ArchKnight AQ / OOC / L&L
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CHAPTER XV: "To soar to great heights"
The sun was about to rise, Azer gritted his teeth and pulled himself up at a rock. His master had woken him up rather roughly for breaking the curfew, after which he had summoned some Thunderheads to chase Azer out of the cave with small bolts of lightning.
Azer had no clue as to when that had been, but judging from the feeling in his sore arms it had been quite a while. He carefully tested if the rock could hold his weight and made the next step. His master had made him climb trees before to spy, or as the mage himself preferred to call it, examine Sneevil and Forest Fury societies. This time would be no different, there probably was some sort of monster up there. Then again, perhaps the mage just wanted to punish him and await his disappointment when there was nothing of interest in the surroundings at all. His hand gripped a rock, which came tumbling down after he put too much pressure on it.
He swung his body to the left, to evade the rocks and dirt that came crumbling down while making the mistake of looking down. Despite what he had thought, the rocks falling down troubled him more than the height. Heavily breathing, he now looked over the evergreen forests, spotting the local bandit camp on the horizon as his hands held tight to cracks in the rocky wall at his back. Since he could not see where he could safely put his hands and feet, he had to rely solely on his touch. With an enchanting view of beauty, it was even more difficult, and terrifying, to focus on the task at hand. Slowly he let loose with his left hand, carefully letting his fingers slide over the sturdy stone. He could feel the cracks, the foliage that grew on or through the stone, the compression that had shaped this mountain, he thought he even could sense a faint sensation while going over a smooth surface. Was it a rock, an ore or a crystal perhaps? He let those thoughts slide and saw some thunderheads, giving off a golden glow by the rising sun, float by, paying the lone climber little interest as they went about their way. Step by step he moved along the mountain's side, slowly gaining height while getting a clear image of the world around him, no the image the mountain perceived of the world while standing still. All while he felt the odd sensation on several other times and saw vulture-like creatures circling him from the corner of his eyes.
By the time Azer had reached a plateau, the sun had crept along the heavens to shine with all of its splendour on the stone, heating it up.
"Rather slow, are we?" The dravir mage said as he watched his apprentice climb onto the plateau from a sneevil-sized rock he was using to sit on.
"You should know it's all about first impressions." The dravir mage continued as he turned around to a figure looking out over the world.
The figure was tall and skinny, where grey-greenish feathers did not cover you could see a tanned skin that barely covered any flesh. Still the tail and the manner with which the figure held its hybrid wing-arms had something regal to it. On closer inspection Azer could even discern a purple breastplate with pink pauldrons and ferocious golden talons that adorned its feet.
"I take it you are well-rested?" The figure asked him without turning around.
"I begin training at dawn and end my training at dusk, recruit." He interrupted Azer, before turning around and looking him in the face.
Azer instantly recognized him for a Theemis, birdlike creatures that made excellent warriors due to their agility and speed.
"Do you want me to make an exception for you, hm?" He asked and spit over the ledge.
"No, but I'd rather not fall down the mountain before I begin." Azer replied calmly.
With that comment, the Theemis turned around again.
"He holds promise." The dravir mage now spoke.
The Theemis allowed himself to be interested again and went with his armwing-feathers through his short feather-goatee.
"Does he now?" He paused for a moment.
"I'll tell you what, should he succeed in defeating my other recruits I'll let him join."
He turned and let out a bone-chilling screech. It wasn't before long till the screech was responded to by half a dozen soaring Theemises who landed in a straight line on the platform, though none of them were as big as the Soaring Theemis who gave out orders.
"Present yourself!" He barked at his recruits, at which six stepped forward.
"Feather, reporting!" The first along the line shouted, while straightening up. From the looks of it, she was either inexperienced or insecure.
"Windglider, for duty!" The second in line swiftly saluted, before getting back into position.
"Falconpunch, landed!" He seemed off and unlike the others he wore a helmet. A red one with a visor at that.
"Eagle Eye, present as seen!" She nodded, then pressed back up her glasses from falling off her beak.
"Neverfell, eager as ever!" Azer was not sure, but he thought he recognized his backpack from a gnomish advertisement, claiming to hold a blanket inside that could prevent you from falling to death from great heights. Even gnomes considered it to be a hoax.
"Terrible Talon, sir!" This one seemed eager to tear apart enemies with the sharp, gleaming metal talons, which seemed bigger than the metal talons Azer had seen with the others.
"Recruits, today we get to have some realistic training. Everything is allowed, save for killing, now surround!" He shouted.
The six surrounded Azer, ready to strike at him.
"Wait!" The dravir mage interrupted. He rummaged through a leather bag for a bit before taking out a set of daggers, which he then threw at Azer. At first glance these daggers didn't seem anything out of the ordinary, but Azer sensed a powerful earth enchantment about the blades. From the stories the dravir mage had told him, these would be the trademark weapons of the dravir warriors.
"Okay, begin!" Soaring yelled at his recruits.
Azer assumed battle formation, holding the back of the blades against his wrists while his right arm acted as the guard for his front and his left arm for the guard of his back. Then, as he slightly bent his legs to finish up his defence, Falconpunch leapt forward seeking to hit him with a frontal attack just as Terrible Talon scratched his metal talons and ran to him from behind. Bolstered with confidence by her attacking comrades, Feather now too chose to test her luck and performed a sort of dance in mid-air. Windglider, Neverfell and Eagle Eye took to the air, though not as spectacularly as Feather, to monitor their target's movements and search for weak spots in its defence.
Azer blocked the overly obvious attack of Falconpunch, though the enormous power still made him move a few inches, giving him barely the time to parry Terrible Talon's flesh rending talons. Then Feather came sailing over and ripped at Azer's arms, who could not dodge them as his daggers were interlocked with the talons. From the corner of his eyes he saw the danger of the three that now came falling down in an attempt to take maximum advantage of their target's position. Falconpunch readied another attack, which would hit him in the back with a chance of breaking his spine. He grunted at the thought everything was allowed during this fight and then it hit him .... twice. Feather had launched another attack and her dance tore through his flesh again. He let go of the daggers that were interlocked with the talons and rolled away, unable to end their attack on time Neverfell flew straight into Falconpunch's charge which sent him over the edge, while Windglider crashed into Terrible Talon. The only one who had been able to see what was happening in time had been Eagle Eye, who now continued to spy her target's every movement.
Azer's arms were torn open and blood was flowing freely. Three of his challengers had been defeated and three more had to be dealt with. Only now he had no weapons left to defend against their natural and metal talons. He knew he had to get his weapons back, but when he tried to run for the heap that consisted of the two knocked out bodies, he was cut off again and again by Feather's movements. He decided it was of no use to try it like this and waited; this time Feather struck him from behind and tore his back open. Her talons were now soaked, dripping with his blood. Her confidence had grown considerably from the moment he had first seen her up close. Running seemed to do little good either, so he made a run for it. Eagle Eye spotted his movement and dove at him. Just as she was about to knock him down he flung an Earth sphere at her which made her come down like a brick. Nearly there and Feather tailing him, he ran as fast as he could to liberate his daggers. He was almost there when suddenly Falconpunch flew over his knocked out comrades, coming at him with his fists ready to taste Azer's blood, which was exactly what they would get. He slid underneath Falconpunch whose fists found his blood on Feather's talons, effectively breaking them while the talons tore his fists open. They both cried in pain and briefly they were enraged enough to carve into solid stone, then they both collapsed in pain.
"So, Soaring. Did I promise too much?" The dravir mage said as he freed his daggers from Terrible Talon's talons.
"You most certainly did not." Soaring said as he looked across the battlefield where all but one of his recruits lay defeated.
Azer fell to his knees, he felt like a blood bag running dry. He held his hands over his crossed arms and muttered some words before bathing in a green light. He weakly stumbled to Feather and as his hands were over her broken feet muttered the exact same words again, this was repeated with Falconpunch as well. After that he sat down and closed his eyes; his magic might heal wounds but replenish blood it could not. It was as if the universe felt he had to face a lot of ordeals lately that demanded blood.
Azer felt a wing on his shoulder.
That was the day Soaring took Azer under his wing.
< Message edited by Dwelling Dragonlord -- 8/25/2019 17:15:06 >