Wherein C.F.Barrón does his thing...

Fenix Rising: An Eagle in Basin Village

I know what you're thinking: What?! ANOTHER unfinished storyline? What is wrong with you Carlos the Awesome?! To which I say: "Please, random internet person, let me explain. This IS an unfinished storyline, but it also takes place in an original fantasy setting that I WANT to finish. So I'm posting the first part here, and will keep adding on parts until I have something somewhat publishable...maybe." Anyway, enjoy this short intro and the awesome fight scene I put together. (I know it's awesome because I spent an hour and half prancing around my living room choreographing the movements)

He walked, staff in hand, until he felt he could walk no more. Then, he kept walking. His legs burned in protest to the struggle that each step had become, and the slightest of breaths became a labor. His lower back ached, as his soles stung and his lips chapped, but as even the simple act of moving his staff began to wear on his arm, he walked on. The sun found its bed behind the western horizon, and Fenix found himself fumbling and stumbling down a well-worn trail underneath the last remains of a vanilla slashed lavender sky. All signs pointed to a small village being located up ahead. He couldn't be sure if the beasts had decided to follow him or not, but they would avoid crowds and, more importantly, where there were people there was water. Just a glass would suffice. Up ahead, no more than fifty paces, he saw light streaming through the windows of a medium sized building. All but crashing into what he gathered was the local tavern, Fenix collapsed, his arid throat croaking for water and a table.

The bar maid took one look at the haggard soul sprawled out and spread eagled on the dusty wooden floor, determined the man to be a beggar, and nearly threw him out. Softness touched her heart as she brought him to his feet, however, and she decided to take pity on the man. Something in the way she smiled reminded Fenix of one of the sisters he had known as a boy, the one who only half-heartedly admonished him for his various pranks. Her long, brown, hair seemed almost glossy in the lamp light, and framed her gentle face. Helping him to a seat in the corner of the tavern, away from the wary eyes of the other patrons, the bar maid brought him, in short order, a wooden mug of mead and plate of mutton, serving both on the small square table where she had seated him.

“Here. My purse will bear your meal tonight.” she said, her voice rich and low pitched.

“Many thanks for your kindness.” Fenix mumbled dryly. “If I could please have a bit of water, I’m not permitted to drink honey wine.”

She gave him a quizzical look, noticing how oddly striking his eyes were in the dim room, and nodded. When she returned, she brought with her a pewter pitcher of water and a matching goblet. Again he thanked her, but as she turned to walk away, he caught her hand. The bar maid stifled a small yelp as she felt the sharp, cold, sting of frigid metal on her skin. He had casually grabbed her hand as if to ask for her name but managed to slip her a rather large gold coin.

“For your hospitality.” was all he said to her.

Slipping into the kitchen, she discretely examined the chunk of metal. The coin bore the image of an eagle, making the man she had allegedly taken mercy on one of the fiercest and most exalted warriors in the world. Which could only mean one thing: trouble was nearby.

Absentmindedly dipping his bezoar into his pewter goblet, Fenix hoped the maid had put two and two together. Given his recent debacle with the Morfiends, his very presence endangered everyone in the village but he had wanted to ensure her safety. Her kindness had saved her life, hopefully. Once he had downed the water, and strength had returned to his fingers, he began examining his staff. It had been shod with bronze which had tarnished over time, but the staff itself was made of a metal Fenix had never encountered before. Legend had it that the staff was forged in the realm of the gods, but Fenix knew better. It hadn’t been made on the other side of The Veil; rather, what it was made of had “fallen from the heavens” so to speak. The staff felt as if it had been wrapped in suede. Smooth to the touch, it reflected no light and melted into any shadow, standing as a bar of pitch in midday. Were it not for the dim lighting of the tavern it would have attracted unwanted attention. Fortunately, no one had even noticed it as he had shuffled in. Aside from these unusual traits, the staff seemed like nothing more than a sturdy piece of metal on which to lean on, or to defend oneself with. He leaned it against the table, reached into his small satchel, and removed a walnut sized emerald form its contents. Peering through his gem of Insight, he found that the staff was covered in runes. His calculating eye found most of the runes to be complete gibberish. They were either made up, extremely advanced, or perhaps so ancient that they meant nothing to anyone but the original crafter. Amongst the gibberish he discovered what he felt must have been the key to the staff’s existence.

“Use me as you will, for I am what I am”.

He had just begun to muse over its meaning when the barmaid returned.

“What are you doing here?” She whispered desperately.

In the corner of his mind, he felt the intrusion of unwanted attention, and the aggression it carried. By the time Fenix heard his steel slide from its sheath, his table was flipped over and the barmaid was screaming. Moments later, his would be assassin was bleeding on the floor, and Fenix was retrieving his throwing knife from its skull. He methodically examined his knife for damage before slipping it back into its hiding place in his bracer, ignoring the fact that everyone was now openly staring at him. The dead conjuration misted away blood and all, leaving a knife embedded in the wooden planks of the tavern with seven jagged teeth. Fenix noticed the knife but focused his attention on the barmaid who was still hiding behind the table he had flipped over to block the throwing star currently stuck in it.

“You know, when most people receive an Eagle Feather, they just run.” he said blandly.

Silence struck the tongues of all present. Had he just said he was an Eagle? Nine men rushed forward as twice as many bustled out the door. Each of the nine men issued a formal challenge throwing their family seals at his feet and arguing over who issued the challenge first. Fenix paid them no mind, as his thoughts went back to the knife in the floor planks. Seven teeth? This meant something massive was on the horizon. What could possibly require all seven Eagles to convene? The edge of the blade faced away from where he had been standing when he had thrown his knife and the handle was wrapped in red leather chord, creating three stripes. At this time, in three days, seven Eagles would meet at the base of Palenvar’s Thumb for the first time in eight generations.

Bringing himself back into the moment, he gave the group of shouting men what he felt was a calm look. They each fell to silence as their eyes met his steely stare. With a swift movement of his hand, all nine family seals shattered simultaneously. He had accepted it as a group challenge, and each of them was stunned.

“As honor and tradition dictate, you are each allowed one stipulation. Think it through and I will see you at sunrise.”

He moved to walk upstairs but was stopped by a challenger.

“Wait.” came a bewildered voice. “Which of us fights first?”

“ The nine of you will fight me together. Should any of you kill me, you will receive the mantle of Eagle, but know this: in a duel for the mantle, only the last one standing will be considered the victor.”

They each looked at each other, realizing they may have to kill a fellow guardsmen for the title they sought.

“Nine stipulations. Chose them wisely.”

With that he picked up the staff, and walked upstairs. where, as he expected, the owner had prepared a room for him. His title ensured that he never needed to worry about a place to sleep. Altogether it was the only thing he didn’t have to worry about. As a child he thought, as many did, that being an Eagle meant being able to do whatever one wished. But now the mantle, and its responsibilities, weighed heavily on his shoulders. Sliding the staff into his bottomless satchel, he laid himself down and hoped to dream of his old master.

The entire population of Basin village gathered to watch a veritable Eagle match his might with those of nine of their guardsmen. All nine had decided to pursue their ambitions, but rather than risk killing their comrades, had conspired to work together. Figuring that their combined stipulations would nullify the Eagle as a threat, they merely had to best each other and the one remaining standing would be the one who had earned the right to slay the Eagle. It hadn't sat well with some of them at first, but eventually they decided that Eagles were supposed to be cunning warriors, and if this particular eagle had allowed himself to be placed in such a precarious position it was his own fault and made him undeserving of the mantle.

So it was that when dawn came, Fenix found himself listening to the captain of Basin’s Guard elaborate on the nine stipulations that had been decided upon. When the bell rang, Fenix would begin the fight bound by manacles, blindfolded, gagged, unarmed, unarmored, on his knees and would not be allowed to “invoke the elements, fly, or summon the spirits of past Eagles to fight on his behalf”. With a stony mask of indifference, Fenix accepted the words and passively allowed them to be carried out. Some would later remark that the man looked as if he was accepting his death. All, save one, believed that the mantle would be passed on that morning. The one who harbored secret hope for the dark skinned, long haired, stranger was Sairah, the barmaid who had been gifted with a Feather. Something in the back of her skull insisted that as doomed as this Eagle looked, he would emerge unscathed from the battle. There was an aura of strength about him, even as he silently allowed himself to be shackled and man handled. Once, she thought he glanced in her direction and the expression on his face said one thing to Sairah: “I’m bored. Can we get this over with?”

Before being gagged, so as to prevent sorcery, Fenix admitted to not being keen on wearing any sort of armor and that all of his weapons were stored elsewhere for safe keeping.

“I won’t need my arsenal, though.” He said. “ I have yours.”

The nine guards laughed at this, but it struck the crowd that they all clung a little tighter to their weapons. Fenix was dragged into position, the remaining nine circled up, and the crowd eagerly anticipated the gong of the bell.

Sairah fixated on the nameless Eagle. Her untrained eyes had been unable to track his movements the night before, but she had paid good money to the Apothecary for a potion of Insight. Acid flavored green fluid or not, she was going to see the full extent of this man’s skill.

The bell rang and Eight Guards entered their respective fighting stances. The ninth, having just received a nerve strike to his neck, slowly tipped over, sprawling onto the floor as Fenix nabbed the man’s quarter staff. Deftly twirling the piece of wax wood, the Eagle saw through the next Guard’s feint and, with a spinning motion, Fenix disarmed the man of his spiked chain. He proceeded to shatter the man’s wrist and jaw with two successive strikes. The Guard collided with the stone cobbled street and Fenix hurled the staff as if it were a spear at another, unsuspecting, opponent. Wax wood met Adam’s apple and the third guard went down. With three men out of commission, Fenix used his left foot to scoop up the abandoned spiked chain and spun it until its high pitch whirling was the only thing heard. Six men were slowly stepping closer, having been shaken up by the Eagle’s escape, but still intent on claiming his title. Passively, he sensed they were anxious, that each of them was silently hoping another would act first. He felt a spike of initiative from the youngest of the group, a wiry man wielding a rapier and buckler. The young Guard’s lunge was inexperienced, it aimed too high, over extended, and was easy to redirect with the chain. Sidestepping past the rookie fencer, Fenix flung the chain at the man’s leg and pulled sharply. His aim was perfect, steel wrapped around boot, and spikes buried themselves into the muscle as the force of Fenix’s pull knocked the rookie on his face. A hop, skip, and swift kick to the ribs later, the fencer was incapacitated.

Fenix had just managed to pick up the rookie’s buckler when he felt three large spikes of initiative, the largest coming from right behind him. A heavy war hammer hit the exact spot where Fenix would have been, had he not managed a last second combat roll. Nearly slipping on the dusty stones of the Village Square, Fenix clambered to his feet and hurled his makeshift discus at his hammer wielding foe. The man’s nose crunched and blood splattered across the informal arena, marking yet another defeated Guard. The next Guard was more than ten feet away, but it was his intent that alerted Fenix before he heard the man’s boot steps. Fenix entered a martial stance and seemingly struck the air. The first strike stopped the assailant’s charge. The many that followed, broke eight ribs. To Sairah, it looked as if each movement sent the image of a fist flying at his sword wielding opponent. Fenix half smiled to himself. I’ll have to tell Talon I managed 325 punches in under a minute. He thought.

Splinters hit the air as Fenix spun around and followed through with an over hand chop to the spear shaft he had instinctively dodged. He followed suit with an open palmed strike to the solar plexus, a hook to the stomach and a heel kick to the sternum of the spear master. With seven down, Fenix leisurely walked over to the man whose ribs his telekinetic punches had broken.

“Can I borrow this?” he said, picking up the somewhat ornate hand and half sword. The last two guards, he knew, had stayed back the whole fight, watched as he had picked apart their comrades and had done little more than move a little here and there. Both, he knew, felt like they had an ace up their sleeves. Though the rest hadn’t been much of a challenge, he was not about to underestimate a pair of ambitious men. He flourished the sword as he silently stepped towards the pair. Flourishes had no place in legitimate combat but, they occasionally served well as intimidation tactics. Swords were an extension of Fenix. He could be called world class with just about any weapon, but with a sword he was entirely at peace.

Two men stood between him and the rest of his day: the stout one with a great axe for a friend, and the small one with his knives. He yawned, and unsheathed metal sung through the air. Fenix deflected the knife and quickly shuffled back to avoid a fatal axe swing. “Did they plan that?” he thought. The shorter one drew more knives, silently nodding to the other guard. This time, Fenix was ready for their deadly combination. Silk flowing into silk, he deflected the knife and “defanged the snake” by cutting into the axe man’s hand in mid swing. Liquid rubies hit stone as Fenix finished the motion by bringing the pommel of his blade back around and crashing it into the top of the giant’s skull, followed by a pair of strikes to the man‘s face. At this point, a sharp sting hit the side of Fenix’s neck. Examining the dart, Fenix noticed his last opponent’s smile.

“Chimera venom, Eagle. You’ll be passing on the mantle in under a minute now.”

Fenix fixed the man with a blank stare. Taking in the smug grin and then disregarding it.

“It’s said Eagles once feasted on the flesh of Basilisks to build immunity to its venom." Fenix said. "But even if that weren’t true…”

He snapped his fingers and was instantly behind his would be poisoner. Putting his blade to the man’s throat, he spoke matter- of- factly.

“I’m immune to cowardice.”

A sharp motion opened the jugular and spilled out the man’s life. It was a miserable way to kill a man, but it got a point across. While the rest of the Guards had been hurt, some seriously, this Guard was the only one actually slain. When it came down to principle, a lack of honor would always result in death if you crossed swords with an Eagle. Fenix wiped the blade on the dying guard’s pants and admired the inlaid amethysts one last time before dropping it next to the man he had borrowed it from. A loud clang rang out as the steel hit the floor, making the utter silence that much more noticeable. The ocean of villagers parted as Fenix walked back to his room in the tavern. Ceramic armies would have made more noise than the crowd gathered to watch an Eagle die. The ocean stood transfixed by this impossible man, who moments ago had performed feats only spoken of as outlandish rumors and propaganda. No one dared cheer or move as he walked amongst them, and it wasn’t until he was safely back in the tavern that anyone risked a conversation. After grabbing his heavy cloak and his satchel, Fenix left the village without a word. ******

Okay, yes, there are anachronisms, The language is sometimes weird because it bounces from formal to informal or from flowery to sparse. I use contractions alongside words like "amongst". Trust me, this is all INTENTIONAL. As you will all come to see, the world isn't exactly steam punk but it IS a blend of modern and medieval.