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Old 06-14-2005, 07:58 PM   #1
Pira Dein

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Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 3
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Once, there was a soldier and his brother.
 
Their lives were simple, they were not famous Iksar and they were not rich or especially noteworthy in any way. They were just soldiers in a vast, powerful army...a cog in the machine. The elder brother was called Saeth, and his younger brother was Rathaell, and they had fought in a number of battles against the Sarnak and other invaders to the Iksarian Empire. Cabilis was their home city, and they had grown up there and it was where their hearts were. Their father had been a soldier, and so had their mother. Their father's father had been and so on, and so forth through many generations... they were proud and dignified, a stalwart brood even if they were not especially noble-blooded or rich.
 
Saeth and Rathaell were not only siblings, they were the closest of friends as well. They acted and looked so much alike, one might think they were hatched from the same egg. They were broad and powerful, just like all their family, and it was their honor to serve their Empire in the name of the Iksar and even in the name of Cazic Thule, though the family had never leaned much towards religion and didn't hatch any priests. They were patrotic in their way, and many of their brood had died on Kunark's soil fighting for the Sebilisian Empire over the generations. The brothers agreed...to die in battle would be glorious, and to die elsewise would be a great shame upon their brood.
 
There came a day when the two brothers were given the order to join the war armada that would soon sail to Faydwer, perhaps to Visk itself... and like they had every time before... Saeth and Rathaell gathered their weapons and armor, took a blessing from a priest of Thule, and sailed off to battle.
 
Or ...so it seemed at first.
 
-------------------------
 
Saeth coughed up water and blood, and tasted it on his tongue. That was not the first thing he was thinking of, however...not the blow to the head from some wildly flying object, and not the fact the whole fleet seemed to have sank and dissappeared under the waves.
 
"Rathaell?! Are you alive brother?"
 
For a moment, clinging to the wet and slippering piece of mast that was the only thing left above the sea of their ship... he heard nothing at all but the waves crashing around him. His head ached where it had been struck, and he reached up, feeling the wetness of blood on his fingertips, slick and a little warmer than the cold ocean around him.
 
He called out again, this time louder, though it made his throat ache...he'd swallowed too much sea water trying to pull himself from the tangled nets and ropes when the boat had overturned. Soon enough, the bodies that weren't pinned down or tangled up would float to the surface and the crabs, seagulls, and sharks would have a feast.
 
He heard a sound, a faint voice calling back. Rathaell! Saeth's eyes scanned the waves and there...he saw it. His brother's head bobbing in the distance as he swam towards the floating, broken mast of what had been a part of their war ship. When he was close, Saeth reached with his hand and helped his brother to cling to the thick wooden pole.
 
"What ...happened? The sky! It was on fire and pieces of it fell all around... even the ocean caught fire..."
 
Rathaell glanced around and a slightly dismayed look came across his face. There didn't seem to be anyone left from their particular ship...perhaps close by, from the other war ships...they could find survivors. But just then they were both too exhausted to swim very far, and clung to the mast panting and confused.
 
"Did you see Luclin? It broke... it shattered in the sky and fell upon us Rathaell.  Sharks will come, we have the scent of blood on our scales, we have to try to get out of this water... perhaps one of our ships made it through that nightmare. Rest a few minutes brother, and then we must swim."
 
"We might drown..."
 
It wasn't said with any real fear, it  was just a fact. They very well might drown, or they could just float there and get attacked by sharks. If the sharks didn't get them, then they might starve to death or be adrift for days. Either way, it was likely they would die... but they would not die as cowards, waiting for rescue. They would swim to go find it, and if the ocean sucked them under, well...they would have died fighting the ocean as true warriors would have.
 
They rested, and were silent. Neither had ever been very talkative, and they knew eachother's thoughts well enough to forego any verbal communication anyway. They said nothing to one another, what had happened...had happened. Crying or going into hysterics would not change it, and besides...that was a weakness they would never bear the shame of. 
 
The ocean's waves crashed over them, still in turmoil from the Shattering, and the water was salty and cold, stinging their wounds where they had been battered during the ship wreck. A few hours passed, and without a word ..the two brothers pushed away from the mast within seconds of eachother, like they were controlled by the same force and energy. Their strong tails helped them fight the ocean currents far better than any human could have, Iksar were almost at home in the water as on land. Soldiers such as Saeth and Rathaell were expected to be able to swim and fight in the water for long periods of time without becoming exhausted.
 
Darkness was settling over the ocean now, a very strange darkness... not like any night they had seen before. There was only one source of light in the sky ...Luclin was still imploding in on itself, and it made the stars and its twin moon pale, even the clouds could not obscure the fiery rock that burned high above. They could see Luclin even as the clouds above split and it began to rain...the rain...burned like the salt water of the ocean. It got in their eyes and they squeezed them shut to try to bock it out. What kind of horrible rain was this? It was like fire!
 
"Saeth!! A ship! Open your eyes a second brother, there's a ship coming out of the darkness...!"
 
Indeed, through the burning rain and gloom, Luclin's strange, terrible light illuminated a dark bulk in the waves. It was a ship, and it was a big one. So one of the armada HAD made it! They began to cry out, hoping someone on the ship would hear them and throw out ropes to haul them in.
 
Luck and Cazic Thule seemed with them, the ropes came flying from over the side of the huge vessel, and the brothers swam towards them and gripped them in strong clawed hands. The Iksar would live to see tomorrow, and if Cabilis wasn't standing...they would rebuild! Even the end of the world would not stop them. They grinned at eachother in the gloom as the ropes began to move, heaving them out of the water. They half climped, half crawled over the side of the ship and landed with a dull thud, cold and wet, trying to keep the burning acidic rain from getting in their nose and eyes.
 
Perhaps it was the blinding rain and the strange smell it gave off that made Saeth see their mistake an instant too late... he opened his mouth to warn Rathaell, to tell him to jump back over, but before he could get out a sound something hit him at the base of his skull and all went black.
 
----------
 
Years later...
 
----------
 
12 Years was a long time to be a slave... a long time to learn how to hate. They were always mancled, beaten, half starved...and when they were forced at pistol point to do some stupid and meanignless task like "swab the deck", they were kept in the hold deep in the ship. Why had he been so stupid? Why didn't they notice the sail on the ship was black, not red like their war armada had been? Why hadn't they SMELLED these disgusting soft skinned raiders? The "why's" and "what ifs" crept into Saeth's thoughts often.
 
It had not been their ship that pulled them out of the chaotic ocean that night years ago. It had belonged to raiders...pirates.... humans, and though at first Saeth and Rathaell could not understand a word of Common, they knew enough by the tone of these men that they didn't mean to help. All their lives they'd been warned of the disgusting cowardice and dumb cruelty of the soft skinned ones, how they thought Iksar should be slaves and not the other way around... it seemed those stories were true. Saeth hated them, but he buried his hate and grit his teeth, telling himself to be patient...one day, he and his brother would see these pirates all dead and in their graves.
 
They had tried to fight back a few times at first. They had hoped the humans would kill them, slit their throats or shoot them with their crude pistols... instead they were simply beaten into unconciousness and thrown in the hold for a few days, the air would be so thick and stale they'd nearly choke. No...they couldn't die like that, not to these apes...better to live and get their revenge. They WOULD all die, these humans...Saeth promised that to himself, and when he looked at Rathaell and saw his eyes, he knew his brother was thinking the same thing.
 
He lost track of time, but Saeth knew it had been years since the night of the Shattering, and from what he heard (he was never allowed to set foot on deck when the ship docked) only a handful of towns and cities had survived...the largest being Freeport and Qeynos. There had never been word of any other Iksar, though the pirates often joked how they dined on fresh lizard whenever they stopped in Freeport to do a little black market trading. The thought made Saeth's blood run cold with hate, and more often now...a strange red haze filled his sight, he thought he was going mad because he hated them so much...that it was poisoning his insides and his brain. He couldn't think straight when that happened, and had thrown himself at the iron bars of the hold, screaming in such a rage that the pirates secretly wondered the wisdom of keeping Iksar as slaves to begin with. They would watch with horror as the Iksar bit at the bars and tore at them with his claws, beat at them and hissed in Sebilisian some awful curses...they had learned Sebilisian just as Saeth and Rathaell had learned Common over the long years.
 
Some of the men had tried to convice their Captain - Marlock he called himself, to just kill the Iksar and be done with it, that they were too dangerous...especially the one that had fits. Captain Marlock laughed it off though, he liked the novelty of having Iksars as pets...it had gained him a bit of a reputation on the high seas, it was not every man that could keep an Iksar locked up and in mancles for very long.
 
Rathaell didn't fare as well as Saeth, he grew more and more silent...and he was too thin and pale. Saeth did all he could to assure his brother that they would live to see the ship burn and all the men onboard burning with it, trying desperately to break his brother of that wasting depression he seemed to be in. They were half sick - the two of them - from long years without the right kind of food or enough fresh water, too many beatings and long days down in the dank, damp hold. But they still fared better than even the raiders did... the humans got something called "scurvey" from not eating enough greens and fruits. There was usually little to eat on the ship but salt pork and fish, and Iksar could live longer on an all meat diet than a human... but even they needed other variety now and then.
 
One hot day when the winds wouldn't move the sails and they were sitting in the middle of the ocean under a blanket of stale air, Marlock ordered his "pets" to be brought up for amusement. He was bored and nothing quite entertained the old pirate captain quite like making his slaves do dirty work.  They were led up, chained at the wrists and ankles, thick collars around their necks... Marlock strode towards them and slapped each one on the face.
 
"Lads, ye pull up th' fish net now and see what th' ocean spit up farr us! Maybe if ye be lucky, Cap'n'll let yar have a bit a' th' scraps from the table tonight, leezards!"
 
They were pulled towards the side of the ship where the fish nets had been cast in the still waters, in hopes of catching some fresh tuna or maybe a shark, or a few crabs. Their chains were hooked to the mast of the ship so they couldn't jump overboard, and three deckhands watched the progress wile Marlock himself chuckled and poked at the two Iksar. Rathaell silently began to try to haul up the fishnet, but Saeth hesitated long enought o bring a back hand from the Captain. Blood trickled out of his nose and dripped onto the deck, he hissed under his breath and then began to help his brother haul up the heavy fish net.
 
Something was in it...and it was no fish. It was incredibly heavy, and as they hauled the net over the side, they saw a shine and gleam that wasn't like anything they had seen before. It smelled wrong, somehow... and both Iksar took a step back with their lips curled in disgust at the roundish, shining object.
 
"Looka' th' shiney Cap'n Marlock! Thas a black pearl is what that be! Th' biggest in all Norrath, look at the size a' her!"
 
It was indeed black, but shined strangley with an irredecent glimmer. It was roughly the size of a man's head, but was so heavy it seemed made of solid stone.
 
Marlock was delighted. Now not only was he the only pirate captain to have a set of Iksar for slaves, he also had the world's largest black pearl. They sawed the thing in half... it was decided half would be made into earrings and necklaces for every loyal man on the crew. The other half would be sold for riches galore, and they'd have a new ship...painted and varnished black with a mashead of a mermaid.
 
Saeth and Rathaell cringed when the "pearl" was brought near them, and wanted nothing to do with it. Something was wrong with it, it smelled wrong...it smelled like sickness and fire.  There was no word for "radiation" on Norrath, but what the pirates had just fished out of the water was a chunk of Luclin, teeming with radioactive material. And now they were all wearing a piece of that rock around their necks or in their ears...
 
The Iksar were ushered back down into the hold, the pirates and their Captain were anxious to have a big celebration over the discovery of the pearl. There would be drinking tonight and maybe a few fist fights, perhaps they'd dock and get a few wenches the next day...
 
In the hold, Saeth and Rathaell silently glared at the bars of their prison and clawed at their mancles, leaving deep scratches in the iron, but nothing else. They listened to the loud, bawdy accordian playing above them in the Captain's quarters as the raiders drank and fought and sang. It continued all night, but eventually the Iksar fell asleep, each dreaming of the day when their human captors would die at their feet, and the ocean would run red with blood.
 
They slept half the next day... and no one came to wake them. Saeth was the first to notice the eerie silence as he opened his eyes. There was no noise...only the slight creaking of the ship as it rocked in the waves. The wind...it sounded like...had picked up, but there was no scurry on deck to get the sails ready to catch the breeze and ride it to port. There was nothing...just the creaking, and the steady breathing of Rathaell as he slept.
 
Up on deck the pirates had drank themselves into a stupor...but sometime late at night, their normal drunken vomitting turned violent and wrong. They broke out into a fever, their joints gave way under them, they were sick and throwing up blood and...what seemed to be...bits of their insides. The "pearl" had been highly radioactive, perhaps something about the sea water intensified it. If the raiders could have swam to the reef where they had fished it out, they would see nothing was alive down there, it was a barren spot in the ocean when it should have been teeming with life. But if they ever realized it, it was already too late. Ever raider on the ship was dead and already bloating in the hot sun.
 
Saeth didn't know exactly what happened, but all that day in the silence, he and Rathaell would now and again catch the scent of death as it drifted through the old creaking boards of the hold. They were trapped there... in the hold, and there was nothing they could do but claw at the iron bars.
 
------
 
Days passed, Saeth was laying against the wall, feeling his strength ebb out of him. The smell from above was foul, but it was ten times worse as it became trapped down in the small prison. It was hot, too, and they grew overheated, unable to control their temperature as well as humans could. Fever was on them. This would be an awful way to die...starving to death or dying of thirst and sickness in the belly of a human's ship. More than pain and sickness, Saeth was sick with shame over his fate. This was not how a warrior was supposed to die.
 
The ghost ship, eerily quiet and empty save for the rotting corpses....sailed on. Above, the wind that had picked up a few days earlier grew colder, and slowly...thick grey clouds rolled in. Saeth and Rathaell were too weak and sick to notice the strange pitch and roll the ship had suddenly taken, but when they heard a distant rumble of thunder, they knew a storm had blown in. There was an electricity in the air that seemed to give Saeth a little of his strength back, and he pushed himself to his feet, holding onto the iron bars of their cage and looking out into the darkness of the ship's hold. He could smell rain now, amongst that foul stench of decay...
 
"It's storming Rathaell... feel how the ship is moving? It will get bad before it gets better..."
 
Rathaell only stared at Saeth with bleary, fevered eyes and shrugged. He didn't care anymore. He just wanted to die and have this shame end. Saeth looked at his brother with a bit of panic. They would die...DIE down there. He would watch Rathaell go first, he knew Rathaell couldn't hold out much more than another day or two, if that. Saeth was not a man that dwelled on the past or on false hopes, but suddenly he felt homesick and wished they were back in Cabilis, playing with sticks and pretending to be great warriors... those days were gone, his brother was going to die before his very eyes, and there was nothing he could do. He felt the rage building in him. HE HATED THE SOFT ONES! HATED THEM!!
 
A sudden, violent roll of the ship in the storm made him lose his balance and forget his anger as he tumbled to the floor. Saeth hissed to himself, the ship hitched violently as if she were turning on her side, or very near to it. Outside the thunder had increased in tone, making the boards rumble and the floor shake. If they had been on deck, they would have seen the forks of lightning. There was no one left to cut away the heavy sail on the mast to keep it from being drenched with rain. There was no one to steer the ship, and no one to keep the leaks and water from filling up with the rain. Saeth lay on the floor and groaned in misery...this was not how a warrior was supposed to die.
 
The rain was coming down in sheets and the waves were crashing on deck, the corpses of the sailors were being swept away and dragged to the sea...never to be seen again. The mast, overburdened by the soaked linen sail, was cracking under the weight. The entire ship seemed ready to go under with every new wave that rolled it about, and ever lightning burst seemed ever closer to the crow's nest. 
 
With a crack that sounded as loud as a peal of thunder, the heavy mast finally gave way and toppled onto the deck of the ship. The deck splintered under the massive weight, boards splintered. Like a huge wooden spear, the end of the mast crashed through the ship's bowels. Saeth' had been cursing the humans under his breath, expecting to die any minute when the ship finally went under the sea... but then the whole room seemed turned upside down in the noise and flying wood. He rolled out of the way of the mast, in pure instinct...and avoided being crushed by only a few feet.
 
Rathaell had tried to move too, but his legs had been caught, he screamed as the heavy wooden mast landed on his body and crushed his pelvis and shattered his legs.
 
"OH GODS THULE!! Saeth!!! Saeth help me brother, help me!!"
 
Saeth had never heard a more terrible sound than his brother screaming in agony like that. It was not the sound of a clean death, not the sound of getting cut with a sword or cleaved with an axe...it was the sickening sound of bones crunching and organs being smashed. Saeth stared...shocked... at his brother, who was trying desperately to free his lower half from the weight of the mast. Blood was dripping from his mouth and nose, his eyes were wide and he opened his mouth to cry out to Saeth again, to beg him for help.
 
Those humans...they had done this. They had done it all!! Those filthy soft skinned rabbits had kept them as slaves, their stupidity had lost the ship and now Rathaell.... under that mast...NO! He would not let his brother die like this. They would die in the ocean, like warriors! The cold, red rage filled his senses. He could not even feel, he could not see...he could only act. It was a mix of panic and fear and hate that made him move. His fingers caught hold of Rathaell's hand. Saeth in his rage was strong, and he pulled with all the strength of his rage to free his brother from where he was pinned. He felt the weight of Rathaell resist, and then give...heard the screams of pain as he freed his brother from the mast.
 
Then the cold ocean washed over them. The ship had rolled into the ocean. Saeth gripped Rathaell's hand and with a strange, cold sense of clarity boiling with anger and hate, he swam towards the surface on instinct. He would not let go of Rathaell, and kept blindly shouting at his brother to hang on.
 
The storm was blowing itself out, and in the way of most storms...the worst of the violence was over in less than half an hour. By then, Saeth's horrible rage and strength had gone with the last of the thunder and died with the wind. He was tired...so tired. Rathaell..he must be in so much pain, he hadn't spoken a word.
 
As the waves slowly calmed and stopped crashing over his head every few seconds, Saeth could breathe long enough to turn towards Rathaell.
 
He screamed.
 
In his rage and panic...he had torn his brother's body in half in an effort to free him. Rathaell's entrails drifted in the water like seaweed, spreading a red river in the grey ocean. His eyes were glassed over, and the expression on his frozen face was one of fear and pain. Saeth choked and begin to get sick, but still he refused to let go of Rathaell's hand. He lost it a bit at that moment, and couldn't think anything other than a silent cry of "NO!"
 
The sharks came as the storm died out. Saeth had been drifting there more than an hour, but he could not tell the passing of time in his hysteria. The first bump on his leg shocked him out of his grief, and his eyes widened as he saw several dark forms swimming around him, tasting the blood that was washing away from Rathaell's torso. With lightning speed, one of the sharks struck...clamping onto what was left of Saeth's brother with a force that nearly pulled Saeth under the waves.
 
"Leave him alone!! You [Removed for Content] get off of him!"
 
In his mind, it wasn't the sharks that he was fighting off now. It was the humans, the soft skinned ones that had done this to them. He struck and clawed and bit, used his mancles as weapons, savagely tore into anything that was moving. After a time fighting, he realized he was beating the sharks with something... the only thing left of Rathaell. The arm that Saeth would not let go of, hardly anything more than bone with a bit of flesh that the sharks hadn't managed to get. The feeding frenzy was still going on, now sharks were bleeding and it drove the giant predators to greater hunger. Saeth himself was bleeding as well from a few shark bites, but his savage hate boiled over at that moment and amazingly...he drove them off enough to crawl upon a wooden plank. He clutched Rathaell's arm bone to him. He would keep it always, as a reminder.
 
A day later, his plank drifted up on a distant shore...the Isle of Refuge. From there, he would train and regain his strength. He did not speak of what had happened at sea nor of his years as a slave since the Shattering. In his heart, all he felt was a burning need for revenge against the soft skinned ones that had destroyed what little bit of hope he had left. But wasn't there new hope? Yes...hadn't those wretched pirates hinted at Iksar in Freeport? He would go there then, and see if it was true. If it was, perhaps there were others that shared his hate and rage towards the humans.
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Saeth --Iksar Berserker (21) Lucan D'Lere Server--
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