View Full Version : The Vermillion Flag - part 1

Mercury D Welles
02-06-2005, 12:15
Pallar gazes over the husk of the ruined Ascalon City. Its buildings and walkways lie shattered and abandoned. Fires rage uncontrollably throughout the city. Bodies of the fallen are strewn about the streets.
“We’ve finally done it, we’re finally back,” Pallar murmurs to herself. As she watches, a contingent of soldiers enter the broken city and begin picking through the rubble, securing the city and searching for any possible survivors.
“It’s not what it used to be, now is it?” Pallar’s old friend Kithrili trudges up behind her.
“It’s still our home,” Pallar snaps back, “We’ll rebuild it.”
“Do you really think so? Look around you Pallar, remember what the march here was like,” Kithrili’s words sound resigned. “Ascalon’s been burned to the ground, and the ashes are still falling from the sky.”
“We didn’t fight our way back here for nothing Kit, we will rebuild Ascalon.”

No survivors are found in the broken city, only bodies to add to the piles of burning dead. The rubble takes a week to clear, and a camp is established in the shadow of the ruined Academy. Pallar and Kithrili are sent on frequent scouting missions to ensure the surrounding lands are free of Charr. An ambassador from the western nation of Kryta arrives, but is barred entry to the city. All the while, the threat of another Charr incursion from the north looms over the heads of everyone. To make the nights easier to pass, Pallar begins recounting the stories of the old gods as her mother and father had told her. She shares the tales of the great Serpent Custodians of Tyria, of the gods’ disciples and their exploits and adventures, of heroes long dead and claimed by history, and of the bloody battles fought during the Guild Wars. Then chronicles the destruction of Orr, and the march north against the relentless Charr. The soldiers remember as she tells stories of the brave souls who fell beside her and of the heroes and cowards who still yet live. Then she tells of the retaking of Ascalon City, and sees in their eyes the same hope that Ascalon will rise again to the glory it once had.

“I’d be careful if I were you Pallar,” Kithrili mentions to her as they patrol on the north side the Wall. “Those stories of yours might not be healthy for all of the others.”
“What are talking about?” One of the other members of their group, a mage named Dirje, interjected, “Have you seen how downtrodden and depressed everyone around here’s been since we retook the city? Pallar’s stories are giving all of us a reason to keep fighting. Well, not that I need any encouragement.”
“A false hope is sometimes worse than none at all,” Kithrili shot back.
“And Ascalon is a lost hope?” Pallar stared icily at her friend.
“No time for this,” Medved, a necromancer pointed to a large group of Charr in the ruins of an old guardhouse. “We need to kill.”

The battle begins like many Pallar has fought in the past months. She chants her incantations, drawing on the powers of chaos to subvert and counter the spells of the Charr shaman and magi. Kithrili’s arrows find targets in the Charr warriors; and they fall, bleeding from their many wounds. Medved smiles eerily as his minions burst forth from the bodies of the fallen in a macabre spray of blood and gore. They rush forward mindlessly and tear into the flesh of the living until they fall. A single Charr warrior breaks free of the grotesque struggle and rushes towards Pallar. Flames strike and ignite the frenzied creature as Dirje attempts to intercept the warrior, but the flames seem only to increase its fervor. Pallar recites an incantation to slow the creature, but it is upon her, and slashes her midsection with a mighty swing. An arrow sinks into the creature’s eye, and it collapses, its fur still burning. Pallar clutches her stomach and sinks to the ground, she hears the familiar and comforting sound of a divine spell and feels warmth as the would begins to mend. The Charr are finally pushed back into the guardhouse as more and more of the bone minions continue to burst forth from the Charr corpses. The sky opens up and fire pours down onto the remaining Charr. Even as the flames engulf them, the Charr look to be in ecstasy. The last to fall is a shaman; as he burns he raises his face and arms skyward, as if to embrace the all consuming fire.

“Not much to loot,” Medved says simply as they pick through the mutilated and burnt corpses. Kithrili and Pallar sit to the side as the healer Alesia inspects Pallar’s wound.
“I didn’t mean that we should give up Ascalon for lost, not just yet anyway,” Kithrili says. “It’s just premature and foolish to believe that Ascalon is saved just because we have retaken the kingdom. The Charr are relentless, you know that, and the loss of their armies at Orr is not going to faze them. They breached the Wall once, and overran Ascalon at the height of its power. We live in a crumbling, scarred nation now, the Charr will most certainly return to finish what they began.”
“So what is it you want me to do?” Pallar does not look at Kithrili.
“I want you to stop telling stories of Ascalon.”
“I can’t do that, the others need to remember. I need to remember. We need to know what we’re fighting for.”
“But the people grow more and more bound to this land, they will defend it to their last breath. What happens then if the Charr once again breach the Wall and their armies march into Ascalon? Would you have them all throw their lives away?”
“I’m sorry Kithrili, but these stories are important to me, and to them. I will not stop telling them.”

Pallar opens an old chest filled with books. She looks them over, then shuts it again. Her ancestral home in Rin was fortunately, in one of the intact areas of the city. Though parts of it had been burned, the house still stood. As refugees entered Rin, however, many homes and buildings had to be seized to provide shelter. Pallar was given the opportunity to take whatever of her own belongings she wished before the rest was thrown out. Pallar smiles as she opens another chest. It is filled with the masks and paper puppets her parents had made to teach her the stories of the old gods. She drags the chest to the foyer with two others before walking around the grand old house one last time. Above the fireplace hangs a simple tapestry: a brilliant red velvet sheet with a golden wave crest embroidered upon it. The wave represented the unyielding march of time, but also carried with it the stories, memories, and the history of all those who came before. Likewise, the tapestry had been passed from one storyteller to the next until it came to rest in this home of her ancestors. Pallar carefully takes down the tapestry and examines it; despite its age, the tapestry remains in good condition.
“It would be a shame to throw you out after you’ve seen so much during your time. You’ve probably been through a lot.” Pallar looks thoughtfully at the crest, “You carried with you so many stories from the past, perhaps it’s time you share in a new story.”

Well, this is my first attempt at a fanfic, the story itself is obviously not done yet, and I'll be working on it in chunks. Go ahead and tell me how I did so far. :)