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October 8, 2013
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(Contains: violence/gore)
“A sword of bronze, in the right hands, can pierce the heart of the greatest creature. It is all a matter of the person who wields it. Do they have the courage to face their foe? Do they have the cunning to find its weakness? Do they have the strength to drive the sword through?

Heroes are the ones blessed by the Patron gods. They are given that courage, that strength, that cunning. With their abilities so enhanced, they turn the humble spear and shield into destroyers of cities, slayers of armies. They fell colossal beasts, vanquish mighty foes and earn great glory and wealth.

They can live for a hundred years, falling to time or as often as not, the blade. They are not invincible and their flesh will not turn a sword’s point. But for the gods’ chosen, an eternity of everlasting joy can be found at the side of the Patrons. For the truly great live on, elevated to real immortality in the realm of Shaphas.”

- Therocanos of Cascis, storyteller




The young man was tall, lean and oak-skinned. His hair, long and unbound, matched his dark eyes as it flowed freely in the breeze. The plains yawned before him in an endless sea of dull brown and green, beaten by the sun into a dry flatland.

He could not afford the armour worn by the rich men of the city. Behind their walls, they knew nothing but safety and comfort and their smiths could forge for them suits of banded bronze, glittering with gems and fine fur cloaks. For him, the only protection against his opponent would be the honest labours of his village.

Helnos was just a small collection of cattle herders and tradesmen nestled within the the vast central plains of the Arkand Peninsula. The man’s family had kept livestock for generations and had always skinned and tanned their own leather. His sister had carefully lined his shield and breast plate with felt and fur, and his mother had stitched it into a tightly-fitting tunic of oiled hide. Faint traces of the cow-skin remained, patching his chest with pale grey and brown.

His father’s sword, long ago pulled from the grasp of a dead enemy, was now in his hand. He gripped it tightly as he stared across the empty field at his foe.

There was no mercy to be found in the eyes of Krikon of Montus, nor any trace of humanity. He was a wealthy man, having fought in many battles and even now wore a panoply and helm stripped from fallen dead. A layered bronze chest piece offered a warm reflection of the cloud-strewn sky, and the blue horsehair crest atop his head bobbed lazily in the breeze.

Krikon’s beard, wet with scented oil, fell like a black slick from his jaw. Though the man himself was a bull, his nose was long and pointed, his cheeks gaunt. He had face of a weasel but spoke forcefully nonetheless, ‘I gave you a warning, Tassian. I told you to stay away and let me claim my prize, as is my right.’

Tassian said nothing. He swayed slightly on the spot, testing his muscles. Sweat trickled down his brown skin, even though the air was mild.

‘I tell you a final time,’ Krikon barked, lifting his spear. ‘Bring your sister - my bride out to me or I will slay you where you stand!’

The wind lifted Tassian’s hair from his eyes. He answered, his voice deep and strong. ‘She will not have you, Krikon of Montus. Go home. Leave us in peace lest your polished armour blinds you.’

Krikon grimaced angrily and took a step forward. ‘I am a Hero, you little whelp, and a veteran of the Battle of Danae! It is my privilege to take a bride when and where I choose! If I want your sister, your mother, even your daughter for my bed you will be honoured or else be swept aside!’

A Hero. Tassian wanted to spit at the name. Many were the tales of those touched by the Patron Gods, given insurmountable speed and strength, as well as mastery of the forces of the earth. Yet they were Heroes in name only. Heroic power, as it was known, could be used as much for ill as for good.

Tassian firmed his resolve. He hefted his shield, made for him by his family and raised his sword, carried by his father. They were no match for Krikon’s good bronze armour, of that he had no illusion and to his death, the empty plain would be oblivious.

Still, his challenge was unwavering. ‘Even the strongest gale cannot sweep aside a mountain.’

Krikon bared his teeth, furious. He ran a finger under the edges of his helmet to freshen the skin beneath and above, the blue crest swayed. He flicked his spear into an overhand grip and made ready his shield of hammered bronze.

‘A mountain. Very well, boy. We will see if your mettle matches your words.’

The plains erupted into a blast of sand and dust. Krikon covered the distance in a single bound and brought his spear down, expecting to feel the jarring thud of flesh against the tip.

His eyes were wide in anticipation of the kill. He felt an impact and let out a hiss of satisfaction. He tugged on the shaft, sensing it was stuck fast. Spears often snagged on bone and sometimes it took a little teasing before it could be pulled out.

The dust cleared but there was no blood on the ground.

Krikon’s expression fell into disbelief as he saw the hand wrapped around the shaft of his spear. He tried to pull it back but Tassian’s grip was absolute and it would not move. ‘How...’ he whispered hoarsely, ‘...how did you?’

The young man stared back at him mercilessly. ‘Not all those with power choose to live as you do, fiend. You kill men, take their gold, their wives, their daughters and think just because the gods have made you strong, you may act as they do.’ In a single, deft movement Tassian wrenched on the spear, snapping it cleanly. ‘No longer.’

Krikon yelped, then choked as Tassian’s sword entered his chest, punching up through the metal until it emerged red and wet from the skin of his shoulder. The blade was drawn out just as quickly, leaving only a dark lip that steadily wept blood.

In just a heartbeat, Krikon’s skin grew pale, his eyes glassy. The power that had filled him moments before, making the very ground quake underfoot, had fled. He staggered forward a few paces before crumpling to the ground, his blood running out into the cracked earth in crimson threads.

Spitting the dust from his mouth, Tassian turned away. The carrion hawks would feast on the body and time would forget the small battle that had been fought on his land. Before him, Helnos awaited, a modest collection of stone and timber dwellings and animal pens.

Let men like Krikon have their riches, Tassian reflected as he caught the heady scent of cattle dung on the wind. His power would protect his family, for as long as he had the strength. He doubted the Patrons truly cared either way.
From dragons and monsters to men and women with the strength to carve cities into dust, Eternal Empire is an epic fantasy saga that will thrill from beginning to end.

This is the first short story that will reflect the Eternal Empire world as it will appear in Arisen, with a much simpler overtone inspired by the people, civilisations and myths of the Bronze Age.

This tale is a short introduction to the concept of Heroes, the men and women who wield power - commonly known as magika - gifted to them by a pantheon of gods known as the Patrons. Heroes are revered, envied and reviled throughout Arkand with many fighting in armies, fighting in duels or simply living from day to day in solitude. Heroic power is a path to many destinies, though not all are fated to end in glory...

Also in the series:

Elitania's Courage
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Daily Deviation

Given 2014-04-07
An intriguing setup with the trappings of high fantasy: Eternal Empire: Legends - Tassian's Defiance by jjgrimshaw ( Suggested by OHiNeedTea and Featured by neurotype )
:iconswimmingotter:
swimmingotter Featured By Owner Apr 10, 2014  Hobbyist Photographer
I am a fan of the unsung hero.  The storyteller's intro made me wonder if any of the heroes were going to be arrogant or humble, which made me want to read more.  I loved how the final line of this piece gave me a different answer.  Tassian was indifferent.  I liked how the reader does not know Tassian's name until Krikon speaks.  I enjoy that kind of mystery for story openers.  During the fight, I was slightly confused by the paragraph that starts with "His eyes were wide..."  I'm sure that was intentional to surprise the reader.  Though I had to read through that paragraph twice, I still the liked the thrill of not knowing who was skewered at that moment of the story.  You used really good detail for describing how the sword is used to kill Krikon without being too gory. (Thank you, I was eating a snack at the time, lol.)  I also enjoyed the details of how Tassian's family helped to make his armor.  It shows of his poor background and the strength of his family's support.  Well done!  I look forward to reading the next chapter. Heart 
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:iconjjgrimshaw:
jjgrimshaw Featured By Owner Apr 12, 2014
Thank you for the feedback, I'm glad you enjoyed the story!
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:iconnightshade-keyblade:
nightshade-keyblade Featured By Owner Apr 9, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
What an incredible story! :wow:

It's a find for sure :clap:
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:iconjjgrimshaw:
jjgrimshaw Featured By Owner Apr 10, 2014
Thank you! I'll be putting out another short soon, so stay tuned!
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:iconnightshade-keyblade:
nightshade-keyblade Featured By Owner Apr 10, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
:nod: Okie dokie!
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:iconoreii:
oreii Featured By Owner Apr 7, 2014
absolutely amazing, breathtaking and inspiring work! :iconaaah-plz:
You really deserved the Daily Deviation!! <3
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:iconjjgrimshaw:
jjgrimshaw Featured By Owner Apr 9, 2014
Thank you so much, it was such an unexpected surprise!
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:iconshaneprocrastinates:
ShaneProcrastinates Featured By Owner Apr 7, 2014  Student General Artist
Totally captivating piece!

It had me at the end of my seat near the end, great visual wording.
You paint the scenery very well :)

Congrats on the DD!

Keep up the great work and have a nice day
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:iconjjgrimshaw:
jjgrimshaw Featured By Owner Apr 9, 2014
Thank you so much, it was a big, not to mention pleasant surprise!
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