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Untitled - A NaNo excert

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Untitled - A NaNo excert

Post by Epiphany on Wed Nov 24, 2010 8:37 pm


{Here it is! I picked a section that would make sense no matter where in the story it came from. ^.^ }

Crack!

That was the sound that filled my ears when the older boys fist slammed into the center of my face and that all to familiar pain of a broken nose and running blood made itself known. The roar of the crowd watching from atop of the high stonewalls intensified but blurred together along with the pain in my head. I shuffled back a few steps, feeling the hard ground beneath and fought to stay on my feet. I Got to stay on my feet, I thought while shaking my head to work away the double vision. Got to stay standing.

It was the day of Tourney, one of the most important days for the boys training at the School of the Iron Fist in the Eastern Kingdom of Tassone. All boys of the Third Tier, the Fledglings, were assembled in the training arena just after first light. Equipped with only our clothes and regulation dirk that was given to all members after their first year here, we were to fight each other.

Fighting wasn't uncommon here. From the day you arrived at the school, and every day thereafter, you either fought back against those that attacked or you wished for death while having your bones broken as you cowered on the ground. Death would have been welcomed for some of the boys but the Master’s made sure that never happened. Beat you to the edge of death and no further.

What was different about this fight was the reward at the end. The rules were simple: fight until only ten are left standing. Those who fell in the fight would have to endure the harsh penalty of the Master's whip as well as the perils of the vipers den while they were still bleeding and weak. Worst of all, the branding they received to signify them surviving the brutality of the first year at the School would be covered up and they would have to go back to being an Unmarked, starting again at the bottom.

At the School of the Iron Fist boys as young as five years old were brought in and beaten nearly every day for a year by the Masters and tossed into fights with the Tyro's as part of training. Learn to fight and survive by being in a constant state of ready seemed to be the motto here; if there was something else I was to learn then it currently alluded me. If at the end of a year you were more dead than alive you were taken away. To where? No one knew for sure, rumors said they were killed so the boy would not take the things he saw and endured in the School into the outside world, but it was only a rumor.

Those who survived the year were given a dirk and initiated into the School by having two lines burned into the skin under the shoulder of their right arm. You were Third Tier, a Fledgling, which was hardly any better than being an Unmarked. You were starved, deprived of sleep, and the fights were only that more dangerous as now you had a weapon. In the midst of that you started taking basic classes in communication and arithmetic that you had to pass with high marks no matter what your physical or mental state was at the time of lessons.

The boys who survive the Tourney are branded again, this time with a symbol of an iron fist underneath those two lines this marked them as Tyro's, Second Tier. That's when life in the school will really change. The daily beatings will stop, training will become more focused and tailored more specifically to areas of individul strenght and best of all, Tyro's actually get to sleep on a bed and eat actual food. And, if you are lucky, you can even be chosen to go with a Master on excursions beyond the School's high stone walls.

I will make Second Tier this day. I have to.

I prepared to attack when I heard the sound of a foot scrapping along the dirt behind me and I ducked downquickly, used my hands up to block my face and tucked in to protect my body. We learned to be prepared from attacks from all sides as it wasn't uncommon for two, or even three boys to gang up on one as a way to eliminate competition.

I spun around with a strike aimed to the boy nearest to me and caught him in the kidney, but I didn't stop there. Quick pivot and dirt was kicked to the face of the boy who had tried to come at me from behind and in his momentary state of blindness I cracked his jaw. I had a chance to back away from the closeness of my two opponents but I would risk engaging myself in one of the other bouts going on around me and I didn't need their attention directed at me.

I felt my strength waning but I knew that, just as I was tiring, the other boys were as well. The fighting had started when the sun stood at its highest and now it was halfway past. My vision doubled and I shook my head again while barely blocking a kick intended for my side. What I wasn't able to block was the stomp to the back of my knee. I locked my jaw to fight against the pain and by sheer force of will I was able to hold my knee inches from the ground. There was barely enough time for me to think as the attacker came at me again. Pushing myself back I caught hold of his foot and used position to finish pulling myself up and cracked him in the ribs. It was too sudden for the other boy and he hit the ground.

Out.

I readied myself for another attack or to be the one attacking when I heard the shrill whistle sound off from atop the wall, signaling the end of the Tourney. The din of the crowd hushed and I quickly flashed my eyes to the direction of the whistle before looking around at the other boys who were still standing in the arena. Two boys - the one that I had knocked over and another one not to far off - were the recently fallen. Two boys. I was that close to not being one of the ten. Though the fighting was over I didn't let down my guard, unsure of exactly how the next phase happenedI thought it better to be safe than risk slipping up.

The large metal and wood double doors that made up the entrance gate of the arena opened with the help of two large men pulling it on either side and through it walked the Lord Master. It was at that time that I relaxed my fist and shoulders and stood up as straight as I could while ignoring the trickle of blood from my broken nose and the pain in my leg. When you stood in front of a Master - especially the Lord Master - you didn't show signs of weakness. As he came forward the ones who had fallen were being taken down below.

He was a tall man - at least that's how he appeared to a boy of twelve. The Lord Master was broad of shoulder and had thick, heavy hands that could crush a man's throat without much effort. Imposing, that's what he was and his skin was tanned from the many years spent in the sun and scared from the battlefield. Strapped to his back were his twin hook blades and on his breastplate was the symbol of the Iron Fist. His eyes were always narrowed with a permanent look of anger on his face. In all my years here I had never seen him smile or do as much as a gruff laugh.

We all held our ground as he looked at us in turn and didn't dare move until he ordered us to come together with a single wave of his hand. "Fourty of you entered into the Tourney arena this morning and now only ten of you remain." His voice was deep and it bore down on the silence to make itself heard. "I suppose you think you're tough! What makes you better than those that failed?"

The silence that followed didn't last but for more than a few moments before Odestan - a boy five years my elder and who had fallen in the Tourney last time he was able for it - spoke up. "We do not fail, Lord Master!" It may have been obvious, what Odestan said, but he said it with conviction.

"You do not fail!" The Lord Master roared at us and as if on cue the sound of a cracking whips filtered through the air to be followed by muffled screams, punishment for those who failed had begun. The corner of my eye flinched and a ghost pain from past whippings stung my back.

"You...do not FAIL! You do not have pity for your fellow Brothers who did not make it and what they are going to have to endure."

The blood from my nose was gathering between my lips but I dare not move to clean it. The others standing with me were the same, if not worse, than me and none of us were trying to straighten our appearance. We all were still as we watched the Lord Master walk up and down the list with his hands behind his back.

"They should be kissing your feet because you didn't kill them. That is what would have happened if they were engaged in battle outside the wall of this School." The Lord Master's voice was cold and hard.

The sound of something weighted being wheeled in our direction pulled at my attention and I strained my peripheral vision to try and get a glimpse. Soon it came into view, a large cast iron pot with branding irons sticking out from within was being rolled in on a wooden dolly by one of the Masters. I had seen the pot before, but what was causing me to look in wonderment was the one who was walking behind the Master.

It was a female. Since the day my mother abandoned me and I was separated from my sister I had never seen another. Everyone living and working in the School was male so to see a female after all this time came as quite a surprise. She was small and in her pale yellow robes she looked delicate, I couldn't see her face for a hood was drawn up and in the fading light the shadow did well to conceal it. How strange it was to see her here, walking confidently in the arena covered as she was and confident. If I wasn't mistaken from my studies she was a Mother of the Order, a group of select females who possessed the ability to control the five Elemental Plains of this world. That was the extent of my knowledge about them - I didn't even know that they had dealings with the Masters - but the reason she was here would soon be known.

The Lord Master began to speak again, moving back from us by a few steps and letting the Master with the Pot and the Mother take places to his left. "Today, you no longer belong to the Third Tier, you are Tyro, men of the Second Tier!"

In near unison we in the line hit a fist over our heart twice and gave off a "Ho!," that was a sign of agreement. Tyro. How good that felt.

"Henceforth you shall be marked and all that see you will fear the strength and destructive might that you have!" The Lord Master continued, "and they will marvel at how delicate and destructive you can be when you possess such power, for you are the ones that will control this world and form it!"

His words were inspirational and I felt my chest swelling with pride. I wanted to cheer. I wanted to roar loud enough that those boys being beaten in the rooms underneath the arena could hear me. I didn't care about my broken nose anymore or the pain over the rest of my body. None of it mattered right now.

"Come now, and be marked." The Lord Master ushered forth the first boy on the line. I knew him. His name was Chulin, heavy even with the lack of food we were given, he walked up to the pot and extended his arm. The Master pulled the branding rod out of the pot and all could see, even in the dim light, that the black metal was burning bright orange. The Mother stepped besides Chulin and gripped his elbow in her hand. I didn't know what she was doing but I noticed how Chulin seemed to stand a bit taller and was more composed than I had ever seen him, even when the branding iron hissed against his skin.

When it was done Chulin stood behind the Lord Master, and I studied him. I studied him and the other four boys who were branded before me, each of them looking slightly different after the touch from the Mother than they had before.

Then it was my turn and I stood before the Master with the iron and the Mother took my elbow just as she did all the others. I felt something then. I felt a power rush through my body that took away every pain that I had and made me a new creature, full of strength such as I never knew. I was rested. I was alert. I felt like I could conquer the world. When the brand was placed against my arm I was detached from the pain and my heart felt hardened. The rod was removed and the Mother released my arm and even though I moved from them I still felt that power burning inside of my chest as I took my rightful place in line behind the Lord Master.

When this day started I was merely Tylan, a Fledgling in the School of the Iron Fist. Now, I was Tyro Tylan, and I was on my way to becoming a Master.

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Epiphany

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