A Long, Long, LONG time ago . . .
Continued from Previous…
Finally she had composed herself enough to continue on. “After some time, with Alaekiam teaching me, and traveling all over, we…we eventually became lovers. We married once, and for a time…it was the happiest in my life. But all things end, especially happiness. One day, traveling through Germany, about seventy-eight years after Alaekiam had found me, we came across a pair of monsters. One of our kind, an evil Immortal that only knew and lived the ‘Game’ and had ransacked and destroyed villages across the known world had teamed up with a real live demon. Ironically, a young Chaos demon. Alaekiam was almost a legend at that time, one of the best. I still had yet to even fight in an Immortal duel, so the evil Immortal ignored me, leaving me to face the demon while Alaekiam and Kronos, the other Immortal’s name, fought. I remember that day very clearly…” Plains of Germany: 1589 B.C.
It was midday, just after their meal that Adriana, the “Golden Angel” as her lover, Alaekiam, had named her, and Alaekiam came across the dark Immortal. They had stopped near a gravesite, marked as such with the symbols of undisturbed rest. Holy ground.
The stranger had actually come from the holy ground. He was dressed as a warrior or warlord of some kind. His dark hair fell in long tresses, and his eyes even darker were like staring into black voids of pain and suffering. Yet what drew Adriana’s attention first was the strange markings he had on his face. They were sharp, like a blade’s edge, and darker than even his eyes. They covered one side of his face like nothing she had ever seen. It was one of the most terrifying things that the young Immortal had ever seen.
“Greetings,” Alaekiam said to the stranger that they both recognized as an Immortal. “What, may I ask, are your intentions, be they good or selfish?” Her Teacher always greeted any Immortals they met in such a fashion. He had taught her that not all Immortals were evil, and many could be trusted because they were just like her. Sides, it was always a good one, the direct approach.
“Oh, they are most definitely selfish, my dear opponent,” the evil Immortal answered in a dark, ominous, almost slippery voice. “And, if I may ask, you are the Immortal warrior named ‘Alaekiam’, are you not?”
“I am,” he answered. “Who are you?” Alaekiam had dispensed with all pleasantries and had already drawn his long sword, and put Adriana behind him. She too drew her sword. She knew the rules of the duel well, Alaekiam had taught her everything she knew and more, but she somehow sensed that she would need it. Something was not right here.
“Kronos,” answered the evil Immortal. “War of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.”
Alaekiam squinted his eyes in hatred and rage. “I know the name.” He spat out.
“Good,” Kronos replied. “And I know yours. Your power shall add greatly to my own. I will win the prize yet!”
“Not if I have anything to say on it! The likes of you shall never have the power of the gods! They would sooner strike us all down than allow you to even come close to the prize.” Alaekiam shouted back, removing his cloak and moving further from the holy ground. “Adriana,” he whispered urgently to his charge, “Quickly, go into the site, and remain there. He cannot harm you on holy ground, especially not on that
holy ground. Remember that. On sites of undisturbed rest, no Immortal is allowed to do a breath of harm, lest they be struck down or cursed by the gods. Go now!”
“I understand,” Adriana answered back, still holding her sword, but racing for the marker’s edge of the holy ground. However she was halted when she saw something else coming from the graveyard. It was large and very, very ugly. It stood nearly eight feet to her five, and at least five feet at the shoulder. It was well muscled, but that was secondary to the fact that it was covered in charred blackened red scaled skin and had bright glowing yellow eyes and curved rams horns that matched the sick black color of its skin. It had actually appeared just outside of the holy ground, almost out of the ground itself, save no disturbed earth. It glared at the small blond and smirked its annoyance and confidence. Ignoring her, it turned to the older Immortals and spoke in a rock-grating voice to Kronos.
“Well Kronos? Is this the champion that you wished aid in destroying? The last Immortal to know and believe in the old gods?
” it asked the evil Immortal.
Smiling in a cruel sadistic way that made Adriana sick to her stomach, Kronos nodded and answered back, “Yes it is, though the girl is a bit young for me. I may take her as a slave later. You may kill her if you wish, but Alaekiam is all mine.”
Alaekiam’s face grew dark at the mention of harm coming to his student. “Adriana, run! Get on to holy ground!” he shouted at her.
” the monster said with a very small measure of fear, but more curiosity.
“My name,” the blond girl answered him with no fear rather more disgust in her voice. The demon’s gaze darkened as his eyes laid upon the small Immortal that had been told to him at his creation that would destroy him and eventually all of demon kind on Earth.
“Have your fight Kronos, the girl is mine. She dies this day! I will not let the prophecy come to pass!
” the demon shouted. Kronos just shrugged and said the equivalent of that day’s “Whatever!”
Gulping in the fear that she would actually have to fight the monster before her, Adriana backed up until she stood by, with a distance of over ten feet, Alaekiam once more. Teacher and student readied themselves, holding their swords in guard position. The demon was still by the edge of the holy ground, but Kronos had advanced so that he was in easy striking distance of the older Immortal.
The quartet stood there at a standoff for some time before Kronos took the first swing, signaling the beginning of the fight. Alaekiam blocked for several strikes, even taking a step back before suddenly shifting to the offensive, driving Kronos back with surprising ferocity and force. Alaekiam believed that it would take both he and Adriana to defeat the demon that this foolish Immortal had allied himself with. He sought a quick end to this.
The demon meanwhile had leaped into the air the second that the swords first struck. He landed just behind Adriana and the ground shook as he landed. The young girl lost her footing as the monster landed out of her sight, yet rather than let that hinder her as it might a more experienced warrior, she took advantage by falling to her knees and then rolling forward, away from where the demon swiped with a taloned hand where she had been but a moment before.
Growling with frustration, the demon stalked after her, swiping every chance it got, but she always managed to just get out of the way by either dodging or rolling or just running away. When she finally realized that she had to start fighting she just stopped suddenly and turned and pointed her sword straight at it as it dove straight for her. Surprised, the demon barely had time to stop, the sword held waiving at its neck. Jerking back in surprise, the dark beast just smiled darkly, impressed nonetheless. “Not bad little girl. I may have something to worry about after all.
Adriana gulped and thought briefly about running off scared again. Then she caught a glimpse of Alaekiam and Kronos fighting just behind the ugly beast’s frame. Alaekiam was flawless in all his strokes, almost seeming to be one step ahead of the evil Immortal in every move. Yet Kronos was impressive in his own right, always managing to just barely block all of Alaekiam’s attacks, and managing to swing off a few of his own, though none ever connected.
The sight gave the golden haired girl the strength to turn back to the monster, and give it an evil grin truly worthy of her master (Teacher). When the girl stopped holding her weapon like a coward and actually faced it, the demon was actually impressed. But when she actually grinned at him. That was when he became terrified. Only someone truly confident of victory could ever have that look, and the beast was suddenly very afraid of its chances to last the day. In a rage of fear and desperation, it roared and attacked the young Immortal head on in a deadly charge.
Seeing what it was doing, reacting on instinct alone, Adriana caught the flat of the beast’s head against her palm, let go of the ground with her feet, and let the charge carry her far enough so that she could easily flip over the enraged demon. Landing on her feet, Adriana quickly turned around to face the stunned creature. Letting the rage fully consume it, the demon bellowed out its challenge and ran full tilt at the warrior that dared to face it.
Somehow sensing that the same trick would not work, Adriana balanced herself on the balls of her feet, as taught to her by her Teacher, and held her sword in guard position, waiting to see what move the beast would make. She didn’t have long to wait. As soon as it was in striking distance, the demon raised its right arm and using the force of its momentum it arched a punch straight at Adriana. Seeing it, and barely reacting in time, Adriana dived backwards, and more to her movement than choice, swung her sword out and up so that it connected on the scaly patch on the arm that landed where she had been but a moment before. Rather than cut or even loosen any of the scales, it just sparked briefly and Adriana felt like she had just broken her arm swinging at a piece of unbreakable armor, which it seemed like the scales, placed strategically all over its body, were. The beast didn’t even cry out in pain, it just growled lowly, annoyed by its miss.
Scared at this development, Adriana retook to the cowards way of thinking and began to back away, scared for her life. And so it went for several hours. Adriana would gain confidence from seeing her Teacher and love fighting effervescently against the evil Immortal, and then face off against the demon, only to realize that there was nothing she could really do and started running again terrified. The fight between Alaekiam and Kronos was almost at an even stalemate. Alaekiam’s skill and experience was matched blow for blow with Kronos’ desperation and desire for victory. Half the day was gone by the time that a turning point in the dual battles was reached.
Adriana had come to the realization that she had been trying against the scales on the beast, trying to wheedle her way past its strongest points. So what if she went after one of the unscaled parts, one of the weakest points?
Coming to her decision, Adriana quickly came to a sudden halt with the demon less than an arms breadth away from her. Then, faster than it could react to, she ducked down and rolled backwards, while it stepped over her. Coming up from her roll, she slashed out with her sword at one of the weak points, the unscaled pattern just above the shin just behind the kneecap.
The roar of pain from the demonic monstrosity was the loudest all afternoon, and a grin of deep satisfaction crossed the young girl’s face as she saw lines of pussing green show where she had cut. Alaekiam also heard the roar and held a grin himself as he redoubled his efforts against Kronos. Kronos, distracted by his ally’s cry, suddenly felt very nervous about his chances as the Immortal he had come after suddenly seemed to get twice as strong. Scowling, he stopped playing around and actually started trying to kill the ancient one.
The screaming demon turned, as well as it could, on its heel to see Adriana still crouched behind it. Seeing this as her possibly only chance, Adriana slashed upward along the demon’s unscaled side as it started to turn towards her. Completing the move, as she finished the upward slash, Adriana saw her striking point, and drove her sword nearly to the hilt through to the demon’s heart between some patches of the scales. Yet before she could retrieve her weapon, the demon knocked her back some twenty feet with a massive backhanded strike.
Seeing what happened to his charge, Alaekiam lost all focus save for her. He screamed, “Adriana!!” right before Kronos ran him through. Yet before the evil one could take advantage of it, the sword was withdrawn and Alaekiam kicked him far enough away that he could still make it to Adriana.
The young blond got up, unhurt save for a massive ache on her face, and saw her Teacher, injured, limping as quickly as he could to her. She smiled, believing him to have won, yet her smile faded when she saw the demon in it’s death throes leap at the unprepared Immortal and slashed him across his back, causing him to scream again in agony. The slash also caused the man to lose his sword. Paralyzed into shock, Adriana didn’t see Kronos coming up from behind the demon, his own sword at bear. Not until it was far too late did she catch Alaekiam’s eyes, and a million different emotions, messages, and words were conveyed in that briefest of moments. The most important of which was that he knew he was about to die, and the he loved her more than anything else in the world. She began to cry. Yet it was when he cried out to her, yelling her name as loud as he could, that she saw Kronos.
And then nothing.
Adriana stared in horror as Alaekiam’s lifeless, headless body slowly began to glow with a bluish white that she had never hoped to see on him before. The demon was dying, it knew as much, and being right next to a quickening as it occurred was no way to increase his chances. He began to crawl away, but he was stopped at the sight of two small legs. Adriana.
Screaming her outrage over the lightning storm that was her Teacher’s quickening, Adriana withdrew her sword from the demon’s gaping chest as though from water. And she proceeded to cut the beast to pieces. Ugly, gory, slimy pieces often no bigger than her own hand. At first just through the unprotected pieces, yet as her rage grew so did her strength and soon even the armored protected scaled patches were nothing more than pieces under her sword.
When she came out of her rage, the demon nothing more than spots of green slime scattered all around the clearing, the quickening was long since finished and Kronos had recovered enough to regain his sword and watch the last few moments of Adriana’s tantrum.
When she noticed him looking at her, smiling evilly in the way that he did, she scowled back at him, dark enough that he actually lost his grin. “Well done, well done young one,” the evil Immortal complimented her. “I’m somewhat impressed. Too bad that you have no one to share the victory with. Perhaps I could take you on as a student. Yes, I could certainly teach you a thing or two. And I can assure you, I’ll bed you much better than this bastard ever could.”
As the final insult struck home, something changed forever in Adriana. She had tapped into a rage, a power to kill the demon, and then tried to hide it away afterwards. Alaekiam had warned her of what such a power could lead to, and how an uncontrollable rage could be more a liability than a benefit in battles. What Kronos had done, unknowingly, was allowed her to tap into this power completely unchecked. He soon discovered, however, how great that power truly was.
Holding her demon blood covered sword at her side, Adriana’s face regained the look of rage that she’d had while dispensing with the demon, and she felt something break within her. “Defend yourself!” she shouted Alaekiam’s one warning to all those he was about to kill. Kronos actually had the audacity to smile at her, believing himself to be invincible to defeat at the hands of one so young. He was soon proven mistaken when she ran straight at him and began to slash at him faster than he could mount a defense against.
He decided to try and provoke her into a mistake. “Very impressive little girl! I hope that you’re just as lively when I take my pleasure from you.” He shouted at her. She didn’t respond in the slightest as she just kept hammering past his defenses. Finally she saw her opening as he was bringing his sword down to block, she suddenly reversed her stroke so that her sword went from an up slash to a down slash on the monster’s right, un-tattooed, side of his face.
She struck home as she cut a straight line over his eye with her demon ichor covered sword. He screamed in the agony of hell and dropped all defenses as he held his burning, injured eye that he could somehow sense was not healing as it was supposed to. As the dark warrior keeled over in pain, a flash of sanity reached her in her rage, and she knew that Alaekiam would not want her to get his vengeance, rather to leave it to a more worthy warrior, one that could not have their innocence slain by sending this creature to the hell that he belonged in. So she did not take his head. Instead she kicked him onto his back, and drove the demon blood sword to the hilt through his chest and into the ground, pinning him there. He sat there gasping for a moment, and then died.
Snarling in revulsion, she took Kronos’ sword and drove it with a surprising strength through his forehead, to the hilt and into the ground. Hoping that that would hold him long enough for her to complete her purpose, Adriana stood up and turned her back on the dead Immortal and went to Alaekiam’s body. There she cried until long after the sun had set behind the mountains. Kronos never woke up while Adriana was in the valley.
The next morning, after having cried herself to sleep by Alaekiam’s corpse, Adriana woke, and prepared her Teacher’s body for burial, the way that he had shown her. She buried him in the center of the site of undisturbed rest, and as deep as she dared go, seven hand-lengths. She then said the prayers at midday, after having filled in the burial, as Alaekiam had instructed her. She took Alaekiam’s sword as her own and gathered their supplies. She considered once more before she left taking Kronos’ head, but she decided that he would be far worse (or was it better) off if she just left him there to wake up and escape on his own.
At nightfall she left, not caring that she did not really know what direction she was going in, just wanting to get away from the place where she had left her first true friend, her first true love, and the greatest Teacher she would ever have. A week later, Adriana considered what had happened and came to the irrefutable conclusion that she needed to change her name. Alaekiam had once told her of an animal in a far off land that he had once seen. It was large and nearly unstoppable and when it ran it sounded like thunder. He called it Buffalo. Shrugging as she thought of it, even though she was absolutely nothing like the animal that he had spoken of, she would always need something to live up to. ‘Well, I can be sure that no one has ever thought of the name