Author: Crazed Attourney
The sky wailed as lightening ripped it apart and the ground bubbled as it was brutally pounded by thick droplets of rain, whilst the heavy winds tore through homes and forests with a casual, almost malicious destruction. And yet for all the fury of the storm, it was all overshadowed by the first joyous scream of a child's birth and a mother's relieved sobs. In that moment of absolute joy; was born a moment of absolute despair - for through the blood and the tears the worst of all omens was revealed: the child was a boy.
The Port of New Hope - 40 years later
The redhead shifted awkwardly under the hard leather armour; despite its familiarity she was still uncomfortable in the revealing armour that gave a shape to her form that it did not naturally possess. Unlike the popular, sensationalist view of her race, her body was more the result of a decade of martial training - slender and hard, rather than curved and soft.
She felt herself blush as a young man passed by, he was unable to prevent his eyes travelling along the shaped red leather and expanse of pale skin it revealed; nervously she fiddled with the sword at her waist - her blush deepened immediately when she saw fear rather than lust explode in his eyes. Despite her embarrassment she couldn't help but let a small but delighted grin spread across her face at the fear that she'd caused in the boy. And though the guilt it caused was just as instantaneous, she could hear the voice of her teacher chastising her for feelings unworthy of an Amazon Warrior ringing loudly in her ears, she couldn't help but walk just a little straighter - for it was not the reaction, which she shy little Willow - just of age and training - was used to.
Her elation dropped as suddenly as it had appeared as she realised that she was also lost - twilight was drawing in on the bustling port and it made the uniform whitewash houses and dirt roads appear identical.
Once again she could feel her cheeks explode in a hot blush.
A distinctive but dreadfully familiar noise filled her ears as she attempted to backtrack - the dull clunk of metal against metal and the sharp grunt of air forced from a person's lungs.
Her body began to move with barely a conscious thought as her instincts took over - her bow was suddenly in her hand, its string taught but its arrow steady as she moved smoothly, silently through a set of alleyways - her heightened senses leading her towards the struggle.
She couldn't control the gasp that escaped her lips when she finally saw the fight. A young blonde woman was surrounding by numerous heavily robed forms, blood trickled from wounds on her face through thin cuts on her green uniform - yet still she stood defiantly with a bloodied sword firmly held in her hands. Willow could see though that her time was running out - it was taking both the blondes hands to hold the sword steady, and her body was twisted and hunched in a weak, awkward attempt to protect her left side.
For the first time since she'd first picked up a bow the redhead's hands trembled and her mind's focus shattered - it was the first time she'd aimed a weapon at another outside the training pen, this time someone would die.
She hesitated - fear and blood screamed in her ears.
One of the robed forms moved forward in a blur, slamming his heavy scimitar-like blade into the blonde's sabre with a ferocious strength, but to Willow's amazement the woman parried the blow. However, the Amazon could see what was to happen next, the move had been a feint and one his companions flicked out with his blade catching the women's wrist and so her next parry collapsed as she fell to her knees under the strength of the blow.
Willow's finger twitched and the arrow slammed into the nearest robed body.
The next arrow flew before she'd realised she'd fired the first - the third never came as a blade sliced through the bow, but she was already moving before the blade descended and her own blade rose. Her short, wickedly pointed, ribbed blade flashed quickly and she twisted away from the falling body and towards the next opponent. As the fourth and fifth died as easily Willow began to relax and rolled towards the fallen blonde, her sword flicking out towards another robed figure.
Willow's eyes widened in shock as the blade sliced air rather than flesh, and her arm wrenched her shoulder as a strong hand caught her arm and pulled. She whimpered in pain and fear as her sword clattered uselessly to the floor, and she quickly followed it.
The redhead huddled over the barely moving blonde - her eyes closed tight as the robed figures raised their blades.
"Mistress, hear my prayers," she muttered suddenly seeking comfort in a half remembered prayer for the forlorn. "Grant me a light, to guide me in the darkness, grant me an Angel, to protect me from harm. Mistress, hear my prayers."
Willow felt her back straighten as the ancient words gave her unexpected warmth, and she calmly waited for the final blow to fall.
Eternity passed in a moment, but the blade did not fall.
Meekly she opened her eyes - one of the robed figure's swords hovered above her, a hairsbreadth from her head, held in place by a heavy, battered sabre.
"Need a 'and luv?" A coarse, common voice called chirpily - its owner was a dark haired man dressed in a bright, vibrantly coloured tunic and cape that made him seemed at odds with the violence around him. His sword arm was steady as he continued to hold the robed man's sword, another was held at bay with a small hand-held crossbow - now only four of the attackers were left alive and the other two cautiously circled the newcomer.
She nodded nervously, resulting in a grin and wink from the older man.
The crossbow fired, the violence of the bolt throwing the robed figure into the third, he threw the now empty crossbow at the fourth as he flicked the first's blade up. He caught the flailing blade and plunged it into the fourth's stomach, as his own dragged his own along the first's throat.
Even to Willow's trained eyes his movement's were a complete blur, and the stranger only came to rest as the third body slumped to the ground - he was still tense still alive for the fourth and final enemy.
"Oh shit - mo..." he began to shout as the final robed figure moved firing his own concealed crossbow - the stranger's blade flew in answer. Willow screamed in pain, but her instincts had taken over and she'd caught the bolt, but unlike the arrows of the training ground this was fast, heavy and deadly and the force wrenched bone and muscle from her already tender shoulder.
"Ya 'kay luv?" He asked softly, as he gently removed the tightly gripped arrow from her hand.
"W-w-w-wha...I th..." She stammered awkwardly, before wincing in pain.
"Yeah - ya banged up ya shoulder pretty good," he chuckled softly, carefully probing the darkening skin, "no real 'arm though - be sore for a few days nuffin' more."
Willow nodded, suddenly feeling light headed as the excitement and adrenaline of the last few minutes began to wear off.
"You's stay put Red," he winked kindly, as he watched her eyes flicker and roll, "I'm gonna see to Blondie."
"Dat woz some damn fine shootin' Red," he nodded approvingly as he manhandled the robed bodies with a casual callousness, "shame 'bout the bow."
"My bow?" Willow squeaked.
"Aye luv - sliced clean in two." He called back; nodding to himself he roughly lifted the small blonde's body free.
"Blimey - she's a real beaut'," he whistled approvingly as he took in the small body in front of him, "leful though," he chuckled as removed the bloody, slender sabre that was still clutched in her hand.
"My bow," Willow whimpered as her shaking hands moved towards the now useless weapon.
"'ere I woul...bugger." He sighed as the redhead went a ghostly white and collapsed.
Willow whimpered as she shifted in her sleep, the tightness in her shoulder threatened to bring her crashing from her restful slumber, her pain quickly receded as she was drawn to the warm form beside her. Unconsciously she began to snuggle up to the other body, revelling in the comfort the soft curves provided as her body began to react on instinct and seek out and tease familiar places...
"Hey Red - much as I'm enjoyin' da show, I fink you're 'arking up the wrong tree!" The leering, amused chuckle broke into her mind like a bucket of ice-cold water.
"Wha...who...what...ahhh," Willow shrieked as she sat bolt upright and instantly awake.
"Mornin' Red!" The crude, common voice crowed cheerfully.
"Oh Mistress!" Willow's cheeks turned a burning red instantly as she stared at the slumbering blonde beside her and the grinning man in front.
"Nah luv - Roland Fatcha' at ya service." The man bowed, and Willow let out a sighed as she recognised her anonymous saviour from the previous day. He was a tall well built man something that his rough, loose fitting clothes couldn't hide, his thick dark hair was peppered with white and his skin was darkened and lined by both age and sun, but made his real age difficult to gage. Willow was also startled by his light grey eyes, they contained both a youth sparkle and a hardness that she'd only seen in faces of a battle scared veteran.
"W-W-Willow," she stammered nervously.
"Now - da ya wanna get some breakfast, or ya gonna continue with da show?" He winked, with a teasing leer, causing Willow to blush heavily again.
"What about...er..." Willow gestured wildly back towards the room, as she left a little time later.
"Blondie?" Roland filled in bluntly, he shrugged at her nod. "She took a poundin' - I'll send somefin' up later, but she'll be fine - where d'ya fancy?"
"The Sailor's Hope Inn," Willow answered quickly.
"Why?" He asked cagily, not liking the speed of her answer or the dangerous grin that touched the corner of her mouth.
"No reason." Willow answered innocently.
Alaatha, Capital City of the Amazon Isles - 29 years earlier
The boy twisted his lanky and slightly awkward frame with surprising grace so that the stone landed with a dull thud into the dirt in front of him, rather than the back of his head. More stones began to fall on his small group of companions - most missed but they caused his friends to scramble away from the attack.
"Arturo!" A loud, feminine voice screamed, and with surprising calmness the boy turned to face his attackers - a wide grin spread across his features as he took in the group of older girls in front of him.
"Hello Maia - did you enjoy my little gift." His voice was the awkward adolescent mix of adult and child.
"So you don't deny it?" The leader of the group snarled gesturing at her armour, the rest of the girls twitched and fidgeted like a pack of angry animals - their training armour covered in dark, purple blotches.
"Er...no." His bright blue eyes sparkled with delight.
"You little shit." She snarled, and the gang moved forward.
"Bigger 'en you!" Arturo crowed happily as he darted away from the awkward lunge.
"Fuck!" The older girl snarled and as a group the girls moved to chase him, the lanky, reddish blonde boy turned and clumsily banged into a nearby web of scaffolding as he leapt into a nearby alley.
The group of girls moved to follow, when suddenly the scaffold creaked and bulged dangerous and a tide of purple dye swept over them. Maia looked up angrily as the thick liquid stung at her eyes and was confronted by Arturo bowing deeply and making an obscene gesture before disappearing into yet another alleyway.
The Sailor's Hope Inn, Port of New Hope
Roland was pleasantly surprised by the Inn; it was clean and orderly, not the spit and sawdust he'd been expecting - the customers were quiet rather than boisterous, the waiting staff were attractive but not vulgar and seemed efficient.
Immediately, Roland felt nervous and he let his hands hang loose around his waist.
"Can I help you?" A perky waitress asked with a fake, insincere smile.
"Yeah luv," Roland responded in an equal tone; his eyes tracing her curvy figure, "we're gonna grab a table, an' bring us a chicken, bread wiv sum light mead."
He nodded appreciatively as he watched her flit to the next group of customers, "ah well now that's a nice view."
"What?" Willow mumbled absently, finally noticing her companion for the first time since they'd the Inn.
"Nuffin' Red - bird watchin' that's all," he backed off slightly at the angry look thrown his way. "So...er...who's da little birdy you were dreamin' 'bout?"
"I d-don't...wha...what...why?" The Amazon stammered weakly as her pale face turned a bright red, causing a mischievous grin to spread across Roland's features.
The green eyes narrowed as she regained her composure. "And why are you helping me?"
"It's a simple luv - money!" His grey eyes sparkled before letting out a deep, hearty laugh. "I know you is skint - all ya damn Amazons are, but well Blondie she's got dat whiff'a cash."
"Y-you're a mercenary?" The redhead stammered in surprise.
"Aye luv - wot ya fink I'm doin' dis outta kindness of me heart?" Roland chuckled happily. "Now who's da little birdy wot's got your 'eart Red?"
"H-how did you k-know?"
"Well ya see - if ya take Blondie, she knew wot she were doin', more's da pity, but she were just copin' a feel," Roland winked salaciously, "but you, you luv knew wot ya were lookin' for and who ya lookin' for - so who is she?"
The mercenary was surprised when instead of answering the Amazon stood bolt upright and lurched away from the table.
"'Ere Red, wo..."
"Tay! Tay!" The redhead shouted, ignoring the flustered mercenary, as she raced towards a collection of tables at the back of the Inn. The tables were partly hidden under a balcony, but Roland could make out eight young women each marked with a simple white tunic and red sash - the mark of a prostitute.
"Tay," he heard Willow hiccup as she collapsed in front of one of the women, dragging them both to the floor. Roland recognised the young woman as a Felinitas Demon, the very human-like cat demons, the Amazon began to nuzzle the Demoness' thick blond main before bringing their lips together in a very soft kiss, causing the other girls to giggle at their actions. However, they weren't the only people to notice and Roland felt the heavy shadow fall before he saw the huge bull of the man approach the table. The man was tall and heavily over weight, though surprisingly for such a huge man he had dark tiny eyes, but Roland felt danger roll off the man and despite his size he knew that layers of muscle were hidden under the fat.
"'Ere mate," he called moving to stand just in front of the huge man, but not close enough to be a threat, the girls behind him gasped behind him and he knew their faces would be covered with fear.
"What do you want?" The huge man's deep voice rumbled dangerously.
"Roland Fatcha'," he introduced himself disarmingly.
"Eric the Innkeeper - now what do you want?" The huge man moved forward, his already tiny eyes almost disappearing into his heavy features as they narrowed dangerously as he saw the Amazon and the Demoness.
"Nuffin' just a friend 'elping a friend," he answered reasonably, keeping himself between the Innkeeper and the table, "so how 'bout it?"
"They are disrupting my girls," Eric answered with a deep sigh, as even the briefest examination of this Roland identified as more trouble than Eric could afford.
"'Course mate, but ya know wot young luv's like - 'ere for ya trouble," Roland winked as he tossed the Innkeeper a small leather purse but wasn't surprised by the speed that Eric used to snatch it from the air.
"They may have fifteen minutes - outside, no more and then you leave."
"Fair 'nuff mate - hey Red let's take this outside 'kay?" Roland boomed and they promptly ignored him "hey Red you and ya little birdy ain't gotta lot time."
"What!" Willow snapped, after ignoring him a second time the mercenary began to physically drag them out.
"You and birdy need ta move," he hissed flicking his head towards the glowering innkeeper, "understand?"
Roland breathed a sigh relief when the redhead nodded her understanding.
"Now ya've got qwata' auv'n 'our 'kay?" Roland snapped firmly at the pair of women. "Good, now I's is gonna keep wotch."
Willow breathed a sigh of relief when he departed with a tuneless whistle, and standing in the Inn's doorway he was giving them as much privacy as he could. Gently, almost awkwardly she ran her hands up Tay's bare arms and up into her thick hair and lifting her face up to look into her deep, mournful blue eyes.
Her lover had changed in the months since she'd last been together, her hair was now a uniform blonde rather than the patchwork of yellows and browns she remembered and twisted into the resemblance of the latest fashion - her once thick mane was now completely shorn from her neck and upper chest, leaving only a thin trail that disappeared along her shoulders and back. Her clothes were different too, they were a plain in colour but they were far more revealing than the shy demoness would have chosen, causing a deep wave of guilt in Willow at her delight at the way they enhanced her already voluptuous figure.
However, that emotion died as quickly as it had come as she took in the other changes, all of which made her heart churn with sadness and anger; Tay's nose and cheeks had obviously been broken and reformed to give a more human appearance and even from the briefest of touches she could tell that her claws been removed and her teeth filed, and even Tay's tail's had not escaped - Willow remembered it as thing of constant movement a gage of Tay's emotions almost with a mind of its own, but now it was rigid and unmoving locked in a crude representation of sexual arousal.
Gently the Amazon brought their lips together, "I missed you - I missed you so much."
"Y-y-you f-found me?" Tay hiccupped and Willow could feel their tears mingle together. "I d-d-didn't be-b-believe, I c-couldn't..."
"I promised that I would, I will always find you." The Amazon interrupted gently, pulling the other girl into her even tighter.
"I'm an Amazon remember - we have our ways." Willow's voice broke as she tried and failed to bring a moment of lightness to her words. "I've come to get you - I won't leave without you."
"B-but E-E-E-Eric, h-h-he'll h-hurt y-y-you," Tay trembled with fear as the words caused her to recall a dark memory.
"I'm fully trained now - I'll kill him if I have to," Willow answered firmly.
"N-n-no y-you c-c-can't," Tay broke away slightly, "I w-wo...you a-al-already h-have?" She asked with shock, her lover's green eyes carried a shadow that hadn't been there before.
"L-last night - they were hurting someone...they were going to kill someone, I couldn't let it happen," Willow let out with a sigh, "and I won't let anyone...anything hurt you...I love you."
Despite herself Tay let a small smile of happiness touch her features at those three simple words, "I l-love you t-too...p-pr-promise m-me...th-that y-you..."
"I can't...I can't promise you that," Willow cut off her lover's words with an unintentional hardness, "I know what you think...what you believe...but I can't...I won't...you're my everything Tay."
"Okay - I w-won't," Tay nodded reluctantly, acknowledging sadly that her lover would not be moved.
Thank you, Willow mouthed before pulling them together once more.
Willow was deathly silent as they walked back to Roland's Digs, while he absently munched on an apple he'd liberated from a nearby market stall.
"So luv - how'd you and birdy meet?" Roland asked through a full mouth, both bored and impatient with the silent and stiff air his companion held since leaving the Inn and blithely ignoring the frosty look that his questioned earned. "Come on Red - I's gets da feelin' you ain't no customer and she ain't no willing 'hore, so wot's ya story?"
"Why do you care?" The Amazon snapped.
"'Cause I's is bored Red - I've 'ways been a sucka for a pretty face and a bit'auv advenchure," Roland shrugged nonchalantly, "so I wanna know wot I's is gonna get inta trouble for."
"A group of refugees came to our camp - they were running from the Empire of Rochelle, you know what that is right?"
"Aye luv - bucnh'a nuttas from down sarf, fought 'em for a town'a Cats few years back - nasty little buggers, all for wan' of a God an' a not bein' human." Roland shook his head sadly. "Nice folk 'ope dey got out in time."
"Er...yes anyway," Willow stammered slightly surprised at the mercenaries tone, "they came to our village about two years - Tay...Ta'pha was a trainee healer and magician...and well she would help out with the cuts and things that came with our training...I was...am a klutz so she saw a lot of me...and we kind of fell in love," Willow blushed slightly caught up in her memories, "and then about 6 months ago her father caught us...we...we were..."
"At it luv," Roland teased lightly, "nowt 'rong in that Red."
"Her father disagreed...and she was gone...he sold her...he sold into slavery..." Willow hiccupped through her falling tears.
"'ope it got wot he woz owed luv?" Roland spat nastily, almost angrily.
Willow nodded, remembering with a dull sense of satisfaction his pitiful mewing after she had paid him a visit. "I finished my training and followed her here."
"An' ya wont 'er back right?" Roland asked casually, not expecting an answer he continued: "There's'ya problem luv - 'less ya gotta stack of gold 'bout ya, it's gonna a wee bit messy."
Roland felt a shudder of fear run down his spine when she turned to face him, her green eyes dark with anger.
Gabrielle's Farm, Atena's Isle, Amazon Isles - 27 years earlier
The ground shook and the screams of men and animals pulled Arturo from his exhausted sleep, his bruised body and torn back burned as he rolled to his feet. The door of the slave's dorm shook as if a great force were knocking on it and the walls began to shudder as the men and elves around him began to chatter and cry with fear.
"Father, father what is it?" Arturo pulled at tall figure beside him.
"I don't know son," the elder man nervously ruffled his son's hair, "I don't know son."
Screams outside of the dorm began to turn fear into panic as they heard the desperate cries of women were accompanied by inhuman, animalistic howls and shrieks.
"Oh Mistress," Arturo squeaked fearfully, "what about Portia?"
"Your sister we'll be fine - your mother won't let anything happen to her," the brutality and hatred that had met the young teen's short life meant he knew what was missing from his father's bitter words: not like us.
"I h-have to help - she'll be scared," he said with a firm, but simply certainty.
"Art...no wait!" He shouted as the young teen moved to scratch at the heavy main door. Suddenly it exploded inwards throwing the young teen through the air; his heavy landing tore his breath away.
"M-m-mummy?" He stammered as he recognised the bloody form that landed on top of him - the slaves around him tried to disappear back into the shadows at the sight of their broken mistress, but that sight did not drive them to suddenly tear at the dorms thick walls - that was caused by the twisted, scaled form that twitched in the doorway, and it's bright red eyes and thick forked tongue flickered excitedly around the panicking bodies crammed into the dorm.
Roland's Digs, the Port of New Hope
"Mornin' Blondie," Roland boomed as he entered his digs to see the young blonde awake and tearing into her breakfast, "'ere luv I's be careful or ya'll do yaself a mischief." He teased lightly.
"And who might you be?" Her voice was light but heavily cultured; there was a whiff of inbred disdain in her voice.
"Roland Fatcha luv - an 'umble soldier at ya service," he boomed happily as he bowed in greeting.
"A mercenary more like," she sneered.
"Ya cut me ta the qwik luv, but 'haps not unfairly," he winked.
"And your friend?" Her lip twisted nastily, though her pale blue eyes lingered on the figure revealed by the hard leather armour.
"Ah well Blondie - dis 'ere's Willow, she's an Amazon," Roland introduced with a flourish, grinning at the little wave that the redhead gave in response, "now who're you?"
"I don't think that's any of your concern."
"Now luv - ya's in me bed an' me an' Red 'ere did save ya life last night," Roland responded with a mild rebuke, "I fink its only fair."
The blonde shrugged, "I'm Lady Brianna Silidas."
"Of Paradel luv?" Roland asked happily, throwing a quick knowing wink back to Willow, "You's'a way from 'ome Blondie?"
"That's not your concern."
Roland shrugged ruefully, "aye luv 'tis true - just being friendly."
"Well then you will get my staff, my clothes, and we'll be on our way," Brianna responded dismissively, returning her attention to her food, "well I'm waiting."
Roland shifted awkwardly, "well luv - ya's gotta problem dere - dere's a bit dead."
"There dead milady," Willow answered instead, "there were already dead when I arrived - if Roland hadn't come...well we'd both be dead." The mercenary nodded his agreement.
"D-dead, a-all of them - w-what about Simon - w-w-was there a m-messenger?" Brianna's fašade began to collapse.
Willow shrugged as did Roland, "what did he look like?"
"Short, redhead, very young wearing a blue tunic and trousers," Brianna's face was screwed up in concentration as she tried to remember her young charge.
"Aye luv he were - his right arm were missing." Brianna collapsed as Roland's words sunk in.
"I've failed," she mumbled.
The City of Paradel
"Close the gates! Close the Gates!" The scream echoed throughout the huge marble hall, and was answered by the dull screech of wood and metal against rock.
"Father - Lord Rupert!" A young dark haired shouted as he struggled against the stream of panicking soldier. "Father I...we still have men out there, the lower city is not clear."
"So be it," one of the two older men growled, he was a time worn version of the younger soldier. The other soldier, who unlike the other in their clothe uniform was dressed in a bright plated suit, looked more kindly on the younger one.
"Alex - they're already dead, there's nothing more that we can do." His light eyes were filled with sadness as he struggled to control his horse against the throng. "The Lower City and Keep are gone - if we don't close the gates it's all over."
"But we'll be cut off."
"Damn it Alex - enough," his father growled angrily, "we must move!"
"Yes father," Alex acquiesced weakly, as behind him the impossibly sized gates slide shut with a harsh breath and in his mind he could here the screams of those trapped behind them.
"Don't worry Alex - Bri may've got through." Rupert comforted gently.
"I hope so Rupert - I truly hope so," they began to move with the retreating men, finally exciting the great marble gatehouse. The gatehouses surrounded the central city of Paradel - each made from an individual mountain, each linked by an impossibly thick wall, and each containing a massive gate all which were bigger than the central palace - the tall imposing tower of black marble that was the heart of Paradel and border one final great gate, the biggest of them all. The City of Paradel was one of the largest Cities in Avalon, a sprawling metropolis of towers, roads and houses, but it was all made insignificant by the ancient walls and towers that surrounded, which in turn were dwarfed its black heart and imposing gate
"We've nowhere to go if she hasn't Rupert - nowhere at all." Alex sighed as moved in to the City.