The Founder's Chronicles

The Defining Choice

Avalon held Caliburn over the boy, keeping Berserker from reaching and claiming his life. No one moved, no one dared to stand with or against because this was not the spitefulness of a daughter, this was a declaration.

“If you believe they are responsible for the mistakes of their ancestors, if you believe that to justify the killing of innocent children then...” Avalon’s eyes glowed gold as she pushed off Berserker and Tali back, “You are not fit to be chief!"

Caliburn was now fully seen, a large, war-sword; its design was simple and practical, promoting only two colors of brown and a dark grey. Its handle was wrapped in brown leather, its pomel, hilt, and blade taking the same, dark-grey, stone-waved appearance though by the sound it was clearly metal. It was an unusual sword both in appearance and size, nothing that any Anexus would ordinarily forge or transmutate, but certainly a goblin-craft.

Avalon admitted its weight and size was more than she was used to and it took many months to even obtain to the strength to wield it for long periods of time. It took even longer to build up any speed in combat. This would be the first time she has used it against an alchemist, against her father, but this was its purpose, Caliburn was created for this reason: to defeat Berserker.

That is what Avalon thought at first.

It has no edge. Avalon said as she gazed at the finished sword, feeling its weight and observing the oddness of the blade. Master Kloog nodded, commenting on her observation as he folded he held the metal between his fingers. A sword that does not cut is seen as a failure of a weapon, but that is not so. The goblin gripped the blade tightly, but showed his hand to be unharmed.

Tali transmutated the ground beneath Avalon's feet, causing destruction and destroying the house's foundation behind her. The daughter called for Fenrir to grab the boy and keep him safe, Sid unexpectedly aided in this and created a risen wall with he at top. Father cannot attack what he cannot see. Avalon swung Caliburn, colliding with Berserker again and deflecting its ability--she had to take care, on false move and she would be dead, if not by its ability, then by its edge.

What can I do against father's axe with no edge? Avalon asked with worry to the master goblin. Master Kloog motioned to be given the sword and held its blade across from her. Your father's weapon was one forged to kill one's soul, not one's body. It is a magic technique used for the execution of sorcerers and is seldom used. Avalon reached to touch the blade and continued to be disturbed further by its lack of natural magic, or any magic.

The Anexus Chief changed his hand, catching Avalon off guard at her father's change of dominance. His hand touched Avalon's armor, the beginning of transmutating it into nothing, rendering her arm bare and his chance for victory assured.

Berserker uses magic? I find it hard to believe father would willing use it if that was so. Avalon rose a brow in suspicion, finally being egged into touching the blade with her bare hand. Master Kloog was right, it had no edge, but somehow she felt it was not meant to. A sword without an edge has, but a single purpose to this goblin. As it was forged by a goblin, the implications of magic still falls within the teachings of your people. Your father's axe does not produce its own magic, it simply possesses it and can be embed with it.

Avalon dug her foot into the dirt, stopping and leaning back just short of her father's reach as she swung Caliburn. The face of the sword slammed into Tali's gut and sent him staggering back in surprise. She had a clean chance to kill him and yet she choose to hit him with the broadside of that unnerving sword. Does she mean to beat him into submission? She has been gone too long to think that submission would work on him.

"If you continue to treat this as though it were a game you will not be able to kill me." Tali said holding his gut and recovering his breath.

Avalon gripped the sword with a single hand leaving the other open to transmutate. She was at a disadvantage when it came to alchemy--her father had numerous transmutation circles tattooed on his arms, allowing him to use many forms of alchemy without the need of parchment; he only needed to visualize and make contact. Avalon had yet to mark herself with alchemic formulas, having been unable to do such without the Volva. Her transmutation came from the stamping of formulas on her leather forearm and hand protectors. If those formulas were cut or the lines broken she would be unable to transmutate.

"That is not my intention!" Avalon said, the faint sparks of alchemy dancing around her hands.

You created Caliburn with no magic? The alchemist asked surprised. The master shook his head, I had no need to give it an ability, it has one from the very stone I forged it from. Avalon ran her hand up the strange texture of the blade, recalling the feeling she had in the woods and from the Guardian who asked of her to remove it from the spring waters.

The chief ran forward, Avalon did the same though much lower and faster, she dug her foot into the dirt and twisted, evading the axe's chop.

Berserker is a weapon meant to bring down an enemy and take their essence, their magic, their very soul, into the wielder. That was my mistake, therefore, my last weapon will be yours, one that can do no harm to another. The goblin tossed an enchanted stone, the two watched its magic go up and glow, creating a small shield. We goblins create our works to reflect the one we forge them for, as well as our own ego, your father's axe reflected his will to overcome an enemy. Though Tali has lost the original reason he had this will, Master Kloog believes Avalon shall not. A sword with no edge is not meant to do harm, it is meant to protect. The goblin approaches the stone with Caliburn and slips the sword into the barrier and its visible magic breaks apart as ember-ed parchment. Your sword is a reflection of yourself, the black sheep of the Anexus clan--you who stands apart from tradition.

Avalon's grip switched, she held it so that the blade was parallel to the back of her arm and used her free hand to grip the outside, lower hilt and pomel to create a stronger motion. She swung the sword forward, colliding directly with Berserker. The force of the impact separated the daughter and father, sending both across the ground. That was certainly an unexpected reaction Tali taught. He felt no magic, saw no transmutation and yet was flung back as though being rejected.

"Why do you smile?" Tali asked grouchy as he stood, gripping his axe more tightly.

Avalon stood herself wearing an accomplished grin, "Because now I know I can beat you."

Tali was confused by this statement and felt rather threatened by her sudden boost of confidence. He looked to his axe, finding something also off, as though something was seeping on his hands--essence. The misty liquid oozed from a large crack on the inside of Berserker and coated his hand. Tali was very alarmed now. Still, he played her new found-confidence as arrogance rather than accomplishment; he did not want to alert the others to the damage to his weapon, nor confirm Avalon's suspicion.

"You have yet to beat me child, do not forget the battle does not end until only one is left standing." Tali rotated the axe between his hands, "I had thought you would have at least learned that if anything."

"I have." Avalon confirmed, "But if there is only one left standing then what would be the point of fighting if it means losing everyone?"

Tali commented his famous, "Then they would have died honorably in service to the Great Balance."

He charged again, "Just as Falcon."

Berserker was swung at Avalon again who simply remained still and braced Caliburn against herself to meet it. The axe was stopped, its ability cut off as Avalon had kept unmoved by the weight of her father's swung. He reached his hand, the lighting of transmutation dancing around his free hand as he reached for that troublesome sword. His hand pressed against it, but the lighting imminently stopped and nothing occurred. The sword of a fallen star has an ability all on its own, Master Kloog simply refined its material into a weapon to be used: Caliburn completely nullifies any magic it touches.

"Tell that to his family." Avalon growled, her golden eyes shining threatening as she pushed Tali back and hooking her sword in the curve of Berserker's blade.

She pulled the axe forward, tilting the sword's edge toward her, snapping the crack and breaking one of Berserker's sides. Avalon stepped on Tali's foot, causing him to lose balance, allowing her to reach for his handle and snap the wood with the hilt of her sword; finally releases Tali and allows him to fall on the ground. Without a second's hesitation she took the broken end and threw it aside, lifting Caliburn's edge to meet the recovering father's face.

Avalon said allowed for all to hear, "This is finished."

"Not until one of us is dead--"

"You said the battle is over when only one of us is left standing--you are not, I am. This-is-finished." Avalon cut off her father, who realized the play of his own words.

Tali Anexus had lost.

"You did not kill your father when you fought him for leadership. I will not kill mine, I doubt either of us has much more than that in common." The new leader kept the edge of her sword at the former's face.

"And what will you do Chief?" Tali insulted the word with association with her, "Walk across the battlefield with a white flag as our age-old foe runs past you and slaughters our people!"

Avalon frowned, "I said nothing of stopping our duty, nor of stopping our battle." She moved her sword from his face, "I said I would not stand by as we sent our children to die in an adult's war."

She would not cause them to cease their duty as Guardians of the Great Balance. Avalon wants the people of the Anexus to fully see their enemy, their true enemy as those who intentionally disrupt the Great Balance by acts unnatural. The Dark Ones. These were the foe their ancestors fought against, the people who would intentionally throw the balance of nature out of order. The actions of the ordinary sorcerer were simply that of someone living their life. They did not know the sins of their ancestors, but should still not be held entirely accountable--they could learn the error of their ways. There are those willing to listen.

Avalon stabbed her sword into the ground and left it standing. She turned to the other clan members who stood in silence:

Who here would challenge her rule?

One by one each Anexus bent their knee until the entire force now bowed before the new chief.

"You will not remain chief long." Tali said when returning to his feet, "If you are not willing to sacrifice to gain your life will be forfeit. How will you lead the clan if you cannot keep your own life?"

Avalon looked back to her father, "Is not the act of taking a life to extend my own against the Great Balance?"

Tali's eyes were wide for a moment. He looked to the broken handle in his grip and to the shards of Berserker scattered across the ground. His gaze softened some, but his mind was unchanged. Nonetheless he felt perhaps it was time another way was taken; his daughter's words may have some merit to them. Now Tali caught her earlier phrase: Tell that to his family. They never did find a body to those smoldering remains of a house, deep in the woods.

A smile came across Tali's face, one not seen since those days when their family was whole, "You truly are your mother's daughter."

Conflicted by this sudden comparison, Avalon tried to question it, but found herself cut off as she watched Tali drop his armor and open his shirt, revealing the massive formula tattooed on his chest. It was not one she recognized and it obviously alarmed her at the chance her father would not allow for his defeat.

"Fear not." He smiled, "I have already lost, I will not challenge your rule."

Avalon approached, cautiously, at his beckoning, finding it difficult to swallow her father would accept defeat this easily. Fenrir had not become alarmed therefore she did not believe her father had malicious intent yet she continued to feel unease. Tali clapped his hands together and placed them against the ground--a transmutation circle formed around Avalon and locked her in its lines. She could not move.

"What are you doing!" Avalon struggled futilely.

"As my last act of alchemy..." The older chief said contently, "I will fulfill my duty as a father and protect his children."

Tali put his hands together again more softly and hovered them above the circle on his chest. He took in the sight of his last two children, remember the faces of all his children who had gone before him. He and his daughter may not agree on many things, she maybe stubborn and disrespectful, foolish and naive, but she was strong and kind, open to learn about that which she could not understand and is creative because of this. She is a daughter he could be proud of and though he was certainly far from being the best father, he was glad despite his mistakes she turned into a fine young woman. Sid was also growing to become a respectable and dependable man despite his kindness. It was a shame he would not be able to see his youngest son grow up.

Tali pressed his hands against his chest and the circle glowed green. The circle around Avalon shined in unison, pillars of green magic shot up into the air and curved inward for a moment's pause--they darted down piercing the young woman's body.

Tali smiled, "It would have been meet my grandchildren."

Her eyes took in the gradual clarity of stars of the night sky. The moon hung over to the right, its light breaking thru the thick branches of the tree and spotting the road less traveled. Fenrir acted as her pillow, the warmth of his fur aiding in her comfort and soreness. Sid noticed his sister's consciousness and cautioned her not to move as she attempted. He answered her question of location and destination; the time she had been out and the events that occurred since then.

They were returning to the village now, having defeated the fire and the enemy the elders decided it would be best to sort everything out there. There was no question of Avalon's leadership, but there were customs to be observed, particular to burials. The rest of the clan needed to become aware of the change of leadership and undoubtedly there would be new strategies and knowledge that would take time to alter. What Avalon proposed was an entire shift into unknown waters and no one was tempted to follow her without the certainty of her meaning and intention. They would need to consult the Volva, there was little doubt this would go without issue, the Volva has often sided with Avalon since she was a child.

"Where..." Avalon asked with a struggle as her entire body felt as though dozens of sacks of flower rested on her, "Is father?"
Sid grew quiet, the expression on his face a troubling sight. His sister tried to sit up, he urged against it, using his own hands to keep her lying down. Avalon asked again where their father was, demanding to be taken to him. Her brother refused, saying she was not well--
The younger brother could not refuse her now, sitting her up carefully, Avalon saw the boy they found, soundly asleep beside her. Worn out, even by the aid of Sid, she breathed heavily as her eyes adjusted to the low light. They were in an open wagon, something formed by the remaining wood salvaged from the scorched land. The Anexus rode their horses at a slower pace than when they left the village, taking the chance to recover their own strength if not a little. Avalon looked around to the weary faces, though seeing their chief up and conscious provided some relief. At the edge of the wagon was a lone blanked mass, laid out with care the mass was wrapped completely and snug so not to allow an unraveling.
"No..." The desperation left Avalon's mouth like sand to the wind, "This was not..."
Avalon leaned forward, losing the strength she had she was held up by an awakened Fenrir.
She reached to the fabric, recognizing the shape of the mass, "This was not...what I wanted..." Tears dropped from her eyes and traveled down, leaving her face from her chin and hitting the wagon.
"I did not--he should not be--!"
"Whatever father gave to you...he sacrificed his life to do it." Sid said quietly, though without resentment.
Avalon's hand dropped on the blanket, her trembling fingers tightened to trap the fabric between. Her brother came closer, wrapping his arms around his last remaining sibling. He burrowed his head into her shoulder, muffling the whimper he made at the sorrow of losing his father.
"You are chief." Sid reminded, knowing father's actions were always with reason.
He smiled, "I thought father would sooner face a dragon than allow that."
They both laughed.
"We will have to tell the Volva. She will not be surprised...she did always say you would be chief one day, even before elder brother died."
Avalon gripped her brother's hand and looked to her fellow clan members following the wagon. Yes, she was clan leader now, she was Chief of the Anexus, and she was ready to face their enemies and change the way of the clan.
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