Board Writing :: High Time :: Page 4
The room fell silent, all eyes on the soldier who seamed to be a little bigger than the last time they saw him. You could see the fiery hatred in his eyes as they swept the room searching for the mage. The emperor, oblivious to the increased size and power of the soldier, walked up to him and laughed.
"Well, well, look who finally decided to show up. Would you like anything to eat or drink?" Food fell from him open mouth and on to the soldiers boot. Slowly he looked down at his feet. With a single hand he pushed the emperor out of his way.
"Does anyone know a little girl, about yeah high, green hair or some color close to it. Carry’s a silver staff. No one? Well than I guess I'll have to look for her my self."
The soldier walked towards the crowd of people. They backed up out of fear. He laughed and started to run. The potion of the doctor started to take control. The people turned and ran away, screaming, as if their life depended on it. Among all the chaos the mage slipped out of the palace. She thought no one saw her but the thief's freakish friend watched her leave. The soldier trashed the palace and killed its guards with no avail. He just couldn't find the girl. He saw the thief laughing in a corner.
"What’s so funny? You told me she would be here!" he yelled at the thief.
"Ohh but she was here, she just left a few seconds ago." he replied.
The soldier punched the wall out of anger, which crumpled into dust. "Why didn't you stop her? We could have had her!"
"Who said I saw her? All I said was that she left. My friend on the other hand, he saw her."
"And who is this friend of yours?"
"You remember the zombie guy you killed with your afrit? His brother..."
Later that night the soldier and the walking graveyard met in the arena. "So what you're saying is that if I beat you in a fight you'll tell me where she went?" asked the soldier.
"Fine, then let's go!"
The soldier took out his lance and leaped high into the air. As he was coming down on the monster a pillar of bones shot up from the ground and he smashed into it. The soldier fell to the ground and slowly got back up. The potion was losing it's effect. Just as he was about to attack again they heard foot-steps. Not just one person or two but an entire army. The emperor's warriors poured into the arena. The soldier turned to the corps, "How about we postpone this fight and kill these warriors? As a team."
"Yeah a team. Now lets get a move on or were dead. Or deader in your case.
From the spectator box the emperor's voice descended upon the ring with bitter judgment, unaided by the force of mages that accompanied him. "This is pure lunacy! You have one chance to answer to your treason before I sentence you to death!" The lumbering giant gazed up confused and slightly hurt, thus was added "I am dismayed that after you led such a exemplary life serving a higher cause not unlike the men you killed tonight-”
“Where is the girl? Are you hiding her?” The black sheep cut in.
“You have the audacity to interrupt me? Have you forgotten who you speak to and what you have done? Do realize if not for my good graces and the tournament, you would already lie dead where you stand!”
“No one is keeping her safe from me!” The soldier’s almost incoherent words ripped out of his maw as he took off towards the gilded ledge, preparing to vault as the troops raised their weapons to fight him off. Not twenty paces from the closest foot soldier, the madman brought his pole down and shook the earth as his entire muscle structure quite unexpectedly doubled in size. As it sucked back in the gladiator pushed off his stick and weakly crashed to the ground, his body convulsing as a mixture of blood and foam (and one could only guess what else) poured up from his throat and out his mouth and nose.
The emperor looked around at the wizards who mostly were on the verge of vomiting. “What is going on down there?”
”We don’t know, he seems to be…ill” commented a queasy caster.
“Get a healer in there immediately!”
“I thought he was to be sentenced-”
“His death shall only be by my will or by the hand of another combatant. The only way he will cheat death is if he defeats the champion, and that will be a slim chance indeed!”
The spellweavers all ran to reach the medical teams aside from one. “What should be done about…the thing?”
Looking down the emperor saw the army slowly leaving and widening the circle around the fallen soldier and the undead creature, the second whom had taken the staff from the ground and begun to draw a skull and rainbow with butterflies and tombstones. “…I’d just as soon leave him here if possible.”
“So that’s what he told me! I mean I couldn’t believe it! You’d never expect it from a girl that size that she’s such a horrid murderer!” The hunter retold his conversation to the monk. “I thought we were doing the world a favor-“
“By stopping an attempted murder of a little girl from one that has slaughtered so many? Most certainly we now know she was no better than her assailant but we acted accordingly given our situation. His act was one of cowardice.”
The archer nodded but objected. “Still we are at fault that she is still alive. I could have killed the assassin face to face, but we don’t even know what tricks she has up her sleeves and all you have is your body and that huge robe you wear.” He smiled. “Not that I’m complaining, but-“
The wise woman kissed her finger and put it upon his lips, silencing him quite effectively. “That’s all you saw. And all I let you see.” She slightly laughed as he grew another smile. “My arts should be more than a match for her arcane energy, yet I’ll let you know that arrows and men’s hearts are not the only things this cloth can catch.”
“Lemme see how that works.” The blond man pulled at a tuft resting on her shoulder.
“You’ll get to see just how it works when I beat her in the tourney.” She gently removed his hand with a widening smile.
From a nearby rooftop the rogue listened in to the playful conversation. The war upon the witch had begun, and not a single person was on her side. Sure she was hiding now; he didn’t really care, for she would have to come out for the tournament. The weak had been removed and this time around she luck would play no part to her battles. The guild was awake and watching the outskirts. There was no way out for her alive
The soldier was jostled awake from a sharp pain in his shoulder. A familiar sensation in a familiar location.
"Oh, were you asleep?" There was another familiarity, the tournament's assigned healer. "I was merely checking on the first injury you came to see me about," sternly stated the doctor through gritted teeth. "With your recent incidents, people are beginning to lose faith in your ability to win this thing, especially those who have a lot of money riding on the outcome." The medic lifted his hands. "I need these to work. They'll only break them if I'm lucky." The combatant was less concerned with the plight of the gambler and more focused on his own well being. Since this wasn't the physician's interest, the militant got up to leave. "Hey, now, where do you think you are going?"
"To fight," the man grunted. "Where else?" His words were met with laughter.
"Do you think you can just walk about freely? You murdered several of the king's guards in a violent rage while looking for a little girl," reminded the healer. "You are not allowed to do anything without an escort for surveillance." Eyeing the warrior up and down with a scrying gaze, he tagged on, "And control."
"Funny, the way I remember it," recalled the fighter, "I was drugged with Fury's Blood." He darted a cold look at the doctor, who sweated. "Oh, yeah. I've been around. The whole world, in fact. Got the souvenirs to prove it, too. And I know that Fury's Blood is contraband in this kingdom, as it is in most. So, if you would excuse me..."
"Your match isn't next," whelped the medic as the soldier limped towards the door. "You took the, er, 'tonic' rather hard. You passed out for a few days. The triple threat was moved head until you recovered. In fact, if you hurry, you may be able to see it start."
"Well, then, I better hurry." His eyes narrowed. "There's someone I want to speak to."
"... B-before you go," spoke up the healer, "could I interest you in another elixir-"
"No more potions!" shouted the contestant, still never facing the other man, as he stormed out the room.
"Going somewhere?" boomed a voice as the battler hobbled into the hallway. Grumbling, he cast his cruel stare in the direction of the calling to met a wall of steel. An image was engraved upon the surface with the greatest of detail. It was an eagle with a shield laid upon its breast that clutched a sword in each talon. The rest of the figure was not needed to be seen as this mark identified this man. "You'll have to take me," the knight of Doravan insisted.
The pair walked through the bustling city streets with little impedance. A bubble cleared to allow the two through. Many wanted to take a few steps back to behold the magnificent man of steel while others cowered in his presence. The man stood tall and full of honor. His proud, broad shoulders carried his long, flowing locks as well as a regal colored cape that gracefully swept above the dusty ground. Masterwork mail adorned his body, bearing only artistic engravings with no war scars, meaning this suit was specifically for show. As was signature of any Doravanite, a blade crafted by the finest smiths in the kingdom hung at his side with a iron gauntlet ever poised about its hilt.
"I don't understand," the combatant went over again. "I'm being watched by a knight of Doravan?" The valiant champion let out a hearty chuckle.
"No, friend. I was merely here," he assured with mirth. "The task was presented to many but none were considered worthy enough nor fit enough to accomplish the job. Since I had no matches, I volunteered."
"I can't believe that, either," additionally stated the soldier. "You dropped from the tourney, even after being given a bye to the second round."
"And I would have enjoyed testing my mettle against the noble participants," boldly informed the gallant champion, "particularly against yours. I know that the allegations brought against you are not your fault. That is why I agreed to supervise you. If anything, it would be an opportunity to get what I missed." A mischievous gleam shone in his azure eyes as he spoke. "However, a bout against a warrior such as yourself would have been commendable. Even in defeat, I would be proud. Now, however, this battle has been turned over to savages and monsters who maim and disgrace not only their opponents but the prestige once held by the games." The noble knight had drifted off in his speech but was snatched back into reality at its end. "Besides, I have had many chances to prove my might, and I plan on many more. But this, this is your chance to settle old disputes." The contestant wavered in his step, alarmed by the knight's implication. He only stood, dimly smiling, with an arm held out to the coliseum door. "The battle lies in there. After you."
Positions were taken as the start of the match approached. The magi assumed their positions for the required enchantments. The honored guests were ushered into their lofty chamber while the soldier was treated to a front row seat, surrounded by infantry. Deep within the underground tunnels, the young rogue emerged from a crevice. Although his plots of vengeance had been changed, he still planned to sabotage a match just the same. The contestants waited patiently at their respective gates. The monk honed herself, calmed by a deep trance. The witch worked out kinks in her spell casting that her young body imposed. The viking, who stood leaning against his gate, bending it inward, was not thrilled about competing against two women but still held no convictions about brutally murdering either. He was particularly unamused with the childish antics of the little girl, who had pestered him with mindless questions and annoyances shortly before being called away to the gate.
A cheer rose up from the stands, drowning out the loud grinding of gears that lifted the gates. The triad emerged, and, immediately, the Norse powerhouse began a straight line to the youth. Ripping his flask from his belt, he squeezed its contents into one mighty swallow. As he wiped away what spilled out, a considerable amount, he stared down the sweet innocent who only waved her fingers at his malicious gaze as if bidding him farewell. The northern raider then looked down to his arm and the color his swill had stained it. The girl was not just being a brat earlier. His thick, hardened knee crashed to the arena sands, sending out a quiver that the high seats could feel, before he keeled over entirely. The match had not even begun, and already one combatant was down.
"Oh, my," proclaimed the king on his plush chair, "these warriors are phenomenal. I didn't even see anyone strike the hairy one. They certainly move fast." The archer, the only one unfortunate enough to be stuck with his highness, rolled his eyes, knowing that if his sharp vision did not see it, it did not happen. "Hm, are we using the beast hazard again?" inquired the emperor between bites of the leg of some large animal. "I thought we just used them."
"Their cages were not ordered to be opened," assured the regal attendant as he witnessed more pitfalls and spears emerge. "I believe someone has broken into the operating room!" he quickly reasoned.
"Not so fast," the fat man ordered, stopping the servant cold. "Let this be. It will make for quite the spectacle. A-ho-ho-ho.
An unexpected spire emerged beneath the monk, snagging her loose garments on its rusty, blood-caked tip. The witch took the momentary distraction to charge a spell and end the entire match-up early, but a starved lion -- fed only potatoes and imbeciles -- had other plans. A last-minute correction to her aim sent a fiery bolt soaring past the beast, failing to do any more than singe its mane but succeeding in saving her life. She tried again to hone her talents, attempting to control the power she still had not mastered, to finish the feline off. A quick kick to the back of her head broke her focus, however, and a wrapping sleeve took her vision. The girl threw a tantrum not fit for her age but perfect for her disguise, all the while carving cryptic gestures into the air. Upon completing the spell, the witch exploded a whirlwind around herself, which easily carried away the monk and her formless robes. With her sight returned, the colorful conjurer directed her gale to the spike hazard. The shapeless, billowing warrior fell to the pit, spinning to a halt on the spear-like protrusion. The wild wraps floated down to reveal the devotee's fate. Her bare foot was perfectly balanced atop the point. Shining beneath her smooth head was a brilliant smile and determined stare as she beckoned the mage into the hazard.
The angry wizard waved her ruby wand, lashing out an arc of heat along the arena floor. The forest of thorns it cut through seemed unaffected by the attack until one by one, they slid from their bases. Some of the iron spires crashed in a sandy cloud; others cooled more quickly, freezing at various angles of descent. The monk struggled to keep her balance and remain above the still lethal and now smouldering environment below. Her support gave in, but her sleeves were fast to find some spikes on which to hold. With her opponent immobile, the mad magician prepared the final blow. The martial artist had foresight, however, and pulled in her outstretched arm with all her strength. The blade tangled within easily broke away from its root. Her opposite sleeve tore as it bore the all of her weight, which swung down and clinged to the pike. She brought the broken edge with her, too, only to be released mid-swing at the youth vampire. A streak flew from out her silver rod, reducing the spike to nothing but dust.
A menacing glow overcame the mage's eyes as her wand was lifted overhead. A crackling stream of energy leapt from it and danced among the falling forest. The monk had already hoisted herself into the air and now flipped overhead, watching the electrified hazard for a safe time to land. The sorceress was drained just as the monk had landed on a spike's slanted side, but another charge of lightning was soon to follow. Again, the fighter became airborne, this time training a kick on the wee wizard. The girl slipped her grasp to the bottom of the handle and clubbed at the formless fabric as it fell. Although brimming with power, the blows were soft and found no target among the robes. The martial monk, free from her garb, surprised the child from behind, both barraging her with kicks and strangling her with the garments.
Unbeknownst to either competitor, a feral animal charged. Most of the beasts were picked for their exotic qualities and presented no real danger to any participant; this one did. It was a bull elephant and, though young, larger than any present had seen before. The crowd gasped in anticipation of one or both of their ends. The woman's clean head turned too see the behemoth stomping its way closer, but her response was limited by fear and time. The giant fell before her, sooner than she could even flinch, protruding with arrows from every vital area. A universal groan of disappointment and confusion swept the coliseum.
"What is the meaning of this?" roared the Emperor, regrettably spitting out some of his current meal in the process. "You cannot interfere!"
"But, the haza'ds!" the golden archer told, pulling away another round he had already nocked. "They were n't s'posed to be used!" The roly-poly ruler would hear none of it, however, and ordered the guards to disarm the hunter. The former combatant looked dejectedly to the arena as he was pulled away; the woman he had just saved was already back in battle, unable to pause even a moment to thank him.
The warrior twirled about her cloth, lashing out at the witch while slowly slipping back into her robes. None of the girl's magics could be prepared between attacks, so she unsuccessfully tried fighting the fabric off. Her wand was readily caught and flung a distance away, clattering against the spike pit. Another sweep took the mage off her feet. The monk drew near; the crowd fell in a hushed awe. She thought that she felt the same way. All the woman could see is a prone little girl, sniffling and tearing, entirely defenseless. Again and again in her bald head, she repeatedly told herself that this little witch was a murderer of the worst kind, but some glimmer of compassion held her back.
The monk took another step closer, and again the little mage crawled away. She could not understand why the emperor had not called an end to the match which was obviously over. The pious fighter remembered not to underestimate the rainbow wizard; what she had witnessed in her own battle had told her that much. After much hesitation, she finally lifted up her leg, poising for a single, crushing kick to end it all. Again, she waited for the battle to be called, but no word came. Her gaze locked into the youth's welling eyes. The monk knew she could not look away, no matter how much she did not wish to see this.
The waiting was over; the faithful fighter had made up her mind. Her leg dropped.
The entire body of the monk flung forward, over the mage and spilling onto the fine floor. She tumbled a time or two more, propelled by the enormous ax that stuck from out her back.
"Nay, dolly," coughed out the viking, standing and stained with some awful fluid around his vibrant beard. "If anyone's gonna kill 'er, it'll be me." A vile, wild, and crazed demeanour contorted the giant's grimace. "Kid, I've dranked harder stuff when I was yer age. What else ya got?" The sorceress scampered for her wand, but she met a thick boot instead. The tiny thing was rag-dolled through the air, landing hard but slipping safely into the now glassy floor of the spiked pit. A furious scream filled the entire arena as the massive man bounded after the magician, never even minding to recover his ax.
The spires shattered in the rampaging raider's path to revenge. The youth stealer's slight body handled the blow poorly; consciousness was returning, but her vision was a blurred mess. A black splotch grew rapidly larger, and on instinct alone, she rolled out of the way. Metallic debris rained upon her -- still a better choice than facing the one-man stampede. The burly, hairy hands of the sole remaining opponent reached out to slow himself, which was difficult on the smooth surface. Several more rows of the hazard were leveled until the pillager was finally able to spring off of a spire instead of rushing through it. At full force, the viking returned even faster than before, entirely unhindered by the demolished pit.
The mage was at long last reunited with her weapon and threw out a fireball at the fur-covered fighter. Although engulfed by the blaze, the drunkard simply laughed it off and ran through the fiery wall. His red head lowered, aiming the wicked horns atop his helm blindly at the magician. A swift levitation allowed the witch to dodge the ramming raider and rain down an enchanted blitz from the sky. With heavy feet, the barbarian raced about the open arena floor, avoiding the death from above. He wove a confusing and intricate pattern over the battlefield, often running into a destructive bolt rather than away from it.
The soldier looked on with some interest. The knight from Doravan was perplexed as was most of the audience, but the traveller had heard of such symbols -- powerful runes that carried magic in their very existence. He watched the viking work intently, not yet certain what end the pillager sought. After one heavy stomp to correct a crater caused by the girl's casting, the spell ceased, and only the girl fell from the sky.
The knight was still just as confused, but the soldier just chuckled softly. "An anti-magic rune," he thought aloud.
An enormous punch sent the already bloodied girl skyward again before she had even touched the ground. She soared with such force -- as the viking was unaccustomed to fighting a foe so small -- that she cleared the glyph dug into the ground below. A dust devil set the half-dead mage on the opposite end of the pit. She coughed up unhealthy amounts of blood and shivered, cowering against the iron peaks behind her. From one side, the savage raider stepped out, once again brandishing his battleaxe. The colorful and crimsoned conjurer climbed to her feet in order to escape, but the waiting jaws of a panther greeted her. The pillager stepped closer, ready to make himself a new vest if big cat moved in on his kill.
Caught in the middle and with no where to retreat, she fell to her knees. She lifted her wand and lost herself in the burning ruby set on top. She did not want to lose control -- not again. But she had worked too hard to master these new powers. It could not end now, not after all she had sacrificed. The gem began to glow, brighter and brighter and then white hot. Never before had the mage tried to cast this spell intentionally, but with ruthless animals on either side of her, never before had the long-lived girl been in such dire need.
The knight covered the soldier, dragging him to the floor. Even those audience members far from the inferno hid, although only one side of the arena was actually touched by the flames. Brave heads peered over the charred seats before them, gazing down to the entirely demolished arena -- all but the Viking's rune. Among the ash lie the mage and nothing else, not even the bones of her adversaries.
"By all in heaven," the Doravanite began, "and in hell, have you ever seen anything like that?"
Like most in attendance, the soldier's face was entirely white, save what was sullied by the soot. The words took a moment to reach the staff-bearer, who was affected by the situation more than others, and not because he could possibly face her in the next round.
"Yes," he finally answered the knight, "I have.
Feb 12, 2007
Feb 16, 2007
The world fell from the soldier's feet as his mind dove into the past.
His axe split yet another log as his daughter came skipping out of the house. "Daddy, wha-cha do-in?"
The happy father laid the axe down wiping sweat off his brow with a slick arm. "I'm getting wood ready for the fire, dear."
"But daddy, dinner isn't for HOURS" neatly stated the little one as she cocked her head at the weird act "an' it’s not cold at all an' we got pluny wood inside!"
The grand man kneeled down in front of his little angel and ruffled her hair. “I know, but we'll still need wood for the rest of the month, and trust me, daddy will be VERY hungry if he doesn't eat, and you know when daddy is hungry he gets GRUMPY AND WILL EAT ANYTHING!" Giving the tiny girl a head start he roared with a smile as he stomped after the screaming and giggling toddler who ran around the side of the house.
"Arrrgh I'm gonna eat ya!" He jumped out from the corner.
"Are you now?" Countered his wife, with a sly look on her face, who had been hanging up the laundry. His little girl giggled from behind the clothes basket. He stalking up to the small child as his wife rolled her eyes. "It’s been a while since you've chased me around like that." Her husband stopped and whirled, around still hunched over, and clearly taken by surprise. "You're always out working or playing with our daughter. I thought the reason we left our lives behind us was so we'd have more time with each other."
Her husband looked at her, eyes deep in thought as he stood up straight, still the man that she had ran away with. She subconsciously batted her eyelashes but turned her head down and away from him. "Dearest, you know I love you" he said as he walked up and placed his hands right above her hips.
Slowly her long hair slid across her dress as she looked up at him and held him behind his neck. "I love you more."
"Prove it." the words made almost no sound once they escaped his lips, they were so soft that they just lingered between the two of them, yet there was no question she heard the challenge. She leaned closer as a slow smile opened and he watched a gentle light glow ever brighter in her eyes.
Yet she stopped. "Behind you." At first the words were the equivalent of sweet nothings, but he watched his lover's mind fall from him to something else, going somewhere he'd never seen. Turning his head he saw his child playing a ball of fire about her hand, stopping it once it was balanced atop her index finger. Slowly she pointed straight at the ground yet the flame stayed fixed. As she touched all five fingers together the light grew brighter and as she spread out her hand once more she had five small orbs that now danced about her hand, pulsating to the rhythm of her wrist. He looked back to his wife to find she had left his embrace and was already walking towards their child like a sleepwalker.
Nothing was making sense. His wife knelt down and she too now had orbs of energy circling her hand and cycling through the color spectrum. Her daughter watched and followed the example exponentially greater. "What's...going on?" He asked, yet it seemed no one had heard him.
"She's...blessed with The Art," his wife turned to look up at him, still washed with a childhood stare of curiosity that he was surely mirroring "but she's so young." The statement renewed the initial shock.
"Then-" the father stumbled for words to aid him, "how many orbs should she be able to make?" He watched the spectacle of his daughter who was now conducting the fluctuating orbs like a string of beads to her elbow then weaving through her fingertips and latching the flames together as a loop spinning rapidly above her hand. Bringing her other hand up she stretched and compressed it until finally shaping it into a peach sized orb that hovered in place as she suddenly pulled her hands away, smile wide on her face. Her jubilant eyes reflected its light as she ever so slowly brought her hand back up to it, touching the sides with her middle fingers, causing to implode in a sparkling display. She brought her fingertips to her palms as she scrunched up and started a giggling fit.
The couple still started in awe of their child. "I've never seen her do this before, have you?"
"Surely not, else I surely would have told you. How many orbs can you make?"
"She's surpassed me in her first day."
Suppertime finally arrived and was surprisingly calm and quite as usual despite the afternoon spectacle. The soldier graciously complimented his wife on the night's meal; his daughter following his example, then took out staff out to the front of the house to practice, as he did every night. He knew the rod not as a weapon or tool but as an extension of his body. As he started his nightly regimen, he started to think about his daughter. He considered his family to be well off, at least for now, but down the road she'd have to be sent to an academy.
"Daddy, I wanna show ya-" his daughter started to say behind him but his wife interrupted.
"Shh, your father is concentrating very, very hard and he's going to be a long while. Come out back and show me and you can show him later."
He never acknowledged them, but smiled to himself. She was still his little girl and these decisions would still be down the road. No matter what her powers granted her the ability to do, she was still his little angel he tucked into bed every night. His mind moved to his wife and the conversation they had. Had he really been ignoring her? It wasn't on purpose. Yet now looking at it, she seemed to be right.
The stars were starting to light up the darkening sky as he finished up, the start of a lovely evening. Maybe he'd put his daughter to bed early so he and his wife could spend the night outside, stargazing. Turning around he met the sight of an unnatural glow behind his house. Wondering what they were doing, he decided to walk around the side of the house, but then it seemed that the sun had erupted from the earth.
He came to practically blinded and temporarily deaf, splinters imbedded in his limbs. Raising his head he looked out upon his land. What remained of his house was strewn about the smoothed ground as little burning shards. A slow breeze blew the ash around the acre of scorched earth. All traces of his wife and child were gone. He cried out their names before he again fell unconscious.
His dreams were haunted by last images of his family playing infinitely through his mind, just as his mind now was as he raised himself up from where he was watching the fight in the charred arena. He stared down at the girl's body breathing slowly as the medics carried her off the field. "I'll never forget it." The words shot coldly through his teeth
** There is still more to this story.
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