Table of Contents: https://www.bungie.net/en/Forums/Post/244705039?page=0&sort=0&showBanned=0&path=1
[b]Chapter 6, Part 2[/b]
Percy was, to say the least, confused. He was surrounded, and was thusly unable to see the cause for his elders' concern. His want to communicate this, however, was soon lost as a sharp pain surged through his shoulder. Percy winced, and the pain only worsened. Turning, he saw that his father's hand was the source of the agony. The elder Percy's face, his son noted, was wrought with worry, and his bloodless knuckles held the younger in a death-grip.
Trying at first to free himself, Percy eventually elected to simply bear the pain in silence for so long as the quiet persisted. After a number of excruciating seconds, his attention drifted once more to his father, for there was much to be gleaned from his countenance. As previously, he made note of the worry in that face, but there was more: there was sorrow. His father, Percy was confident, had never exhibited such levels of sorrow...not even after Burnings.
Though he remained wary of breaking the silence, the boy's curiosity was undoubtedly piqued. He was near the limit of his patience when the first whispers reached him, traveling as a wave of cold terror and bewilderment.
"The king is dead..." someone said, shock and disbelief evident in their tone.
"Can he not arise, as he has done before? Cannot all Chosen defy death?", a voice inquired, calling the weight of the situation into question.
"Aye," another offered, "...but only if he wishes."
"So that's all this is, then!" someone responded, his voice a shout. "Suicide!" Many in the gathered host turned toward the accuser. Several scoffed at the thought. Most were too afraid to speak.
Growing defensive, the man continued. "Well, isn't it? He calls us here, forces us to fight for him, and then he goes and offs himself! He-an immortal warrior-is too scared to face his own battles, so he leaves men and boys to fight them in his place! He is no [i]god[/i], he is a coward!"
Some in the crowd nodded their heads in cautious agreement. Most kept their thoughts to themselves. Others voiced their dissent.
"That is treason", the elder Percy said confidently, his eyes growing dark with hatred.
"Oh, is it now? And who would you be? The coward's lapdog, perhaps?" the rebel accused.
"No...", Perseus trailed, gritting his teeth. "I am his friend. And I'll take no insults from the likes of you."
"Do you intend to silence me, then?" the man taunted, advancing toward his opponent so as to demonstrate the great disparity in their statures.
Holding his ground, Perseus replied. "If that is what it takes, yes, but I suggest that you do so yourself-for their sake if not your own," he said, gesturing to a trio of youths who he presumed to be the traitor's sons.
Uttering a laugh of menace rather than merriment, the man pressed forward, his eyes promising to exact revenge for the threat on his heirs. "Do you think me a fool? Ikoris is dead, and his policies with him. Unless you aim to enforce them yourself, that is."
In a flash of motion, Perseus swept behind the traitor and brought a knife to his throat, stopping only once he felt the resistance of flesh. "As you w-", he began, halting abruptly as a brilliant flash split the night. The winds returned with renewed purpose, and the fires roared in their wake.
Turning, Perseus saw that Ikoris stood upon the hill once more, his figure alight and clothed in garments of flame. Wings of fire unfurled at his back, and his eyes shone with great intensity. These eyes, it should be noted, were fixed upon his companion's newly-acquired hostage.
In the time between Ikoris' seemingly miraculous resurrection and his arrival at Perseus' side, the members of his host had time only to blink, and his target released a frightened whimper. Shortly thereafter, his eyes went wide, and a scorching hand clasped about his neck, somehow refraining from sending him backward into the gathering of awe-struck spectators.
"I did not desert you, you miserable wretch. I was...out on business, if you will. But I am not blind. I saw your little attempt at rebellion, and I must say that I am not pleased. I am, however, rather curious...so I will offer a proposal. You answer a question of mine, and I won't crush your throat between my fingers. Do we have a deal?"
His veins bulging as a consequence of his ongoing strangulation, the rebel managed only a slight nod. Ikoris released his hand, and the man dropped to the earth.
"Good", the Risen stated, the flames that surrounded him gradually calming before reducing themselves to a smolder. "Now tell me, my dear friend...why is it that those who have the most to lose-", he paused, motioning at the man's sons, "-so often choose to risk everything for what is, in your case, nothing more than the freedom to die on one's own terms?"
"Can't you see?" the man responded amid a fit of coughing. "We are already damned to death. It doesn't matter. But I'll not be a pawn. Not for you."
"If that is how you truly feel," Ikoris replied, cold as ever, "then die a free man. I'll not stop you." Turning to face the bulk of his army, the Warlord's calm tone was exchanged for a commanding one. "This man is leaving!" he announced. "Those who wish to do the same, I suggest that you take this opportunity to act upon your desires. The wild is a dangerous place, and even more so for those who tread alone." He paused for a moment, but continued as no others stepped forward. "I assure you, this is no trick. You will not be hunted, nor your names defamed. I do not want for grudging servitude; I desire loyal obedience. If you feel yourself incapable of the latter, I invite you to depart, and I bid you farewell." Despite his words, Ikoris was deeply angered by what next unfolded.
The people murmured amongst themselves for some time before silence's reign was restored, and a score of others elected to join the deserter. The crowd parted as the disloyal made for its edge, their heads low and their eyes downcast.
The gathered warriors gazed after their ex-comrades, with Perseus' glare enduring the longest. They should, he believed, be made to pay for such an act of unfaithfulness. Had the decision been his own, they would have paid dearly.
Banishing these thoughts to the fringe of his mind, Perseus turned to Ikoris and-in an effort to dispel his urge for insubordination-spoke the first words that came to mind. "Long live the king!"
The exclamation swelled as one voice grew to ten, and ten to twenty, and twenty to hundreds. After a matter of seconds, all among Ikoris' host shouted his praises. All, that is, excepting one...for Perseus' own son stood in silence, staring into the Awoken's eyes. Ikoris stared back, and the boy froze, the blood quickly draining from his face.
Ikoris held his gaze.
[b]End of Chapter 6[/b]
[i]Tips, criticism, questions, etcetera are greatly appreciated. Thank you for reading my work.[/i]
[i]Chapter 7 is well underway. I know that I've proven undependable in regard to my punctuality, but I suspect (and hope) that it will be up within the fortnight...and it is on track to be far more substantial than my recent chapters so far as length is concerned. I hope that I've managed to retain some of my audience, and thank you to my remaining readers; you are greatly appreciated.[/i]
Loading, please wait. This may take some time...