You recall what was told to you, on the day you set out across the burning plains. ‘Before you is your future, behind you is your past, and in due time, your destiny.’ No truer words have been spoken.
The wind wraps around you, billowing out your cloak, flapping it in the breeze like a marching banner for the army of one that is yourself. You savor this moment; feel the rushing adulation of pure purpose that burgeons in your heart. You cast a glance back along the trail you’ve ridden, the narrow mountain path overlooking a sea of golden-red sand stretching out for miles underneath a cloudless crystal sky. You then look to your front, and behold the world before you, a narrow winding path down the side of the mountain, leading into a verdant forest with shrouded leafy canopies. From the peak where you stand, you can see it all, you look to the south and behold the mountain peaks in the distance, bending back to the west to become a snow blasted landscape of fjords and plateaus. To the north you can look and see planes of rolling green grass, spotted with lakes and rivers extending from the foot of the mountains. And to your front, facing the direct east, in the long winding distance you see it- spreading over the horizon like a blue shroud, the ocean.
You see all of this before you, encapsulated all from upon your perch at the mountains peak. You can’t help your self, you grin, draw your sword with a flourish of steel on scabbard, and thrust it at the sky. You let out a cry of victory, of victories past and future to come. Your voice rings out, echoing outwards to shout back at you and ring in your ears. It is childish for you to do so but you allow yourself this revelry, because you are now at the border of the world you know, the world of reason and order end here, and a strange world of monsters, bandits, and petty kings now takes shape. Your brothers and sisters have told you much of what to expect and what is to come. Of your house you listened to stern face mentors who whipped you for your inattentiveness, and of your cousin houses you payed them no heed, for you knew what you must and anything else matters not. You breathe deeply the scent of the pure mountain air- tinged with the sweetness of the distant ocean, perfumed with also the scent of the forest below, and the dew on the mountain rocks. Never before have you so clearly seen the glory available to you, for you to reach out and take with both hands. You are certain of it; this is where you begin your ascension into Legend.
You tarry no longer, sheathing your blade and kicking your noble steed forwards and down the mountain path.
Morning greets you for the first time in this new land, a choir of songbirds, and the chuffing of deer. You toss and turn, not willing to rise and face the nippish early morning cold. Sun trickles through spotted leaves, and squirrels and other forest dwelling creatures meet the new day with their chattering calls. The air smells sweet with grass and dew, the dry-wet scent of churned earth by forest paws. A faint fog carpets the ground with steam. Eventually, you bring yourself to waking, sitting up, and feeling the cool air prickle across your skin. You stretch arching your back and throwing out your arms, closing your eyes so that the dappled light passes over your dreary lids, and then you stand, running your hands down over your smooth skin, still as flawless since the day of your second birth, and destined to stay that way. You find a pool of still water next to a nearby river. Before you begin to wash yourself, to scrape away the dirt accrued from your travels so far. You cannot help but kneel down, and admire the perfection reflected in its glassy surface.
Long bangs like spun gold framing a pale face with high cheekbones and a narrow chin. A button nose and feminine lips with a light peach hue. You brush a hanging lock of hair out of the way, staring at yourself in this glassy water. Lastly is your eyes- like gems set in a perfectly carved marble statue, guided by the hands of a master artisan no less, are your eyes that reflect your bloodline, the nobility of your heritage, and your tireless resolve as a true Telothian warrior. No, not a warrior, nothing so crass as that- a Champion.
Champion… The name fits the picture before you, you can’t help but mutter it to yourself as you ponder your reflection, you are soon all to aware of your naked body staring back up at you. You truly are a Champion, worthy of becoming legend amongst your people, how could you not be? You straighten your back, thrust out your chest and run a hand down your front, over your breasts and down to your navel, your toned, sculpted musculature, hardened like tempered steel and made all the better by your breeding. Still, you are beautiful, not like the other lumps of metal that make up your brothers and sisters- hulking brutes and Amazonian hammers each and every one of them. You are different; you are of a refined manner that still looks to be of a feminine body.
Looking at yourself like this you cannot help but feel a trill of arousal run through you how could you not be moved by such a sight? A perfect warrior and fair maiden, maid all the better by her consummate skill, no man or woman could hope to resist you, so why should you resist yourself? You almost give into your lustful avarice, cupping yours breasts and squeezing gently, before relenting with a huff. You brush back your bangs, your long golden hair running down your back. This can wait. You’ve a journey ahead of you. To dilute it with the lustful passions of the human nature before it even could truly begin would to be dishonorable to your most worthy and notable self.
You step into the river, and wash yourself; the water is cold and pure, snowmelt from the mountain. After you finish you feel revitalized, you wring out your hair and use a sword cloth to dry yourself partially. It is on your way back to the campsite that you get the first inkling as to some sort of disturbance. Your horse, your faithful steed Staugr, is whinnying, stamping the ground; you can hear it easily enough. You frown, and quicken your pace a bit, ducking under branches you emerge.
Bandits and thieves. Of course. Did you honestly expect any different from these crude and lawless lands?
Eleven of them, spread about the campgrounds, pawing through your packs, the rest idling around, standing guard, and noticing you at last.
A miserable bunch, they glance up from their pillaging, you cross your arms as you feel their leering gazes scorch over your nude body. They move to encircle you in a casual fashion, you do not let them do so easily, backing up against a tree, keeping its trunk to your back as you pick out more interesting details of these fools.
The Leader is yammering, saying something about your luck, you think so at least, you do not understand their language that well, it is not Telothian so you don’t pay any attention. There are now seventeen in total, more of them emerging from the brush just beyond the clearing, likely on lookout duty or something like that. They are not all human- you make out several Satyr and Beastkin, the leader among them is a half-breed Minotaur; his muscles bulge as obscenely as the thing twitching beneath his loincloth, much to your disgust.
You can practically feel the musk wafting off of him. You assume that the trio of cloaked harlots standing beside him –also Beastkin- glaring daggers at you and your naturally perfect body, are part of his harem. Do they think you to be added to their numbers, and thusly, another competitor towards their icons affection? Interesting. In their back lines you also spy a pair of Lamia, and beside them, there is a much bulkier Naga, a breed you are familiar with, as they uniformly hail from the desert regions that you are so at home in. Having taken stock of their numbers you now take in their weaponry and armor, nothing so substantial. The Beastkin have their daggers and claws, the humans are more traditionally armed with shields and swords- some old and rusting- the Minotaur chieftain has a warhammer, the lamias have their own special twinned blades, and the Naga, her whip. You crack your neck, easing out the remaining kinks. You’ve still yet to really wake up, though the bath did suffice in rousing you sufficiently.
This will be a good enough exercise. The leader is saying something more, you honestly don’t care to listen, in fact, he is annoying you. Where he a human, you might have given him a chance to surrender and spread the message of your arrival. He is not, so you reach up, grab a branch, and snap it off. You roll your shoulders and loosen up. You hope this doesn’t become too messy; you did just wash yourself, after all.
Ten seconds or so after you begin and you are already finished. You grunt and pull, falling backwards as your hand comes free with that familiar wet suction sound. You are more used to it coming from stuck weapons, but you will admit that a clenched fist can be just as brutal when enough force is behind it. You shake the worst of the offending gore from your hand, annoyed that bits of bone- likely rib fragments have scratched you while your arm was elbow deep in that half-breed minotaur’s chest, crushing his heart. You could hardly call it an injury, but you tense your muscles and observe tiny pinpricks of blood oozing from the scrapes. You spit in disgust, you had been hoping to go about this flawlessly, and it is hardly befitting you to sustain an injury from such worthless rabble.
Of such rabble, they are now dead. Strewn about the campgrounds in various states of dismemberment and mutilation. Crushed skulls, cratered torsos, legs and arms ripped off and stuck through the bodies of others, you may have been a bit too enthusiastic but you were unarmed and without armor, with your nakedness exposed to mere vagrants. They were due a reckoning for such blaspheme against you. Furthermore, they had the audacity to spray their entrails and gore across your body as they died, and directly after you have cleaned yourself- it is clear to you now that these lands are truly savage and barbaric, dishonoring a champion such as yourself with such base obscenity. You throw back your hair, several molars from one of the pulverized brigands untangling and coming loose in the process. You step out from the lower half of the Minotaur, he had been hardy enough to survive you ripping him in half, so you had to go and punch his heart out, naturally. You make sure not to step on the partially torn out spine of one of the Lamia, although you are tempted to tear out the rest and clean it as an early trophy.
You decide against it in the end, she died too quickly, and the chief was only a half Minotaur, no point in taking a trophy from such a runt. You make your way back over to the river and quickly wash yourself, scrubbing the blood away is a hassle, most of it is already dried onto you, a clear sign that you had gotten far to excited over such a minor battle. You would have to show more temperance in the future. It is noon by the time you are finished, your armor donned and weapons slung. Staugr is anxious to be on the way as well, for being of Telothian stock, he is surprisingly dainty in avoiding the corpses. It is difficult for him; they are spread about in a rather gratuitous fashion. Despite the interruption of your morning you are in rather fair spirits, and eager to be about your questing, leaving the abattoir in short order.
You didn’t know what to expect when you come across your first human township, or so you assume it is a township. The tallest building is only three stories high, the road is dirt instead marble, the parapets are constructed of wood instead of stone, and there is no monuments or statues in sight. Clearly the local lord has his priorities skewed, you would think that even the lowliest of human colonies outside of the Burning Desert would try to emulate noble Teloth to certain extents. As the greatest outpost of humankind- second only to the memories of the Black Mountain- it should be only natural to aspire to its greatness, no matter the degeneracy of the hands that try to construct its pale image. You huff and sigh, rolling your eyes at yet more disappointment. You lead your noble steed, Staugr, a true Telothian warhorse, through the streets of unpaved dirt and mud. You make it a silent promise that if even an ounce of dog-shit touches your armor, you will raze this village to its foundations and salt the earth left behind.
You find an inn, a sign hanging over a low-slung roof with a picture of frothing mead draws your eye, and you suppose some things are just universal. Such simple Iconography is quintessentially human, even if made by lesser hands. There is a stable around the back of the establishment that you lead Staugr into, you wrap his reigns around a post and pat his armored flank, and the keeper will do the rest.
As an Innkeeper, your life is your work and your work is your life. You oversee your three daughters in running the family business, and you deal with traveling merchants in hopes of buying exotic goods that you can sell, or trading in recipes that you can cook with the exotic goods you buy. It is simple work, and you take pride in it. Your only regret is that due to your obligations to your wife and daughters, you cannot journey as you once did in your youth, your sense of adventure only slaked by the few odd travelers that come through town and stay at your inn. More often than not, their tales and stories only serve to deepen your wanderlust. You are often inundated by the local working men and farmers who come by to tell you their woes and their stories as they drink away the night, leaving next morning having paid their tab or not and saying they will do so later. It is those rare traveling individuals that you watch out for, but it is not often that they come by, given your town’s proximity to the dreaded Splintered Mountains. The only clientele that you receive on the regular is that of the Human sort, and in this dreadful but mysterious world, Humans do not travel as a rule, and if they do, they do not travel far or abroad, so their stories are often lacking and dull. Humans do have a greater degree of free travel in close proximity to the Shattered Mountains, it is much in the same as it is elsewhere, stories that are lacking and dull all to common, unless they are stories of horror and violence. There is a reason for that, reasons that you are all too aware of.
One such reason has opened the door to your inn.
Quaint. If you were to stretch for a compliment to give this place, it would be quaint. You are trying your best to remain positive, you are trying to be forgiving of the failings of humans in this realm, you have to remind yourself that Teloth is a holy city under the guidance of the Divine, and that the humans in these savage lands do not have such grace and mercy to lead them on a daily basis, but it is hard not to be punitive when in the face of such overwhelmingly crude blandness. You remove your helmet and shake out your hair, no doubt stunning the few patrons of this dismal inn. Several tables set in a lodge with rooms attached to the side, and a second story with a similar arrangement. There is a bathhouse behind the bar area if your nose isn’t misleading you. There are several patrons, as already stated, and from what you can see, the daughters of the innkeeper are acting as waitresses and maids, dressed in conservative white linen dresses with their hair tied back, they send furtive looks in your direction, cowed by your presence no doubt. You approach the Innkeeper, standing behind his bar, trying his best to avoid you it would seem. The only patron sitting at the counter leaves at once, looking over his shoulder back at you and making haste to pay his tab and be off.
You casually say your greeting and without preamble you ask for a room to stay the night, you reach into one of your waist bound pouches and fish out lesser silverite coin that could likely purchase over a hundred of these establishments but you are feeling largely piteous towards these people by this point. You look at the Innkeeper, watch him thumb over your money piece and then look back at you before looking at you with something approaching confusion or confliction. It dawns on you quickly enough, the problem. You pinch your brow and close your eyes, taking a moment to breathe and collect yourself, you remember what was told to you, that the quest of the champion was going to test and challenge every aspect of you, not just the physical capabilities. You are half-tempted to just do away with civility and slaughter this hovel as you please and stay the night regardless, but to raze an entire human colony- degenerate as they are- over the simple fact that they do not speak the true tongue of Man, would be exceedingly petty. You do recall several the dozen or so words in the guttural language of these savages that were told to you by your masters in order to make such interactions like these easier, you decide to defile your tongue and repent for it later by using some of them.
“Bed. Sleep. One-night” She says to you in a firm, exasperated, patronizing manner, she speaks in the way that a person will if they aren’t in the mood to repeat themselves. But you need to take your time with this; dealing with these creatures is never simple. You study the coin she’s put down, a square chip of hardened and polished opal. On one side there is a design, a portrait of one of their founding saints on the face, there is a softly glow gemstone that is illuminated by body heat. A unique, and artful piece of currency that oozed arrogance. You are a collector of things like this, small wonders of the world. You press it back across the counter, for a moment you are afraid that she will take this as an insult. You summon up the little knowledge you have of Teloth’s equally cruel language. “No pay.” Words you have memorized for encounters such as this. “Free room. Honor.” You say this in their language to appease them, and hurry their passage out of the village. Nothing good ever comes from one of her ilk.
It works as intended, she seems to relax, running a gauntlet through her hair, taking her piece back and slipping it into its pouch. She almost seems to grin, but it comes across more as a smirk, self satisfied and haughty. You quickly direct her to where she’ll be lodging for the night, one of the better rooms, they’d want nothing less, even then, you doubt that it would meet their ridiculous standards. You take her horse to a stable as well. The thing is massive, with slabs of muscle and fur like pine nettles made of iron. You have half a mind to think that the armor it wears isn’t so much as to protect it, as it is to restrain the beast. It unnerves you with its silence.
Upon returning your youngest daughter comes up to you, you take her by the shoulders and tell her not to worry, you’ve dealt with these monsters before, so long as you defer to them and stay clear, they won’t make trouble. Your heart sinks when she tells you that it wanted a bath.
It’s better than a river, but then again, that isn’t a high bar to pass. You drop the towel and step into the water, a hole cut in stone foundation and filled and emptied by buckets heated over hot stones. Rudimentary and inefficient, but viable you guess. You made it clear that you wanted a cold bath; you managed to get that much across. The youngest of the daughters would be tending to you; you’d rather it be the eldest, the one with enough spunk to look you in the eyes that one you could’ve had some fun with. This one seems all too docile, no fun to push around. You might as well enjoy the bath. You step into the cool water and sigh in relief. They managed to get this right, at the very least. You slowly sink in past your chest. Relaxing for a moment more you raise a hand and beckon the young girl to begin her ministrations.
She is far taller than you but you are again, the shortest of your sisters, only measuring up to four feet and several inches. She waves you to proceed, lounging in the washing basin like some sort of noble, though she is clearly annoyed by the washroom’s humble furnishings. It irks you somewhat that she would expect something greater; this was only a rural township far outside the Xionite capital.
Your town couldn’t afford the sort of luxury afforded to those villages nearer to the coastline. You fill the bucket regardless, pouring it over this… you aren’t sure what she is. She hands you the brush, not the soft bristled one, but the one with the prickly bristles. You hesitate for a second and she glowers at you. You proceed. You scrape away at her back and she hardly flinches. Her skin is rough, course like sandpaper despite being even paler than your bottom. It confuses you, because you thought that her people came from across the burning plains, the inhospitable desert to the east over the mountains. You make heavy use of the soap, she smells foul, like sweat and sulfur.
Through the brush you can tell that her body is like steel, muscles visibly ripple just under her skin. She turns around, bidding you to tend to her front, you cant help but gawk slightly, she is a woman but her body is toned more so like a man, cut with strength unbefitting of a lady. The way she looks at your own naked body is uncomfortable, you recall the lecherous gazes of the farmhands that come in at night, and have several drinks. It is like that but far less restrained, not cast at your back but now from directly before you without any hint of shame or discretion. Bathes are supposed to be a fun thing, and you like giving them. You remember the time you spent with a young harpy that was visiting. She would splash you incessantly, laughing all the while until you eventually gave up and joined her in her game.
This was nothing like that. This person was openly leering at you in that sickly perverse way, taking joy in how you squirmed under her gaze. Her foot would brush up against your butt and your thigh. She forced you to wash her breasts, bringing your hands up, placing the soap in them and bidding you to take your time with it, she growled and moaned lowly, her laugh like a dull rumble of thunder. You tended and played host to all guests, and one and all they were for the most part agreeable. Not this one, not her. Up and down her body and even so far as between her legs she tormented you like this, and when you thought it was finally over, she called you back again, sitting you before her, you were shaking by this point, a dog locked outside during a thunderstorm.
A pretty little flower, this one, young and pure, clearly a flower among weeds, she would make a fine vessel for breeding, hopefully one of the more promising excuses for a male in this hovel would taker her and bear strong children and so on and so on. She was marred though, an honestly brutal scar on her face, running down from just below her right temple down past her eye over her cheek and curving down to her jawline. It was ugly and disfiguring, besmirching an otherwise quaint and charming appearance.
You grab ahold of her head, turning her slightly so as to get a better view at it, you hold her jaw shut so she doesn’t make a fuss as you examine it more closely. It wasn’t a clean wound that much was obvious. It was likely created by a jagged edge rather than a blade, and given the environment it must’ve been a uniquely primitive instrument. Your gut instinct says goblins or trolls, a stone spear perhaps? Maybe so, regardless, a wound like this never fully heals- it had cut deep, likely punching through her cheek fully, and carving over bone. It is a miracle it of itself that a savage like her survived knowing the quality of medicine that is available. You ball up your right hand, your prayer hand, and go over the litanies of the minor saints, remembering easily the base miracles that are thought to all brothers and sisters of the first royal house knights, barley enough to even stoke the fires, a scar such of this was hardly a challenge for even your admittedly limited medical knowledge. Your fingers glow bright, the veins in your right hand illuminating as though they were filled with sunlight.
The eyes of this girl are watery now, crying- fear, likely, the stupid thing. You’ve no intention of doing any real harm, and you try to tell it as much as you trace a glowing hand down the length of the scar, the smell of burning flesh momentarily filling the air.
Pain. Pain unimaginably hot and searing, but you can’t scream, you can’t move, you can’t do anything. She has you in a vice-like grip, holding you still and silent as she runs heat down the side of your ruined face. It’s like a cruel god is dragging a branding iron across your flesh for no other reason more than that it can and you can’t resist it at all.
And then your head is forced under the water, and the pain is gone.
You breach the surface of the bathwater, spluttering as she releases you, you cough spluttering and grabbing at the side of your face, expecting to find that same searing heat, only for there to be…
Not a thing, your fingers run across smooth flesh, and not the usual puckered meat and raised bumpy tissue that has marred your smile for years with pain and misery. You lean over the side of the basin, staring down into the bucket at its side; the reflection in the water shows you what you didn’t think possible. The scar is gone, and even the bits of obsidian and fragments of rock that the apothecary said could never be removed were gone, you couldn’t feel them anymore.
The scar was gone.
You are in good spirits this morning. A self-satisfied grin on your face underneath your helmet, you recount the events of yesterday. Your miracle was of course nothing more than a standard healing prayer utilized by your House to treat battlefield wounds, to stop bleeding and repair broken flesh, nothing so great. It meant that you had to reopen the girls’ scar but you repaired it several degrees better than whatever butcher had seen to it beforehand.
Of course, the Father wept and bowed at your feet, as he should have, offering your praise and all manner of peasant trinkets that you so graciously refused. You are under no illusion about the stir it is likely to cause among the rabble, your healing no doubt the first of any kind of miracle the beggars have spreading soon enough, as it should, you are a Champion after all, it is only right that you be recognized for your greatness. Though, ashamedly, you’ve yet to live up to your legend with the slaying of any real grave threat or beast, nothing but a handful of bandits suffered met your wrath.
It is the devils own work, that you round the bend in the road, and meet a curious sight.
A caravan, horse drawn carts filled to the brim with goods and travelers, peasants and pilgrims, a sizeable host, about five carts in total. Normally you would pay such a procession little to no heed, they would be of no interest to you. This procession, is however, markedly different. It is a procession of the Inhuman, and its guards… well, nothing more needs to be said about them. You grin and drum your armored digits on the pommel of the saddle as you pull Staugr around to block the caravan. There is a moment of commotion as the horses and carriages come to a halt, the drivers calling out for you to move in their idiot language. From the first carriage a warrior hops out, one who’s ilk you are fondly familiar with. Fiery russet red hair, piercing green slit eyes, fair skin and black armored scales across the arms and legs, along with a winding lizards tail ending in a plume of mystical fire. Clad in loose fitting armor that shows off her toned body, you cannot help but admire this salamander. Her kind is abundant in the desert regions around Teloth. They formed tribes and clans, vied with each other for territory, and warred endlessly. A fractious species, they were all, to the last, consummate warriors. You doubt this one before you is of the Burning Desert tribes, however, her skin is far too pale, and she lacks that familiar savage demeanor. She may be a pale-faced shadow of the Salamanders you know and have come to respect slightly, but she will hopefully be of some excitement before you dispatch her. That hope fades by a margin, when she fully beholds you, hesitating, flinching, her hand going back to a thick cleaver-like weapon on her back. You frown beneath your helmet. The entire reason you had come to respect the inhuman salamanders of your home was because they were consistently fearless. Not matter the numbers, no matter the adversity; they would fight to the bitter, bloody end. To the tribes, fear and cowardice were of some sort of disgusting anathema that existed to be purged. The weak and infirm were eaten, while the strong and courageous bred. You had hoped that the Salamander before you had even a modicum of those traits. She calls back to the carriages behind her. At the tail end of the caravan, two monkey-women emerge, carrying staves as weapons. You think for a moment, not entirely familiar with their species. You remember hearing about far off lands where such creatures like them may exist but cannot place the name. Either way. They’ll die all the same.
“Phyra needs us, seems like.”
“Must be trouble.”
“Likely just another asshole.” The older Kakuen girl sighs. “Why’s it always got be like this? Can’t they go bother someone else?” She sighs.
“No one else travels these roads, someone must think they’re lucky to get anyone at all.” The younger Kakuen replies, peeling the skin off of an orange with her thumbnail. She glances up at her older sister. “Our turn to handle this one, Kyu?” She asks.
‘Kyu’ nods her head. “Our turn.” Uky grabs her staff, a long wooden thing capped on both ends with steel. “Lets make this one quick.”
They hop out of their cart, the driver nods as they pass, his normally sedate, floppy mouse ears now up and alert. He could sense danger. Ishi was poking her head out of the cart in front of them, the canvass tent on the cart shielding her siblings and grandparents from the chilly mountain wind. “Do you two need any help?” She asked.
“Nah, we got this,” Kyu told the Hinezumi girl, “You keep an eye over your family.”
Phyra was already ahead of them, hand on the grip of her large cleaver like sword, her tail beat the ground incessantly, its fire tip nearly spooking the horses. The torn up mercenary girl briefly glanced back at the twins as they approached. “This ain’t good.” She started without preamble. Her gaze locked on the rider ahead of them.
They were adorned in fullplate armor that was colored a dull brass. There were no etchings or carvings or any kind of adornments, it was decidedly utilitarian to the extreme, even the helmet being a single slit visor. At their hip, they wore a flanged mace and sheathed long sword, on their back, a large claymore and heater shield. Strapped to their luggage upon their armored horse there was also a clutch of Javelins, in all, Uky could definitely say that this was by far the most well equipped bandit she’d ever come across.
Phyra sighed. “This really ain’t good at all.” For the short time that Kyu and Uky had known the grizzled old salamander, she’d never been one to shirk from a fight. The fact that she appeared to be so hesitant about this lone armored warrior was in of itself slightly distressing.
“How so?” Kyu asks.
Phyra simply gestures at the rider. “Telothian. Can tell by the horse and the kit.” She says it like it answered everything. “Gonna have to fight this fucker.”
Uky glances at the Salamander girl. “What’s a Telothian?” She’d never heard of anything like that before, perhaps another eccentricity of this land?
Phyra shakes her head, “A bunch of xenophobic human cunts that live in a desert on the other side of those mountains. They’re all inbred to the last, but they know how to fight pretty damn well.” She says. “Sometimes a few of them wander out of the desert every so often, and start a bunch of shit.” She unclips her sword from its harness; the heavy cleaver-like weapon is deceptively agile in her hands. “This is going to be a fucking pain.” She grunts. “Try to stay behind it.”
“If you say so…” Kyu palms her staff, “I’ll take the left; sis.”
You dismount from Staugr. You slap his armored flank and obediently he trots off, out of your way. The monkeys, likely twins judging by the similarities, they split, one going to your left and the other the right. The salamander faces you down from the front; weapon held loosely, her gaze focused intently on you. You let the encirclement happen. The only one seeming to be even remotely aware of what you are being the salamander. The twins have some modicum of restraint, likely taking whatever the salamander said to them with a degree of seriousness, but they were far too relaxed.
You shrug, they won’t be so casual for much longer. Just to make the point clear, you draw you mace. The solid metal haft is always a welcoming feeling, for the mace was your first ever weapon. In the bleeding grounds of your youth, it was the first weapon to rest in your hands, grabbed from the ruddy stone floor in a fit of desperation. From that moment on, it would always be your preferred tool when dealing out death. Smashing in skulls, breaking ribs, shattering legs and pulping muscles. You twirl it idly, sauntering forwards, looking left and right, wondering who will be the first to attack.
The monkey twins, both from either side at the same time. Leaping at you with staves whipping around with lightning speed.
It’s an old rule of combat, that your feet should never leave the ground. When you are in the air, you are vulnerable, as you are unable to dodge or change direction. You step back, out of the way and grab the end of one staff, and yank, sending its wielder crashing into her sister. The crumple to the ground in front of you, and you waste no time. Your mace swings down, and in a single stroke you’ve blasted through both of their skulls.
You were hoping for better, and by far, you were disappointed. The salamander winces, not making a sound, but you can audibly hear her teeth grit. You twirl your mace again, blood and bone coming off its head. You kick one of the corpses out of your path and step on the other, ribs breaking under your weight. You approach the Salamander, looking for her tells, waiting for her attack.
She steps back.
Your brothers and sisters, they told you of the great and terrible beasts that were beyond the mountains. They whispered of deadly lightning breathing birds that could vaporize the tops of mountains, of wild eyed wolf-kin with pelts of pure shadow, and mighty scaled legions of lizard-folk stronger and faster than any man, you even whispered about fire eyed hounds with claws of jagged night and roars that turned blood to ice. You recounted the tales of the knife-eared fey-folk across the sea, with both ancient magic and ageless swordskill, you remember being told of the Mighty Wurm beasts, cousin of the Dragons and sister to the Wyvern. Above all, you dreamt of Dragons.
Met now with only disappointment after disappointment, you wonder if even those legendary beasts that you were told of are but whimpering puppies.
You kill the Salamander, barley even trying; you toss your mace, an action faster than she can blink, and it cores through her torso and into the ground, burying its head. You sigh with creeping depression and go to retrieve your weapon. There is commotion now across the caravan, the inhuman creatures begin to panic, and they will doubtlessly try to run. You reach down and grab your mace.
You are blasted back by a pillar of fire.
The heat spills over you, staggering you back as your hand closes around the haft of your mace just in time.
You stagger, steadying yourself, only to be blasted again by flames. You roll, diving out from the inferno and to the side, rolling, coming up standing and seething in hate, across from you, fists and feet wreathed in fire, is a mouse, like the ones in the caravan, except that this one clearly knows how to fight, and controls flame. You know nothing of her species, she is like the apes in that regard, but from appearance alone you can garner enough to your burnt skin is testament enough to the fact that she is dangerous. You twirl your mace and snarl. You attack.
She’s flexible, that much is certain, as well as fast, faster than the two apes and the salamander, lacking in power you will assume, making up for it in agility. Your mace just grazes over her head as she leans back out of the way of the strike, her foot kicks upwards as she leans back into a flip, the fiery limb catching you across the chest with burning heat. You can feel your skin burn underneath the metal, the heat searing your flesh, you hiss, a different heat now rising within you. The pirouetting mouse goes on the offensive, clearly emboldened by her earlier strike on you. This time, you are ready, and you intercept her striking foot with your mace. It’s an explosion of ruined meat and atomized blood; shards of bone plink off your armor. You leer menacingly as she staggers back and falls. This would not be enough to satisfy you. Not enough at all. Yet, she was the first creature in these lands to strike a blow upon you, even if it was from a coward’s ambush. You reach down, her quivering body convulsing in pain and you grab her by the hair and lift her up. You swing, the haft of your mace crushes through her neck and out the other side, separating body from head. It’s not the cleanest of cuts, but it works well enough for its purpose.
So caught up in claiming your first trophy that you almost forget about the caravan itself. You run the mouse’s long red hair through your belt and let it hand, and then you heft your mace and look at the numbers of stunned silent and horrified mouse-like inhuman’s. You shake your head and grab the hilt of your claymore and draw, feeling the weight along the length of its blade. You nod. Much better.
A half of an hour later and the corpse mound is burning nicely; you clap your gauntlets clean as you watch the flames. Cooling blood heats up and boils, skin blisters and pops. It is like a regular festivals eve of your very own out here in the wilds, beyond the light of Teloth. You take the time to enjoy the fruits of your labor, settling down with your back against a firm tree, you watch the unclean beasts burn away and turn to ashes. The smell of the charring meat of the inhuman is more than enough to distract you from the stink rolling out of your armor, you are coated in a fine layer of sweat, and your skin and clothes stick to the inside of your armor like tar on a heretic. It’s not really your fault, not wholly, at least. Of your brothers and sisters of the first royal house, you’ve always been a bit overenthusiastic, some might say, and you find yourself drawing upon The Grace without often noticing. You never find yourself unconsciously calling it up to hurt you like you id when you were still a freshblood, you are more tempered now, but it is a habit that you’ve still yet to outgrow.
You undo the latches to your armor and strip away your chest piece and upper leggings. You allow the coolness of the evening air to brush over your sweaty body. It is a nice contrast, the heat of the pyre and the coolness of the air. It makes your body tingle.
You run your gauntlets down over your sodden shirt, feeling the damp cloth against your breasts. Your grin is all too lecherous, and it is decided that you have earned a reward for your service and reach a gauntlet in under your shirt to maul your tits and tweak a nipple. Good, but not enough. You need more. You spread your legs and reach down into your pants, hooking down and then up, into your snatch. The pyre burns brightly now, the corpses curling into themselves like young children.. As you begin to masturbate, this sight before you, you can’t help but notice how they all look alike, with their hair, scales, fur and feathers stripped away by cleansing fire. They all look the same. You grunt and hook a second armored finger into yourself and squeeze your tit. You shift your position downwards slightly.