Chapter 1:

Blackbough

Project Aion vol. 1


In a nearby field, two warriors are deeply engrossed in their sparring match.Bookmark here

"Faster Eranor, you think that they'll take you in because you asked them nicely? Come now, I demand more," shouted Yonamir as he hammered down with his axe.Bookmark here

"Keep quiet, you're losing concentration old man," retorted Eranor. He could not believe the day had finally come. He would leave his small town for the first time in his life. He would go to the city of Belhaven and enlist to join an Order. He did not care one bit which Order it was, only that they take him.Bookmark here

"Enough, I believe you're ready Eranor," panted Yonamir. He was a man on the cusp of being middle-aged. His thinning brown hair dripped with sweat from the sparing.Bookmark here

"Come on master. Don't tell me you can't keep up anymore," Eranor said with a massive smile and a twirl of his blade.Bookmark here

"Yes, yes, you have become quite the fighter. Who would have thought that I, the great Yonamir would be surpassed by a kid? Shameful, that's what it is," he said and shook his head while resting his hands on his hips.Bookmark here

"I couldn't have gotten this far without your teachings master. I am profoundly grateful," he said and bowed. Yonamir's eyes softened. A small smile crept up as he saw his proud student before him.Bookmark here

"Well, if anyone was going to overtake me from this little town, then I'm glad it was you Eranor,” he congratulated him with a pat on the head, “Now come, the ceremony will be ready any moment now. Go wash your face at least. Otherwise, you'll stink up the place," he complained as he waved his hand. Eranor came upright, still beaming with excitement. His brown eyes filled with joy.Bookmark here

"Oh, master. Before I forget. Would you mind shaving my head?" he asked.Bookmark here

"What? Why?" he replied in shock. In fact, he spun his head so hard around that it made a horrible cracking sound.Bookmark here

"I don't know when I'll get another chance to cut my hair and I don't want to look like a wild man when we arrive," he answered and pulled a lock of his black hair down over his eyes. It was true, his thick hair had grown long and would continue to do so if left untamed.Bookmark here

"I won't have a student of mine walking around with his head shaven. Leave that to those mystics in the eastern empire. But I see your point," he said and began stroking his goatee.Bookmark here

"So, will you do it?" he asked eagerly. Watching as his teacher eyed him from all angles.Bookmark here

"No, I'm going to cut all your hair off around your head. Those locks on top are going to stay. I'll give you a piece of lint so you can tie it into a ponytail," he said nodding. It may have sounded like he was talking to Eranor but in fact, he was talking to himself.Bookmark here

"That's not what I wanted, master. I want my head shaven; besides won't I look silly with a ponytail?" he rebuked as he made a quasi-ponytail with his locks.Bookmark here

"Yes, you're right. You would look silly. Let me think," he said and squinted his eyes as he looked at Eranor, "I've got it. Stick with the shave around the head but I'll cut on top as well. Short at the back and bring it longer at the front, yes. That's your style my boy. That's the style of my school," he said approvingly of his own idea.Bookmark here

"Is it to make up for your thinning hair master?" he jibed.Bookmark here

"Listen here you little brat, I'm your master and even though I didn't call for being treated formally, I do demand respect," he scolded and gave him a quick blow to his head.Bookmark here

"Apologies master," he retracted his statement quickly. Shielding from any more incoming attacks.Bookmark here

"Forgiven. Now, what do you say? Time to trim that mop on your head?" he asked and rubbed his hands together in anticipation.Bookmark here

A few moments later and the sun was beginning to set. The entire town's main street was packed with people. The crowd gathered around the stage built in the town square for just this occasion. Four large braziers burnt brightly. On centre stage were eight people. Two rows of three in the middle while two stood at one side. The major and his assistant were the two who stood on one side. He stepped forward and the people began to cheer.Bookmark here

"Thank you, everyone! Thank you one and all for being here. We are all gathered here today for a special occasion. Many of you stood here when our first youngling took on the journey of becoming a hero. Master Yonamir was our first and only attempt. He was the first in the long two hundred years this town has been here. Those of us counted ourselves lucky to have been able to see someone attempt the monumental task. Now, only a mere twenty years later, we have three brave younglings. These three are no doubt our village’s pride and joy. So let us begin with this ceremony with the beautiful and powerful Raione," he announced. A massive cheer erupted from the crowd. Arms flailed in the air as people chanted her name. Eranor looked to his right and could not help but smile when he saw her. He was shocked to see that she had done her dark oak coloured hair up nice. She, as always, had her black and red robes on. He never understood why she cherished them so much. Though even he had to admit, tonight she wore them well. The cheers finally died down so that the mayor could continue with his speech. Bookmark here

"Then we have the focused and fearsome Kaltmund," he cried, and the crowd cheered again. Unlike Raione who soaked in the cheers, Kaltmund kept his head bowed. His thick white-blonde hair glowed because of the fire. He was still in his priest uniform. Eranor would never have thought that Kaltmund would have possessed a talent for one of the core skills. He spent most of his time studying and praying in the chapel. In fact, he could not believe that they would allow one of the most talented priests to leave. Kaltmund may only have recently become a full-fledged priest like his father, but he was already an integral part. The crowd could finally be calmed down enough to continue, Bookmark here

"And last but not least we have fiery and dedicated Eranor," he shouted. The crowd went berserk yet again. Eranor savoured the cheers, but he could not help but peer through the crowd in search of his family. When he finally caught them, he saw his little brother on the shoulders of his father. His mother by his side waving a handkerchief in the air. They seemed somewhat overcome with joy. Eranor winked at them to acknowledge he saw them. With this, his little brother’s face lit up. Bookmark here

"Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. Now before the festivities can begin, we have arranged a special gift for our young heroes to be. We bestow upon them a blessed necklace. A spell has been placed on it that it will stop one fatal blow from being struck," he said, and the people celebrated. The mayor then walked to Raione with his assistant at his side. The assistant had a box with her. The mayor took a necklace from it and whispered something to Raione before he placed the necklace over her head. He then came to Eranor in the middle. He leaned in and said, "These necklaces were made long ago for this occasion. Wear them with pride." When the necklace rested on his chest, he could feel the magical power pulse through it. The warm sensation slowly disappeared, and it felt like a normal necklace again. When Kaltmund received his necklace, the mayor turned to face the crowd once more. Bookmark here

"Now we have asked each of their teachers to present a final item to them each. To show that they have graduated," he said and began applauding. The crowd quickly joined and hollered further. Kaltmund's father was the first to step forward. He presented him with a staff. Next was Gelebor the huntsman. He handed Raione a bow and quiver filled with arrows. Then finally Yonamir stood before Eranor. He presented him with a leather cuirass and two leather vambraces.Bookmark here

"Thought the only place where you lacked something was the fact that you fought in a lousy shirt. Now at least you don't need to worry about the stray blade or arrow," Yonamir said as he was fastening the chest piece.Bookmark here

"Thank you, master, I will cherish this armour," he said as he looked at how attentively his master worked.Bookmark here

"You don't have to call me master anymore, you are after all the first graduate of the school of the Crescent-moon," he said with a smile and tapped on the symbol on the cuirass. Eranor studied the symbol as he failed to realize it earlier. The symbol was a wolf howling as it is encircled by a crescent moon.Bookmark here

"Are you going to train more younglings, master?" he asked as he adjusted the fit a little bit.Bookmark here

"Perhaps, but mostly I'm to retrain the night watchmen. You see, the mayor has rewarded me with my own little training area. Hopefully, one day when you're a big shot hero, you'll see this symbol again and remember your old master," he said and tightened the vambraces.Bookmark here

"I will never forget you, master Yonamir. This dream of mine is coming true thanks to you, no one else," he said and placed his hand on his shoulder. Yonamir had faint tears forming in his eyes when he finished the last vambrace.Bookmark here

"There we go, all armoured up. Now go on, the other two are waiting for you to address the crowd," he said and nodded over his shoulder. Kaltmund and Raione seemed to be discussing something with great passion. As Eranor stepped forward to join the other two, Yonamir chipped in one last time, "Oh, and remember the mind is much more versatile than the body or soul."Bookmark here

Eranor gave him a smirk and nodded before walking on. When he came close to the other two Raione shot her gaze towards him.Bookmark here

"That armour suits you,” she remarked before returning her expression became serious again, “Now listen carefully to me. Kaltmund and I have just come up with the perfect way to start the festivities. So, since you don't fit anywhere into this mastermind plan; you need to address the people," she informed him while Kaltmund nodded.Bookmark here

"What? You know I hate public speaking," he protested.Bookmark here

"Neither of us do but come now. Own up and take this opportunity by the horns. Don't want to seem scared before leaving little old Blackbough," said Kaltmund as he turned towards the crowd. He bowed and presented Eranor to the crowd. The cheers immediately started. Eranor froze as he watched Raione do the same thing. The entire village's eyes were on him. His heart began to beat in his throat. His breath was short, and he was as stiff as a statue.Bookmark here

"Kaltmund, Raione, I'm going to kill you after this," he mumbled to himself as he tried to relax. The cheering stopped as all awaited his first words. His mind went blank. He felt the pressure building as he scrambled to think of something to say. His eyes darted between all the faces in the crowd. Then he decided even if what he said was not perfect, it would be better than saying nothing. He bit down hard on his teeth and took a deep breath.Bookmark here

"Thank you for everything. We will not fail you. We will return as heroes and tell the tales of our adventures," he spat out and saw everyone still staring at him. His mind began searching for what to say next. That is when it donned to him what to do next, he could say the one sentence that would end this misery. "Let the festivities commence," he cried. Suddenly Raione pulled back an arrow and shot it high into the sky. All the heads of the crowd followed the arrow into the black sky. Eranor gave a sigh of relief. Then Kaltmund unleashed a powerful scream and with his staff unleashed a bright light. The light shot and fizzled up into the air. Then high above everyone the arrow and light collided. A tremendous boom sounded, and thousands of insect-sized lights shot outward from the explosion. The crowd erupted into good spirits. Carts rolled into the square, packed with drinks and food. This would be the party of the decade.Bookmark here

"Kal, Rai, I'm going to kill you," said Eranor when they finally got a moment to themselves.Bookmark here

"Hey, you survived, didn't you?" answered Kaltmund with a smug smile.Bookmark here

"Besides, only me and Kal could see that terrified look on your face," she said in between chuckles. Eranor froze again.Bookmark here

"Wait, do you think they could see I was scared?" he asked in earnest.Bookmark here

"I do believe so," he answered nodding and placing a hand on the tensed-up Eranor’s shoulder.Bookmark here

"Yeah, but I wouldn't worry about that," she said and Eranor visibly relaxed, "I would be much more worried about how much people will snicker about that pathetic speech," she said and burst out laughing.Bookmark here

"As if you could think of anything better," he retorted.Bookmark here

"Oh, I would have. If I knew you would crumble that easy then maybe I would have just done the speech instead," she announced with confidence.Bookmark here

"If you could then why didn’t you do it?" he pleaded.Bookmark here

"Because we like to see the mighty Eranor squeal once in a while," she chuckled.Bookmark here

"Why you dirty little," he began before being interrupted by Kaltmund clearing his throat.Bookmark here

"If I may, when are we leaving tomorrow?" he asked, attempting to bring an end to the mocking by Raione.Bookmark here

"Huh, haven't actually thought about that. Probably early so that we can get a good day's journey going," replied Eranor.Bookmark here

"Yeah, I agree. Besides if we want to build ourselves something of a reputation before reaching Belhaven then we need to be the first to get contracts, otherwise the Guild will just get one of the orders to do it," she said and crossed her arms. It always amazed Eranor how quickly she could tame her mood if she pleased. Sadly, she rarely wishes to quell her rage.Bookmark here

"I agree, so may I be so bold as to suggest we retire early to bed tonight?" Kaltmund asked. He knew well what the response would be but felt the need to ask.Bookmark here

"Are you insane? This entire party is for us, we are going to live it up tonight. We don't know when we can party like this again," she stated.Bookmark here

"I have to agree with Rai, besides think of all the potential up for grabs here tonight," he said and nodded his head at a couple of the town girls standing at a cart.Bookmark here

"Eranor, you moron. After that speech you gave, I'll be more likely to get with them," she mocked. A wolfish grin appeared on her face and her eyes glinted of malice intent. "In fact, I bet you that you wouldn't be able to even keep them talking to you for longer than ten seconds before they think you're a pig."Bookmark here

"Watch and be stunned by my magnificence," he proclaimed as he walked backward with his arms outstretched. He spun around and continued towards the girls. He felt his heartbeat increase and started to doubt if this was such a good idea. Then an image flashed in his head. Raione and her grin. He felt his resolve return, he will be victorious.Bookmark here

"Hey there, why are you three not enjoying the party? Something not to your liking?" he asked as he approached the group.Bookmark here

"No, everything is amazing. We're just here to get something to eat before joining everyone else again," said the girl to the left.Bookmark here

"Oh, okay that makes sense," he answered, and he could feel his mind searching for what to say next. He could feel the awkwardness build up. What must have been nothing more than a second at most of the continued silence felt like an eon of torment. "Why don't I keep you girls' company while you get something to eat?" he offered and felt confident in his response.Bookmark here

"A great hero to be, and you want to spend time with us?" asked the one in the middle.Bookmark here

"Why not? Besides, I could do with a bite to eat myself," he answered and smiled while scratching his head.Bookmark here

"Okay, I don't see why not. Yeah, you could also answer a few questions we've got," said the middle one. Clearly, she was the more assertive one in the group.Bookmark here

"Ask away," he said as he approached the cart and looked over the selection. This cart was covered in sweets. All sorts of tarts and rolls covered with sugar were spread out. He wondered how much time and effort it took the baker to make this.Bookmark here

"So, what's it like to have a core skill?" asked one of the girls shyly.Bookmark here

"Which one?" he asked in return while thinking hard between either the sweet role or a piece of the strawberry tart.Bookmark here

"You have more than one?" asked another shocked.Bookmark here

"How's that even possible? I thought each of you three possessed one core skill each?" asked the shy one.Bookmark here

"No, all three of us have more than one. We each do however specialize in one of the three branches. Like Kal is soul-focused, specifically magic. Rai is body-focused, and she is a bit of a jack of all trades when it comes to combat. I guess you could say her best skill would be dual-wielding combat," he explained nonchalantly. He nodded as he made his decision and grabbed the sweet role.Bookmark here

"And you? What do you specialize in?" asked one of the girls.Bookmark here

"Me? Well, I focus on the mind branch,” he said and gave the treat a good look over, “Specialize? Huh, I would say perception and combat focus," he said and took a big bite from the sweet role. It was sticky and sugary sweet. The baker must have a high baking skill as it is still warm even being hours after it left the oven.Bookmark here

"Perception and combat focus? So, what, you can see things others can't and get focused when fighting? That doesn't sound that core to me," said the girl eating a strawberry tart.Bookmark here

"No, not entirely. Like if I wished I could heighten my senses. I could hear people approaching from far away, even your heart beating in your chest. I could see weak or worn spots in armour. Track people a great distance with only the faintest of footprints left behind. I could smell murderous intent on someone if I really applied myself," he continued with a sudden intensity, "I can taste the difference between a fatal poison and a non-lethal poison. I can also tell if someone is standing behind me or looking at me from outside my field of view," he said and took another bite.Bookmark here

"What of combat focus?" asked the shy one. Eranor turned his gaze to her.Bookmark here

"That is my secret weapon. I can enter various states of mind to maximize my own combat output. I could go berserk and take truly little damage but ramp up my skill level of all my body skills for a short while or enter a calm state that would make my stamina drain rate slower," he said and realized she had crystal blue eyes. He looked her directly in the eyes, and immediately she ducked her head to the ground.Bookmark here

"Whoa, that’s incredible. How high are these skills of yours?" asked the strawberry tart eater. Finishing the treat Eranor couldn’t help but feel the need to boast overcome him.Bookmark here

"Let me show you, girls," he said and closed his eyes. He opened his hands and held them out, "Take my hands and close your eyes. Then I can show you all my skills." Hesitantly they looked at him before complying. He locked hands with the shy one while only holding the other one. He heightened his senses and could feel that her heartbeat spiked. He could also feel the warmth of the fire more profoundly on his back. The conversation at the other carts became crystal clear. He could feel the cool crisp air coursing in through his nose. He could even feel the spit on his teeth. A smirk crept on his face. He loved the feeling of heightened senses. It was overwhelming at first, but as he grows more skilled, he can make it more focused. His senses returned to normal. The world always felt a bit dull afterward. "Now clear your minds and focus on your breathing, I'll do the rest," he said. In the pitch-black that everyone saw with their eyes closed. Two orbs appeared, the health and level orbs.Bookmark here

"Your level orb is so blue, I've never seen someone's that colour before," said one of the girls.Bookmark here

"It’s because I’m a level one. The higher the gap between levels the darker and more intense the level orb burns," he explained.Bookmark here

"But I am a level one seamstress? How could your orb be that intense colour of blue?" she asked.Bookmark here

"You may be a level one seamstress, and yes your sowing skill would be higher than mine. But my entire level is one while yours is zero. It's because many of my skills are level one category or above," he said and delved into his level orb.Bookmark here

"I see, that's incredible Eranor," said the shy one and squeezed his hand. A grin appeared on his face as he continued.Bookmark here

"Not really, I want to see how high I can push my level," he responded. His skill and traits orbs appeared. Underneath his skill orb appeared three numbers.Bookmark here

"What are those?" asked the shy girl.Bookmark here

"Oh, come on Shannon, you know what they are. We all have them. Those are your highest skill level, lowest skill level, and the universal common," hissed one of the girls. Eranor couldn’t stop himself from imagining that she said it that way because of jealousy.Bookmark here

"I know, I just thought that maybe his was different," she said timidly.Bookmark here

"Well, it is, I've never heard of someone with a level two skill other than Yonamir," said the third girl.Bookmark here

"Girls, focus," he said and delved into his skill orb. The three branch orbs appeared. He immediately focused on the mind orb. The first single number changed to a double-figure number. "Now girls, as you can see when you focus on a branch it doesn't show the level of the skill, instead of a rating," he said.Bookmark here

"Wow, I've never been able to dive this deep into my skill orb before. This is incredible," said one of the girls.Bookmark here

"Yeah, me neither. Eranor? How come you can do this?" asked another.Bookmark here

"I've practiced doing it, I'm also capable of accessing other's skill orbs. You could too if you trained it," he said and focused harder. He brought up each of their respective mind branch orbs. "Tell me, can you each see the second orb that just came up?" he asked.Bookmark here

"Yes," they answered in unison.Bookmark here

"Well, those are each of your own. I thought you would like to see them. A moment of silence followed his statement. Then the vision vanished and Eranor was pulled from the grip of the girls. Their eyes shot open and saw that Raione had grabbed Eranor around his head and seemed furious.Bookmark here

"You creep, how many times are you going to trick girls with those scummy tricks?" she shouted as she held him in a fierce headlock.Bookmark here

"What are you talking about?" he asked as he battled with her iron grip.Bookmark here

"He was only showing us his skills," erupted Shannon.Bookmark here

"Listen, girls, he didn't just do that. He did that to keep you busy. Look he could have done it like this," she said and released him. She outstretched her hand and in a moment her orbs appeared. "See, he could have done it like this, but no. He had other plans. He's tricked so many girls before. He would do his whole meditation circle thing. Then he would have access to your minds and that he gets what he really wants," she said as she retracted her hand.Bookmark here

"What?" exclaimed Eranor who was gasping for air.Bookmark here

"He told you his focus is the mind branch, so what he does is he manipulates you that you want to sleep with him," she proclaimed.Bookmark here

"Raione! What are you talking about?" he exclaimed in panic.Bookmark here

"Think about it. The second he took your hand; you felt a rush of blood. That was not a feeling, that was him using his skills to try and get lucky," she explained and crossed her arms, "You can count yourself lucky that I intervened."Bookmark here

"Raione, you can't slander me like that," he cried while wearing a shocked face.Bookmark here

"Yeah, I don't buy it. He took my hand and I felt nothing different," said one of the girls. Eranor felt relief wash over him in that instant.Bookmark here

"Uhm guys, that happened to me," admitted Shannon. Immediately he tensed back up.Bookmark here

"No way," exclaimed the girl.Bookmark here

"Yeah, and I peeked at him before I closed my eyes. When he took Shannon's hand he smirked," accused the other girl.Bookmark here

"You pig, that is so disgusting," said one of the girls, "Come on, we're leaving. Thanks, Raione."Bookmark here

"No problem girls," said Raione with a smile as she waved them off.Bookmark here

"Raione," he shouted, "What in the Goddess's name are you doing?"Bookmark here

"Winning. Looks like I was right," she said, still wearing her smirk.Bookmark here

"Huh," he stuttered. His mind was still trying to process what had just happened. Then it clicked what Raione just did. "You humiliated me because you didn't want to lose a bet?"Bookmark here

"Yes, you should know by now that I only make bets that I know I can win," she said and started to laugh. Eranor understood that was why she had that wolfish grin on her face. She had this planned from the beginning. She was simply looking for an opening to pounce. Bookmark here

"Come on, don't look so shocked. Let's get our drink on while the night is still young. Besides, the rumour won't spread that quickly," she said snickering. She went to one of the other carts with booze and left Eranor behind. He was mortified, filled with regret, and couldn't respond. He only knew one thing and that is that he would get his revenge.Bookmark here

As the festivities carried on it was not long before Raione had grown bored with the dancing and tale swapping. She desired something more adrenaline-inducing. Eranor watched as she organised a fighting competition between herself and a rather burly-looking miner. The tables were turned on their sides to form the ring. The crowd gathered to watch Raione battle it out with the famed Blood-Knuckle Lukas. Eranor then devised a brilliant plan for his revenge. All he needed was the help of Kaltmund.Bookmark here

"Kal, old buddy, old pal," he said as he stumbled toward him. His sleeves were soaked in beer and a few spill marks were even on his trousers.Bookmark here

"I see you have partaken in the ancient ritual," he said and returned his eyes to the fight.Bookmark here

"What ancient ritual?" he slurred confused.Bookmark here

"The ancient ritual of poisoning yourself to the point you can't see straight, then tomorrow you'll brag about how poisoned you were," he replied in his usual cold fashion.Bookmark here

"Oh, you mean I'm getting hammered. Well of course. It is a party, after all. Would be downright shameful if I didn't. Wait, that's not what I wanted to talk to you about. Listen I'm going to need a favour," he said and placed his arm firmly around the taller Kaltmund.Bookmark here

"What is this favour?" he asked skeptically while trying to break free from his grip.Bookmark here

"You see, Rai embarrassed me. So, I've decided that for my revenge I'll beat her in a fight, in front of everyone," he declared and swished his mug of ale through the air.Bookmark here

"That'll never happen. Firstly, you've lost every hand-to-hand fight against her. Secondly, you seem more affected by the liquor than she is. Finally, the fact that her fired-up trait will be activated after this fight, means she'll pummel you into the ground," he explained.Bookmark here

"Yes, Yes. I know that. But listen to me Kal. We're going to cheat. That is something she won't expect. I'm going to the ring next. I'll abandon all my guard and go for a wild haymaker that would finish a bear. She'll most likely either try to slip the blow and counter or block to show her strength. No matter what, you're going to use your magic to tug her jaw right onto my fist. She'll be floored in one blow," he explained with great pride before taking another swig of his drink.Bookmark here

"I can't help you cheat, that would be unethical," he answered.Bookmark here

"Please Kal, you owe me after what you guys did on the stage to me. Please Kal, I'm begging you," he groveled as he leaned more of his weight on Kaltmund. He almost sounded as if he was sobbing and tugged on his priest uniform. There was a moment of silence.Bookmark here

"Fine," he sighed, "Only because I feel guilty of what I did to you."Bookmark here

"Yes, this is going to be my sweet revenge," he said and stumbled towards the ring.Bookmark here

Raione was clearly not as sober as she thought she was as she took a few blows from Lukas. Yet she was slowly taking control of the fight. It was not long before she used the advantage she had built up and finished the fight. The crowd roared and began to cheer her name as they doused her in beer. While she celebrated, Eranor climbed into the ring and finished his mug.Bookmark here

"Oh, look who we have here. Are you going to challenge me now?" she asked mockingly. Eranor stumbled into the centre of the ring. He watched as they dragged Lukas away. His face was a beaten mess.Bookmark here

"You know I won't be bested as easily as him," he said and threw his mug out of the ring.Bookmark here

"In the state, you're in, it doesn't look like it," she bit back. The crowd grew as people anticipated that the fight between these two would be on a grand scale.Bookmark here

"You seem to think I'll fight without using my skills," he said. He became sober in an instant. He felt the calm and collective thought wash over him. He took his fighting stance. The crowd began to murmur and raise the atmosphere.Bookmark here

"I see, want to get serious here. If that's what you want then I'll gladly accept your challenge," she said and untied the red belt of her robes. She threw it to one side and took off her robes to reveal her warrior outfit underneath.Bookmark here

"Though it would be strange if you went anywhere without that," he said.Bookmark here

"What did you expect? Me to be naked underneath my robes," she said and took her stance.Bookmark here

"What is going on here Eranor?" interjected Yonamir with Gelebor just behind him. They only just managed to squeeze their way to the front of the now-massive and rowdy crowd.Bookmark here

"Don't worry master. I'm going to hit her so hard she bounces," he reassured him and cracked his joints. Just as Yonamir always does.Bookmark here

"Brave words from someone who still has to beat me," she hissed.Bookmark here

"I've got a new attack, just try and block this. You'll be on your backside," he said with evil glistening in his eyes.Bookmark here

"I've not seen an attack from you I couldn't block," she retorted.Bookmark here

"Very well then," he answered. He pulled back his fist and concentrated on it. He could feel his strength seeping into it. A faint aura appeared around his fist and he could feel the power pulsating within. He returned his gaze to Raione and shot forward. He screamed as he swung his fist right at her, leaving his guard open. Raione grinned and raised her left hand to block and coiled her right hand for a counter. Just before Eranor's blow landed, Raione's shielding arm dropped almost limp. Eranor landed his fist square on her jaw. The energy he had formed in his hand detonated. The blow was so powerful that it could be heard through the cheers of the crowd. A small gust of wind was expelled from where his fist landed. Her legs buckled and she tumbled. As she struck the floor, the crowd went silent. Eranor looked at the struggling body of Raione. She could not muster the strength to get up. Her head slumped back down as she passed out. Eranor raised both hands and let out a victorious cry. The crowd joined in and soon everyone was chanting his name.Bookmark here

After the tables were returned to their normal positions and the festivities continued, Raione woke up. She laid on a bench with Eranor at her feet. Kaltmund stood near her head, leaning on his staff. Yonamir and Gelebor stood in front of her. As her senses returned, she began to realize they were talking. Eranor looked down to see that Raione was waking up. She got up in a daze and she rested her head in her hands.Bookmark here

"Ugh, what happened," she groaned still clutching her head.Bookmark here

"You were knocked out by Eranor," explained Gelebor.Bookmark here

"With a little help from Kaltmund," added Yonamir.Bookmark here

"What do you mean a little help from Kal?" she inquired as she steadied herself.Bookmark here

"Well, you see, Eranor decided to get retribution for the little stunt you pulled on him. So, he convinced Kaltmund to use his magic in your fight. He made your left arm go limp, and Eranor got his revenge. I apologise for his disgraceful actions. I thought I taught him better," apologized Yonamir. Raione turned to Kaltmund to see he was staring at his feet, like a guilty child. When she looked at Eranor he had a smug smile on his face.Bookmark here

"What are you grinning at?" she demanded with a new sudden found anger.Bookmark here

"Oh, nothing. Just that everyone thinks that you've gone down in one blow," he said and smiled wide.Bookmark here

"What? You mean no one knows that you cheated?" she asked and shot up from the bench.Bookmark here

"Well, no," he said snickering.Bookmark here

"Why you filthy," she began before grabbing him by the scruff of his neck, "Me, you, a rematch. I'll knock those white teeth down your throat." Her threat had true rage behind them. Eranor could see the fury in her eyes. Yet, he couldn't help but feel pleased that he had managed to upset her this much.Bookmark here

"Raione, enough," barked Gelebor, "Learn to not always try and settle a score. Besides, the mood is fair and should not be spoiled by your blood-lust." Raione went silent and kept Eranor firmly in her grip. He could feel the rational side wrestle for control. She bit down on her teeth; her fists clenched harder. Her teeth started to show and finally, she relaxed. She pushed Eranor away from her.Bookmark here

"Fine, I'll knock his block off at another time," she grunted.Bookmark here

"That's the spirit Rai," said Eranor as he placed his arm over her shoulders. She immediately tensed back up, "Kal felt so bad that he chilled the beer on the carts. He hopes that a few cold ones would let you unwind once again."Bookmark here

"Kal, I'm still cross with you," she began, "But I never could stay cross. Come on, let's get our drink on," she declared, and off they went to celebrate well into the night.
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