Author Topic: A Promise Broken - Dante Noamuth  (Read 282 times)


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A Promise Broken - Dante Noamuth
« on: December 08, 2019, 12:09:40 PM »
He spent the cold winter day refurnishing the Den, putting years of woodworking experience to good use to give the abandoned cave of the Balinoks renewed life. By the time dusk fell, the place looked much like it did years earlier when he first met the Matron. Once content with his work, he settled into his usual spot by the fire and kicked his feet up onto the table, crossing one boot over the other.

Dante’s eyes settled upon the manufactured alcove across the cave, shrouding the raised makeshift “bed” in the corner. A faint smile pulling at his lips in reminiscence of the nights he spent there sharing warmth with the others. Among other things.

The silence and solitude allowed the man to hear the approaching footsteps just outside the cave, shifting his attention to the entrance as the familiar figure of Earebrithiel came into view, practically coated in a thin layer of snow. He was pleased to see the elf again, greeting her with a smile. An expression she did not return.

“Dante. It has been some time.”

His gaze lingered on her form, particularly upon what little of her unusually pale skin was exposed. “It has. Too long… I feared you left without saying goodbye.”

She shrugs. “Word was passed along to me in Krofburg.”

“I take it your plans haven’t changed.”

“Indeed not. I will depart when the time is right.”

“Mm.” Sighs, his previously welcoming features fading to a somber expression as he averted his gaze to the fire. “I think the time is right, for me.”

“Is that so?” The female elf gave the cave an impassive look-around. “I wonder what caused such a turn of mind. And what you are planning.”

He rumbled out a guttural sound in affirmation. “Barovia is no place for the little ones. And the people of Dementlieu aren’t much more… Accepting, of Naomi’s gift. Or Korin’s.”

“I can well imagine.” Her voice was cold. Colder than he’d ever heard it before.

The elf idly pulled a paper-rolled smoke from her pack to stick between her teeth before igniting it with a pluck of the harp at her hip. He paused for a short moment to observe such, before continuing. “...And there’s more than just Naomi and Felion to worry about. She’s with child again.” The news elicited no visible reaction from her. A neutral expression on her face as her eyes trailed over him.

She puffs her smoke, exhaling a cloud through her nostrils. “It is unlikely you will be left alone, regardless of where you go. All that you cherish, love, and enjoy. This land will take it from you. And it will thrive from it.”

“It will not. Not so long as I draw breath.”

She took another long drag before discarding the remnants of the cigarette into the flames between them. Exhaling another cloud. “It is a battle of stamina against something that will never tire. Time. You will see for yourself.”

A quiet rumble emits from him, letting silence settle between the two for a moment as he pulled his feet from the table and pushed himself up to stand. “... I worry about you.”

“Worry is pointless. It is a weakness you should rid yourself of. You know what my destination leads to.”

He moved closer, the soft clank of his plated boots echoing throughout the cave. “I know.”

“I will go on my own terms. I welcome my demise, after I look the one who took all from me in the eyes. After I take everything from him. I made it clear that is what I desired, last we spoke of it.”

“What we desire changes with time, Earebrithiel… You are fighting this alone, when you have all of us who would share your burden - if you’d let us.”

“Save your breath, Dante. You have tried before, and will fail yet again. I care not for any of it, any longer.”

“You do not have to go.”

“Mine and Azalin’s fates are intertwined. He awaits, on his throne. A fate we both prepare to meet full on.” She exclaimed the name in a defiant neutrality and absence of concern, fixating her eyes on Dante’s without blinking. “And I shall not disappoint. I will see Darkon burn.”

“It will not bring him back.”

“No. But I will see him again, after making that monster suffer. Man, woman, child, beast - any that will cross my sight, will fall. I will take as much from him as I can until we finally clash.”

“... Those that oppose your path is one thing. But the others you cross by happenstance? Children?” He all but growled out the last word, scoldingly.

“They do not matter. I will, without any remorse, end their misery.”

“You will not-”

“Again, you look, but you do not see. Blinded by the reality you are comfortable with.”

“... You’ll not harm them. Those who fall within your path, if they do not try to harm you. It makes you no better than him. A monstrosity." He snarled out at the elf, who kept still as a statue with a silent, unblinking gaze on Dante.

She lowered her head, her hood concealing her features as her shoulders began to shudder. And a cold, crystalline laugh gradually emerged from the smaller elf’s frame - a haunting sound that echoed against the cave’s walls. A laugh that lasted for a short while before she ran a hand over her face, straightening up once again to cast a disdainful look over him.

The gaze made him uneasily shift his feet, resting the majority of his weight upon the boot closest to the elvish woman. “This is not you.”

“Once, perhaps, I would not have. That was prior to seeing the truth. I do not fear damnation, Dante. You can continue to be blind, hoping that none of this has a chance to be true. Perhaps with luck you won’t be forced to open your eyes and see the reality of things.” Her lips curled up in a half-smile. “But… I would not hold my breath.”

“Promise me. Here and now, that you will not harm the innocent. Children. For me. For your sister.”

Her words were cold and impassive again. “Don’t dare lie to me. You would kill anyone in the world to keep your family safe.” He remained silent. “... I would kill them all, to find mine back.” She turned her back to him to take strides towards the cave’s entrance.

His heart dropped as a sense of dread overcame him, the man calling out after her. “Eare’.”

She halted. “... Yes?”

Silence lingered between the two for a few seconds, before he finally broke it with the guttural Draconic language the two shared. “Do you remember, what I promised you?”

A quiet “Aah~” escaped her lips at the inquiry. The elf driving her gaze upward as she responded in the hissing tongue. “Absolutely, Fanged One. The question is: Do I deserve it? Should I live on, as I have done nothing as of yet? That is between you and your conscience.”

The words gave him scruples, and a tense silence fell between the two for a short moment. She continued on as she stepped out of the cave. “Goodbye, my old friend.”

He let her go. And again, he found himself alone in the Den. His mind was racing as he paced about the cave, near the fire. Frustrated with himself for his inaction. And he took that frustration out on the furniture near the fire - flipping the table, the breastplate and bastard sword that were atop it clattering along the cave's floor.

He remembered the pact he made with the elf, clear as day: he'd put her down if she'd gone mad, in Selyth's stead. By his hand, and no one else's.

He could give chase. He should. Keep true to his word… But he hesitated. He so desperately believed the Earebrithiel he knew was still there, behind that cold facade. That she could be brought back.

Perhaps he could still persuade her. She said it herself - she hasn't harmed anyone yet. He had to try. He'd wait until morning and come find her.

It wasn't long after coming to his decision that he heard the crunch of snow compressing beneath a pair of boots, just outside the cave. Turns out he wouldn't have to wait as long as he thought, as the elf sauntered into the cave once more. Blade drawn and resting against her shoulder, gleaming with magic that gave her visage an ethereal glow with an ominous smile across her face.

It was in that moment he knew he misjudged. The Earebrithiel he knew and loved never escaped Darkon. This is what was shrouded behind that emotionless facade. And he felt foolish for not accepting that earlier.

Her sinister gaze lingered on Dante as she spoke, her words carrying a hauntingly melodious resonance. "You should have kept your promise, Dante.~ No matter. I only need your heart." Her lips curled up even further in a malicious smile. "You understand."

He pried his eyes away from her long enough to glance at the blade discarded on the floor a few meters behind him. Which seemed to be her cue to raise the blade from her shoulder and charge at him from the distance. He kicked off his front foot, turning back to make a break for his weapon as quickly as he could.

She was faster than him, hastened by her wards. The elf closed the distance between the two, the man barely managing to free his weapon from the scabbard to deflect her initial blow. The strike was more powerful than he expected - inhumanely so. And her backswing caught him along his side, the enchanted edge carving into his flesh and ribs. He hissed out in pain.

He struck back with his hand and half blade, managing to connect along her armored shoulder - but the ethereal barrier shallowed the blow to the point where it was ineffective. He cursed under his breath as he ducked under another pass of her greatsword, moving to take a defensive stance. Dante knew he had little chance in his current state - he'd have to wait for the visage to fade, or escape. He chose the former.

The two danced for a time. Whatever blows he landed may as well have not connected at all, while hers were far more punishing. By the time the violet ward faded away from the elf’s frame, Dante was thoroughly bloodied and carved by glancing blows from her larger weapon. He wasted little time, lowering his guard and letting out a determined growl as he aimed a swing for the elf’s neck. But an invasive, haunting melody lingered in his mind, making his limbs feel heavy and his movements sluggish.

She was quicker than him, and far more skilled than the last time the two sparred. She parried and delivered a riposte that hit home. He was paralyzed by the searing pain resonating from his abdomen where the blade had entered, with a foot of bloodied steel protruding from his lower back. The elf seemed to savor the moment, their eyes locking with a satisfied smile across her features. She wrenched the greatsword free with one hand, spilling a sizable amount of Dante's lifeblood onto the cold floor as her other hand shoved the stunned man onto his back.

He landed heavily, his steel weapon clattering along the ground beside him as that hand desperately pressed against the wound in a futile effort to stem the bleeding. The barely injured elf took her time stepping over his incapacitated form, dropping to one knee beside him and leaning over to whisper in his ear in a low, sultry voice.

"Do not worry any longer, sweet Dante..." Her soft, familiar voice carried a soothing and sympathetic melody to it. A tone he hadn't heard from the elf in over a year. But in a subtle way it was... different. It lacked sincerity and compassion. A mockery of the passionate nights the two shared, all that time ago.

And it terrified him. He was frozen in fear and agony, as the elf continued on. “It will all be over soon.”

She straightened her back, standing over him with that triumphant smile across her features. “Together, we will have our revenge…” She positioned the tip of her sword over the center of his chest.

An overwhelming desire for survival sparked a moment of clarity for Dante as she moved the blade into position. His free hand moved for the adamantine dagger at his belt. Perhaps he could get her to come close again - strike at her throat when she'd not expect it. Or perhaps she'd show mercy. "Eare'-"

His plea was cut short by a pained, breathless cry of anguish as the elf drove the blade through his chest. His vision blurring and grip loosening on his sheathed dagger.

She wrenched the blade free as his body went lax. "... No matter the cost."

Those icy words would be the last thing Dante heard before darkness overtook him. For the final time.