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 Post subject: Re: Rising Heroes: L2 Fan Fiction (CGI)
PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2012 8:50 am 
Vassal

Joined: Thu Aug 04, 2011 3:33 pm
Posts: 35
another VFX test... a custom redesign of the L2 ship and the dwarven cannons



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 Post subject: Re: Rising Heroes: L2 Fan Fiction (CGI)
PostPosted: Wed Feb 22, 2012 8:09 am 
Vagabond

Joined: Wed Feb 22, 2012 7:53 am
Posts: 1
Play free movies on Kindle Fire

Very likely we will own a Kindle Tab other than a iPad. To sync video to Kindle Fire Tab MP4 for playing, we will use Kindle Fire Tablet Video Converter.


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 Post subject: Re: Rising Heroes: L2 Fan Fiction (CGI)
PostPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2012 12:54 am 
Vassal

Joined: Thu Aug 04, 2011 3:33 pm
Posts: 35
profiles of the characters last introduced.


Image


Name: Thifiell.

Gender: Dark Elf, Male.

Mastery: Shillien Elder.

Personal Record: Head of the Dark Elven Council. He was the speaking voice of the Council before the people, and responded for the people before the Council. He ruled the Sillean people since the end of the great war against the Elves and was responsible for rejecting Kritak’s actions against the Humans. He remained in prison during Kairon’s ruling and the brief intervention of Kritak, and was released by Malik’s advance, during the final retreat of the Orcs from Aden’s territory. Unable, as he was, to retake his post, he delegated the government on the rest of the Council members, and retired to his residence on the outskirts of the city.

Biography: A respected Sillean Noble. Thifiell was appointed as a Council member after he managed to obtain an understanding with Humans and Elves, at the cost of declaring the defeat of the Dark Elves, but retaining the sovereignty over the territory they managed to acquire. From that time on, he modified the society, balancing religion, politics and military might, leading the Silleans to a cultural recovery rather than a material recovery. When the Council was dissolved, Thifiell advised Malik during his stay in the capital, turning the young Captain into a centered leader, both military and socially-wise.



Image


Name: Akhara

Gender: Dark Elf, Female

Mastery: Shillien Elder - Spellhowler

Personal Record: Vestal of Shilen. Princess of the Dark Elven people. During her childhood, she studied the mystical arts of Shilen, in the School of Dark Arts. When she reached maturity, she would enter the Royal Family in order to become the new leader of the Council, in place of her father Thifiell. She was incarcerated along with her father and the rest of the Council, by the rebels led by Kairon. With the help of a few loyal guards and peasants, she managed to flee the city towards the forest, where she would spend the following months undermining the movements of Kairon and Legion 47. During the Human counter-attack over the Dark Elven territory, she joined paths with Malik and Ventor, and provided key information about the Dark Elven positions. After recovering the control of the city, she delegated the government on Talloth, who had assisted his father since he was assigned as the head of the Council, under the promise to request a popular gathering to decide the future of the Dark Elven people.
She embarked to Rune, prosecuting Tretios and Kritak. During the siege of Rune, she confronted and killed Tretios, taking revenge on behalf of her father.

Biography: Being part of the Royalty never meant a limitation for Akhara. Since young age she was used to relate with the children of the city (often against her keepers’s desires), with whom she ran across the city among merchants, beggars, guards and priests. She wandered the outskirts without concern of a further reprimand awaiting her when she returned. Her generous free spirit won the heart of many people, and when she became a servant of Shilen, the people preferred her comforting words more than the prayers of the priests.
She supported her father on his decissions, although she also had to disagree with several of them, specially with the one against the pledge to the Orcish campaign. For Akhara, any situation which wouldn’t benefit the Darklings, would, at a later time, damage them. She felt a reject towards the Humans, who were ultimately responsible for the Darkling retreat to the West coast of Aden, but seeing the present situation of the Dakling people, facing either the Humans or the Orcs would have been disastrous.
Picking the lesser of the two problems, she decided to combat the revolts, trying to regain control of the government, and indirectly opening way to the Humans, and thus, fighting the Orcs back.
She joined the land advance of the Humans during the siege of the Darkling capital, and assisted Ventor and Matt on the invasion of Rune. During this battle, Akhara and Matt would resolve several difficult situations, and Akhara would ultimately understand that Humans and Darklings could finally work together only if they let their differences aside.



Image


Name: Tretios

Gender: Dark Elf, Male

Mastery: Spellhowler - Phantom Summoner

Personal Record: High Priest of the Sillean State. Lead of the School of Dark Arts. He supported Kairon during his uprise against the rest of the Council. He took command of the Council during Kairon’s campaign and ruled the city under orders of Kritak. He impossed the teaching of Dark Arts on the society as a way of leading the people towards the learning of Forbidden Arts, the magical arts used by the founding Dark Elves during their rebellion against the Elves. An expert on summoning magic, he was able to use his power to extend his control over those Darklings beyond the Sillean frontier, affecting the people living on Human territory. He was responsible for planning the invasion of Talking Island, the sole place where the Darklings had not settled, by gaining control of Varil’s mind. When Aden began its counter-offensive, he withdrew his acolytes towards the Darkling capital, and fled towards Rune when the humans besieged the city.

Biography: Arguably Tretios would be the true mind beyond the invasion of Aden since the very beginning. His knowledge of forbidden arts would allow him to willingly control magical or material creatures. Only those with knowledge of the existance of these arts and their counter-spells would resist him.
Thanks to this power he easily influenced the Sillean people to support the uprise of Kairon, given the fact that the people would follow him as a respected personality, and they ultimately fell under his control.
During the time he served as a member of the Council, he had to proceed with caution to prevent being discovered and charged with heresy.
When he gained control of the government, he focused his attention on expanding the realm and returning the blow to the Elves and the Humans, who were responsible for the situation of the Darklings.
When the Humans retook the Darkling capital, Tretios went from being the leader of the Darklings to being a simple puppet of Kritak, with whom he would dig deeper into the Forbidden Arts until consuming his mind and soul completely. During the siege of Rune, he fought Akhara with a clear advantage of force, but neither his dark spells nor his mind control could stand against the determination of the young Princess.



Image


Name: Kairon.

Gender: Dark Elf, Male.

Mastery: Blade Dancer – Shillien Knight (not officialy appointed)

Personal Record: Reagent of the Sillean State, tittle aquired during the popular revolt that took place during the invasion of the Orcs over Human and Dwarven territory.
General of Legion 47 (by command of the conqueror Kritak) during the invasion and siege of Dion, where they suffered heavy casualties at the hands of the defenders, led by Malik, Galen and Arzag, and ultimately assisted by Mirien
Trapped behind enemy lines, he fled towards Rune through the Execution Grounds, circling Giran behind the Breka territory, and entering Aden on foot, stealing transportations when he had the chance. Upon arriving on Rune, he was taken towards Kritak, who after extensive questioning, only demoted him to Sub-commander, and appointed him to the garrison of the main fortress, where he was once again overrun by Human forces.

Biography: Kairon was never disposed to accept the tradition of living his life by the wishes of the goddess Shilen, who was worshipped by his people since times long forgotten.
Even though his early years developed liked the majority of the children around him, learning the precepts of Shilen on the School of Dark Arts, Kairon always confronted his teachers with different ideas regarding the interpretation of the writings. This actions, most of the times, were worth a good reprimand by the head priests, but after his graduation, and after some time after being appointed Senior Attorney, he had the chance to consult sacred documents kept in the Temple of Shilen, and discovered that Shilen was a secondary deity and not the major goddess, as his people believed.
After publishing his writings on the matter, he gained a notorious acceptance in the community, specialy among those living on the outskirts of the city. It was this popular support what lead to his uprise to power, after the council led by Thifiell had pronounced itself against the Orcish expansion over the Humans, who had priorly defeated the Darklings in the war against the Elves
Kairon, backed by his followers, stormed the Temple of Shilen, and after arresting the Council he sent a message to the Orcs announcing his shared interest against the Human race. Kritak, after receiving this proposal, sent one of his leagions to the Sillean territory, putting it under Kairon’s command.
From that moment on, Kairon would lose his devotion to Shilen completely, and would embark in a conquest campaign that would put him against his enemies, and against his own people as well.
Kairon’s whereabouts after the battle of Rune are unknown. Some claim to have seen him fall from the walls down to the sea. Some others claim he was made a prisioner and sent to Aden to be executed. Some others believe he might have escaped towards Primeval Isle, where he is still alive and hiding from any continental affairs. Whatever his fortune might have been, providing he is still alive, his mind would surely be centered on plotting some kind of revenge.


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 Post subject: Re: Rising Heroes: L2 Fan Fiction (CGI)
PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2012 10:09 am 
Vassal

Joined: Thu Aug 04, 2011 3:33 pm
Posts: 35
more tech...
I finally got the point of what makes anime likeable, despite the fact that's just repeated plain images: every scene has at least something that's animated, a light effect, the wind blowing the characters' hair, smoke rising up, fire, whatever... every camera shot has something that depicts the passage of time.

so, I tried to make the hair wave to the wind, and create a wind framework that can be used over and over again, with any given model.

kinda worked ....


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 Post subject: Re: Rising Heroes: L2 Fan Fiction (CGI)
PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2012 1:48 am 
Vassal

Joined: Thu Aug 04, 2011 3:33 pm
Posts: 35
back to image design...
I needed some flags for the different organizations, and since the Territory War feature already has some interesting designs, I remixed those into working flag designs

City of Giran:
Image

Kingdom of Aden:
Image

Giran's Royal Guard:
Image

Fleet of Aden:
Image


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 Post subject: Re: Rising Heroes: L2 Fan Fiction (CGI)
PostPosted: Sun May 13, 2012 12:20 pm 
Vassal

Joined: Thu Aug 04, 2011 3:33 pm
Posts: 35
they say an image is worth a thousand words, so.... here's a couple thousands of images, as a video.



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 Post subject: Re: Rising Heroes: L2 Fan Fiction (CGI)
PostPosted: Wed May 30, 2012 3:06 am 
Vassal

Joined: Thu Aug 04, 2011 3:33 pm
Posts: 35
two-part episode.
the first one I wrote entirely in Spanish, as opposed to the previous ones, which I built around cornerstones written in English.... so, the translation might be a little off.

Chapter 6:
Brotherhood, part I



The morning was shining fresh and warm over the city of Giran. Next to the city’s fort, the recruit encampment was waking up to the sound of the city’s temple’s bell, at the same time the sergeants of the Royal Guard paced around the tents there placed, tolling small hand bells and calling out loud to the gathering in the fort’s plaza.
-“Wake up, lazy asses! Wake up!” –cried out an old veteran- “Come on, we don’t have the whole century! Form up! The Orcs are not going to be quiet for much longer! Move!”
Slowly, the volunteers left their tents and gathered around the officers, who had already placed some improvised campfires, with big cauldrons where the breakfast was cooking up.
-“Rice and shine, ladies! One bowl for one thousand braces!” –stated Matt- “He who forfeits this first trial, would be waving goodbye to both victory and glory!”
Matt had planned the training routine all by himself. Between him and Kiska they had split up the initial training exercises for the preparation of the wannabe soldiers. At sunrise, they would form up and run three times around the city’s outer walls, for a total distance of twelve hundred braces. At noon, after lunch, they would go eastward from the city, between the lake and the castle, where they would sharpen their skills with the bow, on the training targets. And by late afternoon, and until sundown, they would return to the fort, where they would split up in pairs, to train in hand-to-hand combat.
Once the quick breakfast was over, Matt began organizing the recruits in groups
-“You, Gludineers, you’re with me! Form up three lines behind me!” –he said.
A group of fifty men of Gludin responded to the calling, gathering on their own about two hundred more.
-“You, Veteran!” –said Matt, to an old man- “Have this group follow you, and follow my lead!”
Matt pointed the man towards the group of Dion, that promptly followed him, bringing the rest of the farmers from Dion.
-“Sergeant!” –called Matt- “Take the group of Giran and form up the rear!”
With three lined columns, and a soldier ahead of each one, the regiment began it’s rhythmic race around the outer walls.
This scene was observed from the fort’s upper battlements by Galen, who had been up for a while now, contemplating the city’s extent and it’s surroundings, from the panoramic point the upper levels offered him. The morning breeze was gently blowing over the Elf’s white hairs, and Galen took a deep breath, recovering his whole self.
In this situation he was, when he was found by Malik, who was heading his way towards the armory’s tower.
-“Good morning, Captain.” –said Galen, when he met Malik.
Malik was surprised to find the Elf in his way, and more, being so early in the morning.
-“Be my eyes witched if I see an Elf this high above the ground!” –said Malik, joking- “You wouldn’t be missing the elevation of the Ivory Tower, now would you?”
-“The Tower is famous for its majestic height, indeed, but it’s particularly disgraced by the fact that its emplacement prevents it from enjoying a beautiful sunrise or sundown.” –answered Galen- “The city, on the other hand, is blessed in this aspect.”
The sun was, indeed, already rising behind the castle of Giran, and warming up the eastern side of the city.
Malik, despite having grown up in the city, never had the chance to witness such a beautiful event so, for a while, he was left up in the moment.
-“Wise Oracles living next to the Gods, and forsaking the worldly matters…” –said Galen- “…and Men, living among worldly matters, bringing them closer to the Gods more than any books of the Oracles.”
Malik could not help but acknowledge Galen’s thinking. All his life he had tried to obtain the knowledge and expertise of those wiser than him, when the true knowledge was right there for the taking, just a few steps behind those walls.
-“Ironic, this existence of ours…” –concluded Galen.
In this particular moment, Galen seemed to be in perfect harmony with the environment. Malik could barely recall the last time he saw Galen in such a calm state.
-“Listen, Galen…” –said Malik- “…I ran into Mirien last night…”
Galen understood Malik’s intention, but he was not ready to relive the same situation he endured the past night, so he politely avoided the matter.
-“…The Captain is nothing but worried about something that, in essence, she is unable to understand…” –he said- “Mirien is but a close friend, and it seems natural that she tries to protect my well-being… But I grant you, Captain, you should not worry about my well-being, but about that of your men and country.”
And leaving Malik in the upper battlements, Galen walked his way back to the lower level.
-“Your people needs you, Malik.” –he said, as he walked away- “I trust you will understand if I try not burdening you with another responsibility.”



Malik could understand Galen’s feelings; the mind of the wizard had already so many different matters to attend to. But even so, he could not help but worry about the one who, so far, he considered a close friend.
He walked his way over the higher wall, up to the tower crowning the stairs leading down to the armory. Kiska’s report stated that the city would need a great deal of supplies, so Malik intended to organize the first batch of materials he would send to Gorqon’s workshop, who was already working for the cause.
The young Captain had barely entered the compound, when he ran into his counterpart from the Elven Kingdom.
-“You here, Milady?” –he asked- “I thought you were in your chamber.”
-“Early assignment.” –answered Mirien- “Sir Kristof has asked me to lead a reconnaissance patrol to the Breka territory. Being you, Kiska and the Lieutenant tied up to other tasks, I supposed I must be the one to do it.”
Indeed, out of the present officers Mirien was the next most experienced in exploration, and besides, she had her own personal party.
-“Hmm…” –said Malik- “I understand the Breka are somewhat prompt to violence in the case of someone trespassing into their territory. Although they are not precisely warlike. Actually, we have lived in peace with them for years now, but…”
Malik was right. The Breka were a peaceful tribe of North Giran, but the current situation of the Orcish menace was not to be taken lightly.
-“… in these times, it’s better to be cautious…” –he concluded.
-“I hope you don’t mind…” –Mirien added- “I’ve asked some of your soldiers to serve us as pathfinders. It’s a difficult terrain, even for us.”
-“Of course not… You have the regiment at your disposal.”
-“Excellent. We will leave as soon as the equipment is ready.”
Mirien turned her attention to a weapons stash, and took two short swords from it. Armed as the Elves were, with bows and daggers, they were tremendously effective at long range; but in a steep terrain like that of the northern mesas, it was difficult to stand in order to take aim, so the sword became a much better choice.
-“I believe this would do nice.” –she said- “I’ll go gather the party.”
-“Ïve Nal gêled Le, Herïn*” –Malik greeted her, in Elvish.
Mirien was surprised. It was not common for a Human to speak the tongue of the Children of Eva. And furthermore, showing the proper respect.
-“My, aren’t you a surprise box, Captain!” –she answered- “May Eva light you as well,… Kê-non Nin*”
Malik received the compliment with a nod. There was no reason for an outlander to salute him, but Mirien had done so with nothing less than a Nobility title; which, in this case, showed the Elven lady’s pledge to the Human’s lead.
Outside of the armory, in the fort’s inner plaza, there were some ten Elfs from Mirien’s detachment, along with four Human soldiers. Or rather, two soldiers, from Giran, and two recruits, from Dion and Gludio.
Even though Giran had a well-trained Royal Guard, the hunters from the outskirts were the ones more experienced in the field, because of their traveling, back and forth, through its extent.
At Mirien’s approach to the group, the Gludian spoke aloud.
-“Excuse me asking, Milady, but… what is that we actually seek?”
-“If I knew it, we wouldn’t be seeking right now, we would be bringing.”
Elven logic at its finest, again.
-“You men,…” –Mirien asked them- “…do you know you way around the Breka land?”
-“I traveled it from the south-west.” –said the hunter from Dion- “There be some low hills, and then the land goes flat. The Breka hunt windsus in the inner grounds. More to the north the ground becomes elevated, and the forest thick. If the Brekas are out on the look, they might catch us off guard.”
-“And they will be, I grant you…” –Mirien said, and then turned to the Giranese- “You two, form up two teams of three, with my soldiers. Stay at clear sight from each other.”
The Royal Guards acknowledged the command. Mirien translated the order to Elvish. The Children of Eva tightened their weapons and gear.
-“Open eyes and ears, people. Avoid any unnecessary risks, but be ready for combat. Remember, we are going as explorers, not as invaders.
And, with sheathed weapons, but with razor-sharp senses, the small party went underway, towards the northern mesa of Giran, and the Breka frontier.

[*Ïve Nal gêled Le, Herïn: lit. May Eva keep you safe, Woman. "May Eva light your path, Milady". Formal Elvish farewell greeting.]
[*Kê-non Nin: lit. Commander of mine. "My Captain".]

At the other side of the city, and with a much larger company, Matt was still leading the recruit group around the outer walls. They were almost near the West gate, when Matt sighted two recruits at one side of the path.
They were two farmers from Dion, who separated from the formation and remained behind since the previous lap, and were now one lap behind the rest of the group.
Matt had established the running distance after his livings in Aden: the white city laid two thousand braces* away from the Cemetery, sixteen-hundred braces away from the castle, and the castle was twelve hundred braces away from the Blazing Swamp, so any soldier in distress should be able to run at least fifteen hundred braces to the nearest outpost, if need be. Giran’s perimeter was four hundred and fifteen braces in length, so in order to reach at least twelve hundred braces they had to run three laps around the city.
The recruit group was now running this third and final lap, when Matt ran ahead towards the two farmers.
-“Eh, you two!” –he said, running in and stopping beside them- “Get back in formation! You’ll have time to rest tonight!”
-“I’m sorry, Sir. It’s just…” –said one of them- “We were running too close, and I stepped on him by accident, and he fell down. I tried to help, but…”
-“…But… My foot!” –said the other one, visibly in pain- “It hurts like a burning fire poker!!”
-“Bah! Wusses…” –said Matt, joking- “Should you have laid like this in Goddard, the Orcs would have had you gutted already… Let’s see…”
Matt kneeled down beside the wounded recruit, and grabbed his leg with both hands.
-“YYYEOOW!!!” –yelled the farmer- “Horns of Antharas!!”
-“Hmm… This looks bad…” –said Matt, putting the leg back down, carefully.
Matt then touched the ankle with his fingers, finding the bone intact.
-“He’s sprained it.” –he said- “It will hurt like hell, but it can heal.”
Since they were close to the city, and since the training was nearly finished, Matt decided to take the recruit towards the city, where Galen would be able to ease his pain. Matt then turned to the path, where the trainees were already going by, and with a few gestures he signaled the leader.
-“Sergeant!” –he shouted- “Finish the run! Get to the fort and send the Elf back this way! We’ve got a man down!”
-“Understood!” –answered the veteran, as he ran by- “You’ve heard it, scumbags! Keep moving!”
The tired recruits were soaking wet. Some of them, used to the running, were focused on trending lightly, in order to reduce the fatigue. Some others, less used to the exercise, were wetter than the morning grass. The last third, containing the Giranese, was beyond recognition. Being mostly artisans and traders, they were not used to be alongside the farmers and workers who provided the products they enjoyed. It seemed natural, then, than this group was the source of several complaints.
-“Would you look at that…” –said one of them- “… seems like the old man is worn out. Is the soil of Giran too hard for you?”
-“What would you know about soil, you lazy ass!” –said the wounded farmer- “Be glad out sweat serves your table!”
-“Enough…!” –said Matt, to the peasant- “Don’t let him taunt you… And you…!” –he said to the Giranese- “Get back in place! And quiet!”
The young Lieutenant from Aden, at first impression, seemed like a spirited, social young man, but on his gut he had a toughened combat instinct, and he could very much spot an angry man apart.
With the help of the second farmer, they both put the wounded man back on his feet, and offered him a shoulder. And once he was firmly standing, they headed to the other side of the dusty path, on which the recruit detachment was already heading away.
-“What was that all about?” –asked Matt, regarding the previous taunting.
-“Oh, you won’t understand, Milord…” –said the wounded man.
-“Try me…”
Stepping and skipping, the trio of soldiers crossed the dirty path, and got to the side of the wall, where the wounded recruit could rest his leg over the wide base.
-“I’ll go get the wizard.” –said the second recruit.
Matt could not carry the wounded on his own, so, taking a thick branch from the ground, he used his dagger to shape it up, turning it into a cane, where the wounded man could rest his weight.
-“These Giranians…” –the farmer continued- “…They think themselves better than us… And in every chance they have, they make fun of our peasant condition… It’s always been like that!… But… What would you know about that, Sir? You yourself have been born in Aden. You there are so far from these lands to worry about our living here.”
-“Wrong you are.” –said Matt- “I have traveled far and wide through Aden, and seen peasants, artisans, shopkeepers and noblemen. I wandered the land for a long time before becoming a soldier. I have walked plains, hills and forests. I believe I very much understand how men live and die, regardless of where they stand.”
The peasant was surprised by the young man’s seriousness. It was not, at all, what the old Dionian had expected from a rich boy from Aden.
-“If you are then so blessed, Lieutenant…” –he asked- “Why have you joined the military?”
-“For the simple fact, dear sir, that my spirit seeks the adventure. In order to find adventures, I must travel. In order to be able to travel, I should have been a soldier, a monk or a trader. Had I chosen to be a trader, I would have been trading more than traveling. And had I chosen to be a monk, I would have been praying more than traveling…” –said Matt, with a smile- “…And besides, you surely know about the vows of the Clerics…”
-“Right… I see…” –smiled the peasant.
Slow but steady, both soldiers reached the West gate of the city, and headed towards the fort; but a few steps they walked when they met with the other Dionian, the corps’ sergeant, and behind them, Malik and Galen, who came to them from the other side.
-“What happened?” –Malik asked, surprised- “I got word there were wounded men?”
-“One wounded. Just that.” –laughed Matt- “And it’s not that bad. I bet out Elven friend here can take care of it.”
Disposed and able, Galen reached the peasant, who sat on a nearby fence, extending his leg out.
-“Allow me…” –said Galen, rubbing his hands and calling part of his power- “…Cah-ru cîn Ul-em Nedë…”
Galen took the foot of the Dionian, and between his ankle and the wizard’s hands, a cold current began to flow.
-“…Hae-rân!” –concluded Galen.
The peasant showed a relief expression. The low temperature of the air made the limb numb, and naturally, calmed the pain down. Since it was not a severe injury, all that remained for him to do, was rest.
-“That is all…” –said Galen- “Take him to the fort, and bandage him. He will recover by tomorrow.”
And so, Galen, the healed peasant, his Dionian folk, and the sergeant got back to the fort. Behind them, Malik and Matt shared a few words in confidence.
-“Congratulations, Lieutenant…” –Malik joked- “You have just got a casualty on the first day of training! It’s all an achievement!”
-“Hey…, look on the bright side…!” –laughed Matt- “It could have been me, ha ha!”
-“Ha ha ha! No, I’m not that lucky!”

[*Brace: Measure taken as an average of a man's extended arm, from the shoulder to the middle finger's tip. About 33 inches.]

On the Eastern side of the city, next to the lake, the full extent of the regiment was nearly finishing lunch. Twelve-hundred souls, sat in ten long rows.
The day was clear and warm, and there was a slight breeze coming from the south, making the field ideal for a cookout, which, after the extenuating morning, had reinvigorated the tired recruits.
But the peaceful moment would come to an end in the instant the grumpy Dwarf jumped in front of them, wearing his plate armor, and carrying a heavy war hammer.
-“Alright, ‘ye dirty scum! Get in line!” –roared Gorqon- “Hurry up! My metal is getting rusty! Move!”
In multiple groups, with long and tired faces, the recruits were forming in front of the Dwarf. In front of them, some sixty braces away, laid several piles of twigs and hay, with practice targets painted on big pieces of paper.
Next to Gorqon there were several barrels with bows and various weapons. Once the line of recruits was formed up, the Warsmith began to pace along the formation, shouting towards the group, and holding his hammer on his right shoulder.
-“Look sharp and listen up! ‘Cuz if ‘ye don’t, ‘ye gonna screw it up! And if ‘ye do, ‘ye’ll break the gear! And if ‘ye break it, they’re gonna send it to me, to be repairing it! And if I have to delay me work because of a broken gear, I’ll go out and find you myself…! And when I find you, you and me gonna have a little chatter, with me hammer here…!”
Gorqon stopped his pacing, and grabbed the hammer with both hands, patting on his left hand with its head.
-“And then,… mark me words when I say,… ‘ye gonna be screwed up alright…!”
The group of recruits was pale white. The acid character of Gorqon was more menacing than any strength he might had shown off, because in Giran everyone knew about the ferocious Dwarven mountaineers, able to fight even without armor of any kind.
Gorqon walked away towards his position, at the end of the line of targets, where he would act as a reference point to test the speed of the shooters. Passing by Kiska, he whispered in a low voice.
-“They’re all yours, darling… Ho Ho!”
Kiska chuckled to herself. With her elegant female walking, she placed herself at the center of the formation, where everyone could see her.
-“Listen very carefully!” –she said- “Some of you already know the skill of bow handling! Very well, now you will prove that skill here! And you will improve that skill! And dominate that skill! And you will get to be so versed on its control, that you will be able to nock an arrow in the darkest of darkness, and pierce the armor of an Orc Legioneer two-hundred braces away, with the wind blowing, and if it comes to it, with your eyes closed!”
And with the speed of lightning only seen in the storms of the long-remote Rune, Kiska took an arrow from her quiver, drew her bow, turned around, and released the string, hitting the practice target on its very center.
-“Your commanders have given you the motto of Hawkeye…!” –she said, without the slightest sign of her character being affected by the last display of speed- “The title that of hunting Falcons, able to strike the Orc with the speed of lightning…! So tell me… Are you worth of that title…?”
The mass of recruits looked at each other. The stunning character of Gorqon, in addition to the pleasing sensual voice of the Elven lady, had made the minds of the ‘Hawkeye’ trainees an entanglement.
-“ARE YOU WORTH IT!?” –shouted the girl, out of the sudden.
Several wild responses came out of the group.
-“Yeah!”
-“’course!”
-“Sure thing!”
Kiska pictured a forced smile, and shook her head, in frustration. She would have a long, long path ahead of her. With decisive voice, she started the training routine.
-“First line, take a bow and shoot the targets!” –she ordered- “We’ll see what you are capable of…”
The foremost line detached itself from the group and packed around the weapon barrels, where each one of them took a bow and several arrows. Next up, they lined up with the practice targets and took aim. Several of them hit the targets. Some others shot pass the piles of hay. Only three could mark the bullseye. And all that, on a static target.
-“You, line yourselves on the next row…!” –said Kiska, to these last three ones, pointing towards five targets on weighted poles, that a few Elves were moving by a rig of ropes- “The rest of you, get back in formation! You can try again later…! The next line, move up!”
After several iterations, the group began to split into smaller groups, effectively separating those skilled ones from the rest. At mid-afternoon, there was a row of twenty skilled shooters awaiting for the last trial: three shots to a target, at a quick speed.
-“Listen carefully now!” –said Kiska- “In battle, you will not have time to lose. You must be quick, certain, and most important, deadly. And you must avoid any unnecessary actions, for you will waste time, and waste your life as well! On this last test, you will face yourselves against your own control! One shot,…”
Kiska nocked her bow, took aim, and shot. The arrow nailed the bullseye.
-“…and the enemy will find you! And if that does not kill it, you must shoot a second arrow, and hit a vital spot…!” –she said, and once again she turned around, and reached for another arrow- “Gorqon!”
The Warsmith, who had been standing beside the practice target, suddenly came out of his resting state, and charged towards the young lady.
With the signature quietness of the Elven people, Kiska drew the bow, took aim, and with a deep breath, released the string. The arrow went directly to the center of the target, right beside the previous one. Gorqon was still launched on his forward sprint, and was already half the distance closer to Kiska, when she took a third arrow. Nock, draw, loose. Bullseye. With just enough spare time to move out of the way of the Warsmith, who passed by her, harmlessly.
-“A trained marskman…” –said the lady, to the trainees- “…is able to shoot twice to the same target, and hit the same spot, even against a moving target… In order to survive an Orc’s assault, you must be able to shoot at least three times and hit… Specially against a moving target.”
The recruits shared surprised looks. The tests so far had been all but normal. Everyone there knew the art of marksmanship, and had hunted beasts of all kinds. But… Three shots? Seemed impossible, even for a Royal Guard.
-“Since we only have one Orc wannabe…” –joked Kiska, and several laughters rose from the group- “… You will all shoot to the same target, at the same time. Each one of you, take three arrows, and line up! Gorqon, are you ready?”
Gorqon took his hammer, stood beside the target, put his solid helmet on, and lowered the visor. Just in case a rogue shot would hit his face.
-“…Rwwdy!” –said the Warsmith, with his voice dampened by the metal helmet.
-“Take aim…!” –said Kiska, raising her hand- “And… Loose!”
The moment the arrows took flight, Gorqon rose his hammer above his head, and charged the line of archers, straight on.
-“RWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!” –roared the Warsmith.
The battle cry of the Dwarf frightened the trainees, who were not expecting such a display of fury in a simple training. Some few left their position, fearing the Dwarf might actually strike them. The distraction created by the shouting confused the shooters, and the retreating weakened the line. Those who stood still, could hardly regain their stand and balance, and their arrows missed the targets. By the time Gorqon reached his target end, only one shooter had been able to loose the last arrow; but he would have been hit by the running Dwarf anyways.
Kiska showed herself frustrated.
-“Alright… Get back in formation…” –she said- “We will continue tomorrow… Get back to the fort… We’ll see again in the plaza, by sunset.”
The tired group of recruits began walking their way back to the city, when one of them decided to turn around, and go back to the target.
-“You, recruit!” –said Kiska- “Leave it be… You can try again tomorrow! Get back to the fort!”
-“I can do it! I’ll show you” –said the young man.
-“Leave it, I said! Don’t make me stop you!”
-“Tell the Dwarf to charge me! Come on!”
The young man seemed to have made his mind. Kiska did not expect that a recruit would risk being arrested, but she couldn’t ignore the fact that the regiment was looking at them, and she had to enforce the discipline, even if it meant engaging the shooter. The archer nocked the arrow, and aimed towards Gorqon, directly.
-“Come on, Dwarf! Let’s see what you have!” –said the recruit, and shot.
The arrow went to strike Gorqon over his right shoulder pad, scratching the armor and bouncing off. The sound of the impact was enough to get the attention of the group.
Kiska, fast as lightning, nocked an arrow herself and rose his bow against the rebel.
-“Put that bow down! Now!” –she ordered- “I won’t ask again!”
The young man lowered his bow and turned his sight to Kiska. The Elven lady also lowered her bow, but the recruit noted the hesitation and drew his bow again towards Gorqon.
The arrow hit the Dwarf’s armor, on the left shoulder. The bounce caught the attention of the whole regiment. The shot had been clearly magnificent. Kiska turned around, in order to track the flight line of the sudden shot, and there she understood the shooter’s intention.
-“What are you waiting for, Gorqon?” –yelled Kiska- “The damn scumbag is challenging you! Give him a lesson!”
From the group of recruits, several encouraging shouts came out.
-“Yeah, show him!
-“Get him, Warsmith!”
-“Charge! Kick his ass!
And Gorqon stood up to it. He grabbed his hammer, closed his visor, and charged straight at the shooter. The real challenge was up.
The archer put a foot back, took an arrow, and shot the practice target. He hit the target, albeit off the center. Gorqon was charging him at full speed.
Second arrow. The archer was firm on his feet. The rest of the recruits were watching every move. The shot hit right on the bullseye. Gorqon was now at less that eight braces away.
The young bowman nocked the third arrow. Gorqon rose his hammer, ready to hit him with a good smashing. His armor would protect him from any arrows, but the young man would take the worst of it. A Dwarven strike at that speed would be fatal.
But the man did not move. He did not retreat. In fact, he charged Gorqon!
With a rapid jump, on the last moment he stepped out of the way, rolled on the grass, and stood up again behind Gorqon. The shot went to hit the ground, right in front of Gorqon’s feet. The Dwarf stopped dead-on.
Three shots. Flawless technique. Had it been a real fight, Gorqon would have gotten the worst of it.
From the present crowd, admiring applauses and cheers began to rise. Kiska was genuinely impressed. Risky technique, yes, but definitely effective.
-“Impressive…” –she said- “What would be thy name…?”
-“Altebar… Altebar Karrios.” –said the young archer- “But, folks call me Terry.”
-“Well, Terry, I must say I’m impressed by your skill.” –added Kiska- “You might as well earn the title of Hawkeye some day… you’re skilled, bold,… and incredibly careless… You might make a career in the army…”
-“Thank you, Milady…”
Kiska signaled two Elven soldiers nearby.
-“You have passed the test…!” –she said- “And at the same time, you have challenged a superior officer, and disobeyed a direct order; and not once, but twice, no less! Seize him!”
A burst of laughter came from the crowd of recruits, as the skilled shooter was arrested.
-“Oh, bollocks…” –said Terry, with a smile- “I guess I should have left the Dwarf crush me.”
And among the laughing and mocking, Terry was being walked towards the inner hall of the barracks, and to Malik’s office, from where he surely would make a round trip down to a prison cell, for a week at least.



In the fort’s plaza everything was already set for the last training shift of that day. From the northern entrance the recruits were coming one after another, visibly tired, but still with a good spirit. From among the crowd, two Elven soldiers came through, carrying a shackled Terry with them. When he passed by a group of Dionians, who recognized him, several mocking exclamations came out.
-“Ha ha! Let’s see how you get out of this one!”
-“Hey, Terry! I had a bet placed on your behalf! You owe me ten coins! Ha ha!”
To this group a Gludian approached to, and asked the present men about the motive for the laughter.
-“What was that all about? What happened?” –he asked.
-“That’s Terry Karrios…” –said one of them- “We came here together. He said he would get a commission on the first training day. He had his mind made about getting into the Royal Guard. You see how his luck turned out! Ha ha!”
-“Ha ha! That woulda been a sight!” –laughed the Gludian- “I guess we all ended up with our heads on the wall! I, uhmm… I’m Rohmer, by the way…”
The Gludian boy shook the dust off his hand and offered it in handshaking, as a sign of courtesy. The other man was surprised by the greeting; it wasn’t as if they had gone all the way there to make friends with a Gludian. But, just to avoid being rude, he shared the greeting.
-“…Liam…” –he said- “These are Xaber, and Bright…”
The four of them shared a handshake.
-“So… what’s your story?…” –asked Rohmer- “You here for the pay?… The glory?…”
-“Here we are, period…” –answered the one called Xaber- “There’s not much left to do in Dion, in this time of year…”
-“Dion is a freaking pit…” –said Liam, with saddened tone- “This, or any time of year.”
The Dionian looked weary saying these words. Irritated with both the truth of it, and the fact of finally having to accept that truth. As if he finally had got to convince himself.
-“Since the Royal Guard has retreated, Dion is nothing but a nest of beggars and thieves…” –Liam went on, with saddened a tone in his voice- “Nobody patrols our frontiers anymore, and the burglars come and go by our streets as they please, while we must attend our fields… It’s for that reason we decided to come here… If there’s any way we can protect our city, is by being soldiers ourselves.”
-“Damn…” –said Rohmer- “Sorry… I had no idea it was that bad…”
-“That’s what happens when the post service takes a detour around your city… The news get stranded…!”
The Dionians were done being laughing and joking. The remembrance of the current state of their town had made them think about how much they would have to change, should they succeed in their present endeavour.
-“So… How about you, Rohmer?” –Bright asked him- “You don’t look too inclined to the adventure yourself…”
Indeed, the young Gludian was much different than his Dionian counterparts.
Whilst the farmers appeared athletic and able-bodied, and their skin tanned by the summer sun, the young Gludian was rather shy and slim.
-“Me?… Oh, no…” –answered Rohmer- “I expect to learn everything the realm of Aden has to offer… I’m not so good with the sword… But if you travel to Rune alongside Eva’s soldiers and you need someone who can write Elvish or Runic, I’m your man, ha ha!
As they were speaking, next to them the rest of the platoon was gathering up coming from the training field and the camping areas. Among all the people moving around, several Giranese overheard their chatter, not far away.
-“Hmm! You hear that? A Gludian made a Royal Guard…! –said one of them, openly- “What have we come to…!”
The comment was clearly heard by the group from Dion, that took the hint.
-“You, sir!” –said Liam, from his place- “Do you have anything to say…?”
-“Me…?” –said the Giranese, playing dumb- “Certainly not… You must be mistaken…”
-“Hmm… Mistaken…” –muttered Liam, getting back to his group.
The Dionians kept the Giranese under watch. If there was anything the Dionians hated, was the overweening attitude of the Giranese. On each city they visited, they were known for they arrogant behavior.
-“Do me a favor, Rohmer…” –said Liam- “If you know the tongue of Rune, let me know what’s the Runic for ‘roach’… For I would very much like our Lords to be well received there in the North!”
The three Dionians chuckled to that comment. The group of Giranese took the point, and promptly responded.
-“Oh! So now the petty farmer wants to see the world!” –said a Giranese- “Well, in order to reach Rune, you should at least be able to read the road signs!”
Xaber lost his temper and stood against them, openly, with a defiant attitude. Liam quickly intervened, stopping him.
-“You damned…” –muttered Xaber.
-“Hey, hey…! Easy, Xaber…!” –said Liam- “It’s not worth it…”
The group of Giranese was picking for a fight. In addition to their haughty attitude and their disrespectful behavior, the boys from Giran liked to set their disputes by the fist, or by the sword. And on this last art, they were master fencers.
-“Ha ha! What’s the matter, farmer?” –said a Giranese, aloud- “Let the serious business for the serious gentlemen! Get back to the pit you came from!”
At the sole mention of that insult to his city, Liam ceased his opposing to Xaber, and lightly shook his head.
-“Uh, oh…” –muttered Bright.
-“What…?” –asked Rohmer.
Liam turned to the Giranese, with his fist tightly closed.
-“Alright, that does it…” –he muttered.
Facing the Giranese, Liam grabbed him by the neck, and tossed him against a nearby wooden pillar. Two of his friends responded to the aggression, and engaged Liam. Xaber quickly grabbed one of them by the shoulder, and punched him in the face. The Giranese fell to the ground. Liam turned around and stopped the second of them with a punch on the stomach. Immediately, he launched a second blow, up to his jaw. As soon as he cleared the opposition, Liam turned to face the first Giranese he tossed, who was still on the ground, and began to punch him fiercely.
-“Nobody… calls… my city… a pit!” –he said, between blows- “You hear me!? HUH??”
With such a stirring, the battlement guards sounded the alarm. From the inner hall came a column of soldiers both Human and Elven, in full combat gear. Opening their way among the crowd, they made the recruits stand back, and separated those who were still engaged in fighting. From the north gate, Kiska and Gorqon arrived, and quickly entered on the disturbance.
-“Whoa! WHOA! Stop it!” –shouted Kiska, pushing the recruits away with her bow- “Cut it out! Get off! If you want to fight, do it on the field, not here!”
-“Move away, ‘ye bloody scum!” –Gorqon cried out.
The Dwarf rose his hammer and smashed it against the ground. The heavy mace hit so hard, that the ground shook below everyone’s feet, and they all suddenly stopped the fighting. From inside the barracks, Malik, Galen and Matt came out.
-“What the devil!” –said Malik, infuriated- “For Eihassad! You are about to become Royal soldiers! You are here to unite against the Orc, not to gut each other out!
The recruits shared sights, ashamed of themselves. Even though there were rivalries among them, they were all now fighting for the same cause. If they could not understand each other despite their differences, they would never be ready to face the sons of Pa’agrio in those circumstances.
-“Sergeant, take this man inside… He requires attention…” –said Galen, regarding the beaten Giranese.
Two soldiers of Giran took the stunned recruit and put him back on his feet. Matt and a couple of others cornered Liam and Xaber, and the two wounded Giranese.
-“I understand you have lived in hostility with each other…” –said Malik- “…but if you can’t understand each other, you will never understand your enemy…! And trust me,… if you face battle on these conditions, you better get to understand the Gods, because you won’t last long in this world…!”
The crowd of recruits muttered in a low voice. Most of them were humble workers who sought the peace for their realm. And yet they kept fighting each other for a meaningless nuisance. It was no longer a matter of seeing which city was right. It was more like a matter of not being the one who gave up.
There was a moment of silence in which Malik stared around the crowd, disappointed. In his heart, he knew he must enforce the discipline and make an example out of the fighters, but he trusted a fair treat with his men would inspire confidence, and help him build a trusted image.
-“Lieutenant…” –Malik called out.
-“Sir…!” –answered Matt, who had Liam and Xaber tightly watched.
-“Take those two upstairs.” –said Malik- “Sergeant, take the wounded to Galen…”
-“Yes, Sir…”
-“And the rest of you!” –said Malik, to the crowd- “I hope I won’t have to clean any more Human blood spilt on Giran…! I would hate needing to raise my sword against you…”
The line of Royal Guards sheathed their weapons, and the group of recruits began to scramble out, in silence. Across the plaza, Kiska relaxed her bowstring, and Gorqon dug up the head of his hammer, earthed down on the ground. The ambience was quietly coming back to silence, when suddenly an alarm sounded on the northwestern tower.
-“Man in distress!!” –cried out a voice- “Man in distress!! Open the gate!!”
The alarm bell was rattling with speed. On the plaza, the confusion spread out again. The heavy wooden gate opened up, and gave way to a tumbling Elvish soldier. Gorqon, being the closest to the soldier, let his hammer down and launched himself below the Elvish scout, grabbing him before he fell down.
Kiska turned herself around and cried out for help, with all her strength.
-“GALEN!!!” –she called.
The Son of Eva was badly beaten. His helmet was missing, he had lost his dagger, and one of his gauntlets. His armor was tainted with blood, and his hand tried to cover the wide crack on his left side, from where he was bleeding out. Evidently, he had seen some fierce combat.
-“Hodü! Hodü, Ïve Hîne! Naan Uivan Cah-ru Le! Sadü!” –said Kiska, to the soldier, at the time she called for help again- “GALEN!! BERIN-NEN!! LAM!!
Kiska ripped her uniform’s tunic, and compressed the garment against the soldier’s wound, containing the bleeding. From the inner fort, Malik and Galen responded to the distress call.
-“Holy Light of Einhassad, he’s from this morning’s detachment!” –said Malik, horrified- “You there! Fetch a bunk! Let’s move him in! Matthew, clear the hall!”
Several recruits carried the order out. Galen removed his white jacked and rolled it under the soldier’s head. After that, he inspected the damage. He tried to reach the cloth bandage, and his hands met with Kiska’s.
-“Seio, Kiska… Ne in taarel dë… Seio…” –said the wizard, looking at the lady with sweetness.
Kiska removed her shaky hand, and moved aside, letting the wizard tend to the wounded. Galen rose the piece of cloth and inspected the wound.
-“No shards on it…!” –he said- “I can close it! Take him inside!”
Matt and Gorqon slid a wooden plank below the fallen soldier, and hauled him inside the main hall, where Galen would be able to work more easily.
The present crowd left way for the soldiers, who ran towards the main building, with Galen beside the wounded, containing the bleeding.
On the outer gate, Kiska stopped Malik. The lady’s hand grabbed the Human by the arm, and his white armor got tainted by the blue-ish shade of the Elvish blood.
-“Where is she…?” –asked Kiska, deeply concerned- “Where is Mirien…!?”


(...To Be continued...)

[*Hodü! Hodü, Ïve Hîne! Naan Uivan Cah-ru Le! Sadü!: "Easy! Easy, Son of Eva! We will take care of you! Rest!"]
[*GALEN!! BERIN-NEN!! LAM!!: "Galen! Help (me)! Fast!"]
[*Seio, Kiska… Ne in taarel dë… Seio…: "Let go, Kiska... I have (I take) that... Let go..."]


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 Post subject: Re: Rising Heroes: L2 Fan Fiction (CGI)
PostPosted: Sat Jun 16, 2012 2:32 am 
Vassal

Joined: Thu Aug 04, 2011 3:33 pm
Posts: 35
Chapter 7:
Brotherhood, part II


The tension inside Giran’s fort was higher than ever. In the outer plaza, the recruits and soldiers were anxiously awaiting any news about the situation in the inner hall, where the senior officers had gathered along with Sir Kristof, who had just arrived after having learned about the recent events.
From one of the lateral rooms came Galen, serious and centered as always, albeit visibly burdened by the crysis that had just taken place.
-“How is he?” –Malik asked him, regarding the wounded Elf.
-“I have stopped the bleeding and bandaged the wound.” –Galen replied- “Eva has protected him. He shall live.”
A relieved sigh rose from the small group. As soon as the tension had passed, Gorqon took the lead in a matter everyone seemed to be avoiding.
-“We must respond!” –he said, firmly- “If the Breka have allied themselves with the Orcs of Elmore, we could be in a dangerous position! Giran is not safe anymore! The enemy is about!”
-“No, no, no!” –intevened Kiska- “With all due respect, Sir Kristof, we do not know what happened yet…! For all we know, this soldier might have fallen down a slide!”
-“Lady Kiska is right…” –Malik agreed- “Until we find Mirien and the others, we must not jump to conclussions. That would solve nothing. We would still have a missing party, and no insight on the Breka situation either way.”
The group was split on opinions. Sir Kristof, being the senior officer present, must make his decission. But an accurate decission based on a faulty assumption could be much worse than a flawed one based on an accurate insight, regardless of how accurate it was.
Having seen the true extent of the damage first-handedly, Galen offered an alternate approach.
-“I believe this time I must agree with the Lieutenant…” –he said- “The wound was grave, yes, but… A spear or even a sword would not be that aggressive with the flesh. I am not completely sure the Breka might have been involved.”
Much to his dislike, Gorqon listened to reason. The risk of an uprising by the Breka was still present, but there was yet no notice from the rest of Mirien’s party, which was the one in charge of assessing the Breka’s situation in the first place.
-“We would have to go out there anyways…” –said Sir Kristof- “Let us consider, then, the worst case scenario…”
-“Worst case being the Breka assaulting these walls?” –pointed out Gorqon- “You really think a rag of savages can stand against a thousand shields?”
-“The castle’s garrison is only one-hundred and fifty.” –said Matt- “Plus eighty from the fort, that makes it just over two hundred. The rest of them is just recruits.”
-“It’s true…” –said Kiska- “If we deploy these men now, we could lose the short training they were capable of grasping. In these conditions we could not have the initiative.”
-“How many of them would you deem ‘fit’, Milady?” –Malik asked.
The young Captain knew very well how to take advantage of a situation even in the most difficult conditions. He had proven so in Aden, and on several ocassions. But this time, even though he was not facing the Orcs of Elmore, the threat was equally as overwhelming, and this time his forces were not even trained.
-“Captain! They are only one day through the training!” –said Kiska.
-“How many, Kiska?” –Malik insisted- “Right now I need compliance, not complaints…!”
-“…Fifty… Perhaps sixty…”
-“Deploy those fifty along with your frontier patrol. You shall be our advanced party.” –ordered Malik- “Matthew, take the castle garrison and deploy the right flank.”
-“I’m sorry, Captain…” –Sir Kristof interrupted him- “The castle division is already highly decimated… Sir Erwen has restricted its deployment…”
-“What!?”
-“Those are my orders… With the bulk of the army deployed in Aden, the castle detachment is merely a reserve. If the Breka do besiege us, we must defend that position. I’m sorry, Captain, but the garrison stays.”
Malik found himself discouraged, but he quickly reassessed his situation.
-“Alright…” –he sighed- “We will deploy the fort’s detachment…! Even so… I could use a few Guards from the castle. Could you spare us some…?”
-“I can give you a dozen… And that’s it…”
-“It’s better than nothing…” –said Malik, and continued with his direction- “Matthew, form up your platoon with those Guards, and some recruits. They would be better off with a trained officer.”
-“Got it.” –replied the Lieutenant- “I have some names in mind…”
-“Gorqon,…” –Malik went on- “…you will have to roam the field once more. Would you command the left flank?”
-“Ye get me just a sharp axe, laddie…! Heh heh…!” –answered the Dwarf.
-“Good! Let’s just hope there is no need for combat… Take twenty Guards from the fort and as much recruits. March to the entrance of the Death Pass and hold that position. Understood?”
-“Deal!” –said the Dwarf.
-“Galen, I wish I didn’t have to involve you on this, but given the situation…”
-“Worry not, Captain. I shall support you on this campaign… Kê-non nin.
-“Thanks, my friend.” –said Malik, and then turned to Sir Kristof- “Sir Kristof, I need you to command the castle detachment and the fort’s. You will act as a reserve. I shall deploy the center.”
-“You lead them with half the mastery you showed on Aden, and you will be appointed Marshal before myself!” –laughed the Knight- “I will watch your back, kid! My sword is yours!”
-“Thanks, Sir Kristof…!” –said Malik- “You have your orders, everyone… Deploy your troops…!”
With obbedience and dedication, the officers rushed towards the fort’s plaza, in search of the soldiers they would command. Before going underway, Galen gave one last advice to Malik.
-“A remarkable leadership, Captain…” –he said- “…But,… Would you decide as accurately should you be stripped from your army?”
-“Given the case of finding myself alone, I trust my sword would serve me well.” –sentenced Malik.
-“My dear friend, given that case, I assure you only a fool would trust his life to a sword.” –Galen concluded.



The Humans possessed one of the largest civilizations since the era of the Giants. Among their buildings, their writings and their weapons, they got to extend their domains beyond the Ice Queen’s Castle and the Hot Springs valley, over the frozen lands of Schuttgart. The might of their army had stopped the Dark Elven revolution and resolved the conflict with the Elves, and their expertise at the sea had allowed them to conquer the distant Talking Island and the narrow channels of Innadril.
But such a huge achievement appeared now but as a childish joke against the fact that the very foundation of their mighty army, the minimal operative unit of their forces, was unable to coordinate an orderly advance along three thousand braces of frontier.
The four companies of Guards and recruits were trying to accommodate their positions on the dense pasturelands of northern Giran, at the base of the hills near the southern border of the Breka territory, but the elevated terrain in addition to the advanced time of day and the fact that the light was rapidly fading, was making impossible to deploy the infantry in the hilly ground. Compared to the sharp mountains of Rune, these hills were merely a stone in the way. Should they have deployed the same force against the Orcs of Elmore, the fight would have been settled before it had even began.
The sole advantage the Humans truly possessed on the open field was the communication capability. Their master riding skill allowed them to span more territory with a lesser offensive force, whilst the Orcs possessed a greater strenght at the cost of a restricted mobility. Of these riders the Giran force relied on to transmit their orders. Along with the three stallions brought by Malik after his sudden trip from Aden, seven more had been deployed as acting messengers and scouts, with four of them under Kiska’s command on the first line, and two on Gorqon’s flank. Matt had control of the seventh, and the remaining three were serving under Malik’s orders.
From the northern platoon came one of these riders, delivering Kiska’s report.
-“Captain!” –said the rider- “Message from the advanced party!”
-“What is it, soldier?” –asked Malik.
-“We reached the Breka territory… The company is standing just outside the southern border…”
-“Any signs of the missing party?”
-“No, sir… No further sightings…”
-“Alright, hold position and be on watch…!”
The messenger acknowledged, and went back underway, taking the new orders to the front. By the Eastern path, another rider approached.
-“Captain! Lieutenant Matthew requests your presence, Sire…!”
-“Any problems…?”
-“A trace, Captain…! The Lieutenant has sent me after you, and the Elf…!”
Given such an important new, Malik turned to his soldiers, and delivered new orders.
-“You…!” –he said to a rider- “Go back to the fort and brief Sir Kristof! Have him send the wizard to the East flank with an escort!”
The soldier nodded, and went underway. Malik turned to another of them.
-“You…! Order Gorqon’s platoon to halt their advance! It will be best if we don’t overstretch ourselves…!”
The second rider left to the West.
-“Sergeant!” –Malik called- “Defensive stance. Be ready to reinforce the East flank on my command.”
-“Yes, sir.” –nodded the Sergeant.
Having put his men on alert, Malik then departed with the recently arrived messenger.
Matthew’s group had extended along the outer edge of a nearby forest, which presented the Southern border of the Breka frontier on the area surrounding the castle of Giran.
At a shot distance away from the tree line, a small group was gathered, with Matt on point.
-“Report, Lieutenant!” –said Malik, on his arrival.
-“I think we’ve got something…” –answered Matt- “Or, should be said ‘someone’…”
The young Adenian stepped aside, letting that behind his back on sight.
On the ground, laid another soldier from the party Mirien commanded that morning: a recruit from Dion, deadly wounded on his right side.
-“Damn…” –said Malik.
The young Captain kneeled beside the fallen soldier for a closer look. The soldier’s armor presented several scratchings all over it, and on its right abdomen he had a serious cut, from where he had undoubtedly bled to his death.
-“He’s unarmed…” –Malik pointed out- “No sword, or knife either… And I don’t see any spear or bow around here…”
The soldier’s corpse laid on a path of stepped-on grass, with traces of blood and footprints. The track headed towards the forest, from where the soldier must have arrived.
-“…was he fighting, or running?”
-“Both, I guess…” –Matt remarked- “We’ve found this dagger…”
With such a revelation, Malik turned his attention to the Lieutenant, who grabbed from one of his soldiers a bloodstained dagger.
-“Crystal Dagger…” –said Malik.
The dagger in question was forged with a metal and mithril alloy, which after cooling down it gave the weapon its signature vitreous aspect from which the name was derived. Even below the layer of dry blood covering it, one could appreciate the delicacy of the Elvish design.
-“…I know these… They’re of typical Elvish forging…” –said Malik- “Must have belonged to that Elf soldier from this afternoon…”
-“Well, if that one Elf and this soldier were together, whatever wounded the one, has killed the other. And for what it seems, that attacker got hit as well, compliments of this blade…”
Malik noticed the Lieutenant’s observation, and knowing his somewhat carefree nature, he was surprised by the rather structured deduction he offered.
-“And, since when are you this thorough…? –he asked.
-“You are not the only one working with Elves…” –joked Matthew.
-“Oh, and speaking of Elves…”
From the city, and answering to the prior summoning, came Galen, Sir Kristof, and four other soldiers.
-“Malik!” –said Sir Kristof- “I’ve been told you have found something!”
-“That’s right…” –answered the Captain- “Galen, do you recognize this dagger?”
The Elf nodded.
-“Yes… It is of standard issue on the frontier division. Any signs of Mirien?”
-“I’m afraid not…” –explained Matt- “But, perhaps this soldier can tell you something…”
Galen observed the corpse thoroughly. The leather armor was not pierced, or cut. It was ripped out.
-“The same type of wound as the one from this afternoon…” –he said- “…If only we had found him earlier…!”
Upon hearing the Elf’s verdict, Sir Kristof pictured a surprised expression.
-“…It can’t be…!” –he muttered- “…No…! It’s impossible…!”
-“Any problems, Sire?” –asked Matt.
-“I don’t know…” –answered the Knight- “…I’m not sure…”
Sir Kristof’s memory became flooded with images of his earlier years. At the sight of the wound suffered by both victims, it was not hard for the old veteran to recall one of his past adventures; one that took place on the surroundings of where they were now standing, but so many years ago, that it seemed impossible that both incidents were related. Given the interrogative look of the present ones, Sir Kristof shared his thoughts.
-“…Some twelve years ago…” –he began saying- “…the villagers of eastern Dion were suffering heavy loses on their crops at the mercy of a pack of felines roaming the outskirts. We knew that some time ago a small pack of cats had fled from their homes and became wild, and survived by hunting rodents in the forest. They remained quiet for a while, until their pack grew to a point where they had to extend their hunting fields, and reached the populated areas. When they became a menace, the Royal Guard intervened; we tracked them, hunted them down, and killed them off. Every last one of them…”
-“…Yeah…!” –Malik interrupted- “…I remember…! I heard about that feline pack… The Dionians told scary bed stories about them to their kids…! They called the pack ‘The Cat Gang’.” –he laughed- “I recall seeing soldiers of Dion and Royal Guards patrolling the routes together, back in those days…”
-“That’s right,…” –continued Sir Kristof- “…Giran had sent a company to Dion in order to help with the hunting of this pack, and we tracked them for a month along the Western border of Giran, up to the Death Pass. In their hiding place we found several preys killed the same way: a ripped body, and a killing blow on the side. When Lord Galen mentioned having seen the wound before, I knew there was some relation.”
-“But you said, Sire, that your party killed every one of them…” –Matt pointed out.
-“And we did…! We left none of them alive…! I can’t find an explanation to it…!”
-“And yet, the existence of this corpse renders that statement open to debate…” –said Galen, with accurate judgement- “On the other hand, one thing is indeed certain: our initial theory was evidently mistaken; it might be that the Breka are completely unaware of this incident.
-“Be it the doing of an otherworldly spirit, if we want to set this matter, we should track their steps.” –said Malik- “It will be hard to mobilize the entire platoon in the darkness, and without getting the Breka’s attention.”
Indeed, the night was closing in fast, and everything seemed to point out that the track would be lost if they missed the chance. And being, as they were, so close to the Breka border, they were risking to be spotted as invaders by the natives, therefore triggering an aggressive response.
-“You are both more experienced in the woods…” –said Sir Kristof- “I shall regroup the divisions… You take a party and scout the forest.”
-“That would be the best choice…” –Malik acknowledged- “Lieutenant, form the line. We shall lead the march from here.”
-“Line formation!” –shouted Matt, to the group.
-“Line formation!” –was heard along the front- “Form up ranks!”
The division quickly regrouped on three ranks, facing the tree line, spread regularly by a couple of steps away from each other, awaiting the order to advance.
-“Lieutenant, do you have any spearmen?” –asked Galen.
-“A dozen from the castle, yes… Why?”
-“Summon them, please…”
Matt gave Malik an interrogating look, confused by the request, but he promptly obeyed. Without delay, on the middle of the line Galen was surrounded by the Royal spearmen. Galen took a few pieces of fabric from among his clothing, which he kept since he cured the wounded Elven soldier, and rolled them around the metal spearheads.
-“Point your weapons here, please…” –he requested, extending his hands.
The soldiers complied, not without wondering. As soon as he had the spearheads over his hands, Galen gathered his powers.
-“Ni Ïve Naan Teä Le Kä!” –he invoked.
The spearheads began to shine, and to emmit an increasing heat.
-“Hae-rân!” –shouted Galen.
With an energetic shine, the spearheads glared with a white burst, and the fabric snippets ignited on flames.
-“Ohhh…!” –said several of the soldiers, surprised.
-“Hmm! Very clever…!” –said Matt.
-“Now the darkness will not be a problem…” –Galen concluded.
-“Spread out and watch for tracks…!” –Malik ordered- “Line up,… march!”
To the last gleaming of that day’s light, the company entered the forest, following the track of the missing Elvish detachment.



The small forest from Giran was not at all as bushy as those found on Oren or Aden, although its leafy trees did cause the pale moonlight to fade long before it got to light the ground. Fortunately, the improvised torches served their purpose, and the line could light their way, at least to a couple of steps ahead. Giran’s detachment, forty men in strenght, was advancing spread across some twenty braces, with Matt leading the march, followed closely by Galen and Malik at the sides.
After a long march deep into the forest, in the silence and darkness of the night, a cracking made Matt stop, and he signaled the group.
-“…Man or beast…?” –whispered Malik, from his position.
-“Dunno…” –Matt replied- “Wait here…”
The young Adenian took his dagger with extreme caution, trying to avoid making any noise, and ventured himself towards the direction the cracking had come from. A few moments went by after the Lieutenant had walked onto the bushes, when suddenly the young officer called out the alarm.
-“Oh, no! No, you won’t!” –was heard.
Before the company, the bushes took a shaking, and a humanoid figure came out, charging the line of Guards.
-“Crap! WATCH OUT!” –shouted Matt, from behind the being.
-“Swords!” –ordered Malik.
The Captain, being the closest to the aggressor, took his weapon and faced him. The savage jumped on him, with the club he had, and Malik blocked with his sword to counter the blow. The young Captain and the warrior fell to the ground, and Malik quickly turned over and put his opponent down, below him. The attacker did not yield. He hit the Giranese with his head, broke free from the grip, regained his feet and charged again.
-“Shaan Pän!” –Galen shouted.
A wind strike hit the attacker directly. The warrior, surprised by the magic attack, fell to the ground, disoriented, and was quickly dominated by two other Guards.
-“Are you alright, Captain…?” –asked the wizard.
-“Yeah…” –Malik replied- “…Hell of a fight he gave…!”
-“You got him…?” –said Matt, catching his breath.
-“He won’t escape this time…” –answered one of the solders.
But although the hostile has been neutralized, the company found itself on a very compromised situation.
-“Right flank!” –shouted someone- “Hold up!”
-“Watch the rear! Close ranks!” –was heard from behind.
From different directions, the woods were filling up with savage, warlike figures. The group of Giran found itself surrounded by a group of natives bearing spears, swords and torches, with their bodies decorated with paintings, and their heads crowned by headdresses of feathers and horns. Several of them even had some rudimentary armor, made out of thick metal.
-“Breka raiders…!” –muttered Malik, as he stood between the line of Guards and that of Orcs- “Lower your weapons! Now!”
The company complied, and lowered their weapons, but without sheathing them. At the sight of the Human standing, an Orc warrior lauched several orders to his own group, which remained on guard. Next thing, he addressed Malik, with decisive tone.
-“Katolowi wawau gen! Adamû watta sui kolowe nakai û!” –he said.
The soldiers of Giran shared looks. The situation was already tense for both sides, and neither one wanted to drop their guard. The warrior repeated his previous claim, pointing at the prisoner.
-“Katâwala!” –he ordered- “Buruki watta uppono sui Adamû watta!
Given the warrior’s insistence, Malik guessed that the Orc only wanted to take his folk back.
With a gesture to his soldiers, he ordered the release, and the line of Breka warriors lowered their weapons as well. Passing by the group’s leader, the prisoner spoke a few words to the ear of his warchief, who turned his sight to Malik, with an interrogative look.
-“Gen namma purût, ga Adamû watta…” –he said.
Malik was confused. Having released the prisoner, he couldn’t think about anything else the savage might want, being himself and the rest of the detachment at their mercy.
From among the Human lines, one of the soldiers spoke aloud.
-“Captain, wait!” –he said, and then turned to another fellow- “Eh, Dionian! Your friend speaks Orc, don’t he?”
The referred soldier replied.
-“Yes, he does indeed…!” –said Bright- “Rohmer! Hey, Rohmer! Get over here…!”
Opening his way through the Human soldiers, the young Gludian arrived beside the Captain.
-“Are you Rohmer? You understand what he says?” –Malik asked him.
-“Sort of, Sir… The Breka is not like the Orc from Elmore, but they sound alike…”
-“Let’s see how you do… Tell him we are not invading them… Tell him we are friends…”
Rohmer tried to put together a basic phrase.
-“Adamû ta-… Hmmm… Adamû taita sui uppo… Hmmm… Buruki ga…
The Orc seemed to understand, although he addressed Malik again, with the same question.
-“Amai otta… Namma gen purût…!” –he said, and put his arm on his chest- “Bakkamu Amai…!
The Breka then extended his arm towards Malik, with the palm open. Rohmer promptly translated.
-“He’s introducing himself, Sir. His name is Bakkamu… He asks for yours…”
-“Well then…” –said Malik, and mimicked the warrior’s gesture- “…Malik…”
The warrior pictured a smile, and spoke aloud to his group.
-“Mal!” –he chuckled- “…Adamû wawa toiona kuruku namma!
The Breka line laughed softly. Malik turned to Rohmer, with an inquisitive look.
-“…I’m not entirely sure…” –Rohmer said- “…But… I think he said you bear the ‘name of the tree’…?”
-“Hmmm…! I guess I’ll take that as a compliment…!” –answered Malik.
-“Go kotomu watu nakai, uppono kwi…” –asked the Breka.
-“He wants to know why we walk their lands with weapons…” –Rohmer translated.
-“…Okowe pûr…!
-“…--speak truth…!”
Malik then knew he was now in a situation where he must dispense of his sword, just as Galen had foreseen. He tried, then, to brief his statement.
-“…We come not as warriors… We don’t seek Breka…” –he said, shifting his attention to both Rohmer and the Orc- “…We are searching for our friends… Tell him, Rohmer: we seek our friends…”
-“Ahmmm… Nantagu watu okowe… Wawa gen—-?… Ahmmm… Otta ga Adamû wawa nakai gen?” –Rohmer asked.
The warchief shook his head, in denial.
-“Adamû sui kotomu nakau watu.” –he said, and pointed at Galen- “Aike Muruai watta kotomu Buruki nakai. Amai pûr okowe…
-“He says he has not seen Humans on these lands, but he did see the people of the White Lady…”
-“White Lady…” –muttered Malik- “…Eva! He must have seen Elves!”
-“Mirien…!” –Galen said- “She could still be alive!”
-“Rohmer,… Tell him we search those Elves,… Ask him if he found them…” –Malik requested.
-“Muruai watta kaone watu…!” –translated Rohmer- “Nanai watu kaone otto taku…!
The Breka warrior nodded, and invited the group to follow him.
-“Ka…! Watu kotomai!” –he said- “Okô! Okô!
The group of Breka joined their leader, and surrounded the group of Humans. Having achieved the cooperation of the natives, Malik ordered the march, walking himself and Rohmer behind the Breka leader.
The journey through the forest was awfully long, albeit they would have been unable to tell how much time had passed. Between the thick folliage and the darkness, in addition to the many turns the Breka made, it was impossible to know where they were headed, but everything seemed to suggest that the Breka wanted it that way.
Upon their exit from the forest, they found themselves before a native encampment, not so big in size, but quite populated, which appeared to be a hunting and trading post. At the sight of their warrior’s arrival, several Breka went to their encounter, taking water and food to the newcomers.
-“Who would have thought these savages were actually this civilized…” –Matt pointed out.
-“The civilization is nothing but a form of structure, my dear Lieutenant. Whether it be among natives or Men, the order is always present.” –said Galen- “It is, however, the vast diversity of orders the point that escapes most perceptions.”
-“Well, I’m glad these different orders have at least one common good taste…” –said Matt, taking the water a Breka offered him- “Cheers!”
Ahead of the column, Malik and the youngster from Gludio followed Bakkamu, who took them before an elderly member of the tribe. Evidently, a high ranking shaman.
-“Kwi Bakkamu!” –said the elder, with a suffocated voice- “Kaone kwi Adamû gen nu Buruki nakai…
-“Adamû watta sui uppono Buruki watta… Wawa e okowe nantagu wawa watu…!
-“What’s he saying…?” –Malik whispered.
-“The elder wants to know the reason of our coming… Bakkamu is trying to convince him we are not enemies…” –translated Rohmer.
-“…Wawa e kaone urutai ka Aike Muruai watta…” –continued Bakkamu- “…Aike Muruai watta nantagu Adamû watta…
The elderly shaman gathered his thoughts for a moment, and seeing his leader warrior trusting the group of Humans, he agreed to his request. He turned to two of his companions, and ordered out in a low voice.
-“Kukaito Aike Muruai watta…
The two Breka warriors returned a few moments later, bringing a litter with them, where a Daughter of Eva was lying, followed closely by another Elf with several minor wounds, limping on a cane.
-“Mirien!” –called out Galen, and threw himself towards her.
Several warriors stood before the elder blocking the wizard’s way, who did not mean to oppose any resistance.
-“Hai…!” –Rohmer intervened- “Kwaku sui! Sammanu!
The warriors sought their commander’s approval, who gestured his protectors to let the Elf through.
Once he reached his people, Galen proceeded to assess the condition of their wounds.
-“The same markings…!” –he said, to Malik- “There is no doubt about it… They have all fought the same fight…”
-“Is Mirien alright…?” –asked the Captain.
-“She is unconcious… But I do not see any major injuries…” –the wizard assured- “…It looks like these natives know how to treat wounds…”
The mission was complete. Although the satisfaction would have been greater, should they have found more survivors.
-“Rohmer, translate me this… Ask them if they have ever seen a big feline…” –asked Malik.
-“Feline…? Uhmm…” –said Rohmer, and constructed the question- “Buruki kwi--… Buruki ga kwi… gura paiko… nakai gen?
The point of the question seemed to escape the natives’ knowledge. Rohmer tried to improve the idea with gestures.
-“Paiko gura…! Kwaku…!” –he said, mimicking a beast- “Arrgh!”
Bakkamu burst out laughing.
-“Ata! Buruki mato kaone Garu-Manai okana! Adamû watta okana ûrua!” –he said, and several of the presents shared his laughter.
The grave voice of the shaman imposed itself over the laughter, with decisive tone.
-“Garu-Manai lowoi!” –he said, and everyone stopped laughing- “Buruki wawa kaone kadai muata uruippaita! Buruki wawa sui kwakuru Garu-Manai…
-“What he said?” –Malik asked, and with good reason.
-“He says the great feline they know is part of a myth the Breka tell to their children. Bakkamu believes we talk about a bed story… But the elder claims he has seen the feline, that his people found him many moons ago. The Breka call it ‘Garu-Manai’: ‘Great Claw’.”
-“Could it be the same one we are looking for…?” –Malik asked.
The elder continued with his narrative, and as he spoke, he uncovered part of his torso, showing several scars very similar to those suffered by the Elfs.
-“…Garu-Manai wawatu amai. Garu-Manai kwaku Buruki wawa. Buruki watta sui kotomu Garu-Manai nakau…
-“Says the elder he faced Great Claw…” –Rohmer translated- “…That Great Claw killed many of his warriors… That the Breka do not wander into Great Claw’s domains ever since…”
-“…So, maybe that’s the reason why he was appointed Chief…” –Malik guessed- “Tell him we search Great Claw, that we can face it on his behalf… That we can do it as a favor…”
-“Ahmm… Adamû--… Watu Adamû wawa otta Garu-Manai kwaku…” –said Rohmer- “Watu awa kwaku Garu-Manai taita, Buruki watta e…
The great shaman stared at the group of Humans, intrigued.
-“Adamû wawa otta Garu-Manai kwaku kwi?” –he asked.
-“Ka…!” –assured Rohmer.
The elder paced his sight over the group of Guards and their officers. For such a skilled warrior, facing Great Claw, and surviving, had been a remarkable achievement. But for these warriors who wore metal and fought with discipline, finding and killing Great Claw could be an adventure, one his people shall sing and drink to, for generations to come.
-“Adamû wawa kwaku Garu-Manai. Buruki wawa kaone Adamû wawa…” –said the elder.
-“He says he hope we find Great Claw.” –said Rohmer- “That his people welcomes ours.”
The elderly shaman extended his arms, and joined his hands, as a sign of friendship.
-“…Buruki watta… nantagu… Adamû watta…!” –he sentenced.
-“Oh, that I understand…” –Malik remarked.
At the sight of the peace sign, the present Breka rose their arms, crying out loud in celebration.



In the inner hall of Giran’s fort, Kiska was nervously pacing along the room, randomly looking out through the window facing the outer plaza. The two companies deployed that afternoon had already returned, under orders from Sir Kristof Rodemai, and were now awaiting the return of the Eastern detachment. Sir Kristof had given orders to remain in a low alert, but the beautiful Elven lady could not avoid thinking about the well-being of her comrades, both sons of Eva and Einhasad.
On a nearby chair, Gorqon began to grow weary, product of the unnerving pace of the lady.
-“Stop buzzing around, darling!” –he asked- “You’ll carve your way down to Shilen’s lair!”
-“It’s been too long…! They should be back already…!” –said Kiska.
-“Well, luckily for us, no assault has stormed this walls yet…!” –said the Dwarf- “That oughta mean something…!”
Gorqon was right. The initial expedition had been deployed in order to counter a possible assault by the Breka, of which so far they had no signs at all. The delay of Malik’s company could easily be due to the closed darkness of the night, or hopefully, to the fact that they had found the missing party.
-“The Captain is versed on travelling the woods, Milady…” –assured Sir Kristof- “And besides, he has the support of Lieutenant Matthew and your friend from the Tower… He surely has all the help he can use…”
-“…It’s not the Captain I’m worried about…” –Kiska muttered.
At the time this chatter took place, on the northern wall the alarm bell began to sound. The present Guards posted at the entrance of the hall rushed towards the outer gate.
-“Commander! Sire, a party is incoming!” –shouted one of the sentries.
-“Any hostile intents, soldier?” –asked Sir Kristof, from the ground.
-“None, Sir… But… They don’t appear to be Human…”
-“Man the battlements!” –shouted the Knight- “Form up a scouting party!”
From the Eastern entrance of the city, departed a patrol led by Sir Kristof, along with Kiska and Gorqon. Nearing the castle of Giran, they were at sighting range from the newcomers.
From the incoming group, two figures detached themselves, one of them wearing a white leather armor.
-“Sir Kristof!” –Malik said- “We’ve got wounded…! Prepare the fort’s hall…!”
The Knight turned to his group, and sent one of them back.
-“Clear the plaza!” –he said.
-“Is everyone alright?” –Kiska asked- “You had us deeply worried…”
-“Malik, I shall take care of the wounded…” –said Galen- “You have a mission to fulfill…”
-“But, Galen, we could seriously need a wizard this time…!”
-“You have done it well without the sword, Captain… I’m sure you will outdo yourself with it…” –sentenced Galen, and turned to the patrol- “You! Get the wounded inside…!”
The group of Breka warriors and Human soldiers came to a stop, and opened way for two litters containing the wounded Elves. Bakkamu joined the group of officers.
-“Buruki watta kaone Adamû watta…” –said the Breka, with a reverence.
-“Gorqon, Kiska, prepare a combat party…” –said Malik- “…We’ll have to move through the night…”
-“Right away…” –said the girl.
-“Captain,…” –intervened Sir Kristof- “…Would you mind telling me what’s a Breka party doing in Giranese soil?”
-“Sir Kristof, this is Bakkamu, commander of the Breka.” –said Malik, and turned to the Orc- “Bakkamu, this here is Sir Kristof Rodemai, Royal Knight of Giran, and also my friend and mentor.”
Standing next to the Breka, Rohmer translated the greeting.
-“Namma Adamû ga Kristof Rodemai, aito gura wawa Giran gen, aito nantagu Malik gen.
-“Adamû gura wawa Kristof Rodemai nantagu mai kaone.” –replied the Breka.
-“I greet you as a friend, warrior Kristof Rodemai.” –Rohmer translated back.
-“Hmm! Ten years ago I would have sworn such a thing was impossible…” –answer the Knight, surprised.
-“Sir Kristof, your hunting was not complete…” –explained Malik- “There is still one member of ‘The Cat Gang’ wandering around in the forest. These tribe people have rescued the survivors of the fight between that feline and Mirien’s company. As a retribution favor, I have offered them a deal: the Elves for the beast’s head.”
-“Freaking pest…” –muttered Sir Kristof- “It’s been under our noses for twelve years…!”
-“These warriors know where its hiding place is located… They have agreed to fight alongside us.”
-“A fair deal, I guess. I hope you know what you’re doing, Malik…”
-“Now where did I hear that before, again?…” –joked Matt.
With the deal settled, Kiska and Gorqon returned from the city, bringing twenty soldiers and ten archers along.
-“We’re ready, Captain…” –stated Kiska.
-“Alright…!” –said Matt- “This time’s for real, people…! Guards, form up ranks…! Spearmen in second line…! Milady, the Hawkeye are at your discretion…”
-“Hold that beast steady… I will handle the rest…” –Kiska added, with confidence.
-“Open eyes and watch your comrades…” –ordered Malik- “The Breka will bring the beast to us. Be prepared! Bakkamu, let’s go!”
-“Bakkamu! Aita kotomu watu!” –said Rohmer.
-“Ka! Watu kotomai! Okô!” –invited Bakkamu.
The group of Breka warriors led the way. The trip went by undisturbed from Giran’s castle up to the border of the Breka territory. Upon arrival to the dangerous feline’s territory, the Breka slowed their pace, until the line came to a stop.
-“Tô! Garu-Manai to lowoi…!” –announced Bakkamu.
-“That’s Great Claw’s cave…” –said Rohmer.
The group of soldiers held the position, as three Breka scouts detached to check for the beast’s whereabouts. Its hiding place was a cave in the side of one of the mesas, next to a path leading up to a narrow gorge, from where it undoubtedly avoided being seen by the Breka or the Humans.
After a quick inspection of the inner cave, the three scouts returned to their position.
-“Garu-Manai lowoi sui… Kwaku ga…” –said one of them.
-“He says Great Claw is not in the cave… It must have gone out on a hunt…” –translated the Gludian youngster.
-“Well, it ought to return some time soon…” –Malik pointed out- “We can use the surprise element… Matt, remember that time on the Frontier Outpost…?”
-“I remember the wizard making up a hell of a mess…” –said the Lieutenant.
-“True, but we don’t have the wizard now, nor the space to set the ambush…”
-“What’s on your mind…?”
-“What if… we took advantage of the terrain?” –said Malik, pointing to a ledge over the entrance of the cave.
-“Right…” –said Matt, and turned to Kiska- “Milady, gather your marksmen and follow me…”
-“Sir Kristof, hold the spearmen in front of the entrance…” –Malik continued- “I shall lead the Guards on the other side. Gorqon…!”
-“Here, boy!” –said the Dwarf.
-“You go with Bakkamu… You will begin the attack…”
-“Gladley…!” –laughed the warsmith.
-“Bakkamu, go with Gorqon into the cave… Wait for Great Claw and push it out of there… We will attack from outside.”
With a rough sign language, Rohmer helped himself translate the order. Bakkamu understood, and led his men with confidence. Once he had picked up the idea, he departed towards the cave, followed by the Dwarf.
-“Watch yourself, Malik…” –said Sir Kristof- “This devil is dangerous… If it has avoided us for so long, it’s thanks to its cunningness… If it sees a chance to flee, it will, and we might not find him ever again…!”
-“I know, Sir Kristof… Actually, I bet it will…”
Once the divisions were placed, Malik signaled his men to stay in cover.
And they waited.
And waited more.
And when the moon was already giving to the sun, through the upper gorge a feline silhouette appeared.
-“By the fangs of Antharas…!” –exclaimed Sir Kristof- “It’s huge…!”
The beast was taller than the Royal Knight, and its large sharp fangs showed up outside its snout. Its big paws blew the dust around at each step they took, and its claws made deep carvings in the soft dirt. No doubt it was a rightful bearer of the name ‘Great Claw’.
The feline quickly and swiftly jumped down the mesa, and headed to the entrance of its cave, just as Malik expected. Once it was inside, Bakkamu’s cry broke the quietness of the morning.
-“BURUKI WATTA!! KWAKU!!!
The Breka charged forward. Great Claw was startled by the noise, and fell back, slapping down on the air towards the group of warriors. Gorqon, using his thick armor, rushed towards it and hit its legs with his hammer, making the beast lose its ground.
When the Breka blocked the entrance to the cave, Great Claw tried desperately to escape. It turned over itself and rushed to the forest border, but before it could go any further, Sir Kristof advanced his spearmen division and closed its path. The snout of Great Claw met spearheads as sharp as its own teeth, preventing it from closing in for a strike.
From the other side of the formation, Malik deployed the wide shield line of Guards, forming a metal wall at the entrance of the gorge.
-“Here, kitty, kitty…!” –taunted the Captain, provoking the beast.
Garu-Manai charged the line of Guards, trying to make its way through. The assault hit directly on the shield wall, which dampened it, and held the feline on the spot. At an order from Malik, the Guards broke formation and surrounded the huge animal, pushing it with their shields, and the feline found the surrounding space shrinking smaller and smaller.
-“Matt!” –shouted Malik once the beast was controlled.
Over the leaning ledge, Matt, Kiska and the Hawkeyes took position.
-“Aim at will…!” –ordered Kiska.
The arrows reached the feline’s body, but the thick fur made most of them stop and bounce off. Matt grabbed his dagger and jumped onto the animal’s back.
-“Get over here, Little Paw!” –mocked the Lieutenant- “Let’s see how you like my Sharp Nail!”
The young Adenian stabbed the animal on the back, but far from killing it, the strike only enraged it more, and a fierce response broke the Guards’ formation, throwing the Lieutenant to the ground.
-“Push it back!” –shouted Sir Kristof- “Charge!”
The spearmen line charged straight to the beast. The long spears were too much for the feline’s skin, and several pierced its body. The beast simply won’t die. Several spears broke and the feline launched several last strikes, before the Guards could reform and immobilize it.
-“Kê-non, Beröd!” –shouted Kiska.
Malik did not make the lady wait.
-“Break off!” –he ordered.
The Guards pushed the beast against the mesa wall, and fell back. From the upper ground, Kiska aimed her shot.
-“Gal-do Menelië…” –she muttered- “NAIRO IPHÏLLI!!
The arrow’s point began to shine, until it burst into flames.
-“NO KHÏRA!” –shouted Kiska, and shot.
The flaming arrow landed over the feline’s spot, bursting out on impact. The explosion obliterated the animal completely, launching pieces of rock over the place.
When the dust had settled, Matt, still on the ground, launched a compliment to the lady.
-“Your skill does not cease to amaze me, Milady…” –he said.
-“And you haven’t seen a bit of it yet…” –chuckled the girl, catching her breath.
The debt was paid. Great Claw had fallen.
By midday, the expedition had returned to Giran, victorious. Bakkamu returned with his escort back to Breka territory, and the exausted soldiers removed their armors, eager to take a refreshing bath on the nearby lake.
On the fort’s upper level, Kiska was headed to her room, when she noticed Galen’s room door open.
Hoping for a chance to apologize for the previous fight, the young lady entered the wizards chamber, only to find an empty room instead.
Disoriented, she returned to the lower plaza, trying to locate Galen among the crowd, but her sharp sight could not find the wizard.
-“Sergeant…!” –said Kiska, to the soldier on watch- “Have you seen Lord Galen?”
-“Aye, Milady…” –said the soldier- “…He just left, this morning.”

(...To be continued...)


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 Post subject: Re: Rising Heroes: L2 Fan Fiction (CGI)
PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2013 6:12 pm 
Vassal

Joined: Thu Aug 04, 2011 3:33 pm
Posts: 35
UP to this thing...

new pics of the ongoing development

Giran's Castle with the same medieval style used in the new city.

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 Post subject: Re: Rising Heroes: L2 Fan Fiction (CGI)
PostPosted: Mon Jul 15, 2013 1:41 pm 
Vassal

Joined: Thu Aug 04, 2011 3:33 pm
Posts: 35
Up again... I'm not dead or anything, but I really didn't want to screw this project up by publishing something I didn't like... so, it took me a while to translate this one in order to keep it the way I wrote it.
And, since the release of Game of Thrones, and seeing the wide fanbase it got, I realized I'd have to upgrade my storytelling to match its style, since it's being so likeable.
....sadly, my youtube account was taken down, so I'm in the process of re-uploading my stuff... so, it will be a while before I release any more videos.
but, if anything, this thing is still growing.
(note: the character of the elderly master is an adaptation of the lead character from another fanfic, written by a friend of mine, also in spanish, about an Orc warrior. We agreed to a cameo on each others tales :P)


Chapter VIII:
Soul Cry


Fire. Of all six elements of life, fire had to be the one most menacing and breathtaking. Fire is the soul of Pa’agrio. The burning will that injects the soul with courage. The ultimate display or force and destructive power. Fire lights the night where light does not reach. Fire rids the world of impure beings. Fire boils the water, and melts the rock. Fire is the gift, and fire is the curse.
In the narrow passages of the Fiery Mountain, the mighty Legion was working among granite walls, next to rivers of molten lava, lit by the pale white glow of the underground furnace.
Although the majority of the working force was comprised of toughened Orcs, there were also several Dwarven prisioners, who provided the much needed technology for such an ambitious undertaking. The expedition had been digging, hammering and carving the thick rock for several days now. Thanks to the modern mining equipment built by the Dwarven engineers, the exterior veins of mithril had already been mined and depleted. Having confirmed the existence of the precious white metal, Kritak now wanted the full extent of it: the legendary treasures that were said to be buried in the deepest insides of the burning mountain, protected by vicious fiery demons, which the Orcs both feared and admired.
At the pulsing rhythm of hammers and pickaxes, on one of the side passages, an alarm was heard.
-“Centurion! Centurion!” –called one of the Legionaires- “We got something!”
Down the narrow corridor went the Centurion, to the post where the calling had come from.
-“What is it!” –roared the Officer.
Before one of the thick walls, three workers were trying to pull a heavy block out of its burying of solid lava. A big rectangular piece of polished black granite.
-“Grab the sides…!” –said one of them- “Now, pull! Pull it out!”
The three workers removed the enormous block, and placed it on the ground, at plain sight of the Centurion and everyone around.
-“Looks like some kind of box…” –said the Centurion- “…There is a marking here… Fetch me a lever!”
It was not hard to find a metal rod among the available variety of tools. With the help of their tools and weapons, the Orcs lifted the lid, and before them appeared a load of precious gemstones, metal ingots and ancient relics.
-“Ohhh…!” –said the present ones, astonished.
The Centurion sank his hands into the pile of treasures, grabbing a handful of gemstones. Enrias, asofes, thons… lots of them. Silver bricks of pure mithril, oriharukon nuggets, and coins of Ancient Adena, dating back to the old glorious days of Elmoreden. And also golden earrings, necklaces, rings… Majestic jewels with golden detailing and gemstone indents, of a delicacy far greater than even the best of the Dwarven craftings.
At the sight of the remarkable discovery, the Centurion quickly secured the excavation site.
-“Send a message to the Hall of Goddard…” –said the officer, staring at the treasure- “Inform General Kritak,… that we’ve found it!”

(…Immortal Plateau, Northern Region… One month later…)

From within the safety of his hiding place, Mutu smelled out into the air. The wind was blowing southwards, away from his prey, and that provided the edge he was waiting for. With a cautious pace he left the leafy coverage and ventured out onto the open plains, his spear ready, approaching the beast from behind. The bear of the Kasha breed was still grazing the thick weeds, oblivious to the presence of the young Monk. Mutu raised his spear above his shoulder, ready to strike, but the bear was startled and turned away, fleeing.
-“T’chka!” –cursed Mutu.
The young Orc gave chase. He had been tracking the beast for two days now; he was just not ready to let it get away that easily. For hundreds of braces he ran, up and downhill, among bushes and stones, trying to keep the pace of the tough prey. The plateau was fairly plain on the central region, but as one furthered on towards the mountains surrounding the valley, the terrain became sloppy and treacherous.
After a long wild race through the fields, the bear reached a narrow gorge where it was forced to straighten its course.
-“With thine permission, Master…” –said Mutu, to himself.
As a Monk, he was well versed in the use of spiritual powers. Powers ‘lent to him by the great Mother Land’, as his master would say, and that should not be used to harm other beings, unless it was strictly necessary. But this hunting trip was about to become a dangerous chase down the mountain, and about to create a much greater damage than Mutu initially intended; so, a more drastic approach was needed.
With deep concentration, Mutu tapped his right fist against his left palm, and called out for the power of the sacred spirits.
-“Zik'kian za buri ka'aku…” –he invoked.
His fist became engulfed by flames, and the purple-ish fire soon covered the full extent of his arm, up to the shoulder.
-“…Zaan!” –shouted Mutu, propelling the flaming fist towards the beast.
The burning whirpool of flames departed from his arm as a single compressed purple meteor, and flew straight down the narrow gorge, hitting one of the walls and releasing a slide under the beast’s feet, making it tumble and fall.
Mutu did not wait for the bear to recover its balance. As soon as he was at an optimal distance he rose his spear again and threw it towards his prey. The weapon reached its target with admirable precision. But the wound was far from lethal. The bear was still alive, and it could recover and strike back at any moment. Mutu grabbed his hunting knife, and ran towards the animal, stabbing it with a direct blow to the heart. A clean death, one would argue; and Mutu hoped the landly spirits would understand the need for such a killing, and grant him forgiveness.
Loading the body of the slain beast back to his encampment, Mutu sighted a patrol on the lower valley.
-“Hmm…” –he thought- “So, they haven’t disbanded, after all…”
Even though the Orc Nation was now extending beyond the Den of Evil and the kingdom of Rune, the lands of the northern Plateau were still widely unpopulated. In contrast with the busy South, with its coastal colonies and fertile plantations, the deserted North was a great land of spiky bushes and wild beasts, traveled by bears, wolves, buffalos and hawks. Throughout the years, several incursions were made into this badlands, but most of them ended up turning back before they could establish a permanent settlement. Given the current situation of the realm, it seemed now the government was trying once again to conquer this frontier, and that patrol was undoubtedly the leading party of a much larger expedition, and with better equipment. But, with a bit of luck, it will take them several weeks before they reached the elevated mountain range where Mutu was hiding.
The trip back to his camp took him the rest of the day, and thanks to the bright campfire placed outside his cave, it was easy for him to find his way back, as the sun began to hide down the horizon.
Mutu’s hiding place was no bigger than a standard field tent: about eight braces in length, enough to accommodate two people with their belongings, with a small stone altar for the worshipping of Pa’agrio and the Sacred Spirits, and enough space at the front where a campfire could be lit.
Dusk had already fallen, when Mutu arrived to the entrance of the cave.
-“Oh, it’s you!” –said a deep voice, inside the cave- “What took you so long? Did you go take it out from its mother’s womb?”
-“My apologies, Master…” –said Mutu, respectfully- “I have crossed my path with a patrol. I thought it would be better not to lead them back here.”
-“Ah! Good you have done… You know already what I think about… hmm… unwanted visitors…”
He, who so roughly spoke, was Mutu’s master. An elderly hermit of the northern mountains, who had taken Mutu as his pupil, and agreed to teach him everything he knew about the wild life, the spirits, and the Orcish legacy.
-“They seem to be scouting this region, as a prelude to a new expansion…” –Mutu pointed out.
-“Bah! Politicians!” –replied the elder- “When they are not at war with another realm, they are at war with one another… And when they are not, they are rallying their forces, in order to begin the war. Ah… It’s always the same… Battle here, skirmish there… And then they all agree to peace, and begin it all over again…”
The elder spoke with the paused voice of experience. As Mutu laid his prey on the ground, the elderly Orc showed up behind some leather curtains on the back of the cave, wearing nothing more than a worn leather loincloth. Even though his age was advanced, as it appeared by his limping on a wooden stick, his body still retained the signs of a healthy younghood: a wide strong torso, muscular arms, and hardened feet, calloused by the many fields he must have traveled. On his neck, under a thick mane of greyed-out hair, he wore a necklace made of teeth and bones, undoubtedly obtained by the hunt of wild beasts; and his eyes were as black as the blackest of the nights.
-“Ahh… Me, I’m tired of their treatings and warrings…” –said the elder, sitting next to the fire with his legs crossed.
-“You did meet the Humans once, did you not, Master?” –asked Mutu, as he skinned the hunted bear.
-“That’s right… Many moons ago…” –answered the elder- “Say,… Have I told you about the time I killed that forest ogre all by myself?”
-“Yes, Master, you have…” –said Mutu, with condescending tone.
-“Oh…”
The elder began to lose his enthusiasm. Even though he had a good record of the stories he had told, he liked having someone who would listen and relive those adventures with him, even if it was for that one time. Mutu also knew how his master enjoyed the narrating, so for the sake of the friendship bounding them, he agreed to listen. Even if it was already the fortieth time he heard about the ferocious ogre from Dion.
-“…But, I would very much like a good story to hear while we dine…” –said Mutu.
The elder recovered his smile.
-“Ah! That’s the spirit…! So,… there I was, my body soaked in blood, when the monster grabbed me by the hip, and lifted me up above his head…”
As the elder furthered on into the tale, Mutu let himself be taken back by time and distance, back to the far lands of Dion, Aden and Giran, along with the memory of the brave companions of his master, to a time when adventurers roamed the fields free from any conflicts or laws, where either the beautiful Arteias shooter, or the bold Human warrior would have given their lives willingly for one another.
As the night closed in, and as their dining came to an end, so did the chronicle of the elder, and the memories of the hermit soon catched up with their current situation.
-“Ahhh… The times of glory…!” –said the elder, with a sigh- “Forever may they live, on the Eternity!”
Mutu remained silent. He laid beside the campfire, taken into his master’s stories, staring at the smoking embers, with his mind filled with images of adventures and glory.
-“Why are you still here, Mutu…?” –asked the elder.
-“Pardon me, Master?” –answered Mutu, snapping out of his thinking.
-“Why are you still here…?” –repeated the hermit- “There is nothing more I can teach you. You already mastered all the trials I have imposed you, and you have the best right arm I have ever seen… By the flames of Pa’agrio! Even your Meteor is better than mine!”
Mutu looked at the elder with a surprised, and at the same time, ashamed look.
-“Oh, yes! I’ve noticed! Heh, heh!” –chuckled the elder- “The next time, try aiming just a little higher…”
-“Oh, Master…” –said Mutu, saddened- “I’m so sorry…”
-“No need for apologies. I trust you had no other choice.” –said the elder, comforting him- “So, the question remains… Why are you still here? You can go wherever you please and live the adventure you please… Why remain here?”
Mutu had never thought about that earlier. So far, he had focused himself on learning the teachings of his master, always trying to make the most of them, and always eager for the next lesson, but on the other hand, he had never set up an objective of his own.
-“I don’t know…” –said Mutu- “I suppose,… I would not know where to go… All this time I have tried to avoid the outer boundaries of the Nation, but now… If I keep going forward, I would reach the boundaries of the Nation anyway!”
The young Monk was right. Since the recent campaign of General Kritak had conquered Rune and Schuttgart, the eastern route leading out of the Immortal Plateau also led to Orcish territory.
-“Well then… Since going forward will not change you anything,… there is always the choice of going back…”
-“Back? To the Capital? Oh, no, I couldn’t do that.”
Mutu rose up from his laying, uneasy, troubled by the idea of returning to a place where he would be seen as an outlaw by his own people.
-“Mchawi…” –said the elder- “If you do not,… there would not be any point on having learned what you have learned here.”
Mutu pondered his master’s words. In his heart, he knew that now he was obligated to pass the knowledge along to his people, and let more people know the Way of Pa’agrio. But, the memory of his fighting with his brother was still echoing in his mind, since he had promessed not to return until the Legion as a whole had disappeared.
-“A troubled conscience is a small price to pay, for the well being of your people, don’t you think?” –said the elder, rising up from his place as well- “Go, get back to your brother… Solve your differences… In the end, you will both benefit from it…”
Limping slowly towards his resting place, the elder left Mutu alone, so that the young Monk could think more clearly.
-“Ah… The days of glory… Heh, heh… Those were the days…” –whispered the elder.
As the old hermit laid back down on his bed, the young Monk returned beside the dying campfire. On the silent quietness of the night, and joined, at times, by the howl of a lonesome wolf, Mutu then tried to find a reason not to leave those virgin lands behind and return to the noise of the city. On those mountains laid everything he had ever desired: peace, silence, light, air,… the company, albeit rare, of a travelling hawk,… but most of all, answers. Answers he sought since he had understood the existance of the question, such as why the day shone, or the reason why the fire burnt. And the more he sought a reason to remain there, the more reasons he found to return to his city. The reason why his race was now in their current situation was they never had the chance to ask themselves the same questions, the way he did. They were just accustomed to apply the wrong answers.
With a sigh, Mutu headed towards his usual sleeping place, and took the bag that contained the few belongings he carried when he had left the city: a blanket, now holy and ragged; a canteen; and a black tunic with golden sewings, which his brother had given to him on his birthday.
-“Hmm…” –he thought, with a smile- “Even a Demon must go back to the Underworld some time…”
With some difficulty, Mutu wore once again his tunic, now just a bit tighter than some years ago, and kneeled before the small altar to the honor of Pa’agrio, where he raised a prayer for his master, before his departure.
-“I shall take your legacy with me, Elder…” –said the young Monk- “You have given me the greatest honor I could have ever asked for. You have taught me to know you…”
And, in the closed darkness of the night, Mutu ventured outside the cave, for one last time.
-“…Farewell, great Kavuu!”


The young Monk threw himself out to the open steppes without looking back. He carried in his heart and memory the teachings of the Great Khavatari, the legendary warrior who had given his people so many adventures to sing to, whom not even death could break. ‘Survive, and you would never truly live…’, his master had taught him, ‘Fight Death, and you shall never die! Hear the voice of Pa’agrio! Trust his teaching! If you understand it, you shall trust it! If you trust, you shall prevail! If you prevail in life, not even Hell itself shall ever get you!’
Mutu felt his heart pumping harder than ever, as he ran, league after league, ahead of his shade, to the setting sun. Far behind him laid the mountains and gorges. Ahead of him, the terrain appeared flatter and smoother, and the hills began to give way to the plains.
Two days of travel stood between him and his native land, to which he was finally returning after such a long time. On its outer boundaries, Mutu sighted the packs of bisons roaming on the valley, and beyond them, the labor fields of the local colonies, where the desert coda plantations stood out in a strong blue against the pale ocher tone of the dirt.
-“Just one more day…” –thought the young Monk.
Without stopping even for a lookout, Mutu kept gaining over the horizon. The dusk became once again the night, and the night left again to the morning sun, and by dawn of the third day, Mutu was stepping over the hills surrounding the capital of the Orc Empire.
By high noon, a figure dressed in black approached the Northern gate.
-“Stop!” –said one of the guards- “Show yourself!”
The tiresome traveler obeyed, and removed the hood above his head.
-“Tejakar Pa’agrio!” –said Mutu, saluting as it was customary in the Legion.
He had barely set foot on his native city, when his past suddenly caught up with him again. He used to greet his brother the same way, whenever he returned from the barracks, and even after he had sworn not to belong to the Legion himself, the young Monk now found himself on the obligation to employ that greeting, if only as a form of courtesy.
-“Tejakar Pa’agrio!” –replied the soldier- “From whence come ye, and where ye go, traveler?”
-“I go wherever my soul takes me… Although I would settle for a stance in the tavern, for now…”
-“Present your Charm.” –said the guard.
-“…Charm?” –asked Mutu, confused.
Given the increased movement of settlers among the different cities, as a result of the commercial and political expansion, the Nation had established a system to separate the different tribes and communities of the Empire. Each breed had been assigned a Charm: a small sculpture of wood or stone, depending on the region, in the shape of a known animal or demon of the Orcish mythology. These sculptures could easily be carried in a small bag, or with the addition of a cord, as a decorated necklace.
Naturally, having lived for so long outside the cities, Mutu was unaware of this new regulation. The guard turned to his fellow comrade, who returned his sight with a shaking head: “…Travelers…”
-“You must carry your personal Charm at all times… Otherwise, you can be prosecuted for violation of the Imperial Law…” –explained the soldier- “Here… Take this mark to Ghentor Anai Zu Neruga before tomorrow, and you will be given one…”
The guard handed Mutu a small silvery medallion, engraved with the figure of a dragon on one side, and the Emperor’s totem on the other.
-“Meanwhile, avoid getting into trouble and debt…” –the guard warned him- “…And, move along, please… You are blocking the gate…”
Mutu looked behind his back, and he couldn’t help but notice that his body, although muscular and well shaped, was barely of any help in blocking the space of ten paces that the entrance spawned. Which, of course, did not have any gates.
-“…Soldiers…” –he thought, as he walked onto the square.
The capital city of the Orc Nation was at the apex of its development. Thanks to the Dwarven technology, the Orcs had notably improved their constructions and erected countless new ones, each one ever more beautiful. Lo there stood the Totem of Pa’agrio, at the square in front of the Council chamber, which for centuries had been a symbol of the greatness of the Fire God, dwarfed now by the height of the new tower being built by order of General Kritak. And even though it was still under construction, nobody would dare deny it was a most colossal wonder. The new mining workshops flanked the former outer wall, which for so many years had kept the wild beasts at bay, and that now served as a walkway among the different buildings it connected. Not even the harsh slope of the terrain had been a problem, thanks to the several machines and transports the Dwarves directed. Wherever anyone would look at, one could find riggings, ramps, scaffoldings and ladders. Everything seemed to indicate that, apparently, the progress had finally arrived at the land of the Orcs.
-“Watch it, kid! Wake up!” –a salesman warned out.
-“Hey! Are you blind or something? –shouted another merchant.
Mutu minded his careless wandering, and found himself at the middle of the local marketplace, with citizens walking all around, avoiding the blankets the artisans had placed on the ground, where they displayed their merchandise.
-“Oh, I… I’m so sorry…” –the Monk apologized- “…Excuse me…”
Without ever reaching the coastline, Mutu was now drowning in an ocean of people. Even the air seemed to be scarce, even though the square was placed on an open ground. The very eyesight found the distance cut off by the same rock that used to age piled by the thousands on the mountains, but now appeared much more close by, in the form of buildings. The ocher ground disappeared under the tanned greenish tone of the Orcish skin. Mutu began to doubt about this city being the right one he sought. Burdened by the situation, he stepped into the first free spot he could find: the base of the Totem of Pa’agrio, where he remained silent, staring at the chaotic dance being performed in that maze built before the vast extension of the Immortal Plateau.
Shortly after he was able to catch his breath, a female voice snapped him out of his thinking.
-“Mchawi…? –he heard, nearby- “M--… Mutu?”
Mutu turned towards the callout.
-“…Lursa…!?” –he asked, surprised.
-“Mutu!”
Without delay, and just as someone who would grab a leaning branch over the course of a mighty river, Mutu threw himself to the arms of the young Lursa. Lursa Za Koroga, the sweet girl who had known to befriend Mutu during his childhood adventures now appeared before him as a lovely lady, wearing the colors of her tribe, and with a smile on her face brighter than the noon sun.
-“Oh, Lursa, am I glad to see you!” –said Mutu, relieved.
-“But… What on hell are you doing here? How did y-…? When have you arrived…?” –asked the girl.
-“I’m still not sure I have completely arrived…! It’s as if this city was a different one!”
-“Well, believe me, it’s the same. You’ll get used to it…” –said Lursa, resigned- “But tell me… Where have you been? I thought you would never come back! You’re such a--…!”
Lursa broke his embracing of Mutu and threw several punches to the Monk’s open chest, who was forced to cover his torso.
-“Hey, hey! Yes! I missed you too!” –said Mutu, in a laughter- “So,… Shaman’s scholar, huh?”
Much had passed since Mutu had left to the mountains, both to the city and to the people. And Lursa had not been excluded.
-“Yes…” –replied the lady- “With this much need of support to the Legion, the experienced Shamans had been recruited. Now, even the Kej-Wai find themselves among the Ghen-Wai.”
Both friends walked down the populated plaza. The noisy crowd that not so long ago had burdened the Monk’s senses now seemed to have gone completely quiet before the presence of the lovely female. Mutu couldn’t take his sight off the figure of the beautiful brunette, who was filling him in on the recent events that had gone by during his absence.
Upon arriving at the southern portion of the wall, near the place where the Shamans gathered, Lursa stopped.
-“Here I must leave you…” –said the girl- “We do not allow the entrance to outsiders…”
-“Outsider on my own land, huh?” –Mutu pointed out, saddened.
-“But,… we can always meet again, away from here! Come find me by sundown! We’ll go to the Valley of Heroes!”
-“Alright!” –said Mutu- “I’ve wandered for years already… Wandering a little longer won’t make any difference.”
Both friends hugged each other goodbye, when a youngling came rushing out of the building, looking for the female.
-“Lursa! Lursa!” –called out the boy, desperately- “Lursa, come! Quickly!”
-“Hey! Where’s the fire…?” –answered the girl- “Slow down, I’m right here!”
-“It’s Lijû!” –said the youngling- “Lijû burns!”

[Kej-Wai: "Kind of the People". Townspeople, villagers.]
[Ghen-Wai: "Kind of the Leaders". Noblesse, High Command or politicians.]

Lursa’s face became horrified. Mutu did not need much of a hint to realize someone needed his friend’s help, and he promptly offered a helping hand.
-“No!” –said Lursa- “I don’t want to involve you in this, Mutu! Just stay here!”
The female’s eyes remarked the request with a deeply worried look. Mutu agreed, and remained outside the place. Lursa turned to the young runner.
-“Take me to him…!” –she said, and as they entered the building, she kept on questioning the boy- “How grave is he…? Is he asleep already…?”
-“Not yet…” –answered the kid- “But he keeps complaining…”
Mutu could see citizens coming and going inside the small temple. It was difficult to differentiate this buzzing from that one happening on the square, but the Monk’s keen eye could understand that some delicate matter was taking place.
He swiftly walked into the building, and in a few moments his eyes got used to the darkened lighting inside the hall, where several torches lit the place hanging from the walls.
The situation he witnessed was devastating. Over the whole extension of the temple, dozens of sick citizens laid groaning in pain, some more desperately than others, and several Shamans and apprentices roamed the place, painstakingly tending to everyone’s needs. The dark purple tone of the Orcish blood tainted bandages and blankets, chaotically flowing out of some of the wounded, deadly still in some others. The heat of the fire burning below a big iron cauldron burdened even more the already stagnated and choking air that refused to leave the place, accentuating the stinking smell of a mixture of sweat and healing herbs.
-“Help…” –said one of the patients, with a suffocated voice- “Help, please…!”
Mutu turned to face the wounded one, and assessed his condition. He had multiple lacerations on his skin. Markings of burnings, cuttings and bruisings overlapped one another, causing who knows how many different kinds of pain to the poor being.
-“Merciful Gods of Fire…!” –said Mutu, astonished- “What has done this to you? Tell me!”
-“Th-… The Punishment…!” –said the wounded- “The Punishment of Pa’agrio!”
Mutu immediately tried to ease his Orcish brother’s suffering. Among the vases and baskets available he frantically sought around several bundles of weed and flowers, until he found those which would create an anesthetic effect. In a small stone bowl, he pounded the leaves with the help of a pestle, and added some water from his canteen.
-“Here…” –he said to the sick one, putting the bowl near his mouth- “Drink this…”
The weak Orc made the effort to swallow the mixture, with a contained expression of revulsion given the bitter taste of the liquid, but in brief he began to relax his muscles and breathing, showing that the remedy was acting its effect.
Mutu knew he would once again need to use his spiritual power.
-“Vyl'ja ramu zaan ha'ian…” –he whispered, laying his hands above the wounded.
The young Monk’s hands emitted a pale purple glow, and under their touch the torn skin began to regenerate itself. The burdened Orc let out a groan.
-“Breathe it out, brother…” –said Mutu- “Breathe…”
Mutu concentrated his power forcing the wounded’s body to fight this strange sickness. As soon as he could heal the worst damage, Mutu stopped his spell.
-“Hold on, brother…” –he whispered- “Pa’agrio will not forsake you, just yet…”
-“You are… A Monk…!” –answered the sick one, with a gasp.
-“Shhh… Rest now…”
Mutu rose and took a look around. So many Sons of Pa’agrio affected by the same sickness. Could the Father really become this cruel? So cruel as to punish those He had always protected? Mutu refused to settle for that answer. He left the place and headed back to the square, only to find himself again before the crowd that swarmed their way around exotic jewelry, expensive craftings and ambitious buildings. When did the distance disappear? Where was now the silence of the mountains and the overwhelmingly vast steppes? What had happened to this people who had worshipped Pa’agrio for centuries and now blamed Him for their suffering? How many of these Orcs had ever heard the singing of the wind or witnessed the dancing of the valley streams?
Trying to silence the noise of so many confusing voices, and seeking a relief of the overwhelming mountains of bricks, Mutu fled the city to the South, towards the Valley of Heroes, where he used to play around as a child. There he found the stream he had so many times crossed with his brother, and where he used to quench his thirst after so many races, fights and pranks. Once again, as so many years ago, he sank his hands into the stream.
-“Agghh!” –he groaned, disgusted- “T’chka!”
Instead of the fresh and crystalline stream, Mutu found a torrent barely different from the slimy mud, and that all but gave off a scorching heat. Intrigued by the cause of such a change, he tracked the flow upstream, up to the highest level of the valley, where instead of the vast wellspring he found the Legion’s headquarters, from whence its workshops dropped the remnants of coal which fueled their forges.
Burdened by the sight, Mutu dropped to his knees, and raised a cry from the deepest of his soul.
-“Is this it!?” –he shouted, to the sky- “Is this what you desire, Father!?”
Horrified and forsaken by his soul, Mutu witnessed the way his people had chosen. Suddenly, he felt ashamed to belong to this people who dared call themselves ‘Orcs’.
In this state of regret and disappointment he was, when he heard a pitched whine a short distance away. Near the side of the stream, a gray wolf laid dying beside a tree.
-“Eh… Easy, little fellow… Easy…” –said Mutu, comforting the animal.
The wolf barely moved, visibly attacked by severe pain, given the multiple burnings and bruces over his skin.
-“So, you too have fallen a victim of our wrongings…” –he apologized- “Easy… You’ll be alright…”
Feeling deeply sorry for the animal’s suffering, Mutu called once again to his healing powers, trying to repair the damage caused by the irresponsible behavior of his people.
-“Vyl'ja ramu zaan ha'ian…” –he muttered, covering the wolf with his healing aura.
In a few moments, the wolf ceased his whining, and his breathing eased. As soon as he built his strength, he stood up, and thanked his savior with a thorough licking.
-“Yeah, yeah… Heh…” –Mutu laughed- “Alright,… You’re welcome, buddy, you’re welcome…”
The night was closing over the land of Elmore, so Mutu decided to wait until the next morning to return. In the company of his new friend, he went deeper into the forest until he found a suitable site for camping.
It wasn’t hard, either, to find enough wood for a campfire.
-“I shouldn’t be doing this…” –said Mutu, to his unexpected companion- “But, I trust you’ll keep it a secret…”
The young Monk put his hand over the pile of wood.
-“Zik'ian za buri ka'aku…” –he called- “…Vo'han!
And, employing once again the power his master had granted him, Mutu used the heat of his meteor to light the fire.
After an improvised dinner of codran seeds and cobol fruits, Mutu tried to get some sleep, coated by the furry back of his canine friend. In that particular time and place, he felt he was back on those mountains he had left behind.


At dawn, both lone wolves went back to the creek. Mutu couldn’t stop thinking that, somehow, the blight cursing his people had to be related to his people’s doings, and not to some demonic rage. Joined by his new friend, he approached the garrison’s walls covered by the tree line, until he was near the side of the building.
-“You wait here…” –he said to the little wolf, petting on his snout- “Alright…? You… here… Got it?”
The gray wolf stayed put. Mutu went out the edge of the forest, and began to climb the stone wall, trying to get a view of the inner barracks.
Using the support of the edgy rocks, the young Monk quickly overcame the exterior wall, and descended to the lower yard, hiding among the buildings.
There, he could witness in horror as the Legion transformed Pa’agrio’s legacy into weapons and tools. From the city they constantly hauled batches of wood, iron, mithril and oriharukon, which the Dwarven prisoners loaded on the forges and anvils, where they were continuously pounded, over and over again, by the technology the Giants had so cautiously guarded for centuries. The river, which used to run free and fresh, was now contained in a giant pool, where the forged metal was quenched in a cloud thicker than those bringing the winter rain, only to be heated again by a fire hotter that the very ashes of Hell. The height of the mountain that used to appear impossible to clear was now covered on its entirety by the machinery that seemed to twist itself as a spiky bush, fearsome and treacherous. Everything looked choreographed to the beat of a dance more dangerous and destructive than those that preceded the battle.
Mutu felt a deep sorrow in his heart.
-“Merciful Father,…” –he thought- “…forgive this offense from us…”
Having satisfied his curiosity, Mutu left the place, and returned aside the little wolf. When they met again, the canine greeted him with prancings and lickings.
-“Yeah, yeah…” –said Mutu, as he petted the wolf- “I’m back already… Let’s get out of here…”
He felt his faith renewed at the sight of this blight being not a curse from Pa’agrio, but an affront of his race against the race itself. Finally he had a way to prove the Legion was but the biggest mistake his people had ever made. Decided to solve the suffering of his people, Mutu went back to the temple where the sick ones laid. He had barely stepped beyond the entrance, when one of the Shamans got notice of his presence.
-“There he is! That’s him!” –he said, pointing at Mutu- “He is back!”
-“Seize him!” –roared a voice.
Surprisingly, Mutu found himself surrounded by Legionaires, who blocked him off any means of escape. The little wolf took a defensive stance before the danger threatening his savior, but the Monk calmed it with a soft rub in the back.
-“Well, well…” –said the Ghentor commanding the group- “Never thought I’d see a Monk back on these lands… What ‘ye business ‘ere, outlaw?”
-“I’m telling you, he’s done sorcery on this very ground!” –said the Shaman- “He’s violated this sacred place!”
-“Surely you know plenty of violations…” –mumbled Mutu.
The Ghentor awaited for no answer, and slapped the Monk without hesitation.
-“Quiet, insolent one!” –he said- “You’ll speak when ordered to!”
-“No, wait…!” –was heard among the crowd.
Pushing her way through the group, Lursa got beside Mutu.
-“Wait…! This Monk has but helped us! If it wasn’t for him, many Sons of Pa’agrio would have died hopelessly…!”
Lursa turned to Mutu, and informed him of the recent developments.
-“The soldier you saved… He told me…” –whispered the girl.
-“Sorry, I should have told you…” –Mutu apologized.
-“You’ll get the chance…”
-“You know this ch’tamu’jan?” –asked the Ghentor.
-“I’ve seen him… yesterday…” –answered the brunette- “…He asked me directions…”
Ever since the Monks had been declared outlaws, the law had been made to severely punish anyone who would help or shelter these outsiders.
Lursa was, naturally, avoiding a worse situation.
-“You’ll be summoned when this incident is addressed…” –sentenced the Officer, and then turned to Mutu- “As for you, got a nice place for you up in the tower… The view from up there’s quite impressive! Take him out!”
The Legionaires grabbed the Monk and shackled him. Mutu looked back at Lursa and tried to make his wish evident: “Take care of him…!”. The shaman girl took the little wolf under her care, as he let out saddened growls at the sight of his savior leaving.
The guards took Mutu up hallways, ramps and stairways, to the interior of the new tower rising up behind the Temple of Pa’agrio. Even though the construction was still underway, nothing prevented the lower halls from being occupied, so after passing several scaffoldings and support beams holding the upper structure, the soldiers put Mutu into one of the outer cells.
-“Enjoy the stay, Monk!” –roared one of them, throwing him in.
Mutu fell on the hard stone floor, as the structure amplified the sound of the heavy door being locked behind him. With a sigh, the young Monk built his patience up, as he struggled to stand up, his hands being shackled.
One thing was true, though. The view from that tower was quite impressive. Through the narrow window cut into the wall, Mutu could sight the mountaintops of the Northern range. Those far mountains that he could very much be walking right now, had he not left his Master’s side. How would the old Kavuu be doing? Would he be gone from those mountains as well? Would he be gone from this world, perhaps? Would he be walking with a new youngling with whom to share his wisdom? Would Mutu be in this situation had he not crossed paths with the Grand Khavatari ever? So many questions came to the mind of the Monk at that very moment. Deep in his thoughts he was, when he was distracted by the sound of voices outside his cell. It seemed that a new group of guards had come to replace the present ones, when suddenly the door opened, leaving a big muscular shape through.
-“Arz--!” –Mutu tried to say.
-“Quiet, prisoner!” –punched the soldier.
With that sudden and accurate punch, Mutu fell once again to the floor, from whence he was soon picked up by the big warrior, who secretly whispered a word to his ear.
-“Lursa…” –said Arzag, quietly, and promptly added aloud- “Get up, outlaw! The General wants to see you! Move!”
Still shaken by the mighty punch, Mutu was taken through the tower hallways up to the General’s room. Despite the adverse of his situation, he hadn’t been ever happier of seeing his brother.
Once before the General, and in order to maintain the charade, Arzag put Mutu down to his knees.
-“Fine… Enjoying it, K’zhe?” –thought Mutu, remembering the times when it was him the one putting his brother down.
-“The prisoner outlaw, Sire!” –announced Arzag.
-“Thanks, soldier…!” –answered Kritak- “You may go.”
-“Tejakar Pa’agrio!” –saluted Arzag, before leaving.
As they were left alone, Kritak openly spoke to the Monk.
-“Welcome, traveler!” –he said- “I hope the reception was not that rough! You see… The soldiers around here tend to be somewhat… uneasy… towards outlaws…”
The Monk was still trying to figure out which one of the many shades he was seeing was the one speaking to him. As his cranium recovered from the early blow, Mutu found the infamous General Kritak before him, leaning over his desk of carved hardwood, and inviting him to stand up.
-“But, don’t stay down there! Come, sit! Can I offer you a beverage? You must be thirsty after such a long journey…”
Kritak poured an amount of ale in two wooden mugs. Mutu stood up, but he remained at his place.
-“Oh… I understand you Monks have a rather tough shell to crack… But, don’t worry, my friend… I’m not seeking to kill you with something as cheap as a poisoned drink… See?”
Kritak drank from both mugs, showing that none of them had anything more than regular ale.
-“It happens,…” –the General went on- “…that it came to me the word of someone curing the pestilence we currently suffer… And, naturally, I had to make sure such rumors were true…”
Mutu was trying with all his being not to outright kill the one truly responsible for his people’s misery. But, it wasn’t like the General to be that friendly with anyone. Mutu knew there had to be something going on.
-“We both know, Sir…” –Mutu intervened- “…that said pestilence is not real…”
-“Oh, well, all the better… Turns out we do have something in common, after all!”
Kritak rose from his place near the desk, and got near Mutu.
-“I salute your bluntness, Monk, so let me be as blunt with you. You’re on a land where your bare existence is considered a crime… And it turns out I’m both the judge and executioner… I’m offering you one chance to get out there with your head still above your neck, so listen carefully: there is a plague decimating my legions as days go by, and my Shamans are unable to find a cure to it. If my legions are gone, the Humans will march over Goddard. And should Goddard fall, Rune shall fall as well! And everything we worked so hard for will be lost forever!”
-“Perhaps your mighty legions have finally met an equally mighty nemesis…” –mumbled Mutu, defiant.
-“Don’t you dare try my patience, outlaw…!” –answered Kritak- “You are still alive because I desire it, and because you are still valuable. If you wish to remain like that, you better help me secure the continuity of this campaign… Or I will see to it that certain Shaman girl gets an extended visit to the forge… And then we shall see if your spirit remains as tough under the pounding of a Dwarven hammer…!”
Mutu found himself trapped. His condition of Monk did not permit him to instigate a fight, nor could he expose Kritak’s plans without risking the life of Lursa and those who knew her. The Grand Khavatari had not prepared him to face a situation like this one. Mutu chose, then, to wait for the next developing.
-“I can not help you without knowing exactly what is happening…!” –he pointed out- “If you wish to protect your Legions, you must tell me where they’re marching!”
Kritak weighted the Monk’s proposal.
-“You will be briefed on where the Legions have been, and you will cure any present wounds. In the mean time, you will administrate that potion you fashioned to the rest of the remaining soldiers. If you keep your end of the bargain, I’ll see to it that your permits be extended.”
-“I will require a great amount of ingredients to prepare the potion…” –pointed Mutu.
-“Guard!” –Kritak called, to the outside.
One of the posted guards made his way in.
-“Take this Monk before Seer Tanapi… Get him whatever he requires…”
-“Yes, Sire…!” –nodded the soldier.
-“Welcome to the Legion, Monk…” –said Kritak, dismissing his companion.
Mutu was forced to acknowledge the dismissal, albeit much to his disliking. ‘A troubled conscience is a small price to pay, for the well being of your people’, his master said. And in this situation, Mutu’s conscience was more troubled than ever.
As the young Monk walked down the long hallway of the outer tower, Kritak turned to the second guard standing at the entrance, and quietly gave a single order.
-“Watch him…” –he said.

(...To be continued...)

[Ch'tamu'jan: "Unknown walker". Traveler, Foreigner.]


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