ShackleMature

Marx Lancer


The girl's voice was piercing through the fires that barely emitted light in the dense misty like darkness.

"where are you!" I would try to scream but my voice garbled over something. 

I tried to move towards her screams; but it was as if I was trying to swim through blankets of lead. On top of that it felt like my arms were burning up in the flames.  The continued struggle only increased the pain. I gritted my teeth and tried to bare through it until my body could no longer take the punishment. I began to sink into the flames and mist as if it was in water, and I was drowning.  As I sank a pressure was building around my body and was increasingly becoming more unbearable. I had experienced this before but each time I used the curse mark it got worse and worse. It wasn't just a dream my soul had been called here to this place. I wondered if at some point if I used the curse mark too much would my soul be swallowed up here?My body seemed to rest on something jagged now but I still could not move. The Screaming girl's voice still ruled the sound scape of this hell. It felt like an eternity as I waited for something any thing to happen.The pressure was making me feel as if my lungs would eventually spill out of my mouth.

"It's you." A dark raspy malicious voice said, " It's been a while, you always avoid to use the gift that I've given you. Shame really, your brother has unsurprisingly become my prized pupil and embraced the gift." The demon paused.

Panic and anger filled me but I could not move.

"Unlike him you never give payment when you use the blessing I have given both of you. The soul of that electric wizard would have sufficed. Sadly I imagine he has succumbed to his wounds now; but that's quite alright now your loving brother has offered to even up your debt with me; but told me to pass this on. “ “That he is taking on your debt but he will be talking to you about it.”” I'm sure it will be a lovely reunion. Anyways I won't keep you here any longer. Do me proud next time." The demon cackled as I felt my soul lighten and fade from this world.

***********

The light was dim, the smell of earth was strong. My right arm had felt like it had been charred black as it normally did when I pulled this kind of stunt. My muscles were soar all over and my wounds had been mostly healed. How long had I been out? A day? A week? It was never the same amount of time. Trying to not aggravate any wounds and keep those soar muscles happy I worked up the strength to ease myself off the cot. I looked down at my right which had been heavily bandaged and magically sealed. A smile crept across my face.

" They certainly know me too well." I chuckled instinctively reading the runes in effort to break it but when I attempted to break there was nothing," Shit!" I cursed loudly. Frantically getting my left hand which still had the shackled binded to it. Despite that I tried to forge light from it. Nothing and it wasn't just the magic absorption of the shackle. 

The tent flaps at the front of the tent flew open rapidly as Ceres and what I presumed to be a medical wizard entered the tent excitedly. 

"You're awake! I was so worried when I saw my father carrying you and you slumped all over on his shoulder." She said wrapping her arms around me nearly knocking me back onto the cot and gripping too tightly making it hard to breath. 

"I wasn't going to buy it out there. Not to them." I said trying to hide the panic that was gripping my chest, but she caught on.

"What's wrong?" She asked now giving me a little space. The idea of my brother working for that demon flashed into my head as well as my inability to cast magic at the moment.

I turned my head trying to think of a way to hide it but I was to weak to lie, " I can't cast. I don't feel any magic in me right now." I said sullenly. Her green eyes widened with shock as the Medical wizard stepped in. 

"uh Hi. My name is Dr Vidas. When you were brought in you were completely depleted of magic, and since then it has not returned we think it has something to do with that cursemark even though reportedly that shackle was draining your magic. It has been inactive for some time." He said staring at my right arm in fear.  "In other news we've managed to treat all of you other wounds with speed and success, and you haven't been out for long its only been a day or so. I suggest you talk to Master Grimlock about that cursemark."

"Master Grimlock?" I said looking at him and Ceres. She put her hands to her mouth her face beginning to tear up.

"Oh Marx." She said putting her hand on my shoulder. She tried to say more but I could already guess.

"I'll be going now. I hope you let yourself recover Lancer." Vidas said his mood also altered. 

I felt Ceres head rest on my left shoulder while I wrapped my arm around her. It was hard to speak as I held it all in. Too much had happened. It took all my mental strength to seem calm on the outside. Having Ceres by my side did ease the pain but now anxiety was clawing at me. I needed to get started on putting the pieces back together; There was no time to wallow in grief. Master Juxon would not want that.

"I'm Sorry Ceres. I need to find Your father.  Where is he?" I said my voice a little hollow. She grabbed my hand wiping her eyes with her other one. 

" I'll take you to him. Can you walk?"

I nodded a little uncertainly as she helped me up, " Thank you." 

It was still dark outside and many bonfires marked out the perimeter and walkways of the camp; that now made up our guild. Ceres took me past many disheartened, defeated faces. Smiles were a rare commodity. Something I had never seen in my membership with the guild. I tried to search for faces I knew but didn't happen across any.

"Is Carrissa, Lara, Dan and Fallen alright."

"Carrissa is well... I heard getting in a fight with doppleganger here but I think that's sorted it self. Dan is recovering and hating every moment of it. Fallen is alright better than most. Lara, she has gone missing no one has seen her since the guild."

"I hope she out there somewhere."  I didn't want to believe she was dead but with Juxon it wasn't out of the question.

that held many guild signs and runes, with two guild banners and  two stone sentinels guarding the door. 

" Doesn't seem like Grimlock." I mumbled.

"Was not his idea." Ceres said back quietly leading me in.

"Should've known." I said as she let go of my hand.

"Dad Marx is Awake, and I brought him here. He say's he need to talk to you."

"More like I need to talk to him." Grimlock said seriously. he was standing a few feet away from a rather ornate looking chair. I smiled he was probably avoiding sitting on it afraid that it would cement him in this position. I was a little worried about the serious expression but I decided on teasing opening remark anyways. 

" You know the chair isn't going to bite you in the ass." I tried to smile he gave me a glare. A glare I only had seen in two occasions and both of those occasions I would rather not have been part of.  The smile fell off my face. 

" I will leav.." 

"No stay Ceres." Grimlock said not removing his gaze from me. " Sit down Marx.", He pointed at the couch ,  " I thought I had told you never use that cursemark. I taught you to the best of my abilities so you would never have to rely on that dark power. So you would never be seduced by it's power.  I told you never to use it even as a last resort.  You almost voluntarily sacrificed that wizards soul to a demon."

"I.I.I"

"No! Shutup. When you rely on that cursemark you are solely responsible for what happens afterwards. Not the Demon, not the curse mark. You! You endangered not only yourself, but my daughter, and this guild. As your Mentor, and Master I will not have it. If I catch wind of you using it again I will not hesitate to expel you from the guild." He paused  to add," and if the situation arises I will remove you from this world myself." 

There was a long period of silence as I sat shocked, at the time I didn't realize the possible consequences of using the mark.  Ceres didn't look at either one of us. Grimlock  broke the silence.

"So what did you come here to see me about?" His voice still carrying anger.

"Before I do. I want to say..." I started

"were past that.  Were not discussing that anymore."  He cut in. 

I looked at the ground I didn't like this. I didn't want to be a disappointment in his eyes. What did Ceres think? Had she known about the mark? Grimlock promised me that it would stay between me and him. I returned my gaze to his.

"I can't cast. Dr Vidas thinks it's the cursemark. He said to see you." I kept it short. 

"He is not wrong. I've spent some time studying that Cursemark of yours and have learned that users that do not pay the price in sufficient souls will lose there magic for a period of time. Normally a way to get the user to become reliant on the cursemark if you ask me. Anything else?" He said that new's not lightening his mood any, but somehow he knew there was more.

" I uh. The demon talked to me after I collapsed. He said my brother had become a worthy pupil. A part of me hopes he was lying to me to provoke a reaction. But something tells me it's the truth because the Demon said he my brother evened up the debt that I owed to him. and he would come to see me. Which also confuses me if my debts evened up then your explanation falls short." I said doing my level best to refrain getting emotional but my voice was cracking and a few tears were in my eyes. Even though Grimlock had been very firm before his face was filling with more concern. 

" I don't know but perhaps it just a result of the mark. Wait a few weeks to a month if you cannot cast then. We'll reevaluate that but till then there is nothing we can do." He paused as he walked forward now seeming more ashamed, " I've known about your brother for a while. For a while I tried to tail him when Ceres and I were adventuring but he always seemed to slip past me. He has been acting as you sometimes which is why you might find your reputation to be worse than it should be. I'm not sure what he is doing but I know that he is out there and and is strong. Much st..."

" You didn't bother to tell me?" I said now feeling the burning in my cheeks as I stood up almost spitting in his face, " What protecting me?! I deserved to know! Did you know what he was doing?!" I turned to Ceres.  She looked down at the ground avoiding eye contact " Fuck!" I was shaking with anger. I wanted to break something. I wanted to slam Grimlock to the ground and punch his face into a pulp I needed to go. I turned around and left the tent. Outside I kicked at the dirt and kicked at nearby post. 

Only after did I realize I was drawing attention to myself. I moved to outside of the wall of tents. Walking quickly trying outrun the burning feeling that was filling my veins.  I'm not sure how much time had passed but as the sun was beginning to show up on the horizon. I was somewhere in the middle of the tent city and was coming across a lightly populated bonfire. Most of the steam I had worked off but even thinking about Grimlock and Ceres was enough for me to want to start knocking heads. 

"Hey you there. Can I see that shackle on your left hand?" A male voice came from the bonfire it looked like he was wearing a red bandana and a long brown coat.

"Uh sure." I said moving toward him with my left harm outstretched. " Marx Lancer."

The man smiled, " Another one of Grimlocks apprentices." He said shaking my hands as I tried to keep the anger to a boil " Artonus Gleave."

"The Cleaver?" I said in amazement forgetting about Grimlock. " I've heard much about you. I never expected to meet you here and now."

"Likewise." He said half paying attention as he was studying the shackle. He did something with his fingers before it clicked and came off, " I thought so. I designed this thing. Very surprised to see you wearing it. Who where you transferring magic to and where is the rest of the machine this belongs to?" He said still studying it.  

" Is that what it does?" I said somewhat surprised.

" You didn't know." His blues looking incredulously into mine.

"Yeah long story short I woke up tired to a machine in the basement of the guild before it was destroyed and broke my way free. I thought it was the Nightwings trying to suppress my magic."

"Well I guess that's one way to go about it. But I think they had an ulterior motive." He said somewhat excitedly. 

"You've peaked my interest." I said cracking a smile.

"As you did mine. We should tell Grimlock."


The End

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