Small Beginnings- LOTA Part 1

Well, I think it's time I placed the latest version of what I've written on here. I'm starting a new project, and I'd like people to know where I got with the old one, just, you know, because. This is a working title, any suggestions let me know. Thanks guys :)

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7. Chapter 7

Vellian, Krenclire, Jiro, Arián, the Sensei and a few other robed warriors sat in the main hall of the Dojo. They had rested for the night in one of the cavernous building’s many rooms (the dojo itself was twenty-five stories high, fifteen of which were underground) and then been shown to the floor in the opening that ran down the entire middle of the dojo. A breakfast of boiled rice had been laid out for about sixty people, most of which had already gone out to train, and in the places the new arrivals were shown to there was a sweet-tasting porridge that made you feel happy when you ate it. (“You’ll grow tired of it in a week or so,” the Sensei muttered as Jiro heartily tucked into the meal). After that, they were given a tour of the grounds.

First up was the arena. It was the lowest of the four peaks, and the widest. The ground was stained white, and not a rock or blade of grass could be seen. Eight warriors battled as they circled it, with holds and locks blurring with flat kicks and snares in time to the rhythm of a large kettle drum at the far end. It was beating ridiculously quickly, and the never-ending echoes of the monotonous beat resonated throughout the green mountains. As they moved along to the rope bridge connecting it to the tank, one warrior was flung out of the arena at a dizzying speed, and crashed down the steep mountainside as their involuntary audience looked upon them with a mixed look of horror and fascination. They followed the boy as he rebounded off the sides and crashed, miles below. The Sensei seemed untroubled by the fact that one of his younger students was currently midway through a near-death experience, and walked on.

They crossed the bridge and were instantly hit by the true scale of the tank. Standing next to it, they saw it stretching as far as the eye could see, and deeper than that. Inside, there were rocks and caverns aplenty, all drowned by water. The Sensei opened his mouth to speak, but was halted quite suddenly by a man in his twenties, flung vertically with the force of earthquake, and put to rest by mother nature directly in front of the Sensei. He quickly stood up, brushing water off his black robes. The robes themselves were comprised of a tunic, with a dark cloth wound round his torso, upper arms and upper legs. They gave him the look of a rogue ninja, and suited him well.

“Master,” he breathed, between huffs. That seemed to be the general way of addressing him. “She’s been in for three days. We’ve thrown eight of Night Legion at her, and she won’t budge from the cave.”

The Sensei chuckled at this, before replying without thought. “She’s a clever one. She’s taking advantage of the air pocket in the cave. Come at her from behind, maybe just past the thirty feet down mark, and that’ll get her out.”

The trainee warrior nodded, and set off at a lightning pace down past the edges of the huge tank, towards a ladder that enabled people to get in. “Come,” the Sensei uttered. “There is more to see.”

~

They had traversed the longer rope bridge that hung over the arena and lead to the giant stones before the Sensei spoke again. He was still calm; even though the rusty planks that were the only barrier between life and death were now swaying violently in the wind. He finally stepped off, closely followed by the other four, all of whom were scared stiff at the lack of caring about life the Sensei possessed. Even Arián, with her apparent nerves of steel, seemed shaken by the experience. The Sensei was apparently enjoying the tour he was giving, and began to lead the group around the huge dolmens with ever-increasing speed and spring.  He turned around, using his whole hand to point at the ring of rough, chipped rocks. “These dolmens were here when we came. Nobody has any idea who put them there, but we saw an opportunity for training in solace here, and so utilized the rigidity of these wonders for a training ground. The rest, of course, was built later, but since I became Sensei nothing much has changed.

“We are almost exactly the same as we were seventy years ago, when the cloud layers that sandwiched us into this small space were merely thin spots of mist. The dolmens were found, the Dojo was built, and the rest is here in front of you.” He turned back to face the front, and, having completed a full circle of the strange and mysterious stones, headed back on another rope bridge towards the Dojo.

They entered, and each went their separate ways.

~

Jiro was bored. He had spent three hours on the dojo’s library, entombing himself in the ancient magicka of the warriors, Zen.

Zen magick was first discovered by the great warrior, Shien Elhurnan. He was a revolutionary knight, earning his title and gold fighting dragons of the mist that plagued small towns and villages. He once visited a hamlet in the mountains, and the simple villagers were so astonished at the man’s stature and presence that they pronounced him a god. So much was their adoration, they pronounced him second champion of the Atlands. The hero was furious at this, and demanded to see the first champion. The villagers directed him to a cave, whereupon he called out to the champion. A small, wiry man scuttled out of the cage; adorned with rags and leather sandals. The mighty hero bellowed with laughter at this, and the miniscule challenger shrank back into the darkness. He drew his sword, and swung it at the man, with the intention of severing his opponent in two. However, just as his steel instrument of death was about to clatter into the minute figure’s head, it stopped abruptly. To his astonishment, the champion was holding the gargantuan claymore by the blade. It had not scathed him, and yet the bony, miniscule man had just stopped a blow which would have shattered him. In the hero’s amazement, he had neglected to swing again, and his opponent sent the once mighty hero clattering down the steep slope at the mouth of the cave, to his unfortunate end. Little is known beyond that, but many years later, a team of elite warriors utilising this mysterious art emerged from the gloom near the dojo. They came into the peaks to train, but were indiscernible from the generality of the students, some believe through their magic. It was known where they had settled in the nearby lower peaks, but none dared go there, for the last attempt at challenging them returned in a rickshaw. Or at least half of him did.

Jiro straightened himself out, with the intention of proposing to Krenclire a trek into the lower peaks to find them, when he heard a knock at the door.

“Hiya,” Jiro announced, as an indication for whoever it was to enter.

The large, heavy mahogany door creaked open, and Arián poked her head in. “How are you?”

Jiro was surprised at her voice. Whereas beforehand she sounded disciplined, with a voice just louder than a whisper, now she talked loudly in a heavy cockney, Irish accent.

“Arián??” Jiro asked.

“Ari will do.” She pronounced ‘Ari’ like it was ‘Harry’ with a silent H.  She reached back behind her head, gaining that look you get on your face when you are concentrating on something.

“Don’t tell me,” Jiro said. “That’s a wig, and you’re a boy.”

“Nah,” She shook her head. “Just a bit of a bump. Fell off the arena not five minutes ago.”

“That didn’t kill you??”

“Oh, the new recruits wouldn’t make it, but Zen usually stops my fall.”

“You know Zen??”

“Have done all me life. Ridiculous, it was. Put on a ‘warrior’ voice the moment I could speak, then not three days after I could walk, me parents ship me off over ‘ere. Learnt Zen at seven, ‘cause I was supposed to be some super soldier and all.” She slunk around the tome-clad walls, until she picked out a dusty, rotting volume midway up the shelves, next to “treating compound fractures” and “3 easy steps to a clean decapitation”. She opened it, dust spilling out and whirling around in the air in front of her. She flicked through the pages, each adding its helping of dust to the growing fog surrounding her. At last she stopped, and, blowing dust away from the space in front of her, beckoned Jiro towards her. The room had taken on a rather mysterious air. As she ran her hand down the page, she began to move her finger around in a strange wavy line, looping occasionally. Then she stopped following the words altogether and began to draw funny shapes in the middle of the page with her finger. After this, she closed her eyes, but the movement continued, until she pushed Jiro away with unnatural strength. She stepped backwards, and began to repeat the movements, but with her hands. She then began to move her feet, and Jiro, standing well out of the way, became aware of a faint breeze. It quickly grew, and the sound of fluttering pages became apparent. At last, the breeze died down, and she walked over to him. She didn’t look different, however, she almost felt different. It was a strange sensation, probably caused by the magic that had just been performed.

“Kill me,” Arián said.

Jiro turned toward her with a start. “You alright?”

“Kill me,” she repeated. She had returned to that whispery voice that she had first used.

Jiro was completely bemused. “What do you mean?”

“Kill me.” This brought back memories of Illyerin. Illyerin. The well.

                        Find Myren. Find destiny.

The words echoed in his head. Myren? He was alive?? What did that mean??

He was snapped back to reality by Arián’s harsh words, repeated once more.

Jiro decided, after much consideration, to oblige, and, all the while dreading what could happen, raised his hands and began to focus.

Cre Alerian Necrosis,

Yerran Constrictus,

Finite Vallum.

 

It was a cold, unforgiving spell, spoken quietly. A green light began to shine, outlining her. She grabbed at her neck, and began to cough. She began to lower her hands,  and thrust her chest outwards dramatically.

 In this strange act, the green light dissipated, a blast of wind hit Jiro and relit the candles, and Arián stooped and swayed. “That was Zen,” she said. “Cool, aye?” She walked over to the door, picking her way between the books and inkwells scattered on the floor. “You coming?” She asked, interrupting Jiro’s train of thought.

“Where?” He replied, already following in her wake.

“Dunno, somewhere.” ‘Somewhere’ was enough for Jiro, and he followed her out.

~

Krenclire often sat out here, among the misty heights of the dojo. He used to sit on a rim, very similar to this, and gaze out upon the infinite expanse of lonely beckoning. Radiant hues of ever-swirling colour and shape danced in the air as far as the eye could see. The sun was setting into the lower cloud layer. It reminded him of his past. His past. Not the world he would like to be in at the moment. He thought he had seen some of it, a while back. The coliseum seemed to be scarily like Igneria’s handiwork. Why he would engineer an escape route was beyond him, but if Igneria was actually here, they’d better keep moving- and covering their tracks. Maybe, if Igneria is here, so is My-

His thoughts were interrupted by the sounds of footsteps. He spun around, propelling himself into a ready battle stance. Who is it? As the footsteps came closer, he raised his hands.

“It’s alright Kren; I’m not going to kill you.”

Vellian's pure white hair appeared over the other edge, and he clambered up, his usual grin beaming with the same force as the now-setting sun. He came up, and unceremoniously plonked himself down next to a now-relaxed Krenclire.

“So,” Vellian started, “I was talking to Jiro, and him and Arián...” Krenclire’s ears pricked up slightly at this.

“No, not like that” divined Vellian, before Krenclire could say anything. “Anyway, they were thinking that maybe, once we have rested up a bit, we could go have a look for some secret order of ninjas. The walk would do us some good, and there’s no random ogres coming to kill us...”

“Funnily enough, we always seem to end up in a scrape where two of us get holed up somewhere and the other one has to do a little mini-quest.”

“That’s life,” Vellian remarked. He ploughed on regardless.

“They think they know where the ninjas are hidden. Couple of kids, those two.”

“I still don’t know...”

Vellian noticed how Krenclire had changed. When they first met him, at the Mechalisourrd, he was all otherworldly and divine. As they travelled together more, though, he had begun to feel more normal. It was strange how exposure to different kind of world could change a person, he thought.

“But,” Vellian contradicted, “It is only a minor detour, and we would have to cross these mountains anyway. The way that they’re suggesting is only about five minutes further away from Orcum Municipus than the other way.”

Krenclire pondered this for a moment. “What harm can it do?”

“That’s the spirit!!”

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