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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2. The Journey Begins

I'm almost ready to leave the Training Grounds. If I pass my final test then I am recognised as a fully-fledged warrior and free to travel wherever I please and be able to find Crucifix. I shouldn't get too overconfident now, the person who is set to be my opponent is in the same position as me and he wants to become a fully-fledged warrior as well. He has to be in the same league as me in that case.

 

Blane said that he would be in the audience watching the match unfold. The people here rarely see warriors of my ability in the arena. My opponent's name is Vincent and he's the same age as me, eighteen. He has earth brown hair and his sword is a quarter-length blade. There's a sense of confidence to him much like me, he has confidence in his skills as a warrior. We both put our masks on to protect our faces from any wounds. I draw my blade out. My blade isn't the most common being that it is shaped like a lunar moon rather than an actual sword. One of us has to basically disarm the other to achieve a victory which isn't too difficult if you have enough skill as a warrior in any type of conditions. Our swords clash but that's all they do as we fail to get a successful hit. Vincent's sword hits me across the face spinning me around. Vincent then knocks me down using my ankles like pulling a rug from underneath me. I pull my mask back up breathing hard and I wasn't expecting him to be as good as he is. I guess I still have some things to learn. Vincent pulls his mask back up as well.

“Nothing personal but I have to win.” Vincent says.

I flip myself back up actually respecting his attitude. He's confident and so am I. He hasn't disarmed me yet. Vincent has the same impression of me judging from his face from my flip up.

“Likewise.” I reply.

The audience clap enjoying the match in front of them. Vincent looks at the audience enjoying the atmosphere and feeding off the energy that they are providing. I would be lying if I said I wasn't as well.

“I'd rather not scar that pretty face.” Vincent teases.

“I may be a girl but I can hold my own.” I respond spinning my blade.

Vincent does the same with his own blade and the audience to be really enjoying the match. Our swords clash again but Vincent pushes himself forward but I push him back with a lot of force. Vincent doesn't get thrown off by the sudden show of strength but rather clashes his sword with mine again. We both head back to our starting positions again ready for one more round. We spin our blades around actually enjoying the match as much as the audience. The swords clash and we keep on going partly to win but also because we're having some fun as well. Vincent repeats the same move as last time but this time I use even more force which spins the blade right out of his hand. I kick him from beneath his ankles knocking him down just to give him an idea of what it feels like.

“You're pretty good.” I admit.

Vincent lets out a playful smile. I would have expected him to be more annoyed because he lost the match but he seems to be taking it in his stride. I like his attitude. I think we're going to get on well.

“I may have to watch my back in future.” I continue.

“Yeah and I'll watch mine.” Vincent responds.

I put my hand out and he takes it to pull himself up. The audience liking our mutual respect let out a round of applause. This makes me a warrior and I'm now able to leave the Training Grounds and go travelling.

 

Vincent and I go outside the arena. We're not parting on bad terms like I expected we would. It's actually gone better than I thought.

“I'll take the test again tomorrow. I guess I still have some things to learn clearly. Next time we meet, I want to match up.” Vincent tells me. “I hear that you're looking for Crucifix then in that case, we'll definitely meet again. We're rivals with the same goal.”

It looks like we're going to have a race of sorts. Vincent is a great fighter and he did manage to one-up me during that match and he will be even better the next time I see him.

“Well, I look forward to our next meeting.” I say.

Vincent nods in agreement and then walks off. He's probably heading back to the inn near here. I can finally leave this place and start my travels. There's a tap on my shoulder and I pin Blane against the wall as he knows too well that sneaking up on me isn't the best idea especially when I'm armed. He puts his hands up playfully and I let him go. He moves a short black lock of hair away from his eyes.

“I look forward to see how you greet people you don't like.” Blane comments.

“After a fight, I'm still on edge. You know that and yet...”

“You don't strike someone down in a panic though.”

That's true. The first lesson that my mentor taught me is not to panic because in future there are going to be situations where I need to keep a calm mind above anything else.

“So what did he want?” Blane questions.

“Just to say that I'll see him again. He's looking for the same thing as me. It should be interesting.”

“Good to know that you're looking forward to having a rival. He isn't new to this and from I saw, it looks like he could give you a run for your money in the future.”

“That's why it's going to be interesting.”

Vincent may be a tough opponent but he doesn't rub me the wrong way. He seems to be friendly enough and I look forward to what happens the next time we meet up. Like I said, should be interesting.

“Are you looking forward to the travelling coming up?” Vincent asks.

“I always have wanted adventure. Growing up in Altar didn't provide much of that.”

Altar is my home town. I do like the place but I'm the type of person who wants to know more outside what normal life should provide. That type of attitude can either be admired or ridiculed as some people like to think that we shouldn't know too much outside the perceived world.

“I want to see the power that this blade is supposed to have for myself.” I remind.

“I know but the only reason I agreed to this is because I finally get to expand my world more outside of Altar. We'll be heading back there on the way to finding your blade, you do know that right?”

“Yeah we should get there in time for the holidays.”

We're still far from Altar anyway. It will be a while before we get back home. Things might even change before we get there. I'm going back to see Liam and Blane has his family to see but he isn't as eager as he sounds to go back to Altar.

“We should get going now.” Blane tells me.

Normally we would stay here for the night but because the day is still young, we should start our journey now. Besides I could do with the head start. I'm sure I'm not the only one interested in finding Crucifix.

“I'm fine with that. How far is the next village or town?” I ask.

“Not too far. We can take a boat from the river and we should arrive at the village pretty quickly. We'll stay there for the night and then head to the next town given there aren't any problems.”

The river itself is empty. Not many people come around here unless they want to leave the Training Grounds. I arrived here two years ago while Blane travelled around most of the world in the meantime. Word of mouth is going to spread the further I go so it might be best to try and not draw attention to myself but I would be really naïve to think that will be easy. Blane pulls the boat in and I can see the sun high in the sky meaning it must be around midday.

“Ready to board the boat?” Blane asks.

“Sure.” I answer.

I get in the boat and sit down on the floor of the boat while the boat drifts itself away from the river and further down to the next village.

“It's not going to take too long, Flame.” Blane repeats.

Flame. It's only a nickname that Blane gave me but I never got bored of it so it stuck with me.

“I know. It's better than walking all the way there.” I say.

“You managed to do it coming here.”

“Doesn't mean I enjoyed it. Sleeping on the ground isn't the ideal experience.”

“Trust me, we're probably going to run into worser situations than that.”

That I know too well. This is a personal journey as much as a adventure. I'm looking forward to it because ever since I turned sixteen and was able to leave Altar, it's been a constant desire.

 

Our boat docks at a nearby harbour and judging from the amount of fishing nets I'm seeing, it's a fisherman's village. Interesting first stop. These villages are relatively small so passing through them won't take long and the day still isn't over yet. We may be able to make it to Mizar which is a much more populated town. I might find out more information about the blade Crucifix there.

“Should we just pass in and out?” I suggest.

“Your blade isn't going anywhere, Sky. We can take our time.” Blane sighs.

We both hear noise coming from the east direction and we both decide to check it out because of curiosity. The villagers are gathered around this wooden scaffold with one guy raising his hand in victory. I'm guessing that he's the village champion and now he wants another opponent. He looks at Blane and the villagers do the same.

“Looks like you're the next one up, Blane.” I observe.

“I hadn't realised.” Blane says sarcastically.

The villagers push Blane up on top of the scaffold despite him not wanting to take part. When I look closely, I see that there are strong gusts blowing around. They'll fall off if they aren't careful. It's a way of taking the victory in this match so Blane should use that to his advantage. Blane doesn't need a blade for this one.

“Come on, Blane.” I cheer.

The villagers aren't like the audience in the Training Grounds. They seem more casual than the audience but that might be because this isn't a test. The village champion charges at Blane and Blane moves to the side of the scaffold dodging his attack. Blane then uses a beam to lift himself up and kicks his opponent down using both of his legs and then drops back down. The champion jumps back up and then kicks Blane down but Blane counters by kicking him under his ankles which reminds me of my fight with Vincent earlier. Although in this fight, that actually ends the battle as Blane's opponent gets blown off the platform. Blane looks around the area and so do I. The villager's champion gets back up and offers his hand in sportsmanship and Blane takes it. I had expected that we would be torn apart by the crowd but they seem to be taking it in their stride which is fine with me. It saves a lot of trouble.

Blane looks slightly taken aback but then shakes the feeling away as he jumps off the scaffold joining me.

“Well done.” I compliment.

“Thanks but I didn't think this would end so well.” Blane says.

“I know. Neither did I.”

The village chief comes through the crowd to see us. I don't know why because we're just travellers and people must pass through here on occasion. He has this tanned skin like he had spent his whole life in the sun which makes me feel slightly unhealthy given my skin looks rather pale even though it has an olive complexion as well.

“You two are from the training grounds, aren't you?” He asks.

“Yeah we are. I'm Blane and this is my friend Sky.”

Word must travel faster than I realised but this village is on the outset of the Training Grounds so it isn't that hard to believe that word about us would come here.

“I like those names. You should stay here. We're having a massive feast in the village tonight.”

“You don't have to. We should get going.” I say not wanting to cause any trouble.

“It's no bother. Our fishermen here managed to catch a lot today so we have more than enough for the entire village. Besides, we rarely get travellers in our small village.”

Blane and I look at each other mentally telling each other that we should take this offer. There aren't going to be many people wanting to treat us to anything while we're on the road.

“Sure we can stay here.” Blane confirms for both of us.

“Excellent. There's a small inn not too far from here. Come to the square after sunset.”

 

Blane and I get settled in this country inn which is decorated in the colours of the countryside. It's peaceful and quiet and has four beds that passers-by can use on route to their location. I wouldn't expect much less as country inns don't normally have private rooms.

“This village is pretty friendly. Who'd have known?” Blane comments.

“Yeah, I thought we would be driven out after you beat their champion. I suppose I'm still used to the Training Ground tests where people who failed didn't take it too well to say the least.”

“At least we won't have any problems tonight when it comes to finding a place to stay. Besides Mizar is next and that place will be a lot more busy.”

“Right, there's a carnival going on there at the moment.”

The carnivals there draw a lot of attention to travellers so that place is bound to be busy when we arrive there tomorrow.

“Still at least we'll have a good time while we're there.” I reply.

“Definitely. Mizar is definitely famous for a reason.”

I lie down on my bed wanting to sleep but not able to because I have that feast to go later tonight. This has been such a long day already and it still isn't over yet.

“You can sleep later, Flame. Although given your capacity to sleep, I look forward to see how you wake up tomorrow.”

“You know me. I always find a way.”

Blane smiles knowingly and sits on the edge of my bed not needing to say anything but still managing to remind me that I shouldn't be rude and not go.

“I'll still go. You don't have to worry about it.” I say.

“Seriously, I know you want to keep off the radar as much as you can but word about you is going to spread fast through towns after passing those tests in the Training Grounds. The more people hear of you, the more respect you're likely to earn from other warriors when we travel. It makes finding that blade of yours a bit easier. Think of it as playing it smart, Sky.”

Blane has a point. The reason I became a warrior is to hopefully gain some trust and respect from other warriors but they're going to know that I can prove myself first as one. I might have to make a louder impact if I have to. Although with the amount of people also wanting Crucifix as much as me, there could be threats as much as allies in the mix.

“You don't have to repeat yourself. I'm going.”

 

The square itself is filled with a friendly atmosphere as people are either talking or laughing and there are smiles on everyone. It reminds me of Altar in a way. Blane would probably disagree but he had a different experience of home than I did.

“Blane. Sky. I'm glad you two didn't change your minds.” The Chief says with a friendly smile.

“This village is definitely lively.” I observe.

“Our village get-togethers are normally like this. The people here are normally social to be around. So I hear you two come from the Training Grounds.”

I eye him more aware than I did a few seconds ago. Blane doesn't consider it suspicious and neither do I as this village would know about what is happening in the Training Grounds considering that it isn't too far away from there.

“Well, we both come from Altar but we were at the Training Grounds because of Sky. She wanted to be recognised as a warrior.” Blane explains.

“Oh so there's more to your journey then.” The Chief realises.

“How do you mean?” I ask.

The Chief recognises my unease but brushes it off with a content smile understanding that I'm not meaning to be insulting. I take a cup of water and drink it all within seconds. This type of atmosphere doesn't make me uncomfortable or anything but the Training Grounds drilled it into me that I have to stay on my guard if I'm unsure about something.

“You're not exactly someone to trust easy. It's a handy trait when on the road. It helps you know when things are too good to be true. You don't have to be worried here. No-one here will harm you two. You have my word.”

That still doesn't mean much but I guess I'll take my chances for now. Besides, they saw Blane earlier and Blane isn't trained like I was but he put up a good enough fight regardless.

“What are you looking for?” The Chief asks.

I sigh thinking I haven't got anything to lose as I leave this village tomorrow whether he helps me or not.

“Crucifix. I'm interested in the legends behind it and I want to see it for myself.” I admit.

“Huh, well I don't where you can find it exactly but heading to Mizar should help. People travel there quite a lot so if you stop there, you might find out more information about the blade. Just don't always admit to wanting to finding that item, there are those out there who want that blade destroyed or hidden even if it means getting rid of people that pursue it.”

 

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