Trial by Fire

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Iron Meets Steel

“Is this the House?” Poppy said as she stood on the neatly made stone path.

“Yea, that’s where they were a month ago.” Xilo stated.

Xilo bent down and touched the stone. Near the pair, it lit up all types of colors.

“Whoa! Now that is pretty cool don’t you think? Poppy? Hey, Pop-”

Xilo poised herself. She hadn’t looked up yet, but could already sense the presence of Erodesean steel just inches from her head. In one quick motion she thrusted her palm upwards, sending a spear shaft flying. Poppy who was still standing leaped backwards and gave Xilo distance.

Xilo got up slowly to see she was surrounded by three Erodeseans. One large, another small, and one even smaller. She recognized the two they were looking for, Onyx and Nike. Xilo extended her arms outward palms up.

“Friends, we come in peace. My companion and I noticed your House and it’s quite impressive. May we put down the arms and start with pleasantries instead?”

Poppy and Xilo had not drawn any weapons, but a shake of the head by Nike in Onyx’s direction suggested they still weren’t welcome. After an uncomfortable silence, Xilo spoke once again.

“So… What’s the deal? Can we talk like civilized people?”

Nike yelled “Shut up!”, which visibly upset Poppy. Xilo kept a smile on her face.

“We don’t mean any harm. I promise.”

Nike spit on the floor and said “Your energy says otherwise. You’re killers. We’ll fight, and we’ll scream loud enough for the enforcers to come. You won’t get out of here unscathed.”

Poppy took a slight step forward but Xilo raised a hand for her to stop.

“Okay. I see there is no lying to a two-spirit. So here’s how we will do this. The enforcers won’t come ″ Xilo held out a necklace with the insignia of several Erodeseans putting out the fire of a tree, “because, we are the enforcers.”

Tootsie’s eyes went white with fear, but he held his ground careful not to repeat his past.

“Send your best warrior forward, if I kill them after I beat them, then I am a liar. If I don’t, then you’ll have a sit-down and we’ll all get acquainted.”

Nike quickly spoke to Onyx and Tootsie, red fire in xyr eyes. They talked while covering their mouths and looking warily in the intruder’s direction. Poppy sat down on the floor, clearly amused by the whole event. Xilo stood with her hands on her hips waiting for about thirty seconds as the trio deliberated. Then, Onyx walked forward nervously.

“And if you lose, you will leave here. We don’t want to kill you.”

Xilo’s eyes went purple.She didn’t know whether she should be insulted or laugh.

“You want to do this here?” She said.

With his heavy shoulders and deep lazy voice, Onyx pointed to a dirt circle to the right of the House.

“There, the sparring circle.”

Xilo nodded her head and headed over first. Poppy rolled her green eyes and jogged over to the small arena, erecting a small seat for herself.

As the trio made their way over, Xilo noticed something peculiar about Onyx’s knuckles. As he shuffled his way to the arena, she saw his enormous knuckles were coated in metal. She bite her lip in anticipation. Maybe this will be better than I first thought? She thought to herself.

As Onyx made his way into the arena, Nike shouted at Xilo.

“Having second thoughts ‘Enforcer?’”

Xilo only smiled as she assumed a wide stance and channeled her energy into her base. Her green eyes swooshed as she motioned the giant to come forward.

Onyx clinked his knuckles together then like maddened cyclops, slammed the ground with incredible force. Shockwaves shot in every direction. Poppy was launched off her seat as she fell back. Nike and Tootsie braced themselves as they undulated with the quake. Xilo deftly rode the wave of energy and the smile never leaving her face.

With two steps she’d closed the distance between her and Onyx. She was fast, incredibly fast. She landed a right hand to Onyx’s jaw, which was enough to push his head thirty degrees in the other direction. Stunned, Onyx shook his head and flailed his arms trying to hit something, anything around him. Unbeknownst to him, Nike was right in his crosshairs. Xe would have been crushed by the gargantuan arm had Poppy not got in the way and stop the force of the blow right in its tracks. Bark splintered and flew in every direction, some Poppy’s, most of it Onyx’s.

Despite this, Onyx kept going, his eyes now turning from red to crimson, then almost black. Nike shouted for Onyx to stop as xe saw the dark energy rising from his body turning the patches of grass into ash. He could not hear her.

Xilo nodded to Poppy and together they rushed the frenzied behemoth. So great was her raw strength that despite the dark energy whittling her bark, Poppy picked the flailing body of Onyx up digging her fingers deep into his side and carrying him over her head while on one knee. Her orange eyes meant that she was indeed in danger and Xilo moved like lightning. She created three levels of rock out of the sand, each higher than the other. She vaulted off the last rock formation and slammed down with a powerful knee into the torso of Onyx.

Immediately, the dark energy disappeared and beneath the mess was the mangled mess of Onyx. His torso had been shredded, bark littered the sparring grounds and sap slowly oozed out of his wounds. Poppy was better off, but still injured as she staggered while getting up, sap leaking from the side of her head. Xilo’s knee was busted, sap rushed out of a large gap in her wound, but suddenly it stopped.

Xilo yelled at Nike “Two-Spirit! He is dying! Go to him, heal him, I cannot move.”

Nike rushed over to Onyx’s side. There was sap everywhere. Onyx’s eyes went from bright to dim as he battled both pain and shock. Xe panicked. Nike didn’t know what to do, there was too much damage and she didn’t have enough energy to close his wounds. Then xe thought about how Xilo stopped her own bleeding, how she stopped the sap from flowing out of her body. Xe attempted to slow Onyx’s sap loss.

At first, nothing happened, then she concentrated harder. The strain on xyr body was evident, but slowly, the flow started to slow. Nike was so concerned with healing, xe hadn’t noticed that Tootsie was right behind xyr, funneling his own energy into xyr. The effort was draining Tootsie fast, until two others joined in. Now with Poppy and Xilo, Nike had a steady stream of energy funneling into xyrself. Everything now relied on xyr.

Right as xe was reaching xyr limit, xe felt a surge of energy. Nike’s glowing energy went from orange, to green, to white, to purple, then to blue as xe fought against fatigue and flux. Not only had the sap stopped flowing outwards, it was rushing back into Onyx. His eyes flitted back to life as he quickly realized what had happened, then suddenly they went dark.

Nike patched the holes in his skin and looked at his eyes in fright.

“No!” she screamed.

Onyx was but a husk. The life having completely left his body. It seemed all hope was lost, until Poppy yelled at Nike as the three still funneled energy into xyr.

“Set the flow straight! Set it straight!”

Nike went back to work. With the wounds closed, he wouldn’t lose anymore fluid. Xe stopped the flow once again, then slowly increased it in the opposite direction. Once again, his eyes flickered back to life. They stayed dim even once Nike was finished.

Clearly exhausted, xe had done it. Xe brought the dead back to life. Xilo and Poppy, having closed their own wounds, looked at Nike and Onyx. Xe was still on xyr knees, now hugging him. Tootsie ran over and scanned the pair to make sure they were okay. With Xilo and Poppy several feet behind the three, they looked at each other, Poppy’s eyes pink and Xilo’s a deep blue.

“I know what you are going to say. I almost fucked everything up.” Xilo said, her pink eyes almost full of sappy tears.

Poppy clasped her companion in the small of her back as she whispered in her ear.

“Stay strong, love. We have a mission to complete.”

A regular sparring session that got out of hand and turned into life or death was not a common occurrence in Glyph. As a result, hundreds of onlookers gathered around wondering aloud how one could bring another from death to life. They were quickly dispersed by a company of guardsmen who rushed towards the remnants of the small sparring grounds. One of the lieutenants sprinted forward begging the ear of Poppy and Xilo.

“Noble women, is everything alright here?”

Xilo answered the jittery lieutenant “Yes, but we will need five of your best healers for three days. Two builders to repair this courtyard. Continue the patrols.”

The lieutenant, with fiery red eyes yelled “Yes your highness!” and ran back barking orders to his guards. With the crowd dispersed and the healers now rushing to aid the injured Poppy leaned down by Nike and Onyx, the latter of whom was finally fully conscious.

“You two are the real thing. I can see why we’re here. Meet us in the House when the healers are finished with you, we all have some explaining to do.”

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