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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8. Water and Fire

Lija initiated the battle with a thrust of his javelin into the first Stray. He carried the Demonic corpse oh the end of his javelin, swinging it into the intruding Stray. Lery charged forth into the fray swinging aimlessly, he knocked a few Stray before he himself too was knocked backwards. Jedediah Charged forward bashing some demons with his shield and slicing others with his sword. A couple of times he used his hilt. Him and Lery were both still learning to wield their weapons and were by no means fighters of any sort, but the Aura empowered them.

Srold sucked in light around him and focussed it into a beam that shot through the stream of Demons that flowed through the corridor. The shrieks of pain were louder than before as they dissipated into thin air. The four fought the demon army, they slowly took step backwards, fighting furiously and with everything they had left in them. Srold was by far the most abled and was able to push the Stray back a few times single-handedly.

Lery learnt new ways to use his strength and lifted large boulders of earth up from the ground, leaving both traps for the Stray and when he threw them, would crush his enemies. As he realised his strength however, it was clear that he was losing his intellect. His decision making was becoming a lot more irrational and he was becoming quite aggressive. Jedediah had developed some strength, but he was nowhere near as strong as Lery, but he was a lot better at his decision making.

The four fought many more waves of the Stray, they were nearly infinite it seems. They nearly reached the end of the courtyard when Lery caused a shockwave by punching the ground in front of him, he threw back an entire wave of demons and gave the four a couple of moments to regain their stances. The ships had now reached port, hopefully Mar will be able to explain what is happening.

Suddenly, a large demon appeared through the corridor. The corridor itself was double the height of the Stray, but this demon had to crouch to walk through. He was carrying a large club, which Lija thought was rather odd for a demon. The claws this demon possessed were much more appropriate for battle than a club. The demon looked very similar to the already existing Stray, but had a lot more burly look to him.

The large demon swung at the four, knocking most of his smaller comrades and often missing the four. Lija looked at the demon and analysed any potential weaknesses, Srold was had found the weak point a lot quicker and quickly ran to the demon, he side-stepped around the demon, while Jedediah and Lery protected him. Lija kept the demon distracted.

Srold then jumped up behind the demon and with his hands, created a blinding flash in its eyes. The demon then became disorientated, allowing Srold to attack under its scales and into its heart. The demon fell, but three more had approached.

“Run! We cannot hold our ground any longer, to the ships! We must get to safety.” Yelled Lija as he saw the overpowering force that was flooding the courtyard. The four ran through the opposite corridor towards the docks. They had just come out the other side when Srold realised that the massive army following them through the corridor, would reach the ships the same time they would. He turned around and created a light shield over the corridor, acting as a barrier.

“Run! Before the ships leave!” Srold noticed that Mar had boarded the ships and the ships were quickly changing their minds about docking. He handed a scroll to Lija, “Before you next meditate in the Aura, read this” he spoke quietly, “now go!”.

Lija took the scroll and nodded before he ran, with tears already streaming. The kids were in shock and hesitated before running; Jedediah will never forget the words of Srold that day.

“Kids, I have loved you, and this is my final act of love, now go forth, run while you can, I have given you what you need, trust the Aura”.

As the three reached the ship they turned to see Srold had tried to push the demons through the corridor. However, a large explosion sent Srold flying over the edge of the pathway and falling to his death at the bottom of the docks. The horrifying sight was to haunt Lija and the kids for the rest of their lives.

The now three ran to the docks and quickly boarded the same ship as Mar, the ship’s captain allowed them to take refuge, but had explained quite clearly they abort the ship as soon as they reach Strocton. The voyage was going to be a week or two, but since they didn’t end up unloading docks, they had plenty of what the captain called ‘trade supplies’.

The three were assigned to different tasks around the ship, Lija was being treated for his head wound. The kids were grateful to do something physical to help unload the shock and stress of the situation that just taken place at the docks. They had been running and fighting for days, and after a couple of days rest and grieving, they quickly resumed working. The four were given a fresh set of clothes, which were a little run down and poorly designed, but they were comfortable, flexible and warm.

During the nights on the sea, Lija, Mar and the two kids would sit with each other. Lija was clearly heartbroken about his closest friend dying. All except Mar had nightmares each night, Mar was silent however, rarely did he speak, neither did he show any emotion. When they sat together, he would sit staring into nothing. Only after a week did he start returning to normal.

“Mar? Is everything ok?” Lija’s voice sounded quite concerned.

“Hmm? Oh sorry, it’s nothing, just sailing isn’t the most enjoyable thing I have ever experienced.” Lied Mar, everyone knew that there was more to what Mar was saying, however they decided to let him think they believed him.

“Well, I… I… I just…. Nope, I can’t do it, I can’t do this anymore” cried Lery. “Why did he have to die Lija! We could have stood with him, we could have all fought the army together! I hate everyone, I hate you all! Especially you Mar!” and with that, Lery stormed off to his quarters.

“That was unexpected?” said Mar, a look of confusion and anxiety on his face.

“Yes, he would blame you for his father’s death I guess for helping the ships to leave as opposed to fight. He will most probably blame you until he comes to his senses. Though, from knowing him, it may be a while before that happens.” Lija had a small grin on his face, but he too had developed tears.

Jedediah however was very different, he had handled the death the greatest, even better than Lija. He sought to find ways that would comfort his father and best friend. He never gave in to pity and always spoke words of encouragement. His courage that he was developing from his weapons were obviously changing him. The Aura was building him and Lery up every day and the pair continued to move in the Aura and grew closer to each other through it.

The next day, Mar and Lija were doing some repairs on the ship, a small storm had battered some of the boat. The repairs weren’t critical, so they were given the task of repairing. However, an incident where Lija accidently knocked Mar bit a hammer, almost threw Mar into a frenzy. Lija calmed him and apologised, but this over reaction was enough to give Lija enough suspicion that he knew there was something up. Tonight, he would get answers.

Jedediah and Lery were both up on deck performing a night duty as most of the crew slept. Mar and Lija had met again in Mar’s quarters. Lija needed some answers now, he needed to know who this Mar really was.

He started asking him simple questions such as his age, his rank, where he had come from, but slowly started asking harder, more confronting questions. Mar initially refused until Lija threatened him. Mar realised he was at a disadvantage at Lija’s threat, so he agreed to answer some questions.

“I need to know something! Why were you really on our island?” Lija demanded, his tone was aggressive and very violent.

“I have told you, I was dispatched to investigate the recent activities of the Stray, and to protect your islands!” Mar argued back.

“You Strocton men have never really cared about the islands, how did you even know what was happening?” Lija’s eyes never left Mar’s.

“We do care! We had received reports saying so!” Mar was beginning to get angry.

“Where was your legion Mar, you said you were split up, where were they really?” Lija looked at Mar with an extremely high amount of intensity.

“We, were split up!”

“No, you weren’t! What happened really!?”

“I told you we-“

“WHERE WERE THEY!? WHAT HAPPENED!?” Lija knew there was more, way more

“Look, I don’t know why you’re not believing me old man, but all I know is, the night before I arrived, a light shone on me, a black dark shadowy weird light, then, I was split up after few weeks of fighting. What else do you need to know?!”

Lija was satisfied with his answer, Mar had revealed more than enough, Lija knew now who Mar really is.

“How old were you again?”

“Oh it doesn’t-“

“I ASKED HOW OLD!” Lija shouted

“Seventeen, woah! Just, calm down” said Mar with a shocked voice.

“Is everythin’ goin’ ok down here?” said the Captain, he had heard their shouting.

“Yes, sorry, just, still a bit stressed after all that” spoke Lija.

“Aye, that ye would be, ye mind keepin’ it down though? We’re tryin’ to sleep y’know.”

“We shall be getting our rest now to sir. Thank you” Lija Responded. “Mar, we shall continue later, but maybe in a less, hostile way.” With that, Lija made way to his own quarters. He knew that Mar was the third youth now. Lija still had a lot of other questions, but that was already too much for Lija to handle. Knowing that Mar was the third youth who would lead his Son and Lery to their deaths. He needed to meditate with the Aura, at least to clear his mind. He climbed up to the crows nest to be alone and in solitude.

The Strocton boat was only a merchant ship, similar to war Galleon, but it was large enough to get a small amount of privacy. Lija looked to the stars and closed his eyes. He began as he always prayed, he gave thanks for all that he had including then life of his sons and himself, even Mar. He gave thanks for time he had with Srold and Srold’s wife, and gave thanks for every bit of fortune that had happened up to this point.

After giving thanks, he inquired about Mar and expressed his emotions, how he now felt like he wanted to end Mar’s life each time he sees him.

He felt an un earthly peace sweep through him, and was calmed, Lija knew that everything would turn out for the best, the Aura could always make good of anything. At that point, Lija remembered Srold’s scroll. He opened it to read everything Srold had written, it was sort of like a journal of Srold’s discoveries. However, at the end of the scroll was a line that attracted Lija’s attention. It read I have discovered a way to keep the kids from dying permanently, they will still die, but there is a way for this death to be short lived and for their lives to be restored.

The rest of the scroll was encrypted. The instructions read that Lija was not to know how, but for Jedediah to know only. Lery was also allowed to know, but in no way could Mar know. It also said that Jedediah had the decryption key, which tempted Lija to find out, but he knew there was a reason he couldn’t know. So he accepted the fact he may never know how or if they will truly live.

Just at that moment, Lija realised that some of his flesh was peeling off. As if all his flesh fibre was decaying. Why was this? He immediately thought about an exposure to the Montuit, but he hadn’t been exposed long enough during the fights he’d had. Yet another mystery for Lija. He climbed down after giving thanks and worshipping the Aura once more and retired to his quarters. He slept almost instantly, it wasn’t long before they reached their destination. Once they arrived, Lija knew they were in for surprise.

One last task of unloading the remaining supplies and they were free to leave. The four completed their tasks and departed for a nearby inn. They all shared a room and Lija and Jedediah took turns on guard. Lija made the excuse that he didn’t trust the new town, but he was more concerned that Mar would betray them really.

After recovering for a couple of days, Lija asked Mar if he could take them to the recruiting office, he truly didn’t know where to go next, but knew that the Aura wanted Lery and Jedediah in an army, and what better army than the mighty soldiers of Strocton? Mar agreed and led them.

After half a day’s travelling, they arrived in front of some barracks, the sound of clashing and twangs from arrows were heard loud and clear from the gates. The exasperated breath of soldiers and the stomping of feet gave Jedediah a small shudder.

“Now, I must leave you here, I shall return to the inn and meet you there. Lija, take caution and remain with the kids until the recruitment phase is completed, if you truly wish for the boys to join the army, they will be tested.” Mar exclaimed in quite a rush. He then sprinted away from the barracks as a tall broad man in large plated armour approached them. The man carried a sword by his belt and a large war hammer on his back.

“Go away filth, we are training soldiers here!” The man shouted. This infuriated Lery the most, who was becoming more and more irrational each day.

“Then why is it that we are not in there as well!” Lery shouted back.  Lija looked in shock, then sighed covering his face with his palm.

The man turned back and with a grin spoke in an intimidating voice towards Lery.

“Oh?! I see, you want to see if you’re worthy of being called a soldier of Strocton eh? Ha! You’re gutsy, I’ll give you that. How about your friend here, what say he? Do you too think you’re worthy?”

“Yes” was all Jedediah could say, though he didn’t need to say anymore since the man was laughing very loudly.

“Well, well, well. Alright then, we shall see if you truly are worthy, follow me, bring forth only your weapons, leave behind your belongings with your old mule.” Lija looked ignorant of the man’s comment, not changing in expression or emotion. The two boys gave Lija their belongings, retrieving their weapons.

“use all your strengths and power, but don’t show off the Aura yet, use it, but don’t show it, at least not yet.” Whispered Lija, he knew that the soldiers relied purely on strength and weren’t always happy to accept users of the Aura. Men were happy to use the Aura, however they trained separately to soldiers. They were often insulted by being called ‘mages’.

The two boys approached the man, he was walking into the training yard. The barracks had a large stone and wood gate, which entered into a large training yard, which accommodated for every fighting style. There was horseback fighting, archery, heavy weaponry, ballista training, shield training even sling throwing. They really did accommodate for all fighting styles that relied on strength. But not a single soldier showed any trace of using the Aura.

They approached a ring, the man entered through the gate and called two soldiers to enter as well. The two boys stood on the side of the fence ring and watched and listened to the man’s instructions.

“I challenge you to choose an opponent to face, using any means necessary, but retaining honour, to a duel. The man on the left, he is known as Ferociam. He is one of our fiercest men, and by far the stronger of our men. To his right is the warrior Tiamat. He hails from the frozen wastelands apparently, whether he does or not, we care not, but he never is seen without his armour on. He is always prepared for battle. Now choose! Lose and no honour shall be given and you walk away from these barracks. Win? And we’ll accept you into our ranks. Where we will rank you, we shall see.” The man had a large grin on his face and watched intently at the two boys.

Lery must have had a large rush of adrenaline, he immediately turned and said he would face Ferociam. Which either gave the man a large evil grin or a surprised grin on his face, Jedediah could not decide which.

“I shall face Tiamat by default then!” Said Jedediah with a loud tone. He looked closely at his foe, all he could see was the bluish grey eyes, he couldn’t see any either part of him, all Jedediah saw was those eyes.

“Then it is settled! First, let us see Ferociam take on the new recruit!” A large resounding of shouts and cheers arose as Lery stepped into the ring.

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