A Marksman's Tale

Three: Kindred Spirit

Level Fifteen Acrobat

By Aaerdan

THERE is nothing you can do now, the voice of Darkflame is heard in his head. Ease off, Dunael. They are out of your league.

The youth knows Darkflame is right. He takes in a deep breath, feeling the blood flow into his hands once more. He had gripped the bow so hard he left an imprint of his fingers on the wood.

"Who are they?" Dunael Aaerdan asks Darkflame.

Perhaps thirty metres of so upwind a man in armour that shone in many colours stood over the body of a young woman, his massive axe ready for serious business. Another woman stood nearby, watching.

Just moments before the man had struck his opponent with a blow so powerful it threw her into the air, and sent a shockwave that drove Dunael to his knees, concealed and protected though he is behind a boulder of considerable size. Even the very stone shifted a few centimetres.

And moments before that Darkflame had warned him that the Aevo had sensed something both strong and malicious.

I know not, Darkflame replies to his question. I can sense that they too have Aevos. It is, it pauses, -not a familiar sensation.

The woman on ground tries to rise, but fails. Whatever move it was that the man used, Dunael thinks, I want to know it.

I wonder what they are talking about.

There is some exchange between the man and the masked woman. He removes his helmet and she her mask.

Even from a distance Dunael can tell they were extremely beautiful. The man's braided red locks are tied back as if to stop them from marring his face. The woman's golden tresses run free about her shoulders.

Are they even human?

"You wonder too?"

I have seen many beautiful people, but these two are almost-

"Unreal," Dunael finishes. "And deadly."

The man raises the axe but does not let it fall on the vanquished.



I am sensing a rise in the intensity of the golden woman's Aevo. Darkflame adds, It is followed by a corresponding decline in the man's.

"They are leaving," Dunael whispers.

Indeed they are. Only when they have gone did Dunael dare to emerge from behind the boulder.

Who are you?

"Darkflame?" Dunael asks. He is unsure, for the "voice" felt ... different.

That's not me, Darkflame states. It is the woman's Aevo.

I can sense you, the newcomer says. We are the same!

Yes, we are alike, Darkflame replies. Though not the same.

Can you help me? My friend is dying.

"We know," Dunael says as he nears the woman. "We saw her fall. But-"

We could not help, Darkflame says. Whoever he is, he is far too powerful.

I know. Then: Oh, he's Lord Akuryu and she's Lady Kazeko. My friend is Lena.

Dunael kneels by Lena. "This is not good. I have some salves and bandages, but I think she's torn up inside as well." He takes care not to say this out loud. "This Akuryu must have been mad. The way Lena's limbs are positioned..."

He takes out his handkerchief and wipes off some of the blood off Lena's face. When he can make out her face, he gasps.

Dunael, it's her! Darkflame exclaims.

You two know Lena?

Dunael nods. He knows her alright. It was her who tried to save him not too long ago from a Pukepuke.

"Darkflame, the damage is too extensive," he says as he tries to feel for her pulse, finding it with some effort, faint as it is. And getting weaker.

The youth removes his jacket and proceeds to cover Lena with it, though he knows not why.

Dunael! Danger! Behind!

He turns and finds himself face to face with the woman with golden hair.

Within arm's length, the youth could feel her considerable aura, and despite himself could only gape at her ethereal beauty. He masters himself enough to raise his bow, but the arrow is slow to come.

Lady Kazeko raises one hand in a gesture of peace.

"Stay your weapon," she tells him. "I am here to save her."

He lowers his bow and steps back.

Look away, Dunael, Darkflame instructs. Her aura is too powerful. Look away.

With effort he does so.

"If there be gods, I think I've met one of them," he whispers.

Indeed, both Darkflame and the new Aevo answer.

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