The first story in the Winter Prose Competition 2011 series.
Eternal umbra swam in front of their eyes. Kerrisan, Starious and the three children found themselves in a tide of absolute night, everything around them was coal, only, the strange thing was; to one another they were entirely visible, lit as if they were under the luminescent sky, this, of course, was not the case. Starious drew his elaborate blade, he glanced at Kerrisan.
"Just incase." His voice soft, strong, body wary and held tight in a stance ready to protect his family. The twins, having aged, had grown to be considerably healthy looking four year olds; bizarrely these twins looked nothing alike. The boy, blonde hair with peroxide white streaks naturally staining the top layers, emerald green eyes, clear as crystals beamed out from his round face, body was oddly defined for a child of his age, with obviously quite powerful arms. His sister on the other hand, had beautiful long deep brown hair, strong, ice like eyes and a fragile frame, but strong in the way that a dancer is.
A third child was with them, roughly aged two, his mother cradled him in her caring arms, though it was obvious he was getting a little too big for this sort of treatment. Twins stood near her. Starious still poised in the unblinking night.
Darkness moved in the unstitched emerald twilight, something approached the family, in a mass something stepped out of the shadows within shadows. Five figures slowly stepped towards the poised Starious, all in black cloaks, their heights ranged immensely between a gargantuan man at the back of the group, though another of a large disposition, two averagely sized figures and what must have been a child.
"Finally we meet, Starious." One member of the clan uttered, "You have raised our attention sufficiently. Now, we must dispose of you, you have caused too many problems for us, and when work is as detailed as ours, it must be precise. You have altered our precision, Starious, and now you must pay for the crimes you have committed against us. Our state finds you guilty of the most heinous atrocity; you are guilty of the murder of numerous members of our clan, you are guilty of disturbing our work to the extent that tasks have not all been completed, you are guilty of crimes against the state, and mostly, you are guilty, Starious, of obstructing us in our attempts to posses the elemental stones. You are hereby charged with committing these crimes and are to be punished in the form of death, relinquish your weapon Starious. Have you any last words?" His voice spat the words like rotting poison, the words were sick to Starious' ears. Glaring at the dark mass that carved the words into the night, Starious held his position strong.
"I shall not relinquish my weapon, demon." Starious etched the words bitterly back at his tormentor.
"Kill him." Another voice from the mass ordered, one of the average men stepped forward, the one that had spoken previously. Slowly, he drew his sword from its scabbard, revealing the charcoal blade, dull and spattered with blood that barely stained the black.
"Be careful Starious" Kerrisan spoke.
A dark blade laced its way through the shadows, pendulous it swung in an underarm crescent to clash against Starious' gleaming long sword, thrusting him backwards into the night. Following shortly after, the blades made their second touch, whipping Starious back once more, a continual barrage of metal across Starious' defense.
On looking the ballistic and most dangerous dance were the darkly clothed antagonists, not moving a muscle, and the twins and their mother, flinching with every thrust and swing that endangered Starious' life. Kerrisan glanced fleetingly to the group of men cloaked in enigma, noticing immediately, the largest of the mass was missing...
Opposing swords clashed in the dark wake, carving blood and sweat, hate and love into the space around them, twisting, thrusting, lunging, ducking and dodging with the blades. Anger congealed in the ebony vault like a swarm of screaming banshees, each sword streamed for one another, before penultimately locking and tearing away to prepare the next strike. Starious took another strike, and let it cascade past him whipping his sword in a full circle about his wrist, and threading it through his enemy's fingers; making his grip on his sword impossible, stumbling back, screaming in agony, he grasped a knife from his belt with his uninjured hand, and staggered back at Starious. Starious, with the opportunity to swing at him, spun and let his sword stride in an under arm strike, to stop mere fractions away from his nemesis' crotch.
"Let me and my family go, and I will allow you to live." Starious maintained eye contact with his weakened opponent.
"Never." His agonized voice spat back.
"Kids... Close your eyes."
Tearing upwards with his sword, blood leapt from the blade on exit. His rival merely saw a split image of Starious before a dark mist caved in around his vision. Raising his hand, beads of tight white energy assembled in his palm, with one short blast of energy emitted from his hand in the form of beam, Starious disposed of the remnants before he even fell to the floor.