Tuesday, August 6

Chapter 2

Out in the forest, amidst a large clearing was a pleasant instantaneous gleam of a ruined castle, on the hillside. Although it had once been beautiful, all now that remains is a smoldering stone tower, half sunken in a moat. The skipping stones might as well have been leftovers, because they led up to where the door once was. And above them was the sky, where the cloud is split by an indistinctly seen moon. 

Approaching closer, the rustling of leaves could be overheard beneath their horses' hoofs. Riding behind Leon, was Blazerine, who thought the tower didn't really amount much to anything, well compared to everything she's seen thus far. 

Raising an eyebrow, she asked, "What kind of person would live in a shitty place like this?" 

Leon couldn't help but shrug his shoulders at the question posed on him. He wasn't very sure himself, other than some rumors he had heard in the past.

He eventually replied, "He goes by the name, Yeldir The Magnificent." 

"Magnificent?" Blazerine repeated, "What could be so magnificent about him?" 

"He was once known as a good-natured wizard, who tried bringing salvation to the world, but one tragic day...." He said, "An event had changed his life forever. No one knows what dark hole he had fallen into, only to crawl out as some old crazed man, shunned by society. 

Many warriors of high reputation claimed if they had to choose between a furious dragon and Yeldir, they would pick the dragon in a heartbeat, claiming the dragon would kill you, not only faster, but in a less painful manner." 

(Blazerine; A dragon…? I hope he doesn’t mean that reptilian lizard, that's featured in the myths of many cultures is actually real.)

Out of nowhere Fenix barged in with, "I've heard he's ruthless as well. That he has no problem inflicting the worst kinds of pain to his adversaries. It being mental or physical... Hell some say, he thrives on the torment of others, and enjoys enforcing his own twisted views of karma upon them." 

( Blazerine; Knowing all of this, why would he even want to meet? Let alone be in the same room with the guy.)

Fenix's facial expression shown, he too felt uneasy. Although that wasn't exactly the only thing that made him feel uncomfortable. He's not too fond of heights, the unknown, or really anything that's big enough to overpower him. 

"Damn that's pretty tall, isn't it?" He nervously gulped. 

Blazerine frowned slightly, while tilting her head sideways. Shortly afterward she says, "It doesn't look too bad." 

While Leon secured the horses, by slinging the ends of their bridles around a tree branch. Fenix tried persuading him, without looking so desperate about it.

"C'mon Leo," He muttered, "There's no door anyway, we might as well turn back." Just for a second he felt a glimmer of hope, but Blazerine ruins it, by pointing out the oval window, which is farther on the left side. 

Leon thought it was good observation on her behalf. It’s more than he could ever say about Fenix most of the damn time. 

(Fenix; She did that on purpose.) 

He imitated her out of spite, mostly because he thought she was being nothing but a goody two shoes. (I know your scheme; you’re trying to get on his good side, huh?)

“You're mocking me now?” Blazerine asked. She knew he was mad at her in general, considering she's the reason why they were here in the first place. 

"Have it your way then Fenix... We'll head back since you're too much of a coward to go through with it." Leon sneered. 

“Who exactly are you calling a coward!? I’m the bravest one 'ere mate!” Fenix aggressively pushed pass Blazerine, not caring that the action would send her stumbling off balance. He could only hope she would end up falling into the moat, and drown an agonizing death. 

Unfortunately for him, Leon had steadied Blazerine, by placing a strong helping hand upon her shoulder. 

Fenix continued walking his manly stride of dignity. He could never obliged his name being said in the same sentence as the word coward. It didn't sit by him well, not at all. In fact this whole situation didn't. 

Blazerine and Leon watched Fenix settle a foot upon the first skipping stone. And surprisingly enough, he had sunk instantly beneath the water, right before their very eyes.  

Leon couldn't help but smile at not just seeing his friend jump a little and go on the defensive, but the slight hint of fear was amusing as well.

Blazerine didn't expect that to happen. And by the look of Leon's face, she knew, he did. (He used reverse psychology on him... Why else would he insult his friend by all means? Or does Leon secretly hate Fenix?)  To her, Fenix did seem to be the type of person, who would be oblivious to everything, including the obvious. 

"You planned that..."A low laugh now lurched out of her throat,"
didn't you?" 

Regardless whether or not Leon did in fact plan this little mishap. He had unbeatable poker face. "Nope, but he had it coming, didn't he?"

All the commotion in the water was enough to overshadow their conversation. Leon knows it's just a stunt Fenix is trying to pull off, by acting like he's in need of assistance.  In other words, he's attempting to get sympathy. 

As soon as bubbles surfaced, Blazerine started to grow rather concern for Fenix's well being. "Does he even know how to swim?" She began to wonder.

"Not that I know of..." Leon casually lied. He couldn't help but look directly at her. (Why does she seem so concern for somebody who has been treating her harshly from the start?) Momentarily he shut his eyes, trying to come up with an logical conclusion. It wasn't long till his train of thought is interrupted by a splash. Snapping his eyes open, he looked, thinking for a second that Blazerine might have fallen in by accident. 

However when Fenix returns to the surface with the biggest grin on his face, it made him think otherwise. Suddenly out of nowhere, the thought of her drowning flooded his mind, but then a wave of relief overcomes him, after she popped her head back into view. 

With her back facing them, she frantically searched the water for her sunglasses. It only took a second to retrieve and slipped them back on. “So much for companionship... “ She said. 

Fenix is completely taken back by surprised, when Leon slipped his arms underneath Blazerine's, and pulled straight out of the water. 

Despite everything he had done, Fenix held out his hand impatiently, waiting for his turn. Leon left him hanging there; while he simply places Blazerine back down to the ground. 

The most she did was just stood there, shivering in silence, unsure of what to even say. 

“Congratulations, you are the first woman Fenix has ever made wet.” Leon patted her face down with the front of his surcoat. He's pretty sure she wouldn't understand what he meant by it anyway. The word innocent might as well been written all over her face. Although his true intention behind his statement was to get underneath Fenix's skin. 

“W-what...? “Blazerine responded, puzzled by his comment.

“Leo’, that's uncalled for, I have made plenty of gals wet and you know it!” Fenix smacked the water with his fist out of sheer anger. 

He couldn't believe Leon would ever say such a thing about him, and especially in front of the likes of her. And how dare he not even lend him helping hand. What about all the history he had with him? And yet he chooses this bandit over him? 

Fenix swam back over to the edge, and pulled himself out. Instead of ringing his hair out like any normal person would, well in Blazerine's opinion anyway. He shook his head side to side. Honestly; it reminded her of a dog.

After the ordeal was over, they were brought into another. 

Leon mentioned it would be best to leave their belongings remain behind with the horses. Blazerine felt a little irritated due to the fact she doesn't have anything to defend herself with. It was apparent she was going to have to rely on them when it comes down to any sort of combat.

“Blazerine I would entitle you to a weapon, but you might cause more harm to us than the opposing threat. “ Leon double checked to make sure his sword is secure at his hip.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Blazerine exclaimed. She wasn't sure why he thought she's capable of doing something so low.

“I don't mean anything by it." Leon proclaimed, "It’s just you’ve never wielded a sword in your life. I know just based by the condition of your hands. Remember when you tried to hit me? Your hands are awfully delicate, too soft in fact.” 

Now that Leon thinks about it. It is not odd for a bandit to have never wielded a sword, nor did he actually find any other weapon in her procession. (What type of antics could she have used in battle? How did she get by without ever having the need to fight?)

None of it made any sense to him. The only thing he could think of is one possibility. Maybe she relies solely on impersonates to persuade her enemies over, considering the blacksmith was easily fooled by her performance. And perhaps the innocence she portrays before him... is part of an act to undermine him. Whatever it may be, he didn't have the time to dwell on it any longer. He shrugged it off, and prepared himself to investigate the tower. 

First of all, Leon shredded himself from his heavier pieces of armor, because being heavy and stiff, makes it nearly impossible for him to climb or swim. However he's still protected by his thick padded clothes, that he had worn beneath his armor. Although he did decide to keep his helmet, and surcoat on. 

"I'll go first." He announced, feeling as if he should demonstrate how its done. 

Leon cautiously stepped from one stone to the next, until he neared the window, only to stop and look inside. Before any of them could continue, he had to know if the stairs were still useable. Now gripping the top of the window, he eases himself halfway through, all the while planting a single foot on a step. After nothing happened, he tried using all his weight this time around. Once he decided the stairs are sturdy enough, he signaled them to come. 

Fenix wonders if everything will turn out well, considering he's been running on little to no sleep. Not to mention the fact he could go for a big meal right now. But alas, he was stuck here, no food in sight, and no chance of getting sleep anytime soon. He knew this was one of those times, where he would have to dig deep to find a way to stay up for this. 

Blazerine didn’t want to go first, but she had no other choice. Fenix stood his ground, not daring to make a sudden move. Who knows how long he would stand there, and act childish? The more she thought about it, the more frustrated she had become. 

 “Whatever…” Blazerine quietly voiced her opinion. Then she told herself, it's no big deal. Leon had got himself across without any problems, so why couldn't she?

The first problem discovered; is that her legs aren't long enough to even reach the first stone. At this rate, Blazerine knows she'll have to jump the entire way. (I hope this is worth it...) Narrowing her eyes, she clenched her hands tightly into a balled up fist. Gradually she moved backwards, while holding her breath momentary, now thinking here goes nothing. Rushing forward, she makes an outstretched leap of faith. The victory comes up a bit short, once her left arm went flailing out of control, from landing off balance. 

In the background; Fenix is cheering in hopes that she'll fall in. Blazerine tried her best to ignore his idiocy, and maintain her composure. Once she found her balance, from that point on, she crossed without anymore problems. Her success did make Fenix kick at the ground, out of disappointment. 

Closing in on the window, she soon realized how far out of it reach, it truly was. There's no doubt in her mind, she wouldn't be able to climb that high. About to turn away, she froze at the sight of Leon's helping hand. For an instance, a spontaneous recurrence of a visual image of Haven; the only person she had ever called a father, is overlapping Leon's imagine. Then it's soon all ruined by the touch of his hand, latching around her wrist. 

Leon didn't understand the reason behind her hesitation  but nonetheless  he wasn't going to give her a choice in this matter. Even when she tried to withdraw from his hold, he still pulled her through the window.  Inside, he angled his arm to reposition her body flat against the dampen wall. When she turned to look at him, her face might as well had been an open book. There you would find on written pages in bold; are you out of your mind!? The funny thing about it. Everybody would know what she's thinking, because it's always clear as day on her face. And unlike her, he's capable of masking his face in nearly every situation. 

For some reason, he found it all quite amusing. An impersonator would have easily adapted to another role, according to the situation. He's now starting to believe that he might have misjudged her character completely. However, it still doesn't change the fact that she's a bandit; a bashful bandit in fact. 

"Wait for me guys!" Fenix called out, while jumping through, and landed as hard as he could. In result a crack could be heard, followed by a rather pitch, feminine yelp. 

Blazerine could have sworn he sounded like a woman screaming, but then his body began slipping through the hole he had accidentally created. Panicking, Fenix kicked his legs, trying to desperately climb back up. Her and Leon ended up giving him a hand. 

When it was all over, Fenix embraced Leon with teary eyes.
He did feel a bit embarrassed about it, when Blazerine shot him a look, but he played it off by making several overexerted manly grunts afterwards. Then he swiped a few beads of sweat from his forehead. 

Although it did make Blazerine aware of how much danger they were in. Soon the stress was lifted off her shoulders, by finally 
reaching the top of the stairs. 

Now lingering in their sight is a long hallway, covered by an overgrowth of shrubs, which were peeking out from every crevice and nook. Not only were the walls infested by shrubs, but even the floor was. And scattered through the walls are disintegrating oil paintings. Some were barely intact, while others remain either broken or on the floor. Then at the very end of the hall, a distinct puff of smoke spewed out from beneath a wooden door.

“Who’s going to be the lucky one to knock on the door?” As soon as Fenix finished his sentence, the door blew straight off its hinges, and it was heading their way.

Blazerine shockingly gasped, “Well there's your answer!”

“Get out of the way!” Leon solidly locked his arms around Blazerine waistline, and immediately dropped them down for cover. 

Keeping a firm grip on her, he looked back, only to see the door land along the edge of the stairs. Then he looked down to check if she was alright. 

Their eyes didn't exactly meet, because Blazerine staring off into space. She's rather stunned by the whole incident, saying, "I almost got killed by a flying door..." 

Leon released his hold, and climbed back to his feet, then off ahead, all the while shouting, “Fenix stay with her, I'll be back!” 

Already back to reality, Blazerine shouted, "Leon wait! What if more flying doors come at us!?" As soon as she's up and about on her feet. Fenix held onto her shoulder to keep her from going anywhere. "Shouldn't we go after him, right?" She asked. 

“Leo’ said to stay put woman and that's what I plan on doing. If you knew your place you would do the same!” Fenix aggressively shoved her aside. 

Blazerine didn't understand his behavior, nor did she feel like reasoning with his stupidity. The second he turned an eye, she and took off. Down the hallway she went, and stopped the second she had reached an empty door frame. (This brings back memories...)

There Leon stood, blocking the way. At first she's unable to see surpassed his body, so she repositioned herself in a tilted fashion, for a small peek. She saw a man, that most people from her world would describe as homeless; baggy tattered clothes, but he wore a brimmed pointy hat. He had a beard...although he's bald for the most part, expect a few patches of hair, here and there. To her it seemed like, he's been ripping out his own hair. 

Suddenly the man waved his hand to make bookshelves, tables and chairs slide across the room. Everything was beginning to pile up against the window, in order to create a barricade. 

If that wasn't enough to freak Blazerine out. What she saw next, sure as hell did. These strange, yet alluring large heart shaped plants were fighting their way through the barricade. The outer edges of the mouth were lined up with what appeared to be teeth. 

(Blazerine; What the hell kind of plants are those...?)

The man checked the pockets of his robe, before he whips out a few potions. 

“Yeldir what do you think you're doing!?” Leon demands an explanation for what's happening. 

Yeldir finally spoken out, but he was literally having a conversation with himself. 

"I didn't expect any guests today, now did I?"

"No you didn't!"

"Nobody has informed us of their arrival."

"Funny how the only guest you get is at the worst possible time ever! Right when we're conducting an experiment!"

"Oh you should tell them, tell your guests that the slightest little touch will trigger the plants mouths to open, entrapping whoever disturbed them inside." 

Yeldir then unplugged a vial; filled with a glowing green concoction. Tilting the vial every so lightly, the smallest of drops fell to the floor. To his surprise, it actually increases the plant size drastically. 

"Wrong one you dope!"

"Perhaps you should remind me later to put a label on these things!"

"How troublesome you are, making the most idiotic mistakes!" 

"Yeldir!" Leon repeated.

"Well if you'll have to excuse us for a moment." Raising his left hand, a weary glow of conflicting impulsion developed in the very center of his palms. It only flickered faster from the movement of his hands. He couldn't help but tremble as the intensity becomes too overbearing. Then suddenly tiny circles shot out, expanding into a sonic wave that knocked the wind out of their lungs. Before they knew it, Blazerine and Leon's bodies were hurtling uncontrollably backwards through the air. 

Still out in the hallway; Fenix grew tired of waiting. He tried to help soothe his boredom over by singing an old brothel tune, which him and his father used to sing together. 

"Oh, those rosy dimpled cheeks.

That’s been the devil to me.

I wished they were mine,

But her husband stabs me with a butcher knife,

Oh, shit~, right between my thighs.

And gorge out my very eyes.

Then she threw my body out to dry.

There I lay, picked and eaten alive.

From vultures lurking in the sky.”

About to hit the chorus, he noticed the others were flying his way. (When in the hell could they do that?) For a second, he did a double take. It's hard for him to believe they were actually flying, but why backwards? Unable to react quick enough, his body is thrown back into a sitting position, upon the door, which had landed on the stairs earlier. 

Leon landed right beside him, but Blazerine fell, sprawled out between both of their laps. Accidently her knee bumps against Fenix crotch, and he wasn't too happy about it. 

“Damn, gal, you better not rub up against my manly regions or else Fenix Jr. might come out to say "hello'"!”

Blazerine readied herself to strangle him to death. “W-what did you say to me!?” Emotionally driven at the moment, she forgot about her injured arm, still in a sling.

 It didn't take Fenix much effort to fight her off. All, he had to do, was pin her arm down. 

Leon interrupted their quandary, by saying, “Don't make any sudden movement or else we'll drop, right over the edge of the stairs!” He knows the slightest little movement could send them plummeting down the stairs. 

"If we're going to make a clean getaway; we have to get off slowly, one by one. Since Blazerine is the smallest it would be less likely for an incident to occur, if she were to move first."

Regardless of what Leon had said, Fenix attempted to stand. 
At the exact same moment, Blazerine and Leon screamed “Fenix, no!” but it was already too late.

Fenix's hair waved wildly against the sides of his now pale face, as they hurled downward.  Leon suspected Blazerine would fall to her death, if he didn't act quick. Tightly he interlocked his arms around her from behind to embraced her close.  

Nearing the bottom, a beacon of intense light engulfs them entirely; to the point, where they could no longer bear to keep their eyes open. Once the brightness is diminished, the three of them are standing in Yeldir's quarters. Everything from the barricade was back in its original place, almost like nothing had happened. 

However Fenix was still screaming at the top of his lungs. It took Leon a couple of minutes to help settle Fenix down, before he realized it was already all over. Once he's calm enough, he complained further by saying, "That scared the piss outta' me!"

Blazerine raised her damped knee slightly and said, "Yeah it literally did." 

Yeldir didn't pay much attention to them because he's already deep in a conversation with himself. 

"How could a host do such a thing?" 

“Did you really suspect us to allow harm to come to our guests?"

“Cut the act!" Leon yelled, "And where's "us" coming from? No one's her' expect you." 

Fenix thought there's no point of asking him about anything, when he's not even sane, as far as he's concern. 

"Don't be so ill temper with us young man."

"His comrades might be used to that passive aggressive behavior of his, but we will not tolerate it!"

"Not one bit!" 

“I may appear before you as one being, but do not be fooled. For I am many.... My inner self is a splintering of past personalities; I've once lived. They’are an integral part of who I once was, who I am to be, who I am now."

"Our experiences lie at the heart of all the lessons; he's learning or relearning in his life; spilling into the his consciousness ever since..." 

"If it bothers you, we shall try speaking on a normal basis for your guests understanding."

"Uh... that would be helpful?" Blazerine shrugged, still having no idea what the hell going on. 

Still he rambled on, "At least this potion of mine has worked. All those pesky plants were petrified, before crumbling into nothing by ashes. I'm not entirely sure why the stone doesn't stay solid, but it'll have to do. Hopefully it’s enough to satisfy Elfridh Wudslorrden, the king of the Norwood Elves.”

Blazerine kicked at pile of ashes with the tip of her boot and repeated, “Norwood Elves?” She thought out loud, "I thought they were just a fan lore, created for video games; at them cyber geek cafes. Hell they would give an leg or two to experience their fictional stories come alive." 

"Hm yes," Yeldir said, "However these aren't the elves most folks have heard about. 

An ancient relic was discovered accidentally in a cavern, by a small group of curious cats, that turned all felines into Elves, the ones who weren't near... reverted back to normal. 

The ones who stayed; maintain their Elvish properties, but have to sacrifice their own every so often to keep it. 

The ratio of male to female is low on the male side, and high on the female side. So naturally they are a dying race. The race consists of violent; innocent, wise, and loyal types; believed to be from all different types of the cat family, such as lions, and tigers, as well as mill of cats, found in villages. 

How the missing critters didn't spark attention is still a mystery." 

Yeldir was about to explain his theory, but Leon rudely interrupted him.

“If you’re done telling your little stories, I’ll introduce ourselves. I’m Leon Shields, this is Fenix Spencer and that’s Blazerine; the reason why we're here. She has something to show you." 

Leon gave Blazerine a slight push, causing her to stumble in even closer to Yeldir. 

"Show him what?" She asked while looking back at him for some sort of hint. 

Leon thought she was intentionally trying to play stupid in front of everybody. “Show him the orb!” He said, now raising his voice.

"Orb?" Blazerine repeated in a clueless manner. 

Completely losing his patients with her. Leon moved right up beside her and pushed the collar of her trench coat side, to reveal the orb dangling from around her neck. 

“Is this some sort of joke?” The first thing, that crosses her mind, is the possibility that Leon might have planted this thing on her. 

(Leon; How did she not realize the orb has been with her the whole time?)

Yeldir whips a pair of spectacles out of thin air and places them upon his brow. "Let's have a look here, shall we?" He said. 

When Blazerine was about to make a comment on how he did the trick with his spectacles, the circuits of her sunglasses started emitting electric sparks. The words, of warning, malfunctioning is beginning to run across her lenses

 It didn't make any sense to her. Why would they start frizzing out all of a suddenly? Looking down, she noticed his hand was only touching the necklace. And the longer he held on, the worse she began to feel, and the sparks intensify. 

"There's a magical barrier overlapping the orb," He explained, "but my magic doesn't seem to have any effect." Trying harder, an indigo light flashed, repelling his hand back. 

He arched his brows in question, when he says, "It may possibly be one of the sacred orbs, considering it appears it cannot be removed, unless the soul is detached from the wearer's body." 

Blazerine oddly looked up at him. “Detaches…? What do you mean by that exactly?” 

“It cannot be removed unless you die. The barrier isn't anything of the likes I've seen before. Often the soul leaves the body regularly during dreaming; to travel, in order to retrieve ancient wisdom. 

Or the soul will leave the body to protect itself from potentially damaging situations, it being emotional or physical. This barrier here isn't allowing you to do either one." Yeldir explained, "It might be a precaution, which was created due to the betrayal of the first guardian, Damus Johan."

"So it is true then..." Leon said. 

“Wait…, orb, barrier, what?” Blazerine threw her arms into the air and exclaimed, “All of this information, none of it makes any sense!”

“Many centuries ago, a prophet named Ignaxio Hermes received a message from god, ''A man will come to destroy the seven seas and all the land. As the world falls into damnation, he will be the last of all creation." 

Therefore I shall create five sacred orbs, a radiation of my power to be given to five individuals. Each one must endure the trials of acceptance to be proven as a worthy holder of my gift. This shall be the last chance man is given to redeem themselves from the evils, that weigh heavily upon the world.''

Prophet Ignaxio Hermes, of course, obeyed god's will and searched 
endlessly for the five individuals to undergo the trials. Upon his travels, he comes across a man named Damus Johan, a former grand headmaster of Norman Church. 

The prophet spoken to him, ''You have devoted your entire life to justice, and righteousness, but only received misfortune in return. The loss of loved ones; whom you are now obligated to find, no matter what. 

In doing so, you've neglected your duty as a headmaster, by allowing the absence of your family to interfere. The sole purpose of a headmaster is to help guide mankind closer to the path of deliverance. 

Your allegiance to god has been ruined, soiled, pushed aside to fulfill your own selfish ambitions. I am offering one chance to change god’s judgment on you.''

Of course this means, Damus would have to give up the hopes of finding his long lost family. But without them, he felt there wasn't anything left to live for, to fight for.  Day after day he questioned why god would allow such a thing to ever happen to him, but now he knows why. Perhaps it was a punishment...  Maybe headmasters shouldn't be given the luxury of love. Only their whole self being should be to god, and god only.

Damus shortly agreed, saying, ''I will swear my allegiance to god once again. I will be more than willing to do whatever he commands without hesitation. Whether I agree or disagree with the given tasks to better mankind.'' 

''Those words best are true or else your soul will remain trapped in The Faye forever,” Prophet Ignaxio Hermes warns him.''

"Faye?" Blazerine interrupted Yeldir story, "What is that exactly?"

"The Faye; Is the world where souls cross over from after death, or they're on their way to being reborn." He cleared his throat a bit before he continues, 

"Prophet Ignaxio Hermes tapped the dirt with the end of his staff, creating a whirling mass of air. It erupted violently from where the ground separates. Arising from the cracks are transparent spirits, emitting a grey diffused light. Their hands tried reaching out, desperately trying grasp a hold of freedom, the thing they’ve been longing for since eternity. Then in a loud furious voice, the prophet said, ''Upon entry, there’s no turning back...''

Damus leaped down into the endless pit, his body passes through the countless of crying entities and all kinds of other immaterial beings.

The very last thing, he remembers, is seeing is a flash, of a luminous light through the gloom. He awoke, only to find himself lying against the soft blades of grass. 

Arising to his feet, he saw something. A sight he thought he would never get a chance to ever see again; his family. They came running to him with welcoming arms. 

''How can this be?" Damus tearfully asked. 

Then suddenly the Prophet Ignaxio Hermes voice echoed from the very deep depths of his mind, 

''You've been reunited you with your love ones, but they should no longer be of any importance to you. You are here to grasp only the hands of god at any given time. For he will always be watching you Damus. 

Now to prove yourself worthy, not only of me, but to god, you must pass this trial. And in order to pass this trial, you must slay every single member of your family. 

If you do not, all of their souls will be doomed to eternal damnation, along with yours of course. You killing them is the only way they can be freed from such a wretched fate.'' 

With tears in his eyes, Damus pushed his wife aside. Confusion grew within his family's eyes, but soon fear overtook them, once he withdrew his sword. 

The mother was the first to fall, leaving the children to witness her death. Outraged over her death, they tried fighting him, but they never stood a chance.

And that is the only trial that has ever been documented in history.” 

Blazerine could no longer bite her tongue anymore. “I never took any trial to wear this goddamn thing!”

Yeldir also added in, “I do believe the other trials are similar, consisting of an individual completing a trait, relating to its power. Wisdom, Passion, Strength, and Hope. And in this case...loyalty." 

Ignaxio Hermes ordered the five individuals to separate destinations, to where he thought their power could best benefit mankind. 

He said, ''When the appropriate time sets course, I shall ask for the assistance from you; the Guardians of this earth realm.''

This being foretold; it enables them to live extraordinary lives of their own free will.

However… the man god predicted to cause havoc to the world, never showed his face. Damus felt deceived and eventually sworn to vengeance. He was forced to live a life without his family, and for what, nothing? If he had to sacrifice everything, so should the other guardians, he thought. 

First he paid a visit to the Guardian of Wisdom; Eustace Lazuli. Chatter sparked around the table, they were all cheerful with laughter, but it all soon came to an end. Eustace took a sip of wine and immediately started gagging afterward. His condition deteriorates quickly, beginning to cough up blood. Poison had been slipped into the wine, he had poisoned him. 

One by one, Damus hunted down the rest of the Guardians..

Damian Florens, the Guardian of Strength, was beheaded during his slumber with his own ax.

Masa Kozma, the Guardian of Hope, is pushed down an abandoned well. Crippled and unable to barely move; he spends the rest of his days, dying from thirst and hunger.

Francus Horatius, the Guardian of Passion, killed himself after Damus killed the only woman he had ever loved. He couldn't bear the thought of living another day without her.

Damus returned to Norman Church after the horrible deeds were done and over with. No one is sure why he wrote out all the events that took place. That very same night, members of the church found his body dangling halfway off the church alter. It is not certain if he had killed himself or someone else had done him in. Nor what happened to the sacred orbs. Many believe they were secretly hidden by Damus, himself."

Blazerine gripped both sides of her head, while yelling, “So what are you saying then?! I’m stuck with this thing!? You can't be serious… Look, I-I have my own problems to deal with. This is all a big misunderstanding, okay?”

Leon turned to look Blazerine directly in the eyes now. “I think you should reconsider it, little miss bashful bandit. 

“I thought the deal was if I met this guy, we then could go our separate ways?” Blazerine asked. 

"I am more than willingly to go out of my way to send you off to the gallows, where you'll be beheaded for all to see.” Leon threatened her. 

There's no doubt in Fenix's mind that Leon is considering to do this, only because he too wants to prove his allegiance to god. Although that still doesn't stop him from trying to change his way of thinking, "Leo you promised, you even said it so yourself. You really want to travel all over the place? And ask if somebody has an orb or two lying just lying around?”

"That’s exactly what we're going to have to do,” Leon said, knowing they will have no other choice but to start from scratch. 

“I will redeem not only myself, but the church , by finding all the sacred orbs, and reunite them with rightful guardians. This is the path I've chosen. You may return back to your tribe Fenix, I am not asking you to help me. I'm not going to hold you back from living life the way you intended to.

"You do not have to stand there with that dumb look on your face," Blazerine said to Fenix, "How hard it is to say, that you've nothing else better to do with your life, huh?” She didn't really care what anyone thought about her comment anyways. It was an outlet of anger, due to the fact Leon had deliberately lied to her. If there’s one thing in this world she couldn't withstand; it was people who lie.

Fenix squared his shoulders and repositions himself in an instinctively masculine pose. Leaning forward to Blazerine, he says in a voice, which has dropped a lot further down than his previous; “You know you want me.”

“I’m pretty sure my pants beg to differ… “Blazerine still felt disgusted by the whole experience. She wasn't entirely sure which felt worse. Still wearing pants covered in his piss or being present when it happened. 

Yeldir slapped his sleeves happily together. “Splendid! It is settled then! For accepting such a noble cause, perhaps you can make a slight minor detour for me. Take this bity potion to Norwood Forest. Meanwhile, I will take a looksee into the whereabouts of these sacred orbs. It’s not too far from here. All, you have to do, is travel pass Abbey Fields, and through Gordrur Swamp to reach Norwood Forest. ”

Before anyone could say anything, Blazerine had given her own input. “Uh, don't you think this should be at least a group decision, considering it affects all of us?”

Leon concealed his laugh. “You're a bandit; your opinion shouldn't even matter.”

“But, what about Fenix, I mean you should give him the benefit of the doubt.” Blazerine tried to encourage Fenix to speak his own mind, but who in the hell is she kidding? The guy might as well be a puppy on a leash, and Leon would be the master, giving him every command to obey.

Ever since Leon saved Fenix's life in the past, he always felt the need to pay him back. And this might just be the time to do so. Even if it’s not much, it’s at least a start. “If this is what Leo wants, I’ll stand by his decision.”

Out of nowhere, a white feather dips itself into a bottle of ink and then glides itself over the now unrolling parchment. The feather begins to move accordingly to every word Yeldir had spoken,

 “King Elfridh Wudslorrden, if you’re reading this, I presume the potion, I've entrusted to the Guardian and her fellow companions, has arrived safety. I hereby apologize in advance for my absence, sincerely, Yeldir the Magnificent.”

Then he snatched the parchment from the table, only to blow the air upon it; which surprisingly dried the ink almost instantly.  

Rolling up the parchment now, he soon encloses it with a small blue ribbon to prevent it from unraveling. “Do not lose this letter or else a problem might occur.” Leon gladly accepts the letter and thanks him.

“Did my ears deceive me? We're not going to refer to Blazerine as "Guardian" now, are we?” Fenix could never see himself showing any amount of respect towards any woman in general. 

Leon shook his head and laughed, “Of course not… She probably will never perform any task to earn such a title of that magnitude. You know; with her lack of ability to fight, let alone defend herself.”

“Thanks, I really appreciate your lack of faith in me,” Blazerine muttered out of irritation.

While his guests were chatting amongst themselves, Yeldir removes a folded up cloak from beneath a loose stone in the wall. At first it appeared to be gray until he gives it a little shake, revealing its true color, black.

“Since Blazerine is incapable of fighting," Yeldir said, "I will lend her my cloak for the time being. This enchanted cloak will give you the ability to shapeshift. To take on the form of whomever it comes in psychical contact with; alerting the cloak to match. 

It also changes the user's voice to match the person he or she impersonates, and the clothing transforms as well. 

Unfortunately, you're unable to gain any skills, powers or any type of ability of the person you're impersonating. I’m afraid it does not work that way. The wearer also cannot revert back to his or her original shape; if killed or knocked unconscious. The only way it can be activated or deactivated is by simply pulling the hood over the top of your head. 

All, you have to do, is determine what form you want to shift shape into. Picture it in your mind, and it will respond according to your thoughts. This is also required for removing the form. It can store many forms, but it’s up to you to remember what they are. 

What would be most useful in Blazerine's favor, is that not only it can take on forms of beings, but also objects. It can help you blend in with your surroundings. Use this to hide from enemies, but be cautious because they will still be able to hear you.”

“Do you guys really want me to accept this from a crazy-“Blazerine is interrupted, by Leon kicking the back of her leg. It was enough to shut her up, while he apologized to Yeldir on her behalf; explaining how a bandit like her doesn't know how to accept help when it is needed the most.

Yeldir didn't think much of it and handed over the cloak and potion  over to Leon instead. He hoped that they would put the cloak to good use, instead of misusing it for their own greed.

Since they've been in his hair long enough already, Leon thanks him once again, before their departure. Although Yeldir was more than willing to help find them the orbs whereabouts, something still didn't sit right with him. If all the previous Guardians were capable of wielding the orbs' powers, why wasn't she? Is it because she didn't herself, complete any of the trials? However she did come to be in possession of the orb, he knew, he soon would find out the truth. 

-------

Outside of the tower, a heated conversation had erupted between Leon and Blazerine. Fenix tried his best to stay out of the conflict, by attending to the horses.

“Why did you kick me back there? You’re the one who told me he was crazy in the first place! Why in the hell would I easily accept anything he hands to me then? And all this mumble jumbo about me being some sort of guardian is…. I’ll say this only once to you, so listen closely, okay?" Blazerine blurted out, "IT’S CRAZY!” 

“You're just like a woodpecker, peck, peck, pecking away, why do you have to talk so much?” Leon didn't feel like listening to any more of her nagging.

“You know what? You two can do whatever the hell you want, but me, I’m leaving.” Blazerine started to walk in the opposite direction.

Leon snatched the back of her trench coat collar. Whether she likes it or not, he forcefully pulled her back towards the horses. “We either could all get along or do this the hard way." He mentioned, "If you do attempt at any moment to run away, I will be forced to restrain your limbs. And If I have to, I will drag your arse clear across middle earth if needed.”

Although Leon didn't yell, he still came across rather harshly to Blazerine. 

( Leon; It’ll take some time to break her down. She may have been able to get by without fighting before, but now is a completely different tale. Those throat-stenches took her out pretty easily, and they're nothing compared to many of the creatures, that are still out there. If the prophesy were to ever come true, god help us because we're nowhere near ready.)

There wasn't much Blazerine could do about the situation. Her best bet would be to plan an escape, when the two of them least expect it. They were still human after all, eventually they would need rest. 

The only problem, that could occur, is the possibility that they may take shifts to watch her every move. But are either of them smart enough to ever pull such a thing? 

Leon forcibly made her get onto his horse, but she chose to hold onto the saddle, instead of him. Leon thought it was not only childish of her, but it was also dangerous. What if she were to fall off? In his opinion,; it's her way of showing disobedience.  

(Leon; Even if she has no regard for her life anymore, it was no longer her choice.)

© Tiffany Ann Adkins 2015 - 2019