Friday, July 17, 2020

Dark Armor 009b: Discoveries At The Camp

This is an alternate direction for the story -- probably the one I'll go with, actually. I was toying with it earlier, and I don't think I like the direction the current storyline took.

It was a near thing, in some ways. The arrow had pierced Ravaj's lung, and the healer-sorcerers struggled against his initiations to mold the flesh so that they could withdraw it cleanly. Pallian left them to their work, and strode heavily back to the command tent. He needed to climb into the sarcophagus that housed the armor (and himself, when he wore it), and rest and heal while the enchanted black steel mended. In the field, he never removed the armor; he was always the black knight. The sarcophagus took the place of food and bunk.

The guards studiously regarded the rest of the camp as he passed, and he threw open the tent flap and moved inside.

Then he stopped, finding himself regarding the figure of a naked woman, not far from his own age, chained to the central wooden pole of the command tent.

She regarded him with a sort of strained, resentful pride. "So. The Champion of Teregor. You attacked our camp?"

He turned his head, regarding her from behind his visor. He shouldn't have, and he knew it immediately; it was a human movement, an emotional reaction, and the Black Knight did not have those. But Pallian was shocked out of all reckoning, his control gone. "Who are you?" The mask disguised his voice, at least: rendered it indifferent and distorted.

"The Shadow of Edrias -- or I was, until your brother caught me in his spells. Did you attack our camp?"

"You know I did," he said, and took a step forward.

She held herself straight, looked directly at him. With her hands bound over her head and no clothing in sight,  it was more awkward than proud; but he could see the set of her shoulders and the balanced determination in her expression. "I confess, I'm surprised that you made it back out. Did you slay the archer?"

Pallian considered that, and decided that the question was too unexpectedly specific to be anything but personal: there was only one archer she could be talking about. "No," he said. "Two guards and an older man who looked to be a sorcerer-general, maybe some staff officers when I destroyed the command tent. Some troopers as I rode through the camp. What is she to you?"

There was a long pause. "She's my sister."

Finding he had no idea what to say to that, Pallian simply reiterated: "She lives. She put an arrow in Ravaj's lung."

"Good." Then the woman turned her head slightly. "What is Ravaj to you?"

Pallian hesitated, but she had answered when he had asked. "My brother."

The woman's jaw tightened; then he head lowered and her shoulders slumped. "Will you kill me, at least? Before he does to me what he did to my sister?"

"Your sister the archer?"

But the Shadow of Edrias shook her head. "My sister, the Heir of Edrias."

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