Welcome to Inkbunny...
Allowed ratings
To view member-only content, create an account. ( Hide )
Pouncy Athys
« older newer »
Cheetahs
Cheetahs' Gallery (327)

Sons of winter chapter 9: Oathbreaker

Watchful Aryn
sons_of_winter_9_oathbreaker.txt
Keywords male 695311, female 574692, wolf 119477, dragon 88329, anthro 75755, bear 26487, straight 25519, fantasy 13140, magic 13026, sfw 9605, character 9359, story 7627, of 5404, winter 3716, adventure 3276, warrior 2619, battle 2179, series 2077, plot 2025, war 1362, life 1346, medieval 922, novel 891, combat 761, emotional 450, no-yiff 429, hatchling 392, development 370, bonding 283, sons 148, survival 133, slice 113, cheetahs 102
Hello there, and welcome back to this novel! "Sons of Winter" is a bit of an experiment on my part. It is what I call a "High creative-freedom novel commission" in which the commissioner allows me a great deal of liberty to detail the plot, as well as employ any number of OCs I deem necessary to help guide the protagonist down his fated path. So, the reason why I liked to call this a personal work is because it definitely feels like one. However, after talking with my beloved patron, he allowed me to credit him in order to give proper recognition to his OC, as well as provide an example into how these sort of novel commissions look like ^^

So, without further ado, let's get readin'!

Sons of winter chapter 7: WhiteSpine Ravine (high creative-freedom novel commission written for Teufel: http://www.furaffinity.net/user/dragonteufel/ )

Chapter description: Aleks is forced to confront his mistakes as a sinister revelation comes to light while Nyrisa, his Kindred hatchling, shows her true valor.


Aleks belongs to Teufel: http://www.furaffinity.net/user/dragonteufel/

The other characters featured in this novel are my creation


Missed the previous chapter? Find it here! https://inkbunny.net/s/1583846

*Sons of winter chapter 9: Oathbreaker*

At the base of the hill, Aleks fell into a brisk pace. He kept to the larger swaths illuminated by moonlight, his muscles taut, heart hammering against his chest, as if seeking to escape its prison. Leobard and Ariuvor needed to note his presence, and for that to happen, he had to appear purposeful.

"Leobard," he called once the light of his campfire mingled with the silver glow of the stars across his overshirt. "I am Aleks, son of Gorath, Snowfang to the Icehowlers."

No response. But for the crackling of the wood spitting embers upon the gentle breeze, no other sounds came.

Aleks's tail flattened along his haunches, tip pointing back. His bowed head and sagging ears emphasized the nervousness in his small, uncertain steps, his fur crawling with nerves the closer the clearing loomed.

"Mrrrrek," Nyrisa's soft growl came from the backpack, prompting Aleks to shove her back in there.

"Stay still. Keep silent. Let me handle this."

Leobard wasn't asleep; the motion of his arm guiding something to his muzzle indicated as much. The bear had his back against a tree, slumped halfway forward, the ornate scabbard of his greatsword rested atop a boulder to his left.

"Mrrrrh," his growly sigh came, curling fingers signaling him to step out of the shadows.

Aleks followed Leobard's cue...

And came face to face with a hollow, ragged figure marred by one-part dirt and three parts blood.

"Rrrrh!" Leobard rasped, pointing Aleks to an even slab of rock, finger shifting down, urging him to take a seat.

Aleks did as requested, knees drawn to his chest, hands clasped in his lap. He first looked around for signs of Ariuvor, but spotted no distinct footprints, neither did the wind carry his specific fragrance.

Leobard popped the cork of his wineskin, taking a hearty swig, its potency stinging Aleks's nose. The white bear's deep, mahogany eyes drifted toward Aleks, arm extended to proffer the half-empty recipient.

"Thank you, but my stomach doesn't favor alcohol. Gives me the gut roilings, you see?"

"Hrrrf," Leobard grunted, pulling on the wineskin a second time before resting it at his side. Aleks noticed several others hugging the sides of the boulder upon which Leobard's greatsword sat, sagged and thin, drained of their contents. He gulped down the pang of dread that crept up his throat and tried to hold Leobard's gaze, as was polite.

The bear had no eyes for him. He absently stared at his feet, stretched before him, rocking them from side to side as he hummed a mournful tune.

"So," Aleks said, scratching at his wrists anxiously, mind racing to find sensible questions to draw Leobard out of his stupor. "Do you happen to know the name of these woods?"

Leobard continued his humming, unperturbed.

"What brings you here?" Aleks took a second try, licking his muzzle nervously. "I've seen your campfire from afar, so your intent is to draw the enemy out of hiding, to take revenge for what they did to Lothering."

The white bear's nostrils flared. He took a slow, deep breath, reaching out for his wineskin, propping its mouth between his teeth to allow the ruby liquid to freely flow down his throat. After squeezing the last drops, he swerved his head to the boulder holding his sword.

"Behind it," he rasped, resuming his growly chant.

A chill ran down Aleks's spine. What had prompted Leobard to drink six wineskins dry? Why wouldn't he talk to him? And where in the world was Ariuvor? Had he found a secluded place to mate the brown dragoness he fancied back in Lothering? It could explain why Leobard felt the need to stifle his senses while his companion spent the night inside a female. Leobard wasn't a Snowfang, the bond between him and Ariuvor no more than a partnership. When the wyvern's needs changed, so did his allegiance.

As soon as he pushed himself up, Nyrisa crawled out of his knapsack and curled around his neck. Something must have agitated her a great deal, for she kept nuzzling and nibbling on the fur of Aleks's cheek, afraid to utter so much as a peep. He ignored her, focused on his task of rounding the boulder to find a brown linen sack half-filled with wineskins.

"Grab an armful."

The order stung Aleks, unbecoming of a master of arms, but rather than risk his ire, the blue wolf preferred to play it safe. He dumped several wineskins beside Leobard, quickly retreating to his seat to assume his previous position. Leobard offered him no gratitude, spared him no glance as he pulled the stopper of his newest acquisition, colored a vibrant brown speckled with white spots.

For the past hour, Aleks did naught but plead Nyrisa to flee into the knapsack, stare at the fire, and listen to Leobard hum, mumble, and drink himself into a haze. Leobard had been a master of arms for two decades, his pale fur devoid of yellow hues specific to the young. It flowed down his bare arms and legs, hiding the muscles beneath it, painting his limbs as thick, sturdy logs. A plain, cured leather vest concealed his broad chest and gut, held together by silver cord to emphasize his rank.

Of all the citizens of Lothering, Leobard was the only one who ordered his pants cut above the knee, to impede freedom of movement he claimed. His dark leather cinch looked positively ragged, fraying and flecking, the metal buckle slightly bent and rusted. A family heirloom? Or perhaps a memento from his younger days that he refused to part with.

The crude outfit posed vile insult to his greatsword, the two incompatible with each other. The scabbard was an onyx colored hardwood found in the obsidian groves behind the Dragonspine mountains, up in the real north. Inlaid with shimmering runes colored after all six schools of magic, it was a rare and precious thing, just like the weapon it safeguarded. A master of arms such as him must have had the basic wards inscribed upon his blade, meant to deflect the most basic and dangerous magical attacks, such as Nyrisa's flames. The several chains adorning his neck, their amulets tucked behind his tunic, served as a contingency for the rare times where warrior and weapon got separated. Many a veteran warrior afforded one thing or the other, but seldom together.

And yet, for all his combat prowess and grandeur, Leobard seemed content to perish at the hands of an ordinary assassin.

Aleks could no longer stomach his apathy. This wasn't the Leobard he knew. Then again, how well was he acquainted with the master of arms? Battles hardened warriors into stoic defenders, but absent threat of an attack, many of those reverted back to the people they were, wounded in more ways than one.

"I'm going west, into the human lands," Aleks announced, a wry, uncertain smile appearing on his lips, naively anticipating the bear's support.

Leobard raised his wineskin to cheer him on but said nothing.

"Only I...I do not know the way." He began shuffling his hands, tapping his foot in distress. "Lothering was your home. Surely the Snowdrift plains and these woods are familiar to you. Would you be so kind as to provide assistance?"

He took another pull of wine.

"Aren't you going to help me, Leobard?" Aleks leaned forward, giving Leobard his most pleading look. "Without your guidance, I'm as good as dead. I'm not oblivious to my circumstances, nor too proud to fail to admit that I'm lost."

"You are, Aleks," Leobard said, pointing his wineskin at him, a wry smile etched upon his face. "That you are."

"Then help me. I beseech you!"

Leobard's jaws tensed, then visibly relaxed as he hurled more wine down his throat.

"Please. You must know the safest route west. You wouldn't be a master of arms without intimate knowledge of the enemy's outposts, their movements, the count of their fliers and warriors."

A slow, exhausted sigh fled the white bear's great nose. He clutched the wineskin between his palms, eyes glazed, transfixed by the shadows dancing in the snow.

"You aren't going to help me," Aleks said incredulously, more a fact than a question.

Leobard's toes curled inwards, his claws flexing, eyes narrowing as he took a quick gulp of wine.

"Whatever your reasons, I have no choice but to respect them. I have--" his voice faltered, memories of a life recently buried surfacing in his mind. Oaths made, then broken. Orders given, purposefully ignored. Screams all around him, to which he paid no heed.

I'm no longer him. I'm Aleks of Nothing, son of no one. An orphan, concerned only with his safety and that of Nyrisa.

"I have made mistakes," he finally said, a truth befitting of his new self as well. "And I regret all of them. But shouldn't life come before death? Strength before weakness? It is all too easy for me to forfeit my life, poorly lived as it may be, but I can't do that to Nyrisa. She hasn't even lived a year. She doesn't know the euphoric sensations of mating, the joy of becoming a mother, the thrill of fighting for all that she holds dear. You have to--have to consider that. Please!"

Leobard rushed a full wineskin to his muzzle, took several swigs, and snarled from the sting of the wine.

"What happened in Lothering?" Aleks pressed on. "Why are you here, Leobard? Why isn't the master of arms with his warriors?"

Leobard hurled the almost drained wineskin, rolled forward to grab a fresh one, tore it open and emptied it in a matter of seconds, eyes narrow and soggy. His lips and nose shivered under the strain of rank, duty, loyalty, and, as Aleks began to understand, bitter defeat.

He drew back, frozen stiff by the revelation. "That's why you are here."

A frail whimper rippled through Leobard's throat, washed away by the tide of wine.

"But where is Ariuvor?"

The bear cringed at the sound of that name, knees pulling closer, the immense warrior suddenly shrinking. Once again, he found solace in his drink, another wineskin joining the already drained nine.

"Where is Ariuvor, Leobard?" Aleks repeated, graver this time.

"Not here. Elsewhere," he finally dignified Aleks with an answer, soothing the sore lash of that word with more wine.

Emboldened by his reply, Aleks's words flew out of his mouth before he had the chance to consider them. "If he's elsewhere, then why are you here? You used to be inseparable. He wouldn't leave you out in the middle of nowhere, not in this state, no matter how seductive that brown dragoness might be."

His astute observation hurt Leobard. He winced visibly, relying on the wine to smooth down his features to that aloof, composed façade.

His eyes, however, lost their dimness. They became sharp and focused, stabbing Aleks with their piercing clarity.

"Why are you here?" Leobard inquired, casually setting aside his wineskin to get up, wavering only an inch to the left despite the litters of alcohol burdening his steps. He scoffed, strolling over to the boulder holding his sword, leaning against it as he rested its comforting weight against his lap. "Answer that, if you can. I like it, I help. I don't like it, I tell you why I'm here."

Moisture fled Aleks's mouth, leaving it so parched every word rasped against his dry, vulnerable throat. "I...I don't...I'm not...I just..." he paused for a deep breath meant to calm his rattled nerves, but his mind remained clogged. "I can't really... I mean I tried--wanted to..."

Leobard slammed his hands down on the scabbard audibly. "Enough. Ye've said enough, Aleks the Snowfang, son of my chieftain." He favored him a warm, comforting smile, yet his eyes--those hollow pits beneath which smoldered a deep, seething hatred--retained their edge.

"Don't matter why ye're here. Ye just are. Nothing can change that."

Aleks let out his pent-up breath in a quick, calming gasp, his tension shriveling like one of Leobard's wineskins. He understood. Blessedly, his master of arms empathized with the plight of one hurled into a position they never desired, then tossed onto a battlefield without a shred of remorse.

Leobard's attention shifted to the column of smoke rising from the ashen logs, the flames almost extinguished. "How many do you think died in Lothering? How many warriors? How many animals, loyal to their home or masters? How many innocents that you and I should have protected?"

"I don't...don't know," Aleks stammered, fondling the seam of his tunic in distress. The direction of this conversation awoke something terrible in him, a beast of dark intents that he had tried to lock up in the farthest reaches of his mind, only to have Leobard toss it the key.

The white bear shrugged his massive shoulders, following the white ribbon rising from the flames, reaching for the stars. "Don't know either. What I do know is that they could've run, but they didn't. They could've saved themselves, the proud, selfless fools, but they paid for the lives of others with their own. Or so they believed..."

Leobard's gaze fell on the glyphs inscribed into the scabbard, tracing them with the claw of a forefinger. "In truth, their sacrifice didn't matter. It seldom does, for the losing side. Every one of my warriors knew why the turncoats were there, and what they intend to do to the place. I suppose many of them felt the temptation to latch onto any excuse to justify their cowardice, and some did."

Leobard's eyes fell on Aleks. "How many of them fell prey to their fear?"

"I don't know..." Aleks whispered, his voice all but drained of life.

"One."

Aleks didn't even hear the word amidst the pounding of his temples. He read it on Leobard's lips, and felt its burning sting directed at his heart by that erect, condemning finger. The blue wolf cringed before it, planting both palms upon the slab of stone, holding onto it as it began to spin.

"Would that I could trade your life for any one of them. Then again, they aren't the chieftain's third son, the Snowfang who came into an ancient, respected brotherhood by getting his cock milked dry by an ordinary dragon as honorless as the one whose seed he ingested."

Aleks clutched his chest, his roiling stomach threatening to spill itself. Try as he might to block Leobard's words, he couldn't, regardless of where his ears swiveled to.

"But playing pretend wasn't enough for Aleks, revered Snowfang of the Icehowler clan," Leobard said, his tone smooth, devoid of spite. "You needed a Kindred, so you plucked a hatchling from her mother's side to help you cope with the worthless, lonely existence your cowardice set you upon."

"N--no," he blurted out faintly, stumbling onto his feet, falling, then trudging away from Leobard's imposing presence. Once his back hit a tree, he pulled himself against it, a frail, continuous whimper rippling through his throat.

"Know why I'm here?" Leobard planted the scabbard into the ground to help himself up before resting it against his shoulder. "Because of you," he spat, venom coating his words. "I was waiting for Aleks the Snowfang. Looked forward to share my campfire with a coward and a traitor."

Nyrisa burst out of his knapsack, coiling around his neck, snarling and hissing at Leobard. Aleks planted his hand against her head to hush her, the warmth of her scales heavenly to his frigid fingers.

"Not a coward. Not a traitor," Aleks mumbled, shaking his head vehemently. "I'm Aleks of Nothing. Son of no one. Unimportant to everyone but Nyrisa. My father believes me gone, so can't--can't things remain this way?"

"Convenient, how quick you are to renounce that which now brings you great shame." Leobard began to lumber forward, each heavy footstep cutting Aleks's breath short. "Knew you were going to say that. Just like I knew how you became a Snowfang. Everybody does, but nobody talked out of respect for your father and uncle. Now that you've forsaken yerself, so will the Icehowlers unravel their tongues. The next time they see you, they'll know who you are and what to do with ye."

Nyrisa shrieked, breathing out a ribbon of azure flame to ward Leobard off. The bear's advance continued, unfazed by her display, the runes on his sword able to bend her fire around him effortlessly. Aleks grabbed her in her arms, holding her to his chest, her inner fire melting away the fear holding him prisoner.

"I did what I had to!" Aleks howled to quiet the screams of Lothering crawling into his ears. "Were it not for Nyrisa, I would've fought. Had she been older, I would have perished with all the good Snowfangs of Lothering, knowing that she'd have chosen life over a worthless death."

"Instead, here we are. You, clutching your orphaned whelp, and I, kept from joining Ariuvor by honor." He came to a jarring halt, squeezing his eyes shut, a guttural, mournful growl reverberating in his chest. "This is my penance, Aleks. I cannot fail Ariuvor and your father both."

Aleks's heart shrank to the size of a pebble. "Wha--what do you...mean?"

"He passed instructions weeks before your arrival. Any deserter, no matter who they are, shall answer his justice."

Aleks slipped past the tree, his knees so weak, his body so frail he practically wobbled away from the advancing threat. "Leobard, it's not...not what you think."

"No? Not what I think?" The bear snorted in derision, his grip on the sword's handle tightening. "What, that Ilkrud, my trusted apprentice and a fellow Snowfang, died for what he believed in, but secretly told you to abandon your oath? Your people?"

Aleks guided Nyrisa up his shoulders, stretching his arms forth to quell the bear's advance, eerily calm despite the accusations and the punishment they inferred. "Leobard, please, you have to listen. I went to reinforce the west flank. When I found it lost, those people murdered or captured, I--I did what father always told me, to avoid shaming him by becoming a prisoner myself."

Leobard fixed him with his piercing glare. "Shut yer mouth," he demanded with a rough, callous tone that seemed to stop time itself. "I knew ye were a traitor the first time I clapped eyes on ye."

"Easy, now," Aleks tried to soothe the anger creeping along his muzzle in the form of wrinkles. "Everything I did was for Nyrisa. You would have done the same for Ariuvor, if given the chance."

Leobard whimpered in defeat and covered his face with a palm, sniffling. "Ye see, Aleks..." he began pacing around while rubbing his face, tears in his eyes. "Ye place yer trust in someone, ye know? And ye give into them, ye give into them with your heart and your soul," he emphasized by shaking his fist before alighting it upon his heart. "And for you, to then flee from your first battle..."

He collapsed on his knees, as if his titanic body could no longer contain his sorrow, nor the sobs that ensued.

"Dragon's mercy..."

"Leobard, I--"

"Dragon's mercy, Aleks!" Leobard suddenly shot up, hands clasped behind his head, teetering back and forth.

Nyrisa used his momentary lapse to travel down his back and nuzzle the pommel of his sword, persistently pawing at his wrist. At first, Aleks froze at the notion, but Nyrisa's courage seeped into him, urging him to do whatever it took to defend himself and her.

Leobard noticed his fingers, taut around Oathbreaker's handle, but instead, he strapped his greatsword to his back to free his hands, gesturing wildly. "I'd rather be disemboweled, incinerated, or disintegrated by magic into fine dust, I would. Oh Aleks..." he buried his face into his palms a second time. "Ye've just...ye've betrayed us, ye know?"

Aleks caught a glimpse of the pain plastered upon his contorted face, enough to weaken his hold on Oathbreaker.

"Ye have," he nodded, the bobbing motion of his head heartbreaking. "All of us. Your people! And worse than that, you've betrayed the village of your birth. Your family. Your father."

"No...that's not how it happened, Leobard," Aleks tried to reason, hoping to still reach the sensible master of arms beneath the waves of wine and sorrow. "You have every right to be angry after Ariuvor's--"

"Angry?" Leobard cut in, grinning. "Angry?" He repeated, shaking his head resolutely.

"Oh no." His eyes closed in acceptance, his arm reaching behind him to grasp his sword.

"What ye've done to me..." He drew the immense weapon, almost as thick as Aleks and equally tall, pointing it at Aleks. "We're long past anger."

Aleks swallowed back the debilitating fear immobilizing him, still convinced that they wouldn't come to blows. "You're tired, Leobard. Tired and drunk and grief-stricken."

"I am," Leobard admitted. He dropped his sword and began to approach Aleks.

The blue wolf wavered, and before he had the chance to react, Leobard's punch landed straight into his chest, seizing his breath and hurling him several feet back. Aleks's eyes bulged, jaws gaped to inhale air that stubbornly refused to enter his lungs.

"Come to me, Aleks," Leobard said, swinging it in a series of complex strikes faster than any drunkard had the right to. "I'll kill you quick for your father's sake."

When did he pick it back up? Dragon's mercy, his chest felt as if the bones collapsed inwards, the pain unbearable, his inability to breathe even more so. Unable to even crawl away from Leobard, let alone fight him, Aleks gasped and heaved, the trickle of air entering him insufficient to wash away the blackness corroding his vision.

"Hreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeek!" Nyrisa screeched. She clambered onto his belly, then unleashed a roiling inferno upon Leobard. The flames wound around him like the waters of a river splitting before a rock.

"Charms," Aleks rasped, trying to push Nyrisa off him with a frail, shivering arm. "Fly. Save yourself. You can't...stop him..." he croaked with his final breath, head slumping back, the stars mingling with the twinkling, colored dots veiling his eyes.

Nyrisa refused to leave him, her familiar weight on his belly both comforting and heart wrenching. He had abandoned Lothering, disavowed family, so that he could keep her safe. All of his sacrifices, the eternal stain on his name, useless...

The little hatchling stretched forth her wings, swirling flame-like waves leaking out of her petite frame. They weren't fire; more like a translucent shimmer of color that, for some reason, only he could see. It extended around him like the water leaking out of a cracked barrel, engulfing trees and bushes, draining their vitality. Needle-like leaves browned and fell. Brittle boughs cracked, splintered and crashed into heaps. Cracks ran up the bark of a particularly tall fir tree, bringing it down in an unceremonious and unnervingly quick motion.

Everything around him, aside from Leobard, died, the nourishing lifeforce collected by Nyrisa's aura and funneled into his chest. His bones fused back into place. Pain lessened, the pressure trapped into his chest slowly but surely vanishing, air flooding Aleks in a rush.

That wasn't all. His body felt surreally light, and the cold had all but vanished. Ahead, Leobard paused mid stride, suspended in the air by Nyrisa's ethereal, shimmering, vine-like tendrils.

Could she do that? Just freeze him like that? Aleks floated forward, reaching at his waist for Oathbreaker, but his fingers simply slipped through.

He turned around, a sharp yip bursting out of his throat at the sight of himself. His body lay crumpled in the snow, eyes closed, a pained grimace marring his features.

"Aleks," a soft, warm, female voice said.

He turned to the right to find Nyrisa fluttering in the air beside him. Only...this wasn't her, but an amethyst silhouette resembling her features down to the sharpest detail. His hands were made of the same eerie glow, and when he tried to cross them, they distorted into one another.

"This is the ethereal plane, one where we can only spend a limited time in."

"Nyrisa, you're...you're talking!" His outline burst into a blaze, as if to mirror his excitement at hearing his hatchling's words for the first time.

"Cease being foolish," she said, snarling at him. "This type of magic is far beyond what I normally experiment with. We only have a limited time together, and if I am to be no more during the coming days, then I want my life to pay for yours."

In his heightened state, emotions seemed to be no more than a slight buzz. Even so, Aleks's outline jagged visibly, distorted by the shock of this discovery.

"My choice has already been cast," Nyrisa said, landing upon his outstretched arms. "What remains of you to do is fight for the life I paid with mine for. At the end of my spell, you shall find your abilities enhanced to match those of Leobard. I will assist you the best I can, but after I collapse, I have two requests of you. If I recover, we both sever ties with our families. If I perish, I want you, in person, to return me to my mother and my siblings."

Aleks's mind, expansive as it was, failed to grasp the meaning of all that. "Wait," he demanded, desperation seeping into his voice as both of their outlines began to lose their light. "How do I nurture you back to health?"

"You can't," Nyrisa said, and everything around them vanished.

Aleks gasped to awareness, his senses sharp but focused. Raw instinct surged through him, so potent it felt like a sixth sense that guided his every reaction, his every movement. As his eyes locked with the immense bear charging at him, the blue wolf noticed that Leobard had an ethereal apparition similar to that of Aleks during his eerie episode. Leobard's silhouette--colored a stark azure compared to the misty, purple flames dancing above his hide-- seemed to move ahead of him, rather than engulf him as it did Aleks. The ghostly greatsword swung down, passed through his shoulder, and was followed by the whistling mass of shining, runed metal.

Aleks rolled to the right to evade the second, real threat, then unsheathed Oathbreaker and slid it across Leobard's wrist faster than any highly trained warrior in the art of warfare. Leobard's eyes narrowed, more in awe than pain, his left arm sailing through the air to connect with Aleks's torso. Again, the shimmering outline mirrored his motion, and Aleks's instinct did the rest. He fell on his back to evade the blow, and used the momentum to roll backward and onto his feet, right leg bent forward and left leg stretched behind him, Oathbreaker pointed in challenge at Leobard.

What had Nyrisa done to him? This confident, grinning wolf who rolled his sword from one hand to the other in a series of intricate--and frankly impossible motions to one such as him--wasn't Aleks. This creature stood its ground as Leobard studied him, drank in the thrill at being stared down by a master of arms, and failed to flinch when Leobard fell into Assassin's stance. It was a side pose with the right arm drawn back, the back of his left hand helping keep that enormous sword straight.

He can't kill you with that, an eerie sensation washed over him, like an amalgamation of combat memories stuck together into a coherent pattern that he only now began to understand. You can evade the stab, the ramming shoulder, or his foot attempting to pin yours. When the latter occurs, duck under his side swing and cut across his shin as you get behind him.

Aleks didn't want to believe what felt like nothing more than a hunch, but once the azure silhouette shifted into motion, the pattern became clear. Stab meant to distract him. Left shoulder swinging into him. Massive bear paw stomping onto his foot.

Aleks moved in unison with his instinct, ducking under Leobard's swing and cutting across his shin on his way out, savoring the bear's pained grunt.

"Fecking Dreambind," Leobard spat, eying the hatchling curled around his neck as he recovered and turned around to face Aleks. "To think that one so gifted traded her potential for the likes of you..."  

His stance changed into a half squat, sword held in a defensive, two handed grip. Leobard understood Nyrisa's magic and feared it enough to avoid charging heedlessly to his doom. Patience didn't fit Leobard, so why draw this battle out?

He's waiting for Nyrisa's magic to wear off, Aleks realized. Anger surged through him; not the irrational tempest that would see him to his death, but a cold, calculated, reassuring thrum that filled him with purpose.

"I don't understand why she did it either," Aleks admitted, his toes clenching, claws digging into the frozen ground for purchase. "But neither you, my father, or damnation itself will stop me from living up to her expectations."

Aleks lunged forward, jumping over Leobard's low, sweeping strike aimed at his legs, slashing downward at the bear's shoulder. Leobard spun with the motion, bringing his sword about to deflect Aleks's swing to the side.

Predictable.

Leobard's azure silhouette not only warned Aleks of his impending attacks; it also created openings in his otherwise flawless technique. So, Aleks allowed Leobard to shove Oathbreaker aside, clenching his left fist and launching it straight into his ribs.

"Grah!" Leobard cried, staggering from the might of the blow. Aleks grinned, the result of his enhanced strength and agility already at the forefront of his mind, but only now acknowledged.

Unwilling to give Leobard any quarter, Aleks launched himself at his opponent, the ethereal apparitions of Leobard providing his enhanced reflexes ample opportunities to adapt and improve his responses almost faster than Leobard could respond to them.

He kept close to the white bear, reducing his advantage at range, relying on dodging more than parrying. Though well forged, Oathbreaker could only take so much punishment, and Leobard's greatsword bore a set of runes in addition to its better craft. So, the blue wolf struck fast and sudden, like a snapping eel, stabbing and slashing at Leobard's limbs, his vital organs too well protected by the grizzled veteran.

Aleks fell into the rhythm of combat, a trance-like experience during which his body seemed to move out of its own accord. His fluid dexterity allowed him to aim for Leobard's elbow right after a swing, his punch locking with the taut convergence of stiff bones, shattering their lock. His overflowing strength matched that of Leobard as the bear seized his sword arm with his good hand. Aleks pulled first, hard enough to imbalance Leobard and step out of the way as he aimed his sword at Leobard's right foot. It passed through the azure shadow...

But failed to connect.

What?

Leobard lunged forward, gripping his fallen sword and rolling with the motion, twisting in a half crouch to swipe his blade at Aleks.

Without the Dreambind silhouette to warn him of Leobard's attack, Aleks brought Oathbreaker down in a vertical position, only for his footing to give in as he was hurled aside and slammed against the trunk of a tree from the sheer might of Leobard's swing.

"Dreambind is over, and so is your life, pup," Leobard rasped, hefting his greatsword in his left hand with the same practiced ease of his sword arm.  Blood seeped out from his numerous cuts and punctures, but the bear retained his commanding air, his poise, his dignity.

"Rrrrek," Nyrisa squawked, shifting to his back, desperately clawing and kneading at his neck, trying to tell him something.

Leobard's amulets. They added a second layer of protection against Nyrisa's magic beside his sword. If he could tear those off and disarm him, the battle was over.

Aleks wound behind the tree as Leobard stabbed at his gut, some of his agility, strength and battle awareness still persisting. He came out the other side, sidestepping a crescent slash, ducking under the beheading strike, encroaching upon Leobard's right side. Absent aura to predict his next move, Aleks relied on the oldest trick in the book, employing a veteran's pride against him. Wounded, drunken, fatigued and almost outmatched, Leobard sought to pummel Aleks's skull open, but Aleks twisted to the side, cutting right across Leobard's wrist. At the same time, Nyrisa lashed out to bite his fingers, clinging onto his fist with everything she had.

Leobard knocked Nyrisa into Aleks, shoving them both aside, but not before Aleks let go of his sword to grip the silver chain around Leobard's neck, letting Leobard's push do the rest. The chain came off with a satisfying clink, but Leobard's foot tripped Aleks, causing him to collapse in the snow, his greatsword crashing down upon him.

Aleks sucked in a deep breath. Purple motes shimmered around him, bringing about a burst of sudden clarity and vigor. He spun to the left, staggered forward under Leobard's arm, seized the dagger resting at his waist. He slid it along his gut with all the strength he could muster, using the momentum to stab it through his hand a second before Nyrisa leaped off it. His hand paralyzed, Leobard's sword clattered on the ground.

"Now, Nyrisa!" Aleks yelled, but her flames failed to engulf the white bear.

Before Aleks had the chance to react, Leobard tore the dagger out with the half-limp hand of his broken arm, shifted it to his bloodied hand and aimed it straight at Aleks's heart. Rather than match his strength against the bear, Aleks swerved out of the dagger's reach and rammed his opponent's massive frame, toppling him, seizing his wrist. He adjusted the dagger's aim, turning it at Leobard's chest, both hands pressing down on it.

Though his hand was ruined, Leobard's arm yet had strength in it, opposing Aleks with a fierce growl and a grim snarl. Whatever sudden strength possessed Aleks had completely fled him, the bear's strength slowly but surely winning the contest of brawn.

Nyrisa landed on Leobard's chest, her forepaws pressed on the back of Aleks's hands, the little hatchling rearing to add her strength to his. Aleks's howl, Nyrisa's shriek, and Leobard's roar entwined in a cacophonous din, a chorus of three different wills fighting for survival.

Just as Aleks's fatigued, burning arms prepared to give in, a sudden, overpowering weight slammed into the dagger. Leobard's eyes bulged in their sockets, his broken arm punching Aleks in the face to disbalance him. Even with two hands, he failed to hold back the dagger aiming for his heart, Nyrisa's levitation magic surpassing his raw, physical strength.

Aleks joined her, just as she had joined him a moment ago, and together, they plunged it into Leobard's heart.

The bear's jaws locked together as he snarled in pain, eyes growing wide, as if shocked that Aleks had actually killed him. His burly hands seized Aleks's shoulders, squeezing him so hard his bones popped. The wolf grabbed him by each forearm, attempting--and failing--to dislodge him.

I could snap your neck where you stand, Leobard's bloodshot gaze said to him, even as blood began flowing past the side of his muzzle. Instead, his grasp lessened to that of a fatherly figure, proud of his son's deed.

Whatever conflict marred Leobard's features now vanished into a surreally serene expression, his softening breaths as calm and peaceful as his half-shuttered eyes. He shook Aleks lightly, grunting a request--or a warning, or advice.

Unable to grasp his meaning, Aleks nodded instinctively, and, strangely enough so did Leobard. He must have done something right, for Leobard's good hand gave him a pat on the back shortly before his arms slumped to the side, eyes glazing over, life fleeing them.

His strength all but gone, Aleks collapsed on top of Leobard, still holding onto the hand that could have strangled him, but chose not to.

"I'm so sorry, Leobard..." he whispered, absently staring at the smoldering coals of his campfire. "You deserved a better end, but none of us chooses their fate. Only how we interpret it."

END OF CHAPTER 9


Hooray, you made it to the end! I hope you enjoyed this story enough to at least drop it a fav and a comment if you have the inclination for it. I love reading your opinion about my writing!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
page
1
page
2
page
3
page
4
page
5
page
6
page
7
page
8
page
9
page
10
page
11
page
12
page
13
page
14
page
15
page
16
page
17
page
18
page
19
page
20
page
21
page
22
page
23
page
24
page
25
page
26
page
27
page
28
page
29
page
30
page
31
page
32
page
33
page
34
page
35
page
36
page
37
page
38
page
39
page
40
page
41
page
42
page
43
page
44
page
45
page
46
page
47
page
48
page
49
page
50
page
51
page
52
page
53
page
54
page
55
page
56
page
57
page
58
page
59
page
60
page
61
page
62
page
63
page
64
page
65
page
66
page
67
page
68
page
69
page
70
page
71
page
72
page
73
page
74
page
75
page
76
page
77
page
78
page
79
page
80
page
81
page
82
page
83
page
84
page
85
page
86
page
87
page
88
page
89
page
90
page
91
page
92
page
93
page
94
page
95
page
96
page
97
page
98
page
99
page
100
page
101
page
102
page
103
page
104
page
105
page
106
page
107
page
108
page
109
page
110
page
111
page
112
page
113
page
114
page
115
page
116
page
117
page
118
page
119
page
120
page
121
page
122
page
123
page
124
page
125
page
126
page
127
page
128
page
129
page
130
page
131
page
132
page
133
page
134
page
135
page
136
page
137
page
138
page
139
page
140
page
141
page
142
page
143
page
144
page
145
page
146
page
147
page
148
page
149
page
150
page
151
page
152
page
153
page
154
page
155
page
156
page
157
page
158
page
159
page
160
page
161
page
162
page
163
page
164
page
165
page
166
page
167
page
168
page
169
page
170
page
171
page
172
page
173
page
174
page
175
page
176
page
177
page
178
page
179
page
180
page
181
page
182
page
183
page
184
page
185
page
186
page
187
page
188
page
189
page
190
page
191
page
192
page
193
page
194
page
195
page
196
page
197
page
198
page
199
page
200
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
next
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
previous
page
 
 
page
1
page
2
page
3
page
4
page
5
page
6
page
7
page
8
page
9
page
10
page
11
page
12
page
13
page
14
page
15
page
16
page
17
page
18
page
19
page
20
page
21
page
22
page
23
page
24
page
25
page
26
page
27
page
28
page
29
page
30
page
31
page
32
page
33
page
34
page
35
page
36
page
37
page
38
page
39
page
40
page
41
page
42
page
43
page
44
page
45
page
46
page
47
page
48
page
49
page
50
page
51
page
52
page
53
page
54
page
55
page
56
page
57
page
58
page
59
page
60
page
61
page
62
page
63
page
64
page
65
page
66
page
67
page
68
page
69
page
70
page
71
page
72
page
73
page
74
page
75
page
76
page
77
page
78
page
79
page
80
page
81
page
82
page
83
page
84
page
85
page
86
page
87
page
88
page
89
page
90
page
91
page
92
page
93
page
94
page
95
page
96
page
97
page
98
page
99
page
100
page
101
page
102
page
103
page
104
page
105
page
106
page
107
page
108
page
109
page
110
page
111
page
112
page
113
page
114
page
115
page
116
page
117
page
118
page
119
page
120
page
121
page
122
page
123
page
124
page
125
page
126
page
127
page
128
page
129
page
130
page
131
page
132
page
133
page
134
page
135
page
136
page
137
page
138
page
139
page
140
page
141
page
142
page
143
page
144
page
145
page
146
page
147
page
148
page
149
page
150
page
151
page
152
page
153
page
154
page
155
page
156
page
157
page
158
page
159
page
160
page
161
page
162
page
163
page
164
page
165
page
166
page
167
page
168
page
169
page
170
page
171
page
172
page
173
page
174
page
175
page
176
page
177
page
178
page
179
page
180
page
181
page
182
page
183
page
184
page
185
page
186
page
187
page
188
page
189
page
190
page
191
page
192
page
193
page
194
page
195
page
196
page
197
page
198
page
199
page
200
Aleks is forced to confront his mistakes as a sinister revelation comes to light while Nyrisa, his Kindred hatchling, shows her true valor.

Keywords
male 695,311, female 574,692, wolf 119,477, dragon 88,329, anthro 75,755, bear 26,487, straight 25,519, fantasy 13,140, magic 13,026, sfw 9,605, character 9,359, story 7,627, of 5,404, winter 3,716, adventure 3,276, warrior 2,619, battle 2,179, series 2,077, plot 2,025, war 1,362, life 1,346, medieval 922, novel 891, combat 761, emotional 450, no-yiff 429, hatchling 392, development 370, bonding 283, sons 148, survival 133, slice 113, cheetahs 102
Details
Type: Writing - Document
Published: 1 year, 2 months ago
Rating: General

MD5 Hash for Page 1... Show Find Identical Posts [?]
Stats
97 views
7 favorites
0 comments

BBCode Tags Show [?]
 
New Comment:
Move reply box to top
Log in or create an account to comment.