The Great Era: Beginnings

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Chapter 9

Days passed. The Tournament has come. Crowds of foresters arrived at the arena, with the exception of some sentries standing guard at the newly constructed gates. The combatants, ranging from giants holding massive weapons like the previous winner, Kloron, to youngsters like Avalel and Kavlina. In tradition, the Tournament was an event dedicated to new gadgets and fighting between the experienced and the newbies. Horns blared, banners of the Forest risen, and speeches were given - the Tournament begins!

Away from the ruckus and blaring sounds of the Tournament, the sentries are making final preparations for a possible invasion. With two lines of defenses made, trenches dug, walls built, energy barriers established, it seemed they are prepared. However, Faresoenn wasn’t so sure, as he patrolled the frontiers of the defenses.

“What’s this hole in the energy barrier?” Faresoenn asked as he patrolled the barriers designed to immobilize every machine that came barging in.

“A lure, sir,” the sentry replied, “when the opposition sees this hole, they will attempt to enter it, and that’s when we blast them with everything we’ve got!”

“Hm, not bad of an idea.” Even though Faresoenn seemed to be agreeing, inside he was debating with himself. Are you sure that we can blast them apart? What if the energy barrier doesn’t hold?

As he walked on, he passed by technicians discussing matters, and asked, “Sorry to interrupt, but how old exactly are our energy barriers?”

“About ten, twenty years, sir,” they answered. It was not good news.

Meanwhile, in the arena of the Tournament, the audience were cheering on, as the two combatants fought each other with great fervor, every attack enough to kill. On one side was the previous winner Kloron, wielding a double-sided axe and armored with blast-resistant plate armor. On the other side was a nimble and agile warrior called Lornadeln, holding his handmade automatic repeating crossbow with two gauntlet pistols recently developed by scientists in Achien. He is only armored with a thin layer of padding. This fight was like a fight between opposites. Kloron with his heavy melee fighting techniques against Lornadeln’s ranged attacks.

Lornadeln skillfully dodged Kloron’s blows and quickly retaliated with a rapid burst of arrows and energy blasts. However, they did limited damage and Kloron remained unfazed, swiping his axe to cut down his opponent.

Avalel remained at the side, carefully studying the two combatants’ techniques. Lornadeln’s dodging is tiring out Kloron, but he himself is also struggling to continue like that. His ammo of arrows seems to be running out, and none even seemed to be close in penetrating Kloron’s armor. Kavlina told me it was the armor that won him the title last time, and it feels like there would be no one stopping him.

Finally, Lornadeln was too exhausted to dodge any longer. Gripping the chance, Kloron rushed forward and pinned him to the ground, axe hovering just above Lornadeln’s neck.

“You surrender?” Kloron hissed.

“Yeah… but not yet,”Lornadeln calmly answered. As his sentence trailed off, a great many spikes suddenly protruded from his body, penetrating his padding. The padding was torn, shred to pieces, and it revealed the inner armor. It was spike armor. The spikes went from chest to shoulders to waist, offering a layer of protection. Shocked, Kloron quickly jumped back in an attempt to dodge the spikes, but one managed to scrape his upper left arm (one of the few unarmored places), and made even the burly giant wide with fear. The wound began turning black, and pitch black blood began trailing down his arm to the ground. It was poisoned.

“My new invention, retractable spike armor, nicknamed The Porcupine,” Lornadeln proudly announced, “A great many years have I waited for this moment. Years of development has made this armor to perfection! Extremely light, it doesn’t hinder my ability to move fast and I can deal blows to the opponent. Kloron is my first real-life test subject, and there will be many more. The poison doesn’t kill, but it does immobilize the limb. Now fall at the power of The Porcupine!” Once again hiding the spikes, Lornadeln charged at Kloron, who panicked, retreated, swinging his battle-axe. However, with his speed, Lornadeln quickly caught up and jumped up for a somersault. Shooting a few arrows at Kloron, who blocked them all with his axe, he then turned his back towards Kloron’s chest and fell towards him. The spikes re-emerged, now at their true length. Like a rain of sharpened needles, the spikes with Lornadeln plummeted into Kloron’s body, but not before Kloron blocked the blow with his axe. Or should I say, attempted to block.

Kloron screamed in agony. One of the spikes landed on his right shoulder. Before the slam, Kloron had prepared his axe to block. Little did he know the spikes were so sharp they penetrated the axe and filled it with many holes. Then, the crushing of the armor shattered the axe, and the spikes made gruesome stabs into Kloron’s body. Kloron was a strong fighter, but after suffering so many injuries and both arms immobilized, he now lay at Lornadeln’s mercy.

“How can you penetrate my battle-axe? No one has ever achieved that feat before.”

“It was simple. Your battle-axe was too brittle, and my spikes are designed to break brittle objects. It was as though my armor was designed to defeat you. Partly it was, but partly it was because I know the perfect balance between strength, flexibility, and durability for a sharp melee weapon.” With that, he turned to the astonished crowd, proclaiming, “I give Kloron the right to surrender!” This was the formality of every single victor when they have defeated their opponent, and Kloron reluctantly muttered, “I accept.” These few minutes have been pivotal in Tournament history. Never then was brute strength and might the key to victory. Technology has replaced traditional melee combat as the dominating factor of the Tournament.

Round after round, the combatants fought and out came a victor. Luckily, the combatants in the Tournament are quite merciful and no one has lost their life in these rounds, with only the most serious injury in several rib fractures of an unlucky contestant. Kavlina, fighting in the sixth round, had faced a weak opponent, and therefore, with her agility and surprising skill for a child, she outwitted and outmatched her opponent easily. Soon, the final round came. Avalel, confidently toying with the Anapadeia, skipped in, facing a fierce warrior named Fla’orn. Fla’orn was a warrior similar in the build of Kloron, but weaker in strength. However, his speed compensated for his weaknesses and was very formidable as a warrior. He wore a mix of heavy mail and plate armor, clearly anticipating the cutting and thrusting power of the Anapadeia. Although he carried a variety of weapons, none was too large to be clumsy. A mix of daggers, a small battle-axe, and some darts hung around his belt. Meanwhile, Avalel only had the Anapadeia, and he was only wearing a child’s tunic, which was designed to be delicate for comfort (although the fabric was quite flexible).

“Oh, yeah,” Avalel excitedly spoke, “What an honor to fight one of the best warriors I’ve ever known! I’m so excited!”

“We all know you have the Anapadeia, ’Lel, so let’s see what it can offer!” Rushing, Fla’orn sprinted towards Avalel, his battle-axe raised high. Avalel instinctively blocked with the Anapadeia, but to his surprise, the Anapadeia decided to act on its own. At the moment before the axe struck the sword, the Anapadeia forced Avalel’s arm away, allowing the axe to almost deal a blow to the shoulder. Fortunately, the same move forced Avalel’s entire body away from the blow, only grazing his left forearm a little. However, it was still a great deal of pain, and Avalel screamed.

“Is that all you can take? My axe blow was very obvious from the start. You sure need some help, kid. You need skill, and that’s the thing you’re lacking in. C’mon, get up, kid, stop crying. What a weakling,” Fla’orn taunted. Inside, however, Fla’orn was struggling with his thoughts. What did I just say? How could I be so cruel to this kid? I never wanted to say that. I was just trying to encourage him!

Avalel fought to hold his tears of pain, but there was also anger inside him, broiling. As Fla’orn stood by and watched Avalel get back on his feet, the enraged Avalel suddenly charged at him, and the Anapadeia shone a bright red, like the Elyfesta at twilight. Fully releasing its potential, the Anapadeia suddenly dissolved and seemingly disappeared, and then so did Avalel. They suddenly faded away into dust. Fla’orn frantically looked around, but Avalel had indeed disappeared. Cautiously, he listened for any noise and managed to catch the sound of a small breeze. Quickly turning around, he found nothing. However, he suddenly felt a shadow appear behind him, and to his shock, it was Avalel, the little dust reassembling back to his normal form, the Anapadeia raised high, preparing to strike, and it did. Thrusting the tip of the sword into Fla’orn’s chest, it was Fla’orn who screamed this time, as the sword penetrated his torso, and reappeared at his back, fresh crimson blood dripping slowly like a leaking tap.

The audience was horrified at this sight. “Warping,” one gasped, “a skill used by a previous wielder of the Anapadeia.”

Retrieving the sword from the dying Fla’orn, Avalel hissed, “Don’t call me a weakling. Understand?” It was particularly strange for a child to say such a thing, especially Avalel, who can control his emotions better than almost any other child of his age. Coughing out blood and covering the mortal wound in his chest with his bloodied hand, Fla’orn smiled, “Good job, kid. You have potential to be a powerful fighter in the future.” Then he coughed up another round of blood, splattering Avalel’s tunic, and collapsed, one hand still clutching the wound as blood trickled down his armor and formed a pool of red.

Realizing the horror that he did, Avalel also collapsed to the ground, sobbing, weeping for what he had done. The audience sat silent, shocked at this rapid turn of events. The sobs slowly dramaticized until Avalel cannot control his inner guilt, sadness, and anger anymore and screamed, thrusting the Anapadeia to the ground. A sudden shockwave spread from the Anapadeia, a fiery orange and red ring marking the rapidly expanding boundaries, wiping out the energy supply of the entire forester settlement, and even shutting down one of Achien’s energy shield towers. The arena ground cracked, and the gaps filled with the same fiery orange that represented Avalel’s anger. The cracks looked like magma, and soon, fiery bursts of liquid erupted from the cracks. Panicked, the audience attempted to flee the arena, and some were trampled in the process. There was now a fire in the arena, with a grieving Avalel in the center.

Just then, he heard a furious blast in the distance, followed by the loud noise of engines and the screeching of gunfire. Achien is entering the Tarevuen for the first time in centuries.

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