PowerPlay! ~ The odd tale about awesome powers, quirky personalities and why they make for an awful mix.
Wait, they know each other?!
“Nero Cicero Severo, the wayward, stuck up knight…” She heaved an exaggerated sigh while sporting a look of cold condescension, her hostility completely bare.
“…strange meeting you here. Shouldn’t you be attending some church council or playing guard dog for your little holy brat?”
Wait, could it be that they were waiting for each other?
Why? Why here of all places?!
“I’m sure you’ll be delighted to know I left her grace in good, capable hands. I could hardly bring her with me and risk her grief in seeing the evils that plague this world…”
The paladin had smiled calmly throughout the conversation, but his hands had twitched at the mention of a child in the girl’s speech.
“…evils like YOUR KIND.”
WHAM! The girl had slammed her clenched fist on the counter. Gritting her teeth, she was clearly holding back the urge to hit the paladin square in the face.
“You! You little bootlicking, self-important snob!!! You haven’t changed a bit, you would sooner judge someone for how she was born than for what she is!”
She practically screamed.
Her rage was raw, furious, it bubbled in each word like tar ready to catch fire. It was clear that the words the paladin had just said had caused her to get incredibly riled, but it was also clear she was struggling to keep her own rage from exploding.
As I watched, trying to make sense of the exchange, I couldn’t help but feel that these two must have had some history together…
Who knows? I'm an outsider after all.
“Tch… you are the one spouting nonsense, demon-child. I’m here to meet someone of outmost importance so take your temper elsewhere.”
Demon-child? Did the paladin really just say that?
So that means…
The “demon-child” in question was now gritting her teeth to the point of drawing blood.
Mustering all her strength, she managed to keep her wrath from overwhelming her reason.
“Ah, I understand… so you came here to meet him, too...” She whispered.
The paladin widened his eyes in surprise, looked down in what felt like remorse and then opened his mouth. Before he could speak up, however, the girl continued with poison dripping from every word.
“I’m sure he’ll be disappointed seeing how you have become… just as rotten as the order you so proudly serve!”
The paladin’s softening gaze grew sharp almost immediately at those words.
“Rotten. Me. Then I suppose he would be very proud of finding you here with your band of cutthroats, a wanted criminal, hated and spurned wherever you go!!!” The paladin shouted these words, rising from his seat.
“Better to be a bigot, then! Spouting judgments on all those WHO ARE TRULY FREE!!!”
The girl was no longer trying to hold back her emotions, as they flooded the room like a stream, lengthening the very shadows in an eerie way.
“I WILL NOT TAKE THESE INSULTS FROM SOMEONE WHO CHOSE THE LIFE OF A COMMON THUG!”
The holy knights redoubled in their conviction, rose from their seats, readying to aid their master.
“YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT I HAD TO GO THROUGH! NONE OF YOU EVER KNEW!!”
The bandits gloated readying their crude weapons.
Here it comes.
Seriously, take your epic tales of grief and sacrifice elsewhere…
I’m just trying to get to the end of my shift.
“COME OUTSIDE YOU ZEALOT, I’LL SHOW YOU WHAT IT MEANS TO ANGER THE BLOODY QUEEN OF THE WESTERN WASTES!!!”
The girl had gripped her enormous axe with both hands and was butting heads with the paladin, goading him for a confrontation.
“I was going to let it slide and let you go… BUT IF YOU’RE SO EAGER FOR ME TO RIGHTEN YOUR WRONGS, GUESS I’LL HAVE TO OBLIGE!!!”
The glass in the paladin’s hand quickly shattered in his steely grip as his right hand landed on the pommel of his jeweled sword.
I desperately looked up to meet the bearded face of Romon.
“Uhm… hope he pays for that glass.”
Oblivious as always.
I prayed to the gods and ancestors, wherever they may be.
This tavern was about to turn into a battlefield.
And there was nothing this average, definitely underpaid, body of mine could do to stop it.
A fresh breeze caressed the grassy plains that had been the centerpiece of many of the empire’s sweetest poems. The cries of the Median eagles echoed in the shadow of the setting sun, over the Stratus mountains. The towers of Epoch shone golden in the distance, indifferent and magnificent like they had been for centuries.
It would have made for a scene worthy of a fresco.
And yet, something electric was disturbing the idyllic peace of the vale.
Two figures, proud and strong, standing at opposing sides, weapons in hand.
Rows of soldiers awaited on either side, observing an uneasy truce. Eyes firmly stuck to the center of the wide arena they had created with their formations.
I gulped while cold sweat trickled down my back uncomfortably.
They were gonna do it.
The fight was about to begin.
“Are you ready paladin? Once we begin, no amount of begging will make me stop…”
The woman had a frightening look on her face, the one befitting a rabid beast. Barely contained, eyeing her helpless prey. She raised her massive weapon with little effort, readying it for combat.
I suddenly realized how frightening her figure really was.
I was so preoccupied with the outrageous developments of today that I only just now remembered to take a closer look to the instruments of this person’s true calling in life.
This bandit queen’s weapon and armor.
The girl’s armor was light and crude, favoring mobility and intimidation above all else.
Straps of red leather in the style of the empire’s gladiators protected her legs and belly, while massive spiked boots fashioned from the pelts of beasts completed the image of a barbarian queen. Straps of white cloth inscribed in indiscernible runes covered her chest, held in place by a leather breastplate.
An enormous iron pauldron decorated her left shoulder, bearing the appearance of a demon’s head. The spaulder sported two prongs of iron in the shape of horns that looked like they could skewer a man with ease.
But nothing was more intimidating than the girl’s weapon.
A crude and gigantic slab of dark iron, fashioned in the shape of a gnarled axe.
Its black and slightly reddish form was thinly inscribed in the same fading runes that covered her chest. The back of the sinister blade was fashioned in a mysterious shape that resembled the coupled barrels of a shotgun. The axe was towering in height and felt excessively heavy for anyone but the warrior girl that was holding it with eyes that had lost all naiveté and were growing more and more fearsome by the minute.
“I’ll make you eat your words, along with your guts…”
Her red eyes glimmered and all my senses were assaulted by the foul sensation of creeping fear.
As reddish flames crackled playfully around her figure, the hairs on my arms stood up. Telling me the girl was no more…
I was looking at a beast ready to pounce.
The bandits’ laughs and screams filled the vale, all cheering for their awe-inspiring leader.
But the sharp and resonant sound of a bell silenced their cries.
“Vicious and base. Truly the makings of a witless fiend…”
The paladin had unsheathed his blade from its jeweled scabbard.
Its crystalline surface glimmered in the sun’s light while describing an arc towards the heavens, before descending in front of the paladin’s closed eyes and behind his shield in the manner of the church battle salute. Sheathed in a celestial glow, the paladin’s eyes finally opened.
“…and fiends need only face the stern judgement of the heavens.”
A blinding light erupted from the paladin’s body in an azure shower of pure energy.
The discharge had struck us all completely by surprise. With mouth agape I contemplated the overbearing ripple of faith enveloping the holy knight’s body.
The man’s armor was made of pure white and silver, shimmering in the glow like decorated porcelain. It also covered every inch of his body in a sheet of what looked like an indestructible fortress of steel. Feathery designs and golden symbols were traced upon the surface of his plate, conferring to the ensemble the look and feel of a relic worthy of adoration.
A fine blue cape flowed like a tapestry from his sides down to his feet, covering the back of his legs. The cloth of the clergymen covered the front of his waist, positioned between his legs.
His sword and shield were made of a crystalline material that resonated as a celestial chime every time it struck the air. The shield in particular shone of a bright ethereal light, emitting a quiet but clearly distinct hum that soothed the mind and promised of impenetrable defense.
As I witnessed his eyes glow brighter and brighter with the power of holy resonance, I noticed his features grow more and more engulfed in the pure ripple of his faith…
I struggled to remember the man who had giggled so innocently stirring his goat milk.
Gone was the man I had beheld a few hours ago.
I was now looking at the heavenly visage of a saint.
A saint each knight would have followed through hell and beyond, a devotion their roaring shields, battering in complete unison, had the obvious intent to display.
The two squared one another for a brief moment.
And I felt it deep in my bones.
There had been a change. I suddenly rationalized it all.
This wasn’t going to be a simple fight.
Those two were not human like me.
Deep down in my gut, I knew. They had long past that limit.
Just like the old man, they had chosen to be something else.
They had chosen to be heroes.
And the inn was definitely not far enough to get away unscathed.