Two Thousand Leaves – 3

Chapter 3

In the age of the ancients when Ossyria was new
Eight Maple heroes with hearts fair and true
Set out with their weapons to free the land
From the monsters under the King Balrog’s hand
Soullohen, with sword of shining steel
Demoneckse, red with a deadly zeal
Belchet, wielding might and rock
Karustan, berserker whose blade could talk
Gandiva, preferring to fight from a range
Widomsutef, casting magic, powerful and strange
Sukanda, completing the bloody deed
Dakmeit, of shadows and trickery and speed
The heroes have passed, but their weapons remain
The Maple artifacts of the heroes’ reign.

~ legend of the Maple Artifacts

“Do I know you?” the ten-year-old Ryn asked, slightly taken aback that this stranger knew her mother’s name.

“Haha, probably not. I know you though. Come, let’s sit down.” He led her to a bench. Ryn remained silent and wary.

“I’m from around here. I’ve known your family since when I was a teenager.” He looked at the girl. Though he hadn’t seen her since she was a week old, she seemed strikingly familiar, as if he’d watched her grow up all along.

“You know about the Great Thaw and the famine of El Nath, right? Happened right before you were born. Your aunt Athena sent me and some other people to bring food and provisions. That was the winter you came into the world.
“You wouldn’t remember it, but the Solstice that year… it was really something. The hunters came back with meat just a few days before. My group had just arrived from Henesys with food. The snows returned to the region after three years. All in less than a week, and now the sun was coming back; it was really something.
“The night of the Solstice, your mother wanted to bring you to the celebration at the town center, but I insisted that she should rest. So I carried you there instead. You wouldn’t remember—you were only a day old—but I think you enjoyed it.” He winked, then waited for her reaction to all this.

“I think… I think Mother may have mentioned you before,” she replied. “So what’s your name?”

“Kennan. Kennan Allen.”

She thought for a moment. “No… doesn’t ring a bell.” Kennan tried to hide his disappointment, but Ryn must have sensed it, for she added, “Mother probably said something before, I just don’t remember it.”

“Haha… well, say hi to her for me, okay?”

“‘Hi from Kennan Allen?’ Got it.”

“So… show me some of that archery you were practicing before.”

Ryn opened her mouth and was about to protest, but decided just to say, “I’m not much good though. Like I said before. So I may mess up.”

She picked up her Beginner Bowman’s Bow, fitted an arrow, and drew. For a moment—one magic moment—the bow stayed steady, and if she had released at that moment it would have been a perfect shot. But she hesitated, and the moment passed. Resolving to shoot next time she got anywhere close, she found the target again and released the arrow. It missed by a few feet.

After watching her perform a few more semi-successful shots, Kennan concluded that the girl had probably been on the receiving end of high expectations she couldn’t meet, and she really wasn’t as bad as she thought she was. With practice she could make a reasonably skilled archer, but he had a suspicion that she had greater talents elsewhere.

He called the girl over. “You’re not so bad.” Ryn just stood there, unsure what to say. He continued, “But you don’t think so, do you.” She shook her head.

“So what are you good at?”

She considered for a moment. “Running. Drawing. And catching Leatties.”

“Catching Leatties?”

“Yeah. All the kids in El Nath do it when it’s the time of year. Whoever catches a Leatty gets to keep it as a pet until it loses life and turns into a ball of fur. You have to move quietly so it doesn’t know you’re there, sneak up from behind and slap it with a stick so it falls over, then you pick it up and carry it home. But if you make a sound and it hears you, it’ll run away.”

“Sounds interesting.”

“It’s fun.”

And it’s also a good head fake for making them into hunters from childhood, by the sound of it. “Hmm… can you use a sword?”

“Is it like a knifeblade?” All children of El Nath trained and sparred with blunt wooden knifeblades from the age of seven.

“Mm… kind of.” He sized her up. “How would you like for me to teach you?”

And so it was that every summer, Ryn would live with Athena and train in the art of the sword under Kennan Allen.

At first, Lennah disapproved, but she managed to convince herself that her daughter was not meant for archery and might as well practice swordsmanship. And though it was not her outcome of choice for Ryn, she was happy to see her make progress as the years passed.

Kennan decided that Ryn’s knifeblade would suffice for the moment, though he planned to make a wooden practice sword out of wood later. It would have to be heavy enough compared to a real sword for her level so that in actual combat her sword would feel light like a feather. And he would carve it in the likeness of a Maple Soul Singer, the weapon of his ancestors…


It was this sword that Kennan now instructed Ryn to hold ready as they scaled Orbis Tower.

“You wait here. I think we’re almost at our destination…” He jumped onto the rope and heaved himself upwards and onto the next floor. “Yeah… hold on just a second, Ryn.”

She heard a roar like thunder, the swish of steel through air, several high-pitched animal calls, and then silence.

“You can come up now.”

Ryn ascended up the rope, cautiously peered over the platform, and noticed the creatures. “What the deadmine are those?”

“You know what they are. You used to try and catch them when you were a kid.”

“Leatties… are white like snow. Those aren’t.”

They started approaching, and Kennan cast Threaten again. “And that’s why we’re here.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Remember our dark crystal dealer? Well…” he paused for a moment. “Let’s just say there’s been an issue with those crystals. As you know, locked inside them is a great amount of dark power which lies dormant. But it seems the power has escaped, and now this is what we have.” Kennan gestured at the dark-furred Leatties. “The dark aura makes monsters stronger, more vicious, and… basically immortal, as long as they are possessed.”

Ryn started. “Oh! When we were at the stone valley, those Yetis… they were dark too!”

“Yes.” He sighed. He hadn’t remembered the Yeti incident, and now that he had, he realized the problem was greater than he had thought. “Anyways, we’re here to cleanse these Leatties.”

“Err… with a wooden practice sword?”

“Our aim is not to kill the Leatties. That is unnecessary. We need only to make them flinch; that will cause the dark spirit to leave them for a second. Then,” he said, taking out a vial of holy water, “I sprinkle them with this so they don’t get repossessed. Not too hard, is it?”

“No, not too hard.”

“Good. I will follow you around with the holy water.”

Ryn nodded, and scanned the area for a good place to start. She chose a group of seven Leatties near her to her left, and made towards it. Before she took two steps, all the Leatties began screeching and moving towards her. She panicked for a second, then made for the cluster of seven and swung left to right, hitting three down. She continued slashing at the ones remaining. Kennan came behind her and sprinkled them, and they turned white.

“Good. Don’t stop. Keep going.”

Ryn turned to the incoming mob. It was either rush at them, or be rushed. Ryn chose to rush, striking out wherever she saw dark fur. She attempted to avoid being clawed and scratched, but it was impossible, and soon she gave up doing so and simply decided to give hell to any Leatty that got near her. Allowing the fighter’s rage to take over, she dashed into the mob like a whirlwind, not stopping for anything.

In Ryn’s eyes all the Leatties merged into one, became blue and purple and red and orange. Then they were obscured by a fog, and she saw white tinged by red. She felt a longing for the red color to be gone, for the whiteness to become pure again. Then out of the fog came a man’s face. Although she did not recognize the face, she knew instinctively that it was Kareem, her father. He had a scar across his face. Then he spoke. To conquer your opponent you must first conquer yourself…

Her consciousness opened its eyes once more. She was scratched in a dozen different places, but did not hurt. She saw that all the Leatties around her were white-furred, but there were more in the shadows.

A drop of holy water landed on her head. She looked up at Kennan, who looked like he’d been about to give her some. He tilted the bottle back upright. “You alright? Seemed like you got possessed for a moment there.”

“Yeah, I’m fine.”

“Well. We’ve purified a decent number of them.” It was true; about half the normal number of Leatties were now wandering around the stone ledges, though a decent number still hid in the shadows. “And that’s good news. The more we cleanse, the weaker the darkness gets.”

He continued, “But one of these Leatties holds a shard of dark crystal. As long as the crystal is present, the aura will persist. We have to find it and remove it. Then this Leatty colony will see peace.”

“How would we find it, though?”

“There are a few ways. I think our best bet is simply to purge all the Leatties of darkness. Any one holding a shard will either refuse to purify, or immediately be repossessed. And, now that their number is halved, they’ll be less eager to charge and more eager to hide. So we’ll have to flush them out. You ready?”

She nodded. Hiding in shadow, she approached a group of Leatties. When she got close enough she broke cover and lashed out with her sword. They scattered.

This reminds me of the children’s Leatty hunt.

Cautiously, she advanced, keeping out of their line of sight. She hid under shadow once more and went right up to one. Grabbing it, she gave it a good whack. She put it down and stabbed at the other one twice. Kennan came over with the vial and purified them.

“Maybe I should carry that—wait a minute…” Both stared at the second Leatty. Traces of black fur lingered, as if hesitant to lighten. For a moment it seemed like it would purify.

Then, it suddenly woke up, shrieked, and jumped at Ryn, clawing at her. In an instant she dropped the wooden sword and thrust her Cutlus through the Leatty’s body. There was no blood; Leatties had no blood, only fur. She cleaved the pile of fur in half. In its center was a sliver of dark crystal and two maple leaves.

9 thoughts on “Two Thousand Leaves – 3”

  1. RussetAure said: “Then, it suddenly woke up, shrieked, and jumped Ryn, clawing at her. In an instant she dropped the wooden sword and had her Cutlus pierced through the Leatty’s body.”

    The leatty jumped Ryn? Maybe jumped onto him.
    Pierced? I think it is ‘had her Cutlus pierce through the Leatty’s body.’ But pierced still works, just depends on how you mean it. Past tense? Present tense? o.0

    Sorry, I’m a Grammar Nazi.

    ~*insert sig here*

  2. Lol. Ryn is a girl btw.
    Jumped at Ryn would probably be better, but I’m too lazy to edit atm.

  3. It’s all right to have “jumped Ryn.” I dunno, robbers or something might jump a person, not a Leatty.

  4. “Jumped” Ryn implies Ryn was ambushed, her money stolen, and her body beaten up and thrown into a back alley .

    -=The Nazgul=-

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