Three shadowed figures stand in the center of a darkened room, forming a triangle around a floating orb. The first figure speaks, "If I'm going to tell this story we must begin before the beginning, is that alright?" The other two silhouettes nod. "Very well. This orb is ancient magic, created by the former Goddess to record the history of the world. Be warned, it is flawed. Not everything you see will be accurate, but we will see the same visions if we interlock hands." The figure extends both arms toward the other two. "Join with me, and watch."
Evening sunlight casts itself over a village hidden by towering trees, beams of light pierce the veil as the ground basks in the gentle glow. Orrenshire, the village of whispers, is cloaked by thick foliage and the many, mighty oaks that coalesce with the surrounding forest. No roads lead to Orrenshire, leaving many doubting its very existence. Those seeking peaceful living away from the war-torn world, and all the atrocities that transpire day-by-day, often brave the never-ending forest in hopes of finding paradise. However, not all desire such idle life and would sooner destroy it than allow such a weakness to endure. Orrenshire employs many brave knights, who've seen lifetimes of battle, to protect its people. The knights of Orrenshire gladly serve as sentinels, willing to sacrifice themselves at a moments notice to protect the way of life they have come to know in this humble hamlet.
"Lay down your sword if you want live!" exclaims a knight, clad in shining, silver armor, drawing a sword from its sheath. His armor, loose at the chest, making a clinking noise as he moves. The crest of the Blue Lion, the crest of a knight that served the famed General Exavoret of Dracfort, adorn his breastplate and shield. Aiming his sword toward another knight, he peers down the length of the blade, lining his adversary in the center.
"You cannot defeat me!" declares the other knight, already brandishing his weapon. His armor is as dark as night and spikes protrude from the plating, like the fangs of a wild beast. "You stand before Alastor, the Dark Knight!" He waves his long sword around in a display of skill before taking a stance like that of a predator before they pounce their prey.
The silver knight retracts his sword, raising the shield in its place. "I have come to meet out justice. You will not harm a single person, or beast, of this forest while I still breathe." He slams his left foot into the ground, thrusting his shield forward in a show of fortitude. "Come, master-less dog, and I will send you to serve the Goddess."
Alastor rolls his shoulder backward, bouncing his sword. "Boldly stated," proclaimed the Dark Knight. He charges forward, slamming his sword into the lion-crested shield, staggering the silver knight. Keeping his momentum, he brings the blade down once more, the silver knight barely keeping hold of the shield. His knees buckle from the sheer force of the blow, almost stumbling him to the ground. Seizing the moment, Alastor bashes the hilt of his blade into the silver knight's abdomen, launching him off his feet and slamming into the dirt. "No man can kill me, you foolish child."
"Then you will die this day," muttered the silver knight, returning to his feet. He removes his helmet, allowing silky, golden blonde hair to flow out and settle well past the knights shoulders. A soft countenance revealing that he is actually a she. Dropping her helmet, she brings her sword up in an arc, attempting to cleave Alastor in two. He parries it easily, knocking her blade out of her hand and off to the side. She jumps for her weapon, rolling as she catches hold of the hilt. Alastor rushes toward her, swinging from his right. She clambers out of the way as the edge of the sword passes overhead. Quickly regaining her footing, she spins around to see Alastor already upon her. Barely blocking his swing with her sword inches from her face, Alastor leans in to meet her at the crossed swords.
"Hmph. You still stand no chance, girl," he growled, "You are still too slow, and too weak." A sinister grin presents itself, "But you will not die alone." He sneers, visions of the forest burning already surfacing in his eyes. He overpowers her and lashes out with his sword. She leaps back just in time to dodge.
"You are right, I am weak, I am slow, and I will not die, because I am not alone." A silver blade pierces the Dark Knight's chest from behind. A feminine knight, bearing the same Blue Lion crest, steps around into his view, leaving the sword sticking from his body.
"You call this justice?" questioned the Dark Knight. He coughs up blood as he grabs at his chest, "You are...cowards...with no honor."
"It's better than what you deserve, traitorous dog." Then, raising her blade, she pierces his chest, blood spewing from his mouth. "May the Goddess have mercy on your soul for I shall no-"
"Eleos! It's time to come home!" calls a woman from her home, hidden by the night, save the candlelight emanating from inside.
"Aw, c'mon, Mom, we were just at the best part!" cries a young Eleos, arms dropping to her side pitifully.
"No back talking young lady, or it'll be a switchin' for you," scolds her mother, " now hurry up and get to bed before your father gets home." She steps into glow of the house and shuts the door, banishing the light. Three children, freshly woken from their reveries, await each others departing gestures, unwilling to be the first.
After several long moments, Eleos sighs and shakes her head, "Sorry guys, I've got to go, but we'll finish this tomorrow, okay?" Eleos gives a half smile as she turns to a small boy about her age and size, "We really need to come up with names for our knights, using your name isn't creative, Alastor."
The boy, with a wooden sword underneath both arms, stands up from his kneeling death, "At least I gave my knight a name. How else will anyone remember me otherwise?" He smirks at Eleos and turns to the other, younger girl, "Come on, Anne, let's head back too." He withdraws the swords and hands one to each girl. "See you at school." He turns and throws up one hand, signaling his departure.
"See you, El," the juvenile Anne says as she gives El a missing tooth smile. Her arms shoot out to embrace, but her body restrains itself. "Hug?"
El bends down, wrapping her arms around the young cherub. "Hug." El stiffens her grip as Anne pulls away, ultimately slipping through her fingers. "Hurry up before you get in trouble." Anne jumps to attention, bursting toward home, wave her arm haphazardly to get in her last farewell of the night. Eleos watches as she fades into the blackness. "See you." El turns, anxiously scanning her home before dashing toward the entrance, turning the handle posthaste, but closing the door delicately behind her. Removing her worn shoes, she makes herself scarce, walking directly to her room, passing by her parent's room and the kitchen area. A withheld breath escapes as she enters her safe place, shutting the door to close out the world. As always, the neatly folded night-clothes at the end of her bed draw her attention first. She grabs them, roughing them up, to make them seem worn, and stuffs them beneath her pillow. Her mother loved to sew silky dresses for her, but El loathed everything dressy, preferring her roughed up guttersnipe attire. it always felt more fitting. Silky knights are silly knights as Anne always jubilantly says. El leaps into bed, laying her head on the worn pillow and pulling the patched linens to her shoulders. Her mind starts to wander to green pastures as knights charge through her mind.
The rising sun glistens through her window, casting light across Eleos's slumbering visage. She rubs her eyes, displeased at the light shining into her opalescent green eyes. Her hair branches out awkwardly from turning in her sleep too much. She licks her hand and combs her hair down in place of washing it. As long as there isn't clumps of dirt in her hair, her parents couldn't tell the difference. Stretching her body out, a yawn escapes from her tiny mouth. She shakes her head and frees herself from the homely bed, ensuring the sheets are presentable. Grabbing new clothes from the trunk at the foot of her bed, she proceeds to change, and adds her old clothes, as well as the bed clothes under her pillow, to her collection in the corner of her room.
El drowsily pitter-patters barefoot into the makeshift kitchen area, heading straight to her mother to offer any aid in cooking possible. However, her mother already had it prepared and waiting on the table. "You slept in a little, honey, eat quickly and get on your way so you aren't late for school." El lethargically turns to go toward the table as she spots her father. Her eyes shoot open as renewed energy courses through her. She eases toward the rotting table and seats herself across from her father, who is resting his head on the table. Another long night drinking El thought to herself. She scoots her chair quietly, hoping not to entice him. The leg of her chair hits the corner of the table, sending a vibration that stirs her father from his inebriated state. El freezes.
Raising his head from the stained table, he grimaces from the pain shooting through his swollen head, "Goddess, can't a man get a moments rest after a long night of hard work. Ought to be more respectful than that." He rests his head on one hand and gazes at the gruel in front of him as if it had insulted his mother. "The hell's this mess, thought we was having meat today, Livia."
"We can't afford it right now, Miric, we ne-" He cuts her off, waving a hand to physically tell her to hush up. She walks to the table and sits beside her husband. In truth, Livia makes the money that keeps them afloat, while Miric's gold goes to his addictions, ale and something Livia won't talk about around El. Livia was born to be a tailor and had become an adept of harvesting the silk from around the forest since she was but a child. Some of her needlework is well sought after in Dracfort, but she dares not go by her lonesome. The city is a hard place for a woman. She can easily end up raped or murdered in the lower quarters where the scum made their home.
Eleos quickly scrapes the tasteless gruel into her mouth, forcing it down. She refuses to meet her father's gaze but never lets him out of her sight. Her mother doesn't touch her food, sitting in quiet contemplation instead. She closes her eyes, shielding them as she searches for the right words. She tenses her jaw before speaking, "Miric, will you be able to accompany me to Dracfort today?"
He lets out an annoyed sigh, and gazes through his soulmate, "Do I look like I'll be able to go to Dracfort today?"
"Look, we need the gold, so unle-" she is cut off by Miric's open hand coming across her left cheek, knocking her from the rustic chair. She brings her hand up to where the blow left an imprint.
"Mom!" Eleos leaps from her chair to her mother's side, only to be cut short by a balled fist connecting with her mouth. She crashes to the chipped wooden floor, blood gushing from a cut her teeth left on her bottom lip. Tears stream down her face as she scrambles out of the house.