Skylight

Newly fully-fledged warrior Sky has passed her last test in the Training Grounds and can set off on her journey to find the the legendary cursed blade Crucifix with childhood and best friend Blane Nobel. As Sky travels around the world and meets so many people while looking for Crucifix, her journey becomes much more personal and complex than she ever would have imagined.

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3. Mizar

Blane shakes the hand of the village chief in thanks for how well his village treated us for the night and as a sign of goodwill.

“You two take care now. You have a long journey ahead of you and I hope that you are successful.” The Chief tells us.

“Thank you.” I say.

The other villagers are also here to wave us goodbye and Blane and I leave the village following the path to Mizar. It seems to be a fairly calm route to take to get the next town. At least it makes things much easier. Blane waits until we far enough so the village aren't able to hear us before he says anything.

“It's a nice place.” Blane comments.

“Yeah. I hope Mizar is like that as well.”

 

Blane and I start walking down the smooth country road with the smell of flowers in the air. I don't how many more of these peaceful scenes we're going to see so I'm making the most of every time that I see them. My hair blows back in the wind feeling that country air. It's amazing how often we ignore the simple pleasures that life can bring. I suppose it's another reason to keep on travelling.

“Enjoying the scenery, Flame?” Blane observes.

“Is it that obvious?”

“Why do you think I like travelling so much? It's way better than seeing places through books.”

Blane sounds so unbelievably confident in his knowledge of the world while I don't really know as much as I should given that Altar is isolated from most of the world. It wasn't particularly bad living there but I knew there was more than what I saw in Altar.

“You make it sound like you've been everywhere.” I note slightly envious.

“No but it would be great if I did. It's what I plan to do.”

I do like the idea of travelling around the world. It's bound to have a lot of surprises on the way.

 

I can hear the hustle of market-holders trying to make deals for tourists to buy their items and the voices of ordinary people fill the air. This city is massive and full of people with the festival going on here and there is lively music playing through the use of violins with people gathered in the square doing all sorts of things from painting symbols of things like the sun and the moon on the ground while others are dancing to the music. It's a completely different atmosphere to the likes of the Training Grounds or Altar in that this is less serious.

“Wow.” I gasp in amazement.

I join in with the painting of the symbols willing to participate in anything. That village wasn't much different but considering that I just had a match with Vincent beforehand, I didn't really want to be social. Blane watches as I paint this small lunar moon on the ground of the town square impressed by my artistic side even though he's seen it before.

“That was interesting. I never have done that before.” I comment.

“Yeah someone is starting to enjoy the perks of being somewhere new everyday. You'd be amazed what you can do when there's not many restraints.” Blane replies.

“So where to next?”

“The ampi-theatre. There are always matches going on in there. I thought you would like it so you can meet new warriors.”

“Sounds good.”

Blane and I are on the outside of the actual arena as the inside itself is rather dark and dreary and the only light source are the torches like it's welcoming the challengers.

It's like ruins with collapsed pillars around the entrance to the outside battle arena. The battle arena is lit up by sunlight with the aisles for the audience circling the stage so it gives chills up my spine like it's inspiring you in some way. I can almost hear the cheers of the crowd even though no-one is there. Amazing.

 

There are so many people high up in the social scale making all sorts of bets for the matches. I can assume that people already have their favourites going into matches which means that people who fight here are probably regulars. It is a big town so warriors from all over must fight here so there could be fighters here that are more well-known unlike me who has just officially became a warrior.

“Short time no see.” A familiar voice says.

I turn around and see that is Vincent calling me out. I haven't seen him since the Training Grounds and I wonder how he managed to get here so fast. He must have passed his test shortly after me that much is obvious. I feel rather nostalgic over the days spent in the Training Grounds as the memory of our match in the arena echoes through my mind like it was happening all over again.

“Vincent. How are things then?” I ask.

“It's been good so far. I haven't ran into any problems but it's not like I've done this for long yet.”

“You got here before me? How did you do that?”

“I'm on my own. It means that I don't have anyone slowing me down no offence.”

Vincent eyes Blane for a second and then focuses on me. I raise my eyebrows not sure whether I like this blunt attitude that Vincent is showing right now.

“Offence taken.” Blane responds.

“So have you found out any info on Crucifix then?” Vincent asks quickly changing the subject.

I shake my head disappointed but then it quickly fades away when I remember that I haven't been travelling that long. I guess I did naively expect that things would be easier than that. Vincent has the same expression on his face when he learns that I haven't had much in the way of success or luck.

“I see. Well, that makes two of us. Say seeing that we're both here, do you want to have a rematch for old times sake?” Vincent suggests.

Well, it would pass the time and it would definitely make a statement about me here in Mizar. I still might find information about Crucifix here but it doesn't mean that I can't have fun while I'm here. I've been having a fairly good time since I got here so I might as well continue that.

“Sure. That would be great.” I agree.

“Alright then. I'll go and grab a seat in the aisles.” Blane says.

 

Vincent and I go into the arena standing on the square circle as the audience goes into the stands. I can see that people are already starting to make bets on the both of us hoping to get their moneys worth.

“Different from the Training Grounds, huh?” Vincent notes.

“You're not kidding. You sure you want more? It hasn't been that long since I beat you the first time.” I respond playfully.

“Let's find out for sure that it wasn't just luck.”

Rivals with the same goal. I'm guessing we'll stick to the same rules as before. I have time for one round and I need to get to one of the taverns.

There are bound to be warriors in those places so I should hopefully find info.

“Okay, one round and that's it.” I decide putting the protective mask on.

“Suits me fine. Hey, I never got your name.” Vincent agrees.

“Sky.”

Vincent slides his mask down and I charge ahead, our blades clashing as we stare at each other and I can only assume that we both have the same looks on our faces. We push each other back to our starting positions. It's different from our last start when Vincent got the drop on me.

“Someone learned from last time.” I observe.

“You didn't exactly leave me a choice. I had to leave the Training Grounds somehow.”

Fair enough. The audience loving the somewhat chemistry we have in the arena are cheering hard. Our swords clash again but this time I spin around surprising Vincent and I trap him in a lock leaving his blade useless to break him out of my grip. I look at the crowd and see that Blane is enjoying the match judging from the fact that he's on the edge of his seat. Vincent forces his head back making me step back and in turn releasing him from my lock. If it wasn't for the mask, that would have left me more stunned. He's definitely playing this more clever than last time and took advantage of my distraction.

“Nice.” I comment.

“What can I say? I'll do what I have to so I can get what I want.”

I spin my blade around ready to try again. All I have to do is disarm him but that's not as easy as I make it sound. Vincent seems to be even better than the last time I faced him but I did expect that. Right I guess it's time for strike three. Vincent charges me against the edge of the arena where a pool of water is surrounding us so he could just push me in there and win. I raise my leg up and kick him in the stomach forcing him back and I keep on striking him backwards and I grab the arm where his blade is while he's still stunned from the relay of my attacks. Using my own weapon, I knock the blade out much like last time and it spins across the ground making me the winner. Vincent slides his mask up again taking it in his stride.

“One of these days, I have to win against you. Next time we meet up, I might just do that.”

“Until next time then.”

 

Blane waits on the outside of the arena for me. He still seems happy that I managed to win again against Vincent. I'm confident in my own skills but Vincent is only losing by the skin of his teeth against me in these last two fights. I may actually have to watch my back now because we're both looking for the same thing and I don't think Vincent will think twice about defeating me to get it.

“Nicely played, Flame. You're still better than him.” Blane notes.

“Yeah for now. He's going to become my equal soon enough in the arena.”

“God, I hope not. I don't want him to be anymore cocky than he already is.”

“You don't like him?”

“No. He's a bit too big for his boots.”

“He's blunt and knows what he wants. Can't say I don't admire it a bit.”

Blane isn't happy that I get on with Vincent. Vincent is my rival but he's practically a friend of mine as well. There's nothing else to it. It's simple and clean along with no strings at least for the moment.

“You two are similar in more ways than one so I'm not exactly surprised you think that. Come on, we should head to the taverns.”

 

The nearest tavern happens to be near a church which I find bizarre.

We enter the tavern and it's really loud. Everyone here wants a drink not that I don't understand the appeal but this is a bit much. The bartenders are struggling to keep up with the demands of pretty much the entire tavern. This whole place smells of alcohol so much that I'm starting to think you could get drunk off that instead of the actual drink.

“I don't think we'll find anything here.” I guess looking around.

“You never know.” Blane dismisses.

I sit by the bar seeing another fighter judging from the blade on the table. He's more focused on his drink rather than the loud scenery around him. I wish I could be the same. Although my sympathies go to the people running this tavern. It must be fun. His gaze focuses on me when I spend too long looking for a way to start the conversation.

“Let me guess. You're not used to taverns, Red.” He starts.

Red. Flame. I think I prefer Flame. I look at my hair briefly wondering whether I'll get a name that doesn't essentially focus on my hair colour.

“No. I didn't really go to them back home.”

“Word of advice then. It's best not to pay attention to anyone. You might attract trouble that way. Just look intimidating and you'll be fine.”

“Like you then?”

He smirks at that comment.

“Something like that.”

“If anything, I'll take your word for it on that one.”

There's no-one behind the bar considering that the people who work here are busy serving the costumers who are wanting their drinks. One of the bartenders rushes over behind the bar not wanting any trouble from me.

“Can I get you anything then?” She asks out of breath from the running back and forth.

“Er, no thanks. You seem to have your hands full right now.” I answer.

She nods her head in thanks going back to serving the loud people behind me. Blane sits down beside me mentally urging me to just get straight to the point.

“So what brings you here then, stranger?” He asks.

“Crucifix. Any chance you know anything then?”

“No. If it helps you should try the next town. Take it from me, that place is well aware of Crucifix and they'll help you out but I'd be careful.”

The next town. That village told me I would find more things here and I suppose in a way I did but I was hoping for a location rather than more directions. Still, it's a step in the right direction I hope.

“Why's that?”

“They don't take well to people in pursuit of it. If that's everything, I'd like to tend to my drink.”

I nod in agreement and turn towards Blane knowing that we could leave town tomorrow. We just need to find an inn for the night before we leave. I can't wait to sleep tonight. It's been a fairly long day.

“What's the next town?” I ask.

“Huban. It's not as packed as this place.” Blane answers.

“Great. How about we find an inn before they close? I'd rather not sleep on a street.”

“Yeah that's a good idea. They'll be closing soon so let's go.”

 

This has been an awfully long day. It was great to see Vincent again if anything worthwhile can be taken away from being in Mizar. Blane and I enter our inn room and I can see a massive double bed and a sofa-bed. This is more decorated than a basic inn which is nice. It must be because of how popular this town is. When I think about it, we're lucky to even get a room with the amount of people here.

“Nice room for once.” Blane says for the both of us.

“I'm not complaining.”

I look into the other room seeing a bath for us to use. It's not like other places. As it's usual to be tired after a long journey and the only thing you need is sleep, you don't really think about your type of room too much. I could do with a bath though.

“I can get us something to eat. Have a bath while I'm gone.” Blane says.

“Thanks.”

“I won't rush. Enjoy yourself.”

Blane leaves the room and I turn the tap letting the hot water run and the steam start to grow.

 

This bath is so refreshing. I close my eyes remembering why I came all this way just for more of a chance of finding that blade. It seems like it's a lifelong dream to find it when it was never like that when I left Altar. In fact, I only heard about it while I was on the road to the Training Grounds with Blane. For some reason, I just had this instinct to find it like Crucifix was meant to be for me or something. It sounds insane when I put it like that but it might be all the legends surrounding it that piqued my interest that strongly but I just want to know the truth behind the myth. I don't think I'll be able to put it out of my mind until I know the truth about it. I'm not interested in power and never have been but I would be lying if I thought that it isn't another reason why I want to see Crucifix for myself.

 

“Right on cue.” Blane says when I get out of the bathroom.

I see two plates with a steak and various vegetables on them. I'm hungry just by looking at it. This inn definitely has everything ready for you. I'm not exactly used to pampering or being treated this well. It feels a bit too good to be true for me but I suppose inns still need business from travellers so the better you are, the more likely they are to come back here.

“God, I'm starving now.” I reply moving onto my bed.

“Yeah tell me about it. I was tempted to eat it as soon as I got it.”

“I wouldn't have blamed you if you did.”

I take one mouthful of the steak and I feel my mouth water from the taste. Wow, food isn't normally so delicious. Although there is a slightly different flavour in it and I don't know what it is.

“That's amazing.” I state.

Blane has one mouthful as well when I say that and nods his head in complete agreement with my statement. It doesn't take long for us to finish the entire meal completely like we have never had steak before in our lives.

 

My eyes close from something bright not sure what the bright light is. My eyes start to focus as the light doesn't seem to sting anymore. Wow, it's blazing here and I'm starting to feel more dizzy but it doesn't seem to be effecting me too much. Wait, light plus heat equals...fire! I look around seeing fire surrounding me but it's not actually doing anything apart from making me scared. There's this pain-filled scream echoing through the area belonging to a female and I block my ears as it grows louder and louder.

 

The next thing I know I'm waking up cold and with a pain at the back of my head. I rub the back of my head feeling like I hadn't been asleep. I look around and see that we're no longer in the inn but in the inside of a ship.

“Flame rises.” Blane observes. “Are you alright?”

What was that fire? Was it just a dream? It felt so real for a dream or to be more correct, nightmare. I can't think what else it could be.

“I've been better. What even happened to us?”

I stand up seeing the jail bars blocking our way out and our weapons have been taken away from us. I might have to be more creative about how to get out of this mess. It looks like the inn had an arrangement with this particular ship so our food must have been drugged so we can stowed on here probably to be sold as slaves. It explains why I don't know how I ended up here. We need to get out of this ship before we set sail. In future, I'll remember not to drop my guard so easily.

“There's one patrol guy here to make sure we don't do anything. I'm guessing the rest of the crew are on the upper deck. If things go well, we might make it out of here without them knowing.” Blane explains.

“And have we ever been that lucky?” I sigh.

“I guess not. Although I do have one idea about how to get out of this cell.”

“What is it?”

“You use your charms. He kept on looking at you while you were out of it.”

Well that's one way to get out. I really don't want to do it but I guess I'll follow Vincent's example and do what I have to. This is going to be really hard even for me. It's only going to be a few minutes. Yeah just keep telling yourself that. It might just make it a little bit easier.

“I'd rather just knock him out.” I moan.

“Stop moaning. This way is easier and well more fun and entertaining.”

“I do have limits to what I will do, Blane.”

“Oh, it's not that bad. You only have to act.”

“You're not the one doing it.”

I sigh seeing him approach looking at me directly clearly liking what he is seeing. Oh, God. Funny that I can face people in sword fights and yet I struggle doing something this simple.

“Hey. You're supposed to keep watch over me, right?” I start.

“Yeah you're trouble if given the chance.”

“Maybe. You want to find out for yourself?”

He smiles thinking that I'm attracted to him and moves in closer. Wow, this isn't so hard but I feel like I'm losing respect for myself by doing this. This is something that I am in no rush to do again.

“Let's just say I'm attracted to people with take hold of their opportunities. You can do whatever you want and no-one will ever know.”

“What about your friend there?”

“I don't know him. He's my tour guide or was to be correct.”

Well, this is undignified. He forces his lips against mine and he is surprisingly a good kisser but it doesn't mean I enjoy this. His eyes are closed which makes things easier for me. I move my hand down taking the knife on his hip out and drawing it against his neck breaking that disgusting kiss.

“So you mind letting us out now? Just saying unless you don't want to live. Your choice really.” I say.

He unlocks the cell and then I take the key and lock him inside it to take our place. I keep the knife with me placing it against my hip.

“You do anything to alert anyone on this ship and I will come back down here and slit your throat.” I bluff.

Blane and I start walking down the corridor leading hopefully to the outside of the ship. I'd rather get out before anyone spots us leaving. I always found killing to be beneath me.

I'll do it but only if I am left with no other choice which is normally rare.

“A bit extreme for a bluff.” Blane notes quietly.

“Yeah but he doesn't know that I'm bluffing at all.” I smile slyly.

Taking our weapons back on the way, we manage to work our way out of the ship. There haven't been many problems getting out. It seems that we're still in Mizar's port and I can feel that sea breeze, cold but nice. The smell of salt water is overwhelming but we could take a boat from the port and leave this town. I'm in a rush to leave after being nearly becoming a slave for the crew here.

“Hey!” Someone yells.

I cringe a little realising that yell is coming from the ship. It was too much to hope that we could leave without a fight.

“Great.” I mouth sarcastically.

Two members of the crew come to get us. They really aren't willing to let us leave. Couldn't they just drug someone else? I draw my blade out knowing they aren't going to give up on us unless we give them a reason to. Blane draws his own blade out. It looks like a tag team battle. I haven't been in one of these for a long time. These pirates I guess I could call them charge at the both of us. I manage to block mine off but she backs me down to the ground with my blade being the only thing to hold her back. I roll to the side to get my space back and jump straight back up. She doesn't seem too happy that I'm more a fight than she bargained for. Blane seems to be managing himself well too. She charges at me and I spin my legs around like a windmill and hit her in the chest stunning her briefly and then I go onto the floor with her taking the bait thinking that she has me cornered. I wait for the right second and I launch my legs up using the back of my feet to throw her against the wall hard enough to leave her knocked out for hours. I get back up seeing Blane throw the other member into the swallow water surrounding the edge of the shore.

 

People start to notice the scene as they come to approach seeing us as the wrong ones here with two apparent innocent people that just have beaten to the point of unconsciousness. If they only knew. I think with the scene that we have just made at the ports, we should leave town. Blane and I grab a boat start to set sail for Huban. We could have walked there but this is faster and by the time we got to the town exit leading to Huban, it seems like we would be hanged by the town.

“Well, that wasn't the planned exit.” Blane comments.

I lay my body flat on the floor of the boat just wanting to completely forget about what just happened. Despite the amount of people in Mizar, I didn't find out any info about Crucifix except to keep going forward. As the day starts in Mizar, I can hear the sound of people in the atmosphere again. It sounds like it will be another busy day there.

 

This is frustrating! Who am I supposed to trust if even people I don't know and are supposed to be harmless are out to get me? I think I've just realised that this journey for Crucifix is going to be more harder than I gave it credit for.

 

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