Chapter 3: Mechal Drogen
I release the arrow firing towards the grey-robed bloodmage standing atop of the wooden stage.
Time slows down as it travels forward with immense force through the air.
I’m standing atop a tall, three-story brick building that houses the Dyes Committee, some group of people who regulate the details of dyes in this city.
Other than the horrid display of a Culling this would be quite a perfectly beautiful day. A blaring sun, but still a gentle cooling breeze about giving enough reason to wear a fur coat. The sweetness in the fresh air of Rigtal is always a delight to breath into the lungs.
Even from atop of my vantage spot, I can hear from afar the sounds of screaming and crying from the large crowd beckoning for the release of the rebel captives.
I was alerted not long ago to act on my part of the plan by the sounds of the rebels singing.
I prepare myself to jump down, placing my feet in their usual position for such a maneuver, hang my bow around my body making a diagonal line going from the bottom right of my back to the top left.
As I wait, I feel the tips of the tails that grow off of the white robes I’m wearing. I wear a jacket-like-robe that covers my upper body. The robes have two tails that follow down the back of my legs finishing at the top of my boots. My front chest is tightly covered by a dark brown leather vest that has buckles attached to it that ties itself to the covering robes. The front of the jacket robes is slightly opened revealing the vest for all to see. On top of the robes I wear a midnight black trench coat, this helps me blend into dark places because it can cover my entire body.
I watch as the arrow makes contact with Bloodmage Caisen and I see his body fall flat on the stage face first.
That’s the signal, I push with my left foot and jump off the building.
Once in the air, I look for my landing zone that was prepared earlier, a small wooden cart full of rags and sheets.
I perform a front flip to propel myself further downward than forward, to not overshoot it and land on the ground next to the cart and die.
I land in the cart and sliding my hands down the soft sheets. My fingers trace the seams of the sheets and rags, mostly ripped up and hardly intact.
Once I’ve stopped for 5 seconds, I get up and vault over the side of the cart and start to run towards the wooden stage in Quay Square.
My eyesight starts to force itself into a tunnel-like vision; my blood must’ve flowed straight to the head from the fast drop. Fortunately, I can see the only targets I need to focus on at the moment.
There are two Rachkers standing guard at the back of the wooden stage, while the sounds of chaos are erupting from the other side of the stage. The two guards have their backs to me as I run up to them.
My eyesight has returned mostly back to normal with only a little bit of darkness in the corners of my sight.
I pull out a small, steel blade from its sheath attached to my back and position it in both hands and rest it slightly to my right side pointed forward towards my first target.
I make contact with the Rachker on the right and bowl him over. I stabbed him in the upper left side of his back, piercing out through his heart.
When he lands on the ground, I follow through after him, letting go of my sword in the process and perform a somersault on top of the slain foe.
I turn around swiftly on the tiptoes of my large dark brown boots and grab hold of my blade sticking out of its fleshy holder.
I quickly slash at the throat of the recoiling second guard, silencing him before he could announce my entrance.
The Rachkers’ armour is a plain steel plated armour covering most body areas, torso, arms, legs and back. No colour to them except the grey steel shades, the army doesn’t bother with aesthetics as much as effectiveness, makes sense. They wear helmets that cover the back of the head and the top half of their face above the eyes; this allows them to see and communicate while still protecting vitally essential areas of the head, the disadvantage is that it doesn’t cover all vital areas such as the face and throat. They wear leather suits under the armour to make it more comfortable to wear the steel armour.
I’ve over time learned how the armour is built, some of the weak points are so visible to me I could see them from a building top looking down on them.
There’s a small line that isn’t protected by any armour that is in between the shoulder armour and the spinal and main back armour pieces, making it easy to pierce the heart from behind with a small thin blade like my stealth blade.
I sheath my stealth blade called Shadow in its light leather sheath on my back. The sheath allows for stealthily sheathing and unsheathing Shadow so that it doesn’t alert nearby dangers.
I grab the sword from the throat-cut Rachker’s left hip.
I race around the timber wood stage to witness my rebel allies fighting back against the Rachkers that were holding them captive. Some of the rebels managed to break the chains and have split themselves into groups of two, three, and another three. These rebels are some of my most elite trained, able to take down Rachkers quickly without needing a weapon.
They only got captured because they didn’t expect a large number of Rachkers defending a simple House barn.
While the chained rebels hadn’t taken down any Rachkers, they have made sure none of themselves had perished so far.
I sprint towards the first group of three chained together, raise the deceased Rachker’s sword above my head and bring it down on the chain holding one rebel to the other two.
I then turn 45* and raise the sword with equal force under the chain connecting the other two. Steel clangs on steel and the chains break.
I throw the sword to the one on my left and say to him “hold the Rachkers off as much as you can. The first job is to protect yourselves and second is to protect civilians. Escape once I’ve told you so, alright?”
“Heard you loud and clear, Phoenix,” the rebel nods to me and races off towards the fray to slice down a Rachker who was beating a Pryia woman.
I turn to the other chained rebels and run up to them as I pull out my sword on my left hip, Falcon, a more robust sword than Shadow. Falcon is designed to be useful in both one-handed and two-handed styles of sword-fighting. It has a pommel that identifies an eagle that is about to take off with its wings half-spread.
When I approach the chained duo, they turn to me expecting me to free them from each other.
They raise their arms up as the female rebel on the right kicks a Rachker in the throat, stunning him temporarily.
I raise Falcon above my head and slam it down, breaking the chains with such force the sound of the breaking chains echoes across the whole Quay Square.
I dive forward to avoid the freed rebels racing back into the fight, roll on the ground and lift myself into the air when I land onto my feet.
I race up to the last chained group of rebels and break off the chains binding the three to each other.
“Thank you, Phoenix,” the three say to me in sync as they all turn and run forward in unison, how odd.
I turn to face the giant wooden stage where I see the General standing.
Look at him in all his self-involved glory. The bastard only cares about himself. Has no human concern for these people he’s hurting. Why else would he call for another Culling so early?
He’s wearing his traditional gold-plated armour that is designed differently to the armour the Rachkers wear for combat. I know this because the weaknesses aren’t as easy to identify.
He’s standing yelling commands to the Rachkers fighting my rebel comrades on the ground.
“Yaaaaaaa you dirty rebel,” yells a Rachker charging loudly towards me with his spear raised above his head pointed towards me ready to pierce through me.
Just as he’s about to shove the spear into me, I dodge to the left spinning around to do so.
As I spin around to stop a 450* spin, I swing my sword from my body on my left, cutting the gap that reveals the Rachker’s rib cage on his right side.
He yells loudly in response with a blood-curdling screech.
He leans forward only two lengths from where I’m standing weakened by my counter.
I run up to him, use my left hand to grab his right shoulder and swing him around to face me.
When he looks at me, his face fills with shock faster than a cup of water.
I push Falcon into his throat slowly and pull it out even slower as the blood pools around the blade.
I let go of him as he collapses to the ground, dead.
I turn back around to quickly dodge an arrow flying towards me.
I look over to where it roughly came from to witness the guilty archer being smashed over the head by one of the Pryias from the crowd using a club.
I begin to smile, seeing the Pryias joining in our battle. However, it quickly returns to an anger-filled face when I watch a Rachker charge down the Pryia. Unfortunately, this is what happens in uprisings and battles in general; people die, innocent people, wronged people, good people.
I run towards the wooden stage to take down the real culprit of all of this, General Tull Ricker.
As I sprint towards it something catches my attention in the corner of my eye.
That young man, who was being lifted by the bloodmage’s magic, is still lying on the ground. From the what I can see he is still breathing. Something about him makes me redirect my goals temporarily and run up to him.
When I approach the young victim of magic, another Rachker tries a go at me.
I merely block with my blade and knock the sword out of his hands.
I then thrust my sword-wielding arm up towards a weak spot in the chest armour that rests a little distance above the belly button.
The Rachker falls in pain; he most likely won’t die as long as someone tends to him to as soon as possible.
I walk over to the young man on the ground, “hey get up you, you don’t want to be here any longer…no reply? Well, how about this?”
I give a gentle kick to his ribs, it might hurt him, but this is battle, and there’s no time to gently consol the boy back to good health.
He starts to show signs of waking when my attention is taken away by once again another Rachker yelling and charging towards me.
This time I didn’t have much time to react, and I get tackled to the ground. Oh no, this isn’t good, when you’re on the ground in a battle, there’s little chance you’ll ever get back up.
I wrestle with the man, yelling and screaming at each other.
“Fucking die you bastard,” he yells at me.
“Not if I kill you first, mate,” I yell back.
We continue to wrestle for what seems like 4 minutes. Throughout the battle, I can taste his sweat drip into my mouth, which makes me want to hurl. My eyes sting from my own sweat in them.
My opponent overpowers me and pushes my hooded face into the ground.
I breathe in through my nose and take in the dirt on the ground, and it makes me start sneezing, coughing and splattering all over the place.
The Rachker keeps one hand pushing down on the back of my head dragging my face along the rough ground, cutting my face up. The metallic taste of blood starts weak in my mouth but gets stronger and stronger to eventually overtake the flavour of the soldier’s sweat in my mouth making me want to hurl even more.
He pulls my hood off and spins me around, revealing my true identity.
He stops when he sees me, “Mechal Drogen...no, but you’re a noble. How could you be this? Why would you do this?”
That’s right, all this time as the secretive unknown assassin creating a revolution among the Pryias, my real identity is as a noble of the Drogen House.
I am the only one left in the Drogen family, my wife and children were killed in an unfortunate event. Since then, I vowed to make a difference in Caleria. My House has historically been more sympathetic towards Pryias, fighting for the bettering of Pryias’ rights. All of my Pryias are paid livable wages to run my blacksmith smithery, where my blacksmiths make weapons and armour to sell to traders who want to sell them at their own preferred price. When it came to me to be the head of the House, I decided to take a more active role in pushing such the cause.
I became a revolutionary when I was young, preparing for the inevitable by making contacts with the right people. When I became an adult, I started making speeches among crowds of Pryias and sowing the seeds of revolution within them. I ran for council to represent my district and have been a councillor for the past ten years. Shortly after my family’s passings, I became what is now known as the Phoenix, the purpose of him is to be a rekindling of hope within Pryias and those who are also sympathetic.
I try to be stealthy and not let my identity get discovered so that I can continue my shadowy undercover activities while under the Monarch’s noses for as long as possible. Very few people inside the boundaries of the city know my real identity and are allowed to live. Therefore, to keep my identity unknown, this Rachker must die. I’ve never been one in favour of violence, even in the case of protesting against the Monarch, but sometimes when you’ve been treated like dirt for so long, you’re going to need to bring people down to your level somehow.
I raise my mouth to his ear and whisper “I wish I could say one day you’ll understand why someone would be brought to such actions, but unfortunately, I can’t let you live long enough to know that.”
I raise my right leg up close to my right hand laying on the ground and grab hold of an arrow sticking out of my boot arrow holder.
I tighten my grip on the arrow and stab it into the bottom of the Rachker’s buttocks and twist the bolt aggressively.
He exclaims loudly in pain and pushes himself off of me. This gives me time to rise to my legs again.
As I quickly jump to my feet the blood rushes to my head, and my sight gets blotchy, and it becomes hard to see through the fuzziness.
As I circle myself around trying to clear my sight, the yelling and screaming around me engulfs my senses. What’s happening? The fog of war is misty and cloudy as I walk around readjusting my senses. People are running in all directions around me and into me, knocking me down. I can hear General Tull Ricker issuing orders from the stage near me; I must be nearby the stage. I smell the dust of battle picking up, the metallic blood dripping down my face from my cuts, the sweat from my forehead into my nose and mouth which are stinging the insides.
Then I remember that I was trying to wake up the young man on the ground near me, oh and also there’s a Rachker who I need to kill.
I turn to face where I last remember my foe, who has just recently themselves readjusted themselves correctly.
He leans down and grabs an axe that a fallen Rachker was previously wielding.
My Falcon is lying right behind him. I will have to get around him to reacquire it.
I place my right hand on my stealth blade on my back, gripping the leather strapped handle tightly.
I start to run forward at my enemy.
He follows through and runs at me.
As I approach him, I quickly drop to a slide, pull out Shadow and slice at my opponent’s right leg in the gap revealing itself causing him to kneel down.
He quickly leaps forward away from me so he doesn’t get hit with another blow that could end him.
I sheath my blade and pick up Falcon from the ground. The blade is caked in blood and dirt from the battle, it’ll need some serious cleaning later, but I must focus on the task at hand.
I feel my right leg start to shake; I use my blade to keep me upright digging it into the ground. I’m in severe pain, I feel lightning strike throughout my insides, burning sensations in my muscles, my bones feel like they’re going to crumble beneath the weight of battle.
I look up to keep an eye on my opponent, and he’s watching me as he too is tiring and shaking, he’s as weakened and beaten as I.
I lift my hood back over my head, re-covering my face.
We both raise our weapons, his axe over his head with the top pointed backwards, my sword lifted next to my right in both hands.
We charge towards each other.
As I charge forward, I feel each footstep I take send fire through my legs. I breathe in and out slowly three times and breath for a fourth time to hold my breath. I hear the clanging of metal on metal all around me, the occasional screams of death when either a Pryia is killed by a Rachker or a rebel kills a Rachker. I feel the cold air brush through my robes and coat cooling me down a little, drying the blood on my face.
Right now I could die, right now it could be the end, the end of my revolution.