Magic Empire

This is written purely out of spite, because I am so sick of listening to people talk about game of thrones, and I personally could not care even the tiniest bit about it because as far as I can tell it doesn't have anywhere near enough magic in it for it to be a decent fantasy story- oh yeah some crow with 3 eyes, and some dumb broad with some baby dragons and even some fire breathers who bring people back to life or some crap eventually emerge into the story, far too little and far too late in the story for me to ever consider reading (or watching for that matter) because its mostly politics and backstabbing, might as well be the real world...

Anyway this story, is the typical fantasy type story- Evil wizard (sort of evil in the sense that lelouche vi britannia or kira were evil) who is basically a cross between Darken Rahl and Aizen Sousuke, is the secret ruler of a rapidly expanding empire with aspirations of world domination is eventually thwarted by well intention-ed "good guys"

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3. Healthy Fear

The monks of the temple stared anxiously towards the entrance eagerly awaiting the return of their most talented number. Some of the monks were busy, along with their apprentices, healing the sick and wounded that had been flooding the temple for the last two months, ever since the start of the Empire's occupation of their sacred land- The Correlation mountion range being the last haven left in the land of Caralinia, only because of its harsh terrain, though the monks knew that this would only buy them a matter of months having already seen the handiwork of the brutal and ambitious Empire.

 

The Grand Cenobite watched the door avidly with the upper echelon of the council, untouched by the anxiety that seemed to plague the rest. He had seen his fair share of brutality and suffering in his time and was largely unmoved now by the plight of others, mainly healing and helping others in an effort to counterbalance the darkness that surrounded them rather than out of some sense of charity or piety.

 

He said a silent prayer to the heavens, beseeching the creator for wisdom, guidance and strength to whether the horrors that were to come and to bolster the faith and fortitude of his subordinates. While some at the temple prayed that the darkness would pass by them, uninterested in the mammoth effort involved in scaling and conquering the mountain range, the Grand Cenobite knew that evil knew no boundaries and that the hordes would find their way up here sooner or later. 

 

He feared for their lives, knowing that a battle up here would mean little more than massacre for the convent of pacifists. Regardless of their extensive martial arts training they were nonetheless taught the sanctity of human life and thus were forbidden from spilling any blood, all weapons having been forbidden and removed long ago, and the will of violence replaced by discipline and devotion.

 

The huge wooden doors squealed as they were slowly opened from the outside, a novitiate running into the hall excited, all eyes inside turned to him in hopes that he brought good news.

 

He ran up to the Grand Cenobite and fell to the floor prostrating himself before their holy leader. 

"Please stand my child and tell us of the news that you bear."

 

The novitiate stood at once and spoke hurriedly, lest delay should mean the death of the place.

"Holy father, I have spied a band of caravans travelling along the path to this very monastery, they should be here within the hour father."

 

The Grand Cenobite showed no reaction to this but simply asked.

"Are there any soldiers travelling with them?"

 

"No Holy father just the caravans, would you like me to return to my station?"

 

The Grand Cenobite brooded on this for a moment before responding.

"Yes, but only after you have arranged for a welcoming party for the group of travelers, go fetch some of the other novitiates and tell them to go the the head of the path in preparation for their arrival, wait one moment" 

He turned to look at the healers, still busy in their ministrations. He shouted over to Simon to come over.

 

The monk told an apprentice standing nearby and told him to take his place healing the girl before running over to the Grand Cenobite, his hood falling back behind him, showing his cleanly shaved head as he jostled and hurried.

 

The Grand Cenobite turned to him and said:

"A band of caravans are heading up the mountain pass, they shall be here within the hour, I want you to go with this young novitiate here and form a party to greet them as they arrive, I want at least one fully trained healer to be present in case they are in urgent need of aid."

 

The monk bowed before him humbly voicing his assent before turning and ushering the novitiate out with him.

 

The Grand Cenobite turned to the council standing beside him and told them.

"We have received news that a party has come at last, please kind elders, assist the rest of the monks and their apprentices in healing these unfortunate souls."

 

Mordacah the elder turned to him and asked:

"What about you holy father?"

 

The Grand Cenobite replied distractedly, his mind already upon the multitude of tasks that awaited his attention.

"I will be instructing the cooks to prepare a feast for our weary travelers and then I shall talk to those who are already recovering from their wounds. Does this meet with your approval Mordacah?" He asked impatiently.

 

Mordacah stuttered back

"Of course holy father, I wouldn't dream of questioning your...."

"Then don't" came the stern reply, followed by: "I have enough to deal with without having to justify myself to you or the rest of the council, any of you that thinks they can perform my duties better than I is free to the job. Any takers?"

 

All heads shook, their collective declination clear, and the Grand Cenobite walked off towards the the doors at the back of the monastery and then out of the view of the rest.

 

The elders grumbled amongst themselves then begrudgingly scattered and began helping the rest of the monks.

 

The Grand Cenobite leaned his back against the door heavily and sighed, the pressures of his post weighing profoundly upon his soul and he realized with grim shame that some part of him had wanted to be challenged, to be given an excuse to shirk off his responsibilities and allow someone else to usher them through these dark times, to turn leadership over to someone else and not have all these lives depending upon the decisions of him alone.

 

He closed his eyes garnering his strength and spirit before straightening himself up once again and moving on back through the offices and into the kitchens, where some monks were already busy preparing dried provisions and others were making preparations for them to begin cooking dinner for the rest of the monastery. 

 

One monk turned to see who had entered and then threw himself to the ground drawing the attention of the others, who immediately did the same once they realized who had entered the kitchen. The Grand Cenobite simply raised his hand and said "please please, rise children, do not stand on ceremony here" 

 

As they began to rise he thought about the conflicting hubris of what he had just uttered but since they were all standing anyway decided to let it go. 

 

They had begun to gather around him reverently, standing mute before their holy leader.

 

Such worship and adoration always made him uncomfortable so he shifted slightly, coughed and then addressed the small group.

"A group of travelers are on their way here and I would like for you all to prepare a grand feast for them, they shall be here within the hour, I apologize for such short notice but could you all drop your regular duties in order to have the food ready for their arrival?"

 

The group answered in usison "Right away holy father!" before bowing, turning, and running to their stations to begin cooking. The reverent silence was now replaced with oil slashing and simmering in pots overhanging fires on spits and the sound of orders being shouted back and forth in the kitchen. For the first time since he had entered the room, the Grand Cenobite felt as if his presence was unnoticed and relieved of the group set off towards his next charge- tending to and interviewing the recovering. 

 

Outside Simon now stood with 4 novitiates at the outer gates of the monastery, a bitter wind blowing through the nearly completely exposed area in which they all stood. He turned his hood up covering his bald head and the front of his forehead from the icy gale and turned to shout at two of the novitiates who were standing talking.

"Silence! A monk should be disciplined, and discipline requires concentration and meditation. Silence is one of the most basic tenets of attaining such discipline. In order for us to teach you the basics of Restoration so that you may become full monks, we must first see that you have the required discipline and self control."

 

One of the novitiates replied cheekily:

"But it is cold sir."

A back hand struck his face and left a red mark as the monk replied.

"Even more reason for you to reserve your energies, or am I to understand that you have so much free energy that you can afford to waste it talking."

 

The novitiate looked down at his feet in shame and muttered no.

"Good, then if you are quite done, perhaps you can focus on your own meditation."

The novitiate sat down into the lotus position. 

"The rest of you too!"

And immediately the rest followed suit.

He told them to focus on their breathing as he stared out at the path, watching the caravans drawing slowly nearer, he guessed that they were now little more than half an hour away and tucked his hands into his sleeves to further ward off the cold.

 

Back inside the Grand Cenobite held the door handle in a death grip, his knuckles turning white as he stared at the grain of the wood. He wasn't sure quite what it was that he wanted to ask the people on the other side, or even whether or not they would know the answers. He sighed and pushed his burdens down inside before turning the handle and pushing the door open.

 

Stepping inside he was at once hit by the smell of sweat and urine from the people and their chamber pots respectively. These rooms effectively housed the dorms that were the sleeping quarters of the novitiates, the guest quarters long since having filled up with the most critically wounded because they were closest to the supply rooms for the salves and poultices that were undoubtedly keeping them alive.

 

He looked around at the rows of beds, most of which were full, and the rest would surely be full by the end of the day. He realized only then that the novitiates would have no place to sleep, but was unconcerned. Some of them could keep sentry tonight lest the Empire should have already began their march up the mountainside and attacked during the night. The rest could sleep in the main hall. 

 

Most of the people were unconscious, but there were a few sitting up, their backs resting against the cold stone walls behind them. He walked over to the nearest conscious person and reaching under their bed offered them a spare pillow to prop their backs. The man in the bed graciously thanked him.

 

The Grand Cenobite sat at the edge of the bed, seemingly oblivious to the fact that it was soaked with sweat and his usually somber and thoughtful face creased his wrinkles and formed a smile, beatific and caring, kind and sympathetic. He asked the man.

"How are you feeling today? Any better?"

 

The man smiled back broadly "Oh yes kind sir, much better. When do you think I will be able to walk again?"

 

The Grand Cenobites smile persisted:

"Oh soon soon, probably tomorrow or the day after, your wounds have been healed so now it is simply a matter of regaining your strength, have you experienced any problems?"

 

The man laughed and said: 

"Well earlier I tried to get up, swung my legs off the bed and tried to stand but my legs kept shaking so badly that I had to keep hold of the edge of the bed just to keep from falling to the floor, I eventually had to use the last of my effort climbing back onto the bed without falling, and have been sitting here leant up against this wall since." and laughed again almost bitterly.

 

The Grand Cenobites unrelenting smile continued unabated:

"You must remember that you are still recovering from a life threatening wound, it will take time before you have the full use of your faculties again, just be grateful that you were brought here when you were or else you might not have survived even with our healing abilities."

 

The man simply nodded soberly.

 

The Grand Cenobites smile disappeared and his visage mirrored the sober look on  the man's face. He spoke slowly now, no longer inflecting his voice with compassion and empathy but now almost stern and pressing for answered he desperately needed.

"I would like for you to tell me how you came to be wounded so badly if you can, as well as how many more from your village were hurt or killed during the attack please."

 

The man nodded again and spoke slowly, clearly struggling to remember all of the details.

"It's hard to say, it all happened so fast, one minute everyone was out in the fields tilling and tending and the next John turns to me and tells me that he sees smoke rising from the town hall. Everyone turned and ran to see what was happening, hoping to help quell the flames."

He paused still struggling. The Grand Cenobite urging him to continue.

 

"By the time we arrived at the town hall, the whole place was ablaze as well as several of the general stores, there was mayhem, people running through the streets in panic, I saw one man run out of the saloon on fire, flames rising off him and spreading to the neighboring gardens of some of the town houses. That was when I first saw the soldiers."

 

This was the part that the Grand Cenobite was most interested in and he leaned further forward listening intently as the man hesitantly continued.

"At first I could only see a few scattered about here and there, adorned in crimson livery and gleaming metal spikes protruding from their elbows and shoulders, they were cutting down the villagers, cleaving them in twine and leaving their bodies to rot in the streets. The menfolk anyway. The women were all dragged off to one of the barns."

 

He let out a faint cry at this and shut his eyes tightly in an effort to shut the memories out also. To no avail however, and the man's gritted teeth, ground slowly together and he slowly forced the rest of the words to come.

"Those animals took all the women to the barn, and when I saw my wife being dragged off with them I ran and stabbed the soldier in the back with my hoe. As he went to the ground I picked up his sword and ran him through with it, then took my wife and hid her in an old farmhouse nearby and told her to wait for an opportunity to escape to the neighboring town of Rajmus. She looked to be in shock so I had to tell her several times. I kissed her and told her I loved her and departed, not knowing if I would ever see her again."

 

The Grand Cenobite interjected:

"Why didn't you take her to Rajmus yourself?"

 

The man looked down in shame briefly then back up at the holy man before him, his face now hard as he replied.

"I wanted to go back to the barn, to prevent what was going to happen to my wife from happening to the rest of the women from the village, nobody deserves that, NOBODY!" he yelled in anger, then his rage tempered somewhat and he apologized for his outburst.

 

The Grand Cenobite responded calmly.

"No need to apologize, I too feel your rage and am moved by the force of your conviction. Please continue."

 

The man nodded and continued, more heatedly and quickly though without the anger burning in his voice.

"By the time I got back to the barn, most of the men of the village were dead, and those who weren't were lying wounded and screaming in agony. Most of the soldiers had moved off to the barn and I could hear them grunting and the women screaming from inside as their degradation continued unhindered, just as I was about to charge in I saw a Knight moving about stabbing the men who were wounded with his bastard sword, slaying them and silencing their cries forever. The more he worked, the more clearly I could hear the women scream from inside the barn as their abuse continued."

 

The Grand Cenobite held up a hand to quiet him and then asked.

"Sorry ton interrupt but could you tell me more about his Knight?"

 

The man just nodded and said:

"He was dressed in a full suit of armor, but still had spikes sticking out from his elbows and shoulders like the other soldiers, and his helmet was horned, the horns going back behind him like the horns of a dragon. He wore a long red cape that dragged through the dirt behind him as he walked from person to person visiting death upon their heads. It was horrific, as much as I wanted to stop the men inside the barn from their brutal gang rape of the women, I knew I should stop this monster too from his evil doings. When he turned his back to kill another fallen villager I leapt from my hiding place and charged towards him to try to fell him with my stolen soldiers sword. He must have heard me running thought because he spun around and brought his own sword straight into my belly" he said touching his stomach where his wound was, but now only a scar remained, he winced regardless. 

 

"After that everything went dark and the next thing I knew I was in this bed, somebody must have found the village and helped me, were any others brought from my village?"

 

The Grand Cenobite shifted uncomfortably before choosing his words carefully.

"We don't know how many of your village have survived, we haven't had a chance to speak to all the wounded yet to ascertain where they all have come from, but I promise you, we will let you know as soon as we can OK. Until then it would be best if you focus on your own recovery."

 

He stood up his smile returning though somewhat diminished by the fresh horrors his mind was now burdened with and gently touched the mans shoulder saying.

"There is going to be a feast very soon in the main hall, but since none of you are yet healthy enough to come down there to dine with us, I will be sending several of our novitiates up with plates of fine food for all of you, so that no body will be left out, until then though you should try and get some rest."

 

He turned to leave and paused looking back across the room, wondering how many of these people they would be able to protect, he sighed another heavy sigh and walked back towards the main hall.

 

Outside the caravans were nearing the small welcoming party prepared, all now standing hands clasped behind their backs, silently seeking the confirmation and approval of the highest ranking one there, Simon who still stood with his hands tucked into his sleeves as the caravans ground to a halt, the horses neighing as their reigns were pulled taut.

 

Simon walked to the front of the caravan and addressed the driver who leaned down to listen.

"Greetings, welcome to our humble abode. We trust your travels have found you well, how many would there be in your party pray tell?"

 

The driver replied curtly: 

"Only myself, the other drivers, and a woman who claims to be one of your number, she gave us a bag of gold for coming up here and promised that you would have the gold to pay for the supplies that we have brought with us. If you don't then we will turn tail and head back, and I'll lay to that!"

 

Simon snorted his disapproval at the driver's discourteous tone but ignored it and pressed on with his questions.

"Did this woman give you a name?"

 

"Aye she said she be called Una, Una....something, I can't remember, but she was dressed like you, so I was inclined to believe her, even if she is a woman."

 

Simon rolled his eyes at this remark but ventured a statement anyway.

"Una Hanopachi?"

 

The driver's face lit up:

"Yes that was it, quite a mouthful I thought, knew I'd never remember it, can we bring the caravans inside now? Only we need to unload them so that we can get started back, I mean provided you have the coin to pay us, it's just  that there looked to be a sizable army preparing to march up here and we don't want to get caught in the middle, having no political affiliations and whatnot being independent businessmen and all that."

 

Simon utterly loathed this man, his cowardice, his greed, his complete indifference to the well being of others, it was just another reminder of why he had chosen to become a monk in the first place. He gestured to the novitiates to open the gate behind them and allow safe passage through to the monastery.

 

The gates squealed loudly and a whip cracked and at once the caravans began to roll up to the main entrance grinding to a halt once more. The rude driver that had addressed Simon climbed down and rapped the carriage door with the whip which was folded in his hand and shouted loudly. "We're here"

 

After a few moments the door opened and a small sandalled female foot came down and gracefully touched the floor. She stepped out from the carriage, wearing the same robes as Simon and the others and bearing the same bald scalp as well. She rubbed the sleep from her eyes and walked up to Simon.

"Where is the Grand Cenobite? I need to talk with him urgently."

 

Simon says: 

"So I gather from my conversation with the shady driver you have hired but there are a great deal of dying refugees inside the monastery and we have been awaiting your return for sometime. Could you please lend us your exceptional healing abilities before you speak with him? He has prepared a grand feast for your return here, and you would have ample opportunity to address him then. But some of these people will die without your help." he swallowed his pride saying this knowing in his heart that most of the monks put together couldn't rival a fraction of her power and ability.

 

She nodded grimly and said simply, take me to them.

 

As the huge wooden doors opened again, the heads all turned to see who had entered and joyous rapture captured their souls as they realized Una had returned to them in so timely a fashion.

 

She walked straight over to one of the wounded lying bleeding copiously and put her hand on the wound, the blood flowing freely between her fingers. She nodded to two of the monks who started chanting. Her hand began to glow, a blue hue surrounding it as she concentrated on healing the dying man. The blood flowing between her fingers slowed and then stopped. Her breath became more shallow as she focused her energy into knitting together the torn flesh and repairing the lacerated and shredded organs. 

Sweat beaded her forehead and ran down into her eyes but she paid it no heed as she pressed harder, the glow growing brighter, its sky blue aura darkening to navy blue and then disappearing entirely. 

 

She removed her hand and the wound was completely gone, the only traces left of his injury being the blood that still stained his clothes and dressings. She stepped back and gestured to the apprentices.

"Go help out the other monks in this hall, I will be back shortly" 

 

Then she turned to the two monks who had now stopped chanting staring in awe at her miraculous healing, having done in moments what they had been struggling to do for hours. They had seen her do this before but it never stopped seeming special and awe inspiring.

 

Her vision swam and she swayed on her feet slightly but the clenched her fist so that her fingernails dug into her palms and used the pain to push away her fatigue. She spoke quickly but calmly.

"Now that he has been cured, you two are now free to take me to the most critical people here and assist me in their treatment."

 

"Yes Brother Una!" They both replied earnestly.

 

She smiled slightly: 

"How many times do I have to ask you not to call me Brother?"

 

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