Bladewarriors: Renewed
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31 / M / Whale Island
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Posted 2/16/12
Hello,

So, I've been going around and posting this story at a number of different places, just seeking to share it and hopefully get some constructive criticism / feedback. It isn't technically "Fan Fiction", as it's not based on a pre-established universe. Rather, it crafts it's own - it's an original story. That said, I feel it merits posting here since the story flow and plot have been heavily influenced by anime and manga. I almost like to describe it as manga in written form, as it shares alot of characteristics with the format - just without the pictures.

If you'd like to take read it, Great! If not, that's cool too. Either way, thanks.

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Teaser:

Eight Mystic Blades of untold power. Four uncertain wielders, thrust into adventure. One impossible quest to free the world. When the Gods fall, and the world is left in the cruel hands of a beast, can these conscripted warriors band together and succeed?

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Prologue


In the beginning, there was – as there always is – nothing. Existence was empty, and time was meaningless – a vacant void of everlasting and ever-encompassing proportions. And then, from this nothing, there was something. A being whom created his own existence – a man who could not be called a man: the god of all creation, Kamentheon.

With a power of creation strong enough to bring himself into existence, creating the cosmos was but a small task. Once the stars were born, the god of everything turned his attention to the land. Kamentheon molded the earth and ground together, and then sprinkled its surface with water. But the land was still desolate, so the all-powerful being summoned up the force of fire to bring light and warmth to the world and to balance its extreme heat, Kamentheon created coldness – and from it was born ice. In order to balance the temperature of the world, the great deity exhaled, creating the air and the wind to circulate and mitigate the powers of fire and ice. He then graced the land with his own energy, creating the power of electricity. Its power, combined with fire's glare, gave birth to the force of light, and the world was bathed in its glory. But the light was too strong, and overpowered all, so Kamentheon pulled down the emptiness of the cosmos and brought darkness and shadows to the world. The conditions then right, the mighty god turned the dirt green and covered the world in plant life. With all of these energies created, the world was nearly ready for the omnipotent one's greatest creation: life. But before he could create life, he needed to ensure the elements remained composed.

Kamentheon reached into himself and pulled from the essence of his being the incarnations of the elements; the gods and goddesses that would bring balance to these forces. There was Ajax and Ilayda, God of Earth and Goddess of Water. Next were Din, Goddess of Fire, and Khione, the Goddess of Ice. Mistress of the winds was Oya, and the Ruler of the Electric became Arashi. Luz took the power of Light, and Tamesis countered him with Shadows and Darkness. Then the goddess of flora, Fleur, was granted dominion over the plants of the world. Lastly, Kamentheon crafted one final god to stand above the rest – the god with the dominion over life, and lack there of, Lance.

His children born, and their roles designed, Kamentheon plucked a hair from his head, and planted it within the earth. Like a burgeoning forest, the hair multiplied, becoming a thick forest, and from it emerged all manner of creature and beast. Each of Kamentheon's children watched, and admired their father's creations.

"Father, might you allow us a chance to join in your creation?" Lance requested. The elder god thought a moment, then agreed.

"Choose thee each one creature to bless with a gift of your power."

The gods and goddesses rejoiced and each in turn picked one majestic beast to call their own and bless with their gift. Ajax chose the Armadillo, crafting its powerful and thick shell from the rock and metal of his soil, giving it an impenetrable defense. Ilayda chose the serpent of the sea, granting it ability to move through water quicker than any beast, and spew the liquid from its mouth in times of need. Din blessed the simple salamander with her power, granting it immunity to heat and flames, and a tongue that could burn. Khione gifted the leopard with an immunity to her powerful chill, and claws that could cleave her sturdy ice. Oya lifted up the eagle, granting it the power to harness her winds and rise into the air, as well as the vision of clarity. Seeing his sister's choice, Arashi stole the hawk, and gave it the power to create storms, and move with lightning's speed. Luz turned away from the pattern of her brothers and sisters, and looked toward the small butterfly perched on a branch, which she granted the power to shine with her strength. Tamesis glanced at the small bat and took pitty on the creature, allowing it the power to see through his darkness and the fangs with which to feed and fight. Fleur plucked a small tree frog from the earth and smiled, blessing it with her power, and the frog became as colorful and vivid as any flower, and able to cling to any plant's surface with ease.

Nearly all the gods' choices made, Kamentheon turned to Lance and asked him why he did not choose a beast to grant his gift.

"I see none here I feel deserving of my power." Lance replied, looking out across the creatures.

"If you see not one to grant your gift, then I grant you the option to create your own."

Lance humbly accepted his father's gesture, and began to gather pieces of all the elements, crushing them together into a single form. Mold created, Lance leaned forward and rested his forehead against the head of his statue, and then breathed upon its flesh. With that breath of life, man was born unto the world.

His work complete, Kamentheon retired to the cosmos, leaving his children in charge of the world and creatures he had made. But as time past, strife began to grow amongst the gods and goddesses. Each became proud of their creature, and each began to argue over whose was better. Eventually these arguments escalated to being less about their beasts and more about their powers, each god claiming to rule of the most powerful or most important element. Each god, except for Lance. The god of Life removed himself from his siblings' bickering, focusing instead on the development of his creation.

Lance had not gifted his creature with fangs, or flight, claws, or armor. The god of life had gifted them with incredible intelligence, and the ability to adapt, evolve, and change. He used a gentle hand to guide their development, watching as they grew from primitive ape-like creature, into the masters of their dominion. But as man grew, so did the bitterness between the gods.

Lance finally turned from his creation when his siblings were on the verge of a divine war, stepping between them. He attempted to soothe their aggravated tempers, ensuring them that each of them had a role to play in the world, and that none were more or less important, but his brothers and sisters would not hear it. They shooed him away, and continued their fight.

"Father." The god of life called out. "Father, you must intervene!"

Lance beseeched Kamentheon, but the elder god did not return from the cosmos. The elder god did not reply. The god of life, fearing the chaos a battle between his siblings may cause, took up his role as leader among them, and formed his decision.

"If you cannot learn to get along," Lance told his siblings, "then I will separate you!"

And the god of life did just that, erecting enormous magical barriers across the world, dividing its area amongst his nine brothers and sisters. Each god received an equally sized domain to do with as they pleased, with only one restriction placed upon them: they were not to interfere with his creature – they could not intervene in the lives of men.

The gods and goddesses agreed, and filled their realms with their influence. Lance did what he could to ensure the creatures in each realm survived the sudden imbalance of elements, as one power spontaneously surged above all others. Many creatures died, but many creatures also evolved, giving birth to the races of Monsters. But the gods and goddesses kept their promise after that, and did not interfere in the lives of man, focusing on the other creatures of their realms.

As time grew on, Monsters and Man became enemies, each vying for survival in the harsh conditions of their realms. Man adapted well, despite the adverse conditions. Gifted with the power to grow and evolve on their own, Man diverged along different paths in each realm. While each path resembled each other, each was also particularly suited the element that surrounded them. And the same was true of the Monsters. While the beasts could not evolve on their own, the gods and goddesses were not above granting the monsters new abilities, powers, and intelligence.

Eventually, one especially cunning beast emerged in the Realm of Water. It was a strange creature that was said to resemble a ball of cotton, weak and small, but intelligent beyond measure. This creature approached Ilayda.

"My goddess, why have you made me so weak?" the creature questioned. "I can not survive. I can not defend or attack. Please, grant me one request."

The goddess frowned, taking pity on the small creature before her. "What is it you ask?"

"I want a simple ability." The creature replied, grinning. "Grant me the power to pass through the mystic barriers and visit the other realms. With it, I might find a land where I am better suited for survival."

Moved by the creature's plight, and unable to see the harm in granting such a weak being the power, Ilayda agreed, and granted the creature his request. The creature thanked his goddess, but did not leave the realm right away. Instead, this creature approached Ilayda's Serpent and requested a portion of its power.

"Grant me a piece of the god's strength that was given to you," the tiny creature said, "and I will use it to invade the Realm of Fire and steal for you the power of the Slamander."

Greedy and Rash, the Serpent agreed, and granted the tiny creature a piece of its power. The tiny creature grew to resemble a serpent, gaining the ability to survive underwater, like the Serpent, and the magic it possessed. With this new strength, the no-longer-tiny creature traveled to the Realm of Fire, and attacked the Salamander.

"I will spare your life," the creature said after besting the lizard, "but in exchange you must grant me a piece of your power. With it, I will open the way to the Ice Realm, and perhaps I will bring you back the Leopard's strength in return as well."

Trusting and without option, the Salamander agreed, and broke off some of its divine gift, giving it to the creature. Again the creature grew, gaining resistance to heat, and the ability to spew fire. With the new power, the creature moved on again, entering the snowy Realm of Ice.

"If you wish to maintain you rule," the creature threatened after besting the Leopard, "then grant me a piece of you power, and in return I may be kind and bring you an equal power from the Realm of Plants."

Territorial and injured, the Leopard agreed, blessing the creature with his ability. The creature gained powerful claws and fangs, and a resistance to cold, along with a portion of the Ice God's might. With his new strength, he invaded the greenest of the realms, torching the plants, and freezing the ground. The Tree Frog confronted the creature, demanding the strange thing stop.

"I will stop," the creature replied, "but only if you give me a portion of your strength in return."

Desperate to protect its home, the Tree Frog agreed, and gave the creature a portion of its power. The creature grew once more, gaining the Tree Frog's abilities, and it's mastery of plants before moving to its next target: The Eagle of the Wind Realm. Once there, the creature waited for the Eagle to land, then bound it to its roost with vines and roots, preventing it from leaving.

"Why do you hold me!?" The Eagle demanded as it struggled to free itself. "Release me at once."

"I hold you because I am envious." The creature replied. "You can fly through the air, and I am stuck on the ground. If you grant me a piece of your power, I will release you so you may soar once more."

At first the Eagle, selfish as he was, refused, but as days passed, and he stayed rooted to his roost, he conceded, and relinquished his power to the creature, granting it a mighty set of wings, vision like no other, and the mastery of the air currents. Grinning, the strange abomination continued on his path, moving toward the realm of the earth.

With his new wings, the creature took to the sky, quickly spotting the Armadillo as it rolled across the realm. The creature swooped down, snatching the creature with its mighty claws, and lifted it high into the air with its mighty wings.

"What is this!?" The Armadillo cried, startled at the sight of the earth so far below him.

"If you do not wish for me to drop you," the strange creature replied, "then relinquish to me a portion of your power."

"Drop me if you dare." The Armadillo replied. "My armor will protect me."

So the creature did just that, releasing the Armadillo. While the Armadillo's armor may very well have protected him, the Armadillo was not ready to test the theory. As he plummeted toward the ground, he cried out.

"No, no! I changed my mind! Rescue me, and the gift is yours!"

But the creature laughed, demanding he receive his payment first. Death looming before him, the Armadillo acquiesced to the demand, flinging a portion of his gift to the strange creature, causing the abomination to become covered in thick, dense, impenetrable scaled. And, true to his word, the strange creature returned the gesture by saving the Armadillo. The strong power of earth now also his, the abomination continued on his path, entering the Realm of Lightning, seeking the Hawk.

The Hawk, this abomination knew, would not be so easy to sway as the others. The Hawk stayed in the air, and while the abomination could overpower this beast of the sky, The Hawk did nothing but flee. With his lightning speed, The Hawk could not be chased, for he could not be caught. On top of that, as far as the abomination could see, The Hawk would never land, flying above the clouds in roost in the sky. Curious, the abomination followed one day, but above the clouds, he found no Hawk. He found nothing. But he heard something.

"I know what you are doing. You have traveled to many realms, and attacked many creatures. You want a piece of my power."

The abomination called out that he did.

"Then you must trade for it." The Hawk called. "You possess the power of The Eagle. Share it with me, and I shall share my power with you."

The abomination consented. "Reveal yourself, and we shall exchange gifts."

With his call, the Hawk rose from the clouds to meet the abomination, and the abomination attacked. He would not share his gifts. He threw the Hawk to the ground and held him to the earth as the creature struggled.

"I have changed my mind." The abomination told the Hawk. "Give me your power, or I will bind you to the earth for eternity."

Captured and powerless on the ground, the Hawk consented, and split off a portion of his power for the abomination. With the Thunder God's gift, the abomination became quicker than any other beast, and learned to harness the lightning's power. New strength in tow, the abomination moved to the Realm of Darkness.

As he entered the realm, he heard a voice.

"You have finally come."

The abomination tried to find its source, but in the all encompassing darkness that filled the realm, he could see nothing. He set fire to the ground, but, as quickly as it rose, it was swallowed by the darkness. He sparkled with electricity, but the shadows would not waver and quickly ate its light as well.

"You cannot bring light in my presence." The voice of The Bat called out again. "I will eat it all before it can show you the world. But fear not, I do not wish to battle you – you have become far too powerful for me. Instead, I wish to trade."

"The Hawk also wished for a bargain, but he did not get his wish." The abomination replied.

"But you cannot capture me." The Bat countered. "You cannot attack me. Because you cannot see me."

The abomination was silent.

"I want but a small portion of one of your powers." The Bat spoke. "I care not which. It is for you to decide. In return, I will grant you what you seek."

The abomination acquiesced to the request, not because he had to, but because he wanted to. The cunning of the Bat was on par with his own, and the creature's boldness impressed him to no end. However, the abomination was not to be outdone. In exchange for the Bat's power – the ability to see in the darkness, and summon its strength – the abomination offered a portion of his power of plants. In the bleak and endless shadows of that realm, the power would be meaningless. But the Bat did not complain, but grinned, and thanked the abomination as it moved to the final realm of Light.

In the Realm of Light, upon seeing the Butterfly, the abomination scowled at its weakness. Even with the power of Light, the small insect was pathetic. Rather than bargain with the creature for its power, the abomination crushed it, destroying the Butterfly.

Enraged, Luz descended to his realm, and attempted to strike down the abomination, but with the gifts of all his brothers and sisters, the abomination could not be stopped. Luz found himself in a losing battle against this beast with wings, and scales, and power akin to a god. He fled, returning to the heavens with his siblings.

"Brothers, Sisters!" Luz called out. "This creature has traveled our realms and stolen our gifts from our creatures. He has become strong, and powerful. We must bring him to an end before it is too late!"

But his brothers and sister merely laughed.

"That is why your element is weak."

"Our powers would never wane against some pitiful beast."

"He is of no concern to us, who are much stronger than you."

None would heed his word; none save for Lance.

The God of Life turned his eyes to the creature, studying it carefully. It was indeed powerful, a being like none the world had seen before. It had grown from a tiny ball of fluff, to a massive creature with impenetrable skin, mighty wings, incredible speed, and mastery of nearly all the elements. But the beast, its journey complete, seemed to now be content with its strength. It settled in the Realm of Light and rested. Lance concluded the beast would need to be watched, but that it was not a threat to them – or at least to him. He turned away, but not before gifting the abomination with a name; The Dragon.

Feeling the eyes of the gods shift away from him, The Dragon grinned, and turned to the realm around him. He realized now that he was no longer weak, and that nothing was beyond his grasp. With his power, he gathered an army of Monsters, gaining influence in the realm, and decided to conquer the lands. But he needed to be smart. He turned to one of his followers, The Dove, and explained to it his plan. He then granted The Dove the same ability he had began with – the power to travel between realms – and set it on its way.

The Dove traveled back to each of the realms, speaking with the Gods' Creatures once more. The Dove asked not for a piece of their power, but for all of it.

"The Dragon demands you bow before him," The Dove related, "The Dragon demands you have all of your followers bow before him. With the power of us all, The Dragon will make these realms ours, and take them from the humans who now rule."

Fearful of The Dragons power – having heard how he turned away a God – the Creatures agreed, and the Monster Army was formed. With his Dove as messenger, The Dragon launched a war on the humans, attempting to subjugate them.

Seeing the chaos breaking out in their realms, the Gods above suddenly grew fearful. They lowered their selves to the world, attempting to control their creatures, but the monsters no longer listened to the gods, for they no longer feared them. They had a new god; The Dragon. And, in turn, as each god came to earth, they were turned away by the combined forces of The Dragon's Army.

Seeing this, Lance could no longer stand idle, but he was not foolish enough to intervene himself. He instead turned to his siblings and asked for them to share their power with him. His brothers and sisters were wary of gifting their gifts to their already superior brother, but with little option, they agreed.

Lance pulled from the Gods and Goddesses the essence of their element, and, mingling it with his own power, he forged the mighty Mystic Blades. These swords, containing all the power of a God, were the ultimate weapons, one existing for each Element.

"Give us the blades, Brother!" his siblings pleaded.

"These blades will be useless in your hands." Lance denied them. "They were not crafted for Gods, for they will give nothing to a God that they do not already have. These blades are for my creatures. I will give them to Man."

Lance lifted the swords and rained them down upon the world, throwing each sword to its corresponding realm. Once they reached the earth, they called out to mankind, seeking a worthy wielder from each land. These humans responded, seeking out the blades, and raising them in defense of their lands. Lance had crafted many powers into these blades, including the ability to migrate through the magical barriers.

The Bladesmen moved and gathered, passing through the realms, fending off the Monsters, until all of them converged in the Light Realm to counter The Dragon. The Dragon, though, had gained one more ability in his travels – an unexpected side-effect of his acquisitions. The Dragon gained Man's ability to evolve, and with it, his power became even greater.

Despite being faced with the power equivalent to nine Gods, the Dragon was not worried. He was cunning, and strong. The Dragon changed forms, masking himself as a human and approached the Bladesmen, each in turn.

"I should not tell you this," he said, his sinister scheme enacted, "but your comrade has told me he will use his power to conquer your realm when this battle is over."

"He says that you are weak."

"He says your people are simple."

"He says that only his element should rule."

The Bladesmen of Lightning, Wind, Earth, and Shadow turned a distrusting eye to their companions, swayed by the words. The Dragon grinned and turned to Fire.

"I should not be telling you this, but Water swore to me they would drown your realm and extinguish your flames with this battle it over. They said your land should be theirs."

"Water said no such thing."

The Dragon was shocked as Fire responded, turning an eye to him. He was not swayed by his pretty words. He was not deceived by his cunning scheme. The Dragon scowled, and moved away to Ice, Water, and Plant.

"Fire would not betray me." Ice told him. "We need each other. Fire provides warmth for my people, and in turn, I cool his off."

"Plant would not destroy me." Water replied. "Without water, Plant would wither."

"Ice would not war with me." Plant answered. "I provide him sustenance. He needs me."

The Dragon scowled, unable to deceive these Bladesman, he looked to Light, and decided to cut his losses. With four minds deluded, he would make due. He turned back to Wind, Lighting, Earth, and Shadow, and with more clever words, he moved them to attack their brothers of Fire, Ice, Water, and Plant. As they fought, The Dragon shifted back to his true form, and stood before the Bladesman of Light. He had bested the God of Light before, and one on one, the Light Bladesman fell.

The Dragon raised the Blade of Light, and turned back to the other warriors. Only Fire and Ice remained standing, beaten but alive. The rest lay on the ground, having killed one enough over The Dragon's treacherous words. Try as they might to defeat the Dragon, in their weakened state, Fire and Ice could not withstand the beast's power, and fell as well.

The Dragon smiled, and gathered the blades crafted by the God of Life. He began to dissect the blades, attempting to pull of them their power. The Dragon slowly stripped the blades of their powers, beginning with the ability to open paths through the magical barriers. Before The Dragon could finish stealing the blades gifts, though, the blades were torn from his grip, and the God Life appeared before him.

"Those blades and their powers are not for you, Dragon."

"I have won them. To the victor go the spoils." The Dragon called back.

"Not this time, beast." Lance summoned his powers, and sent the blades flying, scattering them out across the realms, hiding them from the eyes of monsters. In the act he also sealed their powers, ensuring no beast could ever touch the blades, then alone pick out their abilities. Enraged, the Dragon attacked Lance. It is said the two battled for a hundred years with no clear victor. It wasn't until their battle uncovered the Blade of Light once more that the tide was turned.

The Dragon, eyeing the blade, transformed himself into a man once again. In the form, his fingers could grip the sword, though he could not wield its true power. Still, with blade in hand, The Dragon used the weapon to pierce The God of Life through the chest.

Lance fell, weakened as the Dragon pulled back the blade. He looked at the mighty beast and fled, leaving the world in the monster's hands.

The Dragon grinned, his dominion complete, and took a new name: The Dragon King. He turned to rule the land. The Dragon shared his power to evolve with The Creatures of the Gods – as well as powers he had stolen from the Mystic Blades – and in turn those creatures shared their gifts with others. Humans lost the wars, and were conquered by the beast. Some became slaves, some became food, but others chose to continue the fight, holding there own against the Monsters. Each realm made their own choice to fight or surrender, and each person made their decision on whether or not to follow this example.

And so it has been for ten thousand years…
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31 / M / Whale Island
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Posted 2/18/12
Chapter 1
Island in the Sand



Flare stared out across the desert expanse that stretched out before him. There was no sign of vegetation, and no sign of water as endless sand dunes stretched like waves as far as the eye could see, masking any ‘islands' of relief beyond the horizon. Above him, the sun beat down on the realm, its heat and power intensified by the overflowing force of the fire element that hung in the air, drenched the land, and consumed the realm. Ever oppressive, even the shade of the watch tower's roof did little to temper its strength.

Despite the temperatures well above a hundred – even in the shade of the watchtower – not a single bead of sweat dotted Flare's brow. He leaned forward, resting his chin on his palm as he leaned on the railing that surrounded him. The boy's skin was a dark tan, having drunk in the sun rays for the entirety of his eighteen years of life. His vibrant red hair tossed in a gentle and painfully dry breeze, seeming to defy gravity as it stood straight up. Streaks of blonde were scattered about the red, and as the wind tussled the teenager's hair, it almost resembled a small fire perched atop his skull.

The teen reached up, rubbing his red eyes, the wind continuing to dry them out. He blinked a few times, clenching his eyes shut a moment so his eyelids could try and coat his pupils in their cooling restorative fluid. His face was clean shaven, or rather hair no longer grew there. Being a Flamian – a Human of the Fire Realm – his body had long since evolved past the need for body hair. The only remnant of a time when the thin fur that covered most human's bodies was the hair atop his head. The rest was gone – forsaken in order to survive the oppressive heat of their environment.

"Oye!"

Flare lifted his head, turning to glance behind him, toward the opposite ledge of the watchtower's balcony.

"Flare! You up there!?"

The Flamian pushed off his rail, smiling at the familiar voice as he quickly crossed to the opposite side of the tower. The sight here was a stark contrast to the desolate dunes that he had moments ago been watching.

The small town of Char stretched for nearly a mile, packed tightly with homes. Around it was a tall, thick wall made from sandstone. While not incredibly durable, in protected the small hub from the dry winds of the desert, and provided a minimal amount of defense for the small human village. In the center of the town, a small fountain bubbled up water – a rare plume of liquid in the otherwise dry desert realm. While the world outside the village was tan and brown, green dotted the town. Trees poked their heads through the dirt – strange plants that had evolved to burrow their roots deep to hold themselves tight in the shifting sands. The trees provided little shade, and little substance, but they were about the only thing the Fire Realm had. A strange yellowish grass also speckled the village – this stuff was a bit more useful than the trees. During the night, the grass attracted water from the air like a magnet, helping the Flamian town survive the arid environment.

"I brought you lunch!"

Flare turned his eyes down to the base of his tower, smiling at the young girl that grinned back up at him. "Come on up, then."

Jenna nodded. The girl had been Flare's friend for as long as he could remember. She had the same tanned skin, also drenched in the sun's rays. She stood a little shorter than him – Flare was roughly six foot tall – but was still on the taller side when compared to the other woman of the village. Her hair was a darker, more subdued color of red, closer to a maroon, but with streaks of lighter and darker shades that gave it a somewhat shimmering appearance. But her eyes were her best feature: a bright blue color. It was rare that anyone of the Fire Realm was born with eyes like hers. Staring into them made you feel like you were staring into the oceans of legends – endless expanses of cool blue water.

The girl was roughly Flare's age, though Flare wasn't entirely sure whether she was younger or older. No one was really certain of that. Mostly because no one was really certain of how old Flare was. The first memory he or anyone else in Char could remember of him was from roughly ten years prior, during a raid from the Monsters. According to what people told him, Flare had emerged from an explosion set off by a Dragoling. He had appeared as the fire and smoke cleared, a young child, stark naked, and carrying nothing but a sword. It was not just any sword that he held that day, though. The sword he had appeared with – the sword he still to that day had strapped to his back – was The Mystic Blade of Fire, The Flame Sword. He didn't remember much of that first attack, but people claimed he single-handedly turned away all of beasts threatening their town, preventing any man, woman, or child from being taken. All he really remembered, though, was the thankful hug Jenna had given afterwards.

"I have a real treat for you today!" Flare turned as the small wooden hatch in the center of the tower balcony's floor pushed up, and the redheaded girl climbed through the revealed hole in the floor. "You heard about that wanderer that's in town, right!? Well he had fish!"

The girl sat on the edge of her hole, lifting her bag and opening the flap on the top to reveal two small fish on the inside. The guppies were barely bigger than the teenager's palm, but it was the first time in nearly five years that he had seen one.

"That's awesome!" Flare exclaimed, rushing forward to grab the tiny fish from her bag. "Oh man, my mouth is watering just looking at them!"

Jenna laughed, reaching up to brush a few stray strands of her hair from her face and behind her ear.

"Patience, Flare!" She stated as she snatched the small morsels back from her friend. "We still have to clean them and cook them!"

"Screw cleaning ‘em!" Flare shouted, reaching up to grab the hilt of the sword slung on his back. "We'll loose too much meat that way."

"But Flare—"

"But nothin'!" The eager teen yelled. Flare pulled on the hilt in his hand, unsheathing the Flame Sword from its scabbard. The Mystic Blade seemed to glow a moment as it was exposed, drawing Jenna's eyes as the teen held it in front of him. Its size resembled a broad sword, but the rest of the blade was unique. Despite its size, the sword was incredibly light, but still incredibly powerful. And the shape of its blade was strange, molded to look as if the sword was one fire – it even had red, orange, and yellow covering its surface to add to the illusion. One edge of the blade appeared wild, with numerous small tendrils of fire, while the opposite edge was more even and subdued, with a single large ‘flame' molded into it. The sword's edge looked oddly dull, but anyone in Char could have attested to its cutting ability.

"I'm not wasting this gift! Lay those suckers on the ground, and I'll fry ‘em up!"

Jenna sighed, shaking her head momentarily. She knew Flare well enough to realize there was no point in arguing with the brash teen – he had made up his mind. She kneeled down, placing the small fish gently on the tower's surface and stepped back.

"Be careful, though. You know I don't like them—"

The redheaded girl was forced to cut herself short as Flare thrust the tip of his blade toward the fish laid in front of him. From the apex of the sword, a stream of fire shot forth, expanding outward into a powerful geyser of flames that quickly engulfed the small guppies. While the blast only continued for a short moment, when it cleared, the ground was burned, and the fish were smoking and black.

"… charred." Jenna finished with a sigh.

Flare grinned hungrily as he slid his sword back into it's sheathe and collapsed in front of the overly-cooked food. He lifted one of the small fish and lowered it into his mouth, chomping down, a shiver of deliciousness washing over him as the taste met his tongue. Jenna kneeled down across from him, staring at the charred black blob that had once been a rare and savory delicacy. She reached a finger out, poking at its tough and dry surface, grimacing at just the feel of it.

"You gonna eat that?" Flare questioned, mouth still half-full as he stared at Jenna's fish.

"All…"

Flare reached out, grabbing the fish from the ground and shoving it into his mouth as another wave of delight passed through him.

"…yours." Jenna finished with another sigh. "You could at least wait for me to finish."

"Sorry." Flare replied. He might have sounded more apologetic if his mouth hadn't been stuffed full at the time, though.

"It's fine."

Jenna replied with a grin, resting her chin in her palms as she stared at her friend. Flare continued to chew as he stared back at the teenage girl, growing increasingly uncomfortable the longer she did.

"What?" the fiery-headed teen questioned after swallowing the mass of charred fish in one gulp. "Stop starring at me."

"Mmm… Nope." Jenna replied, grinning as she focused her piercing stare further.

"Stop being weird." Flare stood, moving back to his position against the outer rail of the watchtower's nest, staring back out amongst the dunes.

"Anything?" Jenna asked, coming up beside him. She raised a hand, shielding her eyes from the glare of the sun as she surveyed the arid expanse.

"Nope." Flare frowned, shaking his head. "Been three weeks now. I'm starting to get worried."

"Maybe they just finally realized they didn't stand a chance against us anymore." Jenna suggested cheerfully, turning to face the worried look of the swordsman beside her.

"Maybe…" Flare responded, eyes still scanning the dunes.

Or maybe they just realized they needed more creatures…
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