The Bloodiamond is, by legend, a beautiful blood red gem set in the pommel of the sword wielded by the One Warrioress. It is said that in the beginning of the Ages it was a pure, clear diamond until the blood of the One Warrior was spilt upon it. His death that day left the gem tainted and discolored forever. The diamond’s bearer, though one of the strongest, purest women of mind and body in the land, shall also be tainted by it’s evil desire to kill. Only when the One Warrioress is reborn and taught to wield it shall the sword’s Bloodiamond return to its original purity. This occurrence shall mark the beginning of the War to End All Ages.
| Crack! Thwack! Crash. The sound of practice swords meeting repeatedly filled the air, yet Alannah heard none of it. Cheers from her classmates met her every block of the opponent’s sword. But Alannah was encased in the Void, where only she and her opponent existed and the only sound was that of her heavy breathing. He was bigger, and so strong, yet she had the advantage of agility. Finally one of her blows struck flesh, and she released the Void. Yet another match ended, a new challenger defeated, as they always were.
Her opponent, an outsider, knelt to congratulate her on yet another victory. Swordmaster Zev’ram retrieved the wooden swords as Alannah turned away, wiping sweat and strands of red-gold hair from her forehead. “By the way, I’m Rik,” the outsider said, and so she turned to face him once again. “Alannah,” she nearly whispered, and shook his outstretched hand with a grip that surprised him. “Such a fitting name for a girl such as yourself.” Alannah stopped mid-shake, and her eyes narrowed. How would he know? Few remained who knew of the ancient language it came from, much less could translate it.
“And what would you mean by that?” she reflexively inquired, her voice still low but with an edge. “You are the most perfect example of ‘fearless beauty’ I have known in all my travels.” Alannah blushed slightly and walked away. My, but he was handsome, with shoulder-length white blonde hair and chocolate eyes. Slim, yet well muscled at the same time. Her train of thought ended there with the reality that he was an outsider, and older too. Besides, I’ve my Damian, she told herself. But that did not deter her from stealing one more glance before retrieving Luciendar from the woods nearby.
As Rik watched her walk away, he sensed it still, the hidden power inside that small body. The magic was so strong it dizzied him, nearly to the point of blacking out during the swordfight. He turned to Zev’ram and asked “Is she always so strong?” As the old swordmaster nodded, Rik knew. He had found her. Years searching, and she was the One.
Alannah knelt and drank from the small stream in the woods beyond the sword work clearing. Finally she was free of the seemingly endless swordfights Zev’ram put her through. He expected too much of her; she was too young yet to wield a sword as perfectly as he did. At barely eighteen, she was still the sort who enjoyed daydreams, writing poetry, and roaming the vast forests. If only everyone could understand that, for they never thought to ask her opinion on any of this. ‘Tis what you were meant for,’ they all told her. But Alannah refused to believe, no matter what anyone said.
Luciendar, her misty-white mare, tugged the reins from her loose grip, interrupting her thoughts. Apparently she was well done with her refreshment and eager to get along with their afternoon gallivanting. Alannah laughed as she climbed onto the horses bare back. “I take it your day was as uneventful as mine, eh?” as they galloped through the woods and out to the grassy plain, both horse and rider felt the sensation of pure freedom; the wind sent their hair streaming behind, and their daily bothers with it.
Arriving home caused that freedom to instantly disappear. All Alannah’s dreary thoughts returned to mind, and it seemed Luciendar sensed it also. By the time she entered the kitchen for dinner, Alannah’s earlier pleasant mood had vanished into complete silence. Throughout the remainder of the evening she spoke only when necessary and retired early with a claim to exhaustion from sword work. In reality, she was just tired of everyone and this Warrioress talk. They all thought she had potential, and had trained her since she was able to hold a wooden sword in both hands. If only anyone saw she lacked the desire.
Gazing out into the blue-black night, lit by so man stars, Alannah’s thoughts drifted to that of her sweet Damian. He was still rather a secret from her parents, as they would only tell her that a Warrioress has no time for lovers. Her grandmother had reminded her of such on numerous occasions, yet it did not seem to restrain Alannah’s heart from falling for the dark, strong, quiet young man from their first meeting. He was serious, intelligent, and his crystalline azure eyes could drown you in their depths.
It wasn’t her fault, she told herself time and time again. Smiling, Alannah thought of tomorrow and the enjoyment it would bring. A day of forest and freedom, to celebrate the day the Ages began. It was the first day of winter, and the day the One Warrior was slain. Alannah would be free of her usual training so she could travel her homeland and memorize its every detail. It would be one of the few days she and Damian could spend alone together.
In her favorite spot on the roof she unfolded the letter he had sent, telling her where to meet him. Damian had chosen her favorite location, a cavern behind a massive waterfall deep in the wooded hills above the Plains. These plains held many villages, including her own. It was said to be the most beautiful portion of the Richlands. How blessed she considered herself to live here, and not in the wastelands that lay in the Far South. Alannah could barely endure the wait, he had even promised her a white rose, her favorite of all flowers. Such a sweetheart Damian was, and she so lucky to have him love her as he did.
Finally crawling back through the window and into bed, her thin silk nightgown almost glowing in the moonlight, Alannah drifted into a deep and dream-filled slumber. And so she did not hear the shadowdragon sniffing at her windowsill, nor notice as its rider peered in upon the room. As the dark pair took flight and disappeared into the dark night sky, an evil smirk slid slowly across Zachary’s face. His eyes glowed like fire as he thought over the night’s occurrence: he had finally found the One.
As his shadowdragon landed and resumed its natural coloration inside the castle walls, myriad zombeings entered the courtyard and commenced their various tasks. One was sent to Master Dred, Zachary’s father, with word of his discovery. If they could destroy this One Warrioress now, before she reached her full potential, there may still be time to expand their rule. Should the Dred regime triumph over the War to End All Ages, the Dark Master had promised them control over half the lands apiece.
Master Dred received the news with an amused smile. So they had finally located her, eh? Now only to eliminate her, and all could go as planned. By the time the Cycle eventually produced another One, evil would have absolute power over this world. They would only rule beneath the hand of the Dark Master, to whom their lives were sworn. It would be everything Nathan had dreamed of, and his ancestors before him. If all went as hoped, this dream would soon become a reality.
Dawn rose in the Far South, and Dred Castle was the only decent thing to behold. Early light revealed that all else was now of the badlands, quite corrupted by its demonic inhabitants. This land had once been vast and fertile, its population full of good, hardworking, simple folk. So much the easier for evil to infiltrate and eventually consume. Now only the zombeings remained, an army consisting of mere shells that once were human. Now all are so mindless, soulless, directed by the evils around them. These empty bodies were all that remained of the people. This was a tortured place, that where only the brave dared venture and none ever returned.
Dred family, who had a thousand years before established reign in the Far South, were direct descendants of the One Warrior. Over time, the same evil that had destroyed the One also began to corrupt the men who ruled, and soon chaos ensued. Eventually, evil somehow won over, the entirety of the land was ravaged by wars, and inevitably thrust into dark times.
Nathan Dred was the nineteenth ruler since his ancestors had risen to power here, and his only son Zachary would soon be the twentieth. Age was outpacing their plans, and within a few years Master Dred would become too weak to continue as established ruler over his minions. This thought displeased him, yet it was quite unavoidably true. But he did not intend to relinquish control without doing his damnedest to ensure the completion of his plans. He had sworn to aid his master unto the death, and he was not about to fail.
Kneeling at his bedside, Nathan prayed to the Dark Master for guidanceupon how best to eliminate this One Warrioress, so his beloved master could quicken the establishment of total rule, and the world would be theirs to control. Theirs to bend to every whim and wish they desired. Oh, what an enjoyable life that would be. He could hardly contain himself in anticipation.
While the sun crept higher and closer to its noontime height, Alannah practiced with her twin daggers. Frustration fueled throw after perfect throw, and for once her natural ability with weapons pleased her. Watching as the points of metal touched as they embedded themselves in another tree trunk, she sank into unpleasant thought. Whenever Damian finally arrived, she might just skewer him as she had so many trees in her wait. Where was he? Almost three hours late, aggravating fool. I may love him, but he’s still dead when he eventually shows up. With identical thunks, the two blades sank into another tree, showering bark across the forest floor. And that is why she almost didn’t hear Rik as he stepped quietly into the clearing behind her.
Whirling around, she held a third dagger in hand as she faced him. Shock sparkled in her eyes, and also a touch of anger, but Rik sensed that much was not towards him. A smirk crossed his lips; he feared for whomever she held that anger. He hoped it would never be directed at himself, she was deadly strong. But when Alannah backed up and retrieved the other daggers, he began to worry.
Before he could speak, a rather expected question spewed venomously from her mouth. “What are you doing out here?” Despite her anger, he could see she wasn’t expecting anyone else to be out here, and that she’d have preferred to remain alone. He turned to leave, but a single dagger passed just inches away at eye level, and he stopped. The blade sank into a nearby tree. “Answer me, you. I remember you from yesterday. Rik.” He thought over various answers, then shrugged. What could he say without further enraging the girl? Silence was definitely not working.
By the time Alannah retrieved the dagger and came to rest directly in front of him, Rik had decided to tell the simplest truth. “I was looking for you, Alannah.” Now a hint of fear joined the shock in her emerald eyes, and she turned away, snatching her cloak from a low branch. Heading for Luciendar, she had every intention of leaving, but this time a blade stopped her. Now livid beyond measurability, she spun to face him, then only glared. How dare he grin as though this were a game?
Rik was hoping to lighten her mood; otherwise there would be only trouble. It wasn’t working. Unfortunately, at that exact moment Damian appeared, and his emotions ran from confused to angry at finding Alannah here with another. He turned to Rik and demanded an explanation, only becoming more irate when he did not believe the replies. While both men were deeply immersed in argument, Alannah slipped silently into the dense, dark forest and headed for her one remaining escape.
Lying in the darkness, far from home, the emotionally distraught girl drifted in memories. Alannah missed her twin dearly. It has been so long, she thought, since I had someone of equal mindset to practice with, talk with, enjoy girlhood with. How long had it been? Seven years, three months, two weeks, and a day, exactly. The day they buried her beloved mirror child was a cool, foggy day in the lower plains where she now lay. Amarana was stolen from this life by the dreadful magics that had sparked a slaughter of the entire She’ma. Those who created, and even worse, used, such powers on the poor souls of these innocent beings had all been killed by the time the girls could differentiate between each other’s names. But that did not keep them safe from the drifting magics that took the lives of any who stumbled across them. Amarana had seemed fine for a time, then suddenly began a mental reverse that brought her back to near infancy before her end came. On the night she died, Alannah had shared her bed and talked with the girl of times past, and comforted her when fear gripped the unstable mind. As Amarana’s life ebbed away in those last moments, Alannah swore she would never stop fighting the beings who caused pain and suffering in this world, until it brought them together again in another life. They had been so young then, not old enough to know of love, or a world beyond their Plains. They had never heard of the Far South, or the evils that reside there. If only Alannah had known her sworn task was what made solid her Warrioress fate, maybe she wouldn’t have. But then, a sister’s love can sometimes be the only thing that could ever give one the conviction to strive toward such an impossible goal.
Damian and Rik went their separate ways just before sunset, after realizing Alannah had long since disappeared. While both searched for the girl, going first to her village, then to the surrounding Plains, neither realized just how much they truly had lost her. She was in a world where none could find her, one that enveloped her body and mind as one, bringing her back to a life she’d long ago left behind. She was invisible as she lay in the far-off Plain, and in the other world her sister was with her. This was her only safe place, where she was young and her life carefree. Alannah had visited Amarana many times before, but this time she had no intention of leaving her twin’s side.
Just because her body was invisible, did not mean it could not be found. Rik could sense the magic hidden deep inside her, and if he held onto it with his mind he could pinpoint her location. Unfortunately, being unfamiliar with the region meant it would still take hours to locate her. By then she may have disappeared completely. He could only pray his mindlock was strong enough to hold her in this world until he arrived. Not knowing her well would make this all the more complex, but he believed the girl did not yet have the strength to travel worlds, if she denied her power inwardly as fervently as she did outwardly. But there was no guarantee.
Damian was torn. This one tiny seed of doubt had just shattered his mental state, and he remembered now what he was here for. He was a cousin and good friend of Zachary Dred, and was sent three years earlier to find the One Warrioress. Unfortunately, she had found him first, and he had accidentally fallen in love with her. Deep within all evil is an empty heart, and they are the most easily filled. His love for Alannah had drowned any dedication to family, friends, anything but her. If Rik had not inadvertently reminded him, Damian may never have recalled his past purpose. Now he must find the girl before Rik did, or everything was lost, and the Dark Master would torment him for the rest of eternity.
Alannah and Amarana both drifted in memories of their childhood, neither seeing what the other had truly become. Alannah did not know how to fully enter another world, and so the girls could only share the life they’d lived together. Amarana wanted her sister there with her, but it took a power much stronger than that which she possessed. She did not really know how she came to be in this world, nor quite how to escape it. Her only hope of not being alone for eternity was for Alannah to be taught of her powers.
Rik finally located the general vicinity that held Alannah’s invisible body, about an hour before dawn. Now he must wait until either the girl returned, or it was light enough to see the depression her body made within the grasses. He wasn’t too keen on the idea of sending Gavin to search her out, as a wolf in the face was never a pleasant waking.