On a Leash

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Laggy Lagiacrus, Nov 17, 2012.


    Crunch. Crunch. Crunch.
    A simple, repetitive sound, made by the snow being trampled underfoot.
    Crunch. Crunch. Crunch.
    The barren expanse, its reach seemingly incessant, was a temperature that could make a polar bear run back for its coat. The perpetually grey sky looked upon the land, the immeasurably deep layers of snow and solid ice taking care of the ground. The snow on top was forever receiving more layers – the endless blizzard saw to that, its winds unleashing razor snow upon those foolish enough to venture out into such weather.

    However, in this scene that was predominantly a lighter monochrome, the crimson splatters forming a trail were quite the sight to see. A colour, not usually found in such a place was there – not just in abundance, but in a trail, nonetheless. And, as luck would have it, the child creating this trail was still very much alive. Any onlookers would be astounded to see him – dressed in dirty rags and footwraps, with his left arm hanging limply at his side – a horrendous gash on it bleeding profusely. Yet, despite all that was being thrown at this ten-year-old, he continued as if each impediment was nothing more than a mere annoyance. It was impossible to tell how long he had been wandering – the fact that nothing seemed to phase or harm him, saw to that.

    A building came into sight – barely enough to see anything but its vague outline, but it was there nonetheless. It was gargantuan – towers of dark grey rose up from the frozen ground, their amber lights like beacons in the bleakness that was the Northern Wasteland. Walls blockaded the establishment, barring entry to those not allowed in through the solid gates of rock. Almost instinctively, the boy knocked on the arching entrance. Evidently, the gate was not as solid as its makers thought – holes were left where he had knocked, prompting alarm bells to go off in the head of the guards on duty at that point in time.

    The looks on their faces were, when they opened the gate, quite varied. In just a small group of men, never had such a collection of expressions been in existence all at once, their disbelief the only consistent thing. Innocently, the child looked at them, his meek demeanour betrayed by his tremendous display. It was only natural that the man at the top was called in to inspect – such a phenomenon had to be seen with one’s own eyes, to truly be believed.
    And still, he bled, the wound seemingly nothing more than a scratch to him.
  2. Arthur Winters – once the boy with no name, and now his name reflected how he was found. It had been a spur-of-the-moment thing to name him what they did, but in retrospect, it was a decision that had no real effect on his life whatsoever.

    In six years of life, the boy in rags had grown up considerably, and was now a fully-ledged resident of the Northern Education Camp. Granted, it was more of a fortress than anything, but its remote location and superb protection pretty much guaranteed that it was safe from the horrors of the war below. Thus, whether due to kindness or a sense of duty, the school’s pupil body was largely made up of refugees, and evacuated children. Nevertheless, the war did not reach them there – a lot of the students had improved drastically since arriving, both mentally and physically.

    The fortress itself was a sight to behold – while on the outside, it seemed to give off an aura of stalwart defensiveness, the inside could be its own little community in itself. Snow-laden paving stones formed paths through the courtyard, leading to arching entrances, or exits. Students and staff, in the event of not having any other matters to attend to, were often seen milling around, their busied chattering indistinguishable from the rest of the crowd’s. And, one lunch break, one particular student seemed too busy to chatter idly, or walk about aimlessly. This was particularly evident in how he weaved through the throngs of students and teachers alike, making his way to the headmaster’s office.

    Fortunately, it was only his nature to rush. He was not late – in fact, he was actually quite early. Just enough time to touch up on his appearance, so as to remain presentable in front of the highest authority in the establishment.
    His hair seemed to be in order – the snow-white follicles never went past halfway down his ear, save for the back of his neck. His eyes, a sharp ice blue, never maintained a single expression for long. He was constantly changing his demeanour, his expression as wide as any actor’s. He himself was not built to look particularly strong, nor imposing – a fairly average height, and a slim build. He looked healthy, but not at peak physical ability.

    His uniform, like with most other students his age, was designed for the subjects he would be in. While those more inclined to partake in the magical arts would don robes and such, those more focussed on swordplay would obviously have attire suited to rigorous physical exertion. However, most base elements of it remained the same. The uniform for younger girls was of a purple colour, with silver trimmings, while gold trimmings adorned the dark violet fabric used for the older girls’ uniforms. Boys, on the other hand, wore trimmings of similar colours on their uniforms, though instead of younger males wearing purple and the elders wearing dark violet, they each wore pale and maroon red respectively.
    The other constants were the legwear’s colour - coal grey – and the emblem emblazoned upon the left breast of all the uniforms that were worn on one’s torso.

    It was quite the badge – a healer’s dove with its wings spread, symbolised how the school would provide asylum for anyone, regardless of race, gender or religion, and would nurse them back to health. The cobalt shield it was set against showed how those in the school could protect, would protect. It was part of the school’s code to protect those who were weaker than you, and be their shield. The golden ring encircling both symbols represented community – how, despite each person being judged as an individual, their peers would still have to take responsibility for them.

    Satisfied that his maroon blazer, pristine white shirt, trousers and mud-brown snow boots were in an acceptable state, Winters knocked on the door.
    “Come in,” the voice on the other side beckoned, its owner looking every bit as inviting as his voice sounded, “And fix your tie up as well. We don’t pay for our academics to wear Blackrantula silk improperly, now. Though, I do wish they found a way to change the colour to something other than black without damaging the material…”

    The room itself was a fairly stereotypical depiction of a head’s office. A polished oak desk stood at the far centre, behind it an oaken desk, in it a man who could be described as anything but wooden. An exotic rug carpeted a large part of the stone floor, with glass cases upon podiums around the outer reaches of the room displaying awards the school had received – and interesting artefacts the school was allowed to keep, by order of the region’s governor.

    The man himself, beaming warmly, looked to the boy, motioning for him to sit in the chair opposite. He did so, closing the door behind him. It was only natural etiquette, but it still felt as if it was something that he had to force himself to remember. A navy blue wizard’s robe draped over his aging shoulders, the balding headmaster began to address his pupil, managing to keep his almost jovial tone all the way.

    “You called, sir?”
    “That I did, Arthur. As you know, it’s been three months since your last check-up, and going by the state of the greatswords you’ve been using, I think we may need to look over your enchantment again.”
    Vivid memories of the past few weeks flared up in Arthur’s mind – namely, ones of him wielding two-handed swords in one hand, like mere toys, and swinging them with such force that other blades simply broke – and left it cracked, nicked or otherwise damaged.
    The enchantment being spoken of was one applied to the rune tattooed into his right palm. It was simplicity itself, on the surface - an enchanted tattoo of a key, separated into several parts. The exact number was a count he did not know, and had never cared to ask. He knew its base functions, and what he should do to keep it in check. And that was all he needed to know.

    The conversation resumed, after but a moment’s recollection.
    “Yes sir, that would be for the best.”
    “Good to see you agree on that one. Now, I’ve arranged for Mrs Fitzgerald to increase the strength on this one, so don’t worry if you can’t heft a sack of stones from here to Hell. Your strength will be what it was before the estimated time of decay, so you’ll be fine.”
    “Understood. Should I go there now?”
    “It would be best.”

    Again, the boy ran. Though, this time, he made certain that he did not accidentally barge into a pillar and cause another piece of work to become available for the resident stonemason. The tattoo was, in fact, a seal on his tremendous strength. It was like weighted clothing, something to keep his strength to a limited level. However, unlike weighted clothing, his body could not adapt to the enchantment, and remained at a minute fraction of its power.

    However, the trip to the healer’s ward gave him a chance to reflect upon his past in the school something he frequently did out of boredom – and, something to serve as a stark reminder of why he was trying to be an academic, and also why he was being made to practise combat skills.
    Might isn’t always right he had been told, and there were few who knew this better than him.