Webdota Story #2

Curse of Sunder

The black dogs with red fiery eyes are chasing him, saliva dripping between their razor fangs. Anger, hatred, hunger, and vengeance are some of their names.

He knew he couldn't run away and once again would be teared down before he woke up. A second before the dream vanished, he saw a shadow, a shadow of a much bigger dog.
***

That dream seems real compared to dreams Gerrard can remember. And that dream becomes clearer each night. Gerrard is sure his nightmare is connected with the forbidden magic he practiced ten days ago. That day he and his girlfriend Lauren encounter a very powerful faceless void so he felt that he didn't have any option except using sunder magic which switches the soul of the owner with the target's. Gerrard chanelled forest energy but that doesn't mean Gerrard doesn't have to use his own energy for the magic. Since that day Gerrard can't control his anger.

This morning Gerrard and Lauren would be summoned to the council that just arrived yesterday. Gerrard knew at least they would be very angry. Gerrard was choosing his best formal clothes while staring his own shadow in the mirror.

Here I am, a miserable orc who once was a human slave and now is kissing elves' a*s..

Lauren's call woke Gerrard from his mind.

Damnit, I'm late because of that stupid dream.

Gerrard quickly got out and went down through the wooden staircase which encircles a tree. Like the elves, Gerrard occupied a wooden house above a big elk tree. Gerrard's house is large, luxurious, and comfortable, one of the few houses specially made for nobles like him. Ussually, he lives there with his nine clan members or just with Lauren. Everything has changed since the disaster.

Lauren smiles when their eyes meet, but Gerrard quickly turn away. Usually Gerrard would reply with another smile but this morning he felt that Lauren is smiling because she is afraid Gerrard will involve her in this case.

She deserves to feel afraid. She won't graduate as a slayer this year, and will get special guides if they decide she is involved. Maybe she is being watched by every elves and wizards like what I got in these ten days.

"Don't worry Gerrard, I believe you can convince them," Lauren touching his stiff shoulder when the old orc arrived at the ground.

You mean, convince them that you are not involved? Yes, yes, I know and I understand all along you just love the old one's magic. You love the lessons I'm able to give you.

Gerrard glanced at Lauren and felt guilty.

Whats the matter with me? Why do I hate the girl that was once very precious to me?

Gerrard took a deep breath and then looks around him. He doesn't see the beauty of the elves' residences that harmonic with the nature, what he saw were the guilty gossips spoken by the folks around him on his account. Lauren saw his odd behavior and wish she could calm him down . Ever since that day, any attempt to calm him down would end up in fights!

The meeting room is a large simple stage that is surrounded by big trees that form a tight barrier, denying any spy and dropped ears. Everything is natural except the floor and door which is made from fine wood. The roof is canopied by trees with a hole in the center, so sunlight can enter from there and lighten up the room. Right now Gerrard and Lauren are below it, suffering the pressure of being the forest's center of attention.

The council was made of six elders from three specializations of strength, agility, or magic. One is an orc, a two-headed ogre, a fearsome centaur, and three elves. They stood in six different corners of the circle, ten meters from Gerrard and Lauren. The gloomy room and fixed position were designed by elves to intimidate anyone who stands in the center.

"Lord Gerrard and Miss Lauren, so thou were escaping from your attacker?" asked the centaur elder.

"Yes, counselor," answers Gerrard.

"Thou left your clan," accused the centaur elder.

"Yes... no counselor," answers Gerrard nervously, sweat dripping from his face even the place is humid and cold.

"Yes and no? What kind of statement is that Lord Gerrard?" wonders the ogre elder, his two heads peers on two different direction at other elders.

They can't pursue me like this!

Lauren quickly answers when Gerrard wanted to protest. Lauren took Gerrard's hand and held it tightly.

"All due respect Counselors, we had tried our best to fight that faceless void, but the creature is too strong for us. We consider it's wiser to search for help."

The counselors nods in agreement and then the centaur elder starts the next question.

"But thou don't call anyone to help, isn't?" asked the centaur elder while challenging Gerrard with his stare.

"Not like that! He caught us before we arrived at the nearest ancient protector!"

"And then what thou do?"

"I..." Gerrard have considered the consequences of his words since last ten days, he can't tell them that he channels the forest energy for sunder. He is sure no elf would mercy him for tainting the forest. "I use sunder magic to annihilate it," answers Gerrard upset.

The elders sighed in shock. They had suspected there are usage of sunder magic based on atmosphere changes ten days ago but they had hoped to hear another explanation for it. Sunder is a mysterious and unstable magic, the effects of the magic are unpredictable, so do the damages. Every high level magicians agree to ban the usage of that spell. Unfortunately, Spell words for Sunder is almost same with their best attacking spell they have-- finger of death!!! So, to reduce disasters because miss-spell, elders decide that every magicians who learn finger of death should know about sunder spell and it's danger.

"Without considering alternative ways..." accused the centaur elder.

"There is no alternative way! Eight competent magicians easily killed! I-- "

"Calm down Lord Gerrard!" shout orc elder to defeat Gerrard's scream.

"Thou are unstable," said the ogre elder. "That magic might already influence thou."

"I'm no--"

One of the elves elder raised his hand, asking Gerrard to silence. The room became quiet but Gerrard and Lauren knew the six elders were discussing their final judgment using telepathic language.
The long moments made them nervous. Lauren hugs Gerrard and he caress her back, but Gerrard was trying to relieve himself.

"We are sorry, but we decide to cancel every duty and tasks you have and send you to meditate on fountains, Lord Gerrard," says one of the elf elder.

Gerrard frustrated, he gnashed his teeth to hold his anger. He didn't want to go to the fountain. If the fountain healers claim that he is corrupted, they will kill him, at least he would lose his title and everything he had acquired. Gerrard close his eyes and tried to think.

While still closing his eyes, Gerrard talks. He was astonished that hearing his voice could calm him down and he continued speaking. "... but that's should not be done for this moment counselor, since I haven't buried my clan mates properly. That's very important, it's a part of our culture..."

Gerrard opened his eyes and watched the elders carefully. He succeeded in convincing those elf elders, they always were astonished after hearing the word 'culture'. The orc elder strengthen Gerrard's position by confirming his reason are true part of culture. Gerrard doesn't really care or understand his race cultures-- he was born and grew up with a human.

"Reasonable Lord Gerrard. Do your task tomorrow with aid of two persons which I will appoint. We would think over about your judgment later," decides one of the elf elder.

Gerrard wants to laugh as loud as he can. He held himself to just smiling and bow down. The exhausting long court ended by just one cultural excuse. Gerrard steps out from the meeting room with head up.

But your tortures hasn't ended yet. Look at those guards, they heard everything and they will spread them. You are shunned here.

“Gerrard, thank y--"

"Shut up Lauren, just go away!" shouts Gerrard.

Lauren wants to say something but can't with Gerrard's vicious eyes starring at her. Lauren smiled, hoping Gerrard would understand her sympathy and care like he used to, as walking away as ordered.
***

He was running. His entire body hurts but he can't stop. He tried to concentrate but he can't concentrate his mana, felt like the power is frozen inside his blood.

He looked to his back, a gang of dogs with red eyes chasing him. Their bodies covered with spines and their form more similar to boars complete with tusks than form of dogs. But they're still called hell dogs, the felhounds, creatures of nightmare. Their names are anger, hatred, hunger, vengeance, liar, and hypocrite. The remaining ones, including one larger dog, don't have names yet.

Gerrard can't fight them when the dogs once again ripping him apart. Every bite is very painful, scent of blood fill the air, and desperation conquer Gerrard for torturing minutes. He can't remember anything.
***

Gerrard woke up in the morning exhausted. He found himself laying on the floor. At least he didn't have to feel ashamed of him self, he demanded Lauren to stay in her own house after the third nightmare. The womens concern only agrivates him, thinks Gerrard as putting his clothes on.

Gerrard ate his breakfast without desire. He felt empty and lonely but trying to deny it. He tried to assuring himself those are temporary until he shows his strength again. A knock wakes Gerrard and disposes him from his breakfast, which he hasn't ate yet.

Outside his house, two escort guards sent by the elders were waiting. Gerrard recognized those two agile elves, they are his friends. If they had not decided to join bottom region cavalry-guards, Gerrard would recruit them. Gerrard smiles carefully at them. They gave elves-salute and Gerrard took few seconds before reacting.

"Duanne and Eliot," welcomes Gerrard try to hid his nervousness.

"Good morning Gerrard, they asked us to escort you and err..."

"Well, ensure you follows the procedures, something like that," continue Duanne, not too care about his task.

Gerrard nodded. He came out from his house and saw two black panthers waiting below his tree. In a glance he though those panthers are hell dogs. Black panthers are elves' riding animal, they are trained to not attack without their owner's order.

"I will get my riding-wolf from bestiary," muttered Gerrard.
***

Forest in north bottom region hid thousand of secrets that even elves can't understand. The forest is life, beating, and watching every creatures that touch her region. The forest could make anyone lost in bright day or drop snows on summer sunshine.

Gerrard only circling around but he isn't get lost, he planned it. He is hoping he could escape from suspicion this day, manage to make his escorts decide that Gerrard should continue the search alone. Gerrard doesn't want to approach the place where he had casted sunder, he doesn't want to see the corrupted land and black trees.

Whatever happened, Gerrard won't let go the position he had struggled to gain. He got his lord title not because of lineage but because of his achievements in magic. He got all of these in struggles that endangered his life over and over. He had been snitching spell books since he was a kid, since he was a slave in rich human manor. He had been risking everything by sneaking into barrels which shipped to another continent. He spend his years living in tough savanna, fighting with monsters like harpies and thunder lizards before finding the elves community that were eager to receive him. He spent long years to find the acceptance and learning magic with his entire time.

Would I do everything for this position?

"Gerrard, I'm sorry but are you drunk?" asks Eliot.

"Eh... uh... what? No, no. I wasn't drink anything," answers Gerrard, his mind began to cautions.

"But we are just circling around," continue Eliot.

Gerrard tries to find ideas while their rides keep moving. He just realized elves always are aware to direction changes, they would never get lost when conscious.

"Really? I don't remember how far is it but you could wait in forest's border if you want. Don't worry, my wolves never lose it's way to home."

The two panthers passed Gerrard's white wolf and stops in it's way. "Gerrard, we think you need some help," said Eliot. The elf's calm voice only makes Gerrard felt more panic.

"Do you think because you are elves so you are smarter?" challenges Gerrard while laughing, pretending to feel disappointed with his friends.

"Gerrard, we all know the location is north west. You took us circling in north east," groans Eliot.

"We're still your friends. You could tell us your problems and we will solve it together," adds Duanne.

Gerrard took a deep breath. "Maybe I'm getting too old. C'mon, bring me to that location. We will talk about these in there."

"We know it's hard for you buddy," smiles Duanne before leading his panther to north west.

They continue their journey with normal conversations, trying to erase the intense. Sometimes the laughs of three joined the forest's melodies.

Duanne's laugh stopped and he suddenly felt to the ground.

"Ambush!" warns Eliot while he took his sword and looked back...
***

Again chased by hell dogs. They looked so clear every detail of their body. He even can smell their breath, scent of death. Every bite of them giving out different sensation of unbearable pain. Anger, hatred, hunger, vengeance, liar, hypocrite, traitorous, and murderer... those are all their names except for the bigger one.

Who are you?

Gerrard got the name of the big dog before it bite his head. The sudden pain made him forgot the word.

***
Gerrard awaken by Lauren's call. He quickly tidied himself and wore his formal cloth, he thought the council would summon him again. He felt unhealthy, weak, and beaten. Without breakfast, Gerrard quickly met Lauren below the tree, puzzled because Lauren was smiling in calm.

"Did I wake you up?"

"Council summoned me?"

"Of course not, they won't disturb a hero so fast. Did I disturb you?"

"No..." Gerrard swayed, his mind recalled yesterday events. Corpses of scourges, Eliot and Duanne is dead, his lies, and fears.

"Are you alright Gerrard?" asked Lauren while holding Gerrard's hand.

"None of your business!" Gerrard snapped and took off his hand.

Lauren only smiles at him but he felt nervous. He can't withstand those bright eyes once he loved.

'Accompany me this day," rushed Lauren and took his hand. Gerrard knows from her voice she doesn't and wont denied. Gerrard follows Lauren's will, he doesn't want to add more problems with fighting in front of everyone.

A hero. This day everyone views him as a hero. Even the arrogant elves bow down when hes passing by. He didn't have to explain anything, they must have seen the scourges he slaughtered and took result from it.

Lauren took Gerrard into a cliff with a beautiful scenery. From that hidden place they could see a waterfall from the nearby hill, the tranquil forest, and tree of life. Below the tree of life there are elves' big city which had changed into last-defense fortress, fountain of life is also in there.

"Do you remember this place, Gerrard? You showed it to me one year ago when you tried to forbid me joining your clan. That day, you promised to engage me here after the war is over."

"Yes, I remember. You are so stubborn, I can't stop you from putting yourself in danger and from joining my clan. And since then, you accompanied me everyday."

"Yes, I am a stubborn woman. Did I trouble you this year?"

"No. Your presence strengthened me," Gerrard glanced but quickly evaded Lauren's eyes by hugging her from behind.

"Gerrard, I'm still with you until this second, but you don't let me know what makes you so nervous and unhappy."

"Only common nervous."

"Gerrard... if you are worried about the council... I won't tell them anything, including about the forest."

Gerrard's muscle stiffen, his hug tighten for a second.

"Did that magic influence you?" Lauren turn around, starring right to Gerrard's eyes, worried.

Gerrard tried to turn away but Lauren holds his head with her hands. Panic, Gerrard glances at his surrounding and then pushes Lauren, to the valley far below them. Lauren didn't scream when her body lost her weight, her eyes still looking at Gerrard, still with a worried face. Gerrard turned away and ran from that cliff.

Gerrard ran as fast and as far as he could but the image of those eyes kept haunting him. He becomes panic because those eyes made him feel naked, insecure, showing all his flaws and lies. Lauren demands answers that Gerrard never can explain.

Gerrard can't tell that he killed Eliot and Duanne and then killed few weak scourges and threw their dead bodies near the dead black panthers and white wolves. He can't tell that his soul was blackened by the curse of sunder.

Would I do everything for this position? Now I even don't care anymore about this position.

Lauren...

I killed her because seeing my own fear reflecting from her eyes.

What is the name of the biggest dog?

F E A R ....

Gerrard stops and shocked when realizing where he is now. He remembers twelve days ago he took risks using forbidden magic to save Lauren in here. Lauren which has been killed because of the forbidden magic. Scorched grasses because magic circle still seen there. But instead of that, the forest is still the same like before the magic touched her, no corruption at all. Gerrard shock his head, blinks his eyes, and tries to look more carefully but still no signs of corruption. Gerrard's weight burdened him and he kneel to ground.

'Laureeeeeeeeeeen!"

Story by: RoseDragon
Edited by: Master Pupu

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