother’s stomach. Marching towards them was a small force of Rondo’s military guard, clad in the official ivory armor, trimmed in ebony. At the head of this group was a man of intimidating stature with short black hair, distinct amber colored eyes, and a singularly cruel smile. Unlike his subordinates, he did not wear a helmet, and he had his sword drawn expectantly.
As the soldiers approached, each member of the circle stood up slowly. The boy stood with his mother, clutching the fabric of her clothing. The soldiers halted just before the family. Their apparent commander stepped forward. The boy’s mother clutched her son tighter, speaking to the man. “What does the King’s Royal Guard want with us?” Her voice sliced through the air, crisp and strong.
The man grinned at the woman’s audacity. “We are currently in the middle of an investigation.” He pointed his sword ‘round the circle at each member. “One in which all of you are suspects.”
The boy’s father gently set down his lyre, moving cautiously to his wife’s side. “Suspected of doing what? We are but a simple gypsy troupe.”
The commander chuckled. “So you say. Regardless, King Ulthos himself has issued a decree, stating that all ‘bad blood’ must be purged from this city.”
A soldier behind the commander spoke up. “Technically, Captain Nero, we don’t have any proof to—”
Captain Nero raised his hand, cutting the soldier off. “Now, we’ve already discussed this. I said I would obtain proof, did I not? And worry not soldier, for here it is.” Without warning the Captain stepped towards the boy’s mother and sliced through the shoulder of her dress with the edge of his sword, tearing the fabric without touching the flesh. She staggered back a step out of surprise. As the material of her garment fell away, it revealed a bare shoulder. A shoulder striated with black veins.
“Is that enough proof for you?” Nero barked. The soldier nodded slowly.
The boy’s father glanced apprehensively between Nero and his wife. He said quietly, “If you need us gone, we can simply pack up and—”
“You fail to understand, vagrants. Ulthos wants you purged. Permanently.” Chaos erupted. All that happened was a blur. The boy’s mother threw her son to the ground as she ducked under Nero’s swing, while his father knocked back the soldier who spoke up. The other soldiers surged forward, and all that the boy saw as he looked up from the dirt was blood flying into the air and the bodies of his family members falling to the ground sequentially. The boy’s father still stood and had drawn his knife, having already killed two soldiers with deft stabs into the interstices of their helmets.
The boy’s gaze was suddenly drawn to the smithy that stood in the distance. Two figures ran from it towards the slaughter. As they closed in, he saw one to be a large, muscular man, and a young boy, perhaps a few years older than himself. He looked like a younger version of the man.
The man spoke something to the adolescent that followed him, and the young man stayed back. Without warning, the man drew a large sword from his back and felled a soldier from behind. The man cut his way through soldier after soldier until he came to lock blades with Nero. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?! What gives you the right to murder these innocent people?” He yelled above the sounds of carnage.
Nero growled in response. “This is the will of the King! It is none of your concern!”
All of a sudden, the boy’s mother threw herself at Nero, so that the newcomer might gain the upper hand. But the Captain of the Guard threw her off, releasing blades as the other man was assaulted by another soldier. Nero stooped over the boy’s mother and swung upward with his sword, his cruel uppercut slicing into her chest. The force caused her to roll across the ground, stopping at her son’s face. The boy began to sob. “Momma…momma, no!” She looked up at him bloody and covered with dirt. She smiled weakly. She reached up feebly to wipe away a tear and hushed him. She was losing blood fast, but she still lived.
The boy’s father looked and saw this. He screamed. “No! Luna!” Enraged, he flew at Nero with his knife, stabbing between the plating of his shoulder and torso into his ribcage. Nero howled in pain and spun around, running the boy’s father clean through with his sword. Nero kicked the boy’s father off the length of the blade. The boy was now strangled with sobs and flooded with tears and the drippings of his nose.
Nero cursed at his wound, gathering the remaining soldiers and retreated back into the city.
The man who had tried so valiantly to save the boy’s family looked around, as did the boy himself. Nearly all lay dead. All that remained of the circle was the boy, his mother who was fighting for each breath, and his father who lay dying. All the while, the young man who accompanied the newcomer stood off at a distance, looking away. His shoulders shook at the sight of the bloodshed.
The newcomer took a knee by the boy’s dying father. The boy’s father trembled and shook as he beckoned the man closer. He the last of his air, he breathed a whisper into the man’s ear. The man looked over at the boy, and then looked once more to the boy’s father, nodding. The boy’s father then closed his eyes, and lay still.
More tears started down the boy’s face. The man walked over and tried to stir him, but the boy simply stared at his fatally wounded mother. She shushed him and looked at the man, nodding solemnly. She smiled once more at her son, gripping his hand weakly. She croaked, “Don’t forget…” Labored breaths interrupted each short burst of speech. “Don’t forget…your family and who…who you are. Even…if you feel alone, remember that m-melody…And don’t…ever forget…that I love you, Athe…”

Her hand slipped form his and she fell silently still.
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PostSubject: Re: Graceless Union (Finally!)   Thu May 30, 2013 8:20 pm

Woo! Nice! Can't wait for more! :3
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