A/N: Originally published on May 15th, 2013 on A Purple Panda. – Alixa
THE DAGGER OF EXION
Kirieth’s friends had been quite helpful every time I spoke to them. If they couldn’t tell me all about Exion, they told me more about this world. I was getting to know the customs and history of the Crystal Kingdom pretty well, though it felt more like my memory was being awoken. I knew everything they were telling me, or I should’ve known. Part of me was aware, but everything concerning my own life was staying in the shadows. Sometimes, names or scents or tastes would trigger an image or a sensation, but it was all. Nothing real, nothing I could really hang on to. I needed to find Exion, there lied all the answers.
I was so thirsty for knowledge, as if my mind wanted to fill the emptiness with new information. I spent so many days with only books and tea for company, Silva staying with his new friend, the mage. I was absorbing everything I would be reading, I wanted to learn all I could about the Dagger and the lost city of the gods. Lying across the oceans far to the west, the island was a paradise back in the days. With an endless summer, the gods and their guests lived in perfect harmony with nature. When the sun set, they would sing under the stars with the soothing glow of the Exion to light their night. They were masters in all arts and knew how to make the blue steel that can’t be found anywhere in the earth. They had ways with magic like no one else did and they taught to those who sought their help. People from all over the Continent would travel to spend a few weeks in their company. Only elves and a few humans loved it enough to give up their life to stay with them.
The gods would also visit the Continent at times. They didn’t like the violence and the wars, so they stayed in their far away paradise as long as they could. Every time they came to visit though, they would spread their work and knowledge with the hope that people would become more like them and less like beasts. In the end, it only created more wars. Mortals fought for the magical artifacts and too much blood was shed. In the Crystal Kingdom, elves have left the Crimson Forest and very few dwarves dare come across the Indigo Mountains to trade. Other races were extinct and the gods abandoned the Continent. Those who sought Exion never came back, either lost on the endless seas or abandoning their homes for a peaceful existence. No one really knows, but the hope that the island isn’t lost forever to mortals keeps the legend alive.
About the Dagger itself, there is little that is known. Made of blue steel, it cuts through any armor, but it’s so much more than just a blade. Imbued with magic, it has the power to revive the dead. Now, that’s where the information isn’t clear. The actual ritual to do so isn’t written anywhere. Only rumors say that a price in blood must be paid and it must be done at a specific time of the year. Some say it’s a midsummer, others say at a red full moon. Others claim it has to be during a solar eclipse. The consequences are not listed clearly. It says the dead might not come back as they were before. Some say the gods wouldn’t craft a weapon like this one if it wouldn’t be perfect. No records were found about a successful resurrection, and so no one can tell the truth from the rumors.
One night I was staying up late, absorbed in my readings, I had an interesting visit. I thought at first the noises I heard were just my imagination when a figure appeared in my doorway. It was a man in tight dark grey clothes. I could only see his eyes through his disguise that was meant to make him a shadow in the night. He had two daggers out and threw them at me as I registered his presence behind me. I threw myself on the side, falling from the chair and dodging the attack. I barely had time to jump back to my feet that he threw another pair of blades at me. I evaded the attack as best I could, but one of them buried itself deep in my shoulder. Silva had been sleeping in a corner and had been woken up. He growled at the stranger, but stayed put at my command. He had grown and could’ve taken the man, but I didn’t want him to get injured. I didn’t know what my enemy was capable of.
– Give up. Exion shouldn’t be found. There are reasons why the city of the gods was lost to us.
The assassin looked at me in the eyes and added once more in his deep voice:
– For everyone’s sake, give up.
Instead of killing me, he just disappeared through my window into the darkness. I was lying against the wall, bleeding, still stunned. I had no idea who that guy was and I knew now that I was watched. Some people didn’t like what I was doing and this must’ve been what they would consider a friendly warning. I knew that I should’ve known more, somehow. These blades looked familiar in their deadly simplicity. On the handle, there was a small claw carved in the metal. I had seen those, but where and when?
Kirieth ran up to my room and helped me with my wound. He took the weapon out of my shoulder and placed his hand over the cut. A golden light formed around his fingers and seemed to penetrate my flesh. It felt warm and good as he healed me with his magic. It was intense and intriguing, as it was the first time I could remember experiencing something of the sort. The mage took a look at the daggers while I recovered and he frowned, looking seriously worried.
– What does the Order of the Black Hawk has to do with you, Aevik? Why did they let you live?
– They want me to stop my search for Exion. They said there was a reason.
– But why let you live? You aren’t going to obey their request, are you.
That wasn’t a question. Of course I wouldn’t stop my quest for the lost city. I needed to find it, and if that Order wanted to mess with me, I would fight. I wasn’t scared of them. I simply needed to know more about them because I doubted they would leave me alone if I ignored their warning.
– The Order of the Black Hawk is very old, said the mage. They’ve existed for as long as the crystal crown has been created, or so people say. They are assassins, spies, agents of the underworld. They control the black markets and a lot of the kingdom’s economy without anyone knowing how. They can be anybody during daylight, but when the moon rises, the Hawks answer to only their Queen. The royal guards have been trying for centuries to eradicate them, but the Order only grew. For generations now, the King had been lenient as long as they didn’t disturb the peace in public. They have their own goals and no one seems to know what they are exactly. They follow their own laws.
This wasn’t exactly good news as it would seem I would be fighting a literal shadow. They could anywhere and so, I couldn’t trust anyone. I would try to be discrete, but if they had eyes everywhere, they would find out sooner or later what I was up to. I had the feeling they wouldn’t be as kind the next time they’d show up in my room.
I spent the next few days training for combat with Kirieth. Even though it seemed to come naturally to me, I knew it wouldn’t be enough to face the assassins that would be sent after me. The mage wasn’t the most knowledgeable in that area, but he did have a large basement that he used for magic practice. He tried to teach me the basics of it, but it seemed I was gifted for the blades only. I learned to raise a weak barrier to protect from magic attacks, but I doubted I could rely on that to save my life. Instead, I practice with my sword and Silva, making us a deadly duo to face. We would be ready, next time.