Saturday, June 11, 2011

LastKnight: Innocent's End - Part 2

Well here's the 2nd installment, still unsure of it, but I think it may be an improvement over the original.
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Borne by a slight breeze a chill began to take hold of Miles and crept along his skin, slight goose-bumps his only noticeable reaction. From his lofty perch atop the bough of an old oak the perplexed pilot sat huddled as the wind gently brushed his chestnut-brown hair teasingly over the tips of his ears. A pained gaze studied the grave-like calm of what had only moments ago been a field of death and chaos.
Reaching out of the tranquil silence a hushed sound seized upon Miles attention, the sudden disruption enough to threaten to relocate him. At first it seemed an alien thing this invasion from the realm of reality. For a long breath he had to fight to will his mind to make sense of things, to focus and rationalize what it was he had heard. And then, like the whisper of a soft breeze he heard it again. This time understanding filled him as he recognized the tone of a ladies voice. "Beautiful, wasn't it," she asked from below. In typical military fashion, Miles found himself unholstering his sidearm and bringing it to bear.

Feeling tension and frustration struggle for release, Miles barked forth a string of commands. "Don't move! Any sudden moves and I will open fire." Scanning foliage and underbrush, Miles tried to pinpoint the exact position of this mysterious voice. With doubt at his own sanity starting to creep in, he decided to continue. "Let's start with who you are and what your doing here." While waiting for proof of his sanity or a better idea of the speaker's location, Miles began to carefully gauge his best route down from the tree.

A soft rustle of motion caught Miles vision and directed it to a gap in the leaves where a few stray beams of moonlight alone illuminated a figure. Young and slender, an elegant grace seemed to be draped about the lady's form like a regal cloak. Yet her bearing, the very way she stood betrayed a streak of pride often a subtle cue marking someone with a noble background. 

At first glance, one would question the mind of anyone who wandered about a battlefield unarmed. However, armed as she was, this ladies' minimalist weapons were more of a curiosity. Draped low along her left hip was slung an elongated thin blade that glistened silver in the moonlight. Miles had only ever seen such weapons worn by officers and even then they proved only to be ornamental accompaniments to their uniform. This one, something told him was anything but an idle show-piece. As an almost matched companion to the blade a holstered sidearm rested on the opposite hip, just as delicate in appearance save for the precision sights just barely visible in the low light. Even the ladies attire; some kind of elaborate formal uniform, the likes of which Miles was sure he hadn't seen except perhaps in history books, marked as a complete paradox. And yet here he was setting aloft in some trees, a specialist ground suit pilot who for reasons unknown fled from battle.

With the air of someone immune to orders such as those Miles had issued, the lady stepped forward to bring her piercing gaze to bear. For a breath Miles found himself trapped by the sheer power of those eyes, his previous threat lost to a seeming majesty that had now befell him. "My business here, dear sir, is quite similar to your own," she began in a clear and quiet tone that seemed to feel like being cut by a whiplash. "However," she continued, "I must concede your manners are a touch lacking. My own name, in all due formality, is Lady Diana - Heiress of the house of Wynne and daughter to Duke Archibald Wynne. The oak you now favor as your perch, dear little sparrow, is the property of my father. So I must ask of you why it is that you have taken residence there and why it seems you have seen fit to damage our other oaks with the ground suit now littering our wood?"

The very thought sent his head to spinning; this THE Duke's daughter, and not only had he drawn his sidearm on her but he had also damaged the Duke's own property. Holstering his sidearm he frantically fought to issue an apology, only to find himself stuttering until he regained a measure of control. "I do indeed apologize, m'lady," Miles tried to focus on carefully wording himself as he climbed down. "Please accept my most heartfelt apology, and know that I am completely at the Duke's mercy. I will concede to any punishment he deems fit for the damage I have caused." Landing hard, Miles stumbled his way into an awkward bow. "To be honest, I cannot answer to why I found my way to where you found me. I'm not really sure myself, I suppose I was merely seeking a place to think."

With a slight nod, Lady Wynne motioned for him to rise but her tone continued to scold Miles. "Your apology is indeed necessary as you have managed to damage several fine oaks that my father prizes. Does your own rudeness know any ends I wonder? I alone stand the only of the two of us to be introduced." Embarrassment bloomed on Miles' face forcing him to lower his face from the lady's eyes. "Oh, clearly I have lost all manners, forgive me. For what it's worth, I'm Specialist Miles Stone. I was a member of the military defense forces engaged in the previous battle, or rather, I guess I was a soldier." Pausing, Miles let out a sigh. "I doubt they will look too highly on a soldier that turned his back on his friends and fled. With your blessing, I'd like to take my leave. I need several stiff drinks to try and make sense of things." Pain welled from inside him as the feeling of being lost returned. How could this have happened, especially to him; who had only ever wanted to be nothing other than a soldier?

Like a sudden gale, Lady Wynne's voice interrupted  Miles and forced him to once more meet her gaze. "You must be accustomed to naturally exuding rudeness, since you seem so adept at it. I will most certainly not grant you my leave, you will return with me and face my father for all you have done." Firm resolution resonated throughout her tone and with a quick pivot the lady was already in motion leaving no time for Miles to argue.  "Besides," mused the lady, "I think there is someone there you should meet."