The Warrior Within

A young boy destined to be the saviour of this new world. His adventure begins, and along the way, finds what it takes to be a hero, but first, he must realise, that to be a true hero, you need to know, the warrior within.

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9. Ferociam and Tiamat

“Face me honourably!” Taunted Ferociam. This was one of the few words that Lery could understand amongst the heavy breathing and the grunts. Lery looked at his opponent. He searched for a way to overpower his opponent.

He saw that Ferociam was biologically big, with large broad shoulders and large long arms. His lower body was a little less impressive, but he still had a large amount of strength in his length. His feet were always planted firmly ready to charge forward. His face was rugged, his jaws were wide and he fought without a helmet. His thick black eye brows complimented his dark brown eyes. His nose was wide and his grin revealed his clenched teeth. He had long dirty hair. The hair spread across his back, fanned out. His beard was long and rough. He wasn’t much taller than Lery, who was growing taller each day, though he was slowing down as of late.

Lery read Ferociam easily, without even trying. Which was a fluke by Lery, he usually does not pay attention to details as it was before he was made ignorant. He knew that Ferociam had never been tackled or even approached. He relied on intimidation and pure brute force to overcome his opponents. Perfect thought Lery. Lery planned to meet Ferociam with equal force. If his first plan failed, he then planned to use the earth towards his advantage using giant boulders from the ground that he would unearth and throw at his opponent, just as he did with the Stray attack at the docks. Lija’s words echoed in his ears. His small sense of remaining reasoning advised against his second plan. No backup plans said a whisper in his soul.

Ferociam gave a large battle shout towards Lery, Lery decided to play and taunted back. Lery knew he had incredible strength on his side, so he knew he could face his foe, which gave him the confidence to face his opponent with equal brutality.

After their shouting match Ferociam charged, Lery mirrored his opponent’s strategy and charged towards him. Lery lifted his mace as Ferociam lifted his fist. Lery swung into Ferociam, missing his target, but instead hitting his attacking hand. Lery and Ferociam continued to exchange blows. Ferociam would parry Lery, and Lery would parry Ferociam. The two kept on increasing the power behind their swings, both competing to overpower the other. The battle began to get silent. Lery knew if he could keep this up, he could win.

At that moment Ferociam intended to punch Lery’s hand, and disarmed Lery. Then he went to strike Lery, but Lery instead charged for a spear tackle. He tackled his opponent to the ground and then punched his face. Ferociam roared as he grabbed Lery and threw him across the ring. Lery got up, staring down his opponent, and began another shouting match. Then the two charged again, fighting like raging bulls, and met each other in a lock. Ferociam had his hands on Lery’s shoulders, and Lery met Ferociam on the shoulders with his hands. They stared at each other’s faces as they tried to push or throw their foe. Ferociam went to head-butt Lery, who also tried to head-butt Ferociam at the same time. They looked like two dancing bulls, completely in sync. Everyone spectating was cheering, some cheered for newcomer, some cheered for Ferociam while most just shouted at the excitement that someone was actually challenging Ferociam, and standing their ground.

Lery realised he needed to push even harder. Or perhaps lower. Lery disengaged, releasing Ferociam, and pushing his arms off. Ferociam almost stumbled. Then Lery tackled Ferociam’s legs, lifted him, and started spinning him. Grabbing Ferociam by the ankles, he span and span and span. He released Ferociam into the air upwards. The momentum behind Ferociam was overwhelming, as such, Ferociam couldn’t move. Lery then jumped to throw down Ferociam.

Lery timed his punch so that it would send Ferociam plummeting to the ground even faster. Ferociam saw Lery and tried to counter Lery’s punch, but his punch contained so much power it overwhelmed his strength.

Ferociam landed with a loud thud, winding Ferociam. Lery viewed his opponent. Satisfied that he had defeated him. Ferociam however stood up. He was breathing heavily. Lery then approached Ferociam to finish him off, until Ferociam blocked.

Fercoiam slide across the dusty ground. He saw something in Lery. Ferociam then grabbed the earth and lifted a large boulder out of the ground, leaving behind a crater. Lery saw and wondered if that meant he too should meet his opponent. Overpower… Overpower… Overpower… heard Lery. Lery dodged the boulder and himself lifted a boulder. Ferociam saw what Lery was going to do and quickly charged to tackle Lery. Lery quickly stopped and punched Ferociam in his face as he charged. Ferociam then got back up. Lery went to charge again. Ferociam looked at the man and nodded before he knelt before Lery. Lery stopped and hesitated. The man looked at Lery inquisitively. Everything inside Lery wanted to finish Ferociam. He reached his hand towards Ferociam, who grabbed his hand back. Ferociam smiled at Lery.

“Heh, I like you kid. Well done.” Grunted Ferociam.

Lery stood speechless, as Ferociam laughed. He put his arm around Lery. He turned and faced the crowd.

“What do you say? This strength deserves to be among us!.” Ferociam then cheered for Lery, which caused the crowd too to cheer.

Ferociam whispered into Lery’s ear.

“I want you to find me after your friend has duelled…”

Lery was confused, then Ferociam cheered once more and escorted Lery out of the ring.

The man spoke loudly once more.

“How was that?! Now, Tiamat, taking on our second recruit. Ferociam is by far fierce, and strong no doubt. But even Ferociam knows to never challenge Tiamat! So let’s watch our recruit.

Tiamat entered the ring silently. There was no cheering this time. Everyone was silent, an atmosphere of dread and compassion fell for Jedediah.

Jedediah entered the ring. He analysed his opponent. What a very peculiar build. Still strong, and slightly broad shoulders, smaller than Jedediah’s. His height was slightly less than Jedediah. His legs were long, from what Jedediah could see. He was wearing plated leg armour, but also had cloth hanging down from his waist. His arms were thin, still strong however and his fingers were long. He stood graciously, standing tall, holding a shield in his left, and a sword on his right. His shield was a plain iron disc with leather straps as handles and a sword made of high quality iron.

He was completely covered in armour, and wore a helmet with a pony tail out the top. The helmet revealed only his eyes, not even his nose bridge could be seen. Jedediah wondered how he would fight.

Tiamat swung his sword, twirling it and playing tricks with it. Jedediah decided to try and match his opponent’s attacks and analyse his fighting style. Tiamat taunted Jedediah with his hand. Jedediah strafed around Tiamat slowly waiting for a chance to strike. Tiamat then stepped forward and swung at Jedediah. Jedediah parried Tiamat and began to attempt bash Tiamat with his shield. Tiamat countered with his shield. Both stood silently now, having a small taste of each fighting style. Jedediah struck at Tiamat who parried his attack and quickly stuck again, to meet Jedediah’s shield. Tiamat’s eyes looked impatient and he began to fight faster. Jedediah also parried each attack with a counter attack of his sword or shield. The two started to properly engage now, clashing, clanging, banging and the occasional thud. The two fought, each moment increasing their speeds. Tiamat and Jedediah both had leaned into each other, swinging their bodies with their weapons quickly and precisely. Jedediah kept defending and attacking, holding on to the hope he can win, he just did not know how to yet.

Minutes had passed as they fought, with unrelenting clashes of swords. The two did not move their feet, but kept fighting with their arms.

Bang, ting, clunk, ting, clink, crash, ring, tink. On and on it went. The two were displaying a flurry of strikes with their swords. Spectators continued in silence, each person impressed at the speed and energy of the fight.

Tiamat stood back as his impatience grew, Jedediah fell forwards due to the change of balance. He lifted his shield above him to block Tiamat’s opportunistic attack. Jedediah swiped at Tiamat’s legs, causing her to fall as well. Jedediah got up and took a couple steps backwards. Tiamat also stood up. He stood tall once more, looking as calm as ever, except that Jedediah could hear something, it was as if it were highlighted for him, he could hear him breathing heavily.

He realised that he was wearing him out, never had Tiamat had to exert so much force for so long it seems. The fight had lasted at least twenty minutes by now. He decided he would try and wear down his opponent.

Jedediah taunted Tiamat, calling her forth to fight him. Tiamat did not hesitate. He quickly charged towards Jedediah, with a flurry of strikes as he stepped. Jedediah changed his stance to completely defensive, whilst provoking Tiamat with an attack to keep him attacking. Jedediah dodged, blocked parried and even tripped Tiamat as much as he could.  He had to endure a couple of blows, mainly his arms, which had a few cuts on them and his sides had bruises due to being bashed with the side of Tiamat’s shield, Lija wished he could wear the armour that Lija had for them, he made a mental note to always be prepared in the future.

Another twenty minutes later and Jedediah noticed that Tiamat’s stance had changed. He was no longer standing tall, but was slightly slouched, though he still was able to fight. Jedediah knew that Tiamat was a warrior that would fight for hours, but he wondered, if with his near eternal energy, if he was able to overcome him now he had been worn down.

It was worth a try at least. Jedediah charged, with full force towards Tiamat. He charged forward with an unrelenting force. He didn’t have the raw strength to overpower Tiamat, but he knew that he could confuse and overwhelm him and that this was his chance. Jedediah struck at random angles; Tiamat initially blocked or parried every strike. However, as Jedediah continued, he gained the upper hand. Tiamat was beginning to be overwhelmed.

Jedediah would not relent, and continued to swing. He realised he didn’t need to be precise, he just needed Tiamat to react. He knew this was dangerous, and balanced his swings so that he could quickly block any counter attacks. Sure enough Tiamat tried to counter, but Jedediah successfully blocked him with his shield, knocking Tiamat more off balance every block.

Jedediah continued, he saw Tiamat’s eyes begin to widen with fear and anger. Good thought Jedediah. He knew that this was his chance. He swung with his shield, knocking Tiamat back as he staggered to gain his balance, with that same momentum, he swung his shield back and knocked him again, and with the last of his motion, tried to use the hilt of his blade to knock his head.

He was interrupted by Tiamat falling backwards. He didn’t need to finish him at all, it seems Tiamat had had enough already. No-one cheered, only a deathly silence sounded around the ring. Jedediah walked towards Tiamat, he saw his eyes, he heard him breathing… He heard him? Jedediah listened closely, there was something different about Tiamat’s panting. The panting sounded more like a woman’s panting than a man’s. Tiamat’s eyes saw Jedediah’s, they looked at each other for a moment.

“Be silent, and find me tonight” whispered Tiamat, just as the cheering began. There was no doubt now that Tiamat was indeed a woman, she did not hide it in her whisper. Tiamat grabbed Jedediah’s hand as she pulled herself up.

Jedediah nodded at Tiamat, who was already walking towards the entrance of the main hall.

Jedediah looked at Lery. We made it thought Jedediah. The man who had challenged them announce he was impressed with both the boys. He invited them to a feast that night.

“These two, are now our brothers!” Shouted the man. “Let’s hear it for our new brothers!” A resounding cheer once more filled the barracks-

“Hail! Hail! Our new brothers! In life! In death! Hail! Hail!” yelled every soldier. They continued this chant until the man had led the two boys inside where Tiamat had walked. Ferociam grabbed Lery and placed him on his shoulder, cheering for Lery and lifting him as they walked. When they reached the door Ferociam had to lower Lery again, Jedediah took note that these two already acted as if they were long lost brothers. Jedediah smiled, it was good to see Lery happy. He also noted that the two of them with Lery on his shoulder, were quite tall. Very tall.

Ferociam left them and walked down a corridor to the left. The man explained that that corridor leads to the officer’s quarters. The soldier’s quarters were on the opposite corridor.

The entrance had three corridors, the two quarter’s, but the third corridor leads into a large long hall. Jedediah saw the two long tables, with benches either side. He figured this was the dining room. On the far end was a raised podium. Jedediah assumed that this was also the room where soldiers were rallied.

The man walked to a room on left of the far end of the hall, he beckoned Lery and Jedediah to come to him. When they were close enough he explained that this room was the larder and kitchen. He also explained that the room on the other side was where they kept all their medical supplies.

They walked back to the quarters and entered into the soldier’s quarters.

“Your names?” Asked the man.

“Lery, sir” immediately responded Lery.

“My name is Jedediah” said Jedediah hesitantly.

“I see, where are you from?” The man watched very closely.

“The Islands of Veriton.” Replied Jedediah.

“I see…” The man looked closely at them. He asked to each enter into a room on their left. “Please take off your shirts, pants and shoes. As soldier’s, you have to have the seasoned body to be able to handle battle.

Lery and Jedediah both obeyed and the man inspected their body types.

“Hmmm, Lery, there is no doubt of your strength, your shoulders and your legs show incredible strength, just as you showed in the arena. You are obviously built for battle…. Now… Jedediah…” The man looked rather confused at Jedediah.

“Yes sir?” asked Jedediah.

“You lack the physical strength of your friend. however, it is obvious that you are quite fit, and your tone speaks of incredible endurance. I suppose what is strength, if it cannot be used because of exhaustion? However, you’re battle with Tiamat…” The man began to laugh, “You obviously are a lot more than what the eye can see!” The man looked convincing enough, but Jedediah couldn’t help feel that the man wasn’t telling him something.

A bell rang from the main hall.

“Time for a meal, your fights have made us all hungry and thirsty. Come.”

They walked into the hall, where hundreds of men were already dining. Jedediah was surprised that the soldiers gathered so quickly. He thought for a bit, he was then further surprised to see how large a feast had been prepared.

The man bid them farewell, he asked to see them tomorrow at sunrise.

“Where shall we meet you?” Asked Jedediah.

“Have no fear, I will find you. Also, choose your rooms, the room we walked into was actually Tiamat’s and Ferociam’s old rooms. Thought you might like them, but you’re free to go into any room.” With that the man left and walked to the front of the hall, where he sat and ate with what Jedediah thought would be the officers. He peered for Tiamat, but he could not find her.

Lery and Jedediah reach across the table, they looked at each other. They had never seen so much meat before. They hesitated for only a moment before they began to devour the feast placed before them.

Tonight… Thought Jedediah.

The pair jumped as another man approached Lery, slamming a paper down before Lery.

“From Ferociam” was all the man said.

Lery read the letter;

Ok, so, food first, come find me after the meal

Lery looked. He smiled as he noticed Ferociam at the far end, tearing away at his own feast put before him.

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