Downtown was pretty quiet since practically everyone was at the arena enjoying themselves. Lilian, who had just arrived in the city had no idea what was going on why one of the most busiest cities in the entire world had gone quiet when she walked in through the gates. Guards did seem to eye her as she walked in, she did look rather sketchy, especially since she was a halfling. She heard feint screaming from the distance, what was it and where was it coming from? She had no clue. It was then a small little poster flew by and got caught in her leg. She felt herself twitch and bend down to grab the poster. She examined it, getting a grip on where everyone was.
Ketto tournament? I suppose I'm late for the party.
She threw the poster away and made her way to a small little place with a sign written "Sign ups". She was upset to say the least to have to stoop to arena fighting, she always hated it. She'd seen slaves fight before for the entertainment of rich nobles, it's not a pretty sight. She approached the woman sat at the sign ups and spoke.
"Am I too late? I'd like to sign up." Said Lilian, she sounded young, like she had recently turned nineteen, and her accent was thick, it sounded very Scottish.
"We don't accept people below twenty-one," stated the woman "We rather not see minors get hurt."
Lilian crossed her arms and let out a sigh, this always happened, her height always made assume she was younger than what she actually is.
"I'm twenty-seven dear, I'm just short." Hissed Lilith as stared at the woman.
"O-Oh! S-Sorry, Uhh.... I... Uhm..." The woman began to panic, how embarrassing.
The woman reached down under her desk and fished out a piece of paper, sliding it towards Lilian.
"P-Please, my apologies! Please don't leave. J-Just write your name and your single weapon of choice ma'am." spoke the woman.
Lilian, even with her low amount of emotion, seemed to chuckle at such a thing, she adored herself whenever she'd make someone feel uncomfortable with her stares. Lilian then leaned forwards and started to write. She wrote her name. Lilian, and immediately regret writing it down, she hated seeing her name written by her hand. She crossed it out and wrote 'Lilith' instead. She then started to write the name of her weapon. She misspelled it twice, which meant the paper looked muddled. She then placed her signature on the bottom of the paper and handed it back to the woman.
"Thank you... B-But before you get in there, there are a few rules to the tournament." Added the woman.
"And they are?" asked Lilian.
"First, you may not kill your opponent. The match will end when one of the combatants is unable to continue to fight or surrenders. Second, each participant is only granted one weapon. Your... " She then quickly read her application "...Siopilós spear is the only thing you'll only thing you'll bring in there. And finally, If the match continues for longer than what the king may seem it may take, he will cease your fighting and decide there. Are you alright with these set of rules?" Asked the woman.
Lilian was about to speak, but was interrupted when the crowd at the arena screamed after someone had just won.
"I'm fine with the rules, thank you." Stated Lilian.
"Well Miss Lilith, Apologies for thinking you were a minor, but please stay safe and be careful, you should be up next, your opponent is rather interesting."
Lilian nodded, and made her way to the arena. Minutes later as she got ready, she heard her name get called and she made her way to the arena. As she entered, she heard people scream, they were excited to watch her fight. Her opponent, was a man with heavy armour and a massive shield. Lilian then sighed and spoke.
"It had to be shields."
She hated going against shields, but she had no choice. She heard the king start the match and they were off. The man with the shield charged in, something a shield bearer would not normally do, but the shield looked deadly, it had blades on the side. She sighed and lowered her stance to a defensive measure. The man leaped on her, and she barely dodged that one, she gritted her teeth and pushed him off, he was tall, it was a bit difficult to do such things. The man then swiped his shield at her, and she blocked it, this repeated multiple times, barely blocking the man's attacks. She was growing weary, the man still had a lot of energy left. The man then bashed his shield at her, and she was stunned, he used this to taunt, he was banging his fist at his shield, almost telling the crowd that this was an easy match. Lilian could barely stand on her two feet, she losing grips on what was going on. She was teetering and tottering back and forth, until she shook it off. The man then ran to her about to finish her off, but she sidestepped, and slashed at his shield, the man was staggered and she sweet him off his feet with her spear, and placed her spear by his neck, the man dropped his shield and raised both hands to call that he surrenders. Lilian felt her body tremble, as she wiped the blood of her face, she held out her hand for the man, and the man took it. Lilian helped him up and spoke.
"I think you bashing me in the face gave me a concussion." Joked Lilith.
The man laughed and gave her a pat on the back. He smiled and removed his helmet, revealing luscious blonde locks, blue eyes and a light beard.
"You did vell out 'dere! Nice to zee an opponent like you!" Said the man, he had an accent as well, it sounded very German.
The king then called out. "Lilith! Lilith is our champion for this round! And she does seem to have sportsmanship!" Exclaimed the king.
Lilith then folded her spear and clipped it back to her belt, she placed her hand on the man's shoulder and felt her headache grow. She passed out right then and there. The man and a medic escorted her out.
It was late in the evening. The sun was nearly set, and the last fight of the first round had begun. A middle aged Dwarf lady, named Darin, and a T'Kal man, who was called Citus. The former wielded an intimidating ax, with intricate carvings on the head and shaft. The T'Kal wielded what he called a Duertemo, A long pole with two blades, one on each end. Such a weapon must take great skill to wield, whereas the ax didn't require as much training. Artemisius drew a deep breath and spoke, "Let the match begin."
Citus rushed Darin, and struck her weapon with his own. He quickly stepped away before she could react, and moved back in at a different angle. His weapon moved with grace and speed, whereas Darin was hardly able to keep up. But then, she swung her ax, and nearly caught her opponent. Citus was surprised at how close she came, and that gave her the edge. She quickly followed up with the blunt half of her weapon, and broke the T'Kal's leg. He fell over, and she drew her weapon high, in premature victory. Citus drew his weapon back, and threw it into Darin's back. She fell on her face. Blood came from her mouth.She was unconscious.
"Aha! Well done Citus. This can teach us all one valuable lesson, never turn your back to your enemy until you know they are dead for certain. Or unable to continue! Haha!" The medic mages rushed onto the scene, repairing Citus' leg and carefully removing the Duertemo from Darin. "And this concludes the first round of the 300th annual Ketto Tournament. I do hope you all enjoyed today's spectacle, and I also hope you return tomorrow to see the second round. Until then, i bid you all good fortune."
The King then signaled the mage next to him to cancel the sound amplification spell. "Send a message to Daniel. Tell him to send the losers in the first round back to the city. Those that have won may stay." The mage nodded and went. The king then thought back on his own words. There weren't any records of a death among them... come to think of it, they said they couldn't even be injured by normal means... even the mages had trouble... they simply went away, as if a miracle... but that was generations ago, i'm simply paranoid. Artemisius smiled to himself and returned to his carriage.
Rollback Post to RevisionRollBack
Puella Magi Madoka Magicka is an awesome, feel-good, cutesy anime. You should watch it!
The next morning was overcast, with clouds covering the sky as far as the eye could see. And even as the tournament started, the rain began to fall.
But no one was about to let that impede the tournament. It was only a light drizzle, after all. So the second round of battles began, as always, with the King's voice announcing over the arena to "Begin!"
Chris and Tressel were up, the first battle of the morning.
Chris hopped backwards a few times to make distance between the two. He drew his sword from his side and flourished it a little, trying less to impress and more to get a chance to size up his opponent. A one-armed naga? A very average one at that. She wasn't built for fighting, and her weapon was a chain. He was deft enough, though. He could take care of that. Easy.
He darted forward, jumping from side to side as the chain whips came in swiftly and snapped against the ground to no avail. Chris raised his sword in both hands, ready to make his final move.
The thought was interrupted by a pummeling force in his stomach which urged him to drop his sword and lurch forward. A scaly tail had crashed against him, and he looked up again to see even the naga woman a little surprised by what she'd done. It was then that she regathered herself, sooner than Chris could, and began to coil herself around him.
Tressel's cold blood was pumping, despite the chill of the rain. The wet droplets ran off her scales as she pulled her tail tighter around her opponent. He was fast, but now he was stuck, not strong enough to break free from her coils. She was winning. She was winning! That thought wormed it's way into her brain, and now it felt real, here in the rain, sparring with someone. Maybe she actually had a chance at this tournament!
Then she remembered Morgen's words. Smile. So she did, face only inches away from the struggling man in front of her. She meant for it to be good-natured, but the excitement pumping through her and the thrill from winning made it a bit wider, a bit more wild. "Do you surrender?"
That was when he glared at her, yanked an arm free, and punched her in the face.
Psychopath. The word running through his mind as the woman managed to almost offend him with her excitement. But not so soon would he give in to this woman. She wasn't a fighter. She didn't know what she was doing. She didn't know what he'd been through.
She didn't deserve it.
He glared, and forced his arm free. The sudden burst had caught the naga off-guard. She'd loosened her grip, and now Chris could deliver a firm blow to her smug face. Any grip she had left was gone immediately, and Chris forced himself away from her tail with no regard to technique or finesse, until he somehow salvaged the motion in a roll for his sword. He picked it up and stood to face the woman again, raising it to her as a taunt.
She remained awestruck, her face hurting everywhere. She could only spit out a tooth before Chris lunged again, this time bringing his sword up horizontally and stopping only a moment before it would have slashed her throat open.
"Do you surrender?"
Staring up at him in disbelief, she couldn't seem to speak at first. She sighed. "Yes."
Chris sheathed his blade, and she picked up her chain. With a nod to each other, the fight was over.
Ki'than looked up at the rainclouds. These would certainly impede his ability to fight well. Not only did they make him colder and slower, but the water on the ground made the arena slick. Both competitors had to deal with this, however. Ki'than closed his eyes a moment, listening. A match had just ended. Ki'than heard the King call his name, and someone else names- Sontar.
Ki'than entered the arena once again and faced his opponent. A young elven boy, likely 18 in human years stood across from him. He had short blond hair that stuck to his head, and proud blue eyes. The boy held a longsword, roughly longer than Ki'than's sword by half. Sontar raised his sword to a very standard position for battle, his hand not wavering an inch. This boy was very disciplined- he was precise, exact- he didn't want to waste any energy.
Ki'than also noticed he held his off-hand in an extremely particular way. The position of his fingers didn't change his balance, nor his ability to fight. Something like that for someone so disciplined was either habit or superstition. He was obsessive about it. Things had to go a particular way, and he would not tolerate any deviance.
"Begin!" The King said.
Sontar approached calmly, but swiftly, muttering something under his breath. Magic? No, he wouldn't- Magic was illegal. This was likely another aspect of his obsession- a certain phrase or song that helped him focus. Ki'than stood still, his sword at the ready. He planned on exploiting Sontar's obsession to his advantage. The elf, once in range swung at Ki'than. He deflected it and jabbed his opponent in the chest before stepping back. Sontar took a moment to cough, before continuing his muttering. Ki'than repeated this, but instead struck him in the neck.
Sontar coughed on the ground a moment. Ki'than could tell from a distance his voice was hoarse. The elf rose up, his mouth closed and silent. Ki'than also noticed him to be agitated. The z'taari traded a few blows with him in a short duel, but he noticed the boy was putting too much power into his swings, and they were much less precise. Ki'than continued to exploit the boy, which fueled his frustration, which made him more exploitable. At this point, it was only a matter of time.
"GAAAH!" He shouted, making his hoarse voice even worse. He threw his weapon away and raised his hands. Ki'than assumed this to be his surrender. The medic mages came into the arena and made sure he wanted to surrender, and he nodded in reply. The mages then healed the two of them- For Ki'than, a few minor bruises were all- as the king shouted out his usual praise to the winner.
Rollback Post to RevisionRollBack
Puella Magi Madoka Magicka is an awesome, feel-good, cutesy anime. You should watch it!
The rest of the fights came and went, Iris had watched most of them after she had finished recovering from her own battle. As the last fight for the day reached its conclusion, Iris began to realise just how tired she was. It had been all the adrenaline which had kept her alert for so long after he battle ended. Now the sky was tinted orange and pink from the setting sun and Iris began to contemplate going to sleep.
Iris was taken back to the place where they had been given dinner and where they had slept during the previous night. She noticed just how much less crowded it felt, the amount of people had been greatly reduced since the tournament began. It was then that it fully hit her, she had won her first fight and she was still in the competition. A smile crept across her face as she wearily thought about what it would be like to be the last one. Of course, she would have to win her second fight first and judging by the other fights she saw today she thought that she would have to be careful.
Her dreams that night were filled with images of arrows and blades. She dreamt of the tournament, she dreamt that her friends from the merchant caravan were there to see her fight. She dreamt that she had been hit by her adversary's blade. This made her flinch and wake up. She looked around the room before rolling over and shutting her eyes again. The next time she opened them, it was morning.
It was also raining. And it was raining on where the competitors would have to fight. But despite the less than optimal weather, the competition continued. Iris stood in the rain-cooled air to watch her fellow competitors. She stood there, really hoping that the weather would clear before her turn to fight arrived. Alas, she was not that lucky.
Iris heard her name called. With a sigh of resignation, Iris gave up her wish for sunshine and made her way to the arena. This time her foe was an elven woman named Eva. She wore leather armour and carried around a metal staff in one Iris looked around the arena before the fight began. The rain had made puddles of water on the arena floor, making running around a little more dangerous. The water had also found its way onto her wings, making flying more difficult.
"Begin!" came the call
As quickly as she could, Iris notched an arrow into her bow and aimed it at her foe. The armour would prevent the arrow from causing much damage, so maybe if she aimed for the right spot her arrow might have more of a effect. She let go of the arrow, it flew through the air until it hit the armour on Eva's shoulder and fell to the floor. As Iris reloaded her bow to try again, Eva began to charge.
Just as Iris had gotten the arrow onto the string of her trusty bow, Eva had managed to cover the distance between them. She took a swipe at Iris's legs, the T'Kal jumped into the air in an attempt to dodge the strike. It glanced off her ankle but Iris had managed to prevent most of the damage. She attempted to take off using her wings, but the water weighed down her wings. As she returned to the earth after the unsuccessful flight attempt she attempted to hit Eva with her free hand.
Iris managed a strike against the elf, who began to retreat for a second attack against her. So Iris quickly pulled back on her bowstring, and another arrow flew. It was a hastily aimed shot but it managed to hit Eva in the left foot. Eva stopped to remove the arrow from her foot before charging again. She was definitely slower than before but she managed to hit Iris in her shoulder. Iris yelled out in pain. Eva retreated again and Iris notched another arrow in her bow. She winced as she pulled back on the sting and fired another arrow.
The arrow hit Eva's right arm, causing her to almost drop her staff. Now Iris thought she had the advantage. She fired another arrow which missed and landed left of Eva. One more arrow was fired and stuck in Eva's shoulder armour. At this point, the elf looked around before she conceded the fight. The healers came, they healed both Eva and Iris and they even had picked up some of her arrows and gave them back to her.
Lilian was healed from her last endeavour, the shielder was a tough opponent, her head was still hurting a slight amount even after the healers have done their work. She made a new friend, Vaati, the shielder that she went up against, though as per usual, she'd cut off any means of friendship between him and her after she leaves the city. She hated doing this, but she rather not have anyone else caught in her shenanigans.
Her name was called after a short while, she was off to fight someone else. She readied her spear and made her way to the arena, she readied herself for the worst, she didn't even know what her enemy would be. To her knowledge, she was the only half-elf in the city, and she was not about to live that down.
Qrin was always an early riser, and this day was no different. To him, it truly felt no different. To some this would have been an advantage, as it would give them calmer nerves; to others, a lack of mental preparation would have been a gross disadvantage. Qrin did not care enough to determine whether he was benefited or not.
He spoke to no one. For the entire night, and that next morning, he did not speak. Even as he waited to enter the arena, he had no words for the guards or healers. When at last his name was called and he meandered out onto the sands, he gave no attention to the few fans he had won from the day before. He was, instead, deep in thought.
What troubled him this day was a dream he had endured the night before. It was a dream of grass and a long, winding road. The road was mostly empty, but then along came a lizard. Qrin looked at the lizard. The lizard looked at Qrin. For a moment, there was an understanding between the two of them.
Now, though, when it was only himself who he had to understand, Qrin was at a loss. The dream could have been real, could it not? The sensations of the dream, while dulled compared to the sensations he sometimes felt in this world of sand, could have been the real sensations. Did it not make sense that his brain could produce stronger reactions than the world's interactions with him? The brain was a powerful tool. Surely its confines could be less real - or more real.
As you might tell, Qrin was deeply distracted, and deeply distraught. This fight was a backdrop in the one reality he could never escape - but whether that made it real, or a subconscious prison, he could never tell.
Lilian felt her ears flinch, something was off, something was definitely off. This sinking feeling was something she had before, but what was it? Well, her name was called, however it wasn't anyone who was running the arena. It was just the shielder, he called her name and Lilian thought it was time for battle. Something was off today, and that was Lilian herself.
"Vaati, you sound way too much like the king when you call my name." Said Lilian
"Do I? My apologies good friend! I just want to wish you good luck out there, you'll never know what you'll be fighting out there you know." Replied Vaati
"Much appreciated, I do thi-" Lilian was cut off by the sound of the actual king calling her name.
She gripped her spear and felt this thundering presence from the king's voice. She started to walk, she walked passed Vaati and left the inn they were staying in. Vaati yelled out a quick good luck as Lilian walked out the door. Lilian looked back at the one she was going to have to leave behind soon, shame really, she was starting to think he'd be a good companion to have around, especially with that massive shield. Whatever, she wasn't one to make friends anyway.
In the middle of the arena there was nothing but a deep emptiness - a strange serenity, as if all the souls who had been lost long ago in the days of barbarism were now sucking the noise into their dead dimension, grasping at some last sensation of the mortal world they had once loved but now had left. Qrin wandered through that void and felt neither calmed nor unsettled - he was already too unnerved for anything to make him more aware of his feeble grasp on this world.
Old men wander, new men hunt. Qrin had heard this saying once, when he was but a young bugling. Of course, at the time, it had been in his own language. Translated to the tongue of the humans it had the same meaning, but only if the words were changed as he had changed them above. Qrin had, as a young man, hunted for answers. Still today he hunted, but now he did it with less purpose behind each step, and more of a desperate hope. As a young bug, Qrin had thought he understood the adage; he had thought that old men were confident and wise enough to know that the answer would come to them. Now, though, he thought he saw a different, depressing truth: old men were young men undone, their ambition churned into a paste of despair and their purpose divined into just what he felt: desperation that chance would save them when they themselves could not.
Qrin really could not care for the battle he was prepared to fight; it paled against the turmoils he faced daily. This tournament had shown him no chances for freedom of the soul - not yet.
Lilian still had this odd feeling inside her chest, like something terrible was going to happen, like some Griffin attack or something, not like it would be the first time she'd experience that, but still. She stood behind the gate, the only think preventing her from entering the arena, was a large iron gate that needed to be lifted up a lever. She ran her finger down the hilt of her spear and gulped, why was she feeling nervous all of a sudden? Lilian was never the type to get nervous, especially in fights. She let out a deep breath, she kept her head down to keep the sun from shining on her eyes as the gate lifted up, revealing the arena, the arena in which she gladly fought in already.
"Tch, morning battles..." Muttered Lilian under her breath.
She took one step forward, followed by another, and another, and so on till she was far enough from the gate. The gate then slammed down, almost shaking the ground from it's pure weight. She glanced up, just to see who she was facing, but the light shining down kept her from doing so, though, whatever it was, it didn't look human at all. That's what the sinking feeling was, fighting other races that didn't resemble humans, something she still had trouble doing. Why? Was she racist? No, absolutely not, her knowledge in the current world isn't as exceptional as people accustomed to living already. She still continued to learn, but what the hell was that?
She blinked, and squinted her eyes, trying her absolute hardest to find out what it was. All she could get from it, was it was frightening and dangerous, and she needed to fight it.
A human, Qrin saw. The ground reverberated. The gate had just slammed shut. Eddies of sand still swirled. A dangerous human.
The spear flickered in the sunlight. Mirage, Qrin convinced himself; this could not be some sign of a faltering portion of reality. While many adversaries would inspect each others' faces to catch sight of anger, fear, confidence, or exhaustion, Qrin ignored this and studied where the human stood. Reading the cues and emotions of another species was like identifying a tree based on the pattern its roots left in the ground. Anger, fear - they could be discerned in many individuals. Deeper thoughts and inclinations were invisible to the untrained, unnatural eye.
All the same, 'dangerous human' seemed a fitting description for this one.
She tried her absolute hardest to shake off any odd feelings at this time, being distracted in a fight is never a good sign. She didn't want to be easily caught off guard, especially with an opponent like that, she had never seen one before, she had no idea what they were capable of, and like she thought of before, it was frightening.
Everyone she fought was always significantly taller than she was, she was a massive disadvantage when it comes to range even with a spear. She ran her fingers down the base of the spear strapped to her back and let out a sigh, trying to find a way to defeat this creature.
"Well, when you're ready!" Artemisius urged on his gladiators in the arena below. The audience doesn't like deep, emotional staring with layers of complexity and contemplation of the human experience - they want action! Bam, bam! Swords to the stomach! Death to the Ztaari! The underdog and the home team wins!
Qrin doubted that he would be the first to attack, but even he could be blinded by prescience. More so, he knew this fight, once begun, would likely be short. There would be no dramatic exchange of pleasantries or curses - at least, not on his part. The fight would be swift and vicious, like the murder of beasts in the desert. He hoped only that he would not be the beast at the end, lying dead with entrails spilling out onto the harsh, granular sand.
Lilian unsheathed her spear, and shifted her grip from it, the sword-like spear was being held like a long sword at this point, thinking she might get a good opening strike with this move. She kept the blade pointed down and ran towards the him, trying to go for an early blow via stab at the liver area.
Qrin anticipated the blow, waiting for his opponent to arrive and studying her as she approached. His stance was calm, but prepared for agility. Thump-thump-thump, thump-thump-thump. He felt the reverberations now as he often felt those of worms in the desert. Thump-thump-thump, thump-thump-thump- out! And Qrin bolted, flying in a powerful dive across the sand with his staff extending to hopefully pierce the flesh on the human's neck or face. His species had evolved for incredible agility on this exact terrain. They had a light, weak exoskeleton to minimize their weight, but powerful legs to maximize their power. With this evolutionary advantage, Qrin had only to time his escape correctly. His experience had made him skillful in this calculation, but no normal organism could be even close to perfect at predicting angles, speeds, and chances. Luck would be one of his great weapons in this and other battles.
"Tch" Lilian indignantly let out.
She was too slow, and too reckless, something that she always hated being, and yet there she was in another situation that could lead to her demise or at least a defeat. She wasn't having that, she moved her shoulders back along with her neck, whatever his weapon was, she barely dodged it. The sharp bit scraped her cheek, a strip of crimson had now appeared on her cheek. She took a step back and tried to regain her senses, trying to adapt to the situation. The way she held the spear shifted, She placed her right hand by the middle of the spear, and had the long hilt run up behind her shoulder, letting the tip face down. She was in a more balanced position, her left hand was placed behind her back as if she was acting like a noble. Her eyes quivered, she still wasn't sure what that thing was.
Barely yet gracefully, Qrin escaped the human's first charge. He landed with an audible 'thump' against the sand and rolled back to his feet. Standing again, he turned with unforeseen leisure to face his opponent. He could see from this short distance that blood now sparked on pale flesh. He surmised that his staff was the cause, and a glance to his weapon confirmed this.
But, what to do next? Qrin was not per se a hunter; rather, he was a survivalist. In a more peaceful desert, a different lifestyle would be forced upon its wanderers. As it was, the beasts which attacked were both relentless, hence they were always to be defended against, and nutritious, thus they took the role of food after they were almost inevitably slain. As such, instinct told Qrin to wait for an attack, and then to counter. Action - change - makes us vulnerable as it makes us in a new form.
Qrin, though, was far too old to safely grow anew.
Lilian tightened her grip against her spear, and paced around her opponent, grinding the spear tip against the ground. She was thinking, and seeing how she almost died a few seconds ago, she couldn't just rush in there and do whatever she wanted. Adapt to the situation, the perfect plan, she inched her way towards him, attacks in quick succession should work. She then lunged forward, trying to jab the dart of the spear against his lower body multiple times, one handing was something Lilian was infamous for. She was one of the few people who could one hand a spear longer than her, as if the weight didn't do anything to her.
If Qrin could have dodged the first thrust, he may well have dodged every one afterwards for quite some time. Alas, that first approach of the spear pierced his exoskeleton, the chitin cracking and allowing fluids to begin seeping out. Qrin felt a deep unease overcome him; in the desert, to have one's exoskeleton pierced would often mean excruciating and certain death. On one hand, the prospect of death intrigued him. However, he was not yet ready to face this possibility finale to his quest. He would not explore the afterlife today.
Reacting to his painful situation preoccupied Qrin enough that he was stabbed twice more; one blow widened the first wound and the other opened a new wound closer to the centre of his abdomen. Qrin hissed in pain, and retreated a few steps more to finally escape this flurry of assault. He looked at his wounds, and then at his opponent. Even handicapped, he might still win.
In contrast to the cuts and jabs which had proliferated in the match thus far, Qrin's revenge would come in the form of a blunt-ended assault, his staff swinging forward in a motion which would slam its side into the spear which he needed to evade. This would, hopefully, knock the tip of the spear into the ground, and from there Qrin could perhaps knock the human across the face, again with a bladeless portion of his weapon.
Lilian felt a source of comfort after she had pierced his stomach, she might actually win after being obviously out-skilled by a creature such at this. This was her first mistake, she saw the creature's weapon swing down, this caught her off guard, she barely blocked it but the force of the weapon was too strong, the spear tip slammed down into the ground and had Lilian slide a few feet backwards. That blow was absolutely devastating, she didn't expect something so strong to have happen. Her wrists were feeling week, even if she was known to one hand spears, she had to two hand that blow just keep her wrist from breaking.
Why was she being cocky? Why did she have to act like her chances of winning were absolute? She was probably done for, but then she thought of small little move she learned in her travels. She extended her spear backwards and spun around, using the back end of the spear to sweep the creature of it's feet.
Slam! A flash of twirling sky, and then Qrin was lying on his back, his legs injured even more. The extreme weakness of his carapace lent itself to injure easily, and now, twice-injured and growing faint, it was such a huge disadvantage that Qrin could see no victory. He wondered if this was the advent of death.
With no time to regain his footing - such an act would require great strength and care - Qrin raised his staff, hoping to counter any blow the human might make against his unprotected stomach. Like a beetle tipped over on a stony path, he was open to attack. Defenceless. He had won battles from this exact position when he was a far younger bug, with a form untainted by the trials of kansani. Now, though, he was an old bug. Wisdom and insanity were little compensation for this death.
Not allowed to kill, not allowed to kill, not allowed to kill.
The thought repeated in her head like a broken record, she raised her spear, gripping the bandaged wrapped pole and winded up a downward thrust, hoping this creature was to yield before it even came down. If the Gods had mercy something would prevent her from wanting to spill blood today, but what was it? Why was her drive to murder this creature she knew nothing about so strong? She couldn't kill in the arena, but she was holding back.
As she let out that downwards thrust she heard the clash of her spear against his staff. After that attack had failed, she took a step back and leapt in the air, giving her spear a quick twirl and slashing down at him like a blade.
One parry was luck; two would be skill. Alas, there would be no second parry, for Qrin chose to stab rather than block, hoping his staff might be longer than her spear. Imagine if all those abominations of the sands were like this one - we wanderers would have much shorter lives, he thought, but then corrected himself. No, the abominations are just as deadly as this human. It is our experience with them which makes them less dangerous to us in old age.
His staff pierced air, it's sharpened, hooked blade jutting upwards towards the stomach of the human. The sun still was blinding, but his opponent made a silhouette across its light.
Then, suddenly, the blade of the spear came between him and his opponent. It slashed through his exoskeleton, ripping him to shreds. He felt unimaginable pain, and thought briefly that it must be real, and that this would be his death. His staff had been thrown away by the shock of the injury; the only mark he would leave on this human was the small gash across her face. Two plus three and the - he thought aimlessly, before unconsciousness set itself upon him and his thoughts left the present.
This was it, a battle that nearly killed her, this opponent was scary. Blocking it's attacks barely meant a block, and it even meant that blocking wasn't exactly the most useful thing since everytime she blocked it knocked her back a few feet. What was this thing? That didn't matter now, she let out a sigh and raised her spear once more, getting ready for the finishing blow. As she grit her teeth, she felt her legs quiver.
She yelled out one more time, before thrusting down her spear, the head of her spear stuck right to the left side of his head, a few inches away from hitting him in the head. She still wasn't allowed to kill, nor did she plan to, she spilled enough blood today, she didn't want any more for the time being. The crowd went silent as the spear hit the ground, the king himself gasped, thinking that Lilian would strike the poor creature down. Though that wasn't the case. The king then called out that Lilian had one, ending the match right then and there.
Lilian was breathing heavily, she looked like she hadn't slept in weeks from her current after-fight look. She losing breath, she was tired, a fight like that where she was most likely to lose was insanely tiresome for her. She pulled her spear away, and sheathed it behind her. She held out her hand for the creature.
"Goo... Good... Ha... Match... Huff, hu... You were... Haa... A tough... Oh gosh, oh Gods... Haa~... Opponent..." Lilian stated.
"Name's Lilia- Lilith, name's Lilith."
As the medic mages rushed forward and the crowd cheered in tones of wild exhilaration, it became clear that the Ztaari was in no state to reply. His wounds spurted fluids and his limbs did not move. As he was transported out of the arena, the mages worked desperately to keep him alive. The facts were that his age and his nature had meant that he would be on the brink of death when he lost, no matter how merciful his opponent happened to be. He was a weak old fool; only by avoiding injury had he kept breathing.
On and on. The fights kept happening. "None of the contenders ever truly amounted to anything comparable to me." she whispered. It was boring her. One may think she's prideful and conceited, but in reality she spoke truth. From her perspective, they were mere ants- ants she could easily step on and crush with little effort. She held a hand out and re-examined the mark on the back of it- the same as ever, a simple spiral pattern, colored purple. Many people assumed it was merely a henna or tattoo, but only she knew how important it was, and what it truly meant.
"Now is the time, my child..." A voice spoke in her head.
She blinked. "Very well." Hidden among the crowd of the tournament, a voice rose out. A feminine, but borderline insane voice slowly began to be heard by everyone.
"Kanti a distiora, isorita aritiosa, di tia fidio la mita,
Ah, Isorta, Diorta.
Mi ditiora fiu, sori ita amara diu, mitia firia dictoso,
Ii, Idata, Aria."
The very ground began to shake underneath the arena and the ruins as she spoke these words, increasing in magnitude as she continued. The crowd was scattering as the guards started to approach.
Mistia via diya.
Ari maria diya."
Suddenly, the ground stopped for a split second, before a giant stone suddenly forced its way out of the earth. And then another. And another. Eventually, five stone pillars, resembling the fingers of a hand had appeared.
"Yes, yes yes! You have done well!" The woman didn't truly care. Power was Power, and she was willing to do anything for it. It was simply another kingdom left to be destroyed by the Stone Beasts.
Ki'than has heard the feminine voice, and was mystified. The ground had shook upon seemingly her command- a woman dressed in a minimalistic purple garment. It covered her chest to her knees, but it wasnt very thick or sturdy. He was planning on confronting her as soon as possible, but then a gigantic rock, easily four times his own height emerged from the ground. Four others joined it soon after. Ki'than circumnavigated these, only to find the woman in purple gone.
The stone pillars then slammed on the ground as another stone appeared, connecting the ends of the five pillars. As more stones emerged, Ki'than realized that what he first saw weren't pillars- they were fingers. Eventually, a collection of stones gathered together to form the rough likeness of a bear. Ki'than turned to look, and saw a group of battle mages coming from the city, calling for everyone to run.
Ki'than paused a moment. Logically, he knew that there was no possible way for him to take on this beast as he is now. However, his pride told him to attack, and become known as a hero among the humans. He debated it for a split second before drawing his sword and striking the creature's rear left paw. Ki'than's pride backlashed, and he hurt himself and damaged his sword. He dropped his weapon for a moment and held his hand, before looking to see the creature about to step on him.
It was Sontar- the very elf that Ki'than fought earlier today. He had tackled the Ztaari out of the way just in time. "We have to get out of here, now!" Ki'than said nothing and followed Sontar, away from the city, in a general direction towards a village about three days' travel from the city.
"Why there?" Ki'than asked. "Bigger chance of monsters!" Ki'than was more focused on getting his point across than worrying about grammar.
"Lesser chance of that thing." Sontar pointed at the Stone Bear, and Ki'than saw it was headed towards the city, the battle mages doing little to impede it.
After a short while, Ki'than and Sontar stopped under a tree to catch their breath. The Stone Bear was now at the city gates, and people were fleeing in every direction. Ki'than breathed a moment, and took the time to really understand what had just happened in order to commit it to memory.
Woman in purple. Stone pillars. Stone beast. Stupid decision. Got saved. Ran. City being attacked.... What now?
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Puella Magi Madoka Magicka is an awesome, feel-good, cutesy anime. You should watch it!
A day had passed since Qrin had suffered a defeat which even now he was recuperating from. Both mentally and physically, he still suffered. While the medic mages had healed the gaping scar along his stomach, they had left him tired and exhausted. Presumably this was because he would need no energy today - today, all he did was sit in the stands as the next round of combat was carried out below.
Mentally, though, was where Qrin was accustomed to his suffering. The mages had done nothing to ease his brain, and likely that was an inalterable circumstance. It is odd, thought Qrin, that everything can be fixed, repaired, or improved save for the mind. From there his thoughts exploded. Qrin wondered what the explanation of this phenomenon could be. Was it that the mind itself was on a separate plain of existence? Was the physical brain but an enclosure for some enigma of space and time? Or, perhaps, everything else could be altered by magic because it was the mind itself would created and controlled magic - and everything else. Therefore, magic would be nothing but another construct of the mind - the embodiment of the grasping limbs which Qrin’s subconsciousness could use to control the very fabric of his ‘reality’.
Qrin sat in the stadium, but he did not watch the fights. Instead, he was deep in thought, considering how it was not completely insane to believe his own conjectures. Take, for example, the fight from the day before. What bothered Qrin about that fight was not that he had lost, but it was how he had lost. He had been slow, frail, and incapable of predicting his opponent’s movements. Surely, that suggested that his opponent could not have been a part of the mind which he knew so well. On the contrary, though, was the fact that Qrin had fallen so close to an undeniable death only to be saved by that one thing which could not be explained - magic. Could magic be nothing but a convenient manifestation of my thoughts, made to ensure my own survival? Worse, what if it is nothing but a plot device installed to ensure that I live as long as the plot demands it, even in the face of fatal realism? These thoughts were too scandalous to be maintained, and Qrin quickly forgot them.
As Qrin sat and did not watch the fight, he practised a blockade against the distractions of combat, conversation, and a high density of individuals. This blockade was composed of strategies he had developed in the desert, but now he incorporated aspects of the experience he had enjoyed in the city a few days before. His eyes were closed to eliminate his sight, and he gave his thoughts a mind-voice to outcompete the noises which engulfed the arena. …the Ztaari have nothing which distinguishes them as much as ", sans-serif">long bitterness - the thoughts overpowered Qrin’s blockade and burst into his stream of consciousness. As he adjusted back to the arena’s setting, he realized that this voice in his head was that alien chant which permeated the ruins. Long tendrils of consonants and vowels stretched out, grasping each mind and each stone. Words bounced through pillars and off impassable walls. In moments all the arena was silent save for the strange incantation.
The earth trembled. Then huge stone pillars crawled out of the arena’s floor, the sand tumbling off their smooth surfaces like it did of the carapaces of desert beasts.
Strangely, Qrin knew that this was a foe he could handle. Unlike the human from the day before, these menacing stones were oddly familiar; presumably they would be equally predictable. Qrin stood, along with what must have been a few dozen others who had already recovered from the silence after the voice. He leaned on his staff, but planned to descend into the arena. There was a young bug down there already, but he too seemed temporarily confused.
Then the pillars were connected by a hand. Soon, the entire form of a bear had burst out of hell. What god’s devil is this, Qrin asked himself - and in doing so, all the universe, too.
Pandemonium was how the next few minutes could be best described, and even old Qrin knew not where he was to go or what he was to do. Granted, he rarely did; aimlessness was expected of a wanderer. In this case, though, it was not aimlessness which he possessed, for he had one aim which he shared with many; that aim was to travel in any direction which did not possess the unstoppable Stone Beast and its rampage of terror.
Someday I will learn to conjure less terrifying imaginations, he promised himself, and trudged onwards in his trek out of the ruins, pushed along by the waves of the crowds. Soon, he was at the rear of the fleeing group, along with the other old stragglers. They had been fortunate enough to find themselves well away from the bear’s path; the gargantuan creature had torn out of the ruins and towards the city. However, with the city and its portal unavailable, Qrin was forced to confront the idea that he had nowhere to turn - nowhere but a thousand miles of wilderness and a thousand leagues of the mind.
Iris had won her second match, she was feeling rather proud of herself for passing two rounds of the tournament. She knew that there was still a lot of fighting left to do, but for now she could be happy with her success. She watched the rest of the fights, including one featuring the Ztaari she had spoken to. It took her a couple of moments to recall his name. She thought until a name surfaced in her mind, his name was Qrin. The fights and festivities continued, until something strange happened.
The first thing that Iris noticed was an unusual sound. It was an unsettling noise, it reminded her of chanting. It took a little while before she found the source of the sound, a strange woman in a purple robe, but before she could question what was happening a set of large pillars of stone erupted from the ground. Almost acting out of instinct she grabbed her bow and reached for an arrow.
Iris couldn't help but stare as a great stone beast arose from the ground. It was unbelievable, and yet it was there. The damage that rock creature could cause would be immense. Something had to be done before it could begin levelling the city, but Iris knew that her arrows would do nothing to a beast made from stone. She returned her weapons to her quiver. As the people in the arena began to evacuate, Iris joined them.
There was only one explanation to what had happened, it had to have been magic. What else could have summoned such a monstrous creation? Iris remembered what her father said about magic. He never approved of magic, he always thought that they were messing with dangerous forces. Iris didn't share this sentiment, she was just reminded of it as a dangerous force threatened the city.
She ran with the crowd, soon finding herself back at the city gates. She looked behind her, over the heads of the people in the crowd, at the terrifying beast of stone. It was heading toward the city, toward the thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of people who lived there. Iris could only hope that they could evacuate in time, that her friends could evacuate in time and that she could evacuate in time.
Once she was in the city she ran toward the marketplace, to where she thought her friends would have been selling their wares. If she didn't try to find them now then she might not be able to find them in the future. She ran as quickly as she could, occasionally using her wings to leap into the air for a short period of time. The streets past the gate were less crowded as the people left in all sorts of directions to get away from the beast of stone.
She saw a set of familiar caravans, it was the convoy. However, several of them had already left and some had been emptied of anything of value and left behind. They looked deserted as if the people who owned them had taken what they could and left. What must had been a bustling marketplace earlier that day was now almost completely devoid of life. However, Iris was not alone. She saw a familiar dwarven face.
"Clay!" she yelled.
Clay turned, almost dropping the box of spices he was holding. "Iris!" he yelled back, a look of relief on his normally stoic face, "We feared that you had been caught by whatever that creature is."
"Where is everyone?" she asked, puffing from the run
"They've already gone, but it's ok." he said, "We will catch up in another city, for now we all have to leave. I believe that there are a few villages nearby. Now, quickly get whatever you can carry. There aren't any horses left to pull the caravans."
Iris nodded and gathered up some supplies of food and water along with some gold she had stashed away as quickly as she could. Clay appeared to have gathered up everything he needed to. The two of them then left the city. Iris looked back, she doubted that anything could be done for the city now.
That repeated in Lilian's mind over and over again, last night was one hell of a celebration, thanks to a certain shield wielding, seven foot man. The worst part was, it was during a battle, and people were yelling all around her, especially the man sat next to her, Vaati, the shield wielding giant of a man. He was yelling at the contenders like a coach, Lilian didn't want to wake early this morning, but Vaati was rather persuasive. After all, when Lilian passed out last night, who had to take care of her? Vaati.
「L a s t N i g h t」
Lilian had just chugged her glass of beer, she was enjoying herself. Vaati on the other hand was enjoying a glass of milk, no wonder he was massive, the man barely drank anything alcoholic, he was all milk and muscle.
"You did good out there! I never expected you to win that fight at all Lilith." Stated Vaati
"Me neither, believe me." Replied Lilian
A few more drinks have passed, Lilian was getting drunk, and hella tipsy.
"Say... Lilith, what say you meet my family?" Asked Vaati
"Huh? I'm no good with the peoples~" Replied Lilian
"Doesn't matter they vill like you anyway!" Deemed Vaati
"No one's liked me for years, I doubt your family would." Reputed Lilian
"Trust me, they will. My eldest daughter is in town, Coe's Inn to be exact, what say we meet her tonight?" Proposed Vaati
"Heh, sounds great." Replied Lilian
Too bad Lilian completely passed out after three more drinks, never even had the chance. The night was hazy, but all she knew was she woke up at Vaati's room, in thicker and warmer clothing than what she was wearing and wrapped in covers.
「P r e s e n t D a y」
As the fight went on, Vaati didn't even notice Lilian being half-asleep throughout the whole fight, she was completely out of it. He gave her a small nudge as he spoke.
"Hey, you missed out on all the fun friend!" Exclaimed Vaati
"Huh... No I didn't! I-I was paying attention!" Stated Lilian
"Oh? What happened? You were attentive no?" Asked Vaati
"Uhh... That man, killed the man." Replied Lilian
"You're not allowed to kill in the tournament-" Vaati was then cut off by the abrupt ground shaking.
The ground then began to shake, people began to scatter, Vaati immediately took off, maybe to go check on his daughter or something. What in the name of the Gods is going on? Lilian thought, why? What is this all about? A grand event? In the middle of the fight? Strange. But then, a stone beast emerged from the arena, people ran off. The ground continued to shake, Lilian then ran aswell, hoping someone else would take care of this. She clutched the shaft of her spear and ran off into the city, trying to look for her new profound friend.
A few buildings began to crumble from the earthquake, which wasn't good. Lilian made a dead sprint to the the inn she remembered Vaati saying, and there, the building was crumbling, and Vaati was by the entrance, trying to lift a piece of wood off the ground to make room for his body to get in.
"Vaati!" called out Lilian
"My daughter! She's inside, I can't get to her... Would you please...?" Asked Vaati
"Got it." Replied Lilian
Vaati then lifted the piece of wood and Lilian slid in (man that sounds dirty). Lilian searched through the crumbling building, trying to find anyone inside, no one on the ground floor. Lilian then climbed up, where she heard the voices of a girl.
"Papa... Papa...~" Cried out the girl
Lilian then tried her absolute hardest to get to where the voice was, by the looks of her, it did look like Vaati's daughter.
"I'm a friend of your father, what say we leave yes?" Stated Lilian
The girl nodded, Lilian then held out her hand for the girl and guided her off the second floor and into the ground floor. As Lilian was approaching the doorway she then exclaimed
"Vaati!" Exclaimed Lilian
The piece of wood then lifted off the ground once more, Vaati's daughter crawled out, followed by Lilian. Vaati was overjoyed at the sight of her daughter. The giant of a man then lifted the girl up and carried her bridal style, holding her close and never letting her go.
"Let us leave, before whatever that beast consumes us like cheese to rats." Stated Lilian.
Vaati nodded in response, and they made a run for the gate. The city was in evacuation, guards were trying their best to keep order, but it obviously wasn't working. As they made it out the city, Lilian and Vaati were tired, the young girl in Vaati's arms now on her feet and walking.
"Well, That's just wonderful, I was planning to stay in that town for awhile, say... Vaati, know any villages or towns that I can head off to?" Asked Lilian
Vaati's daughter then gestured her father to lend an ear, the fourteen year old was taller than Lilian by and inch, figures. She whispered into his ear, and Vaati was agreeing to all of it.
"Wonderful idea Emily!" Exclaimed Vaati.
"What? What did you two talk about?" Asked Lilian
"What say you stay at our home till then, the Village is just a three day walk, what say you?"
Lilian then let out a sigh of relief and smiled a little. "Sounds... Wonderful." Replied Lilian
The three now went off to the village, along with other people by the looks of it, looks like it's another chapter for Lilian to begin writing.
Tressel was still moping quietly to herself when the thing appeared.
Lost. And to a man who was smaller than her, too. She'd been sure she had him, and then there was a sudden burst of pain in her face and she found herself on the ground with a sword at her neck.
She hadn't gone to look for Morgen yet, as she wasn't totally sure the losers were allowed to leave until the tournament was over. But that didn't mean she couldn't sit and scan the stands for him as she waited. She barely even watched the fights going on in front of her. As much as she hated to admit it, even to herself, she did not like to lose.
Of course, if there's anything bound to catch your attention, it's a massive rock monster rising out of the arena, attacking people, and then lumbering off toward the city. When the ground started shaking, Tressel jerked back into reality, staring around in surprise. For a brief moment, the shaking stopped... and then the real chaos began.
All she could do was stand and stare, stunned, as the massive stone creature took shape, tearing up the arena floor. From her spot down here, she could see someone attack the thing, their minute forms barely even showing up next to the absolutely massive creature. For the barest of moments, she considered joining him in the fight, but that was quickly swept out of her mind with the thought of finding Morgen. The old man was tough and strong, but he could still get trampled in the onrush of people.
So she slithered through the crowd, her large tail providing her with a buffer against the two-legged people. "Morgen! Where are you?!"
He must have had the same thought of trying to find her, because his gnarled old head of hair appeared beside her a moment later. "Come, Tressel. We need to leave, quickly." He grabbed at her arm, leading her away.
But rearing high above the crowd, Tressel hesitated. "We've got to help everyone else get out!"
Morgen paused to stare at her uncertainly. "We'll only be putting ourselves in more danger!"
"We can't fight that thing. But we can certainly get people out of it's way." She gently extracted herself from his grip. "I'm faster than you. Find a spot to wait, please. I'll be back to find you!" And she left him behind, the old man who was unsure whether to be sad or angry or proud.
She raced toward the city, low to the ground for even more traction, following the massive creature. Maybe she could get there before it.
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Ki'than and Sontar had a somewhat tough journey. It soon dawned on the Z'taari that he had dropped his sword, and now he was unequipped, since he left his weapons in the ruins. Sontar was kind enough to offer him money enough to buy a new weapon once they arrived at the village. During the three days, the two foraged for herbs and insects enough to feed the two of them. They slept in shifts in order to be awake if any monsters came by.
As they traveled, the two got to learn more about each other- or rather, Ki'than got to learn about Sontar and lied about himself. He made himself seem like an extraordinary warrior, far beyond what he really was. Sontar was more humble. He was a young man by elven years- close to 80, but roughly 21 in Human years of development. His superior time on the planet means that he has a more diverse set of skills and a greater general knowledge, but he has mostly ignored his skills in battle. As it turns out, his parents had forced him to participate in the tournament.
After three days' travel, the two arrived at the village. There was already a large amount of visitors that had fled the tournament. Ki'than and Sontar quickly made it to the resident blacksmith and found he had only a few daggers in stock. Ki'than purchased two, one slightly larger then the other, promising to repay Sontar for his lent money.
Soon after, Ki'than wandered to the edge of the village and looked back at the city. He could see smoke arising. He tightened his grip over one dagger, growing angry and frustrated. There was no way he could go back now, but the only portal from the Human kingdom to the Z'taari one was in the capitol. It was now either destroyed or being besieged- and either meant that access to any portal would be near impossible. He turned from the sight before he became too angry and rash, and caught Sontar looking back as well, on the verge of tears.
"...Something the matter?" Ki'than said it more as a statement than as a question.
"...My mother got sick, and had to stay in the city. I should've gone back for her..." Sontar held a hand to his forehead. Ki'than had heard that elves often do that to try and calm themselves. "And it would take nearly forty years to get back to my homeland on foot. So for the moment... im stuck here."
"...I am too. It would take roughly thirty to get to my home from here. If we want to get there, we have to defeat or destroy that.... thing." Ki'than almost threw his arm out to the city to reference the giant beast.
"I saw some of the mages fighting that thing as it went to the city. They were doing nothing. It wouldnt slow down, flinch, anything. Nothing damaged it. We need more power than even the mages have to take it on. And that simply doesnt seem possible....... unless..."
Ki'than almost flinched once he realized what Sontar was thinking. "You can't be serious. Its illegal, we could be put to death!"
"I doubt they would want to if we save the capitol city." Sontar replied. "We have to find an Entity, and make a Pact."
"...Even if we do, and that is a huge if, we would need far more than just two people. The mages were having trouble, despite there being dozens at the ready in the city."
"Well, we'll just have to find a few people who would be willing to do the same as us."
"You're crazy.... And I kind of respect you for it." Ki'than said. "Let's ask around, but be discreet, and very careful. Lets meet up here by sundown with anybody we find. And let's also listen for anything about that beast, that... Stone Beast."
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Puella Magi Madoka Magicka is an awesome, feel-good, cutesy anime. You should watch it!
Iris and Clay had been silent for much of the first day of travel. It was a sort of solemn silence, which only seemed to intensify whenever either of them looked back to the city. The sounds of nature was their only companion during the first part of their journey. The silence seemed to last forever, until, as the sun threatened to set on the first day, Clay finally said something.
"I had been keeping track of your fights in the tournament, you were doing well."
Iris almost flinched, she had become so used to hearing nothing but the hushed sounds of nature that Clay's voice came as a bit of a surprise. "The fights were difficult, I wish that the tournament could have continued though."
The two discussed the events around the tournament, but when they spoke of the beast and the destruction is did and could cause, it seemed like the very air around them became solemn and quiet. They started avoiding the subject for a while, instead talking about what Clay had been doing during the tournament. He had been tending to his stall, there were quite a few customers because of the tournament and he had a couple of new, funny anecdotes he had gotten in the past few days.
During the rest of the trip they chatted about their past. Clay had been a merchant for far longer than Iris had, and during his time he had amassed a number of interesting tales. Iris heard stories she knew and new ones that she had never heard before. It helped to pass the time before they reached the village. Iris told some stories from her past too, occasionally finding out that she had told particular story before and had forgotten about the previous retelling. They told these stories both while walking and while sitting down to eat the rations they had brought with them.
At last the village was in sight. It was a nice little town, and once they arrived it became clear to them that there was a number of people had fled here from the city. Many of them must have been seeking refuge in the various villages that dotted the countryside just like Iris and Clay were. Even from the town Iris could still see the plume of smoke rising from the city. She stared at the pillar of soot and ash for a while until Clay spoke.
"We should find an inn to stay at" Clay said, breaking Iris out of her trance.
"Yes, we should. Hopefully they still have two free rooms" she replied after a brief pause.
They wandered further into the town, in search of a place to stay. They had made it to safety, or at least they hoped this town was safe. And now that they were here they needed to figure out what they should do. They wanted to reunite with the rest of the merchant convoy and resume their travels. The stone beast would continue to destroy if it was not stopped. Perhaps the mages could stop it before it could completely destroy the city or before it could attack another one, but Iris was not entirely sure.
They called him Old Blackheart, at least in the human cities, and after two hours of walking, Qrin knew he was quite proud of this moniker, even if he lamented the injustice it did to his character.
The various elders and lame men who had fallen together in the flight from the arena slowly dispersed as they left, and Qrin found himself with Kwidermatz Brakkard, an old elf. It was not a pairing by design or by the Ztaari’s intention. Many of the travellers had returned to the city; too many of them would go there for their last breaths. Others had chosen other paths. A few had opted that the ruins were the safest black to go. Qrin had kept marching carelessly, and Brakkard had seemingly been attached to him from the start. Perhaps it was that Qrin had been the only one amongst them who had been a fighter; that prestige, that presumed occupation, gave him at least the appearance of one who would not be averse to hearing tales of Brakkard’s prime.
“I swear, had I my sword and my book I might have helped those mages, and together we might have frightened that beast enough it might have turned back around and fled into the earth whence it had come!” Brakkard began. The last members of the group split off shortly thereafter, leaving just the duo. Qrin was silent and paid the elf no eyes. “Reminded me of a Great Bear I once slew in Oderland, up north. That’s one of the colder places, if you’ve never heard - well, colder for those who aren’t used to it. I suppose that might be your kind, living in that desert heat, no? I went down to Harenam once - beautiful place, I suppose. Good crafts, if that’s your kind of thing. And there were certainly some beasts to be ‘tamed’ in those deserts, sword in hand and blood in eyes.”
The pair kept walking. Qrin did not know where he walked - he had never seen so much green foliage before and was far more interested in studying the plants in passing than in asking his good companion for directions. Even if he had, where would he wish to be directed? He knew no names and had no goals for this future.
“Anyway, where was I - I swear I’ll get back to a good story about your desert soon enough - ah, yes, Oderland, the Great Bear. Anyway, I guess I should let you know first of all that I didn’t take this bear alone. No, I was just a soldier of Captain Lieuwyllen - the very Captain Lieuwyllen who later became Palasar of the Northern Isles, I’ll remind you! - and the rest of his crew. We were on a mission up to Oderland to deal with the Pyre menace up there. You know the ones - those foolish Elven Fire Mages, burning the ice routes to disrupt trade. A pesky bunch, but hardly effective. I must have rounded up a half dozen of them in only a few hours each week! And there was the one time I took one of their ships captive. It was in the harbour of a small port village - Kishran, if I recall every fact - where its crew was ravaging the town and installing some half-breed’s form of martial law. I cut them up, though - not literally, of course, but there were some scars - when I came aboard their ship and wielded my blade to the tune of my mercy. All thirtyfive - or was it forty? I scarcely remember - they were all the same in the end, save for which cell they held in the prison - if they even had a cell! Some of them we had to cut loose, just because there weren’t enough lodgings to hold them. The poor blokes nearly froze to death without their fires!”
The tale was obviously quite lengthy. Qrin wondered if it was possible for his brain to imagine so much green, and then if it was possible for there to be so much green. One would suggest reality, the other unreality. Both were equally likely, thus neither helped.
“But, now, back to the Great Bear. I’m sure you’ve heard of the northern bears, those large white beasts. Well, let me swear to you that this was no such beast, for this was not merely large, it was gigantic. From our ship we saw it towering above the distant spruce trees, yet it saw us too, and chased us into the water, where it chased the vessel through ice fields for three long days without tiring. I offered to jump overboard and slay it in the frigid ocean, but the Captain insisted that it was too dangerous for any elf. Perchance he was right at that time: the bear, even half submerged, was nearly the size of our entire ship. It was preposterously proportionate to the earth. I wonder now what it ate for food, and surmise that it must have relied entirely on whales - an impressive beast indeed, to hunt those creatures of the deep so often. Remember, of course, that this bear also ravaged villages - that was why we hunted it. As it was, the bear at last collapsed on the third day and it swam to shore, where we chased it and disembarked. We slew that bear, then, even as it killed several of our rank. It was no easy task, and one which I will always remember. Ha! Quite an adventure indeed.”
Brakkard expected a response at this point - some praise or a probing question - but he received none and therefore continued.
“You must be wondering why I’ve chosen to speak to you, of all people! Well, even if I may be far more renowned than you, I couldn’t fail to note your prowess in the arena. Quite a feat - not one to be ashamed of in the least! I remember in my day when I won tournaments such as that. Alas, it has been a long time since I was champion of the bar-fights and court-jousts. Long after fame in the Elven kingdoms took me to be weary, I found myself here in these human cities, a famed champion of a thousand good friends, all of whom wanted the chance to fight me. Now, by this point I was past my prime, mind you, and fighting against humans wore away my expertise simply by osmosis, but I still held my own and won nearly all of my matches, both planned and impromptu. They call me ‘Old Blackheart’ in these parts - some drunk fool misheard my name for the old words which inspired it. I’m sure that if they knew my real and full record they would have amended that; perhaps ‘Brave Blackheart’ or ‘Bloody Blackheart’, but I don’t hold it against them; ‘Old’ will do, and it describes me well enough. I am old, you know - even by Elven standards. Ah, that might be why you’ve not heard of me too often. I can scarcely remember how many hours have passed since I last took up a sword!”
At the mention of age and Elven standards, Qrin might have become more interested, if he had not been so intent on deciphering which shades of a flower patch he had and had not seen before. Could the mind make colour? But why not? It had long ago made those bird-beasts - or had it?
“No, these days I stick more to my finery. I was granted a lordship some time back, but I don’t dare to use the title - don’t you feel obliged to, either; I won’t expect it of you. I’ve dined with many a good man and woman, and they’ve all been spurred on to far off places by my tales - quite inspiring, they’ve told me. So I go on telling. I considered writing a novel once, you know. I may still some day, but I’d have to find the time. Oh, time. Such a fickle thing! You’d think an elf like me might be able to put off commitments to another decade, but no - the people call! I’ve scarcely a day go by without a lad to tell my tale to. Scarcely a day! Imagine that - not a day to do any one thing. But I can imagine that you might not need to - those deserts must get awfully boring at times, with the rocks and the winds as your only company. Oh, but they aren’t, are they? Nay, perhaps you don’t know it, but those deserts - I’ve seen in them the things to make any man tremble! Not elves, though, hehe… Oh, the things I’ve seen…”
Several hours later, though they felt like more to Qrin Tkali and less to Kwidermatz Brakkard, the pairing arrived in a small village where several other survivors of the arena were already relating, for the twelfth-odd time, the exact circumstances of their departure. Each village corner was also filled with peering eyes, wondering if the next traveller might be the last, or if another would escape the stone beast’s wrath before too long. Further away, the eyes stared off at what could be seen of the ruined city. Qrin did not opt to look back, but he did find himself in need of drink, and therefore chose to descend on a tavern, seeing as the well might be slightly more dangerous to retrieve liquids from. Brakkard decided this was his idea, too.
“Say, good fellow, as one last paradigm of my hospitality, and so you might hear at least the end of this story, I’ll buy you a drink in this hostel,” Brakkard announced, and led the Ztaari inside.
That town, the question of wondering what that thing was was always in her mind no matter how long the walk to the village took. The first day of travel was no more than a quiet walk with occasional chitchat thanks to the shielder's daughter. It was nice, it felt like something Lilian hadn't felt in a long while. She felt, part of something, it was a warm feeling, but it was nice, it was very nice. Don't go soft no Lilian. Her mind beckoned her, telling her that she's going to have to cut off her ties with this man at some point.
The second day, the second day was quiet verbal. Long talks, a few water breaks and even trying each other's equipment. The shield was sturdy, really strong, like it was made of a material that came from the gods themselves. Vaati running full force wielding her Siopilós just pushed her back but didn't even let her stagger as she wielded the shield.
The third day...
What was that? Could I have stopped it? Why did I run away? Am I that much of a coward? No...
"Lilith..." Vaati said.
I could have stopped it, I know I can! But... Why didn't I? Have I lost all sense in-
"Lilith!" Vaati exclaimed.
Lilian shook her head to snap her out of the odd daydream she was having. She couldn't have possibly stopped it, no matter what she did. It's her family's mentality, though it wasn't a very good one. Thinking that they could stop everything by themselves was a Von Hassanpeace pet peeve. Despicable.
"Huh? W-What?!" Lilian exclaimed, replying to the giant of a man.
"Have you lost your senses? We are almost there, you wouldn't want to miss out on such a grand village?" Vaati asked, obviously overcompensating on the whole thing.
"I doubt that there are grand villages." Lilian replied.
"Just you watch." Vaati stated.
After another hour of walking, there it was Vaati's hometown. It looked nice, very welcoming. People from the other town were already there, different races even. Was the 'bird-creature thing' she fought make it here as well? Maybe, whatever.
"My house is not far, shall we go?" Vaati asked.
"I'd like to look around for awhile, I'll follow." Lilian replied.
"Alright, my house has a gate that looks exactly like my shield, you'll know it when you see it." Vaati added.
"Understood." Lilian replied.
They then separated and Lilian began to look around the village.
Tressel slithered along as fast as she could, the dust under her tail sliding back. She could hear Morgen's footsteps thudding along behind her, and she slowed for a bit. But she could see the rock creature reach the city, and start tearing through the wall. She watched it vanish into the buildings, as dust and rock rose into the sky.
Soon enough, she found herself at the gaping hole in the city walls. But by now the path carved through had broken down dozens of buildings and towers. The people were running, screaming, panic filled the air.
She didn't know where to start.
She watched as people took charge, escorting survivors towards the portals. She almost started pointing people in that direction, when the stone monster abruptly changed direction, and smashed right through them. She turned the other way, out away from the city, out the gates. She didn't even look to see who was left, simply rising as high as she could and pointing away. "Out! Out of the city!"
Morgen finally caught up with her, panting and gasping. "We can bring them to the village, south! It'll hold them until the monster leaves. We've got to move though, before it comes back!"
Tressel nodded. "Let's take them there, then." She led the small group, taking the outside the broken walls. Men, children, women and whatever small belongings they had grabbed.
She looked back over her shoulder, at the slowly crumbling city. They couldn't go back now. The only place left to go was south.
They traveled for three days, slow, trekking days. A few of them had the presence of mind to grab food, and Tressel didn't need to eat for a long time after that massive tournament feast.
But when they finally arrived, it was already swarming with refugees. The groups split, trying to find a place to stay.
Tressel felt like she had to wander. She felt restless. And Morgen didn't know what to tell her to help.
Sontar witnessed a large group of new arrivals. Among them, he noted, was a naga lady and a human man. She seemed restless, and he seemed at a loss. Perhaps they would be interested. He walked up to them slowely, trying not to seem like a threat, though he soon realized me mightve come off as creepy. "Hey..." He said, quietly once he reached them. "Some of us are thinking. The mages back at the city were doing almost nothing to the beast. A lot of us live years away from our lands, and we can't get back without the portals. We were thinking.... We need to find an Entity, or Entities. If we can form Pacts with them, then perhaps we can defeat the beast and go home. It sounds crazy, but it could work- what do you think?"
When the man approached her, she only really listened because she wasn't sure what else to do. And his plan... it sounded crazy. But she'd seen the monster. And she knew what a little bit of magic felt like, the bit of growing energy she could feel flowing sometimes. She'd wanted to do something about that beast... but she was powerless.
There was one problem though. She glanced at Morgan, who had only told her about the entities in fleeting moments. "I'm... I'm not sure. Do you think we could even find one?"
Sontar took a breath. "That's the main problem. But, would you rather sit here and do nothing, or try and do something?" Sontar was attempting to use the Naga's restlessness to try and sway her. "Would you be content to sit here and wait for someone else to solve the issue, or try to do something yourself? It wont be easy. We'll run into monsters, to be sure, and theres the chance that when we find an Entity, they'll say no. But, would you rather do nothing, or something?"
Tressel shivered. "No. No, I don't want to sit here. That feels wrong. Someone does need to do something about all these monsters. I met one of the monster slayers, and she was amazing, but frankly... I don't feel like any normal person could stand against that kind of beast, no matter their skill." She sighed. "Do you have a plan, then? How many people do you want to get?"
Sontar nodded. "Our plan is to meet up at the northern edge of the village at sundown, to talk and get everything straight. As of now, i know of me and one other, but we're both looking for people. You would make three," Sontar turned to another next to the Naga, the human man, "And you, four. What about you, though? You havent said a word."
Morgen is listening and watching the whole conversation, at a loss for words. He seems to be in a bit of shock at the monster, the desctruction of the city, and this sudden new world that's been transformed. "I... Ahm not sure. I'm too old for this. I can go with Tress, to make sure you're really all you're talking about, but I'm not going to be taking part in any of this Entity mumbo jumbo." He folds his arms, tapping with his missing fingers unconsiously, and mumbled again about being too old.
Sontar nodded. "I suppose that's understandable. But you," He turned back to the naga. "Are you fully ready to go into this? If you are, then come to where i told you. Be fully certain that this is what you want before commiting." With that, Sontar left the two and went back to the village to find more candidates.
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Sontar wandered the village a little bit longer. He ran into many people, all of them worried or scared. He knew he couldnt convince someone who felt fear over what happened. They would want to get away as soon as possible. Eventually he came upon a young woman with a stern, borderline angry look on her face. Sontar approached. "Excuse me, do you have a moment to talk?" He said.
Lilian flinched as she heard the voice of the stranger, who in their right mind would approach her, like look at her, she doesn't even look like she's having any fun at all, or maybe it's the permanent 'angery' look on her face.
"Huh? What? You are?" She replied, almost hissing as a reply.
She didn't know who he was, but he did look like he came from the town, so this should be good.
"My name is unimportant." Sontar replied. "However, i want to ask you. Would you be willing to seek out the power nessecary to destroy the beast that terrorized the city?" He paused a moment. "Me and another are looking for people to journey with us in order to find an Entity, and make a Pact with it. We do this in hopes of defeating the creature that has taken over the city." He paused a moment to let the idea really sink in with her. "It will be dangerous, to be sure, and there's no guaruntee. But we are willing to try anyways."
Lilian then faked being surprised for a good 12 seconds before she lost all emotion in her face and shrugged.
"Alright I'm in." Lilian stated.
It really doesn't take much to get her to join the party, the second she heard 'destroy the beast that terrorized the city', she instantly wanted to be a part of it.
"What are the chances I can get my partner to come along?" Lilian asked.
Sontar was taken aback by how quickly and nonchalantly the woman agreed. He managed to compose himself quickly, though. "Yes, your partner can come along, too. But dont spread this news TOO far- we dont want the authorities to know. And if you're serious, go to the northern edge of the village at sundown today."
Lilian chuckled at how he flinched when she just replied with a quick yes.
"I was never on the good side of authority anyway, as long as you bring snacks on the way, I'm down for anything." Lilian replied.
"Alright. Thank you." Sontar replied. He ducked away. He already had two, perhaps three, joining him. The elf decided that he had done enough, and wandered the town for the rest of the day.
"It's no problem, I'll see you around... Uhhh... You." She didn't know his name, so it was odd.
Ki'than made his way into the local bar. It was filled nearly to the brim with people of every type and race- Shy T'Kal sitting in the corner, sipping her drink, angry dwarves swearing they could take on the best if there wasnt such a big commotion, and Nagas playing dice on one table. But Ki'than spyed an unusual pair- an elf and a ztaari sitting next to each other, drinking, with the elf doing enough talking for three people. The ztaari was clearly sitting with him, but he didn't seem to be very interested in the elf's stories. Ki'than also recognized the ztaari from a few matches in the Tournament. "Perhaps them..." Ki'than whispered to himself. He approached and stood inbetween the two chairs, and talked softly, letting the noises of the bar drown out his voice for everyone but the two next to him.
"Me and another are looking for experienced fighters. You, elf, speak of adventures far and wide, and you, ztaari, you impressed me back in the Tournament. We are hoping you two would be, frankly, crazy enough to go looking for an Entity to make a Pact with." Once he had said that, he said nothing more until he got a response.
"I cannot pretend that you're wrong about that, my friend - I've seen plenty of battles, and I dare say that some of the beasts I have encountered were likely entities in disguise. I am sure that, were one to look for an Entity, I would be of great help to all of you, as my experience might lend itself to you in the form of good intuition and advice. However - and I'm sure you've considered this, but I'll remind you nonetheless - hunting for Entities in these lands is somewhat taboo. Now, that's not to say that I would be averse to such a quest. I'll confess that this would not be the first socially immoral activity in which I have partaken. Why, I once slew a host of Dragon-Elves in the northern forest merely to send a message to their Lord that my patron would not be trifled with. The look upon that old fool's face when he realized how much danger he had stumbled upon by picking his adversary unwisely! Nonetheless, I left that patron's service shortly thereafter and set out to engage myself in the hunt for a missing Naga damsel. Sadow was her name. One moment, my friends; I'll buy us another round of drinks, and then I'll tell you of the gruesome fate which befell poor Sadow, and which could have taken me as well."
The Elf left and Qrin looked at Ki'than, wondering about the young bug. What does he ask for - really? And why ask from me - and why ask at all? He studied the younger Ztaari for a while, and forgot to reply - it seemed as if the Elf had spoken so much as to make any further statements, from anyone, a breach of this peaceful silence.
After a short while of stunned silence, Ki'than spoke up quietly. "I don't think i got a clear answer. But what of you?" Ki'than directed his attention fully on the ztaari. "Would you be willing to break the laws to try and defeat that beast? Are you willing to risk life and limb for it?" He studied the face looking back at him. He seemed unsure of himself, or perhaps, unsure of Ki'than. He awaited a response.
"Where do you hope to find this Entity?" Qrin asked. It had been far too long since he had thought about Entities; he had almost forgotten their existence altogether. Nonetheless, something in his brain had been sparked by the question, and the Elf's long-winded response had given that spark enough time to light the kindling ablaze. He remembered now the mystical entity which was an Entity, and slowly, an idea formed; this entity and its mystical powers might know the Truth.
Ki'than sighed. "I'm afraid I don't know. We would simply have to search, and hope to stumble upon one. The plan is far from ideal, but we must try anyway. The journey will be full of danger and perils. But when it ends, we can at least say that we tried. Would you rather that, or sit here, waiting for death to find you?"
"I have been waiting for death long enough to know that it will not come unless I seek it - and this, this is to seek it, no?" Qrin's voice was hoarse and weak from a lack of use. His absence of mind was telling. Others of his species might recognize the debilitating effects of kansani; the frailty of focused brain and body. To him it was only expected.
"If you truly seek out death, you would have stayed at the city. But you did not. That means you value your life. Even if we are to seek death, all it would do to you is give the gods a soul long overdue. So then, I ask again, are you willing to join us?" Ki'than asked once again. He was getting slightly impatient that the man was deflecting his questions, and wanted a clear answer.
"Your tone is not the most welcoming," Qrin offered. "I will have to meet this other one you speak of."
Brakkard then returned, three mugs of ale balanced in his arms.
"Any how, I believe the bartender won't mind the loss of three mugs, so we best be on our way. Besides - theft won't be the worst of our crimes now, will it?" the old elf jested, handing a mug to each of the Ztaari. Qrin studied his for a moment, stood, and left the unsavoury substance on the table as he waited for Ki'than to lead the way - and for Brakkard to continue his tale, or to start one anew.
Ki'than also left his mug in the tavern. He had no appetite at the time, and left, leading the other two. "If you want to meet my partner, come to the northern edge of the village by sundown. Right now, we're both looking for people, and I don't want to impede him." His eyes darted back to the elf, who was drinking the ale in his mug. "And i'm sure my friend would prefer to talk to people who are sober, as opposed to drunk." With that last remark, Ki'than darted into the village again, in search of someone else.
Qrin stood for a moment, though his mind had already been made. He would go to the northern edge of the village, and he would wait there as the sun crossed the threshold between day and night. He would bask in those final rays of light until the others came - and then, he would go with them. There was nothing more to be decided.
His life had not been one of physical purposes for decades - a century, perhaps, or more. He had wandered wherever he thought it best to wander. He had been free. Why would it matter if he now chose to wander with this young bug and this old elf? It would not. He would follow them, and they would protect him. Perhaps, in their lives he would find messages for his own. If they ever found this 'Entity' - well, it mattered not what they found. So long as they searched in the realms of mysticism and divine intervention, surely they would reach out to the very fabric of this reality - and in doing so, Qrin might find the Truth.
Ki'than wandered the village for awhile longer. He found himself at the inn after a short time, and noticed a large crowd all vying for rooms. "Im sorry! But we simply dont have any more rooms! You'll have to figure out something else." The innkeeper had said, and the crowd began to disperse. Among them, Ki'than spyed a t'kal woman with a dwarven man. They both seemed fairly experienced, and Ki'than had a vague remembrance of the t'kal- perhaps she had been in the tournament.
He went towards them and spoke to the woman, mostly. "I will be quick. Me and another are looking for people to join in a group to search for an entity and make a pact with it, the goal in mind being that we can defeat the beast that attacked the city and make our way back home. Would you two be willing to join us?" He looked at the two intently as he awaited a response.
By the time Iris and Clay had found the inn it had run out of empty rooms. It was to be expected after so many had fled to the outlying villages from the city. The two turned around to leave after the innkeeper had finished informing the public of the lack of space. They were starting to discuss what to do now that they had nowhere to stay, Iris suggested that they continue camping, like they had done on the way here. But their conversation was cut short by someone speaking to them.
A Ztaari that Iris thought might have been in the tournament had approached them with a plan to stop the stone beast. A plan to stop the destruction being caused was a wonderful thing. However this plan did also involve a great deal of danger and it would be difficult to execute.
"An Entity!?" Iris whispered, clearly surprised
"I've only heard stories of such encounters, those tales never end well" Clay criticised.
Iris thought that the plan could end in disaster while Clay thought it to be foolish. But deep down they both knew that it might work. They also knew that it was outlawed and people who contacted them were executed.
Ki'than nodded. "Yes, i know that contact with Entities is illegal. I know that Entities will be hard to find. But the problem will not solve itself. The mages back at the city were doing nothing to stop the beast. Tell me, would you one day, like to return to your homeland?" Ki'than paused a moment. The answer was obvious, but neither the t'kal nor the dwarf responded. "The only portals that lead out of the human kingdom are in the capitol city. Going there now isn't an option, and neither is travel on foot or wing, since it would take multiple years. The only reasonable option it to take matters into our own hands." Ki'than emphasized this by taking one hand from an outstretched position to his chest.
"I'll say it again. Yes, Entities are illegal. Yes, the journey will be dangerous. But this problem wont be solved until someone takes action. Would you be willing to be that person?" With that, Ki'than stopped and awaited a reply. He saw them considering the options presented before them, glancing at each other occasionally.
The Ztaari was making a good argument for them to join him on his quest. Despite the dangers, he seemed determined. The thought that not even the mages could stop the stone beast from laying waste to the city made his argument even more persuasive. It did make Iris wonder if it could be stopped at all, even with the power of an Entity. There were many other questions she had about the quest, like how such an Entity could be found and be convinced to help. She continued to listen, still uncertain about the invitation.
When the Ztaari mentioned their inability to get back home in any reasonable amount of time both Iris and Clay were silent. It had been quite a while since Iris last visited her home town. She had always thought that she would get around to paying her family a visit, after all the lands of the T'Kal were always just a portal away. She had even thought that she would drop by after the tournament was over. But without that portal it could take years to get back, they were essentially stranded out here. She glanced at Clay, he seemed deep in thought.
"The stone beast, it must be stopped..." Clay muttered to himself.
"Can an Entity help? Even when the mages couldn't stop it?" Iris asked.
Ki'than was silent a moment. Certainly, he had swayed them with the argument of getting home, but he needed to get them to understand that an Entity is the only viable option. "I know little on Entities. However, making a pact with one is the fastest way to gain the most amount of power. I have heard a few stories when i was a child, which all give varying amounts of power to those who had made a pact, however, most of them had power exceeding a mage. Truly, this is our only chance at getting back home." Ki'than paused a moment to let them think about it. "If you want to join us, come to the northern edge of the village at sunset."
Even though his knowledge about Entities was based upon stories, the Ztaari still seemed adamant about his plan. However, Iris and Clay did not know anything about them, beyond stories and rumours that they had heard during their time travelling around in the merchant convoy. From these storied Iris knew that finding an Entity, let alone one that would agree to give them enough power to stop the destruction, would not be an easy task.
There was another problem, those who contacted Entities were often sentenced to execution. But surely they wouldn't be punished for saving the people from the stone beast, even if they had to contact an Entity to do so? Iris wasn't sure. She looked to Clay, wondering what he thought about the matter. The stoic dwarf's face gave very little away, but Iris knew him well enough that he was becoming convinced. Despite the dangers, they couldn't just do nothing.
Seconds passed after the Ztaari told them about the meeting place without either Iris or Clay saying a world. It was a tense silence. They thought over and tried to resolve the uncertainties in their heads. At first the plan seemed mad, but the thoughts of spending years of their lives getting home and the thoughts of what the stone beast could do made the plan seem better and better. Finally the silence was broken when Iris spoke.
"We're in" she said and Clay gave a nod in agreement.
Ki'than and Sontar arrived at the northern edge of the village when the sun was a half hour away from setting. They had found one person already waiting for them, that Ki'than recognized as the ztaari he encountered in the tavern. He told the ztaari to wait for everyone else. The three of them stood as more people arrived- A t'kal and a dwarf, an elf, a naga and a human, and lastly, a half-elf with a human. Ki'than almost smiled. The size of the party meant a greater likelihood of success, considering their diverse skill set.
Ki'than stepped forward. He spoke in a voice loud enough to be heard, but low enough so that nobody other than the group would hear accidentally. "Thank you for choosing to join us. I am Ki'than, and this is Sontar." Ki'than waved a hand at the elf to his side. "You all know why we have gathered, so i won't remind you. But i will remind you of this- the journey we will leave on will be long. The danger will be great. If any of you have any inkling at all of staying behind, I suggest you leave now."
Sontar spoke up after that. "Our current plan is to leave at dawn tomorrow into the wilderness. Entities are illegal, so no entities would be in cities or towns. It makes sense then, to search the unknown areas. Eventually, we will find an Entity willing to make a Pact with one or some of us. But we cannot stop until all of us have Pacts. Even if the power we obtain is greater than that of the Mages, i do not want to risk anything. "Marinta Suraksitam" is a saying among my people, which translates roughly to "More is safe". It is meant to signify that unity and co-operation lead to better results than distrust and selfishness. If we work together and fight together, then i am sure that the Stone Beast in the city will be defeated."
"If any of you have any questions, now would be the time." Ki'than said. He looked out at everyone, sizing them up. They all have experience behind them, and they would all contribute well in some way. He awaited a response to his question.
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