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Chapter 24 - Recollections

As Cydric jogged, darting through the alleys in the slums he paused for just the slightest of moments. A smile crept onto his face as it occurred to him that the best place to hide was with Tsuana and his gang of dissenters, the Aed Danu. They weren't the most noble of men and most of them were quite crude by Cydric's standards, but it was really Tsuana that Cydric trusted anyway. After all, it was Tsuana that had befriended the young assassin many years prior.

 

As he navigated to Tsuana's base of operations he remembered the first time he met the Tuathan.

Nearly ten years ago, Cydric, a boy of just sixteen years, had just fled from his master's violent temper with a bright red welt on his brow. As he ran through the streets he rounded a corner and slammed into a man dressed in all black in the alley. The man never even moved from the impact, but Cydric fell on his ass.


Fury building, Cydric's impulse was to attack. But as the man extended his hand with a genuine smile on his face, Cydric's temper ebbed away. Accepting the man's hand he rose and dusted himself off.

Looking up, Cydric realized his benefactor was almost six inches taller than himself and dressed completely in black from head to toe. Even the rapier at the man's side was black. The man's eyes were dark emerald green and his hair was long, black, and shinned like raven's feathers in the sun. Though he appeared no more early twenties there was a wisdom to his eyes that the young teen could not place. "Well young man, what's the hurry?" asked the stranger.

Before he spoke, Cydric remembered his manners. "Sorry sir, it was clumsy and careless of me to be running around not watching where I was going. I hope I didn't hurt you." Cydric said in
the same meek tone he used when speaking to his master. There was something about this stranger that demanded respect.

Laughing, the stranger shook his head. "Well I know that running into me didn't cause this, would you care to tell me what did?" The man pointed his finger at Cydric's swollen brow.

Trying his best form of bravado, Cydric passed it off as nothing, but the stranger persisted. "It looks like you could use something to eat. Come with me and we can speak more comfortably." Part of Cydric told him to run, while another stronger part of him made him stay. Looking back on things, Cydric realized he was much like a beaten dog back then; so scared of even the slightest hint of kindness for fear of the betrayal that would follow.

 

Halfway through Cydric's second bowl of soup, he remembered his manners and introduced himself and told the stranger about his master, Darthes Blackblade. It was his master's temper that had sent Cydric running blindly as he had done for nearly two years. At the mention of his master's name, the stranger nodded as if it was familiar to him. 

 

The young man's tale seemed to genuinely interest the man; not like the con-artists who simply listened for their next ploy. Recounting how he had been raised in the temple orphanage, Cydric confessed his loyalty to Darthes was primarily out of guilt. It was Master Blackblade that had saved him from being a beggar in the streets.

The stranger nodded his approval of Cydric's loyalty, but even life debts had their limit as well. With the end of Cydric's tale, the stranger then excused his rudeness and properly introduced
himself. "My name is Arthapratismavit Kosovati Tsuana Ixquimilli de Danann. But you my young friend may call me Tsuana. Now, why don't we head to my home, where we can take care of that welt before it swells anymore and by the looks of you, you could probably use some more to eat also."

Cydric was more than a little taken back by this man's seemingly genuine hospitality. In all of his short life, he had never met anyone who did something for nothing, and as his eyes narrowed to slits, Tsuana recognized the look of distrust. With a laugh, Tsuana slapped the young man's back. "Relax, boy. I owe you no harm." When Cydric's meal was done, Tsuana led him to an old abandoned storage house.

As they entered Cydric's suspicions were confirmed, the storage house was completely empty. Whirling about to face Tsuana, he drew out his dagger and held it before him in a defensive posture. "I knew you were up to something! My master has many enemies, but if you are looking to hurt him through me, it won't happen. He cares little to nothing about me and neither killing me nor trying to get to him through me will work."

Then before Cydric could react, the flash of movement he witnessed stung his hand as his dagger flew from his hand. Cydric's jaw dropped as he realized that Tsuana went from a relaxed position to a fighting stance had drawn his rapier and attacked in just the blink of an eye stunned him. He had never seen anyone move so quickly!

Tsuana picked up the dagger as Cydric just watched, rubbing his stinging hand. He knew he wasn't injured, but the blow to the dagger had been so fast that the impact jarred his hand. By now he knew that he wasn't dealing with some common ruffian, but a true master. The look on his face changed from anger to awe in mere moments. It was then that Tsuana lifted a section of flooring and pointed towards the hole in the floor.

Looking down, Cydric saw light and could faintly hear voices. Tsuana with a large smile handed Cydric back his dagger and motioned for him to descend. As they headed down, odors assaulted Cydric's senses, some pleasant, others offensive. But as they stood at the
bottom of the hole, the smell of freshly cooked venison overrode all other scents, and Cydric was practically drooling when he was led to a large room with several people and a few open places at a large table.

Over the course of the next two years, Cydric spent as much time with Tsuana and his Aed Danu. It was Tsuana that trained Cydric in the proper use of a short sword and dagger,
and all in the gang knew that if Cydric's sense of loyalty to his master wasn't so strong, he'd have joined them permanently. But as it was he was an honorary member and everyone helped to teach the young man a thing or two here and there.

 

Then one night, while the rest of the gang slept, Cydric and Tsuana stayed awake and spoke.

"I don't get it, you fight like a man with centuries of experience, but yet you are only in your mid to late twenties. How can this be?" Cydric asked while sipping on a goblet of deep-red wine.

"Well Cydric that's because I'm not human per say. Have you ever heard of Tuathans?" Tsuana replied.

There were tales of immortals; those who lived a thousand lifetimes that of a human. With a look, and Tsuana's nod of assurance, Cydric's jaw dropped and his eyes bugged out slightly. Sure he had heard the legends!

The Tuathans were created originally by the god Danu to combat the evil forces that threatened to shift the balance of good and evil. They were created for battle, men and women alike were fierce warriors, masters in the weapons they wielded. Their combat skills were unmatched on the planes where evil lurked. But evil gods secretly started to create new races and began distributing them onto other worlds, worlds where humans, elves, dwarves, and other goodly races dwelt.

Soon the evil races started to conquer the good races, twisting them into evil. The gods of good saw this and transformed the Tuatha. Before the miracle Tuatha were twenty feet tall, bearing claws, fangs, and wings with demonic appearances. But the gods knew that they would never fit in on the world and they were remade to resemble humans. Now, in the likeness of man, the Tuathans could blend in.

Even with their new bodies, the Tuathans were fierce warriors and all who opposed them trembled in their boots. For many millennia the Tuathans fought evil wherever it lurked, but as they fought and died, their numbers grew sparse and before they had time to realize it, they became a dying race with but a few handful of them remaining. The legends said that in the darkest hour of the world, the Tuathans would rise again to defend the world from evil.

"So you're saying that you're a Tuathan? Hell, if it was anyone else I'd say that they were having delusions of grandeur. But after these last two years and the expertise in which you fight..." Cydric paused. "Yeah I believe it."

"Good, now that you know what I am, you know I can teach you a great many things, and that my words are not merely words but come from experience. Cydric my friend, it is time for you to do us both a favor; it is time justice prevailed for you, it is time for you to break free from Master Blackblade and to do so you must kill him."

Cydric sat back in his chair as the reality of Tsuana's words hit him like a blow from a mighty ogre. He scratched his chin in thought and soon knew how he would do it; he'd use Darthes' own poison against him. As he fixed his master his morning meal, Cydric would put enough poison into the food and drink to kill at least ten men. Cydric looked up at Tsuana and nodded his understanding; Tsuana could see in Cydric's eyes that it would be done.
 

 


Now, almost eight years after the death of his master, Cydric ran to the abandoned storage house and warily watching around to make sure he was unseen. Slipping in through the secret entrance he stood on the wood flooring and stomped out the secret "knock" and then opened the trap door. As he climbed down, the usual sounds and scents came wafting up to him, and for a moment Cydric forgot about his problems. It was good to be home.
 

Chapter 25

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