Blades of Green and Gold

Gardain: a once barren wasteland known as Antarctica. After the great floods people started showing up where a very clever man saved and claimed the land as his own. The king had a daughter and she was loved by her people.

Soon the young princess’ world crashed down and her throne was taken away. She wishes to claim it but she can’t do it alone…

A madman with a thirst for freedom.

A healer who went bankrupt in the wrong place.

An assassin with an unusual look.

A girl with a gift for unlikely escapes.

Four unlikely friends. Three monsters from old stories. Two forgotten heirs. One crumbling world. Aven’s crew is the only thing that stands between the king and his plans for a world of mindless slaves—if they find the other heir first.

COVER BY: Mini
EDITING: DeeundDrang

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1. Chapter 1

CHAPTER 1

Aven

 

A year. A whole year had gone and passed while Aven Gerrith had been festering in this shit hole. She was more than accustomed to the loneliness she endured in her own homeland that had been transformed into a prison-by-day-murder-scene-by-night camp. Most people here were forced into slavery but not her. Oh no. She bore all knowledge of the once frozen wasteland known as Antarctica, of course she would receive ‘special treatment’. Aven was indeed special, but not special enough to walk freely apparently. Here she found herself at gunpoint—although the weapon had been illegal for centuries—being half dragged, half left behind in a dark, dank hallway, flanked by half a dozen men, one boring a green and gold hooded cloak.

The hooded one kept a firm grip on both her and the gun, harshly pressed against her temple, as he led her through the underground network in which had been dug to avoid the floods. He pushed her down the long hall and back again, just for good measure. Aven rolled her eyes in exasperation. They were trying to confuse her so she couldn’t escape.

At least, that’s what she thought, because she hadn’t failed to notice that they had passed the carving of nyveron at least three times in a matter of 10 minutes—the winged best smiling savagely knowing her fate. And she’d also seen—and tripped over—the little rusted head of a nail at the top of the stairs at the end of the hallway. This was definitely a trick. She might have thought something was really up if they hadn’t made sure she couldn’t remember where she had been all that time.

They entered a large chamber of stone, silent save for the scurrying of mice. The man keeping her at bay was tall and fit, she found that she couldn’t see under that dreadful, green hood to the man who dwelled beneath it. Another distraction from the world. Meant to spark her curiosity. The gold trim of his cloak was probably one, too. He bore the colours of her homeland. Infuriating. The man gave her a sidelong glance, and Aven gave him a particular hand gesture that sent him glowering. He looked forward again, his weapon pressing harder.

The company was good, she supposed, even if she didn’t know what the fuss was all about, or why the men had burst into her cell without warning. After chucking up her innards, having him barge in with 5 other guards hadn’t helped her condition the least bit.

Her condition worsened still when he’d introduced himself to her guard that shift as Joseph Delmont, friend of Gardain’s Crown Prince and general of the armed forces in Gardain, and suddenly, the cell darkened as did her eyes, the water she’d been savouring no longer seemed appealing, and even as she lost her breakfast one word repeated over and over. She hadn’t felt the foreign taste fear on her tongue in a while—hadn’t let herself remember what it tasted like. When she awoke every morning—or when her leaden body desired to— she reminded herself who she was: I am Aven Gerrith, I will embrace the day when death comes to consume me whole. I will not be afraid of it and I WILL NOT RUN. For an entire year, those words had kept her sane; they had kept her from fading into the darkness of her very soul. Not that she’d let the Crown Prince’s little companion know any of that.

Aven waited in silent protest as he grabbed her arm. The dark leather of his gloves were stark against her pale blotchy skin.

She adjusted the cleanest parts of her vomit slathered tunic with her free hand and held in her dry retch. Never having seen descent poison free food nor a bath for several months, she hadn’t had the pleasure of cleaning up and staying clean. The blue of her veins were poking through her pale skin. Had she been beautiful once? She didn’t know but—well, there was no use dwelling on the past now, was there?

They turned down yet another long hallway, and she studied the stranger’s cloak. Its shimmering gold trim was begging her to inquire why? Why wear her homes’ colours? Noticing her stare, his gloved hand slowly removed the death threat from her temple and place it in its holster. A small smile tugged at her lips. He did not believe she was a threat anymore.

“You decided I wasn’t worth it huh, General,” she spat, relieving her mouth of the vile taste of the word. “Did you really think I was stupid enough to try anything?” She tried to get a glimpse under that hood, but no luck. Still, she felt his crawling gaze upon her, judging, testing, searching for faults. She stared right back. The General would be indeed interesting if startled. Maybe even dangerous to anyone who crossed his path.

Finally, the man raised his gloved hand and the folds of his cloak fell over the holstered gun. As his cloak shifted, she spied the blue and black on his tunic. The colours of Great Roma. Oh Gods.

“Why’d you think I put the gun down?” he replied. Oh it was relieving to hear a voice that matched hers—accented, the lack of H’s—even if she couldn’t see him.

“I thought your arm just got tired,” she said, shrugging, dismissing him. He let out a low growl of annoyance.

Oh, it’d be nice to see his blood soak into the dirt as she fled. She tried to flee once before—once, when her guards were weak and untrained. She still remembered the feeling of the blood on her hands, and the guilt that sunk in. She couldn’t do it to these guards too. But, would the general fare better than her old guards? Contemplating the potential outcomes, she swallowed her rising fear.

“Don’t even think about it,” he warned, and his hand drifted toward a hidden sword. Aven hid her surprise this time.

“Going for a more legal approach?” she grinned, but only an annoyed grunt came.

They passed a series of chambers and doors that she’d seen a few minutes ago. If she wanted to escape, she just had to run back the way they’d come and up the steps on the left. All the intended confusion had done was familiarize her with the tunnels. No.

“W-where are we going?” she tried her stutter, looking down to hide the real terror on her face. When he didn’t reply, she gulped.

The tunnels were too narrow for her to run freely. She hadn’t seen what other weapons the general held, and the guards behind them would make sure she’d never make it past them. Not to mention their weapons, too. No, I will not even try.

They entered the hallway, yet again, but this time they took a turn up a stairwell she hadn’t noticed. It spiralled up and up to­-

Outside. Outside into a beautiful courtyard. She could hear the slaves shuffling toward their masters. But in amongst the clang of chains she heard laughter. Real, cheerful laughter. The laughter of children who played will a small ball within the safety of the walls. The laughter of children who had no burdens yet to carry. She envied them.

While some of the children she didn’t recognise—from far off lands, probably—the others she had known from before she was shoved into that cell. She had taught them all they know. But when she called for them no answer came. They hadn’t even looked her way. Aven let out a low hiss of realization. It was too late. She was too late. The bastards had already broken them, only mere children. She shuddered to consider what they’d endured and the hands of death itself. She often wondered, in that dark cell, how it would feel to have them slither into her mind, if she could escape it. She never got the pleasure of trying.

But she had other things to think about as they continued their walk. Was she finally to be broken like an old toy, too? Sickness coiled in her stomach. She surely was special enough to have an audience as important as the general. But why bring her to the thing she yearned to see first?

At last, they stopped before a beautiful building of green and gold, the paint so think it blended with what appeared to be doors. The general jerked his chin at the two guards standing on either side of the doors, but they only stared blankly at him. Broken. Bastards.

The general’s grip tightened until it hurt. He yanked Aven forward, but her feet seemed heavy and she couldn’t help but pull against him. “You want to go back in that hole?” he asked, amusement laced his tone.

“Perhaps if I were told what I’m facing, I wouldn’t resist.”

“You’ll find out soon enough.” A shiver found its way down her body. Yes, they were finally going to do it. They had come to break her at last.

The doors groaned open to reveal an exquisite ballroom. A gold serpent sat in the centre, poised to strike her and drain the life out. She hadn’t seen such a breathtaking thing for…years. A reminder of how much she missed the outside world beyond her cell.

Move,” the general barked, and shoved her with his free hand, releasing her. Aven stumbled forward, and she didn’t dare straighten to face whatever lay before her. She looked back in time to see 6 other guards appear.

11 guards, the general, and what belonged to the fiery gaze that looked her over. The green and gold royal emblem embroidered on the breast of their black uniforms. These were members of the Royal Family’s personal guard: ruthless, swift soldiers trained from birth, and broken when they reached their best, to protect and kill. She swallowed tightly.

Extremely heavy and more than a little scared, Aven faced creature before her. A handsome auburn haired man with green eyes scanned her for faults. Her heart stopped as everyone bowed.

She was looking right at the vermin who took her homeland and killed her family. The gods-dammed King.

 

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Hey y'all! If you have any ideas for the name so far comment below! Happy reading!

-Hugh Apiston

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