Background story for my Outsiders novel

I’m writing on a regular basis each day. Since I don’t always work on my active novel I will either write something original and unconnected or, like now, something that frames the background or universe of my new series. I’ve written a few descriptions of parts of the world and in this case a short story telling a legend of an important historical character within the world.

The Story of Armoni – the first Irin

Armoni son of Giled was tired. The visit by the Atlantean trade delegation was more tiring than he expected. All day he and his advisers sat ensconced with them arguing values that would be exchanged for the trade goods each had to offer. By night the official dinners and entertainment stretched well into the hours of darkness. The Atlanteans were proving themselves to be shrewd businessmen by day and mighty voluptuaries in their nightly excesses; Armoni didn’t think he could keep up this pace for long.

His normal life was one of contemplation and rigorous training. As leader of the city of Kath he needed both the wisdom of a sage and the strength of a warrior. It had been a long time since Kath went to war thanks to his skill in defeating intractable enemies and making peace with his more reasonable neighbors. Peace had given him time to study and meditate but it had not softened him as many of his brother rulers had allowed. Each day Armoni trained in the courtyard of his palace. Spinning and leaping he fought imaginary foes with blows of his Ancath, the traditional weapon of Kath. The metal wrapped rods were a blur as they wove a complex pattern around Armoni. Sweat coated his body and he could feel the pounding of his heart as it labored to keep pace with his exertions. He prepared to deliver the coup de grâce to the battered foe who only existed in his mind when a scream reached him. Armoni froze in mid motion. He strained to hear any other sound. Had he heard properly or had his exertions distorted the sounds of one of the palace children at play. Again, a scream akin to those he had heard on the battlefield from mangled, dying men reached his ears. Armoni pivoted and raced across the courtyard toward the sound. A warrior could not delay when danger was near; even a ruler must be willing to risk all to defend his people.

Bursting into the audience chamber of the palace Armoni staggered to a halt. A servant floated in the air in the center of the room. The man’s robes were charred and his hair smoked. A strange crackling light that reminded Armoni of lightning twisted and writhed around the man’s body like dozens of pythons crawling into and out of his clothing, mouth and even the sockets where his eyes had been.

“Great gods.” The guard entering the room after Armoni said in a voice that cracked like a pubescent boy..

Half a dozen armed men entered the chamber, drawn to the sound of their fellow’s agony.

“Stay back,” Armoni said.

“What is it my Lord?”

Armoni nodded to the captain of his guard who fell in beside him. “I don’t know Sula but it is truly something evil; perhaps a demon.

“Fetch the Magi,” Sula commanded one of his soldiers who sprinted away.

Armoni approached the floating form of the servant, ignoring the half whispered warnings of his men. Man or demon he would not stand back like a woman, he must face this danger head on and defeat it. He extended the Ancath in his left hand to prod the floating body. One of the lightning pythons struck at the tip of the rod and raced along its length until it touched Armoni’s hand. A scream was torn from his throat. Burning pain shot up his arm. His hand felt like it was on fire and freezing at the same time. Armoni faintly heard shouts but the voices sounded miles away. White fog filled his vision and a buzzing whine filled his ears. Through the fog he beheld a vast plain, rolling hills of bubbling shifting forms. Lightning flashed from the pulsing ground into the black sky and tentacles like those of a sea creature he had once seen in the east but made of light reached down from the blackness and clashed with the lightning. Pustules exploded from the ground spraying black fluid into the sky and fluttering shapes swooped from the darkness seeming to feed on the ejecta of the pustules. Armoni felt his mind reeling, the evil creatures he was seeing could only be the denizens of the deepest hell. Strange shapes assaulted is eyes, they were painful to look upon. Angles and curves that should not exist moved through the air and across the ground as if living creatures. Sprays of color, many of which he had no name for, erupted from the shapes as they moved. Armoni heard a faint keening, it was his own voice full of terror like a child or a woman. His warrior’s heart could not abide this terror. He needed to escape this place.

“No!”

He screamed the word, making it a weapon against this world of demons. He shouted again and again and twirled his Ancath in a defensive pattern. With a supreme effort of will, Armoni threw himself from the vision filling his mind. The demon world raced away from him and his body was hurled across the audience chamber where he slammed into a column and collapsed to the ground.

“My Lord,” Sula raced to his ruler’s side.

Armoni shook his head as he struggled to his knees. Flashes of light still filled his vision and memories of the demon world threatened to push their way to the surface. He raised his head and saw that the servant’s body now lay on the ground. There was a blackness, like a tear, floating in the air above the body and dozens of tendrils of light writhed and lashed at his men.

Sula’s gasp drew Armoni’s attention away from the strange battle.

“My Lord, your eyes,” Sula said.

“What?” Armoni’s voice cracked. His throat felt as if he had walked through the desert for days without water.

“Your eyes my Lord, they-” Sula seemed to struggle for words. He looked over his shoulder at the tendrils of light and then back at Armoni. “Your eyes are the color of the demon light, and they shine my Lord.”

“We must fight,” Armoni said and struggled to his feet.

“But, my Lord.” A scream cut off whatever Sula would have said. One of the guards was grasped by a lightning tendril. His hair stood out from every part of his body. Sparks shot from his fingers and with a sickening pop, his eyes exploded from his head. The light released the man who collapsed to the ground, dead.

“Kath!”

Armoni screamed the battle cry of his city and charged toward the writhing light creature. His Ancath a blur as he threw himself at the creature with utter disregard for his own safety. The wood and steel rods passed through the tendrils of light as if they were no more than wisps of fog. A tendril of lightning, as thick as a man’s leg, lashed out and struck Armoni. He could feel the fire of the thing racing through his arms and legs. He could not die like this. He would not die like this. Armoni screamed his agony and anger at the creature burning him alive. A shiver passed through his body like a cold mountain stream pouring over his head. The pain receded with the rush of cold. Brilliant white light exploded from Amoni’s Ancath. The light looked like white fire racing along the wrapped steel of the weapons. As the light enveloped the weapons Armoni felt an impact as the rod struck the tendril of lightning. Somehow he could strike the creature. Training took over and his weapons lashed out without conscious thought. He could feel the impact each time the Ancath touched a lightning tendril. The writhing light began to retreat from his onslaught.

Still screaming his rage, Armoni pressed forward, his weapons a blur trailing white fire with each swing. The lightning creature was driven back into the blackness from which it came. In a matter of moments he stood before the black tear. Armoni struck the black shape with his flaming Ancath and it shattered and folded in on itself. In a matter of seconds it was gone.

Armoni stood panting, his body shook with the aftermath of the fight.

“Irin.”

Voices, faint through the pounding blood in his ears, repeated the word all around him: Irin – angel.

Armoni turned toward the voices to see dozens of his guards as well as the Magi and his assistant priests falling to their knees.

“Irin,” the Magi said and made a sign of blessing in Armoni’s direction.

Armoni saw a flicker of reflected light in the tall bronze mirror near the dais. He saw his reflection. The white fire still enveloped his Ancath and now extended up to surround his entire body. He glowed like a star. The flames extended upward from his back forming enormous wings of flame, he did look like an Irin, an angel.

Whatever the demon had done to him had changed him, brought him this holy gift of fire. If such evil as the lightning creature could exist in the world, perhaps this was the gods gift to man to help them stand against the evil. The great wings of flame folded around his body and the flame slowly dwindled and went out. Armoni lowered his head in silent thanks to all the gods.

“Evil has come into the world,” he said. “I have been given a gift to fight it. Come, join me brothers, we have much to do.”

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