E
literature

EQ: Of Light And Darkness p2

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By SunGryphon   |   
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Hallis stood near the top wall of the arena, torn between wanting to take a closer look, and not wanting to draw attention to himself by pushing his way through the crowd. The Knights of Truth were not generally welcome in this part of town, and moving closer might do him more harm than good. He knew there was a contact here, but he had to wait for the person to find him. It never happened any other way, even though it usually meant having to be present for more than one performance.

Two bouts came and went, both with an excessive amount of blood. The current bout was no contest. He watched with horrified fascination as a hapless gladiator was torn apart by a pack of wrulan. Monsters were expensive to keep, slaves much less so. Sometimes a gladiator with no hope for survival was sent into the arena, to satisfy the bloodlust of the crowd and keep the bettors interested. Hallis closed his eyes and sent a small prayer to Marr. A gentle touch at his elbow brought his awareness back. A man garbed in a militia uniform stood next to him.

"Bloodsports make ya sick, pally?"

"Only when there's an innocent involved," Hallis replied to the code phrase with his own.

"New girl. New girl ta tempt ya, pally?"

Hallis never liked this part, but it had to be done for the sake of eavesdroppers. "Aye. The new girl." He flipped a silver coin to the milita guard who caught it and pocketed it without looking. The guard beckoned and Hallis followed him down into the cells, ignoring the catcalls from the few spectators who overheard the exchange. Once inside, the guard's demeanor changed from halfwit to concerned.

"Hunter says she's been abused," he murmured, keeping his voice low to keep it from echoing. "We've had quite a few visits from the Dead, and from what I understand, a necromancer named Noxhil had his way with her, often, before he brought her here."

"So? She's a dark elf." Hallis, although he spoke quietly, could not keep the venom out of his voice. "She deser-"

"Hsst," the guard cut him off with a pained expression. "No one deserves this. Here she is." They stopped in front of Kilauea's cell, where she lay curled up against the far wall. "Oy! Wake up! Ya got a visitor!"

Kilauea visibly flinched, before she turned her head and looked over her shoulder at the two men outside her cell. Hallis' expression hardened and tension flooded into his body as she uncoiled herself from her position and slowly stood. The worn tunic barely covered her body, but Hallis did not notice. He succumbed to the memories of his family, taken and killed by Tier'Dal warriors. His mother and father, tortured and killed by the dark elves. She was a dark elf. She was the enemy. She deserved death for what her people had done.

"Come here, girl," said the guard, snapping his fingers and beckoning to her like a dog. Hallis clenched his teeth as she approached, bowing her head so her hair covered her face. "Good girl. Pally wants a look at ya."

Slowly Kilauea raised her head, glancing at the guard. He was the same one she'd seen earlier, the one who'd winked at her. He was not winking now, and she slowly shifted her gaze to the other man. Another uniform, this one emblazoned with a golden eagle. He almost radiated good, but his expression... She recoiled with a tiny gasp as her violet eyes met his grey ones. She knew that expression of hatred. This man wanted to kill her. She backed away several paces.

Hallis struggled to control himself. He wanted nothing more than to open the door of the cell and throttle her with his own hands. As she backed away, he grabbed the bars of the cell, the leather of his gauntlets creaking with strain as he squeezed. He didn't hear the low growl coming from behind his clenched teeth, nor did he realize that his face had twisted into a feral, hate-filled visage, but the flash of terror in her eyes did little to appease his irrational hatred.

"Hey! HEY!" The guard shook him violently, and Hallis almost rounded on the man before he came to his senses.

"I've seen enough," he snapped, and pushed past the guard, heading for the exit. Both Hawk and Hunter had come to the bars of their cells and were watching him as he went past. The look of anger in Hunter's eyes confused Hallis for a moment.  At first, he thought the man was angry at being so close to a dark elf, but then Hunter knelt down and leaned against the side of his cell closest to Kilauea's, stretching his hand around the wall between them. Scowling, Hallis turned to look at Hawk. The smaller man glared at him, and Hallis caught the sound of a sob from Kilauea's cell, followed by a soothing murmur from Hunter. Hawk turned away from Hallis with a frown of sadness on his face, and looked towards Kilauea's cell with concerned eyes. Hallis' stomach clenched. Why did they care? She was a dark elf!

Hallis gritted his teeth and stormed out of the cell block, striding so fast he was nearly running. As he made his way back to North Freeport towards the Hall of Truth, his mind was a jumbled mess of thoughts. Why did the other two gladiators seem to care so much about her? Didn't they know what she was? What her people did? So what if she was female, all the more reason to expect treachery! Female dark elves were worse than the males! Hallis saw right through her act to garner sympathy. He knew that all dark elves were evil, through and through.

He slammed the doors open of the Hall of Truth, shoving past Sir Arlin as he did so.

"Hey! What.. Hallis?! What's the ma-" Arlin stopped short when he saw the expression on his brother's face. For a moment he entertained the idea of performing an exorcism, but decided his brother needed to work his inner demons out by himself. Arlin followed Hallis through the halls at a discreet distance, only to make sure he didn't damage anything. He stopped when he saw where Hallis was headed.

"Valeron!" Hallis bellowed as he slammed open the doors of a richly-decorated office. Not immediately seeing the guildmaster, he walked through the suite, bootsteps ringing loudly off the walls. He pushed the courtyard doors open and strode out.

"Valeron!"

Hallis stomped down the wooden steps into the small training area behind Valeron's suite of rooms. He stalked up to where the guildmaster sat next to the small stream that ran underneath the Halls of Truth, and began pacing back and forth behind him, like a caged animal.

Valeron sighed inwardly and continued to feed the Marr minnows who were clustered around his long fingers, eating from his hand.

"That.. that dark elf! She's .. Ugh! How can they keep her alive! Why don't they just kill her right now! She's evil! A blight! She's utterly beautiful!"

Here Valeron's ears perked, and he looked back at his charge with a raised eyebrow, but Hallis didn't appear to notice what he'd said, and continued ranting and railing against the mysterious dark elven woman kept below the Arena.

"...a vile, filthy stain upon Norrath's breast! No better than an animal! Less than an animal! At least they are useful!" Hallis snarled and strode around, working himself into a frenzy, until he ran straight into Valeron's chest. The guildmaster had risen and moved into Hallis' path. Hallis looked up at the grizzled face of Valeron, and opened his mouth, about to launch into a new tirade.

Valeron calmly backhanded him across the face. Startled by the unexpected attack, Hallis was knocked off balance and fell clumsily to the ground.

"What...?"

"Who are you, demon, to come here spewing such filth and hatred? A follower of Innoruuk, perhaps? Touched by the Father of Hate?" Valeron's voice was quiet, tinged with sorrow.

Hallis subsided into a shamed silence as the softly-spoken words dealt him a blow to his heart. He bowed his head, chagrined, and shifted into a kneel.

"Forgive me, Father," he murmured.

"My son, I think perhaps you should spend some time in Marr's Temple, and pray for guidance. What happened to your parents was a terrible thing, and I know you've struggled with it, but do not let blind hatred become a stain on your soul. It is forgiveness, acceptance and understanding that makes us who we are. Remember, seek the Truth before passing judgement."

"I will, Father." Hallis got to his feet, saluted Valeron, and walked away, much subdued. Valeron returned to feeding the fish, who swarmed eagerly to his hand.

"Mithaniel," Valeron murmured reverently, "I think perhaps your hand may not be the one to guide this time. I do not presume to know the will of the gods, but it seems the influence of your sister Erollisi may be upon Hallis. I pray for him, that he may make the good and right decision."
© 2006 - 2020 SunGryphon
The story continues.

Part one [link]

EverQuest and names from and therein are © SOE
Kilauea, Tobrin, Hawk, Wolf, Hunter, Ox, the characteristics/personalities of EverQuest NPCs and the {Ca'Mat} language are mine.
Comments3
anonymous's avatar
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awlore's avatar
read part 1 and 2, they are nice readings, keep up the good work.
btw, is there a part 3 or im late for it?
SunGryphon's avatar
SunGryphonHobbyist General Artist
Thanks for the comment. No part 3 yet, I've been working on it but sometimes the muse is slow.
awlore's avatar
ok, thats nice to know, thank you