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       Tales of Aria: The Legend of Damiano's Disk, p.1

           Carl Russ III
 
Tales of Aria: The Legend of Damiano's Disk
The Legend of Damiano’s Disk

  Tales of Aria (Book #1)

  By: Carl Russ, III

   

  Copyright 2014 © Carl Russ, III

  All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except in the case of a reviewer, who may quote brief passages embodied in critical articles or in a review.

  The information in this book is distributed on an “as is” basis, without warranty. Although every precaution has been taken in the preparation of this work, neither the author nor the publisher shall have any liability to any person or entity with respect to any loss or damage caused or alleged to be caused directly or indirectly by the information contained in this book.

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

   

   

   

  TO:

  “My sister, Lindsey Russ. For all of her support throughout the writing process. Also, to you, dear reader. For without you, I’m but a dreamer with a keyboard.”

  –Carl Russ, III

  Website/Facebook

  Visit the Tales of Aria official website at:

  https://talesofaria.com

  ‘Like’ Tales of Aria on Facebook to receive the latest news and updates regarding the series:

  https://www.facebook.com/talesofaria

  Contents

  Introduction/About The Author 9

  Prologue. 10

  Chapter 1: The Strange Object 14

  Chapter 2: The In Between. 24

  Chapter 3: Snowblind. 32

  Chapter 4: Iris, The Alchemist 36

  Chapter 5: The Interrogation. 44

  Chapter 6: Learning The Art 49

  Chapter 7: A Friend In Need. 53

  Chapter 8: Learning The Art (Part II) 57

  Chapter 9: Annoying And Nosey. 64

  Chapter 10: Reflections Of The Past 69

  Chapter 11: The Journey To Belmont Village. 70

  Chapter 12: A Troubled Evening. 76

  Chapter 13: Caught In a Web. 81

  Chapter 14: The Climb. 86

  Chapter 15: Reflections Of The Past (Part II) 92

  Chapter 16: Learning The Art (Part III) 93

  Chapter 17: Waiting. 98

  Chapter 18: Azure Under Fire. 101

  Chapter 19: Hard Times At Valdis Prison. 106

  Chapter 20: Reflections Of The Past (Part III) 109

  Chapter 21: The Sting Of Betrayal 110

  Chapter 22: A Plan Of Action. 115

  Chapter 23: The Invasion/To The In Between. 121

  Chapter 24: Through The Threshold. 131

  Chapter 25: Reflections Of The Past (Part IV) 136

  Chapter 26: The Lost Soul 138

  Chapter 27: An Explosive Confrontation. 145

  Chapter 28: Home, Bitter Home. 152

  Chapter 29: Detour 158

  Chapter 30: Reflections Of The Past (Part V) 165

  Chapter 31: The Stickup. 166

  Chapter 32: The Reading. 173

  Chapter 33: A Savior In White. 180

  Chapter 34: Identity Theft 190

  Chapter 35: Reflections Of The Past (Part VI) 194

  Chapter 36: A Killer In White. 196

  Chapter 37: Faux Zoe. 207

  Chapter 38: An Unexpected Reunion. 213

  Chapter 39: Breaking Point 221

  Chapter 40: Reflections Of The Past (Part VII) 225

  Chapter 41: Destination, Secar 228

  Chapter 42: Laverick Incognito. 236

  Chapter 43: The Infiltration. 247

  Chapter 44: Laverick’s Discovery. 265

  Chapter 45: Reflections Of The Past (Part VIII) 271

  Chapter 46: Kuraikaji, The Cobra King. 273

  Chapter 47: The Search Continues. 280

  Chapter 48: Lucas Versus Kuraikaji 284

  Chapter 49: Laverick’s Score. 293

  Chapter 50: Reflections Of The Past (Part IX) 299

  Chapter 51: Payback In Spades. 305

  Chapter 52: Zoe’s Great Escape. 309

  Chapter 53: A Night In Valletal 322

  Chapter 54: Javan’s Incursion. 328

  Chapter 55: Home At Last 333

  Postscript / Special Thanks. 339

   

  Introduction/About The Author

   

  “Now for the obligatory page about me. My name is Carl Russ, III. I live in a small apartment in Bartow, Florida, where I spend most of my time writing and drinking way too much black coffee. I’m a bit of a nerd, and am especially fond of RPGs: those of the video game and table top variety. As you may notice, my work is heavily influenced by the genre. In fact, the ‘Tales of Aria’ series traces its origins to a scrapped RPG project of my own. However, to prevent from making this section of the book far too long, I’ll refrain from elaborating further.

  “Oh look, a second paragraph. You’re still reading this? Oh, good. Anyhow, ‘Tales of Aria: The Legend of Damiano’s Disk’ is my first venture into writing. I’ll admit, I’m no professional. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t put a great deal of time, effort, and passion into this story. This is my world, and these are my characters. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have.”

  –Carl Russ, III

   

  Prologue

   

  Lucas Bardsson awoke to the sound of scratching at his front door. He sprang out of bed and seized a small lantern resting on his night stand. Quickly grabbing a match out of the drawer, he lit the lantern and bolted out of his room. As he made his way toward the source of the disturbance, he collected a battered sword from the kitchen table.

  He pressed his ear against the door. The sound of claws digging into wood was accompanied by a low growling.

  “An imp,” he softly whispered, gently hanging the lantern nearby. He tightened his grip on the hilt of his weapon, slowly reaching toward the doorknob with his free hand.

  “Go back to bed,” a voice behind him said. He glanced back to see his grandfather, Marvin. “Give me the sword, Lucas. I’ll take care of it.”

  Lucas shook his head. “No, Grandpa. I told you, I don’t want you doing this anymore. Let me handle it.”

  “Those beasts are dangerous, Lucas.”

  “I know,” Lucas responded sternly as the scratching and growling grew increasingly furious. “That’s exactly why you need to let me handle this. Losing dad was hard enough.”

  Reluctantly, Marvin took several steps back. Again, reaching for the doorknob, Lucas prepared himself. In one swift motion, he swung the door wide open and thrust his blade into the beast. It screamed in agony as it fell to the ground.

  These visits from strange monsters had become a regular occurrence for the Bardsson household. Most often they were imps: short, aggressive hominoid creatures with sharp teeth and claws. For the first few months or so, Lucas found these encounters frightening. But with time, it became a normal part of his life.

  It had been two long years since the day these beasts first began appearing in his homeland of Aria. They arrived without warning, their origin unknown, quickly sweeping across the land, overtaking cities and wreaking havoc. In an attempt to quell the onslaught, King Ashraf sent massive armies of his finest warriors to combat the bizarre invaders. The brutal fighting lasted for several days, and despite the tremendous number of casualties, the monsters only continued to resurface.

&nbs
p; Suddenly, when all seemed lost, a mysterious group emerged calling themselves the “Knowms.” They arrived in the royal city of Cymbeline dressed in dark‑green cloaks. Promising safety for the cities of Aria, they asked only that the king fund their campaign. Quick to seize any advantage over the seemingly unstoppable foes, he agreed. With the full financial support of the royal crown, the Knowms were successful in keeping the cities of Aria clean.

  Considering they were no longer needed within the cities, the king’s knights were assigned the responsibility of delivering mail and transporting goods throughout the land. The battle‑hardened men were not pleased by the idea of being demoted to such mundane duty. Regardless, with the presence of the wild beasts, their experience in combat proved to be absolutely essential in completing these once simple tasks.

  While King Ashraf had managed to gain control of the situation, the city limits became a type of gilded cage for many of the Arialites; most citizens were far too afraid of monster attacks to traverse the land between cities. Though the majority of Arialites outside of the urban areas had relocated to neighboring towns and cities, the Bardsson family remained in the small house in a vast field just west of Cymbeline. A bold move, but it came with a terrible price.

  * * * *

  Lucas awoke the next morning to the sound of his grandfather preparing breakfast. The aroma of boiling potatoes filled the house. “Smells good,” Lucas commented as he passed through the kitchen, making his way to a large iron pail resting on the countertop.

  Marvin turned to his grandson. “If you get some milk while you’re in town today, I can make us porridge.” Lucas inspected the inside of the pail. It was nearly empty; almost no water remained. He picked it up and turned around to collect the sword from the kitchen table.

  The water pump was in the backyard. Lucas’s eyes darted around the landscape as he closed the front door behind him and made his way around the side of the house. The field appeared to be peaceful, but he knew better than to let his guard down when he wasn’t in the safe confines of his home. Placing the pail under the spigot, he began pumping. As he did, his eyes wandered to a large oak tree in the distance. Every time he saw it, he was reminded of that day. Two decaying wooden crosses were planted in the dirt beneath its branches. I need to replace those again... Mom, Dad... I miss you every day.

  His thoughts were abruptly interrupted by a loud buzzing sound coming from the woods behind him. He looked over his shoulder, continuing to pump as the noise grew louder. All too familiar with the sound, Lucas knew that he would have no choice but to run if its source were to emerge from the trees. Startled by a splash of cold water on his leg, the pail overflowing, he turned his attention back to his task.

  Returning inside with the pail in tow, he placed the sword on the kitchen table and made his way into the washroom. Splashing some water on his messy, blond hair, he attempted to tame its wild appearance with a small comb. As a result of the restless nights, thick black rings were visible beneath his green eyes. Here he was, only eighteen years old, yet he had the worn face of an experienced adult. Using the water he had fetched, he cleaned himself up and got dressed.

  Lucas entered the kitchen wearing a brown, long‑sleeved shirt with dark‑gray pants and a black belt. He seated himself at the table and put on his boots as his grandfather placed a plate of sliced potatoes in front of him. “Thanks,” Lucas said. He picked up one of the slices.

  His grandfather sat down across from him and began to eat. “I wrote another poem yesterday. You’ll have to tell me what you think of it when you get home.”

  Lucas nodded, “I’m sure it’ll be good.” Marvin smiled, a small piece of potato stuck to his thick gray beard. There was a short pause as the two ate. “About last night,” Lucas said, breaking the silence. “I want you to promise me you’ll let me handle all of the monsters from now on.”

  “I’m a grown man,” his grandfather replied. “I don’t need protecting.” He ate another potato slice.

  “It worries me when you go out there,” Lucas asserted.

  Marvin glanced across the table at him. “Do you think I don’t get worried when you do the same?”

  Lucas sighed. “Grandpa, you’re getting older. You’re a lot more vulnerable than you think you are.” Marvin did not reply to the remark. The two completed their meal in silence.

  Lucas cleaned his plate and collected a sheath from his room. After securing it to his waist, he took the sword from the kitchen table and slid it inside. “I’ll try not to be too long, but I can’t make any promises,” he said as he opened the front door. “Hopefully the blacksmith isn’t too busy today. If any imps show up while I’m gone, don’t try to fight them. Just stay inside. The axe is by the washroom door, but I only want you to use it if it’s absolutely necessary.”

  Marvin nodded. “Be careful.”

  Chapter 1: The Strange Object

   

  After making his way across the field to a large dirt road, Lucas headed east toward Cymbeline. He could still hear the buzzing sound resonating from the woods behind his house. Lightly placing his hand on his sword’s hilt, he continued to walk down the trail. As Lucas neared the royal city of Cymbeline, he observed in the distance what appeared to be a group of imps in the road. Removing his sword from its sheath, he continued toward them, unabated. Something was off. Normally, imps would turn and attack him as he approached, yet they remained in place. It was then that he noticed they were gathered around something.

  Suddenly, a shiver went down his spine and he was overcome with the feeling of fear. But this was not his own fear; it was the fear of death. They’re killing someone! Moving his feet as fast as they would carry him, he bolted toward the assault he was witnessing. Once he was closer to the attack, he saw that there were four of them, clawing and scratching at a badly injured old man lying in the middle of the road. One of the imps looked up at Lucas and let out a dreadful shriek. Instantly, the other three ceased their attack and turned to see Lucas’s fast‑approaching body, sword in hand.

  The group lunged at Lucas, viciously hissing and growling. He thrust his blade into the first imp, but the other three grabbed his limbs with their claws and teeth, biting and scratching at his legs, ripping the pant fabric and drawing blood. Lucas pulled his sword from the corpse and swiftly swung it at the attackers, managing to injure two of them. He kicked another off of his leg and took several steps backward. It growled and lunged toward him as the other two writhed in anguish. Thinking quickly, Lucas stuck his sword straight out in front of him, impaling the imp as it jumped. He scrambled toward the remaining two and ended their suffering.

  Sheathing the blade, Lucas ran over to the old man lying in a massive pool of blood. He shuddered at the sight as his thoughts drifted to the conversation he had had with his grandfather before departing the house.

  Kneeling down beside the old man, Lucas spoke. “Speak to me. What happened?”

  The man slowly moved his lips. “My p‑pocket... take it... t‑to... Roshan.”

  Lucas was confused. “Your pocket?”

  “Y‑yes! Look... inside. Take it... to Roshan. In Cymb... eline... T‑tell no one... you... h‑have it. G‑give it... to him... Aria is...” The man’s mouth swung wide open as his head limply fell to the side. The feeling of fear left Lucas.

  Just then, he heard the sound of galloping hooves coming from the direction of Cymbeline. Looking up, he saw a small band of knights riding his way. Hastily reaching into the old man’s pocket, he found the object. It appeared to be a flat, golden semicircle, not much larger than his hand, containing several odd engravings that made no sense to him. Take it to Roshan? Still highly confused by the events that had just taken place, he swiftly put it in his pocket and rose to his feet.

  The knights halted, inspecting Lucas and the surrounding cadavers. “What happened here?” the captain asked firmly.

  “He was attacked by imps,” Lucas replied. “I tried to save him, but I wasn’t quick enough.”

/>   The captain looked down at the old man, then back to Lucas. “I see. What are you doing outside of the city in the first place?”

  “I don’t live in the city,” Lucas answered. “I was actually on my way there to run some errands.”

  After a brief pause, the captain turned to one of his men. “Get those bodies out of the road,” he barked before turning back to Lucas. “Go on! Nothing more to see here.” After taking one last look at the mysterious old man, Lucas continued his journey.

  * * * *

  Lucas stepped onto the cobblestone street that marked the Cymbeline city limit. The streets were bustling with people. Lucas felt a knot in his stomach as he was flooded with emotions. Joy, anger, sadness, fear... but confusion seemed to stand out the most. It was this very reason that he avoided the city when possible.

  The Knowms stood on every street corner like statues. They wore dark‑green cloaks, covering their heads and entire bodies. In the distance, he could see Regal Heights, a gated community for the upper class. The most notable resident was Lord Javan Quinn, King Ashraf’s trusted adviser. Lucas gazed at Quinn Manor, which dwarfed even the relatively large surrounding homes. I can’t imagine what it must be like to live in a place like that. Servants, attending your every need. No monsters to worry about...

  Making his way through the crowd, Lucas gently placed his hand in his pocket. His fingers grazed the strange metallic object within. What is this thing? Why can’t I show anyone? He scanned the crowd. Roshan... who’s Roshan?

  Lucas approached a vendor selling fruit. “Excuse me. Do you know of a man named Roshan?”

  The vendor glanced at him and continued neatly preparing his display. “He runs a restaurant on the north side of town. It’s called Roshan’s Café. You can’t miss it.”

  Lucas nodded, “Thanks,” and disappeared back into the crowd.

  “You gonna buy something?” the vendor shouted.

  Soon after arriving in northern Cymbeline, Lucas found a building with a brown roof and a sign that read “Roshan’s Café.” He opened the door and entered. There weren’t many people in the restaurant.

  “Welcome to Roshan’s Café.” Lucas turned to see an older woman with curly brown hair. She smiled. “Table for one?”

  Lucas reached into his pocket to make sure the strange object hadn’t fallen out. “Actually, I’m here to see Roshan.”

  The woman looked puzzled. “Just one moment.” She disappeared through a door leading into the kitchen.

  Lucas felt awkward standing alone near the doorway and sat down at a nearby table. Quietly observing the restaurant’s patrons, he noticed a man sitting by himself near the kitchen door. Lucas soon realized that the lone man was staring at his ripped pant leg, still stained with blood. Turning his head away from the stranger, Lucas sat and waited as the constantly shifting emotions of the city continued to churn inside him.

 
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