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    Orc in the Playground
     
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    Default Sins of the Mothers - Original Fiction

    Author's Note: Well, I've been letting the core idea for this story roll around in my head for quite a while, so I figured that I might as well just go ahead and put it to paper. Feedback and critique would be very much appreciated.

    Summary: Years ago, Sandra left her old life behind and struck out anew. But old enemies never die. When her sins catch up to her, that enemy determines that her daughter will pay the price for Sandra's mistakes. A gambit begins that will determine the fate of an entire kingdom...


    Prologue: Peace Ends Quietly
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    She knew this forest intimately. Every rustle of a bird and the whistle of the wind through the leaves was familiar to her. But things were not as they should be. The stillness of the woods felt entirely wrong. She was not alone here.

    Sandra paused at the edge of the clearing, listening, as her eyes turned over the area. Before her rose a small cottage, raised by her own hands and created to by none other. Behind her lay an expanse of foliage and tree. To her left was a babbling brook. No one else appeared in view, but she knew that they were there. Through her connection with the earth, she could feel them. No. Feel him-- a familiar and dark presence.

    A moment ticked by, and still the onlooker refused to make himself known. Her lips pursed and a dark frown. He didn't wish to make the first move in their coming exchange. It would be to her to initiate contact. So she did.

    “I know that you're here.” Sandra spoke aloud.

    The dark presence shifted and a man stepped around the cottage corner. A bemused grin pulled up one corner of his thin lips, while a pair of thin eyes peered at her from beneath a mound of dark red hair. He paused, placed one arm against the cottage wall and leaned against it heavily.

    “Hello, love.” He said.

    “I'm no love of yours, Jace.”

    “Ah, but you were once.” The smirk on Jace's face turned into that infernally familiar smile. “We used to have so much fun back in the day, don't tell me that you've forgotten all of that already.”

    “The past is in the past and that's where I intend to leave it.” Too late, Sandra realized that she should have ignored the comment-- for the bait was barbed. Jace wanted to draw her into an argument. That was one of his strengths. She needed to let go of the bait and cut straight to the point.

    She followed up on her comment before Jace could respond: “You're not welcome here. Leave.”

    He ignored her. Jace's attention shifted to the cottage proper and he examined it appraisingly. “This is a very nice place you've got; very homely. A bit removed from the city, though. I doubt that I can move out here away from the business. No, I think that you're going to have to come with me.”

    His wicked smile turned back towards her, and a firm footstep carried him closer. His eyes met hers, and they both knew that an unspoken threat had been made.

    So, that was his game. He had come to force her back. Sandra brought her right hand up and spread her fingers in her estranged lover's direction. Tiny sparks of power, magical energy, began to dance between her knuckles. It was a warning, clear and plain. She'd been anticipating this day and was well prepared for it.

    Jace's smile never wavered as his hand drifted to his waist. A sheath was belted to his waist, and some sword contained therein. His hand landed on the weapon's pommel. Would he use it against her or was it an attempt at intimidation? It was impossible to actually tell.

    “You're never taking me back, Jace.” Sandra warned him. “I've grown stronger since we last met. Attempting to fight me would be suicidal for you.”

    “I'm well aware.” Jace drawled back. “That's why I brought help.”

    Sandra started as those words registered in her ears. So focused had she become on Jace's inherit treachery that she had neglected the world around her. Another presence broke into her senses-- one located directly behind her. She started to turn, to bring her power to bear on this new threat, but it was already too late.

    Something hard and fat cracked against the back of her skull. The world spun once, twice, and the ground shifted beneath her feet. Her vision faded as her face met the earth. Then she was lost in darkness.

    ---

    Slowly, her mind began to probe its way back to consciousness. A cacophony of aches and pains welcomed her back to the land of the living. She ignored them and, with supreme effort, she managed to raise her heavy eyelids. A fuzzy world of color and blur greeted her.

    Sandra grunted and blinked her eyes, batting the colors back into their respective boundaries. As her vision began to clear, she became aware of a something jarring her repeatedly. It was a constant motion that snapped her up and then yanked her back down.

    The world pulled into focus and Sandra realized that she was seated on the back of a horse. How had she managed to ride a horse while unconscious? The answer presented itself immediately. Her wrists were securely fastened to the pommel via a set of shackles; she could feel similar restraints securing her ankles to the stirrup. She couldn't have fallen off if she'd wanted to.

    And she did want to. Sandra thrashed about, testing the strength of her chains and the temperament of the horse. The horse remained calm and the shackles remained steadfast. For the moment, she was stuck.

    She whipped her head up, ready to chew Jace up and spit him out-- and then came up short. Her horse was tethered to another horse. She'd expected that, but what she'd not expected was that the other horse's rider was most decidedly not Jace. Instead it was some small man who wore all black and was resolutely refusing to so much as look at her.

    A chuckling sound drew her attention to her right. Jace, seated atop another beast of burden, pulled forward into her field of view. As was customary, he grinned incessantly at her.

    "So good of you to join us, love. Here I was beginning to think that you were going to sleep the whole way home." He said.

    Sandra checked her emotions. The last thing that she wanted to do was to make Jace angry while she was helpless. She could feel these shackles drawing the magic right out of her being and rendering it impossible to fight back.

    "I take it," She jerked her head at the small man. "he was the one to conk me over the head?"

    "Of course. Andrew is very, very good at staying out of sight, and I had to convince you to come with me somehow. You never did know how to stop working for a while and just have a good time."

    It was impossible to ignore that barb. She had to respond. "Will you cut the act? We both know that this isn't some happy holiday jaunt for the two of us. You kidnapped me!"

    Jace shook his head. "The situation is what we make of it, and I'm determined to make the best of it."

    "Jace." Sandra put a hard edge in her voice.

    "Oh, dear. The little woman is angry at me. What ever will I do?" He laughed at her and then sobered. A dark change passed over his features. "Oh, no. I haven't taken leave of my senses. I remember your betrayal all too well. I haven't forgotten that for a moment. But now, at long last, I've got you right where I want you. And for every moment of agony that you've put me through, be forewarned that I'm going to extract vengeance tenfold. Then, when I'm all done, everything will be made right and our happy little family willy be back together again."

    Against her will, the color passed from Sandra's face. All along she'd had a nagging suspicion that it would come to this. But it had been so long... she'd actually begun to think that this day would never arrived. She should have known better. She had known better. She'd just ignored that judgment as best she was able.

    "No matter what you do to me, I'll never love you again. That time is past." It was bravado that she did not feel.

    Jace simply shrugged. "I think we both know otherwise. There are magics and potions that would do things that you wouldn't believe. But all of that is simply a bonus. I didn't come all this way just to get back at you..."

    Realization dawned on Sandra, and it was impossible to keep that realization off of her face.

    "... your daughter is the real prize in all of this." Jace concluded. He pulled a thin metal disk from his coat pocket and casually tossed it over his shoulder. "Sarah... isn't that her name?"
    Last edited by D.KnightSpider; 2012-11-02 at 11:48 AM.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Orc in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Sins of the Mothers - Original Fiction

    Chapter 1

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    There was something... odd... in the air. She couldn't put her finger on what, exactly, that something was, but she knew that it was there. Sarah had lived in this forest her entire life; she'd learned to trust her instincts long ago.

    Rising, she hooked her basket around one elbow and turned away from the berry patch. Sara frowned. Picking berries could wait. This was important. She extended her senses through her feet and into the earth around her, twisting and feeling for anything out of the ordinary. It was a magical technique designed to show her what she couldn't see.

    Something dark and twisted prompted a shiver to work its way down her spine. She could feel it off in the distance. It was nearby but not close. In fact, it-- her eyes widened in fright. It was right next to her house.

    Her mother was a strong and capable mage... but she was still all alone at the house. There was something twisted about this presence. Something duplicitous. Sarah wasn't about to take any chances with her own mother's safety. She broke into a run and began heading for home.

    The forest all but parted around her, allowing her to press on unhindered. One hand grabbed her robes and held them tight, preventing the material from snagging and catching on the underbrush. The journey was over in but a few minutes. Even as she broke through the tree line and into the clearing, she knew that it was too late. Whatever that presence had come here to do, it had done it.

    Sarah's head snapped about, taking in the scene. The house was untouched. The creek left alone. But... the land wasn't right. She allowed her senses to supplement her eyesight once again. A trail immediately became evident to her. There were two sets of tracks. Since her mother had become adept at not leaving a trail long ago, that meant that there were two intruders that had confronted her maternal kin.

    The two must have caught her mother on both sides, but that didn't seem right. Sarah turned her eyes over the area again. There was no carnage. No sign of struggle. Her mother hadn't cast a single spell at the interlopers. Surely she hadn't gone with them willingly?

    She needed an answer to this question. For that, she needed a witness. Sarah cast her gaze about, searching for anyone-- or any thing-- that could have seen what had happened. When her eyes failed to provide an answer, her ears succeeded. Chirping was coming from a tree on her left; that meant that there was a nest of baby birds nearby. Where there was a nest, there was usually a parent.

    Sarah approached the tree and focused on pinpointing the nest. Her efforts were rewarded with the rustle of wings and a shrill cry. Near the top of the tree, a bluejay appeared. It was nestled in a crutch of branches.

    Sarah paused for a moment. She collected and centered herself, then reached out with her own magical energies. Her thoughts touched the mind of the bluejay and understanding opened between them.

    "How long have you been here?" Sarah asked.

    The bird shrilled back at her, but the sound registered in her ears as that of human speech. The creature had been foraging around this area for most of the afternoon.

    "Have you seen a woman and two other humans within the clearing?"

    The reply came.

    "I mean, a woman besides me. Another female."

    Yes. The bird had seen another female human present. It was the familiar female. The one that lived within the big nest and never threatened the bird's little nest.

    "What happened to her?"

    Several long moments passed as Sarah slowly extracted the needed information from the avian. She couldn't blame the bird too much for the excruciating slowness with which it told its tale. It was simply not intelligent enough to offer information of its own volition. It had to be poked and prodded into remembering what had come before. Frankly, she was fortunate that it knew as much as it did.

    But, in the end, she managed a hazy grasp of what had happened. Her mother had been kidnapped. A rescue was needed. She would have to provide that rescue. Sarah turned back to the smattering of footprints; there was only one thing to do with them.

    Wary and keeping a keen eye on her surroundings, Sarah started after the tracks, following them. As soon as she moved back into the north tree line, the individual footprints vanished and were replaced with hoof marks.

    Her teeth clenched together. These men had come prepared. There was only one thing to do. Sarah set her determination. She had to find and rescue her mother from these kidnappers. She took off at a quick sprint: moving silently and swiftly through the forest; following the tracks effortlessly.

    For a short while, she pressed on her way, all the while attempting to ignore the mounting panic in her chest and the fear taking hold of her heart. The back of her mind tried to puzzle out the truth of what had happened back at the house. The front of her mind was busy trying to determine if she could catch up to the horses or not.

    A glint of metal drew her eyes off of the path. Sarah slowed in order to get a better look at the object and then came up short. Discarded metal was rare in the forest and this was decidedly unusual. The objected was a circular metal disc of brilliant silver that caught the sun and scattered its rays over the area. It wasn't very big, about the size of her palm.

    Two steps carried her to the object. Had one of her mother's abductors dropped it? She quietly knelt and plucked the disc from the earth. It wasn't heavy nor was it light. The smooth surface was devoid of decoration or marking, nor could she see any hole or latch where a chain could be attached to the disc. It most certainly wasn't jewelry.

    She turned the disc over in her hand. This side was just as barren as the other. Sarah's mouth twitched, indicating a thought. Perhaps this item wasn't supposed to be mundane, but magical? Acting on the thought, she opened herself to the conduits of magic and tried to get a sense of the disc's composition.

    From what she could gather, the silver disc was nothing more than a large, sealed shell. It was hollow on the inside. But that didn't make much sense. What would the purpose be of making a container that you couldn't put anything into? She examined it again, visually. No, there were no seams or markings that would indicate a means of opening it.

    What was inside of the disc, then? She delved back into her magical study and attempted to parse an answer to that question. There was nothing solid inside of the container. But there was a presence... a presence of energy... a magical spell? A dormant spell, yes. But what would trigger the spell?

    She felt the dormant magics shift beneath her thoughts and had an answer.

    Immediately, she dropped it as though burned and whipped about. A flurry of motion carried her back the way that she'd come and away from the disc. Pure instinct took over and counted down the seconds for her. At the last possible moment, Sarah pitched herself forward and slammed into the ground, skidding to a halt.

    The mounting pressure behind her spurred her on to act even faster. Her hands scrambled for purchase in the earth and she pushed her magic into the dirt that lay all about her. The ground rose up behind her, forming a tightly packed shield of protection. She screamed at the sluggish mound to rise faster-- there wasn't time for this!

    Her scream was drowned out as the disc exploded and a fireball overtook the area.

    The silver disc had been nothing more than a magical explosive.

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