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 Ch. 2 Brotherhood

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Posts : 337
Join date : 2008-09-22
Age : 27
Location : Albuquerque, NM

PostSubject: Ch. 2 Brotherhood   Sun Nov 21, 2010 6:19 pm


Five years later, and the brothers chased each other again. Through another patch of grey woods and into a sunlit field south of Aldevar, Sabrus bounded with long strides through the tall grass, leaped from a dirt patch over a thorny bush onto a white boulder half emerging from the waving grass like an island, landed gracefully and turned back, wearing a wily grin and a spark in his green eyes to check on his brothers’ progress, who is nowhere nearby. Jodhud burst from the tree line and down the sediment hill moments later, using his momentum to keep his balance. Darting across the field rabbit-like, he too bounded from patch of low grass to rubble to rock, avoiding the thorns and poison ivy. He landed kneeling next to his brother finally, black hair hanging over his face as he regained his breath.

Sabrus continued to look back at the edge of the forest they recently emerged from. As a breeze swooped down into the hidden meadow billowing their tunics and tough canvas pants made for work on the farm, he stood, casting a shadow on Jodhud still kneeling.

“Either they are getting faster or we are getting slower, Jod.” Sabrus said, still grinning.

Jodhud stood, shrugged, and muttered, “Yep.”

Soon, weaving between the last few trees and running into the meadow in a huff, a blonde haired, athletic boy about the same age as Jodhud emerged and stopped a few feet in to the tall wildflowers and grass, putting his hands on his knees and hanging his head low to catch his breath. The red shirt he wore is already a little damp with sweat.

Very shortly after, a girl jogged her way up to the clearing and slowed down to a walk, being careful not to tangle her long brown hair in some thorns.

“We’re catching up, Sabrus.” She called to the older brother across the field, smiled, and began to walk toward them along with the blonde boy.

Jodhud leapt off the rock to meet them, shaking his head. He calls back playfully, “No way, you three are still light-years behind us.”

At that moment, a giant boy trundled through the brush, swatting branches out of his way and marching right up to the others. He stood at least a foot and a half taller than Jodhud, who is the tallest, and wider at the shoulders than any of them.

“Hey guys, I got the swords.” He said quietly, and smiled to the group standing around him.

“Hey Ruuda.” The blonde boy says happily to his big friend, punching him in the shoulder in greeting. “Nice work.”

“You all could’ve waited up and helped me!” He laughed, as he poured out their carved wooden “swords” onto the ground.

“Oh, like you need it you big oaf! What you need is to work of all that fat you’re saving up!” Michael responds, poking him lightly in the stomach with one of the sticks. The others reach down and begin loosening up, swinging their weapons playfully, spreading out across the meadow.

“Oh yeah, Michael? Why don’t you test this ‘fat’ out, and see how big a bump it can give you!” Ruuda returned, swinging his large sword horizontally at Michael’s head.
Michael ducked quickly, still smiling. “You don’t deserve the chance!” And so they began fighting back and forth wildly across the field, ducking and blocking each others’ swings. Although Ruuda was large, he was built more like a tree than anything fat, and he worked often with his father up in the deep northern woods above Aldevar, in the foothills of the Tindrael. His father lived out of town because of his enormous height, even taller than Ruuda, which made him stick out a little more than he was ever comfortable with.

The other three circled each other warily, swords bared. The girl glanced quickly at the brothers eyeing each other down, and suddenly made a lunge, striking with the point of her sword at Sabrus’s chest. He saw in time, however, and swatted her sword to left and placing her in between him and Jodhud.

“Better keep an eye out, Sera!” Sabrus yelled as he aimed a blow at her exposed back.

Realizing her danger of being in between her two foes, she spun in a wide arc, scaring the others into stepping back, and simultaneously blocking Sabrus.

“Nice one!” Jodhud said, genuinely surprised. But as he looked away, Sabrus leaped and rolled past Jodhud with sword extended, slapping his sword right across his brother’s shins.

You keep an eye out too, Jod!” Sabrus said, smiling a little while his brother crouched out of the way behind him, rubbing his newly earned bruise.

As Sabrus and Sera resumed circling each other and exchanging blows, Michael was closing in on Ruuda. With every huge swing Ruuda launched, Michael parried or dodged, getting closer and closer to his big target.

“You’ll get it next time, big guy.” Michael spoke, smiling proudly.

“I haven’t lost yet!” Ruuda said, smashing his long sword diagonally after his evasive enemy. Suddenly, Michael reversed direction and rolled backwards under Ruuda’s swing, and cut his blade right across Ruuda’s belly.

“Oh, you haven’t?” Michael said, smirking, as Ruuda rolled his eyes, accepting his defeat, and went to go sit on the white rock with Jodhud.

Michael bounded over to the other two and challenged, “All right, you two versus me!”

Sera just laughed, and Sabrus said, “I hardly think you’d last. We’d best go for a free-for- all.” With that they shifted their circle and began looking for an opening. Sometimes they doubled up on the other, sometimes maneuvering one of them to the middle or to low ground, but none of them relented for a while.

“I’m getting better! Usually one of you kills me much faster!” Michael joked, while making a swipe at Sabrus, who deflected it quickly.

Suddenly, Sabrus noticed that Sera wasn’t quite pacing at the same speed as before, and her eyes darted slyly toward Michael, who’s attention was momentarily diverted. As Michael turned back towards the center of the circle where he should’ve been focusing, it was already too late. Sera had drifted slightly behind and to the right of him, and rushed forward now, sweeping her blade horizontally at his side from the left. Michael leaped back in time, flailing his sword wildly to deflect the blow, but it swung wide and Sera was able to dart right back into his open guard with a quick jab of her sword point.

As he received the blow, Michael flung his sword to the other side of the field and walked off, cursing.

“So much for that.” Sera said mischievously to Sabrus, now the only two still left fighting, while Ruuda and Jodhud watched intently.

Jodhud sat quietly on the rock, curious as to how the fight would end. While his brother and friends stepped back and forth, crossing blades, he sat resting his head on his hand, eyes watching them intently.

Michael returned to the rock just as the fight was getting tense. Sera and Sabrus were attacking faster and faster, their inhibitions about hurting each other loosened by the duration of the fight. Though the swords have no blades, it still hurts to get smacked by one.

None of them could ever decide who was the best fighter, Sabrus or Sera. Each would have their off days, but they were always taking turns defeating and outsmarting everyone else. Sabrus was fast and quick, and could easily dodge almost swing, but Sera had learned her techniques so well that she made up for the difference in speed. Every quick thrust or sidestep Sabrus used, Sera had a counter prepared. A large part of why the boys had started letting her hang out with them was because she was such a tomboy, willing to take a few bruises and scratches every now and then from their fighting or exploring the woods around their small farming community.

At that moment, Sabrus was on the retreat; Sera was backing him up towards the bottom of the shallow field and trying to keep him from escaping to higher ground. She attacked over and over, never letting him get too far away, or giving him enough time to return the assault, until Sabrus was forced into a desperate position.
As Sabrus was backing up further and further down the hill, he knew Sera had him beat this time. Even though he was stronger and faster, he just couldn’t make a connection, she always knew exactly how to block, exactly how to maneuver him out of the way. The sunlight even streamed into his eyes now, and he could just barely see the silhouette of her sword coming at him in time for him to dodge or move out of the way.

Jodhud watched closely, noting his brothers’ eyebrows furrowed in concentration, his mouth open in a frown and panting. Then as Sabrus received one of her blows with his sword, he pushed back against it with all his might in an attempt to throw her off balance. Surprised but undaunted, Sera reversed the direction of her sword in order to sweep right under Sabrus’s overextended arms.

Jodhud noticed something funny in that instant, exactly what he was waiting to see. As soon as Sabrus realized he was near defeat, his mouth started forming words, words to beckon and words to call, only whispering them under his breath, but his body relaxed with the words as if letting out a great breath.

Suddenly, the tops of the trees shivered and a gust of air spiraled down towards the two fighters just as Sera was preparing to give the winning blow. The gust shot through the grass and plowed into the girl sidelong, knocking her off balance and putting Sabrus just barely out of range of her swinging sword.
As the wind dissipated into the air above them, Sabrus quickly brought his sword down on top of Sera’s shoulder, who now lay on her side buried in the tall grass.

“That’s game!” He shouted, and then offered a hand to Sera who continued to lay sighing on the ground in disappointment.

“What happened?! You had him!” Michael exclaimed, running over to them in awe, while Ruuda and Jodhud followed behind.

Jodhud walked forward, frowning at his brother, and the look was not lost on him. Sabrus just raised his eyes as if saying, ‘don’t look at me’. Jodhud went over and crouched next to Sera and tapped her lightly on the forehead.

“Good job Sera, you deserved to win that one.” He said, smiling wryly at her. “Come on, get up!”

She opened her eyes wide and gritted her teeth, saying “Oh, that was soo stupid! I can’t believe I fell over like that.”

As she took Jodhud’s hand, he whispered, “Don’t worry, it wasn’t your fault.” And glanced over at his brother who was getting ready to face off against Ruuda and Michael.

“Of course it was, I tripped.” She replied, looking at Jodhud strangely. “Anyway, come on! Let’s start the next round!” So they walked over to join the others.

The five friends continued like this for the remainder of the day until the golden sun began sinking low, cradled by the darkened pine treetops. They gathered up their sticks and began walking together North and then West once they emerged from the wood, along a thin dirt road carved out by the few carts and wagons that go back and forth from the main town to the individual farmsteads. After about a mile, they turned South and then took an immediate right back West, passing a rusty mailbox on the way in. This was the way to the Detsson farm, where the boys’ mother would be serving dinner.

After walking down the road a ways, they finally reached the small cabin, just in time for the sun to sink out of view leaving a swath of swiftly fading light behind it in the western sky, and Det walking back from the fields right in front of their house.

“So we’re feeding you wandering beggars supper tonight, huh? I don’t know if I approve of that.” Their father joked with his quiet, gravelly voice, smiling kindly down at them. They all smiled and returned a greeting, then entered the warmly glowing house from where the smell of hot stew floated out.

Lydia stood at the stove in an apron with her hair tied up in the back, stirring in the last few ingredients for the stew when they all came in to sit at the large round wooden table. She turned and set the large pot on a cloth in the center and greeted each of them warmly. Everyone’s eyes lit up at the sight of the steaming pot full of delicious soup. She then brought out hot bread from the oven and a jar of creamy homemade butter, and they began to eat. The night progressed, everyone laughing and enjoying the food, and just relaxing after a hard day’s work.

“Sabrus, Jod, I’ll need you two to help me start sowing the sesa tomorrow, so no games, no sword fighting.” Their father said after a while. All the friends sagged a little in response, for it would take several weeks for the planting to be finished properly, although Michael perked up a bit, chuckling to himself, “It’s times like these I’m glad I’m not a farmer.” Then he turned to Ruuda and Sera, “You two can come hang out at my house tomorrow, we can keep practicing.”

But Ruuda shook his head, “Tomorrow my dad and I are going hunting. We won’t be back for a few days.”

Michael looked inquiringly at Sera, but she implored, “You know I can’t, I have to watch my brothers.”

He slumped even further in his chair, grumbling, “That’s too bad… school gets out and we can’t even do anything.”

Lydia turned to Sabrus then, proudly exclaiming, “Speaking of school getting out, now that Sabrus is finally finished, he’s going to be able to help out more on the farm. He might even get a job in town!”

Everyone around the table perked up, congratulating him. Michael laughed and said, “It’s a good thing you finished this year, we weren’t sure if your grades would cut it.”

“Sorry to disappoint you, Michael, but not everyone has a maid to do all their homework for them.” Sabrus returned with an impish smile and a glint in his eye, to which everyone except Michael laughed; even Det could hardly maintain his usually serious demeanor. Sabrus looked down at his food, scratching the bottom of the bowl with his spoon. “But seriously, I was thinking I might get a job with Sedge driving the cart to and from town, maybe even taking loads down to the city every once in a while. We might as well make it a paying job since so many people freeload off of him and his cart anyway!” Sabrus joked again, although his eyes were still averted.

“That sounds like a great idea, Sabrus!” Sera said, who seemed relieved to know he would still be in town, and everyone agreed.

Their father nodded sagely, “That’s a good plan, although I think you’re underestimating how far it is to the capitol, and how rough the road is. It might be best to just stick around town.”

Sabrus frowned at the thought, but said nothing.

After a while, it was time for their classmates to leave, and for the family to go to bed, so Sabrus and Jodhud walked their friends to the end of the drive, the sound of their feet crunching gravel and echoing into the cool night air.

“I’m really glad you decided to stay here, Sabrus.” Sera stated quietly through the cool air.

Sabrus looked away uncomfortably. “Look, I’m still undecided. Don’t count on me to do anything yet.”

“Well, it still sounds like a pretty good idea.” Sera challenged, not yet ready to consider him leaving. She looked down at the ground, keeping her face composed, but a faint blush still appeared on her cheeks.

Ruuda plodded behind all of them with his hands buried deep in his brown vest pockets, watching the sky or his plodding feet, deep in thought and probably only halfway paying attention to the conversation. Next was Jodhud, walking slightly ahead of Ruuda but off to the side of the road. His eyes turned to the shadows of the forest, probing and pondering. Every now and then he would perk up his head at something that was said, and watched Sabrus and Sera carefully. Sabrus walked just ahead, keeping his hands in the pockets of a green jacket he wore and occasionally chatting with Sera when she asked him a question. Sera walked parallel on the other side of the road, trying to start a conversation with any of them. Michael trooped ahead at the front of the pack, picking the small branches off of a makeshift walking stick he had found. The walk was unusually quiet that night, not a whisper of a breeze moved through the woods surrounding them, and the sky was perfectly clear and speckled with a thousand bright stars.

Michael spoke after a long silence, turning his head back to his companions casually, “We really need to hang out at my place soon though. My dad said we’ll be hosting some sort of soldiers from Alcazar soon. It’s like, Tsura’s private army, or something.”

“What?” Sabrus suddenly exclaimed, “Why didn’t you say so earlier?” He grinned excitedly, walking up next to Michael now. Jodhud watched them all, and saw Sera just rolling her eyes.

“Yeah,” Michael says, grinning right back, picking up on Sabrus’s excitement, “They’re called the Greyblades, and there are supposedly a bunch of Mages with them!”

Jodhud stared intently at Michael, and even Ruuda was tuned in, but Sera just threw her hands up. “Okay, now I know you’re exaggerating.” She claimed in exasperation.

“No, I am completely serious!” Michael practically shouted back at her. “My dad thinks King Tsura has been sweeping the entire continent looking for any hint of Inherent magic. I think my dad would know.” He said hotly.

“Inherent Magic?” Sera retorted, “The idea that people are starting to be born with magic is just a rumor! It’s practically a legend that Mages ever existed at all.”

“Don’t kid yourself, Sera.” Sabrus spoke roughly, and the others were silenced. “There’s plenty of artifacts we can no longer use, plenty of history that says otherwise. And magic IS coming back into the world. I just think it’s a shame that some people refuse to see it.”

Sera stared hard into the forest, away from the others with her jaw clenched. Jodhud glanced over with concern, noticing her squinting eyes almost on the verge of tears.

“Sabrus, why don’t you take it easy? There’s a lot of people who think that, there’s no reason to attack us.” Jodhud said bitingly, but when he said ‘us’, he meant ‘her’.

Sabrus just kept his head down and went on walking until they all reached the end of the road.

“Well, planting the sesa shouldn’t take more than a couple weeks, so maybe we’ll see you all sometime around then.” Jodhud said, patting Sera on the back as they said their goodbyes. She smiled wryly at him, then the three friends turned the corner at the mailbox and continued on their way home.

Jodhud and Sabrus walk slowly home, enjoying the silence for a while. Jodhud walked behind Sabrus, distracted by the great darkened depths on either side of them, lingering in the forest halls between the columns of white trees. After a moment, he walked faster until he was right next to his brother.

“So, why did you cheat?” Jodhud asked, accusation and indignation lacing his quivering voice.

“I didn’t cheat. It’s not cheating.” Sabrus doesn’t turn to look, just keeps walking.

“Fine, then it’s lying. Take your pick.”

“No, it’s not lying because Dad told us not to tell anyone. What I do, it’s just natural. How would you feel fighting with one arm always tied behind your back?” Sabrus asked, turning and glaring unhappily at his brother.

“Oh come on! You know it isn’t fair if no one else can do that, especially if they don’t even know about it!” Jodhud remarked angrily, “And if you want to talk about Dad’s rules, what about his rule for not using magic off of the farm?”

“Don’t you talk to me about not listening to Dad! You think I don’t know about you sneaking out of your window at night to go on your midnight walks? Jodhud, I don’t really care what you think.” Sabrus spat the words at him, then turned back and stared straight down the road.

Frustrated and surprised, Jodhud turned away again, staring into the dark woods once more. The brothers continued to walk in silence.

After a while, Jodhud was interrupted from his thoughts by a whooshing sound and a cool breeze washing over him. He turned in time to see his brother floating gently down to the ground, wearing a slight smile. He kept walking, then all of a sudden crouched down and shot up into the air, emanations of wind blasting away from where he had most recently left the ground. Jodhud just watched again uncertainly, as his brother sank back to the ground like a leaf on the wind, only to rocket back to the height of treetops once more.

Sabrus was grinning now and out of breath, and glanced over and his brother who was trying to hide his amusement. Suddenly Jodhud faced him and asked, “Can I try?” reaching out his hands to be picked up.

“Ha ha! Yes, I’ll try.” Sabrus laughed excitedly. He went and hugged his brother, and soon they were both soaring high into the air, laughing hysterically as the heavy rushing air slowed their descent. Jodhud stared in amazement at the view to the west, where their farm could be seen sprawling in the middle of the forest, just around the corner of the path. Beyond that, the ancient Tindrael mountains surrounded the valley and touched the borders of the dark night.

As the brothers landed, they tumbled to the ground, Sabrus completely out of breath from the effort and from laughing so hard, and Jodhud’s laugh echoing through the quiet wood. For minutes on end they lay there in the middle of the road until their chuckling dwindled to silence again and they just stared at the sky.

After a while, Jodhud whispered, “I wish I was done with school already.”

“Yeah, I wish that too.” Sabrus whispered back. “We could go to the city, and go on adventures or whatever.”

Jodhud laughed, staring dreamily at a passing cloud, “I wish…but we will always have the farm, and mom and dad to take care of. Maybe we’ll find some time when we’re older…”

After a long pause, Sabrus spoke, “Jodhud… I don’t want to stay here. Nothing at all in me wants to stay here. I really have to go.”

Jodhud turned his head and eyed his brother down. “Sabrus! That’s not fair. Dad is getting old and we can’t do the work here without you.”

At these words, the older brother got up on his feet, dusted off his pants and started walking back home without a word. Jodhud hopped up with a troubled look on his face and followed behind shouting, “I really hope you’re not being serious!” But Sabrus kept walking around the corner, and the brothers went back to their home, their parents, and their warm beds, saying nothing more to each other for the rest of the cold night.
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Ch. 2 Brotherhood
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