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Tales of Conan - Deliverance from the Sea

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Age of Conan - Fictional Story Series Continues
by Michael Lafferty

GameZone.com presents the first in a series of original fictional stories by Michael Lafferty stemming from the massively multiplayer online world of Age of Conan - Hyborian Adventures. The following story was written with the permission and cooperation of Funcom, the developer of the game. This tale continues series of stories that deal with the world, the characters and the lore involved in Hyboria. Some of these stories may contain spoilers for quests, so by Crom, be forewarned!

Deliverance from the Sea

The skies roil black in anger
While chaos churns the seas
Hull and deck scream in protest
Drowning out the slavers’ pleas

Could this be Crom’s vengeful might
Spitting violence at Stygian chains?
The foaming nightmare of the water
Crushes ships as madness reigns

Consciousness stirred slowly, the web of darkness fading. The voice was gone; the mocking voice, compelling, overwhelming, subduing her in chains more real than those that fettered her wrists. She laid on the cold, wet sand, the tickle of the ocean lapped at her legs, the chill sending shivers up her spine despite the warm breeze that skipped off her shoulders.

She tried to remember. There were images, shattered, drifting through her mind in small fragments of reality. Some of the images were definitely her, scenes playing out before her eyes, but others seemed to be someone else – as though she was a spectator, viewing from a distance as her body moved to the will of another, and did things … she shuddered as she tried to discard the imagery.

Another small wave crested the beach, drenching her lower body. Ainya pushed herself up, willing herself to move from the water’s edge. A dark-skinned man was sitting on his haunches, watching her. His words were kind, invoking more images. She remembered a fight, long ago, in a distant place. Her hand touched her left brow. That fight had left a scar, a tangible memory. She had the inkling of a mage, reading from a scroll, chanting, and then … nothing – only passages in which she saw herself from a distant place.

The man, Kalanthes, said something that stirred her to awareness in the present. She was not the only survivor from the shipwreck; another had survived. The man said the name, a hateful word that swelled her heart in anger – Saddur. He was the slaver from the ship, the one who attached the cuffs to her wrists, and chains to the cuffs. He was the one that had clothed her in the silvered gown of a slavegirl, the trappings of one used for the pleasures of others. Even now she could smell his fetid breath, see his leering eyes, and feel the touch of his greasy, fat hands.

Her eyes cast about the beach, seeking something to use as a weapon. There was a piece of a broken oar, slightly longer than arm’s length, splintered on one end, but strong through the middle. Club or spear, it would not matter. This was the weapon she would use. Saddur had fled into the jungle of this island, Tortage, heading for the city. She vowed silently that he would never lay eyes on it.

The jungle was alive. The undergrowth smelled of rotted vegetation trading scents with flowering plants. The whole of the landscape was painted in vibrant greens, yellows and flowering reds. But more than plants, there were others roaming the pathways. Pirates and Picts, and jungle cats trained to hunt for human masters. She avoided what she could, killed those she could not avoid. The slave costume was left behind for leathers that were no longer of use to a Pict she encountered. Sticking to the lush wall of ferns and trees, she moved quickly. It was not long before she saw a wall, and knew there would be a gate there. If Saddur was beyond that, the task would merely become more difficult. But … and then she saw him, standing partially in the wall’s shadow, looking at the gate with a mixture of perplexity and anger. The jungle had not treated him well. He bore the marks of some fights of his own, but he had survived those.

‘This one will be different,’ she vowed.

Ainya stepped into the dappled sunlight caressing the clearing near the gate, locking eyes with Saddur. Few words were needed. Both knew what was to follow.

Saddur’s scimitar caught a glint of the sun as it arched from the shadow of the gate, swinging downward with enough fury to cleave Ainya in half. But the lithe Cimmerian was too quick. Her feet danced to the side, barely beyond the blade’s path, while her shoulders twisted, knotting muscles released as the weapon, the broken oar, rose in a vicious sweeping arc of its own. There was a resounding thunk! as the wood connected with the left side of Saddur’s skull, staggering Stygian, splitting flesh and releasing a stream of blood. Saddur tottered backward, dazed, but far from finished. His left hand felt the wound, coming away wet and sticky.

“Now you have a scar of your own to bear witness of your beating at the hands of a woman, Stygian,” Ainya hissed, feet setting again.


Art by Rashad Baiyasi

Saddur roared, his bulk pulsating with pure rage. Senses somewhat regained, he rushed forward, intent on skewering the tormenting woman. Ainya let him come, waiting until his momentum was beyond the point of stopping. This time she moved toward the sword, then ducked under it to Saddur’s right, her own momentum behind a thrust with the broad end of the oar at the Stygian’s right knee. The leg was thrust wide, the bulk of Saddur’s weight thrown off balance. In an effort to catch himself, Saddur let go of the sword and threw his hands out to meet the rising ground. His arms were barely able to hold his shoulders and head from hitting the stone and dirt, but even then his vision, focused downward, caught the glimpse of the small feet of the woman, positioning themselves off his right shoulder. Then he saw the oar, a mighty swing upward, catching him squarely in the face and elevating him upward.

Ainya waited until the Stygian’s torso was fully exposed; then the jagged, sharp end of the oar found its target in the mountain of flesh that was the Stygian’s belly and buried itself there. The body, already expelling the last vestiges of life, tumbled backwards, convulsed once and then was still.

Ainya leaned down and picked up the discarded scimitar.

“That is but one debt paid,” she murmured and then looked to the gate that would lead her to Tortage City.

 

The first story can be found here: Tales of Conan: In Service to a King

 

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