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 A Tale of Iron

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PostSubject: Re: A Tale of Iron   April 7th 2015, 10:13 am

Chapter 25


In the years of the first Red king, a dragon came from another continent. It was the first and last documented time that a dragon was seen in Jovah until now. Using a powerful arcane magic, it was transformed by the king himself to give it a human form. This dragon was a woman who had no ill intent towards humans. It was then that the Red king formulated his plan.

The woman mated with the king and bore a son and a daughter. They both possessed latent powers of a dragon, but they did not possess the enormous amount of mana to manifest them. So it was that the kingís plan had been temporarily foiled. However, he kept good faith with the dragon family. They were treated as royalty, and had them inbreed to keep the half-dragon, half-human blood going. They were always fortunate enough to bear at least one male and one female per generation. But none of them had the power to summon the dragon inside of them.

Öuntil now!


*Music* The five have regrouped in front of this dragon.

Aerona: Now everything makes sense.
Vito: What do you mean?
Aerona: There were always trails of your destruction, but never any sign of your actual appearance. Your dragon form was too large to fit in the cave, yet you killed two trolls in them. You couldnít have flown over the cave; otherwise those griffins would be dead.
Dragon: So you noticed.
Mars: I thought maybe your power was a summoning technique. But it appears that is not the case.
Dragon: I am the real deal. My dragon name is *speaks in a different accent*, however, my human name is Dravos. What you fought was merely a manifestation of my true power. But my true power lies in this form.
Erosion: What is your goal out here?
Dravos: You all come from the Iron Kingdom, yes? I am going to ravage your lands. I was simply hiding out here until then. It seems you got wind of my existence somehow. So you sent a small strike force just in case we decided to attack your kingdom while you tried to kill me. Based on your performance, you are all indispensable fighters to your kingdom. Killing you here will be beneficial.
Vito: So then, you completely side with the Red Kingdom.
Dravos: Of course. My family is royalty here. We have been so for over a century.
Aerona: In other words, thereís no way to avoid fighting. Of course, even if there was, weíd just assassinate you. *Music Stops*
Dravos: No. Besides, you came here for my head. You have no intention of leaving without killing me.
Aerona: In that caseÖ

With his dark armor still activated, Aerona charges in and swings with his halberd. Dravos moves behind him in an instant, surprising him.

Aerona: He can outpace me even in this state?! *Music*
Dravos: I donít think you understand the position youíre in. I canít be beaten in this form.

Vito is the next to attack by dark buffing his speed. Dravos dodges his first slash and then the next. Erosion is the next to attack. With no dark magic behind his attack, he slashes at his armor. It bounces off, but Erosion manages to touch Dravosí face with his hand.

Dravos: Is this poison? It doesnít appear to be affecting me in any way. But if it does, Iíll just burn it off.
Erosion: So poison is not an option.

Aerona charges again and slashes. As Dravos dodges backwards, Vito is behind him and lunges with his katana. He dodges to the side where Erosion and Solomon are waiting for him. They attack in tandem, but Dravos appears behind them. Just then, a chasm is created where he is standing and he falls inside. He does not seem worried in the least bit as he lands. He jumps up and wings appear on him. He starts flapping them and floats just above them.

Dravos: Is that all?

He swoops over to Erosion and lunges with his spear. Erosion is able to avoid, but gets cut on his chest a little. A dark blade beam comes his way from Vito, but he brushes it aside with his armored arm. Dravos lands on the ground and fire starts to appear in his hands.

Mars: Donít tell meÖ

Dravos unleashes a firestorm out of his hands, similar to his fire breath previously. Mars creates a large wall to block it, but it busts through. Aerona dispels his dark armor by using all of it as a shield for the five of them. The fire also busts through it, but is weakened enough by the two of their defenses that they each only suffer minor burns. Dravos is now in front of Solomon before he can react. He makes a claw position with his right hand and his hand partially transforms into a dragon claw. He swipes at Solomon and breaks through his armor and cuts and burns him severely on his torso. Erosion shoots a debuff beam at Dravos, but he dodges and is now behind him. He stabs Erosion through his left leg with his spear. As he takes it out, Erosion drops to his knees. Before Dravos goes for a killing blow, a wave of rock is sent straight at him. He spikes his aura and shoots fire out of one hand, busting the rock completely. This creates a lot of dust. Aerona and Vito appear on both sides of him for a pincer attack. He puts both arms out and blasts both of them with fire, blowing them away and leaving severe burns on both of them. He then appears in front of Mars and dragon claws through his armor, sending him to the ground.

Vito: Shit. Heís too strong.
Dravos: No matter how many times you come at me, the result will be the same.
Aerona: That armor of yours. Itís created from your magic right?
Dravos: What a stupid question.
Aerona: Thatís a yes. If thatís the case, then itís similar to my dark armor. Which meansÖ That form has a weakness.

They all think back to when Aerona explained his armorís weakness.

Solomon: That technique really worked well. Does it have any weaknesses?
Aerona: Besides using a lot of mana, it doesnít enhance my defense much. Itís definitely meant for if I want to end a fight quickly.

Mars: Then, the weakness of that form is his defense.
Vito: Come to think of it, heís only dodged our strongest attacks so far.
Erosion: But how do we even hit him with our strongest attacks if he keeps dodging? Wait!
Aerona: Thereís just one chance to hit him. One opening he leaves.
Solomon: Come to think of it, I think there might be one time where we can hit him.
Vito: No, he CAN be hit somewhere.
Mars: I might have figured out when to hit him.

They all look at each other, realizing that they all figured it out. Dravos looks confused. Vito rushes in first and starts slashing. Dravos dodges each slash and attacks with a dragon claw. Vito is able to dodge out of the way. Erosion and Aerona then go on the attack in tandem. Dravos dodges both of their attacks and then the two of them jump back to regroup with Mars and Solomon. They take a defensive stance.

Mars: Wait for itÖ

Dravos starts to charge up fire in his hands and then releases a blast of fire at them. At that very moment, Vito speeds from behind and slashes. *Music Switches* Dravos is late to react because of his concentration and gets slashed through his armor, taking a wound to the back of the neck. The fire goes out and an earth wall blocks the remaining fire that was shot forth.

Vito: Not deep enough! He was able to move himself just enough to dodge a lethal strike.
Dravos: So, that was your plan. Too bad you canít use that plan again.

Dravos turns to Vito and attacks with his spear. Vito blocks and they push against each other. At that moment, another stink bomb goes off in the vicinity of Dravos.

Dravos: Not that again! You had more than one?
Erosion: Of course.
Dravos: It doesnít matter this time. Iím now aware of what youíre doing.

At that moment, Solomon, Erosion and Vito start yelling at the top of their lungs at Dravos. He becomes slightly disoriented when he is slashed hard from behind. Aerona had snuck up behind him while his senses were overloaded. His halberd has left a deep cut in his back. Solomon attacks with dark wind covering his scimitar. He lands a cut across his chest. Suddenly, he unleashes a wave of energy that blows them all back and knocks them to the ground. *Music Stops*

Dravos: You have made me very angry. Now, feel the power of a true dragon!

He appears in front of Aerona and makes a claw again. He drills straight down into Aeronaís armor and into his stomach. He coughs up blood. He quickly disappears and then appears in front of Vito as heís getting up. He lands a claw slash to Vitoís torso, leaving cuts so deep you can see part of his ribcage. As Vito falls, Dravos is now behind Solomon. He stabs with his claw through his back and then quickly pulls out while kicking him to the ground. Erosion is behind him now and attacks with his wakizashi. Dravos turns around quickly and crushes the blade in his hand. With the shrapnel of the blade, he forces it into Erosionís neck. At this second, Mars has five fingers on his forehead.

Mars: Itís now or never! Unseal!

His aura immediately spikes, stopping Dravosí rampage out of interest. Mars slams his weapon on the ground, shattering it completely from the force. The earthquake that follows completely eviscerates the ground below all of them and then makes giant spikes the size of a school bus straight in his direction. Dravos starts breaking the spikes as they come but then a spike from below springs up and grazes him. Dravos disappears and then appears behind Mars. He claws through Marsí armor and lands a lethal strike to his neck. Mars loses consciousness immediately and the rampage stops.

Dravos: There. Theyíre all dead. That was more difficult than I expected it to be.

Just then, he notices light out of the corner of his eye. He sees that Aerona is sitting next to the other three besides Mars, healing them.

Dravos: I didnít notice? Is it because my senses are still dulled from that last attack? But how did you survive? And what are you doing?
Aerona: If I hadnít anticipated your attack, I would have been. Just before you attacked, I grabbed your arm with dark magic encasing it, changing the trajectory to miss anything vital.
Dravos: I had a one in five chance of going to you first. How did you know for sure?
Aerona: Because I have shit luck. Itís always me. I guess that worked in my favor this time.

Dravos notices that the wounds besides Aeronaís have healed.

Dravos: Itís no matter. I will kill you for sure this time to make sure you canít heal.

Aerona activates his dark armor and readies himself. Dravos speeds over to him and attacks. Aerona dashes with all his power just to avoid the attack narrowly. He is hunched over, still in massive pain.

Aerona: Címon, healing. Kick in quickly.
Dravos: Looks like you wonít be able to avoid another attack from me.

Just then, he is surprised and dodges out of the way when Vito slashes from behind. He then dodges a slash from Erosion and then receives a gust of wind blowing him back.

Solomon: Go heal Mars. Weíll hold him off long enough.
Aerona: Right. Thanks.

The three of them ready themselves with dark magic activated. They go on the attack. Meanwhile, Aerona heals Marsí injury and he wakes up subsequently. After rapid attacks, the three back up and rejoin Aerona and Mars.

Aerona: I wonít be able to do a mass healing like that again.
Dravos: You pests! Iíll end you in one attack!

Dravos begins charging up a massive amount of mana in his hands and his aura spikes.*Music*

Vito: Then I guess itís time for that attack. Ready?
All: Ready!

They stand side by side and perform their respective hand positions. Suddenly, Aerona dispels his dark armor and focuses that energy in front of him. The other three are now surrounded with their own dark aura as well. Mars unseals with one finger. The white energy that encases them starts to turn black.

Dravos: NOW BURN ALONG WITH YOUR COUNTRY!
Aerona: DARK
Erosion: TEH
Mars: PEN
Aerona: HYAK
Vito: OOH
Solomon: GO
All: FIREEEE!!!!!!

The Dark Tepenhyakugo bursts forth just as Dravos is about to release his fire. He does, but it immediately clashes a few feet in front of him. After a few seconds, the surrounding area starts shaking and the massive amount of magical energy present explodes into a sphere that covers the entire area.


What conclusion has this shocking battle come to?!

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PostSubject: Re: A Tale of Iron   April 7th 2015, 9:11 pm

Chapter 26


As the blast subsides, there is an enormous amount of smoke still present in the area. The smoke starts to dissipate from the epicenter of the blast and we see a figure start to appear. It is Dravos. His armor has shattered, as we see small bits of it barely clinging on to his body. He is bleeding heavily all over and panting.

Dravos: Who knew they had an attack like that on reserve this whole time? If I was any later in unleashing my fire, I might have really died. In any case, that was the last of their energy. I will report to the king about this. Itís time to go to war.

He has enough power to create wings for himself. The smoke surrounding him starts to move as he starts flapping. As the smoke starts to push away, all of the sudden our heroes are seen dashing at Dravos from all sides. *Music*

Dravos: What?!

Dravos cannot move fast enough and all five of them stab him through the torso with their weapons (even if broken). When we get a look at all five of them, they are all suffering from second-degree burns everywhere on their bodies. Theyíre all panting very hard as well.

Dravos: YouÖyou shouldnít have been able to move, let alone attack!
Solomon: While itís true that all our mana is depleted and our stamina has run out, you forgot something important that every human possesses.
Aerona: Adrenaline.
Dravos: What is this adrenaline?
Mars: It allows us to surpass our normal capabilities as humans, even if only for an instant.
Erosion: Each one of us was resolved to kill you while you were vulnerable.
Vito: You underestimated humans, and now you will die for it.
Dravos: This whole battle went according to plan, didnít it?
Solomon: Almost. We knew that in order to use the Tepenhyakugo we would have to get you so agitated that you would charge up a finishing attack.
Aerona: If we had used it from the start, you would have suspected its power and wouldnít have let us use it.
Vito: We didnít plan almost getting killed, but most of it was.
Dravos: Impressive. Despite being overwhelmingly outmatched, you still found a way to win. Thatís not something just anyone can do. And that attack of yours. If you had released it any later, my fire would have killed you. But alas, you released your attack before I could release mine. Very well. May I have your names?

They each give their names.

Dravos: Good. Vito, Solomon, Mars, Erosion, AeronaÖyou all have my praise. You win this battle. *Music Stops*

They withdraw their weapons and Dravos falls to the ground on his knees.

Dravos: Sorry, Sentus. I couldnít keep our promise.

He falls on his face and dies. Subsequently, the five dragon slayers now collapse on the ground. They are all still conscious, but can barely even see straight. When we look at Aeronaís wound, it has been seared shut by the burn.

Vito: Itís no good. I canít move.
Aerona: There are no doubt enemies coming to our position. Hamas proved that. If my healing was only fasterÖ

Just then, we see some creatures exiting the remains of the edge of the forest. Out of the group, there is one centaur that rides ahead.

Solomon: Not now.

The centaur stops just short of Solomon.

All: What?
Centaur: Creatures of light. Thank you.
Erosion: There are creatures of darkness that can speak our language?
Centaur: Yes, though they are few and far between. You defeated the dragon that has been terrorizing our people and our forest for many moons.
Aerona: So the presences I felt earlier were you all watching the fight?
Centaur: That is correct. Now, you must hurry. There are more humans coming this way. They will likely kill you here if they find you.
Solomon: Weíd like to, but we canít move.
Centaur: I see. Then we will aid you. We may be creatures of darkness, but we do have some sense of dignity. The dark skinned humans have been driving us out of our homes, especially the dragon. We know that you are at war with them. We will favor you this time.
Mars: Thank you.

Five griffins come down and pick up each of them. They start flying away, when we see Sentus enter the area. Hunter and the other black robed people follow just behind.

Sentus: What the-!
Hunter: Leave it to me.

Hunter shoots what appears to be a thin line of water straight at one of the griffins. Another griffin gets in the way and dispels it with its talons. Countless griffins now get in the way and the various creatures of darkness on the ground surround them.

Hunter: Thatís quite a lot of them.
Sentus: You can clean up the rest after me. Until then, you four might want to duck.

They all do as Sentus says and his magic aura starts to spike. He puts his arms close to his body and then flails them outward. All of the sudden, giant wind blades start to appear and slash everything it comes in contact with. Wind slashes are cutting down all of the creatures, including the griffins. When the attack subsides, most of them have been eliminated.

Sentus: Now destroy the rest of them.
Hunter: Your orders?
Sentus: Again?! Kill the rest yourselves. Youíre all more than capable of soloing this many enemies anyway.

Sentus walks over to Dravosí body. He turns him over to his back.

Sentus: Damn it. How did you, of all people, get killed?

The others have disposed of the rest of the creatures in the area.

Hunter: You two look similar. Were you two related by any chance?
Sentus: Yes. Cousins.
Hunter: So then, you are a part of that family.
Sentus: I was the closest to being able to manifest my dragon powers. But my mana pool wasnít as big as Dravosí.
Hunter: So what now?
Sentus: The people who did this will suffer for this. We will have Akari talk once he wakes up.

Meanwhile, the griffins have taken them to the river where Daniel was defeated. A giant snakefish appears out of the river and the griffins drops the five of them on it. The centaur makes it there after a few minutes.

Centaur: You came here by ship, did you not?
Aerona: Yes. Itís on the southwest side of the land.
Centaur: Very well.

The centaur talks to the snakefish in a different language of groans and hissing.

Centaur: This one will take you there.
Vito: Thank you. Youíre not bad.

The snake starts moving along the river. After hours of riding on the snake, they can finally start moving a little.

Aerona: My mana has regenerated enough that I can heal the most serious burns on you guys.

He encases them in light and heals as much as he can before collapsing from exhaustion. Finally by nightfall, they have found their ship. The snake stops and Solomon is able to use his wind to transport them all to the ship. When they land, they hear a bark. Blaze comes running and wags its tail at them.

Vito: Blaze. I almost forgot about you.
Solomon: Looks like we gave him enough food to survive till we got back.
Mars: In any case, letís get the heck out of here.

They are able to get their ship going again and start sailing off. Aerona eventually wakes up and finds himself on the boat. He canít move right now, however.

Aerona: I guess this is my body going into full rest mode. I canít even move. This will mean Iíll heal quicker though.
Vito: Sucks for you that you canít heal yourself.
Aerona: Of course, this also means I canít heal you guys the rest of the way just yet.
Vito: Fuck. Hurry up and get better then.

Aerona starts to chuckle.

Solomon: Whatís so funny?
Aerona: I was in so much pain before, but now itís finally hitting me. We did it.
Erosion: Yeah. We actually won.
Vito: To be honest, I didnít think we could win.
Aerona: It took nothing short of all of our power and intelligence to figure out a way to kill that guy.
Mars: Iíll say.

The next day, Aerona wakes up and is healed enough to move around. His mana reserves have also been restored.

Aerona: Címere, guys. Let me heal you.

He does, and they are now fully healed. They are still all very sore however.

Aerona: My wound hasnít completely disappeared, but itís getting better at least.
Mars: We should be back on Iron soil in a day anyway with these winds. You can have other healers finish the job.
Vito: And while youíre at it, you can get rid of that scar.
Aerona: Yeah.
Solomon: We all accomplished something while on the Red Kingdom. †And I think weíve all grown as well.
Mars: And while we were at it, I think we thoroughly pissed off the entire Red Kingdom.
Erosion: Thereís that too.
Solomon: Letís recap, shall we? We killed Seijuro, Hamas, Daniel and Akari who were all high ranked mages. We killed the traitor red spies. Ya know, Erosion and I took out Chef Marlene and Vito took out Nagema. Jahten was killed by Mars. Then, Mars killed a bunch of soldiers with his technique. Hell, we killed a lot of soldiers in this whole trip. Then, we killed their dragon. Well, he was a dragon but also human andÖ
Vito: I think we get the point.
Aerona: Donít forget that you guys also threatened some officials at the coliseum while I fought that one guy.
Mars: Maybe thoroughly was an understatement.
Erosion: This might cause war between us again.
Aerona: We were prepared for that, but at the same time, if they attack now, theyíll be very vulnerable. We sabotaged the fuck out of their army and weíll also have a big advantage without all that dark magic enhancing them.
Mars: Maybe that was part of the queenís plan all along.
Vito: Thatís smart as shit.
Solomon: But for now, letís not think about that stuff. Letís celebrate.

They break out some remaining food that was stored on the ship. Solomon and Erosion prepare the food and they have mugs with various liquids inside (depending on each personís preference). They put their mugs together for a toast.

Mars: To victory.
Aerona: To being the first dragon slayers in Iron history.
All: Hell yeah!

They lightly touch the mugs together and start the meal. Blaze barks and Vito tosses him a small piece of meat.

Solomon: You can join in on the celebration too, Blaze.

They stay up all night in celebration. Early in the morning, they all stand out, watching the sun rise slowly above the horizon. Coincidentally at this time, they can see the dock in the distance. *Music*

Mars: There it is.
Vito: Finally home.

On the shore, someone spots the ship when it gets close enough.

Man: Hey! Itís an Iron ship! It must be them!

When they dock, as soon as they get off the ship, they are swarmed by a bunch of people. They start cheering for the five of them.

Erosion: Whatís going on?
Solomon: Could they know whatís going on?

Allow me to explain. When they were spotted the first time, rumors began to fester that they were on an important mission. These rumors turned into daily discussions and hopes that they would return alive. Of course, they did not understand the magnitude of their mission, but they knew that since it was the five of them that it was important.

Vito: Weíre back, bitch!
Man 1: What mission did you guys go on?!
Man 2: Tell us about your adventures!
Man 3: Weíre so glad youíre all back alive!
Aerona: Itís a long story, people. And itís also top secret. Sorry.
Solomon: Itís okay if they know since we already killed the dragon.
Man 1: A DRAGON?!
Man 2: YOU GUYS KILLED A DRAGON?!
Mars: Well, we didnít get our equipment broken like this by fighting bunnies, Iíll tell you that much.

The crowd becomes more boisterous as the information has slipped. Finally, the five of them give up trying to fight the crowd. They all pump their fists up in the air in victory and the crowd starts cheering even louder.


And so it was that our heroes became known as the dragon slayers. They have made it home safely and are now celebrating their victory with the townspeople. The conclusion is next on A Tale of Iron!

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PostSubject: Re: A Tale of Iron   April 15th 2015, 1:07 am

Chapter 27


The five are now at Aegis in the throne room, knelt down. They are all wearing white royal clothing. *Music* There are knights lined up on both sides of the room. The queen stands up from her throne and approaches them.

Queen: There are not many words that can describe the service you all have done for the Iron Kingdom. You served in the war three years ago, saved my life from Red assailants and led legions of our men to victory. And now, you traveled into the Red Kingdom, sabotaged its army, killed fleeing traitors and slayed its dragon. Rise.

As they stand up, the queen gets on her knees and plants her face on the floor, causing everyone in the room to gasp in surprise.

Queen: There is nothing I can say that can measure how indebted we all are to you.

She stands up shortly after and then approaches even closer to them.

Queen: If you so desire, you will never have to fight again. You will be blessed with riches beyond what you will ever need. Now, to commemorate our heroes, we will have a feast in your honor.

They all smile at this. *Music Switches* As time passes, they are eating voraciously as different people keep coming up to them to congratulate them and give respect.

Aerona: Well, that was good.
Vito: The fuck?! We just started eating.
Aerona: Yep.
Solomon: These royal cooks are good, Erosion. But we canít lose to them.
Erosion: Maybe one of these days weíll challenge them to a cook off.
Aerona: Oh shit.
Mars: What is it?
Aerona: Heís coming up to us.
Mars: Who do youÖohÖ

General Strago approaches them.

Aerona: General! Itís good to see you again.
Strago: You sure ate that fast. Letís hope there wasnít poison in that food.
Erosion: Itís okay. I checked it this time.
Aerona: At least there wasnít cheese on it.
Strago: I heard you got rid of Marlene and her companions.
Solomon: Yes, sir.
Strago: Very good. You all did well.
Vito: Thank you, General.
Strago: It also looks like you possess more strength than before. There is dark energy still emanating from you, Royal Knight.
Aerona: WellÖ
Strago: I get it. It was a means to an end. Donít worry; I wonít say a word.
Aerona: Thank you, sir. But how could you tell?

He smiles and walks away.

Aerona: ÖSo thatís what that feels like.
Solomon: Yes, now you know how we feel when you get all mysterious.
Vito: So will you stop now that you know?

He smiles and walks away.

The Other Four: Seriously?! *Music Stops*

They get back to eating. Afterwards, we see the queen and the general speaking in private outside. It is nighttime.

Strago: As Iím sure you are aware, we have a chance of going to war as a result of this.
Queen: I knew the risks before I allowed this quest.
Strago: Their popularity has skyrocketed as a result. After this, they will be regarded on the same level as the legendary heroes. If they participate in the anticipated war, maybe even higher.
Queen: Do I detect some jealousy?
Strago: No, not at all. You knew that I couldnít be sent. The fear of attacking the kingdom without me to defend it was too much of a risk. That much is enough for me.
Queen: The way the five of them described the dragonís powerÖdo you think you would have beat him?
Strago: It depends.
Queen: Depends on what?
Strago: Depends on if he was stronger than the Red Kingdomís General Shiomi.
Queen: Ah, the strongest woman aliveÖand the only person to have ever walked away from a serious fight with you without injury.
Strago: People know about that, now? I thought I had that gag order under wraps.
Queen: You sure you didnít go easy on her because sheís a woman?
Strago: Trust me, your grace, if I went easy on her, I wouldnít have been able to walk away uninjured like she did.
Aerona: Speaking of powerÖ

The two of them flinch in surprise.

Strago: What are you doing, soldier?!
Aerona: Iíve been standing here this whole time. I wanted to know if you wanted to have a quick spar, General.
Strago: Now?
Aerona: Well, sir, Iím going to be taking some time away from fighting. I thought Iíd get one last one in. I want to see how I stack up in weaponry against you.
Strago: Very well, I accept your challenge.

Meanwhile, Solomon, Erosion and Vito have many women escorting them into the city.

Erosion: You think maybe we should move to Aegis?
Vito: Iím considering it.
Solomon: You canít. Youíre warden of Drogos, remember?
Vito: Yeah yeah.

Mars is lagging behind them.

Mars: Some things never change.

He heads back the other direction to see a small crowd huddled in a circle. He peers over the crowd to see Aerona on the ground with the general standing over him with a wood pole pointed at him.

Aerona: Itís my loss.
Mars: That figures.

The general helps him up and they clash staves and shakes hands. The crowd claps.

Strago: Good, but itíll take a lot more than that to beat me in a fight.
Aerona: Yes, I know.
Mars: I bet we could take you with all five of us.
Strago: Maybe so. Weíll have to put that to the test one day. For now, I will return to my chambers and call it a night.
Aerona: Nah, thatís not how itís gonna work tonight.
Strago: What?
Aerona: The night is young. While the others are doing their thing, weíre going to have fun in other ways.
Strago: Sounds like fun.
Queen: Can I join?
Mars: Well, itís not like we can stop you. You are the queen after all.
Queen: Good point.

The four of them walk off into the distance. We can only hear their voices at this point.

Mars: Weíre probably just going to talk about nerdy stuff, right?
Aerona: Most likely.
Queen and Strago: Say what?!

The next day, the five of them have met up again. It is the middle of the day, since they all slept through the morning hours. Theyíre now all wearing white knight robes.

Solomon: So what now? We can spend some time here in Aegis and just hang out for a few days.
Mars: There is a theater performance today. Why donít we go have a look?

They head over to a theater where they have balcony seats so that they can see everything. Those performing are re-enacting what appears to be a romantic tragedy. The leading lady seems to have died in the play.

Voice: DID SHE DIE?!!!!

In the crowd, there is a black man who has stood up.

Man: DO YOUÖIÖDID SHE DIE JUST NOW ANDÖ
Voice: Shut the fuck up!
Vito: What the fuck is wrong with that guy?
Mars: I think he can give Solomon a run for his money with how loud he is.

The man continues to yell at the top of his lungs random gibberish that can never lead into a full sentence. Eventually, guards escort him out.

Man: ARE YOUÖKICKING ME OUT BECAUSEÖI HAVEÖ.YOU

The doors close and we can hear his muffled voice continue talking.

Aerona: That was awkward.

After the performance, they meet the actors back stage. They are speaking to the leading male role, who has long brown hair.

Aerona: Good performance.
Leading male: Thank you. You guys are my heroes. Thank you for coming along.
Vito: No problem. Do you think youíll continue playing him?
Man: I would like to, yes.

Later that day, they are in a food district in Aegis.

Erosion: Where to eat now?

They look all around, and all the places around are sandwich restaurants. They sigh.

Vito: Really? Thatís all we have here?

The black man from before approaches them.

Man: ARE YOU GUYS THE HEROES?!
Aerona: Someone get this man a cup of hot tea.
Man: I LIKEÖ.DO YOU THINKÖ.

The five of them look at each other and look back at him.

Erosion: Letís talk over there.

He follows them into an alleyway and then we can hear some screams of horror for a few seconds and then all goes silent. After a few more seconds, they walk out of the alleyway with a smile on their faces.

Mars: Anyway, there are better restaurants not far from here. Letís just go there.
Solomon: Alright. Letís go.

As they walk away, time passes to the tune of a few days. It is nighttime.

Mars: Last night before you guys go home to Drogos. What to do?
Vito: Wanna go to WaYa?
Aerona: Yeah.

They do, and oddly enough, they get sandwiches with different drinks. They are split between having hot and cold drinks. They are sitting on a rooftop, looking out over Aegisí landscape while eating. *Music*

Vito: This is a sight Iíll miss.
Erosion: Same.
Solomon: Same here. Itís great here.
Aerona: You guys CAN move here. You can always give up your positions. You heard what the queen said, right?
Vito: I love my position as Warden. I wonít abandon it just yet.
Solomon: Maybe someday down the road, weíll all live here in Aegis.
Mars: Yeah, that would be nice.

The next day, the five of them are at the edge of Aegis. Vito, Solomon and Erosion have horses waiting next to them.

Solomon: I guess this is it.
Mars: Yeah.

They huddle together one last time.

Aerona: We couldnít have done this without each other. Never forget that.
Erosion: Dragon slayers on 3?

They count to three and yell ďdragon slayersĒ together. They then start to give their individual goodbyes.

Mars: Weíll see you guys soon hopefully.
Solomon: Yeah. Maybe if we can make the trip here again, or maybe you make the trip to us next time.
Erosion: I think they made the trip to Drogos technically.
Solomon: Shut up, Erosion.
Vito: Will see you later, Aerona.
Aerona: Yeah, see ya.

All of the sudden, four of them (except Aerona) fall through four cracks in the ground that just appear. *Music Stops*

Aerona: Ha! Now you know how I feel.

Then, all of the sudden a small tornado appears and sucks Aerona straight in. The other four are saved because they are now lower in elevation to the tornado.

Aerona: Where the fuck did this come froooooooooooom!

Heís violently launched back to the ground.

Mars: You hurt?
Aerona: Just my prideÖand my ribs.
Vito: Hahahaha!
Solomon: Hahahaha!
Erosion: Hahaha!
Mars: HahÖHahÖHah!
Aerona: Haha oww!

With that, they separate. Vito, Solomon and Erosion leave on horses. Aerona eventually stands up he and Mars walk back to Aegis. We see the zoomed out picture of the field as we see the two groups going into opposite directions, which fades to black slowly.


With an unbreakable bond, they ride forth into tomorrow. Though the prospect of war looms over their heads, for now our heroes can rest easy. For they have done great in the eyes of men. But what they do not realize is that their actions have set off a chain of events that even they could not have forseen!


Part 1 End

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PostSubject: Re: A Tale of Iron   June 6th 2015, 4:34 pm

Part 2

Chapter 28


Part 2 Opening Theme:


There once was a dragon named Dravos. He was a secret weapon that the Red King had in store for the Iron Kingdom. Unfortunately for him, they caught wind of this and sent five brave heroes to slay him. Erosion the Precarious, Solomon Lord of Speechcraft, Vito of the Blade, Earthshaker Mars and Royal Knight Aerona (AKA Harbinger of Misfortune) were their names. They succeeded in their quest, as well as decimated a sizable portion of the Red Kingdomís forces. Tales of their adventure spread like wildfire across both kingdoms. One month has passed since Dravosí demise.

We go to a large throne room. There are soldiers with this garb lined up on both sides of the wall with Sentus knelt down before the throne. Behind him are three black robed members. We recognize two of them as Akari and Hunter. The third is a woman who appears to be in her early thirties. She has short brown hair and hazel eyes. Sitting on the throne is a man dressed like this. He has medium length black hair with brown eyes. He has a full beard and mustache that connects. †*Music*

Sentus: My liege, that is everything I know.
King: I see. So, then what youíre saying is that there are likely Iron spies and soldiers on our land waiting to attack us.
Sentus: Yes, Majesty.
King: They are making the move this time it seems. What are your thoughts on the solution to this problem, Sentus?
Sentus: My belief is that those Iron bastards are trying to provoke us into launching an all out attack on them so that their main forces can attack us while weíre vulnerable. They know it would be disadvantageous for us to attack their kingdom now.
King: All because of those damned dragon slayers.
Sentus: Every time I hear that moniker, I want to tear them apart limb from limb.
King: I understand, Sentus. But you did not answer my question.
Sentus: My apologies, my king.
Hunter: If I may speak, Your Majesty, I have an idea.
Sentus: Hunter, hold your tongue.
King: No, you may speak.
Hunter: You have my gratitude.
King: I want your solution, not your gratitude.
Hunter: The Iron Kingdom sent only five people to our lands as a means of going after Dravos. I suggest we do the same thing, but slightly different.
King: You suggest we send a small group to take care of this problem?
Hunter: Actually, I suggest three small groups. One group would be very dangerous. The circumstances with which the Iron group was able to succeed were nothing short of a miracle. Akari here came very close to ending them himself. We need two backup teams. We have many new upcoming fighters that need experience as well as some non-active units that can be of use to us.
Akari: And youíll lead one group?
Hunter: Yes. Would you help me, Akari?
Akari: Yes. I need to redeem myself after my colossal failure.
Hunter: *Turns to the woman* How about you, Helen?
Helen: I will as well.
King: I see. So you thought this through, Hunter?
Hunter: Yes, Your Majesty.
King: Sentus, your thoughts?
Sentus: You donít want to send anyone stronger, Hunter?
Akari: With all due respect, Captain Sentus, you and the other captains need to be by our kingís side in case this is a trap. We Sheikh are strong, but there are enough of us, even without Seijuro and Hamas.
Helen: I agree with Akari. We canít risk our king being attacked without you here, Captain.
Sentus: Hmm, yes, I see your point. Very well then, I approve.
King: Your answer, Sentus?
Hunter: (Whispering) Psst, Captain, did you forget to verbalize again?
Sentus: Again?! Yes yes, I approve of this plan.
King: Good. Sheikh Hunter, I like your thinking. You are proving to be my most valuable Sheikh in the kingdom with Seijuro and Hamas gone.
Hunter: You are most kind, My King.
King: And you, Sheikh Akari, do not fail me again.
Akari: You have my word.
King: Sheikh Helen, you are still relatively new to this position. If you succeed here, then you will rise quickly.
Helen: Understood!
King: Very well. Dismissed. And Sentus, keep me updated.
Sentus: At your command. *Music Stops*

The second Sentus utters those words, he senses something. The other three also sense something. Above the king, a figure is descending from the ceiling with a sword in hand. Just as the figure is a few inches away from the king, he is suddenly grabbed. Standing next to the Red King is Sentus. The king only notices that he moved after he is already standing next to him.

King: What the!
Sentus: This manÖ

The assailant is light skinned like those from the Iron Kingdom and was wielding a short sword. He is already knocked out.

Sentus: This sword was made by an Iron smith. Thereís no mistake.
King: Then your intel was true.
Sentus: You guys can back off now. Itís okay.

Akari, Hunter and Helen have surrounded the throne in a triangular formation.

King: You saved my life, Captain Sentus. You other three were also quick to react and protect me from any other potential threat. This is why I trust you with my life.

Sentus and the three Sheikh (this is referring to the black robed rank if you havenít figured it out by now) leave the throne room and speak in private just outside the castle. We get a view of the city surrounding the castle, which is mostly built out of sandstone. A thin layer of sand covers the entire ground.

Sentus: You three, Iím counting on you. One more thing. If any of those five happen to be there, I want them alive. I want to execute them myself.
Hunter: I doubt theyíre here, but I will.
Sentus: Thatíll be all. Good luck, you three.
All Three: Sir!

They part ways and the three of them grab kebabs. They eat together while walking.

Helen: Itís been a while since we all ate together like this.
Akari: Sorry. I only just woke up last week. I was in interrogation as well as taking the necessary food to get me in good health.
Hunter: You scared the hell out of us.
Akari: That wasnít my intent, I promise.
Helen: What was it like fighting them? Were they as strong as the stories say?
Akari: They were definitely strong. If I had fought them on their turf, I would have lost a one on one fight. But more than strong, they were smart. They managed to fool me multiple times while making full use of unfamiliar terrain. They even knew when to surrender or run when they knew it was unwise to stay and fight.
Hunter: With that kind of praise, I can see how it could be possible to defeat even a dragon.
Helen: I still donít buy it. If you nearly beat them, Akari, how could they defeat Dravos?
Akari: Thatís what puzzles me. They didnít have that kind of power before.
Hunter: You two should study up more on the Iron Kingdom. They have a powerful spell called the Tepenhyakugo. It requires exactly five people to perform it. Itís extremely complex and the Red Kingdom hasnít been able to figure out the secret behind it yet.
Helen: Tepenwhatwhat?
Hunter: *Sigh* Forget it.
Akari: Enough about them. It seems like thatís all anyone wants to talk about since I woke up. Letís talk about these recruits, Hunter.
Helen: Your students are finally ready?
Hunter: Yes. I believe they are. Iíll send each of you about 15 candidates. Theyíll demonstrate their abilities in front of you, and you decide how many you want to bring with you. Iíll try to split it up well.
Akari: That sounds simple enough. But is it really okay to be risking their lives like that? Especially now that we know that this threat is real.
Hunter: Theyíre strong, I promise you. Theyíve all had basic magic and combat lessons from yours truly.
Akari: Okay, I believe you.
Helen: Just donít take all the good ones, Hunter!
Hunter: I wonít, I wonít. Relax.
Akari: Alright, well Iíd better get back. I need to train a little to get myself back to full strength.
Helen: How about fighting one of us?
Akari: Iím not ready for that quite yet. Sorry. I know youíre eager to pummel me into the ground, but Iím still too physically weak.
Helen: I understand.
Hunter: One more thing, Akari. No matter who I send tomorrow, promise that you wonít just pass them up right away. Believe in me.
Akari: Huh? Okay, I promise.

The next morning, we see Akari tossing and turning in a bed. In his mind, he is re-living the instant of his defeat. As soon as he gets stabbed in his dream, he wakes up in a cold sweat. He puts his hands on his face and wipes them. He lightly punches his bed in frustration.

Akari: Damn it all.

After he gets dressed, he leaves and goes out into town. He goes just to the outskirts of town where there is nothing but sand. There he sees 15 people standing there, waiting for him. *Music*

Akari: Hello, everyone. My name is Akari and Iíll be testing your abilities today. First one, you.

He points to a man standing around 6í2, who is wearing this kind of armor. He has long, straight black hair. He has a mace at his side, hanging from a belt.

Akari: Your name?
Man: Shahar, sir.
Akari: Have you any experience in battle?
Shahar: Yes, sir. I fought one battle at the tail end of the last war.
Akari: Is there anyone else here who has fought in battle? By show of hands.

No one else raises his or her hand.

Akari: Then that makes you our most experienced person here. Whatís your greatest asset?
Shahar: Defense.
Akari: Your greatest weakness?
Shahar: Speed, sir.
Akari: I see. There was no hesitation in your voice. You understand your strengths and weaknesses well, do you?
Shahar: Yes, sir. I have been studying strategy ever since the war ended.
Akari: Excellent. Show me what you got.

After a few minutes of demonstrationÖ

Akari: Shahar, I want you on my team. Stand behind me. Next.

A young man who is topless and has long pants steps up. His upper body is ripped.

Akari: Name?
Man: Yunbuck and you betta remembah it, son.
Akari: What is your greatest strength?
Yunbuck: My muscles of course.
Akari: What is your greatest hindrance?
Yunbuck: I ainít got a weakness, dude.
Akari: You fail. I donít want someone like you slowing my team down.
Yunbuck: Iíll show you, bitch!

Yunbuck charges at Akari and draws a large sword. He swings it at Akari, who easily dodges it.

Akari: You may be strong, but if you think that means you can lug a big sword around and not suffer a weakness, you have another thing coming to you.
Yunbuck: Then Iíll show you mah magic!

He charges up his mana, but Akari appears behind him and lands a karate chop to the back of his neck, knocking him out.

Akari: Your mana was in disarray the entire time. I have no need for a guy like you.

The others laugh at him. The next candidate steps up. This one is a young woman that has long black hair that is in a loose ponytail. She has violet purple eyes. She is wearing a white shirt with this coat over it and long khaki pants. She wears brown combat boots. She stands about 5í8 with an average build.

Woman: No one liked Yunbuck anyway.
Akari: I didnít call for you yet.
Woman: Sorry, I just didnít want to waste any more of your time with this foolishness.
Akari: That is considerate of you. Name?
Woman: My name is Liron (Pronounced Lee-Rin).
Akari: What is your greatest strength?
Liron: I believe the speed and power of my magic in conjunction with my abilities.
Akari: I see. Weakness?

Liron takes out metal tonfa. These tonfa have a sharp edge on the outside, making it able to cut.

Liron: My weapon choice leaves me with short range as well as my defensive abilities being limited. My magic is primarily offensive except to cancel out the same element from my opponent.
Akari: You have a good understanding of your abilities. You seem confident. Letís see what you have.

After a few minutes.

Akari: Iím very impressed. You pass. Stand next to Shahar, Liron.

A few more candidates fail before the next comes up. He is wearing a white robe and has long brown hair covering his eyes. He has a staff with a blue orb at the end of it. He is about 5í7.

Akari: Name?
Man: Yusuk (You-sook)
Akari: Are you a healer, Yusuk?
Yusuk: Yes, sir.
Akari: Can you fight with that staff?
Yusuk: Yes.
Akari: A demonstration, then. But firstÖ

Akari takes his flail and cuts his arm on one of the spikes.

Akari: Heal my arm, please.
Yusuk: Right away.

He does so and efficiently.

Akari: Youíre a lock for now. Letís see those physical abilities.

Yusuk passes and the next candidate comes up. This man has an appearance similar to this (only with the darker skin tone). He carries a 8 foot red staff. He is 6í0 tall.

Akari: Name?
Man: I am Amitay (Ah-Mih-Tay).
Akari: Strength and weakness?
Amitay: My staff has long reach and my fire magic is powerful offensively. Unfortunately, it also makes my usefulness in a team a little circumstantial.
Akari: I like the way you think. The team comes first. A demonstration then.

After the demonstration, he passes and is standing next to the other passing candidates. There are only three candidates left after more are weaned down. There havenít been any passers in a while. The next one is a woman standing around 5í4. She has long blond hair that is noticeably well kept. She is wearing a red dress and heels. Akariís mouth is hanging open from the sheer surprise of seeing someone dressed like that.

Akari: Are you serious, maíam?
Woman: I wanted to look good for my interview.
Akari: For fuckís sake. Name?
Woman: Drora, house Hetzelberg.
Akari: Oh, that makes some sense. You come from a very prestigious family of respected fighters. I promise not to judge you based on that standard.
Drora: Itís okay.
Akari: So, what do you have for me, Drora?

She pulls out a longbow from her back. She also pulls a knife.

Akari: I was hoping we would have at least one archer. And your illusions are impressive.
Drora: You figured it out, Mr. Akari?
Akari: Indeed.

The environment around Akari shatters like glass and we see Droraís true appearance. Her face and hair have not changed, but she is wearing a skintight black jumpsuit.

Liron: Your senses are quite sharp, Sheikh Akari.
Akari: That outfit is a bit much, Ms. Drora.
Drora: Itís okay. Iím used to guys eyeballing me. *wink*
Akari: Fine.

Akari picks up a stone from the ground.

Akari: Iím going to throw this stone out here somewhere. I want you to hit it.
Drora: Okay!

Akari throws the stone up in the air above the passing candidates heads and Drora shoots an arrow without hesitation. The tip of the arrow hits the stone and the arrow safely sails over their heads.

Akari: Iíve seen enough. You pass.
Drora: Yay!

She joins the others. The next person is a man who has shoulder length black hair and green eyes. He is topless except he wears a white vest. He has tattered khaki shorts that go only a bit past his knees. He is about 5í8 and wields dual kama.

Akari: You know the drill by now.
Man: My name is water and my magic is Hayim (Hie-Im)Öwait, thatís not right. Uh, let me start over.
Akari: *Facepalm* Okay.
Hayim: Uh, my name is Hayim and Iím a water mage. My strength isÖuhÖwhat?
Akari: Itíll be easier if you just show me. Spar with me.

After they sparÖ

Akari: You might not be the brightest, but you are skilled. I like you. You passÖfor now. Lastly, you.

The last person is a man who looks to be in his late teens to early adulthood. He has messy black hair and wears a white karate gi. He has iron knuckles on his hands. He stands around 5í6.

Akari: A martial artist huh? Give me your info.
Man: I am Katzir, sir. My strength is my martial arts training. My weaknessÖI cannot use magic.
Akari: What?!

The others are also shocked at this.

Akari: What do you mean you canít use magic?
Katzir: Itís true.

Akari remembers Hunterís words about believing in him.

Akari: He must have been referring to Katzir. Can you feel your mana at all?
Katzir: Yes, sir, I can feel it. I can even feel the energy of the ground. But I cannot seem to draw it out.
Akari: Why would HunterÖwait a second. What did you just say?!
Katzir: Something wrong, sir?
Akari: Did you just say you can feel the energy of the ground?
Katzir: Yes, sir.
Akari: YouÖwhat family do you come from?
Katzir: My house is not noble or anything, but you might have known a relative of mine. He died about a month ago.
Akari: Speak his name then.
Katzir: My cousin, Seijuro, was the only one of note.
Akari: Seijuro?! Thereís no mistaking it. †
Katzir: Is there something wrong with me?
Akari: No, quite the opposite. Let me ask you something, were you ever taught how to use dark magic?
Katzir: No, sir. I thought it would be too complicated since I canít draw out my own element.
Akari: Itís the opposite, Katzir. You might just be a natural born dark user.
Shahar: Are you serious? There are only a few out of a hundred mages whose natural affinity is dark.
Liron: Looks like we have another potential strong one.
Yusuk: I donít buy it.
Katzir: Then, Iím not just a failure of a mage?
Akari: It remains to be seen. For now, let me see your martial arts.

After they sparÖ

Akari: Did your cousin teach you how to fight, Katzir?
Katzir: No, but I learned some of his moves by watching him. I had training elsewhere, Iím afraid. Did you know him?
Akari: He was better than anyone else in the Sheikh rank. Now I realize why Hunter sent Katzir to me. He wants me to teach him dark magic. Stand with the other passed candidates, Katzir. For now, you are with us.
Katzir: Thank you, sir! I wonít let you down! *Music Stops*

Akari looks at the seven who passed.

Akari: Shahar, Liron, Yusuk, Amitay, Drora, Hayim, Katzir. You seven have passed my first test. This does not mean you will definitely be in my team. I will observe you all more carefully. But for today, rest and mentally prepare for tomorrow. Meet me back here at the same time tomorrow.


With Hunterís plan taking effect, Akariís preliminary team has assembled. Just what is this threat that looms over the Red Kingdom? As one adventure ends, another begins anew. Get ready, because a whole new experience awaits the continent of Jovah on Part 2 of A Tale of Iron!

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PostSubject: Re: A Tale of Iron   June 8th 2015, 11:30 am

Chapter 29


A day has passed and the seven candidates who passed are sitting on the ground, waiting for Akari to show up.

Drora: We all were early.
Katzir: I thought maybe that would be another test; to see who would show up at a good time.
Shahar: In the military, if youíre late, you get punished badly, so I also thought so.
Hayim: UhÖIím early? You sure?
Yusuk: Yes, you dimwit.
Katzir: Hey, leave him alone.
Yusuk: Donít speak to me, no magic boy.
Amitay: Heís here.

The rest turn around to see Akari walking towards them. They stand up and line up.

Akari: You all came in good time. To be honest, it wasnít part of the test, but youíve all improved my opinion of you. Good job.
All: Sir!
Akari: Before we begin the intensive stuff, Iíll be back in one hour. In that time, you should get to know each other. Iíll bring lunch back with me. Is anyone opposed to spicy curry?

No one dissents.

Akari: Good.
Shahar: Where are you getting it?
Akari: A good friend of mine runs Dehliís.
Shahar: Ah, best curry in the city.
Drora: Sounds awesome!
Akari: Iíll be back.

Akari leaves them again just as quickly as he approached them.

Hayim: So, who wants to start?
Drora: How about you, staff guy?

Quickly taking over as the conversation starter, Drora points to Amitay.

Amitay: Me? Amitay is my name. Thereís not much to me, really.
Shahar: Well, why have you taken up fighting? We can all at least answer this question.
Amitay: I fight for the Red Kingdom. I started using quarterstaffs because I enjoyed watching the art and decided it was for me. I was taught patriotism at a young age, and I guess it stuck.
Drora: Boooring.
Amitay: Okay then, whatís your reason for fighting?
Drora: It sucks, but Iíd rather not fight. My family forced me into it as the only child and heir to the Hetzelberg house. I figure once I have enough achievements I can do what I really want to do.
Shahar: Which is?
Drora: Fashion, of course!

Yusuk starts snickering.

Drora: Whatís so funny?!
Yusuk: So thatís why you pretended to have that ridiculous outfit on.
Liron: If you say one more word about Drora, youíll regret it.
Yusuk: Oh, so you do speak. Do I sense some history between you two? Are you lovers?
Liron: Youíre pushing it.
Yusuk: What are you going to do? Iím your healer, bitch.
Liron: Youíre right. Iím sorry.

She extends her hand to shake with Yusuk. He claps hands with her, but all of the sudden, his body starts to pulsate as electric waves run through his body. He releases the grip and Liron kicks him to the ground.

Liron: As if I give a shit about that.
Drora: *Chuckle* I think you might have been a bit hard on him.
Katzir: Ms. Liron, youíre pretty cool.
Liron: Ms? Iím only 24.
Katzir: Ah, you acted so much more mature and strong yesterday.
Drora: How about you, martial arts dude? Even though you havenít been able to use magic, you still fight.
Katzir: Itís Katzir. I fight to show all those who ridiculed me that even I can become great.
Shahar: If you really are a natural dark user like Akari believes, then that shouldnít be too difficult for you. You showed great physical status yesterday. How old are you?
Katzir: 20, Mr. Shahar. How about you?
Shahar: 28. We confirmed Liron is 24. Anyone else willing to reveal their age?
Hayim: Iím 24 as well.
Amitay: 25 here.
Yusuk: (in pain) 23.
Drora: 21. So Katzir is the youngest and Shahar the oldest. But weíre all in our 20s at least.
Liron: Shahar, can I ask you a question?
Shahar: What is it?
Liron: You said yesterday that you fought in one battle. Can you tell us about that? It should benefit the team to have a glimpse of what the battlefield is like.
Amitay: Yes, indeed. I would like to hear this as well.
Shahar: Very well. The first and only time I fought was at the tail end of the last war. At the time, we had no idea who the commander of that legion was, but he had apparently been rising in rank quickly over the course of the war. We now know him as Royal Knight Aerona, one of the dragon slayers.
Katzir: He was one of the people who killed Cousin Seijuro then.
Shahar: It was odd. While addressing his men, the ground below him cracked and he fell into a hole. We didnít set any traps like that. But then, as he recovered, he unleashed a huge light wave on us that blinded our army. We were outmatched by that legion, thatís for sure.
Amitay: So you lost the fight.
Shahar: Handily. I was one of those fortunate to survive. The Royal Knight allowed us to escape, since defense was their primary objective. But just before, I met eyes with him. As I was, I could not bring myself to cross weapons with him. Thatís why I took up fighting and strategy. In order to become stronger and never have to lose that many comrades again. And when the time comes to fight someone like him, I wonít back down.
Katzir: If I see any of them, I definitely wonít back down. Theyíre so vile.
Liron: Theyíre really not.
Katzir: What did you say?
Liron: Put it in perspective. If you learned that the Iron Kingdom possessed a secret weapon, would you not seek to destroy it?
Katzir: Well, yeahÖbut they killed so many of our people. They made a mockery of our coliseum and they pissed off our king.
Liron: They were all war casualties.
Drora: Weíre not at war, Liron. I agree with Katzir.
Shahar: You are naÔve then, if you think that weíre in a time of peace. An armistice is a silent war in of itself.
Liron: Exactly. The truth is that weíve never stopped being at war for the past 100 years.
Amitay: Both of you have a point. Neither of you are particularly wrong in my opinion.
Drora: Then letís move on. Uh, you, water guy. How about you go next.
Hayim: Okay. My name is Hayim. Iím not very smart at all. In fact, Iím not good at a lot of things. I canít cook, canít clean, canít fix things, canít build things. But fighting is the one thing Iím good at. Thatís why I do it.
Liron: When you fought Sheikh Akari yesterday, you seemed different.
Katzir: Maybe you have a strong instinct for battle.
Hayim: I hope so. Because if I start failing at fighting, I wonít know what to do with myself.
Liron: Hey, healer brat. Are you still awake?
Yusuk: Yes.
Liron: You go next.

Yusuk sits up. His pain seems to have subsided.

Yusuk: Well, I come from a wealthy family. They donít give a damn about me though, since Iím the youngest son. Do you know what my father told me? He told me to surpass my brothers in order to gain a true spot within the family. Are you fucking kidding me?! How could they treat their own like that?!
Amitay: So then why have you taken up fighting? Are your brothers fighters?
Yusuk: No, theyíre doctors with healing magic. I decided that the best way to help someone was on the battlefield. My family has no intention of putting their lineage in danger by doing that. Bunch of pussies if you ask me. Iíll surpass them my own way.
Katzir: You know, Yusuk, youíre a pretty good person despite what we might have initially thought.
Yusuk: Can it.
Liron: I guess Iím last.
Drora: LironÖ
Liron: Itís okay. When I was younger, my older brother was a powerful fighter. He did something awful and landed himself in prison. When he finally got out, he decided to teach me how to fight. I had a natural penchant for it, so it stuck with me until I too did something awful. Because I am a woman, I got away with it. It taught me a valuable lesson about how not to fight. Why do I still fight? Itís a responsibility that I choose to bear. If you have power, you need to accept that you can do the worst of evils or best of good deeds. If youíre not ready to do either, then you shouldnít strive for power. The second you gain it, people start to rely on you more and more andÖah, Iím rambling. Iím sorry.
Shahar: No, itís okay. That was good.
Amitay: Iím assuming you donít want to share that awful thing yet with us.
Liron: Sorry, I canít.
Amitay: Understandable. Everyone has dark secrets locked up in their heart somewhere.

After the hour is up, Akari is on time with a giant pot of curry in his hands. He forms the ground below him into a cylindrical shape large enough to hold the pot. He then makes seats out of the ground.

Akari: UhÖwhich one was itÖAmitay. You are the fire user, right?
Amitay: Yes, sir.
Akari: Can you keep a weak flame under this pot to keep it hot?
Amitay: Sure.

Amitay puts a small flame under the pot. It is maintaining itself.

Amitay: Itíll go out in about 20 minutes. That should be enough time.
Akari: Thanks. Isnít magic handy? Oh, you probably shouldnít tell Captain Sentus I said that.
Drora: Letís eat then!

They all start eating the curry in large bowls.

Liron: Sheikh Akari, your earth control is unbelievable. You didnít show much yesterday, but I could tell just how much you were holding back.
Akari: Thank you.
Drora: Can we ask you two questions, Mr. Akari? We did as you said and we ended up asking two main questions while talking.
Akari: Sure, go ahead.
Shahar: The first was age. The second was why you decided to fight.
Akari: I see. Well, Iím 30 years old. Iím one of the youngest Sheikh, so I guess that makes me special hahaha.
Shahar: Then Iím closer to your age than the rest of my team.
Akari: Hmm, as to why I fight, itís a bit complicated. There are many people in my life that I care deeply about. They all enlisted in the army and navy. I always had good earth control, so I decided to enlist as well to follow them. I guess you can say I never had many ambitions of my own. But now things are different.
Katzir: Whatís so different, sir?
Akari: I donít know how much you all know about me, but I just woke up from a coma about a week ago.
Shahar: I heard about that. So that was you. You fought the dragon slayers.
Akari: Yes. Itís regrettable, but I lost in the end. In my own territory too.
Liron: What do you think about their morality? We also argued about that. You actually met them.
Akari: They were soldiers like you and me. They fought for what they believed in. Thatís all I can say about them.

After they eat, they stand up.

Akari: I am pleased that you all followed my orders. Now, weíre going to test your abilities a bit further. The one I was the most impressed with yesterday was Liron. Amitay, you were next on the list. I want you two to spar. Hayim, you will fight Shahar. Katzir, you fight Yusuk. Drora, you stand by. Letís hop to it.

Liron faces off against Amitay. They have their weapons ready. They stand about 15 feet away.

Akari: To start, you canít use any magic. When I say, you will then be able to use it. If you disregard this, you will automatically lose the fight. You may begin when ready.
Amitay: Letís have a good fight.
Liron: Yeah. *Music*

Liron starts by charging in with good speed. Amitay makes a long sweep with his pole, which she ducks under. This slows her progress enough that he steps back to gain distance and lunges at her. She sidesteps and then hooks the staff with her right tonfa. She runs at him while her tonfa is sliding along the staff. Amitay is able to free the staff with enough power and then dodges an incoming attack from her other tonfa. As she goes on the offensive, Amitay spins his staff at high speeds to change the trajectory of her weapons when they clash. He then kicks at her. She is able to bring her arms back to her center to block the kick and then high kicks at him. He is narrowly able to avoid it and then they both take a step back for distance.

Liron: Not bad.
Amitay: You have a lot more strength than I thought. Are you hiding a six-pack under that jacket?
Liron: Maybe.
Akari: You may use magic now.
Amitay: Cool.

He spins his staff and then rams one of the ends into the ground, which creates a circular wave of fire to come from him. Liron jumps high over it and then Amitay notices that she has lightning surrounding her legs.

Shahar: She stimulated her body with a slight jolt to temporarily give her extra strength.
Akari: Looks like we have our front-runner in the party.

She charges at Amitay and then surrounds her tonfa with lightning and clashes with his staff. Since the staff is dead wood, the electricity does not conduct through the staff.

Liron: So it is wood. I had to make sure, of course.
Amitay: Itís not over yet, Liron.

Liron jumps back as the staff starts to light on fire. Amitay sends forth a cylindrical fire blast from a staff lunge, which she dodges. He then continues this assault of fire blasts, which is keeping Liron on the defensive. Suddenly, she disappears and appears behind Amitay with her entire body having lightning running through her. By the time he tries to turn around, she lands a decisive hit to the back of his neck, which gives him a strong hit and a jolt at the same time. He falls to the ground. *Music stops temporarily*

Akari: This fight is over. You both did well.

Liron dispels the lightning around her and helps Amitay up. They shake hands.

Liron: To not burn your staff, you have very good control of your magic.
Amitay: Thanks. Your hits do some serious damage.
Akari: Next.

Hayim and Shahar face off in similar fashion.

Hayim: Uh, Katzir, good luck.
Shahar: Itís Shahar. You too.
Hayim: Right, sorry.
Akari: You guys know the drill. Begin. *Music Resumes*

Shahar stays motionless, but holds his mace up in a defensive stance. Hayim charges at him with his dual kama and then begins his attack. His first kama hooks the mace by the handle as Hayim readies his attack with the other kama. With superior strength, Shahar overpowers Hayimís hook and is still able to block the second attack. He then slides his foot into Hayimís, which puts him off balance. He then punches. Hayim ducks under it and then shoulder tackles. Hitting a piece of armor, Shahar stands strong and Hayim recoils in pain.

Hayim: Why did I do that?
Shahar: You fight well. But do try to think a little.
Akari: You may use your magic.

Hayim continues attacking with his kama, but all of the sudden, an emerald green barrier appears in front of Shahar to block it. Hayim jumps back and shoots an orb of water out of his hand. The barrier blocks it as well.

Hayim: That barrier is pretty strong.
Shahar: Youíre going to need more than a little water to get through this thing.

Hayim shoots two blasts of water out of his hands and they start to make an arc around Shahar.

Shahar: I see. Not bad.

Shahar puts up both hands and puts up two smaller barriers on both sides. The one in front disappears. Both blasts are blocked, but then Shahar sees Hayim charging right at him. He attacks with his Kama just as the blasts land. Shahar is able to move his body just enough to only get grazed, which his armor blocks the blade from cutting him. The barriers dispel and Shahar swings his mace down at Hayim. He blocks with both his kama, but gets pushed back severely. Shahar gives Hayim another hard swing, which sends both weapons out of his hands. Shahar readies a punch with his free hand. Hayim backs up, but is surprised as a barrier is now stopping his backwards progress. He gets punched in the face and falls to the ground. †*Music stops temporarily*

Akari: Nice. Thatís enough.
Hayim: You controlled the fight the entire time. Itís your victory.
Shahar: Donít sell yourself short. You had a good strategy. You tried to hook my mace in the beginning and you even tried to find a weakness in my barrier magic. I dare say you even found it. Youíre not so bad.
Hayim: Thanks.

They shake hands and the next two step up.

Yusuk: This isnít my strong suit, but Iíll still pummel you into the ground.
Katzir: Iíll show you.
Akari: You may start.

They both stand idly by, waiting for the other to make a move.

Liron: Perhaps this match up wasnít a great idea. We might have to stop them at some point.
Akari: What, did something happen during that hour?
Drora: Doesnít seem like many people get along with Yusuk. Though those two seem to be the worst.
Amitay: You sure? After LironÖ
Akari: What? What did you do to him?
Liron: I electrocuted him. It felt good.
Akari: Oh. Well, I didnít exactly say you couldnít fight.

*Music Resumes* Katzir finally makes the first move and attacks. His body movement is fast, but Yusuk counters by swinging his staff early. Katzir anticipates this and blocks with his iron knuckles on one hand. Katzir goes for a punch with his other hand, but Yusuk is able to dodge. He swings his staff again, but Katzir elegantly dodges. With no movement wasted, he belts Yusuk in the face, making him stumble back.

Katzir: You talked so big, and this is all you have? If you are a healer, you should still be able to protect yourself so you can protect the team.
Yusuk: Iíll end you!

Katzir charges again, but Yusuk kicks up some sand by golf swinging the ground upwards at Katzirís face. Sand gets in his eyes and he closes them. Yusuk then whacks Katzir with his staff three times, making him stumble back. We then see Katzir concentrate and stop moving around. He hears a step from Yusuk and then punches him in the face, sending him to the ground. Katzir stands up quickly.

Yusuk: What the hell.
Katzir: Your movements are clumsy compared to mine. I can find you anywhere.
Akari: You may use your magic.
Yusuk: I see.

He heals himself as the orb on his staff glows.

Katzir: Heal as many times as you want. Itíll give me more time to beat the hell out of you.
Yusuk: Weíll see.

He charges at Katzir and swings his staff. He manages to hit him in the side, but Katzir grabs it after being hit. He pulls Yusuk towards him and head-butts him. He opens one eye briefly and then smacks Yusuk with his own weapon, sending him to the ground. *Music Stops*

Akari: Thatís enough.

Katzir tosses Yusukís staff back in his general direction and then attends to his eyes.

Akari: Thatíll be good for today. You all showed good potential. You all also have room to grow. Even Liron and Amitay. Drora, I will definitely give you a chance to fight as well, but tomorrow we will begin some magic training. Does anyone know dark magic?

No one speaks up.

Akari: Thatís okay. I was planning on doing this with Katzir anyway, so I might as well teach you all the principles of dark magic. Dismissed!


To be continuedÖ

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PostSubject: Re: A Tale of Iron   June 9th 2015, 4:36 pm

Chapter 30


Later that day, Akari is sitting at a table with Hunter inside a restaurant.

Akari: Is Helen coming?
Hunter: I invited her, but told her to come about 15 minutes from now. I wanted the chance to talk to you individually first.
Akari: That was smart. Iím guessing youíre going to ask me about my group.
Hunter: Of course. How many passed?
Akari: Iíve set my tests up in stages, but so far 7.
Hunter: Which ones?
Akari: Amitay, Shahar, Liron, Yusuk, Hayim, Katzir and Drora.
Hunter: Hah, I figured as much. So you found out about Katzir, did you?
Akari: Yes. Why has he not been taught dark magic?
Hunter: Sorry. I have so many students that I couldnít focus on dark magic quite yet.
Akari: I understand. And you thought that it would be easier to accelerate their training if they were split up among teachers. In other words, youíre cleverly putting some of your work on Helen and myself.
Hunter: Thereís no fooling you. I hope youíre not too mad.
Akari: Itís okay, I donít mind.
Hunter: So then, tell me what you think of those seven?
Akari: Iíll tell you once you answer me why you gave me Katzir.
Hunter: Of the three of us, you are the most proficient in dark magic. I believe you can properly instruct him. Oh, and Iím sure heíll do something else for you.
Akari: Whatís that?
Hunter: Youíll see.
Akari: Cryptic as always. Anyway, I like them. I canít believe you gave me Liron.
Hunter: See? I told you I would be fair.
Akari: That girl is a godsend.
Hunter: Sheís been through a lot. Iím sure as you travel with her, youíll learn more about the trauma that befell her.
Akari: I see. YusukÖheís quite the troublemaker apparently
Hunter: I sent you Yusuk as a package deal with Liron. Heís a great healer, but he needs someone like her personality to keep his ass in line.
Akari: Hmm, you really thought this through.
Hunter: I had to give Helen the more agreeable healer. Iím sure you understand.
Akari: Amitay and Shahar are both very solid. I have zero complaints with either of them.
Hunter: As you shouldnít. Hayim is also very skilled, even if his brain is missing a few screws.
Akari: Yeah, I think he has good potential just from what I saw today. He has solid water control. Iím guessing he observed you in order to help him.
Hunter: Sort of. I guess water users do sometimes get an unfair advantage in my classes. Ah, speaking of, I made sure not to give you any earth mages. With you there, it would have been a wasted slot. How do you like the magic synergy I gave you?
Akari: Itís great. A good mix of offense and defense, a few combination potentials, etc.
Hunter: I bet Amitay told you that his fire is not always best suited to team combat.
Akari: He did. But in combination with Shaharís barriers or my earth magic, that could actually be quite the opposite.
Hunter: I was just about to say that. But youíve already done some thinking yourself, have you?
Akari: Plenty. Of course, Liron and Hayim could combine attacks, and DroraÖthere are many potential team scenarios that open up just because she is there.
Hunter: Iím glad you like your team. I figured those seven would pass, if you found out about Katzir.

Helen arrives soon after their conversation ends. They eat dinner together.

Helen: So, Akari, how are you feeling?
Akari: Great. I think by tomorrow Iíll be at full strength.
Helen: Hehehe, thatís good.
Hunter: Just what is that evil brain of yours planning?
Helen: Why donít we have a contest then in two days?
Akari: Two days? Thatís when our teams convergeÖah, I see.
Helen: Weíll have a three wayÖ.battle in front of our teams. That way the stakes are raised.
Hunter: Did you really have to have a pause there?
Akari: I accept. I need a serious fight to put me in top condition for this mission.
Hunter: I will also accept. Itíll be fun.
Helen: Awesome.

After they eat, Akari stands up.

Akari: Helen, youíll want to stay for a bit and speak to Hunter.
Helen: Okay.
Akari: Iíll see you all in two days.

The next day, Akari and his team have assembled in the same location. Theyíre all sitting on the seats he made the day before.

Akari: All right, everyone. Today weíre going to be doing some dark magic training.

Mana resides in every living being. Whether or not it surfaces is up to its user. The Iron Kingdom and Red Kingdom do many things differently, but the way they awaken young magic users is the same. In the years of the second Red King, a magic was invented that when used on someone, would help to awaken their mana. When the mana surfaces, it will show the affinity of the userís mana (i.e Solomonís affinity is wind, Vitoís is enhancement, etc.).

If the mana does not surface, it could mean a few things. First, the user has not trained hard enough and is not ready to use magic. Second, the user simply has no talent for magic and will never learn in their lifetime. The third possibility is the most rare of them. It is that the userís affinity is dark. The magic used to awaken mana does not work on natural dark users, because it is a magic that is available to any strong magic user. But it is especially strong in natural born dark users.

Some natural dark magic users will naturally awaken their affinity according to their power. For example, Seijuro was strong enough that his magic circuits opened on their own and granted him dark magic without help. Daniel of the Red Sun, however, was not very skilled with magic, and needed to be awakened by another dark user, despite being a natural dark user.


Akari stands up.

Akari: In order for you all to be able to learn this, I need to inject dark magic directly into you. It works better the more forceful I am. I have done this before, so there is no need to worry. Katzir, I will start with you.

Katzir stands up and walks in front of Akari.

Katzir: Mr. Akari, my cousin learned to use dark magic without this process. Is it possible that I too can do that?
Akari: Katzir, if youíre anything like Seijuro, then you would be his type as well. However, Seijuro unlocked his dark magic at a far younger age than you, while his magic circuits were still fresh. Itís possible that you were that type, but your circuits have been ďdeadĒ for too long. Iím going to shock you into awakening your dark affinity if my theory is correct.
Katzir: Okay, I believe you.
Akari: Believe in yourself, Katzir. Dark magic is difficult to control. But you can do it.
Katzir: Yes, sir.
Akari: Here I go.

Akariís right hand is encased with dark aura and then all conjoins on his fingertips. He puts all five fingers forcefully on his stomach. The dark magic injects itself into Katzir and then Katzir is sent flying from the attack. He crashes into the ground.

Akari: Letís see how much this worked. Stand up, Katzir.

Katzir gets up while holding his stomach in pain.

Katzir: Hang on, it doesnít hurt anymore.
Akari: I knew it. Draw it out, Katzir. Your body knows.
Katzir: Okay. *Music*

Katzir closes his eyes and concentrates. Instinctively, he puts his arms out at his side, palms up. Dark aura begins to collect itself at Katzirís palms and starts to run up his arms. We see a surprised reaction from the other team members. Even Akari seems a bit surprised. Once the dark aura reaches his shoulders, it quickly surrounds his entire body. He opens his eyes and theyíre glowing dark purple.

Liron: What is happening?
Akari: Thatís a lot of power gathering in him. I have to stop it.

He quickly rushes over to Katzir and puts his hand on his shoulder. He is able to disrupt the flow of dark energy and the aura leaves him and his eyes go back to normal.

Katzir: ThisÖis power.
Akari: Donít let yourself become obsessed as a result.
Katzir: Yes, sir. But, I couldnít control it past a certain point.
Akari: Yes, I know. If you summon too much power, it wonít be able to stop itself from coming. There are only three ways to counter that. The first is the way I just did, but only very experienced dark magic users can perform it. The second is if you have a light mage powerful enough to counteract the dark energy. The third is to incapacitate you, which can either be to knock you unconscious or kill you.
Katzir: I see.
Akari: In your case, because you are a natural, the power comes even faster. So you must take great caution before you master this power.
Katzir: Iíll be careful, sir. *Music Stops*
Akari: Good. Iím proud of you, and I know Hunter will be as well when he finds out.

Akari pats Katzir on the head and then heads back to the others. Theyíre all thoroughly surprised.

Akari: Who wants to go next?

He performs the same routine with everyone. They line up with Katzir standing next to Akari.

Akari: Now that you all have been directly injected, your bodies recognize this energy and can now use it. You just need to be able to draw it out. Feel the power that runs through the land. I will be monitoring your progress while I teach Katzir some basic mana controlling since he has never been able to use magic before.
Hayim: So we canít do what Shahar did?
Shahar: Iím Shahar. That was Katzir.
Hayim: Oh, my bad. So we canít do that?
Akari: You all have an affinity for something else. For example, Hayim, yours is water.
Hayim: Oh.
Akari: So you have to work at it in order to draw out dark magic. If you cannot show any progress by tomorrow, you lessen your chance of being on the final team. Though right now, you all have good chances. Have fun. Katzir, letís go.
Yusuk: Why does Katzir get to have special treatment from you? He was weaker than some of those people you failed initially.
Akari: This isnít about playing favorites, Yusuk. Those people I failed showed no strong potential for quick growth by the time we leave in a week. Katzir has all the tools to succeed in this mission, except the one that we just unblocked. Now, with just some basic training, by the time we leave, he will be far stronger than any of those half-baked hacks I failed. And on top of that, he has the discipline to back it up. Something you lack, Yusuk. Youíd better also think about improving in that area.
Yusuk: Yes, sir.
Drora: You just got TOLD!
Yusuk: Shut it, bitch.
Shahar: Less talking, people. Letís try to concentrate.

Many hours pass with no progress. Akari and Katzir have brought lunch to them, which is matzah ball soup.

Akari: Letís take a break.
Shahar: Wait, I thinkÖ
Akari: Oh?

Shahar has his hands inward, spread out by about six inches. A faint dark orb starts to form between them and then disappears.

Shahar: I got it.
Akari: So youíre the first to show any real progress, Shahar. Your experience seems to win out this time. You can get your food first.
Shahar: Thank you, sir.
Liron: Iím close; I can feel it.
Amitay: Same. I lost to you last time, but I wonít lose here, Liron.
Liron: Youíre on.

They continue training while Shahar gets some soup for himself.

Akari: SeriouslyÖthose two.
Drora: Matzah ball is my favorite. Iím gonna take a break.
Hayim: Uh, me three.

While everyone eats, Amitay and Liron continue. Finally, Amitay gets a small orb going after a few intense minutes.

Amitay: Hah!
Liron: Shit.
Akari: Good job, Amitay. Now put a fire under this pot.
Amitay: Got it.

He pats Liron on the shoulder while she continues concentrating.

Amitay: Do your best.
Liron: Go eat already.

Five minutes later, Liron is able to do the same. She wipes some sweat from her forehead and gets some food for herself.

Akari: That only leaves Drora, Yusuk and Hayim. Keep at it, you three.
Drora: I feel close too.
Hayim: Yeah.
Yusuk: Same here.
Akari: Ah, while youíre all here now, I should probably tell you. This group is going to meet with the other two tomorrow. And at that meeting, Iím going to engage in a battle with Hunter and Helen.
Hayim: Youíre going to fight both at once? Wow, teacher, youíre strong.
Akari: No no, itíll be a three-way battle.
Liron: Sheikh Hunter is very strong and Iíve heard great things about Sheikh Helen as well.
Akari: Weíve fought many times. We donít exactly keep score, but weíre all around the same level. This time, itíll be a public display.
Katzir: How come we donít fight as well? Our teams in a battle royale.
Shahar: That would be problematic. If Helen and Hunter picked the same number of people, there would be 24 people in the fight if we include the three team leaders.
Katzir: I see what you mean. That would be too hectic.
Akari: But what we can do is show off a little.
Amitay: You mean by us learning dark magic by tomorrow.
Akari: You catch on quick. Do the best you can, but if all seven of you can produce even the faintest bit of dark energy, it is sure to stick it to them if they havenít done the same.
Liron: Are you the competitive type?
Akari: Not normally, no. But when it comes to those two, I donít want to lose. Weíll show Hunter that him sending you all to me was a mistake. He should have kept you for himself.
Yusuk: Now that Iím down for.
Hayim: Well, I donít want to go against Mr. Hunter, but I will help at least.
Katzir: Do you have a special relationship with Hunter, Hayim?
Hayim: I owe him my life.

He stands up and walks aside to start training again. Yusuk and Drora join him.

Akari: He owes Hunter, huh? Iíll have to ask about that tomorrow. Letís try a different approach.

Akari stands up and faces the three of them.

Akari: You told me you all told each other the reason why you fight. You each have a motivation for being here. Use that motivation to concentrate. Draw out this power. I have faith in you.

In just a short half-hour, the three of them are able to manifest a small dark orb.

Akari: Good work you three.
Drora: Thanks!
Yusuk: I actually did it. I didnít think it was possible until today.
Hayim: Aww, it didnít work.
Drora: No, Hayim. You did it too!
Hayim: I did? Hooray!
Akari: *Facepalm* Seriously...anyway, all of you have a seat.

Everyone sits down and Akari stands in the middle.

Akari: Listen to everything Iím about to say carefully. Once you can manifest a small orb and maintain it for at least a minute, you will be ready for the next step.

Akari casually brings out a small dark orb.

Akari: In order to draw out itís true power, there usually needs to be a trigger of emotions. Katzir, this doesnít apply to you, since you have already drawn out its power to the point of it being usable. Thatís the advantage of being a natural born dark user.
Katzir: I see.
Akari: I want you to stay and listen, however.

Akari makes a hard step and crushes the orb in his hand. The aura immediately flares up and covers his entire body.

Akari: Right now, I am constantly regulating the flow of dark magic energy. If you get to this state and canít do that, it will keep growing and eventually overwhelm you. At that point, youíll go berserk. You wonít be able to control your body, but you will be conscious for all of it. For that reason, we require new mages who learn dark magic to never use it without someone present that can reverse the effects with one of the three methods I mentioned earlier. That is also why it is forbidden in the Iron Kingdom. That and for other reasons.
Liron: Incredible. Your mana flow is stable, despite all the power flowing into you.

Akari dispels his dark aura completely.

Akari: You may all practice your dark magic, except you, Katzir. Do not attempt to trigger the large amount of dark magic if you can maintain an orb by tomorrow. I mean it, you all.
Katzir: But, Mr. AkariÖ
Akari: I know itís frustrating. Youíve just received all this power and now you canít use it. This is a test of character, Katzir. Endure it, and you are sure to become a dark master with the proper discipline and training.
Katzir: Yes, sir.
Akari: The rest of you are dismissed.

They all leave.

Akari: Alright, Katzir. Weíre going to continue your basic control training. Are you ready?
Katzir: Yes!


The fight is tomorrow!

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PostSubject: Re: A Tale of Iron   June 12th 2015, 11:34 am

Chapter 31


The next day comes quickly for Akari. He gets ready and goes to a different location. He meets his team out in a street and then they follow him to their destination. It is in the middle of the afternoon.

Katzir: Mr. Akari, where exactly are we going?
Akari: A training area that we use during wartime preparation. Shahar, youíve probably been there once.
Shahar: Yes, sir, I have. Iíd imagine itís pretty empty right now.
Liron: It shouldnít be. It should be teeming with people.
Drora: Weíre not talking about that again, are we?
Yusuk: I agree with the scary lady.
Akari: Weíre keeping this mission under a gag order. As far as the public knows, weíre simply doing some joint training for some new recruits.
Hayim: Iím confused. What are we talking about now?
Amitay: Weíre talking about whether or not we should be prepping for war.
Hayim: Oh. I thought we are going on a mission, not war.
Yusuk: No, you dumb ass. Weíre talking about the Red Kingdom as a whole.
Hayim: Oohhhhh.
Katzir: We should be trying to make peace with them right now, as much as I hate what they did.
Liron: No one wants to go to war, but it seems inevitable right now. There will be chaos in the palace if our king doesnít take action. If this mission gets out to the public, itíll be even worse.
Akari: We wonít be able to keep everything from them forever. Our politics are in a very delicate position right now. Anything can happen at this point. This mission could save us from warÖfor now.
Shahar: This world, itís so messed up. Why do we always have to be at war?
Akari: Weíre here.

They enter what looks like a mini-coliseum. Helen and her team are there already. She has eight people behind her. Helen and Akari meet in the middle while both teams stay on opposite ends.

Akari: So you were the first to arrive.
Helen: Yeah. Making a lady wait isnít very nice, you know. *Sticks out her tongue*
Akari: Sorry. I thought we were early though. Now whereís our mastermind?
Helen: Havenít seen him. While we wait, do you want our teams to co-mingle?
Akari: Why not? I see no reason to hold them back from each other.

They both signal for their teams to come to the middle.

Akari: If you see someone you recognize, you can go ahead and talk. Weíre going to wait for Hunter and his team.

The situation seems awkward at first, but Liron approaches another woman. She has a white shirt and white baggy pants. She has shoulder length black hair.

Liron: Ferra. Itís been a while.
Ferra: Liron, I didnít expect to see your face here. Had I known, I wouldnít have come here.
Liron: Ferra, please. We had our differences, but canít we at least end on a good note?
Ferra: Donít count on it.

Ferra turns her back on Liron. Dejected, Liron turns around and walks away with her shoulders slightly slumped. While some of the other teammates have gone into talking, Hayim and Katzir have hung back. She stands next to them.

Hayim: Are you okay?
Liron: Iíll be fine.
Katzir: Ms. Liron, who is she?
Liron: She was a friend.
Hayim: You mean she doesnít want to be your friend anymore?
Liron: No, Hayim. No she doesnít.
Hayim: Then she doesnít know what sheís missing. Isnít that right, Shahar?
Katzir: Itís Katzir. And yes, I agree with Mr. Hayim. We havenít known you long, but we think youíre a pretty good person.
Liron: Heh. Thanks you two.
Helen: Where is that blasted Hunter? I donít think I could bear to listen to another sad reunion.
Akari: I hear you.

Finally, after a few more minutes, Hunter arrives with his team. He has six people with him. All the teams return to the sides as Hunter joins Akari and Helen in the middle.

Hunter: Sorry, I was preoccupied with something.
Helen: Itís okay. Akari and I had plenty of time to, you know. *Wink*
Akari: Wait, what? What are you trying to insinuate we did?
Hunter: This is why I didnít give her Drora, Akari. The two of them together would have been too much to handle for the rest of the team.

Akari imagines Drora and Helen shamelessly flirting with all the boys on her team and lets out a chuckle.

Helen: Hey! What are you imagining now?
Akari: I dunno, but it seemed pretty hot.

MeanwhileÖ

Shahar: Amitay, wanna bet on what theyíre talking about?
Amitay: Okay. Five silver coins itís something intense.
Shahar: Youíre on.

They see the three of them laugh together. Amitay snaps his fingers in disappointment and forks over the five silver casually to Shahar.

Helen: Are we ready to start this fight?

The other two nod ďyesĒ. They stand by their teams and start stretching.

Akari: Shahar, be on guard. You may have to put up some fast barriers. All of you be vigilant. This could get ugly quickly.

They all take a battle ready stance whenÖ

Female Voice: What is the meaning of this?

This voice shocks all three of them. At the entrance to the training area stands a woman who is clothed in white royal robes. She is wearing a turban with a ponytail hanging out from it. She stands around 5í9. Akari, Helen and Hunter group together and stand at attention.

Hunter: General Shiomi! We werenít expecting you here, maíam.

With Hunterís words, all three teams become instantly shocked and instinctively stand straighter and neater.

Shiomi: I heard about what youíre doing from Sentus. I decided to pay you a visit while you were gathered like this.

Shiomi approaches the three Sheikh. Her emerald green eyes pierce through their nerves and sweat is seen running down each of their faces.

Shiomi: At ease. So, what were you three about to do?
Helen: Maíam, we were about to fight, since Akari is feeling better now.
Shiomi: I see. That will do your team no good to see that. They need a demonstration of teamwork.
Hunter: So then, you suggest we have our teams fight each other?
Shiomi: No, I want you three to fight me.
All Three: WHAT?!
Shiomi: Thatís an order.
Akari: Iíd better go alert the hospital that Iíll probably be sleeping there another month.
Helen: Make sure thereís room for all three of us!
Hunter: Heheheheheh. Sounds like fun.
Akari and Helen: Donít make it worse!

After a minute passes, all the teams have moved to seats, completely off the ground. Akari, Helen and Hunter are standing together with Shiomi about 30 feet away. Akari is in the middle with Helen on the left, Hunter on the right.

Helen: Just like our training years ago. Weíll use that same strategy.
Hunter: Right. Except weíre much stronger now.
Akari: Letís just get this over with.
Shiomi: Have you finished discussing a battle plan yet?
Hunter: Weíre ready.
Shiomi: Come at me whenever. You can make the first move.

*Music* Akari starts off the battle by pulling his hands towards his chest and then forcing them outward. The ground morphs into a giant wave, which rages towards General Shiomi. She puts her hand out in front of her and a small blue light emits from it. All of the sudden, the entire wave shatters, creating a dusty mist around her. Suddenly, a blast of water is sent her direction. She senses it and dodges, only to have six more like that coming from all directions. Shiomi opts to jump up into the air, where Helen is in the air waiting for her. She is encased by a wind barrier. She sends wind blades straight down at her. All of the sudden, Shiomi disappears and reappears above Helen. She is floating.

Helen: What?! You can do that?! Just kidding.

The water blasts have now made it up into the air and assault her. Shiomi simply disperses the water with a blast of energy, which also knocks Helen out of the sky. She catches herself and then lands on the ground safely. The three Sheikh regroup.

Akari: Sheís not even trying. Fuck.
Shiomi: Your strategy wasnít bad. Letís continue.

Shiomi lands on the ground.

Hunter: In order to float or even fly with concussive magic, the amount of control has to be extremely precise.
Shiomi: The Iron general can do as much as well.
Akari: Itís time to get truly serious, guys.
Hunter: Youíre doing that already? Helen!
Helen: Right.

Akari activates a shroud of dark magic energy as Helen lifts Hunter up above the ground with a wind barrier. At this time, Akari yells out and slams his hand down on the ground and the entire training grounds erupt into an earthquake of massive proportions. The teams in the seats can feel the rumbling of the entire structure.

Shiomi: I canít predict how this earth will move since itís random.

Shiomi lifts herself above the ground and starts flying upwards. She is then suddenly impeded by a huge gust of wind that presses down on her from Helen. She is also surrounded by a dark shroud. Being slowed down considerably, her limbs get grabbed by black water that starts to pull her down. Seconds later, a large amount of rock, sand and dirt surround her and close in on her.

Shiomi: Well done.

General Shiomi unleashes an explosive wave of energy that destroys the water, breaks through the wind and shatters the earth surrounding her. She lands on the ground.

Shiomi: Your power is well acknowledged, as is your teamwork.

Just then, she is behind Akari. He doesnít even realize it until a few seconds later. *Music Stops* The pressure of her magical energy starts to weigh down on him until he is kneeling on the ground, sweating and having trouble breathing. The other two get close, but stop in front of Akari.

Shiomi: Without Sheikh Akariís raw power as a distraction, you cannot hope to challenge me. Yield.

They both look at each other and then put their palms up in defeat.

Shiomi: Good.

She helps up Akari, who is still catching his breath.

Helen: General, I canít believe how strong you are. You didnít even break a sweat fighting us.
Shiomi: I am impressed, however. I wasnít expecting you to destroy the entire fighting arena and then force me to actually use some strong magic. All three of you have good dark magic prowess.
All Three: Thank you, maíam!
Shiomi: Now, Iíll go meet your teams.

She starts with Helenís group then goes to Hunterís. Finally, she goes to Akariís team. They stand at attention as she looks at them closely.

Drora: Ms. Shiomi, it is good to see you again.
Shiomi: Ah, Hetzelberg, right?
Drora: Yes.
Shiomi: Youíve grown since I last saw you. Good to see you here fighting for the Red Kingdom. We need noble family in on this project.

She then notices Yusuk.

Shiomi: Speaking of noble familiesÖI recognize you as well. I did not expect to see someone from your family here.
Yusuk: I wanted to be the first, maíam.
Shiomi: Good lad. (Looking at Katzir) And you, boy.
Katzir: Me?
Shiomi: Yes. You are a natural dark mage.
Katzir: You can tell, General Shiomi?
Shiomi: I can. Have you recently awakened your power?
Katzir: Yes.
Shiomi: Work hard. You guys donít have it easy, but it pays off well in the end.
Katzir: I will!

She then looks at Liron.

Shiomi: HmmÖyou look like youíve done well for yourself. †Youíll surely surpass your brother if you stay under Akariís tutelage.
Liron: I hope so, General Shiomi.
Shiomi: Youíve definitely changed. For the better, I hope.
Liron: Yes.

She then looks at Shahar, Amitay and Hayim.

Shiomi: You three I donít recognize, but I can tell that you three have strong potential.

Akari then steps in.

Akari: Guys, how about you show the general your progress? Now is about as good a time as ever.

All of them bring out an orb of dark magic energy with minor difficulty. Hunter and Helen take note of this.

Shiomi: Very good. How about this one, Akari? *Points to Katzir*
Akari: His situation is delicate to say the least. Iím teaching him how to master his magic control.
Shiomi: Well, keep at it. His mana is in complete disarray as it stands. If he doesnít master it to a certain degree soon, he will become a liability to your mission.
Akari: I understand. I have faith in all of my team members. Katzir is no exception.
Katzir: Mr. AkariÖ
Shiomi: If you say so. Iíll be off now. I will report to the king that I give my approval for the teams that have been chosen. Good luck, Akari.
Akari: Thank you, General Shiomi. Thank you for gracing us with your time.
Shiomi: Oh, one more thing.
Akari: What is it?

The picture zooms out to show the destroyed grounds.

Shiomi: Fix this place before you leave.
Akari: *Scratches head* Yeah, no problem.

The general leaves and Akari immediately relaxes, as do the rest of the team.

Hayim: I thought I was gonna die! Sheís scary!
Yusuk: No kidding. I bet she has a chastity belt made out of dark magic. Iíd hit it though.
Shahar: She was beautiful; Iíll give you that, Yusuk.

Katzir seems to be spacing out to the rest of them. Shiomiís words about him becoming a liability loom inside his head. Amitay approaches him and puts his hand on Katzirís shoulder.

Amitay: Hey, donít worry about it, man.
Katzir: Mr. AmitayÖ
Amitay: Youíre good. Our captain told the general right to her face that he has faith in you.
Akari: Thatís right. No one here has it easy. Weíve all dealt with rough patches in our lives. But weíre here now to work through them as a team.

Akari then realizes that Hunter is standing behind him.

Hunter: Youíve become close quickly, have you?
Akari: Thanks to you.
Hayim: Master Hunter! Did you see me?
Hunter: I saw, Hayim. You used dark magic. Iím very proud of you. Iím proud of all of you. Youíre all doing well under Akari, I see. I was right to send you to him.

Hunter turns and starts walking away when Hayim follows. Hunter turns around and looks at him.

Hunter: Iím counting on you.
Hayim: Yes, master! I wonít fail you!
Hunter: Well then, Akari, Iím heading out. I think this meeting served its purpose.
Akari: Yes. You go on ahead.

Both Hunter and Helenís teams leave the training grounds.

Akari: You can all go home if you want. Iím going to clean this mess up. It shouldnít take long.

All seven of them stand in a line on the seating area. They donít budge an inch.

Akari: You guysÖitís okay, really.

Shahar nods to Akari and then leaves. The rest follow, except for Liron, who sits down while observing the area.

Liron: Captain, that was quite an attack. Iíve never seen destruction on this level before by one person.
Akari: It drained most of my mana, thatís for sure. I canít do that too often. Fighting General Shiomi, I knew that if I held back that I could get killed. But that was just her intimidation. She never even intended to harm us.
Liron: From the looks of it, she didnít even need to.
Akari: And is that all you took away from that battle?
Liron: I took plenty from that fight, captain.
Akari: Captain?
Liron: Ah, we just started calling you that. Not like the blue robe captain, but team captain.
Akari: I see. That is fine.

Akari focuses with dark magic surrounding him. He brings up a large portion of the ground in chunks and levitates them. Liron seems mesmerized by the work he is doing. Akari grinds up the rock and ground into sand and smoothens out the rest of the ground.

Akari: That should do it.
Liron: Seeing you three and the general, it really makes me feel weak.
Akari: You are plenty strong as you are and you still have a lot of room for improvement. The original battle plan wasnít meant to dishearten you. It was to give you a goal to shoot for. Of course, once the general stepped in, things were a bit different.
Liron: Yeah. You showed us teamwork then.
Akari: Teamwork will be a giant factor in our success. I canít teach that to you all, however. It has to come organically. Helen, Hunter and IÖwe trained together when we were at your skill level before Hunter and I were promoted to Sheikh rank. Helen fell behind us for a short period of time, but managed to catch up to us with hard work and determination.
Liron: I see.
Akari: Letís get going. Itís getting dark.

They start to walk out together, when Akari stops Liron.

Akari: Liron, I heard what General Shiomi said to you, and it hit me. Your brother is Hassar, isnít he?

Liron looks away from Akari in shame. Akari takes a deep breath and closes his eyes for a second.

Akari: I see. Iím so sorry.

He walks out through the gate to see Helen standing there alone, waiting for him.


Behind Lironís exterior lies a dark past with her brother. Just what happened to her that changed her into the person she is today? And why was Helen waiting for Akari? Next time on A Tale of Iron!

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PostSubject: Re: A Tale of Iron   June 14th 2015, 3:50 pm

Chapter 32


Akari: Helen, whatÖ
Helen: I was hoping we could speak a little more.

Helen notices Liron lagging slightly behind. She seems distressed.

Helen: Is this a bad time?
Liron: Iím okay, Sheikh Helen.
Akari: Do you want us to walk you home?
Liron: No, I donít want to trouble you. Good luck, Sheikh Akari.
Akari: Good luck? With what?

She leaves without saying another word.

Helen: What happened?
Akari: General Shiomi and I dredged up some bad memories, I think.
Helen: I see.
Akari: So, where do you want to go?
Helen: Just walk me home, thatís all.
Akari: Okay.

They begin walking side by side as the sun sets. It eventually becomes dark.

Helen: So, how is your team?
Akari: I really like them. I believe we can succeed.
Helen: Iím glad. My team is good too. Hunter kept his promise.
Akari: Heís always been a fair one; I can give him that.

They pass by some street vendors closing up shop. Some of them salute the two of them out of respect. They politely wave back.

Helen: Do you remember how we used to come here every day after training?
Akari: Yeah. We were always so hungry and the slop they fed us at camp wasnít nearly enough.
Helen: We used to take turns paying for each otherís lunch, since we had allowances at different days.
Akari: Man, that does bring back memories.
Helen: Donít you ever want to go back to those days? Life was simpler back then.
Akari: Nah. I like where Iím at now. It was hell back then, even if we did make good memories.
Helen: Good point. I guess we so often glorify the past that we forget how bad it actually was.
Akari: And who said hindsight is 20/20? Haha.
Helen: Hah.

They make it to a small house that is in the middle of a street of identical houses.

Helen: DoÖyou want to come in?
Akari: WhatÖ

When Helen turns to him, Akari sees the look on her face. Her countenance is very troubled. This catches Akari off guard.

Akari: I suppose I can. Somethingís very wrong with her. What is it?

They enter her house where Helen lights a candle nearby, which allows her to light multiple candles around the house. Akari takes a seat on a piece of furniture that can be barely made out from the minimal light. She begins heating up tea at a fireplace.

Helen: Just how you like it.
Akari: A good Chai tea, huh?
Helen: Yes. Iíve been drinking it more often lately.
Akari: Iím starting to rub off on youÖthat sounded wrong. Maybe itís you who rubbed off on me haha.
Helen: Good one.

She pours the tea into two cups. They both drink it in silence. Afterwards, Akari takes a deep breath.

Akari: Helen, I can see the pain in your face. What is wrong?
Helen: I thought I could just bury my emotions, but the more I try, the more they haunt me at night.
Akari: Itís okay. Tell me whatís troubling you.
Helen: Itís about what happened to you.
Akari: You mean my coma?
Helen: Yes. I thought that you coming back would be enough, but itís not. Every night I lie awake, thinking about what could have been or what may happen in the future. I knowÖyou and Hunter would say the same thing. ďTry not to think about those things. Theyíre not logical, not soundĒ things like that. I know all these things and yet, it doesnít help how I feel.
Akari: I understand. Iím sorry that I scared you so badly.

Helen has now gripped Akariís robe tightly. Her head is down, but we can see her teeth grit. Akari tips her head up by her chin to see her in tears. He can do nothing but sit there in shock.

Helen: I thought I was going to lose you, Akari! I couldnít stand it these last three weeks!
Akari: This mission has you worried for me then.
Helen: Yes. I know weíre strong, but anything can happen out there. I learned that when you came back to us asleep.

Akari wipes her tears with his index finger.

Akari: You care this much for me then. I see your heart, Helen. Now, see mine.

He leans in slowly and Helen reciprocates until their lips meet. They embrace at the same time as Helen slowly brings Akari down till we can no longer see them in the dim light. A few days pass and we see the team assembled in the same spot as they had been meeting. Akari is the only one not present.

Drora: Todayís the day we leave! Are we all excited today?!

The rest of them are less chipper.

Drora: Whatís the matter with you all?! This shit is exciting!
Katzir: Iím happy, if it helps you, Ms. Drora.
Drora: You know Iím only one year older than you. You donít have to address me as missÖ
Katzir: Sorry. Itís a bad habit of mine.
Hayim: Iím nervous. I donít want to let Master Hunter down.
Amitay: Itís cool, Hayim. Everyone here is a bit nervous. Try to relax a bit.
Shahar: Is it me, or is Amitay like the most chill guy on the planet?
Liron: Itís not you. Everythingís cool. Something you donít normally expect from a fire mage.
Amitay: I heard that, you two.
Shahar: Itís a compliment, really.
Amitay: Oh, itís cool then.

Shahar and Liron start chuckling. Not long after, Akari shows up.

Liron: Were you successful with Sheikh Helen?
Akari: I donít know what you mean.
Liron: Sure you donít. I saw the look on her face that night.
Akari: Oh, so thatís what you meant by ďgood luckĒ.
Drora: Donít tell meÖ
Yusuk: Good going, captain.
Akari: Enough about this.
Shahar: (Imitating Amitay) Itís cool, captain. Donít worry about it.
Amitay: Iíve gotta stop saying thatÖ
Akari: Anyway, weíre moving out, but I have a few things to attend to in town before we leave. You are to go to the entrance of the mountain pass directly north of here.

Being in the very center of the Red Kingdom, this city is encircled by a mountain range. This makes besieging the capital extremely difficult. The mountain passes are narrow, so it forms a perfect defense against invaders.

Shahar: Understood. I know where to go.
Akari: Good. Wait for me there. I promise I wonít be long. I need to speak to Captain Sentus one last time.

Akari leaves to go back into town. The rest have prepped their stuff. They have bags that look similar to the ones the Iron group had.

Shahar: Are we all ready to go?

They all nod.

Shahar: Then follow me.

The group follows Shahar north. The city eventually fades from sight.

Shahar: I was just thinkingÖwhat a brilliant design to build the capital here.
Hayim: Why is that?
Amitay: The mountains give us some of the best defense possible.
Katzir: By the same token, canít the mountains also give invaders some cover?
Liron: It doesnít really matter. Itís a long trek. By the time they get anywhere near the city, theyíre in worse shape than we are.
Shahar: Thatís right. Weíve also historically been able to ward off attackers by destroying a mountain pass. Youíre very vulnerable while crossing on such a narrow strip of land.
Amitay: A powerful earth user like our captain could likely wipe out an entire army by himself under those conditions. And then he could simply rebuild the thing himself.
Katzir: This is true.
Yusuk: The mountains do give us one weakness.
Shahar: Indeed. It stops many people from getting in, but it can also stop people from getting out. However, like Katzir mentioned, they could give us cover if we needed to escape ever.
Drora: Hmm, you guys and your strategy talks.
Liron: Hey.
Drora: Sorry.
Yusuk: You sure youíre actually a woman? You certainly look like one, but you donít act like one.
Liron: Are you prepared to start something with me again?
Yusuk: Hey, if I can confirm that youíre a woman, Iíll stop.
Liron: Youíre a sorry punk. You wouldnít know a real woman if she rubbed up against you.
Yusuk: Címon, sweet tits, just one feel.
Katzir: Yusuk! Thatís enough!
Yusuk: Fine fine. She just canít complain if no man ever goes for her for being too tight.
Hayim: I donít think what youíre saying is true.
Yusuk: If you think that, then that must mean Iím right.
Amitay: Letís stop this, guys.
Shahar: Besides, weíre here.

The view zooms out to see a giant mountain in front of them. There is a long, winding, narrow path that leads between two mountains. They drop their stuff and a few of them sit down. We can see how visibly angry Katzir is when Amitay approaches him and puts both hands on his shoulders.

Amitay: Hey, man, itís okay. ItísÖ*looks at Shahar*ÖItís going to be all right. Donít let him get you too worked up.
Yusuk: Yeah, donít let me get you too worked up. Youíll just become even more of a liability.

When Yusuk says the word ďliabilityĒ, Katzirís eyes widen and he starts zoning out. General Shiomiís words come back to him and his face begins to change.

Yusuk: The way you are now, you need to leave. Youíll end up going berserk and maybe youíll kill us all. Then what? Youíre a liability; admit it.
Liron: Stop this, now.
Yusuk: I wonít stop. You know Iím right! And you, we canít trust you either. You told us you did something awful, yet you canít tell us what. How do we know you wonít turn on us too? If you wonít tell us, then youíre also a burden on our team.
Liron: You-
Katzir: (Darkened voice) Donít talk about her like that!

At that moment, the other six look at Katzir with surprise. They all felt something in that exact same moment that didnít sit well with them at all. They had just enough time to process what was happening by the time Katzir had pushed Amitay aside, sending him to the ground. Katzir is teeming with dark magic energy and his eyes have gone purple again. *Music* His appearance begins to change a little as well. His hair starts to show purple highlights and his skin starts to become rougher and his nails grow ever so slightly. Finally, he lets out a darkened yell that barely sounds human.

Shahar: What the hellÖ
Liron: Not good.

Just as she says that, Katzir has leaped forward at an incredible speed towards Yusuk. Liron is able to step in the way and blocks an incoming arm flail with her tonfa. The pressure is pushing Liron back at an alarming rate.

Liron: This powerÖ

Katzir quickly kicks Liron on the side, which sends her flying and crashing into the ground. He then charges for Yusuk again and flails his arm at him. Yusuk takes a hard cut from Katzirís nails across his chest. He steps back and heals while Shahar puts up a barrier between the two. Katzir punches the barrier and it shatters almost immediately.

Shahar: Youíve got to be kidding me.

Katzir charges once again for Yusuk, who cannot move fast enough to avoid him. He grabs Yusuk by the face and begins to crush it. He leaps forward towards the nearest mountain and slams his head straight into the mountainside. Yusukís head breaks through a solid sheet of rock and ground and then Katzir pulls it out. He then slams Yusuk down on the ground hard, which cracks the ground around his head. A dead silence fills the air for a few seconds after this. The look on everyoneís face is the same. They all understood two things. The first was that Yusuk was dead. The second was that they had to stop Katzir now. As Katzir unclutches Yusukís face with his palm, Liron appears behind him. She is running electricity all around her body now. Katzir senses her from behind and dodges an incoming attack from her tonfa.

Liron: We have to knock him out quickly! Iíll keep him at bay! Back me up!

Liron and Katzir now engage in close quarters combat, dodging each otherís strikes. Liron quickly gets put on the defensive.

Liron: His body instinctively remembers his martial arts training. With this amount of dark magic energy running through him, Iím outclassed here.

Suddenly a barrier comes between the two of them. Katzir breaks through that one as well, but it gives Liron an opening to strikes with her tonfa. Katzir gets shocked as well, but fights through the pain and attacks. Liron is able to dodge, but his nails scratch her face. Just then, Amitay jumps in and attacks with his pole. Katzir grabs it, but then gets hit by a water ball from behind. He ignores the pain and then pulls Amitay towards him and impales him with his fist. Just then, his eyes widen as Amitay fades away and then he gets shocked from behind. The shock is strong enough to incapacitate him. *Music Stops* We see that Amitay is actually standing just next to Liron.

Drora: Looks like my illusion affected him in time.
Amitay: Yeah.

Shahar walks up to Yusukís body and checks his pulse.

Shahar: Heís gone.
Amitay: I donít think many people could have survived that.
Hayim: Are you okay, Liron?
Liron: Yeah, Iíll manage. Thanks.
Amitay: He landed a strong hit on your side. Are any of your ribs broken?
Liron: No, I donít think so. Iím not the one we need to worry about right now.
Drora: KatzirÖwhat do we do with him?
Shahar: The better question is ďwhat does he want to do with himself?Ē.
Liron: Weíll wait for the captain before we make any decision.
Shahar: Yes, that we will.

In time, Akari arrives and is shocked by the scene. Yusukís face and part of his body are covered by his robe lying over top of him. Katzir is unconscious lying next to Amitay. The rest of them are sitting. Each of them has a similar troubled face.

Akari: What the hell happened here?
Liron: ÖA lot.

They explain the situation to Akari.

Akari: This is not good at all. I should have spent more time with Katzir and Yusuk. I didnít think he would emotionally trigger such a huge amount of dark magic. Yusuk must have really gone overboard to make him do that.

A few minutes later, Katzir awakens. No one dares speak a word to him. He looks around to see everyoneís face. His own face looks even worse than the rest of them.

Katzir: He was right. Yusuk was right. General Shiomi was right. I am a liability.
Akari: The fault lies with me, Katzir. If I had understood the situation a little better, I could have done something.
Katzir: No, captain. I am an adult. I am responsible for my own actions. I let my emotions get out of control, even after hearing what you said about dark magic spiking as a result of that. There is only one person to blame, and that is me. Itís justÖthe things he said to Ms. Liron and myselfÖI just donít get why he had to be so hurtful to everyone.

Amitay puts his hand on Katzirís shoulder.

Amitay: Listen, Katzir. The things Yusuk said might have been right, but the way he said them was wrong. Itís true that you might become a liability, but that doesnít mean you are one.
Akari: Amitay is right. Yusuk didnít know how to be constructive with his words. Itís just unfortunate that he didnít get a chance to learn. Katzir, I promise that I will teach you control of your magic to the best of my ability.
Katzir: Yeah, but I killed Yusuk, and I hurt Ms. Liron. I donít want that to happen again.

Liron approaches him, but he wonít look at her.

Liron: Iím glad that you stood up for me. I could handle Yusukís harassments, but it was nice to know someone cared enough to say something. Beside, itíll take a lot more than that to get rid of me, kid. Stand up and fight. Youíll never make things better if you donít.

She extends her hand to Katzir. He reluctantly looks at her and takes her hand as she helps him stand up.

Shahar: To be perfectly honest, Katzir, Iím not totally sold on you yet. But I wonít simply count you out yet.
Hayim: I donít know much, but I do know that you arenít a bad person.
Drora: That was scary as hell, but I guess I can forgive you.
Katzir: All of youÖyouíre right. Yusuk was right about me, but I canít let it end that way. If I donít learn to control my power, this could happen again. My only choice is to stick with you, captain.
Akari: Right.

Katzir tries to step, but he trips and falls over.

Katzir: I canít walk? Whatís going on?
Liron: I had to shock you pretty badly in order to knock you out. Your nervous system is probably confused. Iím surprised you could even stand.
Katzir: So thatís what that pain was.
Liron: It should wear off soon.
Akari: Iím glad everythingís okay now, but we do have a few problems.

Akari approaches Yusukís body and then stomps on the ground, which lowers the ground below Yusuk.

Akari: We have to bury Yusuk here, but we have to also break the news to his family, which was noble. We have to tell them that he was killed in battle with an enemy.
Katzir: I have to tell them the truth.
Akari: I donít care what your moral compass looks like. That is not an option. You have no idea what it would do to the political situation if the truth were ever revealed.
Shahar: I agree. We could be in hot water with the nobles about dark magic, Katzir would be executed and we have no idea what kind of trouble could brew as a result beyond that.
Akari: Yusuk died honorably in the line of duty. That is the story we will tell. Our second problem is that we no longer have a healer.
Amitay: We canít just go back to capital and ask for another one.
Akari: We most certainly canít. It is time for us to leave too. We only have one option. We must continue without a healer.
Liron: It sucks, but we donít have any other choice.

After a minute or so, Katzir is able to stand on his own and walk again. They all pay their last respects to Yusuk and then Akari uses his magic to bury him.

Akari: We donít have any more time to delay, unfortunately. Letís go.

As Akari leads the way to the mountain pass, the rest follow. Amitay is currently aiding Katzir walk at a decent speed for now. But as they go on, we can see that their faces have still not changed. None of them are okay right nowÖespecially Katzir.


Yusuk is dead. Akariís team presses on without a healer. Emotions are running high among the group as they just try and move forward from this tragedy.

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PostSubject: Re: A Tale of Iron   June 16th 2015, 11:50 am

Chapter 33


The group is walking along the mountain pass. They are walking in single file, but there is enough room for two people to stand side by side. †Akari leads the way.

Akari: Katzir, come up next to me.
Katzir: Yes, captain.

Akari steps to the outside to allow Katzir on the inside, against the mountain.

Akari: One of the important things when you control your mana is to visualize where it goes. Do you know what I mean by this?
Katzir: In other words, have a picture in my head of where Iím concentrating my mana as if itís visible.
Akari: Yes, good.
Katzir: I did pay attention to most of Mr. Hunterís lessons; I just couldnít do anything with it till now.
Akari: Eventually, your body will remember how to do that process on its own. Thatís what we call muscle memory.
Katzir: I know that much as well, since that was important for my martial arts training.
Akari: Right. They told me that your muscles remembered all that when you went berserk.
Katzir: There was something else that bothered me, captain.
Akari: Whatís that?
Katzir: I had zero control over my body at a certain point, and yet my target was consistent. It was feral, but it still specifically targeted Yusuk.
Akari: Ah, I see what you mean.
Shahar: (Just behind them) I found that odd as well.
Akari: Going berserk from dark magic is actually a little different than most people initially think. If you are encased with dark magic, your reactions become better. Do you know why that is?
Shahar: Could it have something to do with instinct?
Akari: Yes, precisely. Dark magic enhances everything about your body, including your bodyís instincts. Your brain, your heart and the rest of your body are connected. Your body understood the source of your anger and sought to eliminate it. Itís almost like the form you take has a mind of its own, and yet itís not really sentient.
Katzir: How do you know so much about this, captain?
Akari: I too have gone berserk.
Shahar: Youíre kidding.
Akari: Afraid not. I hurt many people I cared for, including Hunter and Helen. The reason I know so much about dark magic is because Iíve gone through and experienced all of its effects. Do you know why I am telling you this, Katzir?
Katzir: Because I can become like you too.
Akari: No, you can become even better in the field of dark magic. Itís a heavy responsibility, but it also freeing to know that you can use such power to protect the ones close to you.
Katzir: Itís just like Ms. Liron saidÖ
Liron: If you have power, you need to accept that you can do the worst of evils or best of good deeds. If youíre not ready to do either, then you shouldnít strive for power. The second you gain it, people start to rely on you moreÖ

Katzir glances back at Liron, who is more towards the back, walking just in front of Hayim and behind Amitay. She glances back with a casual nod. She didnít know what they were saying, but she figured it wasnít anything too damaging for her to agree.

Katzir: I want to be ready to do either the worst or the best. Iím not quite there yet.
Akari: Thatís understandable. Youíre still young, and youíve only just gained power. Learn how to control it first, and then worry about that.
Katzir: Youíre right.

Akari stops them by putting up his hand.

Amitay and Liron: Somethingís here.

They look out away from the mountain where all of the sudden a distortion is seen in the air and four spears appear. They are sent flying at the group. Shahar makes a barrier that encompasses himself, Katzir and Akari to block two of them. The other two are sent towards the other four, where Hayim blocks them with a short blast of water.

Drora: Nice reaction, Hayim!
Hayim: Thanks.

Drora draws her bow and readies it.

Amitay: What the hell was that?
Liron: Donít let your guard down just yet.

Just then, the air begins distorting all across the sky and what seems like a hundred spears rain down on them.

Akari: My turn.

Akari stomps his foot on the ground and we see a ripple go into the mountainside, loosening it. Simultaneously, he uses his hands to manipulate the broken mountainous ground to form a giant wall in front of all of them, blocking all of the spears.

Drora: Thatís our captain for you!

Akari drops the earth below him. Shahar goes up to the other four.

Shahar: Liron, Amitay, Drora, I need you three to fire an attack where you see distortion next time.
Amitay: I see what youíre thinking.
Liron: Got it.
Drora: Sure thing!

Drora holds her bow drawn with an arrow ready. Liron has lightning held on two fingers and Amitay has fire at the tip of his staff. There is a small distortion visible now and they fire off towards it. The distortion absorbs it and then it closes up a few seconds later after throwing just one spear. Shahar easily blocks it with a small barrier. They get ready for another attack, but nothing comes.

Shahar: I knew it.
Amitay: You think that distortion was actually a teleportation portal?
Shahar: Yes. If someone could send things through the portal on one end, chances are we could also send something through it from the other end.
Akari: Well played, Shahar. Thatís the type of ingenuity I want on this team. You all did well, but we need to keep moving. ďThe enemyĒ, whomever they may be, knows we are here.

They keep moving on, at more of a brisk walk instead of the casual walk that they had been doing.

Shahar: Iím worried about what just happened. Captain, could you sense anyone nearby?
Akari: No. But just like a few of you, I could sense that portal.
Shahar: That means that the enemy was out of our range. I donít think itís possible that someone has an ability like that AND can sense that far.
Liron: So, youíre suggesting that this person is working with someone that has perception magic. That makes the most sense right now.
Amitay: I have to concur. For those portals to be so precise, they had to be able to locate our presences. But then how about all those spears at once?
Akari: Itís best not to make assumptions about that part. That could have been any number of things. For all we know, it could have been linked to the portals perhaps holding a dimension of space for weapons.
Drora: Weíre dealing with some unique magic affinities then.
Hayim: I never saw anyone with that magic before.
Akari: Itís rare, indeed.
Katzir: By the way, since the portal closed after those attacks went through, do you think we injured them?
Shahar: Iíd say thatís probable. But we definitely shouldnít assume that killed them.
Liron: I also think itís important that they decided to attack us while we weíre here on the mountain pass. It was as deliberate as deliberate gets.
Akari: I donít think there was any doubt it was deliberate.
Liron: Fair point. But that also means they were waiting for us.
Shahar: Wait, that is important. Could the enemy have caught wind of our plan already? How is that possible?
Akari: Anythingís certainly possible. You guys didnít know this, but there was an assassination attempt on the king when Hunter proposed the plan. Thereís a chance that someone was listening that we didnít want listening.
Drora: Seriously?!
Akari: Ah, but Captain Sentus stopped the assassin without any problems. So there wasnít any reason to worry or say anything.
Shahar: Just what is the Iron Kingdom doing? I canít figure it out.
Akari: The Iron queen acts like she is innocent, but she is a scheming devil. She knew exactly what she was doing when she sent that damn group to our lands. Her gambit worked, and now we are in a bad spot. The Iron Kingdom is likely to invade us soon.
Amitay: But why not now? What are they waiting for?
Akari: That, I donít know. Iím hoping that we will uncover the truth as a result of this journey.

They make it to the end of the mountain pass, which leads to a town in the horizon after more sandy terrain.

Akari: Weíll rest up in that town and replenish the rest of our mana. While weíre walking, Katzir, I want you to try what I just told you back there in practice. I want you to focus your magic to your head, right hand, left hand, right foot, left foot and stomach in that order. Hold it for two seconds in one position and then move it to the next. Do I need to repeat the order?
Katzir: Head, right hand, left hand, right foot, left foot, stomach, right?
Akari: Yes. If you start to lose control, say so and I will immediately help. But act like Iím not here. You may not always be able to rely on me, as you already know.
Katzir: I understand.
Akari: You all could stand to work on dark magic while we walk, since we will be replenishing in town.
Amitay: Do you think weíre out of danger for now?
Akari: I believe so. I firmly think we injured whoever attacked us and they are currently recovering. If we didnít, I canít imagine why they didnít take the opportunity to attack for the rest of the mountain pass.
Shahar: Yes, I agree. Though that could also be a trap to lure us into a false sense of security.
Akari: Thatís why Iíll be focusing, while you all work on this. Itís very important that you all learn this in order to get stronger. For the rest of you, whoever can maintain a dark orb the longest wins. You tie if more than one makes it to the town. It should be this size.

Akari makes an orb about half the size of his hands. He dispels it and the others minus Katzir perform that. They maintain it while walking. Meanwhile, Katzir is doing as Akari said. We see a small amount of darkness emanating from the corresponding areas when he switches to them. They all eventually make it to town without anyone losing their dark orb.

Akari: You guys are coming along faster than I thought. Youíre all very talented individuals.
Hayim: Even me, captain?
Akari: Yes, Hayim. Even you. Now, letís go eat something.

They start to walk through the town, which is structurally built around sandstone like the capital. They find a male vendor with meat cooking on a grill behind him.

Akari: How much?
Vendor: 15 silver each piece.
Akari: Letís talk about 4 each.
Vendor: Ah, no, youíll have to deal with 14.
Drora: Captain, let me handle this.
Akari: Drora? You think you can do better?
Drora: Just watch.

Drora approaches the vendor and starts casually massaging one of his shoulders with one hand.

Drora: So, how about 2 silver each?
Vendor: For you, Iíll do 12.
Drora: Oh, youíre such a bad man.

She winks at him.

Drora: Letís say 4.
Vendor: 11.

When we look from the otherís perspectives, he is simply talking to himself while Drora is silent, standing next to them.

Liron: Youíre something else, Drora.
Drora: I know, right?
Vendor: Oooh, thatíll get you 4 silver a piece.
Hayim: Why is he talking to himself?
Drora: Heís under my illusion right now.

The vendor sells them each a large piece of meat for 4 silver coins each. They each have paper wrappers so that they can eat on the go. Suddenly, the illusion breaks and the man is thoroughly confused at what just happened.

Akari: Iíll admit, you have some good manipulation skill there.
Liron: Never underestimate pussy power.
Drora: Liron! I canít believe you actually said that in front of all the guys!
Liron: Not like it actually helps defend against it. †

They casually high five without looking at each other. Shahar facepalms and shakes his head at the same time.

Amitay: Not to change the subject, but are we staying the night here?
Akari: We might as well. Weíre technically the third wave.
Hayim: Third wave? Does that mean you guys can use water too?
Akari: *Sigh* No, Hayim. It means weíre the last group that started. Hunter had us stagger the time in which our groups started. Hunterís group went first, followed by Helenís, then ours.
Shahar: If thatís the case, then Sheikh Hunter believes that we are either the strongest group or second strongest with Helenís being the weakest. Thatís basic strategy for a three-point line up, though it could change based on what he really has planned.
Akari: In any case, we donít have to worry too much. I have a good idea of what kind of pace we need to be moving at, and weíre okay.

They find an inn and Akari goes up to the innkeeper.

Inkeeper: Oh! You are a Sheikh. Welcome, sir. Do you require lodging for the night?
Akari: Yes. My group and I would like to rest here. How many rooms do you have?
Inkeeper: Four. 100 silver per night each room.
Akari: Thatís a bit steep.

They all immediately turn to Drora. About a minute later, Drora is seen paying a quarter of that price for three rooms.

Katzir: Wow, Ms. Drora, youíre on a roll today.
Drora: Heehee!
Akari: As for dividing up the roomsÖ
Drora: Ahem! Captain, since I was the one who got us that deal, I think I should decide.
Akari: Fine thenÖ
Drora: Okay, so first, the captain and Shahar so that the two old guys can be in the same room. Then weíll have Katzir, Liron and Hayim. And finally, me and Amitay will share a room!
Amitay: Wait, what?
Liron: So this was your plan all along.
Katzir and Hayim: I like this plan.
Akari: Uh, how about this: Drora and Liron in one room, Hayim, Shahar and Amitay in the next and then lastly Katzir and myself?
Drora: Aww, but my plan was much better.
Akari: Alright, weíll leave it up to a vote, I suppose. All in favor of Droraís plan.

Katzir, Drora and Hayim immediately raise their hands. Amitay slowly and sheepishly raises his hand.

Shahar: You traitor!
Amitay: Sorry, but at least with this plan I only have to room with one person.
Shahar: Excuses! You just want to-
Akari: Enough, Shahar. Weíve decided.
Shahar: *Sigh* Yes, captain.

They go up to their rooms, which happen to be next to each other. They are small rooms with two small beds each. The beds are up against opposite walls with a window in the very middle. In the three-person room, Liron sets her bag down just under the window and sits against that wall.

Katzir: Ms. Liron, you donít need to do that. You can take one of the beds.
Hayim: Yes, one of us will sleep on the floor.
Liron: Nah, itís all right.
Katzir: I couldnít possibly let a lady sleep on the floor.
Hayim: Me too!
Liron: Thatís sweet of you two, but my gender has nothing to do with the situation. Iíve done this before, so itís okay.
Katzir: Iím more worried about your injury.
Liron: I told you it was okay, but if you need proofÖ

She stands up and starts taking her shirt off. The two of them start staring intently, but she stops halfway, just exposing the bottom half of her torso.

Liron: Go ahead and feel my side if you want. I wonít think anything of it.
Katzir: No, thatís okay. I believe you.
Hayim: Just to be sureÖ

She drops her shirt to normal position and sits down again.

Katzir: Can I ask you something? Are you really comfortable being in this room with two guys?
Liron: If it was someone like Yusuk, the answer would have been no. I would have knocked his ass out first. I can tell you two are just innocentÖfor now. And at least one of you has felt a strong shock from me.
Katzir: Yeah, that shit hurts.
Hayim: I would never do anything like that anyway.
Liron: Yep, I believe you both that you wouldnít. Neither of them has the guts.

Meanwhile, in Amitay and Droraís roomÖ

Drora: Please?
Amitay: (Eyes closed) Nope.
Drora: Preeeettty please?
Amitay: No.
Drora: Can you at least look at me when youíre talking to me?
Amitay: And risk falling under an illusion? Nah, Iím good.
Drora: Whatís the problem?
Amitay: If we start engaging in acts like that, it could compromise the team.
Drora: Damn. Here I thought you would say, ďYeah, no problem. Itís cool, manĒ.
Amitay: You guys are never going to let that go, are you?

In the last roomÖ

Shahar: So, what now? Discuss the finer points of strategy?
Akari: Iím good, dude.
Shahar: (Dejected) OkayÖ


They have already been attacked by some unknown enemy. Are they ever truly safe from ambush? The adventure continues next time!

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PostSubject: Re: A Tale of Iron   June 18th 2015, 11:10 am

Chapter 34


As they are in their rooms, they can each see steam rising from outside the window.

Katzir: Whatís that?
Liron: Hmm?

Liron stands up and looks out the window.

Liron: Oh, itís a hot spring.
Katzir and Hayim: H-h-h-h-hot spring?!
Liron: What are you two imagining?

Drora: Good news, Amitay. Thereís a hot spring down there. We can take a bath together.
Amitay: Oh.
Drora: Thatís all you have to say? Oh?
Amitay: I donít like getting wet. Fire mage, remember?
Drora: I like getting wet hehehehehe. Oh, but seriously, do you not take any baths?
Amitay: Nope.
Drora: Disgusting!
Amitay: That was a joke.
Drora: Oh! You scared me.

Shahar: Well, would you look at that? Thereís a hot spring here.
Akari: Iím sure a few of the others are jumping for joy.

They all make their way down to the hot spring, where they are separated into two changing rooms. After theyíve finished changing, they come out with towels wrapping around them. It is then that they notice each other coming out of the changing rooms. It is a mixed bath.

Hayim: If there is a god, he is being very kind to me.
Akari: Oh, so itís a mixed bath. Okay then.

He casually walks over to the bath and we switch to seeing Liron and Droraís face as Akari drops his towel. They both widen their eyes with surprise.

Drora: Captain, your body is like your magic. Rock solid.

Akari is in the bath already and lowers his head into the water up to his nose in embarrassment. They all eyeball each other to see who is next.

Liron: Enough of this foolishness. Iím getting in.

She simply drops her towel and gets in quickly.

Drora: My girl!
Liron: Why donít you just get in? We only have a little time.
Drora: Okay then! No peeking, boys! *wink*

She struts over to the spring.

Shahar: So, does she want us to look or not? Iím confused.
Akari: Typical.

Suddenly, she is in the spring already.

Akari: Another illusion.
Drora: If you want to see the full version, youíll have to pay a little extra, Amitay!
Amitay: Whoís going next?

Katzir is next and then Shahar.

Hayim: Iím nervous, Amitay. What do I do?
Amitay: Itís cÖItís okay. How about thisÖ

He whispers something to Hayim.

Hayim: Thatís so smart!

Hayim manipulates some of the water from the hot spring to cover his private parts as he drops his towel.

Drora: Oh, youíre no fun.
Shahar: I guess youíre last, Amitay. Itís cool, maaaan. Get in.
Amitay: That jokeís getting old, but I guess it is my turn.

After a few seconds, Amitay is in.

Drora: (Lower volume) Did you see how big it was, Liron?
Liron: (Lower volume) Yeah. Pretty big.

Amitay has also lowered his face in embarrassment right next to Akari. Akari lifts his head up a little so that he can speak.

Akari: So, now that everyone is in, we can finally all relax. I was initially against being the third wave, but I guess it had its benefits already. I also have to ask a personal question to you all. I know that Yusuk was causing trouble with the group. And I know that weíre not particularly happy heís gone. But with that fact aside, how do you feel you get along as a group without him?
Amitay: Personally, I believe we have good chemistry as a team. Yusuk did create some unnecessary friction that I donít believe we have now.
Liron: I feel that we work better as a team now, but the tradeoff is that weíre missing a healer.
Katzir: I donít think things are better.
Shahar: Of all the people here, Iíd thought youíd be the last one to say that.
Katzir: We all act like that incident is behind us, but I can see itís not. You all look at me differently now, and I get why. I think if anything, I created unnecessary conflict for the group.
Shahar: Youíre not wrong about that. Thatís just something youíll have to live with.
Hayim: ShaharÖ
Shahar: I know you want to be kind to Katzir, but it doesnít always work like that. The truth is that he did something inexcusable. If he were in the military, he would have been killed for treason. I hope you all realize that.
Liron: Shahar, thatís enough.
Katzir: No, Ms. LironÖheís right.
Shahar: But donít get me wrong, Katzir. I told you before that Iím not sold on you yet. But that doesnít mean I donít believe in your potential. There is a chance that you can become one of our greatest asset, if not the greatest here besides the captain. But as you are right now, thatís not the case. Your progress could end up helping us greatly or hurting us even further.
Katzir: I accept that. Iím going to strive for power, so that I can accept that either can happen to me.
Liron: Katzir, those wordsÖ
Akari: Then it looks like youíve already matured a little in the short time weíve been together. If you want us to look at you differently than we do now, youíre going to have to make us.
Katzir: Yeah. I will.
Drora: Besides, Katzir, your body isnít so bad either. That martial arts training has done you good.
Katzir: (Blushing) Ms. Drora, when you say it like thatÖ

After the bath, they all get ready for bed. We focus on Drora and Amitay first.

Drora: Are you suuuuure you donít wanna?
Amitay: Itís tempting, but Iíll pass. You are a nice girl, Drora, but we donít want to add any more problems to the group. We have enough as it is.

In Shahar and Akariís roomÖ

Shahar: Do you mind me asking why you coddle Katzir so much? Is it because he is related to Seijuro?
Akari: Shahar, you have to understand my role. My role is to believe in each of you. When Hunter handed you all off to me, I knew he wanted me to finish each of your training. You and I, weíre military raised fighters. We learned by tough love, and thatís okay. Katzirís needs are slightly different from ours. Heís like a plant that needs watering at specific times and sunlight at specific times. In other words, he needs support most times, but sometimes he does need tough reprimand.
Shahar: Was I out of line then?
Akari: No, I think Katzir needed to hear what you said. He was thinking the same and needed validation. You gave that to him.
Shahar: Okay good.
Akari: Would you like me to be tougher on you?
Shahar: No, I think Iíve been through enough of that, as Iím sure you know.
Akari: Oh yes. The training is quite hellish.
Shahar: Itís just weird for me to see a caring spirit like that. My parents never seemed to care about me, as long as I did well in everything. They sent me off to the military to bring honor to the family to rise in rank. They thought maybe I could make them noble.
Akari: I see. But now you choose to fight for your own causes after what youíve seen in war.
Shahar: Yes.
Akari: Looks like your motivations have come full circle then.
Shahar: Perhaps.

In the third roomÖ

Hayim: We should probably get some rest for tomorrow.
Katzir: Yeah.
Liron: I just have one thing to say before we do.
Katzir: Whatís that?
Liron: Yusuk wasnít entirely wrong about me either. What Iíve done is also unforgivable, and not telling you what it is could be seen as a liability.
Hayim: So are you ready to tell us?
Liron: No, not yet. I know itís contradictory, but Iím just not ready.
Katzir: I donít think thereís anything wrong with that, but thatís just me.
Hayim: Itís okay to have secrets, right? Donít stress too much about it.
Liron: The two of you are very kind. I like that. No matter what Yusuk or Shahar said, you both have good hearts. Donít forget that.

As Liron undoes her ponytail, Katzir tosses her his pillow and Hayim tosses her one of his sheets.

Liron: You guysÖ
Katzir: You said you liked that we are kind, so accept it.
Liron: Thanks. Iíll take it.

They all go to sleep in time and then the next day comes. We can see Shahar peeking through the keyhole of a door.

Shahar: Huh, so they really didnít do anything after all. I thought for sure since he voted to room with DroraÖ
Akari: Were you that curious?
Shahar: Honestly, yes.
Akari: Maybe youíll get your chance with her too.
Shahar: Thatís notÖ

Akari walks away, leaving Shahar stammering to himself. Later that morning, everyone has woken up.

Hayim: Are you ready to go?
Liron: Ah, let me just fix my hair. Itíll only take me two minutes.

They look at her weird.

Liron: Hey, whatís that look for?
Amitay: You actually do that kind of stuff?
Liron: Iím a woman, remember? You were all gawking at me last night.
Shahar: Huh, never thought about it like that.
Liron: You guys are weird.
Akari: What about you, Drora?
Drora: I used to get yelled at for being late for things because I always took too long to get ready.
Katzir: So you stopped taking so long?
Drora: No, I just started waking up earlier. A girlís gotta look her best for everything, you hear?!
Liron: By the way, on a scale of 1-10, how far above 6 did Drora sexually harass you, Amitay?
Drora: Hey!
Amitay: Ah, I didnít mind it.
Akari: In any case, we do need to keep moving. You have five minutes to get ready.
Liron: Thanks.

Five minutes later, everyone is ready and they move on. They make it to the edge of town and look out at the terrain before them. The sandy terrain starts to show signs of plant life in the far distance.

Shahar: Once we leave here, we wonít find another town for quite a ways.
Akari: Yeah, unfortunately. This is where our route takes us though.
Amitay: I guess we have to accept the bad with the good.
Akari: Letís get going then.

Akari leads the way as the rest follow him. They eventually are out of sight from any civilization.

Akari: After last night, I feel that I have a good grasp on our situation as a group. We may need to start building trust, but I think weíre okay right now.
Liron: Yeah.

Just as she agrees with Akari, they all feel something wrong.

Amitay: Liron, behind you!

She turns to see a distortion behind her. She quickly gets out of the way where a spear comes flying past her and sticks into the ground. They all get out their weapons. Another distortion appears behind Amitay.

Liron: Amitay!

Amitay moves out of the way when this time a human comes through and misses with a scimitar slash. Just then, six more people appear all around the group through distortions. *Music* The one with the scimitar attacks Amitay. Itís a young woman whose face is covered with a white niqab and the rest of her body is covered with white silk cloth. Amitay defends with his staff and then backs up to gain some distance.

Shahar: So they were portals after all.

Another attacks Shahar. Itís a man who has a turban and black robes on. He is wielding a tulwar. Shahar is able to block with the handle of his mace and push this man back. The next person to attack has Iron born skin tone and is wearing chain mail with a coat of plate over it. He has a rapier in hand and lunges at Liron. Liron is able to block it with one of her tonfa.

Liron: Youíre from the Iron Kingdom. I always wanted to see how I stack up against one of you.

Another one of them has attacked at this time. It is a man who is also Iron born and has full plate armor. He has a military saber and clashes weapons with Hayim. Two people go after Akari. Both are Red born females who are wearing baggy silk clothing with nothing covering their faces. They have an identical face to each other. They both charge at him simultaneously. When they get close enough, Akari stomps on the ground and the ground below them suddenly flares up and sends them flying back. The last of them is a giant male who stands about 7í0 and is wearing long pants but no shirt. He is Red born. Katzir and Drora go up against him.

Katzir: Drora, letís take him together.
Drora: Yeah.

This man charges at them and they get out of the way quickly. Drora draws an arrow and fires it. The man dodges it and Katzir follows up by going for a punch to his torso. The man grabs Katzirís hand with his own gigantic hand and starts to crush it after he lifts Katzir up into the air. Drora holds another arrow at the ready, but the man holds Katzir in front as a shield. Katzirís eyes are closed.

Katzir: Focus, visualize the dark magic going to my fists. Control it.

From the hand that is being crushed, dark magic starts emanating from it. It stings the manís hand and he drops Katzir. Once he lands on the ground, he focuses twice the dark magic energy on his other fist and then gives the man a hard punch. He is sent crashing into the ground and Katzir quickly dispels his dark magic.

Drora: You did it!
Katzir: It was only a short burst, but I did.

The man gets up in pain.

Man: Oh, man. That stung. Youíre pretty strong for a little guy.
Katzir: Drora.
Drora: Yeah.

She looses her arrow, but it bounces off his body with only minor damage. We can see that the place where the arrow hit has turned silver.

Drora: Hardening magic. Shit.

Meanwhile, Liron is being put on the defensive by rapid lunges from her opponentís rapier.

Liron: Heís keeping his distance so that I canít get in. Heís not giving me an opening.

She tries to get close, but is forced to back up when he keeps up the lunging to the point where she cannot be anywhere near him.

Liron: The Iron Kingdom certainly produces strong fighters.

She finally runs lightning through one of her tonfa and blocks a strike. The lightning runs through the rapier and shocks him. This opening allows her to get in close and attack with her tonfa. Just before she hits him, he is able to move in what seems like blurry movement. He easily dodges the attack and then lunges at her from behind. She tries to block with her tonfa, but all of the sudden the rapierís speed changes at the last second and stabs her in the side. She grabs the rapier and runs lightning through it again, but he lets go of the weapon and simply punches her in the face. As she falls to the ground, he grabs the rapier and pulls it out quickly.

Liron: Not good.

He is about to stab her while sheís on the ground, when she backwards somersaults in time to dodge it. She stands, but is holding her side.

Liron: What kind of technique was that? He was able to change the speed of his movement and attack instantly. I have to figure it out if Iím going to stand a chance at beating this guy.

While this is happening, the two identical women are panting while fighting Akari, who hasnít even moved from his spot and shows no signs of struggle.

Akari: The teamís not doing well. We may have to make a swift retreat.

Amitay is keeping the woman he is fighting at bay with his superior reach at this time. Suddenly, as she backs up, he shoots a fireball at her. She puts her hands in front of her and the fire is absorbed. Suddenly, it comes crashing into Amitay from behind. The distortions are now more defined and look purple.

Amitay: So you were the portal person.

She rushes forward and then immediately appears behind him. She swings her scimitar at the back of Amitayís neck, but he is able to bring his staff to that part to block. He then gains some distance, but she just goes through the portal to attack him from behind again. This time Amitay shoves his staff through the portal on one end and it hits the woman on the back of the head when it comes out the other end.

Amitay: Hah.

We pan over to Shahar and Hayim, who are fighting back to back. They are both injured as well.

Shahar: This doesnít look good at all.
Hayim: Theyíre really strong.
Akari: I guess I have no choice.

We see all of the team members get encased by rock and get forcibly moved to his location. They all get released and are lying on the ground, all injured.

Katzir: Captain.
Akari: I was hoping I wouldnít have to do this, but I guess Iíll have to put some muscle into it. *Music Stops*

He activates dark magic and stomps on the ground, which sends a ripple all around him. With the ground loosened, he now manipulates it to move in a circular motion around him and then sends the ground in a giant omnidirectional wave, which blows back all of the assailants. The portal woman teleports them away and they retreat.

Akari: Good, they retreated. For now, weíll have to go back into town and hide out for a few hours.


With the thorough beating given to them, Akari had to come to their rescue. What is the next step for them? Next time on A Tale of Iron, Part 2!

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PostSubject: Re: A Tale of Iron   June 22nd 2015, 9:46 pm

Chapter 35


The team has made it back to the town. They are all resting up and attending to their injuries. Akari is the only one without any.

Akari: While weíre doing this, we need to discuss what weíve learned about them. Did we find out who was the portal user?
Amitay: It was the woman I fought. She was skilled with that scimitar, but nothing I couldnít handle. But the way she used those portals really made it difficult to fight.
Akari: How about the sensor?
Shahar: It was likely the man I fought with the tulwar.
Akari: Do you have anything concrete that told you that?
Shahar: The only reason I think so is because before I made any kind of barrier, there were subtle reactions as if he knew everything I was going to do before I did it.
Akari: I see. That is good enough, in my opinion.
Drora: How skilled was he with weaponry?
Shahar: Very good.
Drora: I see. Leave that one to me.
Liron: Thatís probably a good idea.
Akari: How about the rest of you? What did you find out about their abilities?
Liron: Iím not sure what my opponent had, but it was dangerous. My first guess is enhancement, but that seems wrong. He was well trained in Iron fencing. Iíve never seen anything like that.
Hayim: The man I fought was extremely skilled with his saber. He didnít even reveal his magic to me, to my shame.
Katzir: The one that Drora and I fought used hardening magic. He was very physically strong. It took dark magic in order to make him use it.
Akari: I felt a short burst of dark magic energy back there. So you were able to use it successfully?
Katzir: Yes.
Akari: Thatís good news. If nothing else, you got some field experience using it.
Shahar: How about the two you fought, captain?
Akari: Those two were odd indeed. I was trying to agitate them enough to reveal their full power, but they wouldnít have it. They just kept charging at me haphazardly and I kept sending them back. I get the feeling that if they had touched me or something like that, that it would have been bad news for me.
Shahar: We need to figure out how to deal with them. They could attack again at any moment.
Akari: We have two pressing matters. This attack puts us behind schedule. I think they knew that when they attacked us specifically.
Amitay: So you think this group of people is specifically targeting us to break our formation?
Akari: Yes and that worries me. The implication that fact has is not easy to swallow.
Hayim: But captain, you tore them apart by yourself. Canít you just take them all on?
Akari: I doubt it. Now they have a good understanding of my magic and its power, because I was forced to reveal it. You all need to be able to hold your weight in this next fight.
Shahar: Based on what we know, we are going to need to separate the fights differently. I think I should be the one to go up against the portal user. I have a plan to counteract that power, but it will require some cooperation.
Amitay: I was able to attack her by using her portal against her, but I doubt that would have worked a second time.
Shahar: No worries. I believe I have a more solid plan. As for the big guy, I think Amitay is the most suited to fighting that one. Liron, youíre going to need to figure out that rapier userís magic. Do you think you can handle him again?
Liron: No problem.
Shahar: Katzir, that means Iím putting you with the saber user. The one who has the most experience and skill in that type of combat is you. If you can at least force him to reveal his magic, we can get a better idea of what to do with him if we canít win this fight either. Drora, that means that you can take on the tulwar user, the one I fought.
Drora: Good.
Akari: So, you want me to fight those twins again.
Shahar: If itís as you say, then we need the most defensively sound person against them. I have a bad feeling about them.
Hayim: What about me, Katzir?
Shahar: Itís Shahar, and I need you to float.
Hayim: Sorry, I can only use water. I canít do that.
Shahar: Ah, I mean you need to be open to help whoever is having trouble.
Hayim: Oh! That I can do.
Drora: Actually, I think he should help me. I probably canít beat that guy in a straight up fight, but I have an idea of how I can win.
Shahar: Very well. Iíll speak with you individually about your matchup.
Akari: I think your strategy is sound for now, but if they start working as a team, you will have to abandon it and also work as a team.
Shahar: That is fine.
Akari: You all really need to understand this: I may not be able to save you this time. Youíre going to have to use the data from this loss and turn it into a win next time. Is that understood?

They all nod at him.

Akari: Good. Now, treat your injuries to the best of your ability. We leave in a few hours.
Drora: By the way, Katzir, you called me by my name without the honorific earlier.
Katzir: I did? I didnít even notice.
Drora: It was in battle.
Katzir: Huh. Weird.

As they break away from a group, they begin to form small discussions amongst themselves. Liron is slumped up against a building, holding her side, which hasnít been patched up completely yet. Hayim takes a seat next to her, with his arms being cut up.

Hayim: Howís your side?
Liron: Not good.
Hayim: I think I can help a little.

He creates a small bit of water and puts it over the stab wound. We see a slight face twitch from her in pain, but then it eases up.

Liron: Not bad.
Hayim: Iím certainly no healer, but I think water canít hurt.
Liron: Yeah. Thanks. Thatís twice Iíve taken a hit there. I have to start guarding that area more carefully.

Meanwhile, Shahar is speaking to Amitay.

Shahar: I have a question about the one you faced, since Iíll now be going up against her.
Amitay: Assuming the fight pans out in our favor, but go ahead.
Shahar: Yes, of course. You said you were able to use her portal against her. Could you be a little more specific?
Amitay: Sure.

At the same time, Akari is with Drora and Katzir.

Akari: So how did it feel to attack with dark magic the right way?
Katzir: It felt great. That man was huge, but I was able to send him to the ground no sweat. I had to shut off my power immediately though. Itís incredibly inefficient right now.
Akari: Thatís okay. I want you to try and do that again with the saber user. But itíll be a lot harder to hit him, so be patient and wait for the right moment if you can get it. If not, donít panic. As long as you can force a stalemate, heíll be forced to reveal his magic one way or another.
Katzir: So, even if we donít win, we can still always gather more data for the next fight.
Akari: Yes. That is how we are taught to fight at higher ranks. Before I became a Sheikh, I had to understand this concept. Now, Drora. I would be interested in learning why you think you are a good counter to the sensor.
Drora: Well, thereís no point in hiding it.

After a few hours, they move out. They go back to the same place they had fought.

Amitay: No sign of them.
Akari: That works just fine for us. Letís keep moving.

They eventually make it to where there is some grass. As they walk further, the ratio of grass to sand starts growing to have more grass. Just then, they stop.

Akari: Theyíre here again. Get ready.

Just like last time, they all appear out of the portals, surrounding them.

Akari: Now!

At Akariís words, they all split up and go after the person they were assigned to.

(From this point on, theyíll be referred to by their weapon of choice except the 7í0 guy who will be referred to as muscles and the twins as well)

Rapier: They have a plan! Letís separate them!
Scimitar: Right.

Scimitar opens up portals and teleports them all into different locations. We follow Amitay and Muscles first. They have been teleported only a few feet away from their original location.

Amitay: What was the point to that?
Muscles: I donít know.
Amitay: Anyway, shall we get this over with?

Amitay spins his pole around fancily and then aims it at Muscles.

Muscles: Didnít they tell you about my magic?
Amitay: They did, and thatís exactly why Iím the most suited to fighting you, except maybe Liron. This first part is data like the captain instructed.

Amitay lunges with his pole, but it bounces off as he hardens the part of his torso that it connects with. Muscles then moves in closer and punches at Amitay. Amitay is able to avoid it and then gets behind Muscles. He holds his staff on both ends and then strikes with one end. It does no damage, but he immediately follows up with striking with the other end. That part also hardens. Amitay backs off.

Amitay: So you can harden more than just one place at once.
Muscles: I can do more than just that.

Muscles hardens his entire body.

Muscles: What do you think of me now?
Amitay: Youíve got quite the magic there. Where did you all come from? You all have such unique magic affinities.
Muscles: Do you honestly expect a truthful answer?
Amitay: I guess not. But maybe you can answer this question. Knowing that you had that magic, why do you think I specifically wanted to fight you?
Muscles: You think you break my magic.
Amitay: The answer is that I donít have to.

Amitay flips his staff high up into the air. With his hands, he starts circling them around each other, which starts to bring an intense amount of fire around his torso. Muscles starts to look surprised. Amitay fires off a large fire wave that encompasses him. When the fire subsides, Muscles is severely burned all over his body. His eyes are white and smoke is coming from his mouth. He collapses on the ground just as Amitay casually catches his staff from the air.

Amitay: Did you think that hardening yourself would save you from heat?

The next fight that we follow is Katzir and Saber. They have been teleported closer to town, where it is all sand.

Katzir: Why are you doing this? What is your purpose here?
Saber: I have nothing to say to you about my mission.
Katzir: Fine.

Katzir takes a stance and readies himself. Saber walks towards Katzir slowly with one hand behind his back. His dominant hand has the saber faced towards Katzir and he approaches sideways.

Katzir: This ďfencingĒ is an interesting style to say the least.

Saber begins hacking and slashing at Katzir. We see Katzir dodge each slash and occasionally block with one of his knuckles. Katzir then ducks under a horizontal slash and then kicks at Saber. He is able to back up to avoid it completely.

Katzir: Your sword work is impressive. I was sure I had an opening there.
Saber: Iím surprised you even managed to attack. Youíre not like the others.
Katzir: No, Iím not.

Katzir readies himself again. Meanwhile, Liron and Rapier have been teleported just outside of a forest. It is a fully grassy area. The two of them waste no time and clash weapons. There is lightning surrounding Lironís two tonfa, but Rapier is not being shocked. She then notices that he is wearing rubber gloves. She jumps back and they subside attacking for the moment.

Liron: So you were worried about fighting me again.
Rapier: Naturally. That magic of yours is quite dangerous, Fraulein.
Liron: Fraulein? Is that supposed to be an insult?
Rapier: No, my dear.
Liron: Okay then. Tell me something. Are you working with the dragon slayers?
Rapier: I cannot say, sweet girl.
Liron: Is it okay if I beat it out of you then? Then youíll see just how sweet I am.
Rapier: Ah! So cruel! Fate has smiled down on her body and alas! She is so cold!
Liron: The fuck?
Rapier: Tis such a shame! The white flower, it opens and closes on its own. But it endures the winter because it is strong.
Liron: I donít see how that makes any sense. And youíve made a complete 180 from earlier. Oh, and where did you get rubber gloves so fast?
Rapier: Alas! I must destroy this flower before my own winter comes.

Rapier charges at Liron and starts to lunge his weapon at her repeatedly like last time.

Liron: This strategy worked for him last time and will continue to workÖexcept I have a new strategy for him.

She continues dodging his rapier. Suddenly, she gets an attack in and swings with her tonfa. This time, she actually lands a hit to his face and he crashes into the ground.

Liron: It worked. If I just do it one more time, Iíll have confirmed my theory.

Liron charges at him as he gets up. He starts moving, but Liron suddenly speeds up at nearly the last second and slams him against with her tonfa.

Liron: I knew it. Your magic has nothing to do with enhancement. Earlier, you showed better speed than myself, but it wasnít traditional speed. You blurred for just a second. Iím used to seeing that level of speed from my brother and he never blurred. So what was it my eye was seeing and how is it that your reflexes are worse than mine if you were faster?
Rapier: From two encountersÖdonít tell me.
Liron: Youíre not getting faster, Iím getting slower. But thatís not quite right either. Youíre slowing down time, arenít you?
Rapier: (High pitched) Ahhhhhhhhh! H-how did you-
Liron: I thought about it religiously the last few hours. Most likely, the way that the spears were able to be so numerous the first time you attacked us was because of you, unless the guy Katzir is fighting or the twins have a magic that would simulate what we saw. But that seems less likely. You slowed down time to aid putting the amount of spears in those portals.
Rapier: (High pitched whining) AHAAAAHAAAAAHAAaAaAaAaAHhhhh!
Liron: Seriously, dude. Get a grip.
Rapier: B-but, how did you know it wasnít you being slowed down?
Liron: My reflexes were attuned to everything else going on just fine during that fight. I caught a glimpse of the otherís fighting at that time. Everything seemed normal.
Rapier: I see. Even knowing what you do, it wonít win you the fight.
Liron: That alone, no. But I wonít lose to you again. I promise you that.
Rapier: Ah! Splendid! I only wish I could stab you with something else instead of my blade! But my orders are my orders! What a cruel fate!
Liron: You sick fuck. Iíll cut off that manhood of yours and feed it to livestock.

We now pan to Hayim and Tulwar. They are in the forest completely. They too waste no time to get to fighting. Hayim flips his kama once and then attacks. Tulwar blocks the left Kama, but Hayim hooks the sword and then attacks with the second one. Tulwar dodges barely and then is able to free his sword. He then rapidly slashes all around at Hayim. Hayim is quick to block each strike and then jumps back. He temporarily hooks his kama to his side and then shoots two small blasts of water from his hands. Tulwar dodges them, but then Hayim controls the water remotely with his hands. They start to attack Tulwar from different sides.

Tulwar: I see. Or should I sayÖI sense.

Tulwar closes his eyes and begins to precisely dodge each time one of the water blasts comes in to attack. Hayim stays on the attack and keeps whirling the water around and attacking. Finally, Tulwar slices both water blasts apart, turning them into water droplets. Suddenly the droplets stop in mid air all around him. Hayim motions with his hands by ramming them together and all the water droplets converge on Tulwar at high speeds. He jumps in the air at just the right time that all the water bullets miss him and collide. When he lands on the ground, he quickly charges at Hayim and attacks. Hayim is able to draw one of his kama in time to block it. He draws the second one and attacks again. Tulwar jumps back for space.

Tulwar: Youíre actually putting up a better fight than that mace guy. That magic of yours is quite good.
Hayim: Thanks. You were able to sense all that and dodge. I canít imagine how thatís even possible.

Meanwhile, Shahar and Scimitar have also teleported to the forest, though a different part entirely.

Shahar: Youíve teleported us quite far. Why have you separated us?
Scimitar: You obviously had some sort of plan.
Shahar: Yes, and you acted just as I wanted.
Scimitar: What?
Shahar: You thought we faired worse in one on one fights against you. You were wrong. The first time we fought, you chose your match ups well. I assume it was that sensing mageís plan. This time, we made sure that we were the ones picking the match ups.
Scimitar: For a man, you sure talk a lot. Iím guessing that you wanted to face me then.
Shahar: Thatís right. I wonít talk anymore then. Iíll show everything to you!


The second encounter heats up!

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PostSubject: Re: A Tale of Iron   June 24th 2015, 3:15 pm

Chapter 36


We now go to Akari and the twins, who are just outside the forest. Liron and Rapierís figures can be seen in the far distance, though the exact figures and what is happening are not visible from there.

Akari: So, are you going to come at me the same this time?
Twin 1: You have
Twin 2: No idea what we can
Twin 1: Do, do you?
Akari: Did you rehearse that?
Twin 1: Your magic wonít
Twin 2: Work as well here.
Twin 1: Donít expect that
Twin 2: To work the same again.
Akari: Okay. The question isÖdo I take one for the team?

The twins charge at Akari while holding their hands out. Akari puts out his arm and allows them both to touch him. A black mark appears on Akariís wrist, where they both touched. It shows itself like a black wristband.

Akari: So, you sealed my magic? Thatís about what I expected.
Twin 1: Youíre not
Twin 2: Worried?!
Akari: Slightly. But I chose the role as bait. I would have put Katzir up against you two, but I wasnít certain what exactly your magic was. I didnít let you touch me the first time because I could feel the pace of the fight was going against us last time. I needed to be there. But this time, I can leave it up to them.

Akari pulls out his flail and forces them to back away by swinging it at them.

Akari: I believe in Shaharís plan and my teamís strength.
Twin 1: Youíre very confident.
Twin 2: But youíre outnumbered here.
Akari: One swing of my weapon could even that number. And I could always bide my time to wait for this seal to wear off. I can already feel that it is starting to repeal itself slowly.

The twins are sweating right now.

Akari: Whatís the matter? You did exactly what you wanted. Arenít you going to defeat me now?
Twins: Donít screw with us!

They both pull out short swords and attack. We switch over to Katzir vs Saber. Katzir is still on the defensive from Saberís attacks. Katzir is starting to sweat.

Katzir: Things arenít changing at all. That saber feels light when I block it, so I bet itís no problem for him to be swinging that thing around. But me dodging constantly is taking a larger toll. Should I just activate? No one else is around. I can go crazy on him and end this fight.

He then hears Akariís words in his head.

Katzir: Right. I canít panic. If I lose control here, Itíll prove that Iíve learned nothing since I killed Yusuk. Thatís right. Iíve been given a responsibility. I canít afford to let them down again.
Saber: Talking to yourself?
Katzir: You should try it.
Saber: Iíll pass.

Saber charges in again. Just before he reaches attack range, Katzir focuses and activates dark magic in his feet, allowing him to leap forward at a faster speed than usual. This catches Saber off guard and Katzir lands a hard to his face. Katzir punches him three times and then goes for a fourth when Saber is able to swing his sword to get Katzir to back off.

Katzir: Thatís the way. I can consistently use dark magic in very small bursts. I really am making progress, Yusuk.
Saber: You brat.

Saber spits out some blood and then raises his sword into the air. His sword glows and his face wounds heal. This surprises Katzir.

Katzir: Your magic is healing. Now I see why you were so reluctant to show it.
Saber: Of course. Going after the healer is a basic tactic. But, at the same time, I have the greatest skill of the groupÖwell, except for him.
Katzir: Who?
Saber: The one with the rapier. That guy is on another level in combat. Your lady friend doesnít stand a chance.
Katzir: Funny you say that. Weíd all say the same about her.
Saber: A woman is the most powerful of you?
Katzir: Besides the captain, yeah. She wonít lose a second time.
Saber: Enough about them. We should worry about who is in front of us now.
Katzir: Iíve already accomplished my objective. Iíve found out your magic affinity.
Saber: Surely that canít be enough.
Katzir: I guess youíre right. While Iím here, I might as well win!

They charge at each other and we switch viewpoints again to Liron vs Rapier. Liron is dodging and guarding each lunge from Rapier, but it starts to become increasingly more difficult. From Rapierís perspective, we see him slow down time every time he goes for a lunge, just for that instant. From Lironís perspective, she is keeping a close eye on Rapierís movements and moves twice as fast to compensate for the time slowing down. It is difficult for her to keep up, even with the early movement. She then realizes that she wonít make the next lunge and is able to direct the blade ever so slightly with her tonfa to avoid getting stabbed in the same spot she was stabbed last time.

Liron: Tch! Bastard.

Liron encases herself in lightning and moves behind Rapier to attack. He dodges and ends up behind Liron. She moves before he even counterattacks and dodges.

Liron: This really is a losing fight right now. But Iím certain that things will turn around very soon. Just a little more.

Rapier charges again and attacks. Liron dodges and then unleashes a wave of electricity in front of her. Rapier canít dodge the area of effect and gets shocked. Liron goes for an attack, but Rapier is able to fight through the pain and starts to shoo her away with the rapier.

Rapier: You can even do that too, huh? Youíve been hiding some of that power from me.
Liron: So that wasnít enough to beat you. You are resilient; Iíll give you that.
Rapier: Ah, trying to sweet talk me now that you know you canít win? How unlike you.

Rapier moves behind Liron and attacks. She is able to turn around and block it in time. Just then, he stumbles back and starts to hold his head in pain. In that instant, Liron strikes him with the part of her tonfa with an edge to send him to the ground with a cut on his face. *Music*

Rapier: What did you do to me?!
Liron: Nothing. I suspect youíve never used your time magic more at once than you have against me. In order to slow time, it must consume a great amount of mana. Not to mention, rapidly switching time speeds should be messing with your bodyís internal system.
Rapier: I never thought my magic would have drawbacks like that.
Liron: Youíre obviously relatively new to magic, which is understandable, since youíre an Iron trained soldier. But this is a battle of magic. In that respect, you canít compare in skill to trained Red mages.
Rapier: (High pitched) AHHAAAAHAAAAH! YOU-

She interrupts him by whacking him hard with her tonfa.

Liron: Stop that high pitched whining.
Rapier: PLEASE BE MY QUEEN!
Liron: Youíre no king, but the answerís no regardless. Now, spread your legs. Iím going to make good on that promise to castrate you.
Rapier: AHAAAHHHH STOP! *Music Stop*

The battle quickly switches back to Katzir and Saber. They are both breathing heavy.

Saber: You just wonít give up.
Katzir: Of course not. I was given a specific mission, and I also intend to survive long enough to complete it.

Just then, Saber sees a figure walking their way. As it becomes clearer, itís shown to be Amitay.

Saber: Shit, no.
Katzir: Amitay.
Amitay: Good job, Katzir. Did you figure out his magic?
Katzir: I did. Heís a healer.
Amitay: Oh? I see. Weíd better take care of him then.
Saber: Not good. Not good at all.

We switch over to Hayim vs Tulwar. They are currently exchanging weapon blows and blocking each otherís. Hayim is put on the defensive slowly, however.

Hayim: This guyÖ

Hayim pushes off and gains some distance.

Hayim: Iíd better listen to the plan by KatzirÖor was it Shahar? I forget. Oh well. Here goesÖ

He creates a large amount of water from his hands. Tulwar starts to focus in on the water.

Tulwar: Does he think he can overload my senses with just that amount of water? Listen here you-

At that moment, he is cut off when he receives an arrow to his neck.

Tulwar: No, thatís not possible!

Just then, we see Drora behind him. She grabs him from behind with one arm, bends him backwards a bit and shoves a dagger through his back.

Tulwar: So she did come through the portal with us after all. I thought maybe she hadnít. But this oneÖshe can conceal her presence well enough to evade even my senses.
Drora: Great job, Hayim. I had to make sure he wouldnít be able to detect me, and you did a good job distracting him.
Hayim: Aw jeez. Thanks.

He drops the water and Drora unhands Tulwar, who drops to his knees. We then switch to Shahar and Scimitar. They are both clashing weapons. Shahar is forcing Scimitar back with brute strength when they collide weapons. Scimitar moves nimbly and swiftly and tries to get around Shaharís defenses with flips, twists and turns, but it is in vain. Shahar successfully blocks each attack and forces her back again.

Shahar: Iíve seen many flashy types like you in the military. You donít surprise me. Besides, your tulwar friend fought better with curved blades than you.
Scimitar: Stop mocking me, you. And I thought you were done talking.
Shahar: True. Iíll stop then.
Scimitar: So easily! Alright then, mister military. Here I come.

She charges at Shahar, but then creates a portal between them. She runs into it and then appears behind him. Before she lands an attack, a barrier blocks her sword. Shahar turns his head to her and she instantly backs up back into the portal. Another portal appears to his side and Scimitar appears. The previous barrier disappears and then appears to block another sword attack.

Scimitar: Your defenses are impressive. But they wonít be enough to stop me.

Shahar doesnít utter a word in return. He merely stands there and awaits her next move.

Scimitar: I guess you really were serious about not talking. But now Iíve figured out that you can only make one barrier at a time. SoÖ

She throws her scimitar through the portal behind her and it appears behind him. The barrier blocks it and then she draws a dagger and attacks Shahar. Shahar uses a second barrier to block that as well.

Scimitar: What?!

The barrier dispels and Shahar attacks with the mace. She jumps back to avoid it.

Scimitar: Very well. I shall show you my full power.

She creates eight portals that surround him.

Scimitar: Well? You have a one in eight chance of finding me. Which one will I appear in?

She goes into the nearest portal to her. Shahar looks to his left and puts his hand out. A circular barrier appears, covering the hole. We hear a thump and then we see her stumble out of the hole directly opposite of that one. He dispels the barrier.

Scimitar: YouÖ!

Scimitar goes back in. Shahar puts a barrier over the same hole he did last time and another thump is heard. This time, he moves to the opposite hole as she stumbles out. Before she even realizes it, Shahar is swinging his mace directly at her. She tries to evade it, but gets pummeled in the ribs and gets sent flying through her own portal and falls out of another one. Her portals then disappear.

Shahar: If you hadnít moved when you did, your entire ribcage would have been shattered.
Scimitar: (Barely able to speak) YouÖfiguredÖ
Shahar: Yes, it was quite obvious what your plan was.

He nods to the scimitar lying on the ground near the portal he covered twice.

Shahar: You made a grave error in judgment. Just because I only used one barrier at a time doesnít mean I couldnít do better. It consumes less mana to repurpose a barrier by dispelling it and instantly placing it somewhere else before the mana is lost entirely. I was content letting you wear yourself out, but it seems I didnít have to.

At that moment, Scimitar creates a portal below her and disappears from the area.

Shahar: As I thought. But unless they have a healer, that woman will die from internal injuries. I must have broken a large portion of her ribcage.

Meanwhile, Akari is avoiding attacks from the twins. All of the sudden, in the middle of the battle, the twins are taken in by portals as well.

Akari: I guess that means the fight is over one way or another.

We can see all the others get teleported away as well. In particular, we focus on Liron and Rapier. She is simply standing there as he is knocked out. He has foam coming from his mouth.

Liron: I guess I couldnít just cut it off. Even for my standards, that would be a bit much. The satisfaction of scaring the hell out of him will do. I suppose I should just kill him now.

It is at this point that he teleports away.

Liron: Shit. So Shahar failed to kill that woman.

Eventually, Akari comes her way, since they could barely make out each otherís figures before.

Akari: Looks like you won your fight. But youíre injured again.
Liron: Yes, captain. That guy had the ability to slow down time, so it became increasingly difficult to beat him.
Akari: Seriously? That is a powerful ability indeed.
Liron: Captain, why has your mana flow stopped?
Akari: Ah, Iíve been sealed. That was the twinsí magic, but Iím okay. Iíve had my fair share of anti-magic field scraps hah.
Liron: Do you know how long that will last?
Akari: Not much longer. See this mark on my arm?

The mark has faded to only show a few blotches.

Akari: It was a full mark when they performed the magic. It has slowly faded since then.
Liron: In other words, they were amateurs.
Akari: Yeah. Anyway, letís find the others.

In the forest, Shahar has found Drora and Hayim.

Shahar: How did things go?
Drora: The sensing mage is dead. I made sure of it.
Shahar: Nice work. I might have killed the teleporter, but itíll be a bit delayed. I gave her some bad injuries with my mace.
Hayim: Where are the others, Katzir?
Shahar: Itís Shahar, and Iím not sure. Iím willing to bet they didnít get teleported as far as we did.
Drora: Then letís go. I donít wanna get attacked by bugs in here!
Shahar: Thatís what youíre worried about?

Akari and Liron have remained in the same position for the time being. Liron is patching her new wound up.

Akari: So, you knew about Droraís ability to conceal her presence?
Liron: Yes. Sheís really good. I wonder if you noticed something about the way she gets ready.
Akari: What do you mean?
Liron: Most girls like her use perfume.
Akari: Ah, I see. She doesnít, huh?
Liron: You have no idea how much she loves wearing it, but it gives away her position if she has to hide.
Akari: So, she really takes fighting seriously after all.
Liron: To her, fighting is a means to an end.
Akari: How long have you known her?
Liron: Six years now.

Just then, Drora, Shahar and Hayim exit the forest and see them.

Drora: Liron! Youíre all right!
Liron: Hey.

They quickly embrace and then Liron flinches in pain.

Drora: Oh! Iím sorry. Youíre hurt again.
Liron: Iím okay. You should have seen the guy I fought. When I beat him, he started whining like a little bitch.
Drora: Haha, really?
Liron: You bet. And when I threated to cut it off, he started foaming.
Shahar: You did what?
Akari: Never do that to a man, ever. Even if it is an enemy.
Liron: I thought maybe I could get some information out of him, but it backfired. Sorry.
Akari: Anyway, Shahar, why is that woman still alive? You look completely unharmed.
Shahar: She escaped before I could land a final blow, but she is likely dead by now. She took a hard hit from my mace, even though she managed to avoid just enough of the damage to instantly be killed.
Akari: And the sensor?
Hayim: Drora killed him.
Akari: I was right to trust you guys. Now we just need to find Katzir and Amitay.

They start to backtrack towards the town and meet up with Katzir and Amitay halfway as the two of them were heading in the opposite direction.

Amitay: Hey, looks like we all survived okay.
Katzir: Ms. Liron, I was so worried. The man I fought kept hyping up the man with the rapier.
Liron: He was strong, but I managed to win.
Shahar: More importantly, how did both of your fights go?
Amitay: I was able to win my fight as you said, Shahar. Solid plan. Katzir was able to force a stalemate with the saber warrior until I provided backup.
Katzir: Unfortunately, he got away before we could kill him.
Akari: Whatís his magic type, Katzir?
Katzir: Heís a healer.
Shahar: FUCK!
Akari: So the only confirmed dead fighter is the sensor. Youíre absolutely sure he died, Drora?
Drora: Yes. I cut his throat just to make sure.
Akari: That puts me at ease that at least one of them died. It at least lessens our chance of being found so easily and attacked at random. We really need to move. Is anyone too injured to continue on?

No one speaks up.

Akari: Good. Weíve lost a lot of time as is. I fear for the other teams.

They travel back to the forest.

Akari: We need to go through here.
Drora: Ick! Not again!

A few stomachs begin to growl at that moment.

Akari: We canít stop for-

Akariís stomach also growls.

Akari: Alright alright. Weíll stop to eat, but then weíll have to go continuously for a long time without food to really make up time.
All: Yes, captain.


With victory being on their side this time, they press on to the forest!

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PostSubject: Re: A Tale of Iron   June 26th 2015, 7:07 pm

Chapter 37


They have assembled a small station with a pot with fire under it. Liron is directing Hayim to make water and put it inside the pot until a certain point.

Liron: Thatís good.
Hayim: Okay.
Shahar: So, you can cook?
Liron: Yeah. I was initially brought up to be a housewife when I was younger, so I learned all those things.
Akari: I guess thatís before you learned that youíd rather beat the hell out of people rather than serve them.
Liron: Exactly. See? (Looking at Drora) The captain gets it.
Drora: Yeah yeah. Whatever.
Katzir: I can also cook, Ms. Liron. So if you want to take a rest, I can watch it.
Liron: Right. I do need to rest a little. Fighting that guy took a lot out of me.

She lies down as Katzir starts watching the pot.

Hayim: But Liron, do you like cooking?
Liron: I guess itís not so bad. Itís not that I donít like doing ďgirl thingsĒ Not that cooking is a girl thingÖ, but I like fighting better.
Drora: Youíd be a perfect housewife if you settled down.
Liron: Nah. Maybe eventually.
Shahar: What about you, Drora? Can you cook and clean?
Drora: Ehhh not really. Hehe. My servants usually took care of that stuff and they never taught me. Iím afraid Iíd be useless as a wife.
Amitay: I donít think thatís true. Iím sure there are other things you can do.
Drora: Like what?
Amitay: HmmmÖlike stabbing someone if they bother your significant other?
Shahar: Hey, guys, did you hear? Drora stabbed another loan shark. In the middle of the street too! (Changing his voice) Thatís the fifth one this week!
Drora: Maybe Iíll stab you in your sleep. Youíll never hear me coming.
Liron: Itís true, Shahar. She can conceal her presence and move silently.
Katzir: Women are scary sometimes.
Amitay: I didnít mean to start something. But I think you could find ways to support someone. If not physically, then emotionally. Liron is less emotional support, but can back anyone with her different talents. You have more of a warm personality that a man could rely on to ease his worries.
Shahar: Maybe you two are perfect for each other, since youíd support each other in opposite ways.
Drora: Iíll bet thatís what you want to see!
Amitay: And he twists what I say againÖ
Liron: Believe it or not, I like guys.
Drora: Me too.
Katzir: Ms. Liron and Ms. Drora togetherÖ

Inside Katzirís headÖ

Liron: Is it really okay? What will your family say?
Drora: I donít care! Take me, Liron!

As they get closer and closer, the fantasy breaks as Katzir starts to bleed from his nose.

Drora: Just what are you imagining?!
Hayim: Are you okay, Shahar? Your nose.
Katzir: Itís Katzir. And yes, Iím okay now.
Shahar: Why is it that you only mix up our names? And theyíre nothing alike?
Hayim: I dunno.
Akari: Ah, Katzir. I forgot to ask you more about your battle. Can you tell me a little bit about how you did?
Katzir: Yes, captain. I was able to get a stalemate like you wanted. He was really good in fencing, and when I was able to injure him, he healed immediately.
Akari: Did you use dark magic at all?
Katzir: Once, when I saw an opening to surprise him. It seems I can use small bursts without losing it.
Akari: Thatís better than nothing. Good work. You fought one of the harder battles. Keep at it and youíll be able to use dark magic a lot more.
Katzir: Thank you, captain.
Shahar: So, then, the rapier fighter could slow down time? Thatís very dangerous.
Liron: Itís a good thing he wasnít very adept at using his magic; otherwise I would be dead. If we fight again, Iíll need to be even stronger.
Amitay: You won, but you act like you didnít.
Liron: I won because he ran out of stamina. Not because I was stronger.
Shahar: Thatís his fault. Stamina conservation is a part of being a skilled fighter.
Liron: This is true. And yet, it feels sour.
Shahar: I was content to let my opponent do the same to herself. Thereís no shame in winning by wearing them down.
Akari: In hindsight, that may have been better, but I think you made the right decision to try and kill her quickly.
Hayim: I donít understand.
Akari: A decision is not good or bad based on the consequences. Itís based on the limited understanding you have of the future. If you luck out on an unfavorable decision, does that make it a wise one? Of course not. Shahar saw his opportunity to end the fight, so he took it. What if backup came and helped her out? That possibility was always looming there.
Shahar: Right. I knew I wouldnít be able to take her by trying to end the fight as quick as possible, but if I had an opening, I would take it. That was the only option for me.
Katzir: Still, I am impressed by your strategy, Mr. Shahar. Because of it, we came out without a single casualty.
Shahar: I appreciate that. Some of the match ups were given, like Amitay and that muscular guy.
Amitay: Yeah, that was a quick fight luckily.
Shahar: But Drora, without that ability of yours, that sensor would have been a lot more difficult to take out. Though I think the two of you would have been able to manage. Although, I would have likely switched your match with the captainís.
Akari: That would have worked fine, since the twins could only use sealing magic if they both worked together. But physically, Drora and Hayim would have taken them out. And Iím sure I could have taken the sensor out myself. But I specifically wanted to be the bait to find out their magic.
Liron: Speaking of, your mark is gone and your mana flow is back to normal.
Akari: Yeah.
Katzir: This is ready.

After they eat, they pack up and go into the forest. Drora is looking around, somewhat worried.

Akari: Everything okay, Drora?
Drora: I hate bugs! I donít want any crawling on me. Liron, protect me!
Liron: Get your own protection. I donít like them either. Theyíre gross.
Shahar and Amitay: We found her weak point!
Liron: Why do you guys look like you have some kind of vendetta for me?

She starts to practice her dark magic at that point. When Shahar and Amitay see her do this, they also quickly do the same thing.

Shahar and Amitay: We canít lose to her!
Liron: MenÖeverythingís a competition.
Akari: This is a good opportunity for all of you to be practicing. None of those assailants seemed to be able to use it, so we can have another major advantage over them if you all learn how to use it practically in battle. Wait.
Liron: Is someone here?
Akari: No, wait. I recognize this presence.

Akari moves forward a bit.

Akari: Helen! Itís me!

Helen appears from hiding behind a thick tree. Sheís a fair distance away. This surprises all of them except Akari.

Helen: Akari?
Akari: Thank the heavens.

Her team also comes out of hiding, but they are much farther away than Helen.

Shahar: Judging by the look on everyoneís faces, none of us except the captain noticed Sheikh Helen hiding.
Akari: It was only brief, but I noticed it just before she completely concealed it.
Drora: Sheís even better than me in that field.

Akari and Helen meet halfway.

Helen: Iím surprised you noticed me.
Akari: I almost didnít. Youíve really improved, havenít you?
Helen: Yeah.
Akari: You look relatively unharmed, but what are you guys still doing here?
Helen: Since you are just now catching up with us, Iím assuming you too had trouble.
Akari: I donít like this. Not at all. Theyíre trying to pick us off with assigned teams.
Helen: Anyway, letís get our teams over here. We need to exchange information about the enemy.
Akari: Agreed.

The teams meet up.

Akari: You didnít run into Hunter by chance, did you?
Helen: No. My guess is that he made better progress than both of us.
Akari: No doubt there will be enemies after him as well.

Shahar goes up to a woman from Helenís team with armor similar to his. She has medium length black hair.

Shahar: Still wearing that armor, I see. You havenít changed, Hannah.
Hannah: Well, itís functional. Of course I would still wear it.
Katzir: (Whispering) Mr. Hayim, do you think theyíreÖ
Hayim: (Whispering) I didnít know Katzir had a girlfriend.
Katzir: Iím Katzir.
Hayim: Oh, sorry.

Meanwhile, Liron approaches Ferra again. Drora lags slightly behind.

Ferra: What do you want?
Liron: Iím glad youíre still alive.
Ferra: Yeah, okay. I see youíre still hanging out with the prissy one.
Liron: Drora saved your life; donít forget that.
Ferra: Do you think maybe I didnít want to be saved?
Liron: Listen, Ferra.
Ferra: No, I will not.
Liron: (Sternly) No, you will hear me one way or another. You can hate me forever. I donít mind that. I deserve that. But I still consider you my friend and so I will tell you that you need to move on for your own sake.
Drora: LironÖthatís enough.
Liron: Yeah. It is. Now that Iíve said my piece, I can accept whatever she decides to do.

Liron and Drora walk away from the speechless Ferra. We go back to Shahar and Hannah.

Hannah: What were the different magic abilities that you guys faced?
Shahar: Time slowing, healing, teleportation, sensing, hardening, sealing.
Hannah: What the hell. And you guys are still standing?
Shahar: It was tricky, but we managed to come up with a good strategy to counteract their magic with our own.
Hannah: I see. Youíve honed your strategic thinking, have you?
Shahar: Of course. Just like I said I would.
Hannah: I too have done so.
Shahar: So you kept the path you were on. I thought maybe after what happened-
Hannah: Donít be ridiculous. Like this armor you gave me, strategy is a practical thing to have in battle. You know how I value pragmatism over all.
Shahar: Yeah, true. Iím glad you got a few things out of our relationship then.
Hannah: Indeed. If we had the time, I would have liked to have another game of chess to measure our progress.
Shahar: Ditto. But it seems like thatís not an option, especially for your group.
Akari: What do you plan to do, Helen?
Helen: We need to make up for lost time even more than you guys do, so weíll go on ahead.
Akari: We could join groups and just travel together.
Helen: Tempting, but itís not for the best. You know as well as I do that itís exactly what the enemy wants.
Akari: Yeah, I guess youíre right. Itíll halt our progress as well as lessen our chance for success if something goes wrong.
Helen: I think they purposely sent a stronger group after me to slow us down to the point where it might try to force our hand at such a plan.
Akari: Itís a possibility. When was the last time you were attacked?
Helen: A few hours ago. They suddenly left in the middle of the fight.
Akari: I think they knew that we were coming. That coincides to right about the end of our last fight. If thatís the case, then these two groups were definitely coordinating and/or communicating.
Helen: Interesting. This seems like much more than just a spy job. It worries me.
Akari: Just focus on the mission ahead. Weíll worry about that later.
Helen: Youíre right. We shouldnít waste anymore time. We need to move.
Akari: Right.
Helen: Team! We move in one minute. Say your goodbyes.
Hannah: Well, thatís my queue. See you, Shahar.
Shahar: Yeah, weíll be right behind you.

Ferra actually approaches Liron this time.

Ferra: Liron, we will meet again. When we do, weíll settle everything. Be prepared to fight.
Liron: If thatís your answer, then Iíll accept that. I wonít go easy on you.
Ferra: I wonít lose. Donít forget that youíre not the only person Hassar taught how to fight.
Liron: I havenít forgotten.

Ferra walks away and the rest of Helenís team gathers up. Without saying another word, Helen and Akari exchange a look. This look lasts for what seems like forever, but only lasted about five seconds in actuality. Helen then turns away from him and they begin traveling along the small path made in the forest.

Katzir: Mr. Shahar, was that an ex?
Shahar: Yeah. We broke up about a year ago. We both knew that it wasnít meant to be between us and we separated without ill feelings towards each other.
Hayim: That sounds rare for a relationship.
Shahar: Hannah is very practical and rational. She knows that letting past relationships cloud her mind is irrational. I tend to agree with that line of thinking, so I followed that example. Besides, she walked away with two things. That armor I had made for her and the fact that I piqued her interest in strategy.
Drora: Are you okay, Liron?
Liron: Iím actually happy about this. Ferra still holds a grudge against me, and if fighting me will alleviate that, I will gladly throw the fight.
Drora: So you were lying then about not going easy on her?
Liron: Ferra isnít weak, but she isnít nearly as good as she thinks she is.
Drora: Iíve never known you to ever do that. Your friendship with her must have been special.
Liron: It was. She was my best friend. But as you know, all of that ended at the same time we met.
Drora: Right.
Amitay: Captain, what are we going to do?
Akari: Weíll give Helen a 30-minute head start. It canít be helped.

Meanwhile, over in the Iron Kingdom, we see Mars and Aerona walking through the palace together.

Mars: Why are we being shown like this all of the sudden?
Aerona: By now, the masses are probably bitching about us being absent.
Mars: Makes sense. It has been a while since we last put on our armor.

They exit the palace where a bunch of people is waiting for them. They cheer for them.

Mars: I wonder how the others are doing.

Meanwhile, Vito, Erosion and Solomon are inaudibly arguing at a pub. We cannot hear what they are arguing about, but they are also playing a board game as well. They all sneeze in tandem.

Back to the Red Kingdom, 30 minutes have just about passed for Akariís team.

Amitay: I see. So thatís the basic story between you two.
Liron: Yeah.
Amitay: I think throwing the fight isnít a bad idea. But it could also make her angrier if you damage her pride as a fighter.
Liron: Agreed, thatís why I want to make it look as realistic as possible. It has been six years since she saw me fight. That can be used to my advantage.
Amitay: Ah, thatís good then.
Liron: Youíre a pretty good listener, Amitay.
Drora: Hey! Donít try to worm your way into his pants before me.
Liron: Iím not that desperate.
Drora: Yeah, but you were just as impressed as I was at hisÖ

They both look at Amitay at the same time, who has turned around, red in the face.

Amitay: B-but Liron, is it not wrong to assume that Ferra hasnít gotten more powerful than you expect?
Liron: True. Were any of you in the same group as Ferra?

No one speaks up.

Liron: I see.

Allow me to explain. When Hunter trained his students, it was in small groups of 5 or 6. Hunter had upward of 100 students, so there was roughly a 1 in 20 chance of being in the same class as a friend. Likewise, only Liron and Drora ended up in the same class coincidentally. None of the other group members ended up in the same place, hence not knowing each other.

Liron: I suppose she could have surpassed me, but she never was that adept.
Amitay: At the very least, Helen saw her useful enough to make her team.
Liron: Her magic is pretty useful. She is an enhancer.
Akari: That makes sense why Helen would choose her then. Enhancement is a wonderful team oriented magic type. I heard that one of the dragon slayers had that magic as well. Another one of them had debuff powers, so they could enhance their team at the same time as sabotage the enemy team. That oneÖhe was very annoying to fight.
Shahar: I see. They had good magic synergy?
Akari: Very good magic synergy. They had an earth mage like me and then a wind mage to cover both the ground and sky. Buff and debuff. And then they had a light mage to cover both healing and light attacks.
Shahar: I heard that pretty much everyone they came across died. Which means that the one that currently knows the most about themÖ
Akari: Is me. Hunter seems to know a fair bit about them as well. Anyway, 30 minutes is about up. Letís get going.

They continue to practice their dark magic as they walk. Katzir is doing his routine from before at a faster pace. Akari occasionally turns his head to look at their progress.

Akari: Shahar, Amitay and Liron. You three seem to be about ready for the next step. Hayim and Drora, you are both close. Katzir, not bad. You seem to be progressing well.
Amitay: You said that to get that surge of dark energy, we need to have a trigger of emotion, right?
Akari: Yes. It may be difficult for someone like you who is so calm and chill all the time.
Amitay: I understand.
Akari: Unfortunately, itís not the best idea to do while walking.
Shahar: Then may we stop for just a second? I think Iím ready.
Akari: HmmÖit will be more beneficial for the team if you are stronger, so you have one minute to try and trigger it.

Everyone stops and focuses on Shahar. He closes his eyes.

Shahar: For me, itís not difficult to find an event. It was never a question as to which one.

We are taken inside Shaharís mind. He is standing on the battlefield with countless soldiers dying in waves from Iron soldiers. Shahar is on one knee, injured and tired. The signal for retreat has been sounded. We see him look up and into the eyes of Aerona.

Aerona: Do you still want to fight?

Shahar stands and readies his mace, but then slowly backs away. He turns and runs while tears fly out from his eyes.

Shahar: Iím sorry! I failed you all, my comrades!

In the present time, we see a tear leak from Shaharís left eye and then he opens them with his teeth grit. He triggers the surge of dark magic energy. After letting it flow through his body for a few seconds, Akari dispels it.

Shahar: I wasnít strong enough to stop my brethren from dying. I backed down from that man like a coward. I donít ever want to see that happen again.
Akari: Well done, Shahar. Youíve fought long and hard for this moment. Revel in it, but take heed that this power still requires much training to master.
Shahar: Yes, captain.
Akari: Amitay, Liron, do either of you feel ready to try?
Amitay: I donít think so.
Liron: Not yet.
Akari: Very well. We will continue on then.


Shahar joins Akari and Katzir among the list of mages who can utilize dark magic. The rest of them are close to achieving this power. As they continue their journey, more awaits them next time on A Tale of Iron!

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PostSubject: Re: A Tale of Iron   June 29th 2015, 1:13 pm

Chapter 38


The team is traveling once again. Shahar is standing next to Katzir, doing the same practice with dark magic. His is at a much slower pace, however.

Katzir: You really did it, Mr. Shahar.
Shahar: Yeah. I think I get it now, Katzir.
Katzir: Get what?
Shahar: I judged you for losing control, but here I needed the captain to release me as well. Now that I experience it, I understand it. I am sorry that I was so hard on you before. Itís a lot harder to control than it looks.
Katzir: I understand why you were hard on me. I too understand where you were coming from.
Shahar: Very well. One thing is clear from our interactions, Katzir.
Katzir: Whatís that?
Shahar: You were a kid when we left the capital. By the time this journey is over, you will be a man.
Katzir: I hope so.
Liron: Hey, Amitay. Can I ask you something?
Amitay: Sure.
Liron: Why did you say you werenít ready?
Amitay: Right now I donít know how to trigger that emotion. Iím not sure what to do. I havenít had a hard life; I wonít lie. None of my family members are dead; none of my friends are dead. Iíve lived comfortably all my life. Not too rich, but not too poor. My parents were good to me and raised me well. Iím grateful for everything I have. What could possibly trigger my dark energy?
Liron: That makes sense. The warmth coming from this man. Itís unbelievable. Iíve never seen anyone more at peace with the world.
Amitay: How about you? I told you my reason. Surely there is something you can tell me.
Liron: Iím the opposite of you with why I donít feel Iím ready. Itís not that I donít know what to use. Itís that I canít bring myself to revisit those memories so vividly. Even if itís for power, I canít do it. Not yet at least.
Akari: If one wants to use dark magic, he or she has to be willing to face his or her past, present or future. I cannot help them any further. Itís all up to them whether or not they pass this barrier.
Hayim: Iím sure both of you can do it. Youíre stronger than anyone.
Akari: Ahem.
Hayim: Ah, captain. I forgot you were here.
Akari: How could you forget about your own captain?
Hayim: Sorry. Oh, though Master Hunter is stronger too. And then thereís Helen. Oh, what about General ShioÖ.ShioÖ
Drora: General Shiomi!
Hayim: Right, him.
Drora: Her!
Hayim: Sorry. And how about those blue robed mages? Theyíre stronger too.
Liron: (visibly annoyed) You can stop now. We get the picture.
Amitay: Relax. Iím sure he didnít mean anything by it.
Shahar: Hayim, whatís 1 plus 1?
Hayim: 2, of course! What, do you think Iím some kind of idiot? Ah, maybe I am a little. But I can add, Iíll tell you that much.
Shahar: Thank the heavens for that.
Hayim: Now multiplying and dividingÖthatís a little much for me.
Shahar: Seriously?!

Just then, the company comes to a halt.

Liron: More enemies already?
Akari: I know this feeling. Creatures are hiding out, waiting for us. Usually a trait among goblins in forests. Some of them can use bows. Keep on your guard.

Just as he says that, an arrow zips right by Akari and sticks in a tree.

Akari: Shahar, Hayim, with me. Drora, give us some cover fire. Katzir, protect her. Liron and Amitay, stay back and let us deal with it.
Liron: But captainÖ
Akari: Youíre still injured. We need it to heal properly instead of you keep agitating it with more fighting. And AmitayÖwellÖ
Amitay: I knowÖ

Akari, Shahar and Hayim take the front and walk side by side. A few arrows come their way and Shahar puts up a barrier, but the arrows miss entirely.

Akari: Yeah, I should mention that goblins have shit aim.
Shahar: Thatís convenient.

Some more arrows come by and this time, some are on target to hit. Shahar promptly blocks them with a barrier.

Akari: Hayim, can you pick off some of them with controlled water blasts?
Hayim: Yes.
Akari: Iíll do the same. Shahar, just focus on keeping our defenses up.
Shahar: Yes, captain.

Hayim creates a small water orb and then sends it flying into more of a thin line. It zips by a tree and then changes trajectory to loop around and snipe a hiding goblin. It cut through its head, killing it. Some goblin archers unveil themselves from cover and one of them takes an arrow to the head. The other is crushed by a flying rock. More arrows come their way and Shahar blocks any that threaten the three of them. Meanwhile, some goblins with rusty daggers come at the others from both sides.

Amitay: Liron, stay where you are.

Amitay starts spinning his staff.

Amitay: I might not be able to use my fire here, but I can still fight.

Some of the goblins go after Drora, when Katzir steps in front of her.

Katzir: Just focus on following the captainís orders. Iíll protect you.
Drora: Right, thanks.

One goblin charges blindly at Katzir and lunges with its dagger. Katzir easily sidesteps the thrust and then uppercuts it hard to the jaw with his iron knuckles on. The goblin is sent flying back, knocked out. Katzir takes a distinct martial arts stance and starts to channel dark magic through his body. Heís sweating from the intense concentration.

Katzir: I am your master. You will move as I move.

With dark magic surrounding his entire body, he suddenly moves to the goblins and goes on the offensive. He punches one in the gut and breaks the goblinís skin completely where he punches, nearly putting his hand through. The next one attacks, but Katzir uses his left arm to misdirect the goblinís arm thrust away from his head. Katzir then contorts his body to the left and uses his right hand to give a solid karate chop to the goblinís neck. His chop pierces just enough that blood spews out of the goblinís neck, killing it. The other goblins look at Katzir in fear and retreat. He then starts to lose control and immediately stops his dark magic flow.

Katzir: That was close.
Drora: That was badass, Katzir!
Katzir: Iím becoming more efficient with each fight, Drora.
Drora: There he goes again, not using the miss with my name. This has only happened in battle so far.

At this time, Amitay is fending off goblins with his staff. He is keeping them all at bay with his far superior reach. He whacks one in the head, knocking it out. As another one tries to draw closer, he quickly trips it up by sweeping low. He then thrusts his pole into the goblinís head.

Liron: You have quite the long stickÖthat you do.
Amitay: When you say it like thatÖ

Amitay finishes off the remaining goblins in the vicinity. We can see that the other three have cleaned up on their end as well. Just then, another figure comes dashing for Amitay. It is a vampire moving at great speed. He is able to block an incoming attack and the vampire has the staff gripped. They are pushing against each other. Just then, the vampire receives a strong bolt of lightning to the side of the head, frying its brain. Amitay lights his staff on fire to burn the vampireís hands off and it ultimately dies from both attacks. Amitay looks at Liron.

Liron: What? I stayed right where I was. Using magic wonít irritate my injuries.
Amitay: Itís cool.
Liron: That thing we just fought sure isnít.

The team regroups and begins walking again.

Shahar: That was my first creature fight.
Amitay: Mine too. What was that creature that attacked me just now?
Akari: That was a vampire. Those things are dangerous. They have a lot of speed and strength. But their weakness is sunlight. Of course, a strong shot to the head will do the trick too.
Katzir: Have you ever fought one before, Ms. Liron?
Liron: No, but aiming for the head was just common sense to me.
Katzir: Good point.
Akari: I didnít notice before, Hayim, but your water control is seriously good.
Hayim: Thank you, captain.
Akari: You were able to pinpoint and execute a hiding goblin like it was second nature. Iím guessing Hunter taught you all that.
Hayim: Thatís right. Master Hunter taught me everything I know about magic.
Akari: It makes sense that you are as skilled as you are.
Drora: Hold on a second, Hayim. Youíre saying that you didnít know anything at all about magic before meeting Sheikh Hunter?
Hayim: I was an orphan on the streets before his family took me in. The reason Iím not so smart is because I never went through education. I was in my teens by the time I was taken off the streets. My new family taught me how to speak properÖproperly. Master Hunter learned everything to meÖeh, taught everything. I owe him my lifeÖmy very existence.
Drora: Thatís so sweet. Iím going to cry.

Hayim stops and the rest also stop to look at him. He has tears flowing from his eyes and all of the sudden, the dark aura begins to surround him. This surprises everyone.

Shahar: Youíve got to be kidding me.
Akari: His trigger wasÖhis deep-seated respect and admiration for Hunter. Perhaps even love for his savior.

Like Shahar, Akari lets Hayim feel the power flow through him for a few moments before dispelling it for him.

Akari: You did well, Hayim. Your master would be proud.
Hayim: I canít wait to show him.
Amitay: Hayim.

He puts his hand on Hayimís shoulder.

Amitay: Thanks to you, I now know what I must do.
Hayim: You mean it?
Amitay: Yeah. Iím grateful to you.
Hayim: Thanks, Amitay.
Shahar: He gets Amitayís name correctÖ
Akari: Do you want to attempt it now as well, Amitay?
Amitay: Not yet. I need some time to get mentally prepared.
Akari: Okay. Anyone else before we move again?

No one comes forward.

Akari: Letís continue then. We should be almost through the first part of the forest.
Shahar: What do you mean, captain?
Akari: There is a bit of respite, with a castle.
Liron: A castle in the middle of the woods?
Akari: There are many castles in the middle of woodland across the kingdom. They were built in order to drive the creatures of darkness out and keep them out.
Shahar: Some good that did.
Akari: Actually, theyíve been good checkpoints as of recent. They might be old, but they serve their purpose. Also, if we had stayed on track, we would have met up with Hunter and Helen at the tail end of their stay.
Shahar: Helen will likely pass over the castle to save time. Hunter will have already moved on in that case.
Amitay: We donít really have much time to rest, do we?
Akari: Itíll be good to do some general maintenance on our equipment. For example, Amitayís staff is badly chipped thanks to that vampireís attack.
Amitay: Iím actually going to ditch the staff if weíre going to do maintenance. I need a metal staff. The damage on this isnít cutting it.
Akari: Do you know what youíre doing?
Amitay: Yeah. I can smith weapons. My magic comes in great handy for forging. Iím assuming thereís an armory there.
Akari: Yes.
Amitay: Good.

They get through the forest and make it to the castle. This castle has the same design as the castle the Iron group visited when they fought Hamas. As they get to the front door, there is a posted note.

Akari: Itís from Hunter.

Since neither of you showed up during our brief stay, I can assume you both fell behind. Our group is on schedule right now, but donít worry too much about it. Just try to pick up the pace. Helen, if you read this, please sign for Akari to know that you also made it to this checkpoint.

Akari immediately looks at the bottom for Helenís signature and it is there.

Akari: As expected.

So far, we havenít encountered any enemies besides a few goblins. If you both got attacked, I fear that I may be heading into a trap that will only work if both of you are stalled long enough. So yeah, no pressure guys.

Akari: Even on paper, heís a sarcastic shit.

Anyway, be safe. I hope to see you all soon.

~Hunter


Shahar: What happened with Hunterís group?
Akari: Apparently they got here clean, with no enemy attacks.
Liron: That sounds like a trap.
Akari: He said the same thing. Hunterís no idiot, but this may be over even his head.
Amitay: If thatís the case, is it really okay that we stop here?
Akari: This is quite perplexing. What do you guys think?
Liron: Maintenance can wait. We need to move.
Shahar: I agree. If Hunter is willingly walking into a trap, we canít abandon him. Helenís group may not be enough.
Hayim: I want to help Master Hunter.
Katzir: I think we should stay. Ms. Liron is still injured and this is a good time to get her some proper treatment.
Liron: Iím fine, Katzir.
Drora: I have to agree with Katzir. Liron, we need you at your best.
Amitay: Maintenance is extremely important as well. Our weapons could break if not attended to. That could be the difference between winning and losing.
Shahar: Are there any castles ahead?
Akari: No. From here, we trudge through a lot of forest before we reach another town. From there, there will be no more civilization before we reach our destination.

Akari closes his eyes and contemplates.

Akari: We stay for one hour. Liron, you will treat your injury as best as you possibly can in that time. We will perform maintenance on our equipment.
Liron: Yes, captain.

They enter the castle and go into a blacksmith workshop. There are many weapons already made there. Amitay takes two spears and melts them down. He then forges an iron staff with the same length as his old one.

Amitay: Itís considerably heavier than the wood one, but I can get used to this. Do you guys think you can handle the rest of this without me? I need to prepare myself.
Akari: Yeah. Go see how Katzir and Liron are doing.

As Amitay leaves, they continue.

Shahar: Captain, may I ask what ultimately moved to decide to stay?
Akari: You all had good points. But I had to remember what my role is in this mission. What is my first priority? Is it backing up Helen and/or Hunter, or is it leading you all? Itís the latter. Therefore, I decided that my team must be in better straights before continuing. Itís not just Lironís injuries. You are all learning dark magic at a fast rate, and the more we stop, the more you all seem to be progressing to the next level.
Shahar: I see. When you put it that way, I canít disagree.
Akari: This doesnít mean I donít trust your judgment. Youíve done a great job so far as a guiding hand in strategy.
Shahar: I understand.

In a separate room, Liron is sitting on a bench against a wall. Katzir is sitting next to her, helping her change out her bandages.

Liron: Thatís good.
Katzir: Good. You really needed that. You shouldnít try to be so tough all the time, Ms. Liron.
Liron: Sorry. Iíve lived my life having to just deal with everything. Iíve never been able to rely on people.
Katzir: You donít have to be that way anymore.
Liron: I know, and yetÖ

Amitay enters the room.

Amitay: Looks like youíre healing up okay.
Liron: Yeah. Looks like your new stick is still as big as ever.
Amitay: Youíre saying it like that on purposeÖ
Katzir: Mr. Amitay, do you mind telling us what you meant by what you said to Hayim?
Amitay: HayimÖhe had nothing and then gained everything. For me, itís the opposite. I have everything, but I can just as easily have nothing.

Time passes and they are standing outside. Amitay is out in front. He has his eyes closed. We can see him imagining a house burning down to the ground and his team all dying.

Akari: Shahar found his answer in the past, Hayim focused on the present. Amitayís answer lies in the possible future if this mission fails.

We can see Amitay become angry and fearful in the same facial expression. He starts to sweat and breathes heavy. The dark aura is slow, but eventually surrounds him as well. Amitay opens his eyes, visibly distressed.

Amitay: I canít afford to lose. To protect everything I hold dear, I will succeed on this mission.

As always, Akari waits and then dispels the dark aura.

Akari: That only leaves the girls. Liron, you can do it right now if you want.
Liron: IÖcanít.
Akari: The past is exactly that. You canít be fearful of what has already happened.
Liron: Iím sorry. This problem runs deeper than you know.

This surprises Akari.

Akari: Youíre telling me thereís more?
Liron: You think you know all about my brother, but the truth is that you know very little.
Akari: Hassar, you bastard. Just what did you do? Fine, Iíll drop the issue for now. But you canít stay in this state forever. You will have to evolve with the others.
Liron: I understand.
Akari: Drora, keep at it.
Drora: Got it.


To be continuedÖ

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PostSubject: Re: A Tale of Iron   July 4th 2015, 4:20 pm

Chapter 39


The team is continuing on back into the forest. They press further north.

Amitay: Captain, does Hunter know where weíre ultimately supposed to end up?
Akari: He has a general idea based on his spy information. Iím surprised no one asked before.
Amitay: I only just now thought about it. Weíve been following your direction, but then it occurred to me that you yourself might not know where the destination is.
Akari: Hunter laid out everything on a map for me and I memorized the location. I think for the most part, we can stay on course, but there is always a chance we could get sidetracked and have to take another way.

Meanwhile, Liron and Drora are having their own separate conversation.

Liron: What about the white dress that I wore last time?
Drora: Ah, yeah that one was good. White works on you. Brown, not so much.
Liron: Hey, what about this jacket?
Drora: Oh, thatís fine. But in dresses it doesnít work.
Liron: *Sigh* I just donít get it.
Drora: Different kind of clothing, different material, different rules.
Liron: Oh, well that much I getÖI guess.
Drora: You should show off more, girl. The pants are nice, but youíre pretty much covering all your goodies up top.
Liron: And why should I care about that while Iím out on missions?
Drora: Itís a tactic you can use against your male, and some female, opponents.
Liron: How shallow. Relying on sex appeal to win a fight is a waste of time and effort.
Drora: Donít pretend like you havenít done it.
Liron: Once or twice. Heh.
Shahar: Women are evil.
Drora: Shahar, donít give us the ďWomen are evilĒ look. Fighting honorably can get you killed on the battlefield.
Shahar: That much I donít disagree with. But sex appeal rarely works in the heat of battle in actual fact. Most men who attempt to murder their wives wonít simply stop because she looks good. Once their blood is boiling, theyíre too far-gone. That same kind of adrenaline is pumping during battle.
Drora: How would you know? Did you ever try to murder that Hannah girl?
Shahar: ÖNo!
Drora: Then how would you know this ďfactĒ?
Shahar: I walked right into that one. Yep, definitely evil.
Katzir: Ms. Drora, I think thatís enough. I think what Mr. Shahar is trying to say is that if you rely on your looks to win every fight, you could get hurt.
Liron: That rapier user I fought was practically drooling over me, but was still willing to kill me.
Drora: Fine fine. So anyway, I think your best color for a dress is either red or white.
Liron: I see. Iíll try red next time. What about you?
Drora: Iíve settled on light blue being my number 1 if I really need to impress someone.
Liron: Light blue? I can see that.
Shahar: SoÖAmitay, Katzir, Hayim, captainÖdo any of you play sports?
Katzir: Besides my martial arts, I played a little bit of everything I could get my handsÖor feet on.
Hayim: I played a little football (AUTHOR NOTE: Soccer, not American Football).
Amitay: Same.
Akari: I wasnít much for sports other than what was forced of us in the military.
Shahar: I was pretty good at rugby. And I played volleyball.
Liron: I played volleyball as well. Being taller than most of the girls, it was an obvious choice for me.
Drora: I see what you did there, Shahar. Trying to direct the conversation away from our girl stuff. You knew you could get Lironís attention away from dresses.
Shahar: HmmÖwhat was it you said? Ah, yes. ďFighting honorably can get you-ď
Drora: This isnít a battlefield, you twat!
Amitay: Now now, you two. Letís not fight like this. Drora, Iím sure you did at least one sport.
Drora: Archery, of course. I was a champion in school.
Amitay: Shoulda seen that one coming. Anything else?
Drora: Is eating fast a sport?
Akari: Afraid not.
Drora: Well it should be.
Liron: Shahar, what school did you play for?
Shahar: The Quíburn main.
Liron: Ah, we beat the shit out of the girls team my freshmen year. I played for the capital.
Shahar: Come to think of it, I remember that. So you were on that team, huh? Your team challenged our menís team. That would have been such a beat down.
Liron: Yeah, we would have crushed you.
Shahar: Hah. If you were the tallest on your team, then you had nothing on us. I was still this height my senior year. A few guys were the same as me.
Liron: That doesnít mean anything. We beat a girls team full of giant lesbians.
Drora: I keep telling you, they were just really big. That was my school, damn it.
Liron: They sucked each other off after the game. Iím sure of it.
Hayim: I donít even understand whatís going on anymore.
Katzir: You donít have toÖ
Akari: I hate to interrupt a conversation like this, but we have company.
Shahar: Yeah. It seems like we went right into their lair.

Just then, something jumps down next to them and breaks the ground below it. When the slight dust has cleared, we can see that it is a Minotaur. It is holding a large double-headed battle-axe.

Akari: Youíve got to be kidding me. What is something like that doing here?
Shahar: Leave this one to me.

This Minotaur charges and swings its axe and Shahar blocks with his mace. He is getting pressured.

Shahar: The strength on this thingÖ

More of them jump down. When they look to the left and right of them, they are in the middle of a ravine where there is higher ground on both sides. There are more Minotaur waiting patiently. It is then that they notice that there is exactly the same number of them next to them as their group.

Amitay: They like to fight one at a time, huh? Fine for us.
Liron: Drora, will you be okay?
Drora: Iíll manage.

They each face off one on one. We follow Akari first. He has his flail out. The Minotaur attacks with its axe, but Akari starts sliding around him with the ground moving below him. He makes a quick circle and then it falls below when the ground below it lowers. With its head clearly exposed, Akari brings his flail down hard on its head. It damages it badly and so Akari follows up with many more strikes until it dies. The second he finishes it off, another one jumps down to fight him.

Akari: Bring it.

We then switch to Liron, who defends against an axe attack from above. She is being pressured downwards with both of her tonfa above her head. She uses some lightning to run through her weapon and shock the Minotaur. It does negligible damage, but makes it flinch a bit. She takes the opportunity to get in close and start pummeling it with her tonfa over and over. She bruises its body badly, but it is able to recover and jump away.

Liron: Theyíre resistant to magic, huh? That shock did barely anything.

The Minotaur goes in to attack again, but is clearly angrier than before. It gives a full swing, which is blocked again. This time, however, the tonfa start to break. With the excess pressure against them, they eventually break. She dodges back just in time to avoid being sliced.

Liron: Fuck. I forgot to get my weapons maintenance. Shit shit shit.

She throws them at the Minotaur, which also does negligible damage. She has lightning around her entire body now and then rushes in. It swings its axe, but she easily maneuvers around it and makes it in range again. She starts rapidly punching, which cause lightning damage as well as damage from her own fists. The Minotaur is being pushed back from all the punches when she then high kicks straight into the air to land it straight to its jaw, sending it to the ground and dropping its weapon. She grabs the weapon, which is difficult for her to wield for its weight. Nevertheless, she is able to swing it overhead and land a decisive blow with the axe to end the fight. Just like with Akari, another one replaces the previous.

We now see Shahar, who is now clashing weapons over and over with his opponent. Shahar is being slowly pushed back.

Shahar: Without this extra weight from my armor, this would have been really difficult to compete like this. StillÖ

On the next axe swing, Shahar creates a small barrier and then spins around it after it blocks the weapon. He then lands a strong hit with his mace, which breaks one of its horns. With it being stunned, Shahar winds back his arm and concentrates some dark magic to it. The volume is not much, but enough to coat his wrist and hand. He then forcefully brings down the mace on its head, which sends it straight into the ground.

Shahar: That extra power it gave me was marginal. But hell, this is hard to control in battle. Is this how it was like for Katzir? NoÖit must have been even harder for him to control because of all the power flowing through him.

Amitay and Drora have decided to team up, meanwhile. They are facing opposite ways and the two Minotaur facing them have them in a pincer.

Amitay: Drora, can you hit one of them with an illusion?
Drora: I can try.

Suddenly, Droraís opponent rushes in and swings its axe horizontally.

Drora: Duck!

Both Drora and Amitay duck under the swing.

Amitay: Thanks.

Amitayís opponent also attacks, but he blocks with his staff. He starts getting pushed back, but Drora supports him with her own weight. Amitay then lights his staff on fire for a second, which makes it away from him.

Amitay: So youíre scared of fire, are you? Too bad I canít use all my power in this forest.
Drora: Heís attacking again!
Amitay: Switch with me!

They switch positions and Amitay blocks the axe swing. Drora does the same support again while also waving her hands around. A fine mist emanates from her body and surrounds the Minotaur in front of her.

Drora: I did it.
Amitay: Good. Go get him.

Amitay touches Droraís dagger with his staff and lights it on fire temporarily. With the Minotaur dazed, Drora charges it and then jumps into the air and stabs it in the head with the fire-enhanced dagger. She wraps her legs around its body and repeatedly stabs it in the head till it goes down. Meanwhile, Amitay keeps his distance from the Minotaur. With the superior reach, he manages to keep lunging his staff successfully at it, damaging it each time. Every time the Minotaur tries to close the distance, Amitay backs away at an even speed to maintain the exact same distance. Finally, Drora appears from behind and stabs it in the back repeatedly. Amitay lights the tip of his staff on fire and then activates dark magic. The fire turns dark purple and he lunges it straight at the Minotaurís face, damaging it badly. It falls to the ground and two more jump down to fight them.

Amitay: Thereís no end.

We now look at Katzir and Hayim, who are fighting separate, but close to each other. When a Minotaur goes to swing its axe at Hayim, he quickly moves in close and hooks the shaft of the axe with his left kama. With his right, he cuts it deep across the chest. It retaliates with a strong head-butt, however. Hayim stumbles back, dazed and disoriented. There is blood running down his forehead. Just as it goes for the killing strike on Hayim, he quickly restrains its arm by creating a large amount of water to grapple it. He suddenly gets angry and activates dark magic. With the water gaining a purple hue to it, it suddenly becomes stronger and Hayim is able to create a much larger volume of water. He shoots a blast of water that spirals straight into its chest and digs through it completely, leaving a giant hole in its stomach. It dies shortly thereafter.

Hayim: I did it. My headÖKatzir, are you doing okay?
Katzir: Just fine. And hey! Did you just get my name right?
Hayim: I suppose I did.

When we focus on Katzir, he is dodging each axe swing, seeing if the Minotaur slows down at all.

Katzir: No sign of stamina loss. This thing is quite strong.

Katzir activates dark magic all around his body. He is seen concentrating hard.

Katzir: Move as I command and heed my instruction.

The Minotaur does an overhead swing with its axe, but Katzir moves a step closer and grabs the axe with his hand. Katzir is not being pushed back at all by the power of the swing or its pressure. He smiles at the Minotaur and then punches it in the gut. It hunches over in pain. Katzir takes the axe and swings it with mild difficulty to kill it. We then switch over to Akari again, who is fighting multiple Minotaur now.

Akari: It seems youíve abandoned your honor to kill me. But unfortunately, weíre going to have to make a swift retreat. There are simply too many for them to handle at this point. Everyone! Retreat! Follow me!

They both attack Akari at once, but he creates two walls and then brings them together to sandwich the two. The others run past him and then he brings out a small amount of dark magic and then creates a large earth wall to separate them from the Minotaur. Katzir still has dark aura around him and is still holding the axe. As soon as it dispels, he can no longer hold the axe and it sinks to the ground and sticks in.

Katzir: Hehe.
Hayim: Curious. It appears as though you can inexorably sustain your dark aura.

They all look at Hayim funny.

Liron: Did you hit your head orÖoh it looks like you did actually hit your head. You alright?
Hayim: Yes, I appear to be, as one would say, ďokayĒ. I suspect my cranium has received some fracturing. It is a miracle that I am alive.
Shahar: I donít believe it. Hitting him in the head actually made him smarter.

Liron smacks Drora in the back of the head.

Drora: Oww! What the hell was that for?
Liron: Do you feel smarter?
Drora: No.
Liron: Damn.
Drora: What are you trying to say?! Huh?!
Liron: Hahaha. Iím only kidding.
Amitay: Youíre plenty smart, Drora. You were excellent support for me back there.
Drora: Aww, thanks.
Akari: But anyway, Katzir, Iím impressed that you were able to maintain that form and then get rid of it on your own.
Katzir: Thank you, captain.
Hayim: Liron, your tonfa.
Liron: Yeah, they broke. I forgot to do maintenance on them back at the castle.
Akari: Will you be okay without them?
Liron: Iíll be fine. I have a backup set of weapons in my bag that Iím not ready to use yet. Until then, I could try using that axe, but perhaps itís a bit too heavy to be practical.
Katzir: You can actually lift this thing? I canít at all unless I use dark magic.
Liron: Yeah. Iíll deal with this handicap for a little while. Itíll be all right.
Hayim: Judging by the grass density, Iíd say we still have a ways to go before civilization.
Akari: How theÖyouíre right, Hayim.
Hayim: Naturally. Simple calculations really. You just have to take-

He is interrupted as Drora jump kicks him in the head. This makes Hayim crash into the ground.

Akari: Drora!
Drora: Sorry, I like the stupid Hayim better.
Hayim: My headÖ
Shahar: WHATÖis the air speed velocity of an un-laden swallow?
Hayim: UhÖpotato salad?
Shahar: All right, heís back. Letís go.

They keep walking.

Akari: By the way, what do you mean? An Iron or Red swallow?
Shahar: Touchť.

Night falls quickly for them and the forest gets darker and darker. Amitay is keeping them dimly lit with a static flame coming from his palm.

Amitay: Captain, do you think itís safe to rest here?
Akari: Iím not sure. We will secure this area first.

Just then, Akari steps on something.

Akari: Amitay, come over here.

He does as directed and we see a dead Minotaur.

Liron: Well that makes sense since Sheikh Helen came this way first.
Akari: It still bothers me about them. Usually theyíre farther up north. Something or someone must have driven them off their land and all the way down here.
Shahar: If thatís the case, then they must have an army big enough.
Hayim: Master HunterÖ
Akari: I know, Hayim. We stop in this vicinity. Itís no use walking around at night like this. Itís difficult as is.

They find a spot just a ways from the dead Minotaur (plural) that they find.

Shahar: Stay close to one another. If thereís an attack, we need to be able to quickly identify friend from foe.

We canít see everything they do perfectly, but we can see them lie down next to each other, spaced out by about two feet in width. The order from left to right is: Shahar, Liron, Amitay, Katzir, Drora, Hayim and Akari.

Katzir: Sheís between Mr. Shahar and Mr. Amitay. This is bad.
Hayim: Those twoÖI donít trust them.
Drora: Great. Iím stuck between the two that have the hots for Liron and not me.
Liron: I bet Katzir, Hayim and Drora arenít happy by this set up.
Akari: This is a strategic set up, for the record.
Drora: We didnít say anything.
Akari: I know you guysÖ
Liron: Wrecked.


To be continued...

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PostSubject: Re: A Tale of Iron   July 11th 2015, 5:16 pm

Chapter 40


Though it is pitch black, we are able to see what is happening with the group. They are currently sleeping. Above them are some tree branches with some figures on them. One of them silently lands next to the group. At that moment, Akari opens one eye and feels the ground with one hand. From his perspective, every step shows a small disturbance with the ground that he can feel. Then, two more disturbances are felt by the other end of the group.

Akari: These are the guys who tailed us. Letís see how many of them realize that someone is here.

Akari then feels another movement within the group. Itís slight.

Akari: Thatís Drora. It seems she has the most finely attuned senses of them.

One of them takes one step closer to the group, which triggers Akari and Drora and one other to spring up from their sleeping position. It is Liron. Drora stabs her assailant, Akari bashes his with his flail and Liron grabs herís and shocks him. The rest of them wake up. Immediately, Amitay lights the area to see three men in black garb dead. They all had the lighter skin tone.

Akari: So you noticed as well, Liron? Iím surprised you didnít move after waking up.
Liron: I never fell asleep. Otherwise I donít know if I would have noticed.
Shahar: (Groggy) Captain, do you think anyone else is here?
Akari: No. There were only three people tailing us.
Amitay: We were being followed?
Akari: None of you noticed? Thatís a shame. Letís get back to sleep.

They go back to sleep (or in Lironís case, just to sleep). They wake up the next morning and eat berries for breakfast with a stand set up for making coffee.

Liron: Captain, how did you get your senses so sharp?
Akari: Well, my affinity helps me. I can actively feel some of the ground around me within a small radius. Besides that, itís a lot of battle experience and just being taught. Helen favors stealth like you, Drora. So when we trained together, both Hunter and I had to get used to someone of her level.
Drora: Yeah, Sheikh Helen is really good.
Akari: If you want to become a Sheikh ever, thatís a big skill to pick up.
Shahar: That kind of sensing is different from the magical affinity, right?
Akari: Right. It actually can be more useful against someone like Drora, who was able to conceal herself from the sensing mage. The sensing magic is good for picking out numbers and exact locations. Itís an active magic that is more detailed. But the senses I have are passive. I donít necessarily need to be on guard to detect something wrong.
Shahar: Wow. So, Drora, have you considered becoming a full time assassin for the country?
Drora: No. Iíve been forced to before though by my family. My brothers grew up to be strong, but had no stealth at all. They were forced into the army instead. They never came back from the last war.
Shahar: Iím sorry to hear. What were their names?
Drora: Hezekiah and Herman.
Shahar: Youíve got to be kidding me. They were in my unit.
Drora: Youíre serious?
Shahar: Yes. Though they perished before I had a chance to fight alongside them. They were a part of the first wave whereas I was in the second wave with all the blunt weapons.

Drora stands up and stretches.

Drora: My answer has been clear from the start.
Akari: Drora? Whatís wrong?

The dark aura begins to surround her.

Drora: If thereís one thing I hate, itís my fucking parents. They force us into war, knowing that we could be killed at any moment. Those pieces of shit donít care about my well being at all. They didnít care about my brothers either. They only care about this family honor crap. How the fuck are we supposed to continue the family line if we all get killed?! Honor just gets you killed! Fuck it all!

Akari dispels the dark aura from her. Liron then approaches her.

Liron: Feel better?
Drora: A little.

Drora embraces her and buries her head into Lironís chest. Both Hayim and Katzir look jealous.

Liron: Iím the only one left then.

Liron and Akari exchange looks. Akari understands the situation and says nothing. After they finish eating, they continue walking.

Shahar: Drora, Iím sorry if what I said upset you at all.
Drora: No, itís fine. I needed it.
Katzir: That family honor thing, I canít even imagine. After Cousin Seijuro became who he was, we would have been screwed.
Akari: How close of cousins were you related?
Katzir: My motherís sister was Seijuroís mother. So first cousins.
Akari: And did either of them use magic?
Katzir: No, they never tried.
Akari: Iíll bet that they both probably have latent potential like you and Seijuro. Which one of the sisters is older?
Katzir: My aunt.
Akari: That makes sense. If she inherited stronger power, thatís why Seijuro could have been born with such ridiculous potential. If he had lived, he would have been a captain in a short amount of time.
Katzir: Yeah, Iím sure. He was always so strong compared to the rest of us. Iím just glad I got to say goodbye to him.
Akari: What? How is that possible?
Katzir: Sheikh Hamas. At his funeral, Hamas summoned him to allow a proper parting in exchange for being able to use him to kill the dragon slayers. There wasnít any hesitation in making the choice to allow it.
Akari: I see. You donít get that kind of parting very often. Unfortunately, Hamas also got done in by those bastards.

Just then, they stop as they see a figure standing there, seemingly waiting for them. This figure has the shape of a tall 6í6 man, but his body is made of solid rock. It isnít wearing a shirt, but is wearing tattered long pants. It has a large maul. They keep their distance.

Akari: Do you speak our common tongue?
???: (Deep male voice) I do.
Akari: What do want of us?
???: Do you know what it is I am?
Akari: Are you an earth mage?
???: I am not. Perhaps the Mohadmaht (Moh-Hod-Mot) will sound familiar.

They all instantly react to that name.

Shahar: You canít be serious.
Mohadmaht: I am, human.
Shahar: The Mohadmaht. Itís an urban legend that everyone in the kingdom is told about. It is said to have led the creatures of darkness and still haunts travelers in different locations of uncivilized territory.
Akari: Itís hard to confirm that. After all, there are no true descriptions of the Mohadmaht. They all die, but the bodies were all found in the same manner. Thus a name was given to the myth.
Mohadmaht: I can tell you, I am no myth. You speak of myth and yet you associated yourselves with a dragon.
Akari: How did you learn the human tongue?
Mohadmaht: Iíve been living for a very long time. I know every language that exists in this kingdom. I can even communicate with dragons. So you asked what I want? I will kill and eat you, of course.
Akari: GuysÖstand back. This guyÖI have a bad feeling.
Liron: Captain, we should all gang up on him.
Akari: I donít think thatís a good idea. Observe him first. If I fall, you will know exactly what youíre up against. If we all charge in without figuring out his power, we might lose more than we need to.
Shahar: Heís right. Let the captain deal with this. Besides, if itís you, youíll win.

Akari steps up and the Mohadmaht doesnít move an inch.

Akari: Youíll go against me first then.

He finally raises his maul and readies himself. Akari also takes a ready stance without pulling his flail. Suddenly, Mohadmaht makes a move. *Music* He bursts forth with incredible speed, to the point where afterimages are trailing behind him. This speed shocks Akari and he is barely able to move out of the way before Mohadmaht effortlessly swings the large hammer his way.

Akari: What the hell was that speed just now?! If I hadnít come up here alone, we could have just now lost half our team!
Mohadmaht: You move well. Not many I fight have the ability to even see my movements let alone dodge them.
Akari: Iím in trouble unless I can seal those movements!

Akari instantly creates a dome around Mohadmaht with the ground below him. One swing of the maul busts through the structure completely. Akari then immediately follows up by putting his hand on the ground and causing a small earthquake below Mohadmaht. Before it can take any effect, Mohadmaht disappears and appears behind Akari. He puts up a thick wall between them, but the hammer destroys the wall and hits Akari in the back, sending him flying. This surprises the group.

Katzir: No way.
Liron: In all our battles up till nowÖheís never taken so much as a scratch.

Akari is slow to get up, but is able to do so.

Mohadmaht: That wall saved you. It slowed me down just enough that the attack wasnít life threatening. The next attack in that area will kill you though.
Akari: Yeah.

Akari activates dark magic all around his body.

Akari: Letís go.

Mohadmaht charges, but this time Akari dodges with more ease. This surprises Mohadmaht. Akari puts his hand on Mohadmahtís back, but nothing happens.

Akari: I canít manipulate his body despite it being rock? No wait, this isnít rock? I have no idea what substance this body is made of.

Mohadmaht swings his hammer horizontally, which Akari ducks under. He punches with more dark energy concentrated to his right fist. It pushes back the rocky giant, but does little damage. Mohadmaht then punches Akari in the face, which sends him sliding away. He then charges straight at Akari, who narrowly dodges another attack. This time, he pulls out his flail and concentrates all his dark magic energy to it. He swings the weapon, but Mohadmaht easily dodges and gets behind Akari again. Akari slides his foot backwards, which causes a quick shift in the ground below Mohadmaht. He gets off balance and Akari does a 180-degree turn to attack with his flail again. Suddenly, Mohadmaht puts his hand out and a large shard of ice shoots from his hand and blocks the weapon.

Akari: He can use magic too?!
Mohadmaht: This is it for you.

Mohadmaht shoots multiple shards of ice that stick straight into Akariís torso, sending him to the ground. *Music Stops*

Amitay: Captain!
Mohadmaht: To think he forced me to use magic.
Liron: Letís go!
Shahar: Stick to the plan!

Hayim immediately creates a sizable amount of water and whips it at Mohadmaht. It hits him and covers him with water, turning his attention to them. At that very moment, a lightning bolt strikes him and shocks him all over his body.

Shahar: So his body really isnít rock. That wouldnít have conducted otherwise. Again!

Hayim does the same thing, but this time Mohadmaht freezes the blast of water. Following that, Amitay shoots a small concentrated fireball at the ice, which melts it to water again. Liron shoots another lightning bolt to strike him and shock him again.

Shahar: Katzir, Drora, get ready!

Katzir activates dark magic around him and gets in front of the team. Just as Mohadmaht charges at him, two barriers appear between them and he charges straight through, but not without losing some speed. Katzir now can follow his movement enough to grab a hold of the shaft of the maul. Drora now emits the mist that goes towards Mohadmaht. It doesnít seem to be affecting him at all.

Drora: Shit.

Mohadmaht is pushing Katzir back and away from his weapon, but a purple barrier supports him from behind, giving him a foothold to exert some force against it. He is still losing the battle of strength, however. Hayim once again douses Mohadmaht with some more water and Liron appears in front of him. At that moment, Katzir backs away as Liron unloads a huge portion of her mana into a concentrated lightning storm. When itís all done, he has still only taken minor damage.

Liron: Youíve got to be kidding me.

They stare down each other and Mohadmaht decides to back off and retreat. After a few seconds, everyone takes a deep breath.

Amitay: What resilience.
Shahar: No kidding.
Liron: That plan of yours seemed to work, Shahar, but we were outclassed from the start.
Shahar: Yeah, that we were.

Meanwhile, Katzir and Drora are checking on Akari. He is still conscious.

Katzir: Donít move, captain.
Akari: That bastard. He could even use magic. Normally itís impossible for a creature of darkness to do that.
Drora: I guess the Mohadmaht isnít a creature of darkness then. He said he could communicate with dragons, which means he spent time away from Jovah.
Akari: Yeah. Get Amitay over here.

They do as he instructs.

Akari: Can you melt these ice shards without damaging me?
Amitay: Yeah. Iím on it.

He is able to melt the ice without hurting Akari any further. They then wrap his torso with bandages.

Amitay: It looks like the shards didnít pierce that far into your skin. I guess itís because you had dark magic shrouding you.
Akari: Yeah.
Katzir: It also seems like your wounds could have been worse.
Akari: My skin contracted around the ice, so it kept my blood loss to a minimum.

Akari sits up against a tree.

Akari: Damn it. I messed up big time.
Katzir: How are we supposed to beat that thing if he shows up again?
Akari: I let my guard down the first time. I wonít let that happen again. For now, we need to keep moving.

Akari gets up slowly, but manages to get on his feet. He puts his black robe back on and they continue walking.

Shahar: Did you see any concrete weakness while fighting him, captain?
Akari: Just one. His body structure was extremely durable, but that also limited his movements. In other words, he wasnít flexible and could only move very linearly. It left a big opening for a counterattack. But enough of that. I want you all to concentrate on dark magic training. Liron, youíll stay alert for any enemies with me. Is that understood?
Liron: Yes.

They all follow Akariís orders.

Akari: (Low volume) Are you ready to talk about Hassar yet?
Liron: (Low) Not yet. But when I do, itíll be with all of you at once.
Akari: Okay.
Liron: Iím guessing the most you know is about what the other Sheikh talked about.
Akari: Thatís about it, yeah. When something happens to or with a Sheikh, word spreads around fast within the rank.
Liron: Just how many Sheikh are there?
Akari: Really about 10 now.
Liron: Who would you say is the strongest right now?
Akari: Tough to say. I am the one with the most raw destructive power, but as you know, thereís more to a fight than just that.
Liron: I see. So then no one else besides a captain or stronger can destroy that whole arena like you did.
Akari: There are better tacticians in the ranks than myself, like Hunter. Ah, but donít let him know I admitted that. But really, in a 1 on 1 fight, I have the best track record of the three of us at least.
Liron: Then there are the three captains. Sentus, Jerome and Helvast. How much stronger are the captains?
Akari: I havenít fought under Jerome or Helvast yet, unfortunately. But Captain Sentus is ridiculously powerful. Have you heard about his lineage?
Liron: Of course. It got out shortly after the dragon was killed.
Akari: Sentus was the closest in that family to being able to manifest his dragon powers. The only thing he lacks is the absurd mana pool required to use it. If Sentus had the same mana pool as Dravos, he would have been a stronger dragon.
Liron: Are you serious?
Akari: Oh yeah. It was said that he forced General Shiomi to start getting serious in order to beat him in a fight. You saw how little effort she destroyed us with.
Liron: So then, who was stronger, Dravos or General Shiomi?
Akari: I wouldnít know, sorry.
Liron: Our higher ranks seem so powerful. How come we donít outright destroy the Iron Kingdom with that?
Akari: Well, you see, the Iron Kingdomís hierarchy of power works a little different. The royal knights of Aegis are extremely powerful. Individually, theyíre weaker than Sheikh, but there are thousands of them that overwhelm our forces. When theyíre on our territory, we can beat them back with magic. However if weíre on their territory, our magic is weakened and so it becomes a losing battle.
Liron: That makes sense.
Akari: And then at the top, they have the dragon slayers, who are Sheikh rank on their territory. Arguably, they may have all jumped to Sheikh rank on ours as well. Then thereís the general, who has matched ours every time they fought.
Liron: So our major advantage is the captains. Theirs is the sheer number of skilled warriors.
Akari: Correct.

Akari looks back to see their progress.

Akari: Thatís enough, you guys. Youíll also want to practice combining dark with your affinity, but thatís a bit dangerous and impractical while weíre traveling.
Liron: So, about how long have they been following us?
Akari: When did you notice?
Liron: About when we first started our conversation.
Akari: Not bad.
Drora: An enemy? Ah, now that Iím not trainingÖ
Akari: Just donít react like you found them out.

They keep moving along the forest for a few minutes. After that, they all stop.

Akari: Theyíre making their move. Get ready.


To be continuedÖ

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PostSubject: Re: A Tale of Iron   July 20th 2015, 3:20 pm

Chapter 41


Akari: Theyíre making their move. Get ready.

Just then, a rhino appears out of thin air next to them and charges. They are able to get out of the way in time.

Shahar: They have a summoner!

At that time, they all (except Liron) try to bring out their dark magic, but canít.

Akari: Anti-magic?!

After Akari speaks, they are surrounded by enemies. They are all wearing red cloaks that cover their appearances. The numbers amount to about 20. The Rhino disappears.

Liron: Captain, can you tell which one of them is the anti-magic user?
Akari: The one directly in front of Shahar. Can you handle it, Shahar?
Shahar: Iím on it.
Akari: Focus all your efforts on helping Shahar take out that one.

Two of them remove the hoods from their cloaks to reveal two lighter skinned males with blonde hair.

Man 1: Look at what we got, brother.
Man 2: I see. We got ourselves a beauty.
Liron: Seriously?
Man 1: How about you just surrender and come with us, baby?
Liron: Fuck off.
Man 1: Such a shame. Fine. Weíll just capture you alive. Weíll take turns holding you down while we have our fun with you.
Shahar: You have no idea what you just signed up for. Right, Liron?
Katzir: Ms. Liron?

Sheís currently sweating and takes a step back.

Man 2: You spooked her, brother. Maybe now sheíll come with us.
Liron: You stay away!
Amitay: Keep it together. Weíre going in.

All of the cloaked men draw long swords. The group suddenly breaks to follow Shahar and attacks that part of the circle. Liron slowly backs up from the two men, who get closer. Katzir and Hayim step between them.

Hayim: Leave this to us.
Liron: Iíll fight too.

She puts her fists up and stands next to them.

Liron: I wonít let them have me.

Katzir nods and then takes a martial arts stance. Hayim flips his kama.

Katzir: This feeling of not being able to use magic. Itís quite nostalgic.
Liron: Fuck it. Iím using them now. Thereís no choice.

She reaches into her bag, but the men attack at that second, so she is forced to retract her hands and get ready. The first brother thrusts with his sword at Katzir and Liron, but they dodge and then Katzir gets close. The man then swings the sword horizontally, but Katzir ducks under it and then gives him a hard uppercut. Meanwhile, Hayim is guarding against rapid slashes from the second brother. He hooks the long sword and then slashes with his other kama, which grazes his cheek. At this time, another cloaked man has come to help and attacks Katzir, forcing his attention on that one. The first brother then recovers and goes straight for Liron. She has her teeth grit and her hands are trembling.

Liron: Fuck this feeling to hell!

The man lunges with his sword to try and graze her, but she dodges to the side and then lands a solid punch to the manís face, she yells and digs her fist deeper, until she knocks him off his feet entirely, sending him crashing into the ground.

Liron: I did it. I-

She consequently faints. Katzir and Hayim notice this and their attention is diverted for a brief moment. Luckily, they are able to dodge the attacks coming their way. Meanwhile, the rest of the group is fighting off most of them. The anti-magic person is standing behind the rest.

Shahar: Iím about to take him out! Watch out!

Shahar creates two barriers like steps and then uses them to get a higher elevation and then jumps over the rest of the red-cloaked people. He lands in front of the anti-magic user and quickly bashes him with his mace in the head.

Akari: My magic is back!

Akari spikes his magic aura and blows all the enemies away with a thin wave of ground.

Akari: This ground is very thin. Which meansÖ

He slams his hand down and breaks the ground around the whole group and they all fall through. The red-cloaked people look confused. The hole that has been created seals up with rubble. Below the ground, it is pitch black, but Amitay creates a flame to illuminate them all.

Akari: Is everyone alright?
Katzir: Ms. Liron is unconscious.
Akari: What happened?
Hayim: She punched one of them and then went to sleep.
Shahar: She must have been under a lot of mental stress.
Akari: Hassar, you bastard. What the fuck.
Shahar: Captain, what can you tell us? I think we need to know.

Just then, Liron starts coming to.

Liron: Whyís it so dark? Is it nighttime already?
Akari: Weíre in a tunnel just below ground. We managed to escape for now.
Liron: ÖGuys. Iím ready to talk.
Shahar: I think we can already guess what happened. You were assaulted, werenít you?
Liron: Yes.
Akari: Was it your brother?
Liron: No, but he was involved in that incident. Thereís a lot I have to talk about, so let me just get settled.

She stretches from having just woken up. She takes a deep breath and then curls up against the nearest wall.

Liron: The story starts even before that. My brother, Hassar, he was a Sheikh for a short time. This happened as a result of a war that ended roughly 11 years ago.
Akari: I remember. I looked up to your brother. He was regarded as a war hero.
Liron: Yes. He was only 18, but was awarded the rank for the amount of Iron soldiers he killed in that war. Of course, he was also as strong as a base level Sheikh. But that was one side of him. My brother was a good person. But that war changed him. It slowly turned him mad. And the incident that made him snapÖwas when I was sexually assaulted.

We go back 11 years in time. We can see a younger Liron and a younger Ferra walk side by side along the capital streets. They are wearing matching prissy and frilly blouses. It is mid-day.

Narrator Liron: I was only 13 at the time. I was a lot more girly back then, believe it or not.
Ferra: Like ohmigosh, did you see that kitty back there?
Liron: Giiirl, that thing was precious.
Ferra: So what are you doing tonight? You gonna hang with the hottie?
Liron: Stop calling my brother a hottie in front of me, Ferra.
Ferra: Sorry sorry. I canít help it. Can you hook me up with him? Pleeeasse?
Liron: Heís way too old for you. Stop playing. And by the way, Iím just going to do some shopping tonight. Some new shoes on sale.
Ferra: Sooo jealous. I canít go.
Liron: Laaaame.
Ferra: I know. But you can take me tomorrow.
Liron: Deal.
Ferra: I gotta go.
Liron: Later, bestie.

They hug and Ferra runs off. We now cut to nighttime at an alleyway. There Liron lay, slumped up against a wall. Her shirt is torn on one side, barely covering her chest by the way she is leaning. Her eyes seem completely dead. Sheís there for hours, with occasional tears. Finally, a figure finds her. This figure picks her up.

Liron: (Faint) Brother.

Her voice had grown faint and weak. All the agonizing screaming had taken its toll on her voice box. We then get a good look at Hassarís face. Heís a young man with the same skin tone as Liron and has long black hair. He stands at 5í10. He has emerald green eyes. He has the black robe on. He looks at his sister in sheer horror as tears also begin running from his eyes.

Hassar: What happened here? No, never mind. Letís just get you home.

The next morning, Liron is sitting upright in a small bed with Hassar sitting next to her on a stool. He is very distraught while Lironís eyes are still dead. Bags under her eyes indicate zero sleep with the marks under her eyes that also indicate many tears.

Hassar: I see. Those two, huh?

Liron had just explained what happened with great detail. Hassarís hands are trembling. No, rather they are shaking with anger.

Narrator Liron: Was it a mistake to identify the ones who did it? The choice wasnít clear back then, and it still isnít now from hindsight.
Hassar: Iíll be back.

Later that day, Hassar has Liron out into the middle of town.

Hassar: I have a present for you.
Liron: You do?
Hassar: Yes. Just wait.

They reach a point where there is a crowd gathered. Hassar points upwards at an angle to Liron where she sees two men hanging from a building. They have been impaled with metal spikes in every conceivable area from their body.

Liron: Brother, you did this?
Hassar: Of course! Hahahaha. They screamed until they couldnít anymore. I made them feel that same kind of pain and worse. Their bodies gave out a bit quickly though.

Just then, we see someone approach the two of them. This man is wearing a blue mage robe. He has long blond hair and seems to be in his mid-30s.

Hassar: Captain Helvast.
Helvast: What the fuck are you doing, Hassar?!

As Helvast raises his voice, the civilians back away. We see a maniacal smile on Hassar.

Hassar: I gave them justice. They raped my sister, you see! I canít let that go unpunished!
Helvast: I canít let what YOU did go unpunished! Youíre coming with me!

Hassar puts his hands out horizontally.

Helvast: Donít even try it. You know you canít beat me, even with that magnetic magic of yours.

Hassar seems to be contemplating for a few seconds and then surrenders himself to Helvast. Liron tugs on Helvastís robe.

Liron: Why are you taking him?! He did nothing wrong! Those men deserved to die!
Helvast: Yes, they did.

Helvast takes Liron by the hand and leads her out to turn left where a building was obstructing her view before. It is there that she sees 20 more bodies in the same condition. This surprises Liron and she falls to her knees.

Helvast: If it were just those two, you wouldnít be seeing me right now. He killed their entire families. Innocents who had nothing to do with it. Iím sorry for what happened to you, little miss, but Iím afraid I canít help but do this.

As Helvast takes Hassar away, we can see a proud look on his face, looking at his own handiwork. He looks to Liron for approval, but gets none out of her face. She looks distraught and disgusted at this deed. Hassar sees this and looks away in shame. That second, she understood something.

Narrator Liron: It was then that I knew without a doubt that Hassar had gone crazy. But I still didnít understand completely why until later.
Akari: Hassar was immediately stripped of his Sheikh status and was incarcerated for 4 years if I recall correctly.
Narrator Liron: Yes. Normally, something like that would have gotten the death penalty. But because he was a war hero, there was some leverage to be had. The story picks up when he was released. For those years, I lived on my own for the most part. Our parents both died in the war that my brother lived through. My aunt and uncle helped me for 3 of those years.

We skip over four years where Liron and Ferra now look closer to their current appearances with just less aging. They are sitting together in Lironís room, which looks more or less the same.

Ferra: Hassar finally gets out tomorrow. I canít wait!
Liron: Yeah.
Narrator Liron: Ferra visited him often, to the point where she steadily fell in love with him. He didnít seem to return that love, however.
Ferra: I have all the preparations for his party ready.
Liron: Thatís good.

The next day, we see Helvast escort Hassar out of a building and into the streets of the capital. We can see that his appearance has become gruffer, with a poorly shaven face and longer hair. Liron and Ferra are waiting for him.

Helvast: Listen to me, Hassar. Donít do anything stupid. These two fine young ladies are waiting for you.
Hassar: Itís okay. Iím better now. I see that what I did was wrong.
Helvast: Good.

Helvast nudges Hassar forward and then walks away. Hassar approaches Liron and Ferra, who take turns giving him a hug.

Hassar: Iím starving. Please tell me you have food ready at home.
Liron: Plenty of it.

Back at their house, they are eating. Ferra puts down her plate of food and then starts randomly dancing on the nearest table.

Liron: Really?
Ferra: Look at me, Hassar.
Hassar: I see.

They let Ferra continue and Hassar starts to lower his volume to talk to Liron.

Hassar: Liron, now that Iím home, are you ready to begin training?
Liron: Yeah. Iím sick of this housewife crap. I want to fight.
Hassar: Good. And how is your magic coming along?
Liron: Iím doing okay with it. Itís difficult not having an actual teacher like most people.
Hassar: Donít worry. I was a Sheikh. I can give you proper lessons now other than just telling you what to do from behind bars. Should we bring her along?
Liron: She is dying to learn too. I know sheís a handful, but you know she has a thing for you.
Hassar: (Sarcastically) I hadnít noticed.
Ferra: Hey! Whatís all that secret talk about?
Liron: Mind your own business and keep dancing for your imaginary friends.
Ferra: Not cool, girl.
Narrator Liron: By the time I was 17, I became cold and indifferent to everyone around me except my brother. Ferra did her best to break that wall, but it failed and I just pushed her away every time.
Katzir: But Ms. Liron, youíre not that cold anymore.
Narrator Liron: Call it a phase; a long ass phase.

Later that night, Liron is giving Hassar a shave with a knife.

Hassar: Youíre quite good at this.
Liron: Letís just say Iím good at cutting things.
Hassar: A natural like me then. I never noticed before, but standing right next to you, youíre nearly my height now. If I had known youíd be this big, I might have had longer blades made.
Liron: What do you mean?
Hassar: So, you really didnít go through all my things like I asked.
Liron: Youíre telling me you had swords made for me back then?
Hassar: For when you came of age. Would you like to see?
Liron: When weíre done here, sure.

After the shave is complete, she gives him a haircut to make his appearance the same as before, but with more aging. Hassar brings her two curved blades and unsheathes them.

Hassar: This is the first time theyíve ever been unsheathed since the blacksmith gave them to me. Weíll have to do some sharpening, but they should be in good condition otherwise.
Liron: Theyíre beautiful.

She takes them and starts to feel the weight and balance of them.

Liron: I can definitely handle this.
Hassar: So, you know as much as weight and balance of blades, do you?
Liron: Iíve done a little homework on my own. I think I might prefer lighter blades anyway.
Hassar: I have something for Ferra as well. I kept a couple extra weapons aside here in case you couldnít use these.
Liron: Thatís good. Sheíll appreciate anything you give her.

She puts her swords aside and they move to her room. She is getting ready for bed.

Hassar: This is so nostalgic.
Liron: Yeah. You practically look the same now.
Hassar: Liron, Iím so sorry. I never really apologized before. I put you through more than you needed.
Liron: Can you finally answer why you killed all those people?
Hassar: I lost control. My time at war made me bloodthirsty. I killed so many Iron soldiers with my magic that it became like a hobby to me. After killing those two men, I couldnít stop. I had to keep going, so I took everything out on their families. Not a day goes by that I donít regret what I did.
Liron: Thank you for apologizing. What matters now is that youíre home and weíre still alive.

Hassar hastily gives her a hug. He holds her tight.

Hassar: Youíve become so strong. Iím so proud of you.

The next day, they are out in an area similar to the area where Akariís group first met. Ferra is there with them. Hassar has a smallsword and dagger in his hands. He hands them over to Ferra.

Ferra: A rapier and dagger?
Hassar: Ah, not quite. A smallsword is a lot lighter than a rapier, but its reach is shorter.
Ferra: Isnít this how an Iron soldier would fight?
Hassar: Youíre a dancer, right? That weapon is perfect for you. Iíve seen many of our soldiers fall to the elegant and refined style of a rapier. The dagger is a good pair with it. Itíll help you fight close quarters if an enemy gets past your reach.
Ferra: I get it! Youíre so thoughtful, Hassar. Thank you so much.

She gives him a peck on the cheek and then walks backwards towards Liron. Hassar puts up his hand and his palm glows purple with some sparks and Ferraís weapons leave her hands and pull towards him where he catches them.

Ferra: What?
Narrator Liron: Hassarís magic is extremely unique. A rare magnetic magic that allowed him to attract most metals within a certain radius. The reason he was able to kill so many Iron soldiers is because his magic is a natural enemy to their iron and steel.
Hassar: I will give these back, but first before I teach you how to fight with weapons, I will teach you how to fight without them. Thatís why I had Liron leave hers at home. You will first learn how to use your magic properly and how to fight unarmed. First, Iím going to gauge both of your physical abilities. Ferra, you first. From where youíre standing, run past me.
Ferra: Okay.

She runs the 10 meters at relatively fast speed.

Hassar: Not bad. Your dancing has given you a nice edge, it seems. Now, give me a hard punch and kick.

Hassar has a large pad that he holds up with his hands. Ferraís punch barely budges the pad, and her kick does a little more.

Hassar: Okay. So youíre a quick and nimble type. You have relatively strong legs, but not enough to really put someone down in a fight.
Ferra: (Blushing) Oh, stop.
Hassar: You next, Liron.
Ferra: Sheís clunky, Hassar. She wonít be able to-

Liron takes off at even greater speed than Ferra and quickly runs past Hassar. This surprises even him.

Ferra: What the hell was that? Youíve been holding out on me?
Liron: Sorry.
Hassar: Letís see that strength of yours then.

She punches the pad, which pushes him back.

Hassar: Are you kidding me?

She kicks the pad hard, which makes Hassar stumble back a few steps before regaining his footing.

Hassar: Youíre an absolute natural. Youíre just like me.
Liron: So Iím good then. Thatís good to hear.


The story continues next time!

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PostSubject: Re: A Tale of Iron   July 20th 2015, 3:32 pm

Chapter 42


Half a year passes and Ferra and Liron are sparring with each other in hand-to-hand combat. Ferra enhances her strength and speed and then they start to struggle against each other.

Liron: Cheating again, I see.
Ferra: Who cares, as long as I win?
Liron: You wonít win.

They break away from each other and Ferra goes for a punch. She overshoots Liron as she side steps and then Liron grapples her from behind and brings her to the ground.

Hassar: Thatís enough. I think youíre both ready to use your weapons. But first, Liron. I want you to shoot your best lightning bolt at me.
Liron: Are you sure, brother?
Hassar: Yes.

Liron charges up and brings all of her magic into two fingers and then fires a lightning bolt the size of her hand. Hassar puts out his hand and a purple lightning bolt emits from his hand and cancels out Lironís.

Liron: What? You can use my magic too?
Hassar: I couldnít at first. But it seems that as I progressed with my magic, I became able to use it.
Narrator Liron: I should also mention that his magic was ridiculously strong besides just being able to attract weapons and armor. Using his magic, he could make himself stronger and faster in an instant by using his magnetic magic on himself. Iím not sure I understand the science of it, but I think itís similar to how I enhance my own speed with lightning.
Hassar: Itís time to start training with your weapons.
Narrator Liron: So, for another half-year, we learned everything about sword fighting and weapon combat in general. Just like with everything else combat related, Ferra was weaker than me with her weapons.
Amitay: So, thatís why you assumed sheís not as strong as you now.
Narrator Liron: Precisely. Like I said, sheís not weak, but she never had the penchant for fighting that my brother and I have.

Another half-year passes.

Hassar: You both have done great. Youíre ready to really defend yourselves.
Liron: Thank you, brother.
Ferra: Yes. Thank you so much.
Hassar: Of course. Now, donít let anything like what happened to Liron ever happen again. I will see you both tonight. Weíll have a special dinner.
Narrator Liron: He never showed up that night.

The two girls are just sitting down together, waiting for Hassar. It is very late.

Ferra: We need to go look for him.
Liron: Yeah.
Narrator Liron: The truth was that we would have left a lot sooner. But we were both scared to leave, because we didnít want to confirm our worries. But eventually, we had to.

They go into town where there is a crowd of people. Two people are in the middle, dead. There are metal weapons piercing them.

Liron: No. It couldnít have been.
Ferra: Oh, please no.
Narrator Liron: We both wanted to believe so bad that he had truly changed. But deep down, we knew. We knew that he would never be the same Hassar from before the war.
Akari: Very few people come back from war the same. But in Hassarís case, it was very extreme.
Narrator Liron: Thatís not all.

That night, Liron looks inside Hassarís room to find opium.

Narrator Liron: My brother had been taking opium. Itís something that I later found out was an addiction he picked up from war.
Akari: Thatís not uncommon for soldiers who have been on it during wartime.
Liron: It messed with him even further. And after 1 year without an incident, he finally met his witís end and started killing again.

Just then, someone knocks on the door. Liron answers it and it is Helvast.

Liron: Captain Helvast. Iím guessing this is about my brother.
Helvast: Yes, unfortunately.
Liron: Do you know where he is?
Helvast: I was hoping you would know.
Liron: Iím afraid not. I went looking for him earlier since he never came home, but I found nothing but two dead bodies.
Helvast: May I come in? I need to tell you something.
Liron: Yes, sir.

Under the dim moonlight, the two of them sit down on the floor.

Helvast: Over the past year, Hassar has been begging me to let him back into the military. I kept rejecting him because I thought it would just perpetuate this lust for killing. I see now that it may have been a mistake.
Liron: What are you going to do?
Helvast: Iím not going to lie to you. Hassar was under my unit and I took part of the blame when he didnít immediately hang for what he did five years ago. I was the one who got him down to 4 years. I pleaded with the general and the judiciary system and because he was a war hero, they agreed to my request. But itís not going to work a second time. The second the general hears about this, she is going to immediately warrant a dead or alive bounty on him. I want to kill him before that happens.
Liron: I see.
Narrator Liron: Captain Helvast was looking out for me with his plan. He knew that I would be in immediate danger if the public knew of my brotherís terrible crimes. He also wanted to save face with his own standing, but that is understandable.
Helvast: Iím sorry that it has come to this. I too wanted to believe in him.
Liron: I understand.
Helvast: Iím going to look for him now. I will keep you updated.
Liron: Thank you, Captain Helvast.

With that, he leaves.

Narrator Liron: For days, my brother was nowhere to be found. But bodies kept piling up by the day. By the fifth day, he had killed over 30 people. It had become increasingly difficult to keep this under control. Captain Helvast was able to keep General Shiomiís wrath at bay and stopped her from issuing a public warrant.
Shahar: That was for the best, I assume. There would have been mass panic otherwise.
Akari: By that time, I had become a Sheikh, so I knew what was going on. To cover up 30 deaths in five days, our forces had to move quickly.
Narrator Liron: Yes. I heard the whole story from the captain himself long after. But after the second day, Ferra also disappeared suddenly. At first I thought she had just been looking for him. But what I slowly came to the realization of was that she had actually found him. My fears were confirmed on the sixth night after he disappeared.

Liron is sitting on a chair when her door opens. As she turns, she sees Hassar walk through and quietly shut the door.

Liron: Brother!

Hassar says nothing but simply walks up to her. He falls to his knees, sobbing.

Hassar: Liron, I donít know what to do anymore.
Liron: Hassar, is Ferra with you?

He nods.

Liron: Where is she?
Hassar: Sheís safe. I donít want to kill anymore, but I canít help it. I thought I could just stop. I tried. I fought the urge for a full year. But I couldnít do it anymore.
Liron: Captain Helvast told me the story of how you tried to get back into the military. So why now?
Hassar: I fought it as hard as I could until you were done training. When I saw how strong you became, I feared that I would come after you too one day. I couldnít take that feeling and so I ran. But I couldnít fight the feeling of wanting to kill anymore.
Liron: Oh, brother.

She takes Hassarís crimson-stained hands and then starts crying over him as he is still on his knees.

Hassar: Iím so sorry. I wanted so much more for you.
Liron: I know.

After hours of time pass, Hassar finally leaves. Morning comes and he is hiding behind a building. There is a family of noble garb walking by on the street. He quickly jumps out and draws a shamshir. Ferra jumps out behind him, holding her weapons. The family quickly becomes frightened and backs up against the nearest wall. Among them is a 15-year-old girl that we recognize.

Narrator Drora: Yes, I remember that day well. He jumped out and scared us all half to death. We all knew our lives were in danger at that moment.

A man about Hassarís age stands in front with dual dao drawn.

Drora: Brother, help us!

Hassar uses his magic and steals the swords, while levitating them around his body. He then sends them flying straight back at Droraís older brother, who is able to avoid critical damage, but falls after being cut by both of them. He and Ferra start to walk towards the family, when a figure comes from behind.

Liron: STOP!

Narrator Liron: When Hassar left the night before, I tailed him. His senses and ability to hide had grown dull as his mind went. This also meant that Captain Helvast and General Shiomi were hot on his trail. They would arrive any minute to kill him.
Ferra: Liron. What are you doing here?
Liron: I canít let you go through with this, Ferra. Have you killed anyone yet?
Ferra: No, butÖ
Liron: Good. Then you get over here right now. Step away from Hassar.
Ferra: I will not! I love him, Liron! I will follow him anywhere! I donít care anymore!
Liron: Stop speaking nonsense! He doesnít love you back! Heíll just continue to use you until you outlive your usefulness!
Hassar: Liron, I canít stop. This is who I am now.
Liron: Thatís wrong! You can stop this now! Get out of here! Leave this place and live! I tailed you here. Do you know what that means? That means that youíre not as sharp as you used to be. The general herself will be here in moments to kill you if you donít leave now!
Hassar: Iím sorry.

Hassar turns from her and raises her blade towards Drora and starts walking towards her.

Narrator Liron: I was praying that Helvast would make it in time.
Akari: And he did.
Narrator Liron: It happened so fast. Faster than Ferra could react to try and protect him.

A blade pierces from Hassarís back and comes out of his chest. When Hassar looks backs, his assailant is none other than Liron herself. *Music*

Narrator Liron: The one who ended my brotherís lifeÖwas me.
Ferra: No!
Hassar: YouÖso you are the one that would finally kill me.
Liron: (Sobbing) Iím sorry, brother.
Hassar: (Also crying) No, Iím sorry. Iíve done nothing but cause you misery. Iím sorry that it had to be you. But all along, it had to be you to stop me. Better than anyone else, you knew what I was. But youíve become strong. Iím so proud of you.

Liron removes one of the blades that were given to her and he drops to his knees. It is at that moment that both Helvast and Shiomi arrive.

Helvast: My god. I canít believe it came to this.

Hassar has one more look at Liron and then falls on his face, dead.

Ferra: Liron, why would youÖyou killed your own brother!
Shiomi: This girl is HassarísÖ
Narrator Liron: Ferraís words stung harder than any hit Iíve ever taken.

Liron canít even answer her. Ferra points her blade at her, but Shiomi appears behind her and restrains her.

Shiomi: Youíre coming with us.

It is then that Ferra begins crying, once it set in that her love had died, killed by her best friend. Shiomi then glances at Lironís eyes, which look as dead as they did 5 years ago.

Shiomi: This kidÖto have the courage to do that.
Helvast: If only we were moments quickerÖdamn it.

The flashback breaks. Liron has her head down between her knees. There is a heavy silence for about ten seconds. *Music Stops*

Akari: WHAT?!
Shahar: I thought you knew about this, captain.
Akari: They lied. They told us that Captain Helvast arrived at just the right moment to kill him. I had no idea, Liron.
Drora: I can tell the story from here. After Liron saved my life, my family treated her as a hero, but the official story was another cover up. Captain Helvast worked with my father to craft a story that would work out for everyone. The story that was released to the public was that those 30+ people were killed as a result of a prison break that was caused by an Iron spy. They had an Iron spy in prison already and decided to use him as a scapegoat, publicly executing him.
Amitay: But what about Ferra? Sheís on Helenís team, so she obviously came out okay.
Drora: Liron pleaded for her to be spared. So my family, who has a heavy influence on the court system, granted her leniency. She was forced to speak in court about how she was coerced to follow Hassar, even though she didnít kill anyone. That last part was at least true.
Liron: But that couldnít repair the damage that was done between us.
Drora: LironÖ
Liron: Itís okay. I can finish.

We go back six years ago where Ferra is walking away from a large building. Liron chases after her and stops her.

Liron: Ferra, please!
Ferra: I donít want to see your face again.
Liron: Ferra, I just wanted to save you.
Ferra: I didnít want to be saved.
Liron: Then why did you lie in court? You could have just as easily said that you murdered all those people, which is also a lie.
Ferra: IÖdonít know. I was scared. It seems I canít just willingly take my own life.
Liron: Please donít walk away from me now. I need you.
Ferra: You brought this on yourself. Goodbye.
Narrator Liron: And just like that, it was over between us. But that day, a new friendship was forged.

Drora approaches Liron.

Drora: Liron, thank you. You saved my life. I am Drora, house Hetzelberg.
Liron: Liron. My family name means nothing anymore, Iím afraid.
Drora: Oh, I donít care about any of that. Letís be friends.
Liron: Friends? You wantÖto be friendsÖwith me?
Drora: Hellz yeah, girl. What do you say?
Liron: Okay. Why not?

We are now back into the present time.

Liron: Drora, though I saved your life, you also saved mine. What I needed more than anything was a friend. Sure, you were a bit young back then and a little immature. But you were my kind of young and immature.
Drora: Youíre gonna make me cryÖ
Akari: So thatís everything.
Liron: Thatís everything.
Katzir: (choked up) ThatísÖmy goodness.
Shahar: Are you crying, Katzir?
Katzir: MaybeÖhow are the rest of you not crying?
Amitay: So all those times, Liron. Yusuk harassing you, sleeping in the same room as two guys, the hot spring, the rapier user. You fought through all those without saying a word.
Liron: All those moments brought up memories, yes. But none of them were quite as bad as what just happened above. I knew those men wanted to rape me if they could, and it triggered that horrific event and everything tied to it, including my brother. Iím certain that if the anti-magic user were not present, I would have triggered the dark magic surge there and then.
Akari: Unlucky for you.
Liron: Iíll find another way. I promise.
Akari: Okay. Iím sorry for judging you before. You were right when you said that I knew very little.
Liron: Itís okay. Now, I think Iím ready to use them.

Liron reaches into her bag and pulls out her two curved blades.

Akari: Those were the blades you mentioned?
Liron: Yes. This right one here is the very one that I killed my own brother with. I tried to use different weapons, but my real training is right here. Iíve kept these weapons and my life for one reason. Of everything my brother said to me, there was one thing he kept repeating to me. ďYouíve become strongĒ. I choose to believe in those words. I am strong. So I wonít let myself die, not yet.

Each of them thought the same thing. They all recalled that Liron repeatedly mentioned that she did something awful or unforgivable. But each of them silently disagreed with her. They could not bring their feelings to light, however, because they knew that this feeling came from her heart and they could not sway her to think differently.

Hayim: So, what do we do now, captain?
Akari: We should follow this tunnel to wherever it leads. At the very least, we need to gain some proximity from here before we re-surface. The air here is thin, but thereís enough, which means there is some kind of airflow.
Shahar: Right.
Akari: Are we all ready to move?

They all nod yes.

Akari: Okay. Letís go then. Amitay, howís your mana? I know youíve been keeping a dim flame this whole time.
Amitay: Itís okay for now. Iíve managed to learn a trick to keep it to a minimum while maintaining a small flame.
Akari: Thatís good.

They continue along the path with Amitay leading the way.

Shahar: Captain, how are your injuries?
Akari: I might have agitated them a little in our previous fight, but I think Iím okay.

They were all trying to change the subject as much as possible, because that story was still at the forefront of everyoneís mind.

Akari: Come to think of itÖ

We go back all the way to Chapter 30 when Hunter was speaking to Akari about his team.

Akari: I canít believe you gave me Liron.
Hunter: See? I told you I would be fair.
Akari: That girl is a godsend.
Hunter: Sheís been through a lot. Iím sure as you travel with her, youíll learn more about the trauma that befell her.


Akari: Just how much did Hunter know when he said that?

As theyíre walking, Katzir and Drora are both walking while embracing Liron from both sides.

Liron: Itís starting to get difficult to walk like this, guys.
Katzir: But Ms. Liron, I canít help it.
Drora: Yeah, what he said.
Liron: *Sigh* Fine.

Amitay takes a glance back, but keeps walking forward.

Amitay: When she spoke about being the opposite of me, I didnít realize just how much. I have everything. Like Hayim, she had nothing at one point in her life. And yet both stand here as comrades with me. Itís touching, but also sad.


The shocking conclusion to Lironís story has been unveiled. As they press on, danger constantly looms over their heads. What is it that they will find at the end of this tunnel? Keep tuning in to A Tale of Iron!

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PostSubject: Re: A Tale of Iron   August 6th 2015, 8:38 pm

Chapter 43


About a half-hour has passed. They are still walking through this tunnel.

Akari: I donít sense anyone around us. I think weíve escaped major harm for now. We should take this time to prepare to surface.
Liron: Are you okay now, captain?
Akari: Your story allowed me time to rest up a little bit. I think Iím okay to fight at full force again, though my wounds will take some time to fully heal. I canít worry too much about them.

They travel just for another minute and then stop. They sit down for a few minutes to get all their equipment in order and to simply rest.

Akari: Everyone, huddle up close. Shahar, get a barrier above our heads. Iím going to rend the ceiling above us, and Iím not sure how much rubble will come down.
Shahar: Iím on it.

They all get close together and Shahar creates a barrier above them. Akari stomps on the ground, which sends a shockwave up to the ceiling above. Akari then manipulates it with his hands, forcibly ripping it aside as a lot of dirt and rock comes down on them. It bounces off the barrier, keeping them safe and clean. After that clears, it is clear to go up.

Akari: Alright. Donít anyone move.

Akari raises the ground below them to plug up the hole while simultaneously bringing them to the surface.

Amitay: Ah, fresh air.
Drora: My clothes, they have dirt on them.
Shahar: (Sarcastically) Maybe you should take them off and get rid of it.
Drora: Hah, youíd like that, wouldnít you? Iíll only do it if Amitay asks me to.
Amitay: Seriously?
Liron: Your jumpsuit is black, so at least no one can really tell.
Drora: I know, but I can feel it. Itís so yuck! And itís on my face too.
Hayim: Here, I can help.

He creates a water ball that she can wash her face with. The others also do the same.

Drora: That magic is so handy. Thanks.
Akari: You should be careful whom you use casual magic around. Some people get offended by that.
Shahar: Yeah. Iíve noticed. But you donít seem to mind, captain.
Akari: Not really. Magic is a tool like any other. It can be used however one pleases. But there is another school of thought that says that one should never use magic for personal use. They say it promotes laziness. I respect that, but I tend to disagree.
Shahar: Those people donít want to take responsibility for their own actions. Theyíre always looking for something else to blame for societyís problems when the problem is within. Itís something more abstract.
Hayim: Iím completely lost.
Shahar: In simpler terms, people are lazy when they canít handle responsibility. The responsibility doesnít make them lazy.
Hayim: I think I understand. When I lived on the streets, everything had an effect right away. Those of us who were poor, if we got caught stealing, we were beaten. If we helped someone in need, like assisting an old lady carrying things, we were rewarded. Is that what you mean?
Shahar: Hmm, almost. Think about it this way, Hayim. When you were on the streets, you had to work for everything you got in order to survive, right?
Hayim: Yes.
Shahar: Now imagine you had enough money to feed yourself for a year and a home that was paid for a year. What would happen after a year if you never had a job in that time?
Hayim: Well, I would be back to the streets.
Shahar: Exactly. Did that money make you lazy? Or was it just inaction?
Hayim: Ah, I get it. So you think magic is the same way. If you can handle magic responsibly, thereís nothing wrong with using it how you want.
Shahar: Gold star to Hayim.
Akari: I feel the same, but donít trample on the feelings of people who disagree. Itís okay to have differing viewpoints.
Shahar: I know that. I just think thereís no point just having different views without first discussing why.
Hayim: I guess I never understood. When Master Hunter took me in, I worked hard for him. I didnít think anything of it. Itís something Iíve done all my life.
Drora: I never had to ďworkĒ, but I always had to train, so that counts right?

They all continue walking while the conversation continues.

Amitay: Do you guys notice that we always seem to go off on random conversations off the smallest things?
Katzir: We do.
Akari: Thatís proof that weíve grown as a team. I think even more concrete evidence is how you all worked together against the Mohadmaht.

As they continue, they notice a very large goblin blocking the way. It is about 8 feet tall. It is wielding a large club.

Shahar: Is that a goblin king?
Amitay: Looks like weíll have to fight it to get through.
Katzir: Let me handle it.
Akari: Katzir?
Katzir: Iím tired of being scared of my power.

Katzir walks out in front of the group and the goblin spots him. Katzir takes a stance and then starts to focus his mana.

Katzir: Dark power, heed your master and move as I move.

The dark aura begins to intensify around him. It builds up more and more until it stabilizes. Katzirís eyes are purple, but his appearance doesnít change otherwise.

Akari: Itís stable. Heís doing it.
Katzir: Come.

The goblin recognizes this power and perceives it as a threat. It charges at Katzir and swings its club straight down at him. By the time the club hits the ground, Katzir is already behind the goblin.

Liron: That speed. It was comparable to my fastest speed when surrounded by lightning. Maybe faster.

Katzir focuses while putting one hand forward towards the goblinís back.

Katzir: I saw Seijuro do this before. Címon, work.

He focuses the dark energy around him and compiles it into his palm.

Akari: That move. He can use that already?!

The goblin turns around, finally realizing where Katzir is. But it is too late. Katzir shoots the dark aura in a beam out of his hand, which explodes on contact with the goblin. It annihilates its entire body.

Amitay: Amazing. He took that thing out in one hit.
Akari: Jeez. You dark affinity mages are something else.
Katzir: Itís all because you all gave me the courage to stand and fight.
Shahar: Katzir, Iím now sold on you.
Katzir: Thanks, Shahar.
Liron: I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but how much stamina do you have left after that attack?
Katzir: About half, unfortunately.
Akari: That attack eats a lot of mana. Iím surprised you could manage to perform it so quickly. You were holding back your own potential with fear.
Katzir: Thatís probably true, captain.
Akari: Anyway, we need to keep moving, so letís go.

As they press on, Amitay walks next to Katzir.

Amitay: Hey.
Katzir: Hello, whatís up?
Amitay: So, how did it feel?
Katzir: Awesome. Iím finally in control.
Amitay: Iím happy for you. I bet Yusuk is too.
Katzir: You think so? Thanks. You always have a kind word for everyone.

We switch back over to the Iron Kingdom. We see Mars in Drogos, speaking with Vito.

Vito: Are you sure youíre okay going out there alone?
Mars: Yeah. Iím on a mission and Iím also going to be training out there.
Vito: Okay then. Iíll have them open the gate for you. Hey, Erosion!

Erosion comes out of hiding from behind a building.

Erosion: Yeah?
Vito: Have them open the gate for Mars.
Erosion: Why donít you do it yourself?
Vito: Because Iím the warden and I said so, bitch.
Erosion: OkayÖ
Vito: You can have Solomon come with you too in case you two want to get intimate on the way.
Solomon: NO! You can do that with Aerona if you want. He might be in Aegis, but you can always travel there. You know, itís been a month since weíve seen him. We can always just go.
Vito: Donít talk back to me. I know youíve been writing to him in secret. He fucking stole you from me.
Mars: Can I just get the gate opened for me?
Vito: Oh, right. Yeah, take care of it, Erosion.

Meanwhile, in Aegis, Aerona is training against the general in an isolated room with no one else present. They are using wooden spears.

Strago: You donít seem to have lost your edge.
Aerona: Itís only been a month. After all the shit we went through on the Red Kingdom, thereís no way that would have happened.
Strago: I see. So youíre well rested then.
Aerona: Hell yeah.
Strago: I see that youíve been practicing that other thing though.
Aerona: How do youÖoh right. Itís you.
Strago: Youíd better not let anyone else find out about that. The only reason I keep my mouth shut is because you guard the queen.
Aerona: Yeah, thanks. I canít help it. I developed something really cool over at the Red Kingdom, but itís not quite perfect yet.
Strago: Oh? Why donít you show it to me?
Aerona: Glad you asked. I only just became able to use it over here.

We now cut back to the Red Kingdom, but we go to the capital. Sentus and Helvast are walking together through the streets.

Helvast: So youíve heard nothing so far?
Sentus: That is correct.
Helvast: Thatís unfortunate. There are some bright Sheikh out there under your unit.
Sentus: Yes. I pray for their success every day and night.
Helvast: I didnít know you were religious.
Sentus: Ah, that was a figure of speech. I simply meant-
Helvast: Relax, I know. By the way, do you remember Sheikh Hassar?
Sentus: How could I not? That man under you who-
Helvast: His younger sister is on Akariís team.
Sentus: What? You mean the girl that killed Hassar?
Helvast: The very one. I heard it straight out of the generalís mouth.
Sentus: Thatís not good. What if she turns out like her brother?
Helvast: She wonít.
Sentus: How do you know?
Helvast: I know her. She is everything Hassar could have been. After all this is over, I plan to groom her into a proper Sheikh.
Sentus: Youíre too sentimental.
Helvast: Thatís not all though. Apparently a natural dark mage is on his team as well. Apparently, heís related to Seijuro.
Sentus: What? Seijuro had a relative like that?
Helvast: We still donít know the full story on him. Itís possible that he is still in the early stages of development.
Sentus: Why is it that you seem to know more about people under my unit than me?
Helvast: General Shiomi likes to talk, especially when she has a glass of wine in her hands.
Sentus: My god, Helvast. I canít believe you said that anywhere near the palace.

When we zoom out, we can see that they are walking towards the palace and are very close to it.

Helvast: Yeah, my bad.
Sentus: Iím not going to back you up if you get into trouble with her.
Helvast: Itís okay. I have one piece of leverage over her.
Sentus: Oh?
Helvast: If she kills me, she wonít be able toÖyou know.
Sentus: Typical.
Helvast: Oh, donít act like you havenít enjoyed a night with her.
Sentus: As if I had a choice in the matter.
Helvast: Hated every moment of it?
Sentus: ÖNo.
Helvast: Thatís what I thought.

They make it to the palace, where there is someone waiting for them. This man is also wearing a blue robe. He has darker skin than the other two and has black hair slicked back into pointed spiky hair in the back. Heís around 6í0. He is wearing shoulder armor over top of the robe.

Helvast: Jerome, why are you out here so soon?
Jerome: General Shiomi is in there with the king. Thereís nothing to worry about.
Sentus: Should we go in?
Jerome: Thatís probably for the best.

The three of them go in together to the throne room. The king is sitting on the throne with Shiomi standing next to him.

King: Approach, captains.

They do as he asks.

Shiomi: What do you have for me, Sentus?
Sentus: Nothing, Iím afraid.
Shiomi: I see. Iím taking this watch shift. Sentus, you have the night watch.
Sentus: Yes, maíam.
Shiomi: And Helvast, I want you tonight.
Helvast: Understood.
Shiomi: You may go. Oh, wait. Get that lazy shit Sheikh Habib in here.
Jerome: It will be done.

They leave the room and Jerome tugs on someone with a black robe on. He is lying around at the palace, smoking. He has long black hair that covers his face.

Jerome: Habib.
Habib: Captain Jerome, sir.
Jerome: The general wants you in the throne room.
Habib: Oh fuck.
Jerome: You have duties, Habib. Why are you here, smoking?
Habib: I just stopped like five minutes ago. I promise.
Jerome: Get going. If youíre not there soon, the general says sheíll cut it off.
Habib: Not that! Iím going now!

Habib runs extremely fast away from them. The three of them start laughing.

Sentus: ďSheíll cut it offĒ Nice touch.
Jerome: Sometimes a padded lie is whatís needed to goad him.
Helvast: Well, it looks like Sentus had his shift relieved for now.
Sentus: Yeah, but I wonít be getting any sleep tonight. Iíll be guarding the king while he sleeps. Worst shift.
Helvast: True. But at least we can hang out. Itís not often that we can.
Jerome: What do you say, Sentus?
Sentus: Fine. Letís go get drinks at the usual place.

Sentus starts walking away.

Jerome: Sentus? Did you forget to speak out loud again?
Sentus: Shit. I said letís go get drinks at the usual place.
Helvast: Alright.

Meanwhile, at the throne roomÖ

Habib: Iím sorry, General Shiomi! Please donít cut it off!
Shiomi: What the fuck are you talking about, Habib? Get your ass on the floor and give me 100 push-ups.
Habib: Right away, maíam!

He starts doing them.

King: Why are you making him do push-ups in the middle of my throne room?
Shiomi: I like torturing him.
King: Thatís fair. By the way, what is it that you do with your captains when you call them later that night? You seem to do it almost every night. And you seem to call Helvast up more than the other two.
Shiomi: Ah, that? Itís a fairly standard procedure we do to solidify our team.
King: I see. Sounds boring.

We now see the three captains at a bar with drinks. Theyíve also ordered some food. There are people all around the bar staring at them.

Man 1: Do you see that? Itís the three captains!
Man 2: To see them together like this. It must be good luck.
Jerome: So, what do you say, Sentus? How about you give me Helen and Iíll give you Habib?
Sentus: As if anyone would accept a trade like that. Just demote the bastard and be done with him.
Helvast: Heís a good soldier. He just needs some motivation, is all.
Sentus: Besides, Iím happy with my three.
Jerome: And what if they all die on this mission? Youíll have to accept at least one of mine since I have 4. And Iím giving you Habib without hesitation.
Sentus: They wonít. As long as Akari is there, theyíll succeed.
Helvast: Akari? Why do you say him and not Hunter?
Sentus: Hunter is strong and he has a brilliant mind. But Hunterís intelligence sometimes gets in the way. It inflates his ego. Akari knows what he knows and what he doesnít. To that extent, heís a wiser person. His own intelligence is nothing to put down either. And of all the Sheikh, he has the most raw power.
Helvast: Even though he failed against theÖoh.
Sentus: You donít have to walk on eggshells around me. Yes, even though he failed against those despicable people. If Dravos lost to them, Hunter wouldnít have stood a chance either.
Helvast: I suppose you have a point there.
Jerome: I would have liked to fight them. I would have if those idiots at the coliseum didnít fall for such a stupid trick.
Helvast: What trick was that?
Jerome: They said they were under a poisonous spell that activated if they talked about that group. As if some half-baked Iron mage could perform such a complicated spell.
Sentus: I heard one of them competed in that coliseum as well.
Jerome: Yes, but I didnít realize it was one of them till they cracked and finally spoke.
Helvast: You actually saw the fight?
Jerome: Yeah. He put down our champion even with a major handicap in equipment. To be honest, it would have been difficult for us too with those handicaps.

Their food arrives. They begin eating. A loosely dressed woman approaches them.

Woman: Hey, Captain Sentus. What do you say you bring me back to your cave and you can show me your dragon?

Sentus seems visibly annoyed by this, while the other two are chuckling.

Helvast: How long did that take you to think of?
Sentus: I might have taken your offer up, but unfortunately I canít tonight.
Jerome: Ah, yes. He has to guard the king.
Sentus: Hey, wait. Are you even 18?
Woman: UhÖ

She runs away. The bartender chases her out after hearing that.

Helvast: Iím impressed. How did you know?
Sentus: I just know.
Jerome: Itís getting harder to tell these days.
Helvast: Too many mishaps sharpened your eyes, eh?
Sentus: Donít compare me to you.
Jerome: Ah, right. You have to keep your bloodline pure.
Sentus: Yes. Itís an unfortunate circumstance, but I follow tradition.
Helvast: Say, do you think if you bred with the general that you could get a real dragon child?

Sentus gets red in the face.

Helvast: Watch out, heís about to breath fire at us.
Sentus: It doesnít work like that; Iíll have you know.
Jerome: Still, do you think sheíll finally opt to have a child with one of us when things settle down?
Helvast: Itís possible. If sheís looking for a powerful child, thereís no one else suitable. The only one else that was possible was Seijuro.
Jerome: If she wants the strongest of us, thatíll have to unfortunately be Sentus. Youíre also royalty, so it works.
Sentus: Itís already come back to me with her again? Damn it, guys. If sheíd pick anyone, itíd be Helvast. She favors you the most.
Helvast: Thatís probably true.
Sentus and Jerome: Asshole!

Later that night, Helvast and Sentus are walking together inside the palace in a narrow corridor.

Sentus: Well, I guess this is it. A long night.
Helvast: Yeah, good luck.
Shiomiís Voice: Oh Helvast. Where are you?
Helvast: *Wink* Gotta go.
Sentus: Bastard.

Helvast walks in the opposite direction. Meanwhile, Sentus knocks on the ensuing door. It opens to see the king.

King: Sentus, Iím glad youíre here.
Sentus: Are you ready to see who is the true chess king tonight?
King: Hell yeah I am.

Sentus puts his hand behind his back and puts up the middle finger in the general direction that Helvast walked. They go inside and close the door.

Kingís Voice: Say, just how closely are we related anyway?
Sentusí Voice: No clue, your majesty.

We now switch back over to Akariís team. They are still continuing walking. Akari suddenly stops the group.

Akari: Wait. Somethingís wrong.


What is it that has Akariís senses piqued?

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PostSubject: Re: A Tale of Iron   January 11th 2016, 12:59 pm

Chapter 44


Akari suddenly stops the group.

Akari: Wait. Somethingís wrong.
Liron: What is it?
Drora: I donít sense any enemy presences.
Akari: Itís not that. I recognize this air.

Akari proceeds cautiously as the group follows him.

Shahar: Captain, I think I recognize this as well. This particular scent.
Amitay: What is it? The air hasnít changed that much has it?
Akari: Itís not surprising you guys donít know this feeling.

Akari is sweating. His hands are trembling.

Akari: Please, please, please.
Katzir: Captain, Mr. Shahar, please tell us whatís going on?
Akari: Wait, I see something.

He rushes forward quickly through some thick grass and then stops once he makes it through. He closes his eyes as his face begins to drop ever so slightly. As the rest of the group arrives, they also stop. Shahar in particular reacts to what they all see. On the ground in front of them is the body of Hannah, her armor broken and pierced with arrows all around. Their eyes drift upwards where the rest of their horrors await. All of Helenís team members are in a similar condition. This includes Ferra. The familiar scent Akari spoke of was none other than the presence that fills the air after a battle. Shahar immediately bends down and checks Hannahís pulse. He then grits his teeth in anger.

Shahar: Damn it!

Liron then notices Ferra and then runs to her.

Liron: Ferra! Not now! Not like this!

Akari is frantically looking around for Helenís body.

Akari: Helen?! HELEN?!

Just then, he looks into the thick grass to see something there. He rushes to it and parts the grass. The second he does, he backs up and falls to the ground to his knees.

Akari: No, I canítÖ.it canít be true. Helen.

Akari grabs the lifeless body of Helen and holds it close. He checks her pulse multiple times with no sign of life. There is a stab wound through her chest roughly where her heart would be. Meanwhile, the rest of the team is checking on the rest of Helenís team.

Amitay: None of them survived. It looks like they got ambushed.
Katzir: Whoever they were, they were strong enough to take out a Sheikh and her team.
Amitay: This has to be a trap. Katzir, Hayim, Drora, we need to stay alert for an enemy attack.

Just as Amitay says that, an arrow is sent his way. It is blocked however, as a barrier emerges in front of Amitay. Shahar stands up, angry.

Shahar: How dare you interrupt us?

Many people drop down onto the branches above and begin to run away, now that they have been found out. They are hopping from branch to branch.

Katzir: Theyíre running?
Amitay: That has to be another trap to lead us into the wolvesí den so to speak.

Just then, Akari stands up. He is teeming with dark magic all around him.

Akari: Everyone, stand back.

He walks out in front of the group.

Akari: (Darkened) You dare run from me after the things youíve done?! I wonít let you!

Akariís dark magic aura surges even further, to the point where itís even difficult to see him. He lets out a gut-wrenching, agonizing yell from the heart *Music* (go to 30 seconds if time doesn't automatically start there) and slams both hands on the ground. The earth quakes and shakes, making his team behind him fall to the ground from the rumbling.

Hayim: What is this power?!

The ground in front cracks and reaches further than he can see and all of the sudden, a giant dust pillar erupts, blocking everyoneís view. When it finally clears, the sight to which they see is breathtaking for all. For what looks like a mileís radius, the forest has been completely leveled. All trees in the vicinity have been uprooted and the ground level has dropped a full two meters.

Drora: CaptainÖ

Akari falls backwards and lands on his back, breathing heavy, consequently fainting.

Amitay: He put his entire soul into that attack. *Music Stops*

At that moment, some more people appear through portals on the cleared forest grounds in front of them. We recognize them as Rapier, Saber, Scimitar, Muscles, the twins and Tulwar. Tulwarís eyes are darkened.

Drora: I killed that son of a bitch! Why is he still alive?!
Shahar: It looks like heís been revived by some necromancy, Drora. Thatís really bad.
Katzir: The captain is out of commission for right now. We have to take them out on our own.
Amitay: We can do it!

Liron is still holding Ferra at this time. She looks at her body to see a stab wound similar to Helenís. This stab is not at her heart, however, but somewhere in the mid-section. She stands up and jumps down in elevation to where the ground dropped.

Katzir: Ms. Liron! What are you doing?
Liron: (To Rapier) Was this your work? Did you kill that woman?
Rapier: Indeed. Another flower I was forced to kill, but less of one Iím afraid.

Liron tries to contain her anger. Her teeth are grinding against each other helplessly while her fists are clenched so tight that blood begins to run out.

Rapier: Are you angry with me, angel?
Saber: Donít egg her on, dumbass.
Rapier: I know her trick this time. I wonít fall for it again. Sheís as good as helpless before my blade. This time, I will reach your heart one way or another.

As Liron stands there, the dark aura begins to surround her slowly. This surprises the whole group.

Rapier: What theÖ
Saber: No time for delay! We have to kill her now!
Amitay: We wonít let that happen!

A fire blast comes down and creates a wall of fire between Liron and the enemy group. In that instant, all the memories of Ferra come to her mind as well as the memories connected to her. Her brother, the day she was assaulted and the friend she lost with the deeds she committed. All of them begin to intermix inside her mind like liquids mixing inside of a cup. Then, finally, the cup is too full of liquid and begins pouring out. At that moment, something within her snapped. There is a spark inside her head and her eyes go white. She lets out a cry as dark magic energy surges all around her *Music* (If time doesnít redirect, go to 32 seconds). Her eyes changes to purple and her skin starts to darken.

Shahar: Iíve seen this beforeÖitísÖ.
Katzir: Sheís already gone berserk!

Liron is surrounded with dark purple lightning and then disappears. None of the enemies react until she is behind Rapier. She puts her hand straight through Rapierís back.

Rapier: What speed! This is nothing like last time!

She rips her hand out violently. Rapier coughs up massive amounts of blood. Saber and Tulwar are the first ones to react to this and both attack at the same time. Before they can, Saber receives a kick and flies away. A barrier appears to block Tulwarís attack. Katzir is standing next to Liron with dark magic activated. Lironís next target is Muscles, who immediately hardens. She punches him, which sends him flying and crashing into the ground. She appears in front of him as he lands and then lands on top of him. She grips his face with one hand and sends electricity through him. He yells out in pain as he tries to get her off, but to no avail. Eventually, the electricity completely stops his heart.

Meanwhile, Saber has managed to heal Rapier and is now faced off against Katzir.

Saber: Youíre much different.
Katzir: If you think this is going to end well for you, youíre mistaken.
Rapier: Iím going to kill that woman!
Saber: Do it.

Just then, the twins are behind Katzir, but they receive a whip of water, which knocks them both away. Hayim stands back to back with Katzir.

Hayim: Iím with you.
Katzir: Yeah. Good timing. *Music Stops*

Amitay, Shahar and Drora are now faced off against Scimitar and Tulwar. *Music*

Shahar: Youíve come for even more punishment, I see.
Scimitar: Last time you had a lucky guess. I wonít be so obvious this time.
Amitay: Iíll take the main offensive. Can you two cover me?
Drora: Of course.
Shahar: Yeah. Just leave me a few shots, will ya?
Amitay: Definitely, bro. Take out as much anger as you need.

Amitay activates dark magic and purple flame begins to appear around him.

Tulwar: This isnít good. Theyíve grown considerably since we last fought them. Weíre outclassed.
Scimitar: I donít care. Youíre dead, so you fight them then!

Scimitar teleports away.

Shahar: What a despicable woman.

Amitay lights Tulwar on fire, completely burning him to ashes.

Amitay: Sorry, Shahar.
Shahar: There are plenty of other targets. Letís go.

At this point, Saber is charging at Katzir and swinging his blade. Katzir is dodging each one with relative ease.

Saber: It doesnít matter how good youíve gotten! I will defeat you, you annoying brat!
Katzir: Itís the opposite. Youíve kept attacking us out of nowhere and tried killing our members while they were grieving. You bastards deserve death!

Katzir suddenly rushes forward and punches Saber in the face. *Music Stops* Meanwhile, back where the forest is still in tact, Akari is awake and sitting up. Helenís head is on his lap. Heís half watching the fight. All of the sudden, he notices something out of the corner of his eye. A body begins to move. It is Ferra.

Akari: One of them survived?

Akari crawls over to her and touches her neck, only to get shocked lightly. He retracts his hand and then Ferraís hand starts moving.

Akari: Lironís magic? Did she sub-consciously use it in her grief?

All of the sudden, her eyes open and she gasps for air. This startles Akari.

Akari: You are alive. I donít believe it.
Ferra: WhatÖIím alive?
Akari: Your stab wound. It doesnít look like it was fatal. In fact, itís not that bad at all. Your heart must have stopped from shock. Liron accidentally restarted your heart. Unbelievable.
Ferra: Liron? Lironís here?
Akari: Sheís fighting right now.
Ferra: Sheikh Helen! Everyone!

She now notices that everyone else has been killed.

Akari: Everyone else suffered fatal wounds, Iím afraid. Iím so sorry.

Akari looks back at the fight.

Akari: Oh no. SheísÖ
Ferra: Whatís happening to her?
Akari: Sheís gone berserk. This isnít good. Iím all out of mana. I canít even hope to go in there and release her state.

At this time, Rapier is in front of Liron, who has just gotten off Muscles. She looks at him and her aura flares up again.

Rapier: Now youíve made me angry!

Rapier slows down time immediately the second she starts moving. But even from his perspective, sheís still moving extremely quickly. He is barely able to dodge a punch from her. While still in slow mode, he lunges with his weapon, but she catches it in the middle of the blade after dodging. Time then goes to normal.

Rapier: No, Iím out of time. NOOOOOOOOO!

Liron throws him to the ground while simultaneously stealing his rapier. She lands on top of him and then violently stabs him repeatedly until he screams no more. She then yells straight into his face as some kind of feral scream. Just then, a hand grabs her by the shoulder. She looks back to see Hunter.

Hunter: Release!

He is able to release her berserk mode and dispel the dark aura around her. Just a few moments before that, we go back to Akari and Ferra.

Ferra: Such power. I canít even keep up with that speed. Jeez. To think I was going to challenge her. I was stupid.
Akari: She was willing to throw the fight for you. If it meant that you could move on, she was going to accept it.
Ferra: I see.

They then see Hunter enter the picture.

Akari: Hunter? What is he doing here?

They witness him release her berserk mode.

Akari: Either way, he saved the day with that. Go to her. She needs to see you.

She nods. We cut over to the rest of the fighting. Saber is on his knees with Katzir gripping the back of his shirt. Shahar is in front of Saber.

Katzir: Do it. For Hannah.
Shahar: For Hannah.

Shahar bashes Saber in the face with his mace, killing him. Hayim has killed one of the twins. The other is on the defensive. Suddenly, she gets an arrow to the chest. This gives Hayim the opening to stab her in the head with one of his kama. This kills her.

Amitay: That about wraps it up.
Liron: Sheikh Hunter. Itís you.
Hunter: What happened here, Liron? Where is Akari?
Liron: Sheikh HelenÖFerraÖ

She looks up to where Akari is and points to him. But then she notices Ferra walking towards her below her line of sight. She tilts her head downwards to see her. She is walking slowly, as she is still injured. Lironís eyes open in surprise and she stands. They walk towards each other slowly until Liron falls onto her knees, sobbing. Ferra also gets teary eyed and smiles at her.

Liron: YouíreÖ
Ferra: Iím back.

Ferra gets on her knees as well and they embrace.

Ferra: Iím so sorry.
Liron: HowÖmy magic worked?
Ferra: Yes. You saved me.

Ferra notices that Hunter is no longer in their presence. Heís already next to Akari. The two of them are sitting in silence together, looking at Helen. Finally, Hunter breaks it.

Hunter: Did you love her?
Akari: Yes.
Hunter: I thought so.
Akari: You?
Hunter: As a sibling. It would have worked for you just fine.
Akari: I see.
Hunter: I shouldnít have sent her on this mission.
Akari: Donít beat yourself up over it. She knew what she was getting into.
Hunter: I know.

Switching back to the team, theyíve all gathered together.

Ferra: Your words stuck with me. I didnít realize that you blame yourself just as much for what happened to Hassar as I tried to blame you. Then it hit me today. Everything you did, it saved me. Back then, I just wanted to die. But this mission has made me truly understand how precious life is. And now having the experience I just did, I realize that I want to live now.
Liron: FerraÖ
Ferra: I get it now. Hassar was ruined by war and we were the collateral damage. Youíre every bit a victim as me. So Iím sorry. Can you ever forgive me?
Liron: Of course.
Shahar: I hate to interrupt, but could you tell us what happened?
Ferra: Youíre Shahar, right? Hannah often spoke highly of you. Iím so sorry for your loss.
Shahar: Thanks.
Ferra: Anyway, some rock monster showed up and attacked our group.
Amitay: The MohadmahtÖ
Ferra: Thanks to our captain, we were able to beat it back, but it took a toll on her and all of us. Then, out of nowhere, the group that weíve been fighting repeatedly showed up as well as these guys you just killed. On top of that, there were archers everywhere that surrounded us. There was no way we could fight all of that at once; especially not after fighting that thing.
Katzir: They ran right into a trap.
Drora: Then those people that ran. They were all archers. I think the captain took them all out with that attack.
Amitay: But this second group worries me.
Shahar: Hannah told me all of their abilities at least the last time we met. We should have discussed them earlier, but we will do so.
Amitay: First, we should pay our last respects. Shahar, why donít you take some time up there? You too, Ferra.
Shahar: Yeah, thatís a good idea. I will.
Ferra: Yes, me too.
Amitay: Weíll be waiting here for you.

The two of them leave to go back to the forest.

Katzir: Ms. Liron, are you okay?
Liron: Yeah, Iím fine thanks to Hunter.
Drora: You scared me, girl. Never do that again. That look was not stylish at all.
Katzir: Thatís what you were worried about?
Liron: Yeah. That wasnít fun.
Katzir: I know how that feels.
Liron: I remember.
Hayim: Master HunterÖ
Amitay: Youíre worried about him, arenít you?
Hayim: Iíve never seen him so upset.
Amitay: Helen must have meant something great to both of them.

Back with Akari and Hunter, they are looking out in the distance.

Hunter: Look at this. That was captain level destruction right there.
Akari: Yeah. I used all my mana in one attack. I was so angry that I couldnít hold anything back.
Hunter: I see.
Akari: Whereís your team?
Hunter: Theyíre waiting just outside the edge of where your handiwork stops. I figured it was best that I come alone. We saw that attack and we couldnít ignore it.
Akari: That means you also got slowed down as well.
Hunter: A little.
Akari: This throws our mission off completely.
Hunter: Weíll sit down later and discuss a better strategy. Iím going back to my team. Iíll be back.

Later that day, Helen and her group are lined up in lowered ground. They each pay their final respects to them. Akari and Hunter are the last to approach Helen after Shahar and Ferra are the last to say goodbye to the rest of them.

Hunter: Goodbye, Helen. Iíll miss you dearly.
Akari: I love you, Helen.

With that, Akari buries them all simultaneously.

Akari: The two of us are going to take a few moments alone, if you donít mind.

They leave Akari and Hunter alone for about ten minutes. After that, they rejoin Akariís group and Ferra.

Hunter: Thanks for waiting.
Hayim: Master Hunter, are you going to be okay?
Hunter: Yes, Hayim. But now that Iím thinking clearly, one of you is missing. What happened to Yusuk?
Akari: He was killed. It couldnít be helped.
Hunter: I see. So youíve lost your healer and Helenís healer is also dead. Wonderful. Wait a second.
Ferra: Taario didnít die in this incident. We lost him during a previous enemy attack. We werenít able to find his body anywhere.
Hunter: Unfortunately we donít have time to look for him.
Ferra: I understand. I will look for him.
Liron: What are you talking about, Ferra?
Akari: You donít want to come with us?
Ferra: It hurts to admit it, but Iíll be a burden to your team. My magic is useful, but Iím just not up to the standard you need. If heís dead, Iím heading home. If heís alive, Iíll try to catch up to you guys. The enemy wonít notice just the two of us.
Shahar: Iím sorry to say this, but sheís right. Tactically speaking, this is the best option.
Akari: Hunter, do you think we should consolidate groups?
Hunter: No. I think we need to stick to two groups.
Akari: After what just happened, youíre still saying that?
Hunter: Akari, if you were there with Helen, you would have ended up dead as well. Think about it for a second. They would have sent an even bigger force to corner you at this junction.
Akari: ÖYeah, youíre right. I suppose this means our decision to stop and do maintenance was the right one.
Hunter: So you saw my note.
Akari: Yes. Helen skipped the checkpoint after signing.
Ferra: We traveled nearly non-stop till this point. We were getting to be too tired, unfortunately.
Hunter: They were planning this from the start. We had an easy trip till recently, which goaded them to wear themselves out. Clever bastards.
Akari: The good news is that weíre over halfway there, right?
Hunter: Yes. It wonít be long from now till we reach our destination. You know what, I canít think anymore right now. Iím sorry.
Akari: Yeah. I know what you mean.
Hunter: Weíre only just a half-dayís travel away from the town. I sent my team there. Why donít we speak strategy after weíve had some proper rest there?
Akari: Agreed. Letís go.

They all start walking. Hayim stops Hunter.

Hunter: Yes, Hayim?

Hayim activates dark magic and shows off his skills briefly with dark water.

Hunter: Look at you. Youíre making great progress.
Hayim: Thank you, Master Hunter.
Hunter: Akari, youíre the best. Such a pure one. Trying to cheer me up. Thanks, Hayim.


Helen has been killed in action. This mission weighs heavier on them each day. For now, they will grieve. But the adventure will continue next time.

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Location : McNeil Village
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Registration date : 2008-08-30

PostSubject: Re: A Tale of Iron   January 12th 2016, 12:26 pm

Chapter 45


They have made it to the edge of the destroyed forest and are about to cross over into the non-destroyed forest.

Ferra: Well, this is where we part ways.
Liron: Are you sure you donít want to come with us?
Ferra: Iím sure.
Akari: Travel on the road. Weíve cleared most of it out.
Ferra: Right.
Liron: If things get too dangerous, donít worry about catching up to us.
Ferra: I know. Iíll be okay. Hassar will watch over me.
Liron: Weíll talk after this is all over.
Ferra: Thatís a deal.

They glance at each other one more time and then part as the rest of the team goes into the forest.

Hunter: Now that weíve dealt with that, itís time to press on.
Akari: Hold on now, Hunter. Youíre with my group now. You know what that means?
Hunter: Oh, so then what are your orders, ďteam leaderĒ?
Akari: Relax, I was just kidding. Of course weíll press on.

They start walking along a narrow path. We follow Hayim, who is walking with Hunter.

Hayim: How are things with the team?
Hunter: Well.
Hayim: Thatís good. I was worried about you.
Hunter: I know. How are you doing with this team?
Hayim: I like them. Theyíve been very kind, except Yusuk.
Hunter: Yusuk was an inevitable casualty. I did foresee that Katzir might kill him.
Hayim: So you knew.
Hunter: You didnít have to say a word. I could tell. The situation was unavoidable. There wasnít any other healer I could send you.
Hayim: He has control of his dark magic now.
Hunter: I see. So you can all use it pretty well?
Hayim: Yes, now that Liron was able to do what she did.
Hunter: Interesting. Thanks for the update.
Hayim: Of course. Anything else you want to know?
Hunter: When was the last time you checked the ducks?
Hayim: Before I left. Theyíre in good hands right now.
Hunter: Thatís good.

Hunter brings Hayim closer with his hand.

Hunter: Hayim, thanks. Youíre doing great work.
Hayim: Thank you so much, Master Hunter.
Hunter: Keep it up, buddy.

He nudges Hayim away, sending him towards his comrades.

Amitay: Whatís up, Hayim?
Hayim: Nothing much.
Amitay: You seem to be in a good mood.
Hayim: Well, making Master Hunter proud makes me happy.
Amitay: I see. I admire your respect for him. Iím afraid I donít have anyone that close to me that I can do the same.
Hayim: Thatís because Master Hunter is the best.
Amitay: Thatís hard to argue against. Say, how is your quest for the fair maiden coming along?
Hayim: UhÖwhat?
Amitay: (Whispering) You knowÖasking her how she feels about you.
Hayim: Oh. What do I say, Amitay?
Amitay: Say what you feel, I guess.
Hayim: How do I do that?
Amitay: Sorry, I donít know how to answer that.
Hayim: OhÖ

Just then, we see a hoard of goblins coming their way, crossing a small river that only goes up to their ankles.

Katzir: Goblins!
Hunter: Hayim, letís handle this.
Hayim: Right!

They both create a large amount of water from their hands and then manipulate it together. As some of it shoots past some of the goblins, it touches the water in the river. All of the sudden, the water in the river is lifted straight out of the ground and is being manipulated. Hayim and Hunter make the same movements simultaneously and then the river slithers in the air like a snake and then swallows up all of the goblins in one fell swoop.

Hunter: And crush.

The water starts to compress and crushes the goblins that have been swallowed up by the now giant water ball floating in the air. It becomes bloodstained immediately and then they let go of the water and it drops.

Drora: Incredible.

Eventually, they make it out of the forest and into a small town. It is extremely rural, with farms and wood architecture.

Drora: This place looks so different from most of our towns.
Shahar: This different terrain makes it difficult to live the same type of life style. But my question is why itís so secluded from the rest of the Red Kingdom.
Akari: Itís part of our attempts to colonize more territory. Two Sheikh have this place protected with a handful of skilled mages like you all.
Hunter: I guess four Shiekh for tonight.
Akari: True.

They go into town and Hunter leads them to an inn.

Hunter: Well, here we are. I donít know about you guys, but I need to get a good nightís sleep.
Akari: Iíll try to, at least.

They get into rooms. We go back to Hayim, who is with Shahar.

Shahar: Hey, Hayim.
Hayim: Hey, Katzir.
Shahar: Itís Shahar.
Hayim: Oh, right. Sorry. So, are you okay?
Shahar: Iím doing fine. My feelings for Hannah have since passed. We were still friends, yes, but Iím not as devastated as I would have been if we were still dating.
Hayim: I see.
Shahar: You seem very concerned for everyoneís wellbeing.
Hayim: Itís hard for me to understand. I had nothing to begin with, so there was nothing for me to ever lose. But if I try to imagine losing my masterÖ
Shahar: Say no more. Listen, Hayim. Humans are strong. We can have the worst things happen to us and weíll still keep on living.
Hayim: What about those people who kill themselves?
Shahar: Thatís a lot more complicated. Donít think too hard about it.
Hayim: Good, because I hate thinking too much. Makes my head hurt.
Shahar: Hahahaha. Itís not for everyone, I suppose.
Hayim: Good day...er night. Or is it evening?
Shahar: ĎNight.

Hayim moves from one door to the next. He knocks on it and the door opens promptly.

Hayim: Can I come in for a minute?
Liron: Yeah.

Liron lets him in. His hands start to tremble as Liron sits down on her bed.

Liron: Whatís wrong?
Hayim: Y-you seeÖI was wondering if youÖahÖ
Liron: Hayim, take a deep breath.

Hayim does.

Hayim: Liron, after seeing how you fight and how you actÖI donít know how to describe it. I wanted to see more. And then I heard your story and that feeling has been getting bigger. This feeling, itís different from the way I feel about Master Hunter, but I think itís love.
Liron: HayimÖ
Hayim: Youíre incredible and I want to never leave you. Iím sorry. I donít know how else to say it. I canít speak as well as Shahar or Amitay. Iím not that smart, but I know my feelings arenít lies.
Liron: I canít answer you.
Hayim: You canít? Why not?
Liron: This mission is more important to me than anything right now. I donít have time to think about how I feel about men.
Hayim: But arenít thinking and feeling different?
Liron: Yes. I guess that was a contradiction. Sorry, but Iím not sure about how I feel about you. Donít take it personally.
Hayim: I seeÖ
Liron: Youíre smarter than you let on. But thinking and feeling can be intertwined. Donít forget that.
Hayim: Iím not sure I understand.
Liron: You donít have to, I suppose. But my answer is undecided either way. Perhaps after this mission is over, I will sort this out.
Hayim: OhÖ
Liron: You canít wait that long? Why?
Hayim: No, itís just that I was hoping for an answer tonight.
Liron: I wish I could give you one.
Hayim: I know. Anyway, itís getting late. Iím going to bed. Good night.
Liron: Good night, Hayim.

He leaves. We switch over to a room with Akari and Hunter.

Akari: Fucking damn it.
Hunter: Ö
Akari: Iím sorry. Itís just so frustrating.
Hunter: I know. People like us overthink things. How things could have been different.
Akari: Everything was going well for me, you know. Then those assholes from the Iron Kingdom showed up. Ever since, my life has been getting worse and worse.
Hunter: Canít argue with you there.
Akari: Hunter, she confessed to me and weÖ
Hunter: You got that far? Such a shame.
Akari: Hunter, letís finish this mission. Then I think Iíll disappear for a while. Maybe travel. Would you come with me?
Hunter: Iíd love that.
Akari: Fuck this potential war. Fuck the Iron Kingdom. Fuck everything.
Hunter: Time for ďfuck itĒ mode, huh? Iím down.
Akari: But first, weíll make those sons of bitches pay for crossing us.
Hunter: Hear, hear.

The next morning, we continue to follow Hayim, though he is with Katzir, drinking coffee together.

Hayim: Shahar, do you know anything about women?
Katzir: Itís Katzir, and unfortunately, no. The only things I know are the things I picked up from all the older women. I was always the cute little one in my family.
Hayim: I see.
Katzir: Why do you ask?
Hayim: No reason.
Katzir: Mr. Hayim, you asked for a reason.
Hayim: Just drop it.
Katzir: Very well.

Amitay joins them not long after.

Amitay: Good morning, you two.
Both: Good morning, Amitay.
Amitay: You look like youíre having an intelligent conversation over here.
Hayim: I donít think so. Not with me here.
Amitay: I bet you youíre wrong.
Hayim: Huh?
Amitay: So, tell me why you chose kama as your weapons.
Hayim: I tried a lot of weapons under Master Hunterís guidance. My technique with a sword wasnít very good and carrying around a long weapon like a spear or pole sounded tiring. I liked using two smaller axes, but I found that hooking weapons was easier with kama. Thatís why I chose to use these instead.
Amitay: Hooking is a great technique in a one on one situation. I remember it nearly working against Shahar when we all first met.
Hayim: True. Aim doesnít also have to be good compared to a sword, which was nice for me.
Amitay: Youíre talking about edge alignment, right? Yes, if you donít get that right, the cut will suffer greatly.
Hayim: Yes, thatís the right term.
Amitay: See? Intelligent conversation.
Hayim: HuhÖ
Katzir: When it comes to fighting, you know your stuff.
Hayim: AmitayÖ
Amitay: If youíll excuse me, I think Iíll go greet some of the others who may be awake.

Amitay walks away. Drora comes out immediately after.

Katzir: Drora, were you listening?
Drora: Iím not sure what youíre talking about.

She looks out at Amitay walking away and then goes in an opposite direction.

Katzir: It seems our relationships are starting to change.

Meanwhile, Liron and Shahar are playing Shogi.

Liron: You and Hannah played this early in the morning?
Shahar: Itís something that sharpens the mind for the rest of the day.
Liron: I see. Iíve never seen someone play this passive aggressive style.
Shahar: Youíre not bad yourself, but this should be over in a few moves.
Liron: Shit. Youíre right.

About an hour passes and everyone has gathered together, including Hunter.

Akari: So, youíll be heading out then?
Hunter: Yes. My team is waiting for me. Wait thirty minutes and then proceed. We need to keep things tight now that weíre down to two groups. If we run into too much trouble, weíll send a signal into the sky.
Akari: If you happen to cross the Mohadmaht, you know what to do.
Hunter: Right.
Hayim: Master, be careful.
Hunter: I will. Help this group a little longer.
Hayim: Yes.
Hunter: Right. Iím off then.

Hunter leaves.

Akari: We have a half-hour. Get prepared. And ladies, do your hair now rather than last minute.
Liron and Drora: OkayÖ

Hayim goes with Akari as they get ready.

Akari: Is there something you need, Hayim?
Hayim: I was just wondering how long youíve known Master Hunter.
Akari: Since I was 10, I think. We were schooled together for most of our years.
Hayim: I see. I think I recall seeing you a few times.
Akari: Same. It took me a while to realize that the teenager was you.
Hayim: Yeah.
Akari: Youíve changed a lot since then. And even on this journey, I can tell that youíve grown quite a bit.
Hayim: Thank you, captain.
Akari: Have you told Liron how you feel about her?
Hayim: Yes, but how did you know?
Akari: Iím good at reading people.
Hayim: Are you? Heh.
Akari: Whatís so funny?
Hayim: Nothing. I wish I was that good.
Akari: You are at a disadvantage because you were educated so late. But youíll learn in time to fit in mentally. You have that capacity.

Akari looks towards the door of his room and smiles. On the other side of the door, we see Katzir walk away.

Katzir: So that was what was going on with him.

He walks past the next room, where Amitay and Shahar are conversing while also getting ready.

Shahar: It seems as though everyone is getting emotionally strained.
Amitay: How about you?
Shahar: YesÖeven me.
Amitay: I understand.
Shahar: But itís up to us to keep the morale going.
Amitay: You donít have to force it. Iíll take care of it all.
Shahar: No, itís not fair to have to task you alone.
Amitay: I can handle it. Your job is to provide the voice of tactical reason. Mine is to provide the voice of support.
Shahar: Yeah, youíre right. Youíre too damn reliable; you know that?
Amitay: I certainly try.

The half-hour passes and everyone is ready to leave.

Akari: Before we leave, I want to say something to you all. I know you have all been worrying about me. I appreciate that. Last night, I was not fit to lead you into the impending danger that we face. But Iíve got my head on straight today. There will be time for me to properly grieve, but right now I am focused on the mission. I suggest that you all get your minds prepared. This is the last push before we reach our destination.
Shahar: Iím ready, captain. Use my tactical mind however you wish.
Katzir: Youíve taught me more than I could ever be grateful enough for. Iíll follow you for glory or ruin.

The rest of them nod in agreement with Katzir.

Akari: Right. Then letís set out.

They walk away from the inn and walk through the town.

Shahar: So, captain, what exactly are we looking for as our destination?
Akari: Nothing in specific. Hunter has laid out a general area with less than a kilometer circumference. This is based on where our scouts were attacked and other miscellaneous data that he could gather.
Liron: Isnít that a bit vague? How will we know when weíre there?
Akari: Well, thatís why Hunter went ahead of us.
Liron: And if Hunter should fail?
Akari: Then we make a tactical retreat. Captain Sentus will step in if he needs to.
Shahar: Did he say so?
Akari: No, but I know him. If thereís any chance the dragon slayers are behind this, heíll cross hell itself to be there.
Katzir: Is there a chance?
Akari: Hunter doesnít believe so, but anything is possible. They were brave enough to come here with just the five of them.

They make it to the edge of town. There is a large cave in front of them.

Akari: The Haero Mines. Do any of you know anything about them?
Drora: Yes. It was said that dwarves built their stronghold here before the Red Purging.

Over a century ago, dwarves inhabited what was not yet considered the Red Kingdom. They made up 50% of its population. The Red Faction, denoted by their red mage robes, formed an alliance with the Iron Faction, the humans who lived what was not yet known as the Iron Kingdom who were known by their iron armor and weapons. Together they wiped out the majority of the dwarf race. In return, the Red Kingdom after being founded aided the Iron faction to rid their land of elves. This was known as the Iron Purging, which established the Iron Kingdom. Some elves and dwarves remain even today, but their population together could only fit a small town.

Katzir: Donít even mention the Red Purging.
Shahar: You know, the dwarves werenít much better. They always fought with the elves, much like how we always fight the Iron Kingdom.
Liron: In the end, we were the same as them.
Amitay: Why are we going into the Haero Mines, captain?
Akari: It cuts through the ridiculous terrain that follows.

As we zoom out, we see ultra dense jungle terrain followed by mountains in the far distance. Just then, multiple footsteps are heard from behind. The group turns around to see two men wearing the black robe. The first has light skin and wears a kite shield on his back with some sort of weapon as well. He has medium length wavy hair. The second is bald and holds a spear in his hands.

Akari: Itís been a while, Drake (first one) and Kaírud (second one).
Drake: Akari, youíre the second Sheikh to pass through here within the hour.
Kaírud: Hunter was unwilling to explain himself. Perhaps you would.
Akari: Have you seen any suspicious activity around here lately?
Drake: Besides you two staying the night here and not bothering to say hello? No.
Akari: Sorry, itís been a rough few days.
Shahar: So that means our attackers have been avoiding this place.
Akari: The short of it is that there are spies aroundÖbut theyíre being awfully aggressive for spies. Thereís something else going on here.
Kaírud: We will be extra vigilant.
Akari: Donít let anyone into the village unless itís one of us or their names are either Taario or Ferra.
Kaírud: Noted.
Drake: Hey, look, Ka. Itís Katzir.
Kaírud: Who?
Drake: Oh, right. You donít know him.
Katzir: Hello, Mr. Drake
Drake: Itís been three years I believe. We just heard news about Seijuro recently. Sorry, man.
Katzir: Thanks.
Drake: It feels like a little while ago where he introduced you to me. It was my second time on Red soil and I needed a guide.
Katzir: Yeah. It was scary, having the responsibility of showing a soon-to-be Sheikh around.
Akari: I hate to interrupt, but we need to get moving. Hunter didnít seem to linger here for very long, so we canít afford to either.
Katzir: Right.
Kaírud: Safe travels, Akari.

Akari holds out a torch and Amitay lights it on fire. They turn to the cave and enter.


With civilization behind them, they press onto the final stage of this journey!

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PostSubject: Re: A Tale of Iron   January 21st 2016, 1:42 am

Chapter 46


They are walking through the cave as the light from behind them becomes less and less intense. Eventually, only the fire from the torch gives them any light source.

Katzir: I thought this was a mine, not a cave.
Akari: It starts as a cave, but then leads to the main thing. Historically, the dwarves used this strategy to bottleneck the humans. It ended up working against them, however.
Hayim: How?
Akari: With the use of fire magic, they were able to destroy what little oxygen they had. Most of them died by inhaling too much carbon dioxide.
Hayim: I donít get it.
Akari: All you need to know is that they breathed what they shouldnít have and died from it.
Shahar: So, who was that Drake? He spoke as if he was a spy.
Akari: Drake was a knight of Aegis until three years ago. He defected and came to our side, killing many Iron soldiers in the process. Due to his power, he was granted Sheikh rank very quickly.
Liron: Do you know why he switched sides?
Katzir: He said that he was tired of the system in the Iron Kingdom. He was amazed by our culture and wanted to switch, I suppose.
Liron: That sounds suspicious.

They hit a clearing in the cave where everything opens up. Akari notices some braziers near by and lights them. Drora suddenly draws her bow and shoots in the dark. A thump is heard. When Akari gets closer to the sound, we see that she shot a goblin in the neck.

Liron: Nice, Drora.
Drora: I have a feeling thatís not the only one around.
Shahar: Itís possible that Hunter moving through here could have alerted whatever lives down here.
Liron: In other words, he left all the hard work to us.
Akari: From now on, no side conversation. We all need to have our senses active.

Akari puts one hand on the ground.

Akari: I canít feel any movement in the immediate area as of right now.
Liron: How does that work exactly?
Akari: I have my mana running through the floor at a certain radius. If someone or something disturbs it, I will know. But that doesnít mean there isnít someone there. Understand?
Shahar: That means if someone is still, you canít detect it.
Akari: Right.

They continue moving. With two braziers lit, they are able to navigate slightly better than before. They are going down a flight of steep steps where the drop is very low. As they level off after the stairs, Amitay bumps into something.

Amitay: Whatís this?
Akari: Hmm, itís a mine cart in the way. Did Hunter even go this way?
Shahar: Iím sure there is more than one way through. Liron, help me move this.

The two of them push the rusted mine cart aside and they continue on the path. They see another brazier on the path and light it.

Drora: Weíre really high upÖor the mines are really low!
Amitay: Just keep looking forward, Drora.

They reach a narrow strip. They form a line and walk across one by one. There is a gap just after that in the path.

Liron: Weíll have to make that jump.
Shahar: Not necessary.

Shahar creates a barrier that bridges the gap. Hayim carefully steps on the barrier and sees that it is solid.

Hayim: Woah.
Shahar: Iím not sure what youíre surprised about. Youíve fought against the barrier before.
Hayim: I know, but itís partly see-through. It looks like Iíll fall through it.

They cross the barrier bridge and then Shahar lets it dissipate. They pass through what looks like a doorway and then a brazier already lights the next room. Itís a small room that has three doorways, including the one they just came from.

Akari: Thank you, Hunter. You actually did something useful for us.
Liron: At least we know he came this way.

Akari touches the ground again and closes his eyes.

Akari: Weíre being followed.
Shahar: What?
Drora: Wait, theyíre coming from all three sides.
Shahar: We need to cut them off at the doorways. Amitay, take one.
Amitay: On it.
Shahar: Iíll take this one. Liron, can you handle the last one?
Liron: Yes.

The three of them get to the doorways and wait. They all have their weapons ready.

Akari: Katzir, Hayim, you stand by with me. Weíll let them handle this. Drora, you stay vocal. You need to call out what you sense.
Drora: Yes, captain!

Drora draws her bow.

Drora: Amitay, itís coming.
Amitay: Right.

Amitay thrusts through the dark with his pole and hits something.

Amitay: I hit something.
Drora: Shahar, multiple opponents coming!
Shahar: Thanks!

Shahar takes a step back and allows one figure to pass through the doorway. The second that happens, he creates a barrier behind it to block anything else from passing. It turns out to be a goblin with a rusty dagger. Shahar bashes it in the head with his mace, squashing its head. A thump is also heard on the other side of the barrier.

Shahar: Theyíre goblins!
Drora: Liron, duck!

Liron does so and Drora shoots an arrow over her head, also hitting a target. Another figure busts through the doorway, but Liron is quick to cut it down with one of her scimitars.

Drora: Amitay, you have five enemies coming through!
Akari: Torch them all at once!

Amitay shoots a cylindrical blast of fire out of his staff and screams are heard on the other side.

Drora: Nice shot. Shahar, there are just two more on your side and weíre done.

She loads another arrow. Shahar drops his barrier and Drora shoots. Another figure comes through, but quickly. Shahar misses with his mace and then it becomes clear what the figure is.

Shahar: Shit. Vampire!

Just then, the vampire is rammed from the side and pushed into the wall. Itís Katzir, with dark aura around him. While stunned, Hayim steps in and embeds one kama into its head, killing it.

Akari: Nice one, Katzir. Nice follow up, Hayim.
Drora: Thatís all of them.
Akari: Yes. You all did well. Your teamwork is steadily improving.
Liron: Drora, nice calls.
Akari: I agree. You were able to prioritize which enemies needed immediate attention. I wanted to see how you would do, and your calls matched how I would have done so.
Drora: Aww, captain. Youíre so sweet. *wink*
Akari: A-anyway, weíll take two minutes to rest and then we press on.

They all sit down against the various walls available to them.

Shahar: Is it necessary to rest, captain? We havenít had to expend much mana yet.
Akari: These mines run deep. We need to take our time going through, or we could be in trouble. Stamina conservation is one thing, but my concern is slightly more than that.
Shahar: Hmm, I think I see where youíre going. The ones we faced could have followed us and become a greater threat if they joined other creatures.
Akari: Correct. Thanks to Hunter, whatever lives down here has to be on high alert. If we can pick off our threats in small groups, we stand a better chance in the dark while weíre at a slight disadvantage.
Shahar: Yes, that makes sense.
Akari: Shahar, you will make a fine commander on the battlefield. Even when you donít understand something, you take notes to learn from.
Shahar: I appreciate that, captain. Youíre only two years older than me and yet your experience far surpasses my own.
Akari: I was born in an unfortunate time, or fortunate depending on your viewpoint. I fought in three wars. Thatís three more than any man should have to.
Shahar: Three? You mean to tell me you fought when you were only a teenager?
Akari: Yes. The first war I fought in was 11 years ago. Hunter was with me, though Helen was not.
Shahar: No? Why not?
Akari: In those days, there was a serious concern about women being too under populated, so they limited the number of female fighters. In just a decade, we have managed to change that. A lot more girls were born since then.
Shahar: I see. That seems reasonable.
Akari: Itís one of the reasons Helen fell behind us in terms of power for a while. We were scared shitless out on the battlefield, but it also made us stronger. I remember Hassar showing up and saving our asses. He was a year younger than us, and yet he showed such courage.
Liron: My brother saved you?
Akari: Hard to believe? Hunter and I would surpass him, true. But back then we just had a different mindset from him. Another man I looked up to back then was Seijuro. Well, every Sheikh did to some extent.
Katzir: Yeah. It seems like everyone wants to talk about him.
Akari: I couldnít believe it when I heard he had been killed. And then I nearly ended up getting killed by underestimating the same people. Iíve always found new people to look up to. Captain Sentus is the person who I currently admire. Do you know what he told me? He said, ďStop relying on people who will most certainly die in battleĒ. So I followed his advice. Captain Sentus wonít die in battle. Heís too strong.

There is a few seconds of silence.

Akari: Well, I suppose that was longer than two minutes. Letís get moving.

They all stand up and continue on. They go through one of the doorways. There is a wall lantern lit across the room. It illuminates steep steps that wind down below their sight.

Drora: SoÖwho wants to go down the staircase of doom first?
Akari: I have the torch, so I will lead the way.

They travel down the steps.

Amitay: Iím not sure how well my magic is going to do down here.
Shahar: Use it when you need to, but donít go crazy. Weíll run out of oxygen very quickly if you do.
Akari: Weíll rely on Liron for lighting purposes if we get into a big fight.
Liron: Yes.

They eventually reach the bottom of the steps.

Akari: HmmÖthis area. Thereís a strong echo. Liron, if you would, please.
Liron: Yeah.

She releases a ball of electricity that lingers in mid-air. The area becomes visible in flashes of light. What can be seen is a grand hall. There are many braziers that can be lit. The ball flickers and then eventually goes out.

Akari: Thatís just fine. Letís light this area up.

Akari lights the braziers one by one till the whole area is lit by fire. The grand hall is separated by huge stone columns. The area itself is so huge that one cannot even see either end.

Shahar: This isÖamazing. I canít believe small people built such a huge hall.
Akari: Magnificent architecture.
Liron: So the dwarves were able to travel underground. Thatís how they were able to survive as long as they did against our superior armies.
Akari: According to legend, a great battle took place here. This is where the ruler of dwarves surrendered and was killed.

They press on until they see an end. When they get close enough, they see a stone throne and a coffin in front of it. Shahar dusts off the top of the coffin to see the inscription. ďHere lies Ogden, King of Dwarves. Our king now and forever.Ē

Liron: The humans must have allowed them to honor their king in return for their unconditional surrender.
Amitay: At least they allowed them that dignity. To think that weíre seeing our kingdomís place of birth with our own eyes.
Shahar: Thatís certainly one way to put it.
Akari: Something is wrong.
Drora: What is it?
Akari: There is something that lingers here. If I had to describe it, itís like a very old magic is at work here. And yet, itís familiar. It feels almost likeÖno. Weíre in serious danger here.

Suddenly, they can hear footsteps and turn around. Skeletons are walking towards them. They are small.

Shahar: Wights? No, thatís not right.
Liron: These are the bones of dwarves, clearly. What does this mean, captain?
Akari: It means that we need to get the hell out of here.

Behind them, the coffin begins to open. Bluish-white aura seeps out of the coffin and a voice speaks to them. It is dark, hellish and yet sounds like an intense whisper.

Voice: בני אדם, אתה בגדת בנו, רצח אותנו. סובל כפי שעשה בעבר.
Drora: ďHumans, you betrayed us, murdered us. Suffer, as we once did.Ē How is it that I just understood what that voice said?
Liron: I did too.
Akari: This is an arcane spell. Are you the dwarven king?!

Everything from here on is automatically translated for your convenience.

Voice: I amÖor I once was.
Akari: Over a hundred years have passed since that time! Those who did you harm are long dead!
Voice: It matters not how many generations pass. My hatred is ever-present!
Akari: Then that makes you no better than our ancestors.
Voice: Suffer. Suffer. SUFFER!

From the coffin, another skeleton rises. It wears a silver crown, embezzled with many jewels. It jumps at the group, but Shahar steps in the way and bashes it with his mace. The skeleton shatters.

Shahar: That was creepy as hell. Letís go.
Amitay: Well said.

The skeleton of the dwarf king reforms, however.

Akari: When I said that this spell felt familiar, thatís what I meant.
Shahar: Oh.

Skeletons have them surrounded. Akari takes his flail out.

Akari: Blunt attacks work best. We cut through them and leave this place.
Voice: SUFFER! SUFFER! SUFFER!
Akari: Never mind. Weíre not staying here any longer.

Akari stomps on the ground and makes a ripple through the ground, tripping up all the skeletons. They use this opportunity to run past them and away.

Hayim: Guys, I think we went the wrong way the first time.
Shahar: You think?!
Hayim: By the way, who was that guy? He sounded creepy.
Shahar: Iím not putting up with your bullshit right now, Hayim!
Katzir: That was scary!

After a while, they stop running and start to breath heavy. Akari and Katzir are the least winded at this point.

Amitay: The air is so thinÖitís hard to breath properly after running.
Katzir: My martial arts training included breathing control, so Iím okay for now, but yes.
Akari: This is a race against time, but we also canít rush through this place.

They continue walking, still with no end to the hall in sight. Eventually, their torch is the only source of light they have again.

Drora: Captain, do you know how that spell was cast? I thought dwarves couldnít use magic.
Akari: It could have been elven magic, but that seems off. Iím not entirely sure. I just know that it felt similar to when Hamas would summon the dead. Perhaps it was a human who sympathized with them.
Shahar: For a spell to linger for so long, what kind of power would that take?
Akari: Arcane magic works by its definition is mysterious. There are only a few people each generation that can work it.
Liron: Is it an affinity anyone can learn like dark?
Akari: Not exactly. The person who used that spell likely had the affinity for life magic and ended up becoming one of the first necromancers. He or she somehow learned a spell with that type that we would consider arcane.
Katzir: So, what youíre saying is that if someone says ďarcane magicĒ, they really mean an ancient and difficult spell within their specific affinity.
Akari: Yes. Very good, Katzir.
Hayim: Do you know any, captain?
Akari: No. Iíve never heard of any earth arcane magic. Iím sure the general has at least one from her affinity in her arsenal though. Ah, come to think of itÖ
Liron: You know someone who does?
Akari: The three legendary heroes of the Iron Kingdom all knew arcane magic. That made it extremely difficult to bring them down, especially as a trio.
Shahar: Those guys, huh?
Akari: As a twist, I heard that three of the dragon slayers are related to them. Makes sense why they were so strong.
Liron: Did you ever see those three fight?
Akari: No, but I saw the aftermath of that battle three years ago.
Katzir: You mean the battle that all three captains nearly died in? My cousin spoke very highly of that battle. But he always went quiet and wouldnít answer exactly what went down in that fight.
Akari: Captain Sentus is the same way. He forbids us from asking him about that fight. Something happened there that was not meant to ever be seen by other eyes.
Shahar: What the hell could have happened?

After some timeÖ

Hayim: Hey, a door.

They reach a large door that is about twenty feet tall and wide enough that they could all theoretically line up horizontally and be able to go through.

Drora: Thatís one big ass door.
Shahar: Itís slightly open. Iím guessing because Hunter has been through here.
Akari: Yeah, you would hope so.

They are able to go through one by one with the size of the opening. They see a staircase that winds up like how the previous staircase did.

Katzir: Time to climb, I guess.
Akari: YeahÖno thanks. All of you huddle up. Shahar, create two barriers here and here *points with both hands*.
Shahar: Yes, captain.

Shahar makes two barriers that are on opposite sides of Akari. The group gets close to him and he puts one hand on the floor. The floor rises up in a cylindrical shape. The floor keeps rising, like an elevator, till it becomes too thin to continue going.

Akari: Thatíll have to do. Weíre about halfway up, so we can walk the rest of the way up.

They jump onto the staircase and then start the climb up.

Akari: As much as I didnít want to waste the mana, we lost some time by going the wrong way.
Amitay: We havenít had to use too much yet anyway.

They make it up the steps. There is a lantern, already lit, waiting for them.

Hayim: MasterÖ

Hayim takes the lantern. They continue on where there is a faint light source.

Shahar: Is thatÖmoonlight? Have we been down here that long?
Liron: Perception of time is seriously messed up here.
Akari: Well, we were walking that long hall for a very long time. It felt much quicker though.
Amitay: That means weíre almost out of here, if we can see moonlight.

Just then, they hear a faint growl of some sort.

Drora: Of course.
Akari: Fucking hell, Hunter. He didnít kill a single thing down here.
Drora: Somethingís approaching us fast!

A figure quickly moves its way towards the group. They all jump out of the way. As it moves into the light, we can see that it is a chimera.

Shahar: Ah shit. A fucking chimera.

Being the closest to it, the chimera swipes one of its front paws at Shahar, who puts up a barrier. The attack shatters the barrier and blows Shahar away. Liron appears behind the beast with her swords drawn. The snake portion lunges at her, which she is able to dodge. She attacks with her sword, but the cut does negligible damage to the snake. The chimera bucks with its hind legs, knocking Lironís swords out of her hands. She then shoots a bolt of lightning at it, but it does not seem to irritate it much.

Akari: Magic wonít do much to it!

The goat turns its attention to Liron and breaths fire out of its mouth. Amitay and Hayim step in. Hayim creates a small blast of water, which weakens the fire blast. Amitay takes over by using a blast of his own. With Hayimís prior help, Amitayís blast overtakes the goatís and leaves a small burn mark on the goatís head. Meanwhile, Katzir jumps towards the lion head, clad in dark magic aura. The chimera is able to intercept Katzir with its paw and bats him away. Suddenly, a barrier appears in the direction that Katzir is flying.

Shahar: Katzir! Heads up!
Katzir: Thanks!

Katzir uses the barrier as a footstool and pushes off to launch himself back at the lion head. He lands a punch to the top of its head, which makes it growl in pain. It goes for another attack, but an arrow pierces through its left eye and its next paw swipe completely misses Katzir. On the other side of the fight, the snake spits venom at Liron, Amitay and Hayim, but Hayim is able to block it with a bit of water. Liron surrounds herself with electricity, but then activates dark magic on top of it. We see her focusing, till her electricity turns to a dark purple. She leaps up into the air while Katzir does the same from the other side. They both hit the ceiling with their feet and kick off at the same time. They both attack the chimera right in the middle of its back. Katzir punches and Liron kicks. Meanwhile, Akari creates a large stone spike under its stomach. The force of the attack sends it into the spike, stabbing it a few inches deep. All three of the heads make noises in response. The chimera dislodges itself from the spike and runs away, deeper into the mines.

Amitay: We did it.
Drora: Yeah, now letís get the fuck out of here before it decides it wants a round two.


To be continuedÖ

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PostSubject: Re: A Tale of Iron   January 31st 2016, 7:45 pm

Chapter 47


The group makes it to the end of the cavern and step outside.

Shahar: I never thought I would appreciate air this much.
Liron: No kidding.
Akari: Thatíd probably a good place to train fire magic, if it didnít have all that creepy shit down there.
Shahar: Captain, do you think Hunter is camping out for the night?
Akari: Itís likely. Moving in the dark in these parts is too dangerous. We didnít have a choice in the mines, but now at least we do. Weíll make up for lost time by going just a bit further and then weíll rest.

They make it to an open grass field just outside of a forest. They have camped out there.

Amitay: What does our food supply look like?
Akari: After re-supplying in the town, weíre doing well.
Shahar: That makes the trip back rather pleasant.
Akari: Take some time to get ready, then we sleep. Tomorrow could very well be when we reach our destination.

They scatter into smaller groups as they set up their beds.

Amitay: Hello, Drora.
Drora: Amitay, I wanted to speak with you one more time.
Amitay: What can I do for you?
Drora: WhyÖare you so nice to everyone?
Amitay: What do you mean?
Drora: It seems no matter who it is, youíre always trying to be so helpful.
Amitay: HmmÖIím not sure why. I just feel like it.
Drora: Iíve never seen anyone act this way before.
Amitay: Really? Does it bother you?
Drora: No. I actually really like that about you.
Amitay: You do?
Drora: Yes. Most people treat me nicely because of who my family is, or because of how I look. I could always tell there were no strings attached to your kindness. I love that.
Amitay: Thank you, Drora. No one has ever told me that before.

Shahar: Looks like Droraís going all in.
Hayim: I wonder what Amitay is going to say.
Akari: Itís not any of our business, really.
Shahar: Does that hurt, seeing it, captain?
Akari: Maybe a little. How about you, Shahar? Are you okay letting her go after Amitay like that?
Shahar: Why wouldnít I? Are you trying to imply something?
Akari: *Smirk* Okay, if thatís how it isÖ
Hayim: What are you two talking about?

Katzir: Ms. Liron, I want to ask you something.
Liron: What is it?
Katzir: How do you feel after telling us your story?
Liron: A little better, I suppose. It wasnít easy to tell you guys though.
Katzir: I understand. I donít think I would have the courage.
Liron: Katzir, itís hard to tell, because you would be a different person if you went through different circumstances.
Katzir: I guess thatís true.
Liron: Besides, I think you have plenty of courage.
Katzir: You mean it?
Liron: After killing Yusuk, you could have run away from your problems. It would have been easier to go home and forget ever using magic again. But thatís not what happened, is it?
Katzir: No.
Liron: You may act the way you do, but you pushed through your situation. Donít ever forget that.

Katzir starts to sob.

Liron: Oh jeez. My bad.
Katzir: Thank you. You have no idea how hard it was to hear the general tell me that I was a liability.
Liron: Ah, right. I forgot about that. She told me that I would surpass Hassar if I stay under Sheikh Akari. I only hope thatís true.
Katzir: *Sniff* Well, I didnít know your brother, but Iím sure you can do it.
Liron: Thanks, Katzir.

The group sleeps and awakens the next morning without incident. After getting ready, they traverse into the ensuing woods.

Drora: Please no bugs, please no bugs, please no bugs.
Liron: Stop it, Drora. Youíre making me itchy.
Drora: Iím sorry! I canít help it!

Just then, they all stop. They can all feel a presence coming towards them slowly. As it becomes viewable, they are all surprised. Akari smiles.

Akari: So youíve come, Mohadmaht.

The Mohadmaht stops just 20 feet from the group.

Mohadmaht: A second chance comes at eating you. I wonít let this opportunity slip, mage.
Akari: Unfortunately, things wonít go quite the same.
Shahar: We need to all gang up on him. Itíll go smoother this way.
Akari: Sorry, Shahar. I need to take this one myself.
Shahar: Captain, this isnít like you to be so rash!
Akari: I know Iím supposed to lead by example, but I need this. I order you all to stand back.

They all do.

Liron: Donít worry. The captain wouldnít do this if he didnít have a plan.
Mohadmaht: So, you have offered your body first. The most powerful taste the best.
Akari: Sorry, but you took me by surprise the last time. Youíll find that things are different.

Akari surrounds himself with dark magic. The Mohadmaht charges at Akari quickly and swings his maul at him. Akari dodges it and then dodges another attack.

Amitay: Maybe it is better that he fights alone. Itís hard for us to keep up with this level of speed.

Akari now takes the offensive and gets in close. The Mohadmaht shoots a few ice shards out of one hand, but Akari ducks under them. *Music* He focuses an extra amount of dark magic into his hand and places his palm onto the Mohadmahtís stomach. All of the sudden, he is blown back and sent through a tree, snapping it instantly. When the Mohadmaht gets up, there is some blood coming from his mouth.

Mohadmaht: What did you do to me?
Akari: Heh. It worked.
Mohadmaht: Answer me!
Akari: Nah. I donít feel like it.
Shahar: I see. So thatís what he did. You all saw it too, right?

They all nod.

Mohadmaht: Either way, I just need to stop you from touching me.

He covers himself in ice. Akari pulls out his flail. The Mohadmaht charges in again, but with much less speed. Akari easily avoids his swing and then attacks with the flail. It busts open the ice around his torso and Akari repeats what he did before, blowing the Mohadmaht back again.

Akari: By making your body stiffer, you canít move nearly as fast.
Mohadmaht: You, youíre different.

He sits up and starts coughing blood. He turns to run away, but Akari stomps on the ground and the ground below grabs him and incapacitates him.

Akari: Forgot about my earth magic already?
Shahar: You injected dark magic directly into his body, didnít you?
Akari: Correct. Similar to the process of how I was able to awaken all of you, but on a lethal scale. I figured if his exterior is too hard, his insides have to be fragile enough. Though, that would have killed most people.

They approach the Mohadmaht. The group stays a fair distance away as Akari goes up to him. *Music Stops*

Akari: Now, maybe you have some information for me.
Mohadmaht: What exactly are you looking for?
Akari: What has come this way?
Mohadmaht: I think others have been this way. I cannot tell you any more than that.
Akari: That I believe. Now, how about this one. Are you the only one of your kind?
Mohadmaht: Haha. Now that IS a good question. Truthfully, I cannot tell you if any of them are still alive.
Akari: So then, itís safe to say there are other creatures that can use magic.

The Mohadmaht smirks and snickers. Akari seems mystified.

Akari: I canít believe it. Itís like weíve been living a lie.
Mohadmaht: Is that all?
Akari: Thatís all I can get from you. Mythical creature or not, youíre in our way. You have to die.
Mohadmaht: Hmph. Who told you this fight was over?

The Mohadmaht unleashes ice shards from every part of his body. Akari dodges backwards and uses his flail to bash two of them that come his way. A few go towards the group, but Amitay makes a small fire barrier that melts them. The Mohadmaht breaks out of the ground and starts powering up rapidly.

Akari: Was he figuring out a way to beat me?

Akari sends a ripple through the ground to set him off balance. He stops powering up and then tries to regain his footing. He does and then rushes for Akari at great speed. Akari narrowly dodges a swing from his maul.

Akari: Heís faster than before.

Akari goes for a counterattack, but the Mohadmaht covers that part of his body with ice. Akari retracts his hand and jumps back.

Mohadmaht: Iíll repeat what you said to me. Youíll find that things are different.
Akari: Maybe youíre right.

Akari readies his flail as the Mohadmaht appears in front of him. Akari dodges four consecutive strikes and then goes for one of his own. Again, that part of the body becomes encased in ice. Akari hits with the flail, but before he can then attack with his hand, another maul attack comes through. Akari is forced to dodge again. This process repeats four different times and then they make distance between each other.

Akari: Not bad. Youíve been able to effectively keep me out.
Mohadmaht: I should say that to you for being able to dodge every single swing. You wonít be able to do it for much longer. Surely all that dodging is getting to you.
Akari: Are you sure you donít want to join the Red Kingdom? We could really use talent like that.
Mohadmaht: I eat humans. I do not join them.
Akari: Itís a shame. You would be a Sheikh if not for your one lacking attribute.
Mohadmaht: What? What do you mean?
Akari: Youíll know soon enough.

Maddened, he shoots a few ice shards at Akari. He is able to parry with his flail, but the Mohadmaht appears behind him. Akari shifts the earth under him to move out of the way of the downward strike. Akari counters. As the Mohadmaht encases his side with ice, itís thinner than before. This surprises him, but not Akari. He goes through with the attack and injects dark magic into him. The ice does block a small portion of it, but he is still sent to the ground. He tries to get up, but Akari surrounds himself with dark magic. He starts flailing with his hands as the ground below the Mohadmaht starts to morph irregularly. It continuously pulls him down while wrapping around him. The Mohadmaht rips out of the groundís grip, but it just grabs him again. Eventually, he is halfway underground and his arms are bound by thick hardened dirt and rock.

Akari: Thatís it for you.
Mohadmaht: I canít move. What was that? Why couldnít I block your attack?
Akari: Since you implied last time that you donít really feel the need to use magic much, you shouldnít be aware of your mana ceiling.
Mohadmaht: WhatÖyouíre right.
Akari: Youíve probably never used it this much, so youíve never ran out of mana.
Mohadmaht: From one small remarkÖ
Akari: You werenít observant enough at my moves. If you were, you might have figured out what I was doing.
Hayim: Whatís he talking about?
Liron: After the first time that the Mohadmaht stopped the captain from attacking, he never used dark magic until that last attack. Meaning, he was never going for the kill in that long string of dodging and countering.
Shahar: That first couple of attacks was enough to intimidate him into thinking that a killing strike was coming. So much so that he didnít notice what was actually going on. And yet, if he saw through that, the captain could have just concentrated dark magic at the last second anyway. It was a multi-layered plan.
Mohadmaht: You thought this through very well. I thought I was the one thinking, but you already had this fight won before we even started.
Liron: So, this is how a true Sheikh fights.
Akari: Katzir, come here. The rest of you should watch this as well.

The group gets closer.

Akari: Iím going to show you how this technique works. Keep it in the back of your mind for down the road when you all become even more proficient with dark magic.

Akari holds out his left hand, which has some dark aura radiating off it.

Akari: If an amateur touches something or someone with dark magic, it will instantly harm whatever that is on the outside. It can be used to awaken dark magic potential, but itís not ideal. But, once you have a certain amount of control over itÖ

Akariís left hand touches Katzirís shoulder. Nothing happens.

Katzir: What? How can this be?
Akari: My control has become good enough that I can stop it from harming you. But, once youíve mastered that, you can send dark magic through the openings in someoneís body and force it to attack his or her internally. Even the Mohadmaht here has them. Allow me to demonstrate one more time.
Mohadmaht: Wait, what?
Akari: Didnít you hear me before? Youíre in our way.

Akari focuses a decent amount of dark aura into his left hand and puts it on the Mohadmahtís forehead.

Akari: Focus on that hand. Imagine that mana seeping through the body peacefully. And thenÖ

Akariís hand tenses up and then there is a loud bang, where the Mohadmahtís head gyrates and then falls limp.

Hayim: ÖCool!
Liron: DidÖyou just make his brain implode?
Akari: Pretty much. Well, this technique is not exactly easy to control. So donít try to perform it anytime soon. Hahahaha.
Shahar: (lower) He just wanted to show off, didnít he?
Amitay: Captain, howís your stamina?
Akari: Pretty good. I tried to conserve as much as possible. Though that last earth attack was somewhat draining.

Akari sits down next to the dead Mohadmaht.

Akari: I need just a moment and then Iíll be ready to move on.
Shahar: I donít know if itís processing, but you just killed a legendary monster. By yourself.
Akari: He haunted at least one of my dreams as a child. So thatís what he gets. Well, yes, it is definitely a rare thing for anyone. But then again, there arenít many people who make it to Sheikh rank.
Liron: Iím convinced now that youíre in the top 5 most powerful fighters in the Red Kingdom.
Akari: Competition is running low these days. Drake is pretty strong too. Oh and of course thereís Hunter. Though strictly speaking, if weíre talking power alone, then yes Iím in the top 5.
Katzir: I think thatís why Mr. Hunter wanted you to teach me dark magic.
Akari: We had a conversation about that. Youíre right. Anyway, letís get moving.

He stands up and they take one more look at the Mohadmaht. They then press on.

Amitay: Shahar, do you have a moment?
Shahar: Yeah.

The two of them hang back a bit. They are talking in lower volume so that the others cannot hear them.

Amitay: Iím sure you saw Drora and I talking last night.
Shahar: Yeah. Whatís going on?
Amitay: She didnít outright say anything, so Iím not sure.
Shahar: She seems very interested in you.
Amitay: In what way, though?
Shahar: I see. Do you think her ďloveĒ is shallow?
Amitay: Thatís what Iím trying to find out. Your perception surpasses mine, so I was hoping you would know better.
Shahar: Listen, bro. Even the captain canít perceive women.
Amitay: Hah. Thatís unfortunate.
Shahar: Does it really matter, though? What if she just wants to sleep with you a few times and be done?
Amitay: Iím not sure of my own feelings, Shahar. I think Iím fine with experimenting. But I want to be cautious so I donít hurt anyone in the process.
Shahar: Thatís very much like you.
Amitay: What about you? I also donít want to cross your feelings.
Shahar: Why does everyone assume I like Drora?
Amitay: You donít?
Shahar: I didnít say that.
Amitay: So you do.
Shahar: I didnít say that either.
Amitay: Itís cool. You donít have to voice your feelings. But you knowÖ
Shahar: Hmm?
Amitay: Someone is bound to confess to her eventually. If not, her family will eventually set her up in an arranged marriage. If someone were to take her, donít you think as a friend that it would be better for someone that she chooses?
Shahar: Yes. Youíre right about that.
Amitay: Then, if you do like Drora now or come to do so in the future, you should say so.
Shahar: This conversation. It was going to be about me the whole time, wasnít it?
Amitay: As I said, youíre more perceptive than I.

They bump fists casually. They get closer to the group.

Drora: What were you two talking about?
Shahar: None of your damn business.
Drora: Amitay, tell me!
Shahar: Donít sidestep me.
Amitay: We were discussing the finer points of geography.
Liron: *snicker* Youíre a shit liar. Donít worry, Drora. You know how we have girl talk? They have guy talk too.
Drora: They do? I just thought that meant they talk about who they want to fuck.
Liron: I doubt it.

Liron turns her head to Amitay, who mouths ďthank youĒ to her. She nods her head and then turns her head forward again.

Shahar: By the way, volleyball is back in season as of today.
Hayim: How do they know that? Itís always hot enough to play.
Shahar: They just decide a time to rest the players. It coincides with the end of the football season, to keep the entertainment going.
Hayim: Oh.
Katzir: I wonder who won the football season.
Liron: Well if those lesbians that Drora went to school with are on the same teamÖ
Drora: Theyíre not lesbians!
Liron: I think I saw a bulge on one of them.
Drora: Nope!
Amitay: The capital has the majority of the best football teams.
Katzir: Maybe we should make our own team.
Akari: What?
Katzir: We need 9 players, right? We have 7. The captain could probably convince Mr. Hunter to join and he can bring two from his team.
Hayim: Thatís a great idea, Shahar.
Katzir: KatzirÖ
Shahar: Hmm, but who would be what position?
Katzir: Ms. Liron and I would be the forwards (AKA the scorers), the captain would be mid-field (the person who plays the entire field), Mr. Hunter and Amitay would be the half-backs (can go on offense or defense), Mr. Shahar would be the sweeper (main defensive position) and Drora would be a striker (defensive position at the back). Hayim could be a stopper (front defensive position).
Shahar: You really thought this one out. Iím guessing this isnít the first time you thought of this.
Katzir: You caught me.
Akari: Iím not a big fan of sports, but it would probably be fun to try.
Drora: I hate sports. Sorry.
Katzir: Sorry.
Drora: Itís fine.
Liron: By the way, captain. I have a question about Sheikh Drake. Have you ever fought him weapons only?
Akari: I have not, but Iíve seen what he can do with weapons alone. He definitely shows the royal knight prowess that you hear so much about.

The group stops.

Akari: Here they come.


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PostSubject: Re: A Tale of Iron   February 4th 2016, 2:02 pm

Chapter 48


As soon as Akari speaks, everything goes quiet. They survey around the area. Liron suddenly spots something move, but notices something off. She opens her mouth and speaks, but no sound comes out. A figure appears behind Shahar, but Drora suddenly steps between them and blocks with her dagger. She realizes that the clash of weapons made no sound. The figure in front of her is Scimitar. Shahar turns around, just now realizing what happened. Scimitar creates a portal behind her and steps through it, vanishing from sight.

Drora: (mid speech)Öaway.
Liron: Our sound is back. What did you say, Drora?
Drora: I said that bitch ran away.
Akari: That was a sneak attack that would only work once. She was wise to run.
Shahar: You saved me. Thank you, Drora.
Drora: Donít mention it.
Amitay: One of them had sound magic. That lines up with what Hannah told you, right?
Shahar: Yes, it does.
Akari: They likely found it frivolous to attack all out after the sneak attack failed. Drora showed that it wonít work on us so easily.
Liron: We need to be careful though. They could try this again at any moment.
Hayim: How did they find us?
Katzir: Iím not sure they ever lost us.
Akari: That canít be possible. This is all veryÖhmmÖ
Shahar: Letís keep going. We shouldnít stay in the same spot for too long.
Akari: Agreed.

They keep moving.

Shahar: Come to think of it, it was probably easy to find us. The power that was being emitted during your fight with the Mohadmaht was blatant.

Like before, they start to walk in smaller groups. We focus in on Shahar and Katzir.

Katzir: Hey, Mr. Shahar.
Shahar: Whatís up, Katzir?
Katzir: I was hoping to ask you a bit more about your experience in the military.
Shahar: Why now?
Katzir: Now that I can use magic, Iím going to be expected to fight if we go to war.
Shahar: I see. Hmm, well you wonít be trained in camp or anything like that if youíre drafted. Iím assuming you mean about the battlefield.
Katzir: Yes. You talked a little about it when we all first met, but only just a bit.
Shahar: You know how hectic it was when we fought the previous group that the portal user was in? Multiply that feeling by a thousand. By the time our unit got to the front lines, there were already thousands of casualties on both sides. We had to step over the corpses of our comrades to kill each other. Men who I trained with, men who played chess with me just earlier that day, men who ate and drank with me the eve before. They were all dying next to me. And then the government has the balls to call the survivors ďluckyĒ. Let me tell you something, Katzir. No one who goes to war is lucky. You either die there in battle, or you live it for the rest of your life. If not physically, then mentally and emotionally.
Katzir: Youíve been living in pain for the past three years, havenít you?
Shahar: Yes. We were told that dying in battle is honorable. My teammates, including Droraís brothers, died believing that. But I couldnít bring myself to accept it in the end. When I saw the Royal Knight, I knew that if I took a step forward that I would die.
Katzir: I donít think thatís a bad thing.
Shahar: Hmm?
Katzir: Everyone has to make a choice in their darkest times. It was you all who taught me that. You made your choice right then and youíve lived with that decision. Look at Ms. Liron. She believes that killing her brother was wrong, but she lives with that decision and accepts that she made it. Thatís what makes you two adults, right?
Shahar: Heh.
Katzir: What is it?
Shahar: Who are you and what did you do with the young and naÔve Katzir?
Katzir: He died with Yusuk.
Shahar: Well said.

They come across some creatures ahead of them. They are on four legs and have an armored shell that spans their entire pudgy but short bodies. They have two long horns at the end of their green heads. There are about 15 of them.

Akari: Krestlurkers. Blunt users up front.
Shahar: Actually, captain, I think I should do this alone.
Akari: Are you mad, Shahar?! Donít blindly follow my example, damn it.
Shahar: I have a good reason for this. These Krestlurkers have been left alone on purpose. If we all jump into battle now, weíll get ambushed. Thatís exactly what they want.
Akari: Hmm. At least let me help you. I have a flail.
Shahar: We need you on reserve the most, captain. Keep talking, all of you.

Shahar draws his mace and steps out alone. The Krestlurkers look at Shahar and their green eyes turn red.

Akari: If you canít deal with this alone, Iím stepping in.
Shahar: Yes, captain.
Akari: Everyone else, count off. If someone goes silent, weíll know theyíre attempting another sneak attack. One.
Liron: Two.

As they begin to count, the sounds fade into the background as we focus on Shahar. The Krestlurkers grunt like a boar would, but in a darker, deeper tone. Shahar stares one of them in the eyes, which seems to infuriate it. It charges at Shahar and attempts to ram him with its horn. Shahar sidesteps it and bashes straight down with his mace to cave in its shell at the back. This stuns it enough that he is able to smack it in the face to kill it. The rest of them get angry at this brutality.

Shahar: Letís go!

The rest of them attempt the same thing. Shahar creates a barrier in front of him to repel a few of them. They immediately surround Shahar and all charge in at the same time as his barrier dispels. He jumps as high as he can and creates a barrier under him. Five of them ram into each other as a result. He jumps over the herd and starts channeling dark magic energy into his body. He turns and flails his mace at one of the Krestlurkers. It gets sent tumbling into the herd, knocking over many of them in the process. Two of them try to flank Shahar on both sides. Shahar creates one barrier to his left to repel that Krestlurker. The other, he snaps its horns with a swing from his mace. He then bashes it straight in the head, bashing the armor into his head, killing it.

Katzir: Mr. Shahar is badass. Five.
Amitay: Six. Yes, I agree.
Akari: One. Donít celebrate yet.

A Krestlurker is able to ram Shahar, which sinks into his armor, but doesnít quite pierce it. It pushes Shahar back, but he grabs its horns and throws it aside. Another one rushes straight at him. He smacks it away with an upward attack, which kills it. Shahar turns around and brings his mace down on another one. He gets rammed from behind, which jostles him a little. He is then chain rammed by three or four of them, which keeps pushing him back and forth, until a solid crack appears in his armor.

Akari: Thatís it. Iím going in.

Just as Akari takes a step forward, Shahar puts his hand up.

Shahar: I can handle it.

Just then, a portal appears behind Shahar and a spear is sent through, opening the crack in his armor even further. It stabs him in the back and he stumbles. The portal disappears.

Akari: Letís go!

Amitay immediately engulfs the area with Shahar and the Krestlurkers in flame while Akari walls off that section of the forest and Shahar shields himself with a dark barrier. When the smoke clears, they have all been burned to death. Shahar dispels his barrier, relatively unharmed by the blast. He drops to his knees and Amitay immediately runs up to him.

Amitay: Shahar, are you alright?!
Shahar: Yeah. This spear hurts like a bitch though.
Amitay: Did you really have to do it alone?
Shahar: I wanted to spare you all your mana. Looks like that didnít happen.
Amitay: I understand. Itís okay.
Shahar: Get Hayim over here. I need his help.
Amitay: Hayim, come here.
Hayim: Me? Okay.

Hayim joins the two of them.

Shahar: Hayim, when Amitay pulls this spear out of my back, I need you to use your water against my wound. Just wash it out.
Hayim: Okay. I can do that.

He nods to Amitay, who pulls the spear out of his back. Luckily, his armor only allowed it to dig an inch into his back. Shahar flinches in pain and falls on his hands as well. Hayim immediately creates a water ball that presses up against the flesh. The ball of water quickly turns red and he has to make another one. Using water pressure, they are able to stop the bleeding. Shahar has his armor off and Drora is stitching his wound shut.

Drora: Hold steady for just a second.
Shahar: Right.

He winces in pain, but fights through it to stay as still as possible.

Drora: Thatíll do it. Iíve never sowed humans before, but I think itís pretty good.
Shahar: Thank you, Drora.
Drora: Youíre welcome.

He puts his armor back on.

Shahar: Iím surprised they havenít attacked again.
Akari: They must know weíre onto their plans.
Liron: This time they didnít use any silencing. Were they watching us from somewhere?

Some of them instinctively look up into the sky. There is nothing to be seen through the trees at the moment.

Liron: Was there anyone from the previous group that survived besides the portal user?
Shahar: No. Drora killed the sensor and then Amitay torched his resurrected corpse.
Akari: Thatís not quite right. It was just in the sensorís image. In other words, he could be back again.
Katzir: Thereís someone like Sheikh Hamas out thereÖ
Akari: Shahar, letís go over those magical abilities again of the other group. The one that kept attacking Helenís group.
Shahar: The sound mage, the necromancer, a warg, a saboteur, a fire mage, a nature mage, and now they have the portal woman.
Amitay: Thatís a dangerous combination of abilities.
Akari: Dealing with saboteurs is a pain in the ass.

Akari has quick flashbacks to his first encounter with Erosion. He especially hears Erosionís gerbil laugh as he giddily ran from Akari after impaling his hand with caltrops.

Akari: Best thing I can say there is to watch his every move. I doubt this one has the same cunning edge as Erosion the Precarious, but if you are faced against him, donít let him set up any strategy.
Liron: How do we tell who has that magic?
Akari: Debuffs usually work in translucent beams. Youíll know.
Shahar: Theyíre going to have no choice but to attack us all at once soon. Captain, you surely took out the majority of their forces when you leveled that forest a few days. Theyíll be the last line of defense before whoever is leading this traitorous faction.
Akari: While we shouldnít be too sure, I do agree. It wouldnít make sense for them to move in such large groups out here. The faction had to have been small enough. Once we take out the leader, that should squash this Iron escapade.
Liron: They really intend on taking us out this time. With our state, can we defend against an all out attack?
Akari: I donít know. But letís not speculate. We need to focus on our quest.

They continue on.

Amitay: Howís the pain?
Shahar: Itís bearable.
Amitay: Good.
Drora: Hey, Liron. What will you do after this is over?
Liron: Why do you ask?
Drora: Iím curious. You always talk about the present and somewhat dwell in the past. You never talk about your future.
Liron: Right now, I donít even know if I have a future beyond this.
Drora: So, you would go home without a plan?
Liron: Not exactly, no. Well, I think itís safe to say that I donít need to take any more instruction from Sheikh Hunter. Maybe Iíll try to find a more decent paying job.
Akari: Do you mind if I ask you something, Liron?
Liron: No. Ask.
Akari: Weíve lost quite a few Sheikh in the last month or so. Itís clear that what needs to happen is that we need to raise up and train more mages for the position. Provided that you, Shahar and Amitay make it through this, Iím going to immediately recommend you three for prime candidates. Would you be opposed to being first in line?
Liron: You want me as a Sheikh?
Akari: As you are now, I wouldnít consider you quite at that level. But if you finish your dark magic training, itís feasible. I would personally work with you one on one to complete your training. Then I would move on to either Shahar or Amitay.
Liron: Iím not sure what to think right now. Though, I did once imagine myself standing next to my brother, wearing the same black robe. I suppose that does beat getting a normal job.
Akari: Iím sure Hunter will agree with my decision. And because you know Captain Helvast, that makes the process a bit easier.
Liron: I see. Thanks, captain. What about you, Drora? What do you want to do after this?
Drora: Well, I want to stop fighting completely. Iím going to finally get going on my career.
Liron: Thatís good. I assume your family canít say anything after youíve gone through this.
Drora: They can say something, but it wonít matter much.
Katzir: So, Hayim, do you still live in Mr. Hunterís house?
Hayim: Yeah.
Katzir: Have you thought of getting a place on your own?
Hayim: I donít think I can unless I have someone else. Like I told you, I canít cook, clean or anything useful besides fight.
Katzir: Thatís a shame.
Hayim: I guess itís worth having Master Hunter re-teach me all that stuff.

The rest of the day goes without incident. That night, they are camping in the forest.

Akari: We are so very close. We canít get any closer tonight or else we run the risk of hitting the full force of whateverís left.
Shahar: So, tomorrow is the day for sure.
Akari: Yes.

They have split up again like the night before. Liron and Amitay are currently together.

Amitay: Good evening.
Liron: Hey.
Amitay: Do you need to talk about something?
Liron: I do.
Amitay: By the way, thanks again for earlier today. You spared us quite the heartache.
Liron: I can tell. Drora will pick up eventually that you two are talking about her.
Amitay: How did youÖoh nevermind.
Liron: Men on average are more obvious. Though, itís hard to pinpoint what youíre feeling when you talk about her.
Amitay: Are you asking about Shahar and myself?
Liron: I am. I need to know so that I know how to protect her.
Amitay: I canít speak for Shahar. But as for meÖ
Liron: Never mind. Donít worry about telling me how you feel. The one you should be telling is her.
Amitay: And how about her? How does she feel about us?
Liron: I havenít been able to get that out of her yet.
Amitay: I see. And how about things on your end? Have you made decisions with Hayim and Katzir?
Liron: No. Are you trying to tell me that Iím not in any position to be lecturing you?
Amitay: Not at all. I just know that they both clearly like you. Have they confessed?
Liron: Hayim has. Katzir hasnít said anything yet.
Amitay: I encouraged Hayim to do that. Sorry.
Liron: Itís nothing to apologize for. Iíd rather know.
Amitay: Thatís good. Well, which one do you like better? It doesnít have to be romantically if you feel nothing for them.
Liron: What if I told you that I liked you better than both of them?
Amitay: Nice try. Men may be more obvious, but women arenít very far behind.
Liron: Damn.
Amitay: I suppose though that you could like either Shahar or myself. That would certainly make things more complicated.

Meanwhile, Shahar, Katzir and Drora have gone off together. Hayim has gone off on his own as Akari has remained by the main campfire.

Shahar: You two should be worried now that Liron and Amitay are speaking in private.
Drora: Oh? You think theyíllÖ
Katzir: Ms. Liron wouldnít do that.
Shahar: I dunno about that.
Drora: Stop it, Shahar.
Shahar: Would you two be devastated if they end up sleeping together tonight? Be honest.
Katzir: Yeah, I would.
Drora: Maybe.
Shahar: I see.

Drora leaves and joins Hayim.

Katzir: Were you trying to gauge Droraís reaction?
Shahar: I was.
Katzir: It didnít go so well, did it?
Shahar: No, it didnít. Iíd rather she just came out and confessed to Amitay. I donít want to see him wait any longer.
Katzir: Really?
Shahar: Yes. I think you should do the same.
Katzir: You think so?
Shahar: Between you and Hayim, Iíd rather see you end up with Liron.
Katzir: Mr. ShaharÖ
Shahar: Youíve become like a little brother to me. I have nothing against Hayim, butÖ
Katzir: I understand. Thanks.
Shahar: Iíve never had siblings. My parents were never very warm individuals. To have someone like youÖitís a nice change.
Katzir: My parents werenít very loving either. Everything in my family revolved around my cousin, Seijuro. My parents looked at me like I was an inferior person. It was like their eyes said, ďWhy couldnít you have been born with that power?Ē. To have someone like you to look after me, thatís also nice.
Shahar: Your cousin was known by almost everyone, so I suppose that part isnít too surprising. But where there are winners, there are also losers. Ah, I didnít mean it like that.
Katzir: I know what youíre trying to say. My family had no position of power till him. Everyone wants to move up in class.
Shahar: Mine was like that too. They expect me to bring back results to further their position. It has changed a bit thanks to me coming home from war. For the time being, my relationship with my parents is stable.
Katzir: My parents couldnít care less about me unless I come back the way I am now.

Katzirís face changes. It starts to look a little more maniacal, twisted and perhaps maybe even a bit evil. Shahar is thrown off by this, as he had never seen Katzir look this way before.

Katzir: Once I come back, my family will be groveling at my feet. Theyíll see how fucking hard Iíve worked. I might even forgive them depending on how sorry they look.
Shahar: That sounds nice, but donít get too far ahead of yourself.
Katzir: Youíre right. Maybe I was too harsh.
Shahar: Itís only natural that you act this way. Your parents sound like right assholes; no offense.

Hayim: Hey.
Drora: Hayim, whatís up?
Hayim: Not much.
Drora: Are you worried about Liron and Amitay talking?
Hayim: They are? Oh myÖ
Drora: I donít think theyíll do anything.
Hayim: Thatís good.
Drora: I want you to go after Liron more.
Hayim: What? Why?
Drora: Between you and Katzir, I think youíre better for her.
Hayim: Do you really think so?
Drora: I like Katzir, but heís too much of a kid. He still calls her ďmissĒ.
Hayim: Okay. But she said she wouldnít give an answer till after weíre done.
Drora: Thatís fine. But after this is over, go for it.

Hayim seems sad.

Drora: Whatís wrong?
Hayim: Nothing. Iím just worried.

Meanwhile, Akari is observing everything around him.

Akari: Things have changed between all of them. That is to be expected, but I hope it doesnít create tension.

He looks at Hayim and then his face becomes more worried.

Akari: Wait. Hayim didnít really have any other friends before this quest. Is this Hunterís way of trying to detach himself from Hayim? I hope heís not planning on dying out there.

Akari turns his focus inward on the fire.

Akari: Weíve made it this far, Hunter. Donít you go dying on me. Weíre almost there, Helen. I wonít let you down.


The final day approaches!

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PostSubject: Re: A Tale of Iron   February 5th 2016, 1:12 pm

Chapter 49


The next morning, Hayim is the only one up at the moment. He is keeping the last watch.

Hayim: Todayís the day. Master HunterÖ

Soon after, the rest of them wake and they eat. No one says a word to each other. They all eat in silence, with heads down towards their food. After breakfast, they stand up and Akari clears his throat.

Akari: Listen, everyone. Beyond this point, weíll be in the enemyís complete territory. Youíd best prepare yourselves. We leave in ten minutes.

They prepare their equipment and group together.

Akari: Letís go.

The group moves beyond the camp and keeps going. Akari stops them suddenly.

Shahar: What is that?
Akari: This energy feels likeÖtheyíre making their move.

At that moment, two figures begin forming from the ground. When they are fully formed, there are surprises within the group.

Akari: No. Not you two.
Katzir: Ö
Liron: How is this possible?

The two people in front of them are Seijuro and Hassar *Music*. They look at each other.

Hassar: Seijuro, itís you. What is this magic?
Seijuro: Weíve likely been revived by Hamas. How did IÖah thatís right. It was those five who killed me.

They then get a look at Akariís group.

Hassar: Liron?! And Akari? Is that you? Youíve become a Sheikh, have you?
Liron: BrotherÖ
Seijuro: Katzir. Itís been a while.
Katzir: Not really. We saw you a month ago at your funeral.
Seijuro: Sorry. I donít remember. This magic only creates me before I died.
Katzir: I see.
Hassar: Seijuro, do you feel it? Weíre being ordered to attack them. But, why?
Seijuro: Perhaps it isnít Hamas.
Akari: Hamas is dead. Youíre being summoned by traitors of the Red Kingdom.
Seijuro: I see.
Hassar: IÖIím having a hard time resisting. Liron, get ready.

Hassar pulls out his shamshir and attacks. Liron gets in the way and blocks with her two blades.

Liron: You guys go find the necromancer. Iíll handle him.
Akari: Can you win?
Liron: I will.
Akari: Right. Seijuro, what about you?
Seijuro: I can feel the orders, but Iím not allowing them to affect me.
Hassar: Youíre a monster as always. Howíd you end up dead, anyway?
Seijuro: Katzir, come with me. Alone.
Katzir: Okay.

Seijuro runs off and Katzir follows him. The rest of the group runs past Hassar. Liron pushes Hassar back and spins her weapons a few times.

Hassar: How much time has passed, Liron?
Liron: Six years.
Hassar: And youíve gotten stronger since then?
Liron: Just watch. *Music Stops*

They continue clashing weapons. Meanwhile, Katzir and Seijuro stop in an isolated area.

Seijuro: This should be far enough.
Katzir: Far enough for what?
Seijuro: We need to talk. I can see that you are a natural dark user like me.
Katzir: Yes. It was thanks to Mr. Akari that I could awaken it.
Seijuro: I see. I had no idea you were like me. If I did, I would have paid more attention to you.
Katzir: Thereís no use apologizing now. Youíve already passed on.
Seijuro: True. But, I can do something for you now. Show me how much youíve mastered your power.
Katzir: Alright.

Katzir cloaks himself in dark magic energy and charges at Seijuro. Seijuro does the same and dodges the attack. Katzir continually attacks while Seijuro dodges each one.

Seijuro: As long as weíre fighting, itíll look like Iím still under control.

At this time, Liron and Hassar are still blocking each otherís strikes. Hassar takes the upper hand in weapon combat, but Liron is able to land a kick to him, sending him straight to the ground. He gets back up quickly and uses his magnetic magic to steal her weapons. He drops all three blades and then his body is shrouded with purple energy. Liron covers herself with lightning.

Hassar: How about your speed and strength?

They both disappear and appear in front of each other. They both start punching each other, each fist blocking the other from advancing any further. Hassar gets a punch through and hits Liron in the stomach. Liron grabs Hassarís hand and then they start struggling against each other. Liron takes him down to the ground and pins him down. Suddenly, a pulse emits from Hassarís body, which blows her off him. She quickly gets up.

Hassar: So Iím a bit faster, but youíre physically stronger, eh?
Liron: Weíll see.

Lironís lightning turns into a darker purple than Hassarís energy, which also starts to spark.

Hassar: Dark magic, huh?

They both move even faster than before and start dodging each otherís punches and kicks. Eventually, they both back up.

Hassar: And now weíre even.
Liron: Youíre using both magnetic and electric magic to power your speed?
Hassar: Thatís right. I also know dark magic, so I can up my speed even more than this.
Liron: Shit.
Hassar: Next test. Your magical power.

Hassar shoots a bolt of lightning at Liron and she reciprocates. Lironís lightning quickly overpowers Hassarís, who adds dark magic to his. Liron adds dark magic to hers, which ends up winning against Hassarís. He gets shocked by the lightning.

Hassar: That makes sense. You started with electricity anyway.

Back to Seijuro and Katzir, Seijuro is still dodging Katzirís every attack and then he finally blocks a knee strike. Seijuro then kicks Katzir back.

Katzir: Damn it.
Seijuro: Not bad, Katzir. Youíve maintained control this whole time.
Katzir: Are you even trying?
Seijuro: Donít worry about that yet. Give me all you got.
Katzir: Fine.

Katzir unleashes a dark beam at Seijuro, who seems surprised. Seijuro grabs the beam with one hand and pushes it back, but off trajectory. It goes behind Katzir and explodes behind him, taking out a few trees.

Seijuro: You already learned that move as well.
Katzir: I saw you do it enough times.
Seijuro: That you have. Iíve seen enough. Your potential is very evident. You may not have my talent, but you still might be able to handle what Iím about to show you.
Katzir: What youíre about to show me?
Seijuro: Watch closely. This is my apology gift to you.

Seijuro closes his eyes and starts powering up.

Katzir: What are you doing?! If you keep goingÖ

Seijuroís skin starts to darken in a familiar transformation. He looks at Katzir, but is motionless. *Music*

Katzir: Youíre not attacking. This canít be.
Seijuro: It is. Iím completely in control of this form.
Katzir: This level of energy youíre emitting. This is as strong as a captain.
Seijuro: True. Unfortunately, this is not something that I could show to the public.
Katzir: Why not? You could have become even higher in rank!
Seijuro: This isnít something just anyone can do. Only natural born dark magic users can achieve this. But if people were to know about this, they would try anyway. The results would be catastrophic.
Katzir: I guess youíre right. But if you had this power, couldnít you have defeated the dragon slayers?
Seijuro: Dragon slayers? You mean those five killed Dravos?
Katzir: Yes.
Seijuro: I tried using it against them, but they wouldnít let me power up. Thatís one weakness of this form. It takes too long to power into, because the key to controlling it is to transform slowly and on your own terms.
Katzir: On your own termsÖI see.
Seijuro: The only ones who know about this are the three captains and the general. Youíre now the only other person alive who knows it.
Katzir: Alive?
Seijuro: Yes. There were three other people who knew, but theyíre dead now.
Katzir: ThreeÖyou canít mean the legendary heroes of the Iron Kingdom.
Seijuro: Yes.
Katzir: Then the reason you would never tell us about that fight in detail was because of this?
Seijuro: Thatís correct. Sentus, Helvast and Jerome nearly died in that fight. Those three from the Iron Kingdom individually were on par with them, but their teamwork was far better. I had to do something. I decided to use this form to turn the tide of that battle, and we won because of it.
Katzir: This is insane.
Seijuro: What is the situation right now? Whatís going on?

Katzir tells Seijuro everything.

Seijuro: Hmm, so we risk going to war again. And that is troubling to hear that Helen is dead. Listen, Katzir. I want you to go Captain Helvast for aid. Of the three captains, he will likely be the one most willing to help you achieve this form.
Katzir: What about Mr. Akari?
Seijuro: We canít increase the number of people who know this secret.
Katzir: Then why trust me? †*Music Stops*

We flash back to roughly eight years ago. Seijuro is practicing out in an open field. Katzir is sitting on a rock, watching him. Afterwards, someone approaches Seijuro.

Man: Whatís little Katzir doing?
Seijuro: Watching me practice, I think.
Man: Doesnít he have anything better to do? Jeez.
Seijuro: He does this almost every time. I canít exactly object.
Man: He has no potential. Not like you, cousin.
Seijuro: Just leave him be. Heís gone through enough.

Back to the presentÖ

Seijuro: You always watched me practice. I never understood why and neither did you. But now I think maybe it was just destiny that you were always watching me. Our family never actually cared about us. Only how powerful we were. The only one who stuck with me was you, even if it was silently. You are the only real family I had.
Katzir: Cousin SeijuroÖ
Seijuro: You know all my dark techniques now. You are the only successor to my abilities. Now, have you gone berserk before?
Katzir: Yes, once. I killed one of my comrades in the process.
Seijuro: Thatís unfortunate, but at least you know the feeling of transforming. I want you to do it right now. Do it slowly. Keep the flow of your energy steady and transform on your own terms.
Katzir: What exactly does that mean?
Seijuro: I canít explain that. Itís something you need to experience to understand.

Katzir does as Seijuro asks and begins building up power, suddenly, the power surges faster than he can control and he transforms too quickly. Seijuro quickly appears in font of him and releases the form. Katzir gasps for air.

Katzir: I lost control.
Seijuro: Itís okay. It took me some time as well. When I first tried this, I first mastered how to dispel my energy at any moment before going berserk.
Katzir: Should I do that?
Seijuro: You donít have to if the captain helps you.
Katzir: How did you think to attain this power?
Seijuro: It just kinda hit me. Dark magic is something anyone can use, but yet there are those with that dark affinity like us. That form is not something that is meant to be used by outsiders. Iíve heard of people trying to control it before, and I was told that I had the best potential of any dark magic user in history. So, I decided to test it out. And somehow, it worked.
Katzir: You really are amazing. Iíll just always be in your shadow.
Seijuro: Just do what you can, Katzir. This is not about being better. Itís about serving your kingdom with everything that you have.
Katzir: Youíre right.

With the group, Akari can feel Seijuro and Katzir power up from afar. He stops for a second.

Akari: What the hell? The power emanating from the two of themÖ

At that moment, a portal opens up behind Akari. A figure comes through, but a pillar of ground pops up and knocks the figure away. Several portals have surrounded the group and more people come through and one Cyclops. The Cyclops has a large club that it swings down at Shahar. He blocks with a dark barrier.

Shahar: Not so fast, creature. Though I suppose youíre being controlled right now.

The one who got hit earlier gets up and faces Akari. Itís a woman who has a green dress made of vines. She has long blonde hair and light skin.

Akari: I can guess what your affinity is.

Suddenly, vines come out of the ground and grapple Akariís arms.

Woman: You canít move now.
Akari: You picked the wrong person to fight.

Akari simply uproots her vines by breaking up the ground. (Weíll call her ďVineĒ for naming conventions)

Vine: ÖOh.
Akari: Yeah.

Facing Amitay is a man who is wearing the standard red mage robe. He has a bald head and red eyes. Amitay spins his staff and readies himself.

Amitay: The first move is yours.

The man cups his hands and unleashes a fire blast out from them. Amitay redirects the blast right back at him and then they struggle to control the flames against each other. Amitay eventually wins and the man is forced to redirect the flames into the ground. Amitay charges at the man and thrusts with his pole. The man is able to dodge backwards, but a fireball appears from the tip of the staff and hits him in the face. (Weíll call him fireball for naming purposes) Fireball falls to the ground, but gets back up, face singed badly.

Amitay: Iím the better fire mage. Surrender while you can.

Hayim is faced off against Scimitar. She is on the offensive, attacking him rapidly. Hayim is able to fend off each strike with his kama.

Hayim: Is that all you have? Youíd better quit while you can.
Scimitar: Be quiet.

Hayim smacks her on the side of the face with a water ball. It sends her to the ground. Scimitar has a realization in her eyes as Hayim looks down on her. She teleports away and teleports the others away except for the Cyclops. Drora shoots an arrow at its eye, blinding it. Shahar has dark magic around him and hits its knee as hard as he can with the mace, sending it to a kneeling position. Shahar then bashes it multiple times over the head, which eventually kills it. He takes a deep breath.

Akari: They ran again. Damn. That portal woman is getting on my nerves.

Meanwhile, back with Liron and Hassar, they are still fighting. They are fighting hand to hand, where they are going even in trading hits and blocking and evading. Hassar realizes something and backs off.

Liron: What is it?
Hassar: The magic is weakening. Iím free for the time being.
Liron: They must be running againÖ
Hassar: Youíve gotten remarkably powerful, but youíre not quite at my level just yet.
Liron: I can tell.
Hassar: Though, you have the potential to surpass me. You know what you have to do, yes?
Liron: Yes. From our encounter, I can gather what I need to work on.
Hassar: Good. I take it things have been hard for you since my death.
Liron: They have.
Hassar: Iím sorry. The war changed me. I wish it had never happened that way, but it did. Iím sorry that all my burdens had to fall to you.
Liron: Itís all right. If I were born first, perhaps it would have been me who fell.
Hassar: I doubt it. You showed that you have far more mental strength than I ever could. In that moment, you did what very few could. If the roles were reversed, I know I wouldnít have been able to kill you.
Liron: Brother, have you been to ďanother sideĒ?
Hassar: I canít say. Based on what Seijuro said, this is only a fake me. In other words, if I were revived again, Iíd have no memories of this encounter, because it would be another fake me.
Liron: I see.
Hassar: What are you doing with Akari, anyway?
Liron: Heís leading us on a quest to deal with traitors and Iron spies.
Hassar: Is he a real big shot now?
Liron: Heís the strongest Sheikh right now. His power eclipses both of ours.
Hassar: Damn. He thinks heís hot shit now. I wish I could show him up, but it looks like heís gotten too strong for that. Well, I wonít keep you any more. Your team needs you.
Liron: What will you do?
Hassar: Iíll stay behind and wait for Seijuro. Weíll decide how we can help before the spell is broken and we fade away.
Liron: Right.
Voice: Ms. Liron!

Katzir comes running and joins them.

Liron: Katzir. Letís go.
Katzir: Right!

They both run off and Seijuro walks in not long after. Back with the main group, they have stopped to rest

Akari: This is it. Weíre at our destination. We just need to find Hunter and the enemy hideout.
Amitay: Do you think those two are okay?
Akari: Yes. Seijuro had something in mind when he took Katzir away. And since we drove the enemy away a bit further, the magic may have weakened on Hassar if their necromancer was forced to retreat to their hideout.
Hayim: So that was Lironís brother.

A few minutes later, Liron and Katzir make it to the group. They both catch their breath.

Katzir: We made it.
Amitay: Did everything go well?
Liron: You could say that.
Akari: Katzir, I need to ask.
Katzir: You felt his power, didnít you?
Akari: Yes, how did you know?
Katzir: I canít say anything to you. Cousin Seijuro made me promise.
Akari: I wonít pry then. If he says it, I wonít argue.
Katzir: Thank you.
Akari: How did your skills match up, Liron?
Liron: I am better in some ways, but Iím still not at powerful as him.
Akari: The difference you see is the ceiling you need to reach in order to become a proper Sheikh.
Liron: I understand.
Akari: You two have five minutes to breathe and then we move.

As they rest, Akari approaches Liron and Katzir.

Akari: Thereís something thatís bothering me.
Liron: What is it?
Akari: How did they get both Hassar and Seijuro available to revive? They werenít able to do that before, they would have used it prior to this.
Liron: Iím not sure. Hassar died six years ago, so whoever is behind this must have known who he was.
Akari: Thatís what worries me. He was a war hero, yes, but thatís not enough to be able to revive him. They had to have known him back then. There could be someone very powerful waiting for us just ahead.
Katzir: Someone powerful enough to revive Seijuro has to be very dangerous.
Akari: Hunter could be in serious trouble right now. We need to back him up as soon as possible.
Liron: Then letís go. Iím as ready as Iíll ever be after having to fight at full power.
Katzir: Same here.
Akari: Okay.

The group assembles together.

Akari: This is it, everyone. No matter what happens from here on, just know that Iím very proud of all of you. It was an honor and pleasure to fight by your side and to teach you. But, while weíre putting our lives at risk, we might as well kick some ass and come back alive! Letís go!
All: YEAH!


The destination is in sight! The quest quickly reaches its conclusion!

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