Tala Kione: Rising, Part 1

Fiction By Jackie West // 7/5/2011

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Tala wiped sweat from her forehead. “Can’t I stop now, Master?” she asked almost pleadingly.

Master Ravenblade Ryuthan shook his head. “Not now, Apprentice,” he said chidingly. “You are just getting started.” He smiled as he adjusted the band holding his gray streaked black hair back.

Tala sighed. “Master,” she asked, “just for a minute?”

“You will rest when I say you can,” he replied.

Tala bowed her head in obedient acknowledgment. “I understand.”

She flexed her fingers and aimed at the red sphere.

“Wait.”

Tala lowered her hands as she turned to her Master. “What is it?”

He was looking towards the door, his hand on the blade sheathed at his side. “I sense a great evil nearby.”

“No alarm went off in the Temple,” Tala said, looking confused even as she prepared to draw her sword.

Ravenblade placed a hand on her shoulder. “You know that the greatest enemies of the Jaroni, the Cyclones, haven’t been seen for over a thousand years?”

Tala nodded. “Master Tristan Mace says that the Jaroni killed so many of them that they went extinct.”

“Not everyone believes that,” Ravenblade explained, “and I am one of them. I see that I am correct.”

“How can you sense a Cyclone? You have never fought them before, have you?”

Ravenblade glanced at her as his blade came out of his sheath. “You forget, Apprentice, that I am a thousand and ninety six years of age. You need to remember your history lessons even in times of peril.”

“Yes, Master,” Tala answered as she drew her blade, which rasped as it slowly came out of her sheath.

Silently, they moved into position.

The door creaked open.

A black shape appeared.

Tala drew a long breath, and her stomach twisted as the tall, cloaked figure stepped into the room.

The lights in the room flickered, as if they, too, sensed the evil presence and were retreating.

“Master Ravenblade Ryuthan,” the figure said in a long, drawn out whisper.

Ravenblade took a deep breath.

“At last, we meet-again.”

“Cyclone Blackscar,” he said slowly.

“You still remember.” Blackscar gave a low chuckle.

Ravenblade watched him closely. “I do.”

“I have come back-this time, to kill you.”

Ravenblade stiffened. “That’s what you said the last time we met.”

“This time I mean it.”

“And how do you expect to stand up against two of us?” Ravenblade asked.

“I do not expect to stand alone,” Blackscar answered.

Tala’s chest tightened as another figure, similar in appearance to Blackscar, but smaller, entered the room.

“Meet my apprentice, Romor Rutrythan.”

Romor slowly took his place beside his Master.

Ravenblade shed his robe and held his blade in an attack position, and Tala quickly followed suit.

Romor and Blackscar pushed back the hoods hiding their faces.

“Romor, you know what to do!” Blackscar shouted as they charged.

Tala and Ravenblade ran forward.

The pairs met in the middle of the large chamber with a clash of blades.

Despite her training, Tala was quick to start panic inside.

This is my first battle! I can’t do it. I’ll fail and disappoint Ravenblade.

“Apprentice!” Ravenblade called as his battle with Blackscar moved farther away from the Apprentices. “Do not fear or doubt. Fear leads to failure. Remember that.”

“Yes, Master!” Tala replied as she stepped up her defense and attack.

 

Ravenblade gritted his teeth as Blackscar drew him towards the door.

I must stay near my Apprentice, he thought. I must stay near Tala!

“Afraid of losing your apprentice?” Blackscar asked.

Ravenblade’s eyes hardened. “Why would you and your apprentice care?” he growled. “You want us to die!”

 

Tala was gasping for breath.

Romor’s quick and brutal attack was fast wearing her down. She knew she couldn’t stand for much longer.

“Master!” she yelled.

 Ravenblade quickly backed away from Blackscar and sped toward Tala.

“I’m coming!”

 

Blackscar was quick to follow.

“Romor! Leave the girl!”

 

Tala’s heart pounded as Romor turned and went after her Master.

“No!” she cried out.

 

Ravenblade swiftly backed away from Romor and held out one hand. “Blackscar! On your honor as a Cyclone, will you give me thirty seconds with my Apprentice?”

Blackscar’s sword found its way into its sheath quickly. “On my honor as a Cyclone, I will do as you ask. Romor!”

 

Tala knelt on one knee, trying to catch her breath, as Ravenblade moved swiftly to her side.

“Apprentice,” he said softly, “you must warn Master Tristan Mace and everyone else in the Temple of the danger.”

“But Master,” she protested, “what about you? Won’t you die?”

Ravenblade knelt down and faced her. “Do as I say, Tala. Your future depends on it.”

Tala sucked in some air before replying, “But I can’t let you die! You’re the only Master I’ve ever known and had!”

“So I am,” Ravenblade answered. He put a hand on her shoulder. “Tala, your life is before you. Follow your destiny.”

“But-“Tala began.

“Tala!” Ravenblade interrupted.

Tala looked and saw a face that had seen much sorrow and pain through his long life. She saw the scars. She knew that she could not disobey his command.

“Tala,” he said gently, “you must do it.”

Tala bowed her hand and nodded. “Yes, Master.”

They stood.

“Master,” Tala said, “please, take my sword.”

“Thank you, I will,” he replied, giving her one brief smile as the blade of Blackscar came out once more.

“Your time is up!”

Tala threw her sword to Ravenblade and ran.

But at the door, she stopped once and looked back.

Ravenblade glanced at her as Romor and Blackscar pushed him up against a wall.

“Go, my young Apprentice! Fulfill your destiny!”

Those were the last words that Tala Kione ever heard from Master Ravenblade Ryuthan.

 

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