Naiara: Chapter Ten - Aermarino
Chapter Ten - Aermarino
Chapter Ten - Aermarino
One year later
The year 492 of the 4th Age, during the 4th month of Piscesus
As spring was nearing its end in northern Rylaren.
Aermarino, an ancient port city and center of trade in northwestern Rylaren, was built by an old fallen empire that has since been long forgotten. It was now a desolate ruin of crumbling structures, rubble and stone slowly being reclaimed by nature with overgrowth as a river runs through the middle of its remains. Naiara watched and waited from the safety of a pine tree, as she was following a set of tracks she had discovered along the river pouring out from Lake Shawen near her home. She did not know if it was another Yanran expedition scouting the area or something else. Yanran's were coastal raiders from an island beyond the mists that somehow found a way to navigate through them with their serpent-like longships. They wore dragon crested helmets and suits of black body lamellar armor made of lacquered leather, scale, and iron plates, with the latter typically reserved for the leader of the band of raiders. She had never faced them before, only watched from afar, having been told to cautiously avoid them as they seldom ventured far inland and seemed to be an issue further to the south in the barbaric lands of Gathel and Thuriaz. The elves referred to them as Farlanders, short-lived mortals that should never be trusted. After waiting for some time, she discovered it was not the foreign Yanran raiders that she had hoped to study further, but a couple of monstrous brutes, orcneas, also known as tuskmen and orcs. They were believed to long ago be hominids corrupted by the possession of evil spirits and turned into blood-thirsty warriors that they are now known as today. She wasn't sure what these orcs could have been doing here, what they were after, but it did not seem to be for food or shelter. She readied a couple of arrows, awaiting the moment to strike as she tried to calm herself down. She was nervous, yet thrilled to be on the hunt once again. To finally be able to stretch her legs and leave her home for once. It had been quite some time since she had been out and about, her wings still aching. The two orcs were arguing over something, pointing towards the ruins, and one passed an object to the other. It looked like a crude scroll made from the hide of some creature. Naiara wasn't sure what it was exactly but knew she had to find out and continued to watch the two orcs as she hid safely. Tensions between the two were high for some reason, as one of them shover the other, again pointing into the distance. Were they arguing about which side of the river they were on? The shoved orc punched the other in the jaw, which was spun around slightly but stood his ground. As he turned to face his attacker, he recoiled backward after seeing a crude wooden arrow shaft fly past his face and puncture the other's upper right torso. The injured orc crumbled to his knees, trying to pull the goblin arrow from his chest. It had punctured a lung and splintered on one of his ribs. The other orc pushed him over and fought for the animal hide scroll, desperate to flee the area. The wounded orc would not release his grasp on the object, his former traveling companion kicked at him and pushed the goblin arrow shaft further into his chest as he coughed up blood. He finally managed to grab the scroll away but did not manage to get a step away before a sharp pain struck him in the left calf. He fell to one knee, grasping at its wound and pulling free the goblin arrow shaft. It then began to crawl away towards cover as it nervously glanced around, trying to find his attacker, looking for the cowardly goblin that did this. His fallen companion convulsed on the ground for a moment, roaring in pain and suddenly rose from the ground and charged the other in a murderous rage. He effortlessly snatched away the hide scroll with its newfound strength and tossed it to the side, then proceeded to pummel the other orc with his fists for several minutes until the orc stopped moving. The victorious and last standing orc roared in a rage, shouting into the distance challenging the archer that had shot it, but he saw and heard nothing. As he calmed, he reached for the scroll that it fought so hard to keep, the orc then crashed to the ground. His body laid in the dirt motionless, a goblin arrow protruding from the back of his skull. Naiara was very cautious with orcs, their adrenaline-fueled rage making them very unpredictable and capable of surviving fatal wounds for extended periods of time before finally succumbing to them. She continued to wait for a moment, taking no chances that either would recover and then fired an arrow into each of the corpses to confirm they were dead. As she approached the scene to recover the animal hide scroll, she felt a rush of sickness almost overwhelm her, but she resisted. She wasn't sure what was wrong; she was used to the bloodshed now having hunted many goblins, a few orcs, and other creatures in her time as a ranger of the Vigilate. She fired one more goblin arrow into the corpses for good measure and retrieved the scroll, which was revealed to be a crude map. Where these invasion plans? It looked too detailed, all the ruined structures on the map and each of them given a specific purpose. Were these orcs planning to settle in these ruins? She knew them to be raiders, but not colonists, this map seeming to suggest expansion, crafting various armaments, tools, and supplies, farming along the river, hunting in the dense woodlands to the north. One spot on the map confused her, however, and she wasn't sure if it was meant to be a mine or quarry into the earth. She had to report this to the Vigilate, but before she left, she littered the surrounding area with more goblin arrows to suggest they were ambushed by their rivals. The area was eerily silent, other than the gentle song of the river. Instead of turning home, Naiara instead examined the ruins of the great port city. She noticed the great roads, side streets, and little alleys between the larger structures, now slowly being overgrown with grass and weeds. The city was accessible by everyone on the ground. If there were any towers like those in Caelumarcis, they had all been brought to the ground by now. The structures toppled over or collapsed on the spot they once stood. The area seemed to grow unnaturally cold. The autumn months were already upon Zephyrus, but this was no cold front, something strange was happening here. As she stood upon a balcony of a pillared structure, she kept seeing symbols unfamiliar to her. Symbols of a tower shield emblazoned with an outstretched palm, then another with a similar tower shield and a longsword. The layout was confusing, almost as if there were three temples within one house, the middle being the largest of all of them. Her first thought was that this house was dedicated to the Fatenum, the trinity fates that hold power over love and birth, life and nature, death, and judgment. But each of them is equal in the weaving of fate and destiny. Standing before the largest alter, she believed it must of being dedicated to Lady of Light, perhaps the other two her Electus, her chosen to carry aspects of her power and will. But she did not know of them. She remembered her sister's vision, how Arienh said she was chosen by a herald of the Divine Mother and that she had a vision from the lady of light to save her. For what purpose, she wondered, why was she so special to be saved by a messenger of the divine where her sister was not? She looked up and quickly said, "If I had a hammer, I'd desecrate every remaining inch of this fallen temple, and shatter this worthless altar." But if she hadn't look up, she wouldn't have seen the impending death descending down upon her. She quickly leaped out of the way and over the altar as a dark-winged figure dropped to the ground, stabbing one edge of his double-ended sword in the ground. He wielded it like a spear, but with a quick flick of his wrists, he turned the weapon into two separate swords. The figure was pale white and imposing, his eyes black and hollow almost covered by its messy ashen grey hair, his elven ears poking out to either side of his head, one of them shorter than the other looking to have been severed partial off long ago. His raven-like wings spread, showing holes and tears upon them as he jumped and charged after Naiara. She fired an arrow at it, striking it in the arm which it seemed to ignore. She behind a pillar, firing another arrow at him, as the arrow flew harmlessly through one of the gaps in its wings. Her enemy swung at her as it circled the pillar, Naiara falling backward to fire another shot, this time striking it in the chest where his heart should be, through its damaged blackened armor. It didn't even flinch, and effortlessly removed the arrow, continuing to approach her. She tried to fire another arrow at his head, but he was too close. He swung with one of his weapons, striking the bow that she used as an improvised shield, and with his other scimitar, he severed the string. Naiara threw the bow at him and recovered her axe, swinging for his face. He parried the axe with one sword, then stabbed her in the abdomen with his other sword. Naiara winced as she hacked at his face one last time, striking him in the brow. She released the grip on her axe and looked upon him in horror, as he looked at her with no emotion, he didn't even appear to breathe. He then kicked her onto the stairs leading to the upper balcony, as he removed his sword. Naiara grasped at her wound, which started to burn with a bright green fire. She felt no pain, only numbness. The green fire enveloped her right hand, while a bright amethyst flame flared up in her left. Naiara held her right hand, blocking another sword thrust as it went through her palm. The blade went all the way through to the crossguard that she grabbed. She caught his other hand before he could stab with it, the fire from both hands starting to envelop him. It released its grip on both weapons as Naiara backed away and carefully removed the sword from her palm. The pain ceased and went numb, as the green fire bloomed brighter. With her left hand still good, she stabbed the creature again where its heart should be and twisted, as she placed her left hand burning with emerald fire upon his throat. It merely looked at her with its dead eyes as the magical fires from her washed over him. She pushed it away as she recovered the sword, as the creature fell over and burned upon the ground in magical flames. Within moments Naiara's abdomen had healed, as well as the gash on her hand. The fires then faded away. She recovered her bow and her axe, then while running, feelings of nausea came upon her once again. She felt dizzy and exhausted and became short of breath as her heart was pounding unusually fast, her hands trembling and her body shaking. She collapsed to her knees, leaning against a pillar, and she screamed, feeling the unfamiliar effects of a panic attack hit her as her anxiety overwhelmed her. She thought she heard the familiar voice of Arienh speak to her. She crashed to the ground as everything faded to black, and she felt a familiar presence embrace her. "You are safe now, sister."