The fairly muscular man said before he launched a bright red apple in the direction of the man, the one whom they called Archelo. The six-foot-three, average build human turned with no sense of urgency to meet the path of the projectile. His arm lifted with no effort to palm the apple, and with the other hand, he put within his possession a cloth, with which he used to brush over the delectable fruit. Eyes, overcast with a light purple hue, shifted downwards for a moment; a sigh of complacency escaping his lips before returning his inquiring gaze to his muscular comrade.
“When is it not for me?”, responds Archelo, with a half grin, then a full white smile.
Archelo was not the average human. His forehead, wide and broad. His complexion of a burnt bronze; he was eternally tanned. His nose slim but flaring at the nostrils, giving off a smug look yet he was anything but smug. The chin, very defined, and scattered with facial hair. His eyes was a mixture of the lavender used to adorn his majesty’s palace, and a grey; as grey as the cold steel blade he procured during his travels to Avalon Trade City.
Around his neck rests a black scarf to shield his throat from the harsh weathers, if they are so unfortunate to run course with her. His torso is protected with a golden tunic, which ends abruptly at the elbow, leaving his forearms and medium sized hands exposed. Over his tunic is bronze plated armor which accentuates his well broadened shoulders. Tight leggings protects his lower half from the cold, and like its upper counterpart, is fortified with simple bronze armor. Though the son of a well respected knight, he took care not to make such ostentatious displays of wealth.
“Ah, your question is a valid one, my brother.” said the man.
The muscular man kneels slowly, adjusts the bag over his shoulder, and inspects another apple. This one had a few specks of dirt and grass. A few bugs that needed removing. Normally he would not care for such trivialities, but the noble was present so he took great care in minding his manners. His paw-like fingers brushed over the apple, before gripping it securely and rising to his feet. He tossed the apple in the air, lifting his arm immediately to catch it before its descent. He took a hard bite, and in between each chew, he addressed Archelo.
“Ah, but Dantel the--mighty has the--infallible answer to that deep--question!” Dantel said.
With each bite, the words escaped his lips, along with traces of the partially digested apple. Each bite closes the gap between him and Archelo, until Dantel is face to face with him.
“See, it is not for you--when--I say it is! How profound, is it not?”
With the last question, Dantel places his free hand on the shoulder of Archelo, giving it a playful push. Dantel stood close to Archelo’s stature. Body similar to a human but the facial features were more in tune with the felines of the animal kingdom. His brow bone was non-existent. His jaw, very defined and pronounced with a long beautiful mane covering his pointy, yet short ears. His mane was quite the sight, littered with gold, brown, and yellow streaks of hair acting almost like a cushion for his neck and lower face. His eyes were a deep amber, and no larger than a paperclip. Unlike his comrade Archelo, Dantel did not have large amounts of armor to protect him. Instead, he wore a lose fitting vest which displayed his natural musculature. Very liberal in his expression, he chooses to wear simple leggings and sandals. He rarely carried weapons for his hands were the deadliest of all weapons. On command, six-inch finely sharpened claws decided his enemies fate. His skin is filled with patterns similar to the leopard but they were not easily noticeable over the layer of hair. He did not cover his scars, for he was a proud Llynesian.
“Ha-ha, only in your world, my friend.”Archelo said as he rests his hand on Dantel’s shoulder, giving him a playful, yet patronizing pat.
Dantel immediately catches on, following his laughter with his own and brushing his arm away from his shoulder. They were a long way from home. Traversing a dirt road paved from the Trade City of Avalon, across the Sarai Lake, to Sarai Village, Archelo’s birth place. Avalon Trade City was the main trading city for all the inhabitants of Silverone. From leather, to gold, to salts, to peppers, if you wanted to make profit, or accumulate goods for contingency due to unpredictable weather, Avalon welcomed you with open arms. All walks of life communed there. From the Llynesians, the lion humanoid race; a warm, yet vengeful race when pushed to their limit, to the Drahgoni; a race of dragon humanoids with the ability to expel fire from the mouth. They are most experienced with taming the fire breathing creatures of the world, so much so that they can call upon them at will. The Drahgoni were future oriented, and calculating, and this has caused a great arrogance to over come their disposition. This week, rations were needed at the household. Archelo, being the only son, made it his duty to fulfill these tasks whenever called upon by his mother. Dantel, having already fulfilled his tasks, just desired to come along for the ride. So down the road they traveled, one bag each hung over one shoulder. The spring breeze carried the sounds of the earth through the atmosphere encouraging much animation from the trees. The birds sung in the absence of their voices, and as soon as their group effort was duly noted, Dantel shifted his gaze to Archelo.
“Have you checked with Sir Chelo?” Dantel asked. Dantel’s left sandal making an effort to kick a snake out of the path.
“In regards to what? The ranks?” Archelo’s mind had already been made up, but he did not let Dantel know this.
“Yes Archelo, the ranks. He mentioned it in passing, last week. I do believe it is something to which we should aspire.” Dantel said before taking a bite from his apple. A furrowing of the brows takes residence upon the face of Archelo before he relaxes them, looking off into the retreating sun.
“For what purpose? To spend my life as my father? Eternally under the rule of another? Swayed from my own morality, and forced to surrender to the morality of the highest class? That, is something I can not bear.”
With that last word, he lifts the apple and finishes it off before tossing it in the bushes.
“The purpose is to serve something greater than oneself. Perhaps in this purpose one can find a sense of duty. A fulfillment, if not a sense of competition!” Dantel responded.
And following Archelo’s lead, Dantel takes his final bite and instead of gently tossing the apple on the side of the road, he launches it with great force. The nearly eaten apple flies into a tree, breaking off a piece of its bark before hitting the ground.
“I do not think one needs to join the ranks to acquire this fulfillment you speak of. And of course, my brother… you--you would love the competition. The only thing great in your mind is the destruction of your supposed competition.”
Archelo gives Dantel a snarky grin, before softening it and returning his gaze to the last remnants of the sun as it retires.
“Ah, yes you know me too well noble man. Competition,--to crush it, is to live!”, he exclaimed.
His arm lifts into the air triumphantly, and in doing so, he nearly spills the contents of his bag.
“You must try it once, you never know.”
Dantel notes the snarky grin but pays it no mind. He is used to Archelo’s sly remarks. An unfamiliar human and especially a Drahgoni would have taken offense to such gestures but when you have shared adventures for a decade with someone, these idiosyncrasies are to be enjoyed and appreciated, and so, Dantel basks in this appreciation.
As the sun retires for the night, the moon makes its appearance, shining it’s white light, and cooling those who have the pleasure of traveling during its brief tenure. As the protective sunlight goes, so does the protection. The mists begin to fill the area, and so does the unredeemable. This does not stop Archelo and Dantel though. No, they move about the road with a bit of caution, eyes passively scanning the area for threats. One step after the other, their soles crush the foliage below them and after one step too many, a branch snaps. From the east comes a rogue Drahgoni, and from the west, a human.
“Ahhh! What is this scent? I love it. I want it!”, the Drahgoni sadistically says.
Archelo and Dantel understood this signal, and quickly they threw the bags away from the blast area before diving out of the way. The Drahgoni unleashed a stream of fire and circled Dantel in a lizard like way. The human tried to snatch a few things from the thrown bag, but Archelo regained his stance, and denied him with a damaging elbow to the nose.
“Gah”, the thief yelled. The human thief fell on his back, and Archelo removed his steel blade from his sheath. He charged and attempted an overhead stab, which was easily evaded. The thief rolled onto his belly and regained his stance. With a devilish grin on his face, he opened his right hand revealing a peculiar stone. The stone was green with a bit of yellow, and gave off a eerie glow. Archelo’s eyes fixated on the jewel, a befuddled look on his face. A large green ray of light shot upwards and faded shortly after. From the zero point of the gem, another green light enveloped the thief’s body, and within a three seconds, that one thief, became three.
“What is this…?!”, Archelo said.
Although confused, Archelo maintained a look of resolve as he charged one of the three men. He lunged forward and took a reluctant swing at the trio. As he struck the third thief, the mirage faded along with the one on the far left. The authentic thief reached into his inner tunic, removing a knife and with one swing, delivered a slash to the forearm of Archelo. A slight sound of pain, but more of frustration escaped Archelo’s lips and he backed away to regroup. The thief, grinned once more and pressed his hand into the stone, but this time, the stone offered a different response. What had been observed previously as a spectacular display was reduced to something less than admirable. The stone simply flashed twice. The thief, now the confused one, closed his fist tightly to force a reaction and at that moment, the stone let off an orange glow, burning his hand.
“AH!”, the thief cried out.
Archelo squinted his eyes, a bit surprised as well. The stone’s fine coloring faded, and dimmed into a darkened stone. What was once a glimmering, captivating jewel had transformed into a broken pieces of coal. Luckily for Dantel, the Drahgoni was not as experienced as he had thought. The Drahgoni spent most of his energy with that last stream of fire, and he needed time to regain his strength. Dantel took advantage of this opportunity. The once slits of amber, opened wide into a predatory stare. The mane that once served as protection for his neck, straightened. Every, single, hair. And with the unforgiving murderous spirit of the Lion, he mounted the Drahgoni; his claws revealed and swiping indiscriminately at his prey. With each swipe, the Drahgoni let out a hiss of agony. The scaly, yet human like flesh departed from the totality of his being, leaving open flesh wounds leaking that red crimson liquid which either evokes fear of what is to come, or a lust for more. With each swipe, the essence of the Drahgoni fades.
“RAHHH!”, Dantel roared, before digging both claws into the chest of the Drahgoni.
He lifted the Drahgoni above his head, and let out another resounding roar before tossing him into a tree. No time was wasted in letting the Drahgoni return to his feet; Dantel immediately pounced on the Drahgoni. Mounting him once more, his muscular body weighing down the malnourished Drahgoni. The once charming smile, had transformed into a maniacal growl, followed with a devastating bite to the jugular. His bite was strong, and he did not let go. To seal the inevitable fate of the Drahgoni, Dantel took one last opportunity to sink his six-inch, sharpened claws into his lower ribs, piercing his lungs, and accelerating the loss of oxygen. Within a minute, the Drahgoni ceased to exist. The once cunning thief, with the power of this enchanting stone in his hand had been demoted to a frustrated, impotent thief. He witnessed the destruction of his partner, and with this realization, his confidence crashed. Along with it, his judgment, and one untimely move left his body open for a well timed thrust of Archelo’s steel blade. The blade pierced the thief’s abdomen, and Archelo did not pull away. He twisted the blade clock-wise to aggravate the already open wound, causing more damage. The thief cries out in anguish, his hands gripping the blade, desperately trying to remove it, but it is too late. His eyes meets with Archelo’s piercing, yet disappointed lavender eyes.
“Why choose this life, eh? Now you must start all over again. May the Devinine guide you in your next journey.”, Archelo said.
And with that last statement, the thief let out his last gasp of air. His desperate grip softened, his index fingers bloodied, and hanging off the mid point of Archelo’s blade. His knees buckled, and he fell to the ground, the sword naturally sliding out as he collapsed. Archelo dropped his head slightly, looking towards his blade which had been tainted with the blood of a petty thief. A thief, who could have been redeemed, had he been giving a more advantageous life. Archelo’s adrenaline had worn off, and he took a moment to inspect his forearm. The cut was not deep; it would heal over a few days with good care. He then turned his attention to Dantel, who’s adrenaline had not leveled off so quickly. Dantel was still mounted over the Drahgoni, long after his death, his mouth latched on to the jugular of the lizard. His breathing was heavy, and his claws were buried in his ribs.
Archelo set his eyes upon Dantel.
“Dantel… it is over now. Peace--, let the peace be with you.”
Archelo walked over to Dantel, but kept his distance for a moment. He knew Dantel would not hurt him, but it never hurts one to be cautious. When Llynesians are pushed to fight, they respond savagely and anyone is fair game. Archelo repeated the phrase, kneeled ever so slightly, and snapped his fingers once. Dantel quickly shifted his predatory eyes upwards to meet Archelo’s, his breathing pronounced.
“Dantel… he has expired. Allow him rest; let the Devinine take care of him.”
Archelo kept his gaze firmly on Dantel. He did not waver; his lavender eyes remained steady. Soon, the breathing slowed. The predatory eyes blinked a few times signifying the return of humanity. With each blink, his bite loosened until finally, the Drahgoni had been released. Dantel stood to his feet slowly, eyes slowly looking over his bloodied claws. His gaze returned to Archelo, who was now standing two feet from him.
“What foolish men.”, Dantel said.
He ran his tongue across each claw, removing the last bits of blood from them. He slowly walked to the area where he had thrown the bag. Archelo did the same, and Dantel met him on his side of the road.
“Indeed Dantel, they are foolish, but I trust their foolishness will not get the best of them in their next life.”.
“If it were up to me, I would not award them a new life.”, Dantel said as he finished cleaning the last bit of blood on his claw, using his arm to wipe the remaining blood off his face. “If it were up to me I would--”
“But it is not up to you. It is up to the Devinine… correct?”
Dantel, still recovering from the adrenaline surge, gave him a look of disillusionment and retracted his claws. He looked into the distance. If they were to continue on, they would be met with many more monsters during the night. It would be best for them to retire and resume their travels at the first sign of dawn. Archelo, with that very thought in mind, took note of Dantel’s quiet observation. He placed a hand on his shoulder.
“Yes, I know Dantel. We rest tonight. Tomorrow, we will continue on.”