What's this? Two updates within one day? Within a few hours even? I know, I'm shocked too.
The main reason is that I was working on this when I posted the previous update. Plus I'm taking part in a fiction battle for the MLC, so I needed an example of the guy I've chosen in combat. He's not actually here, but he fights in a manner similar to the guys who are here.
Abywhoo, on with the story.
We begin our tale during the height of the Gnome’s power, seven years before the arrival of humans to the continent. Theodora is an apprentice mage of a mere 57 years. She has always studied diligently and aces all of her tests. She is dating a young mechanic and is looking forward to a long life of discovery and fulfilment. Not once did she ever think that she would be thrown into the midst of adventure, but such is the whimsical nature of Fate.
On the particular day in question, Theodora was heading home after an evening in the library. She was happily whistling the latest pop track by her favourite Gnome band, Mega-life. Her route home required several twists and turns through the back-tunnels of Dalenottin, her home city. Within one of these tunnels a pair of eyes was watching her. Her bright pink hair, made into pigtails, stood out easily in the low torchlight. The silent follower waited for her to pass before making its’ move. It leapt out silently and threw a small dagger with preternatural precision. The dagger stuck in Theodora’s long robe, pinning it to the ground and causing her to trip forward. Before she had even hit the ground the attacker had closed in and lunged with a right hook.
The fist bounced off of an invisible barrier, the sudden change of direction throwing the assailant off-balance. Theodora struck out with her foot and kicked her erstwhile attacker while he was down.
“OW! I give, I give. You got me.” The attacker yelped in a high-pitched voice.
“Hah, I thought you would’ve learned by now. Never try and catch a mage when her guard’s down.”
“You’re not a mage yet.”
“You’re no assassin either. And I will be a mage by this time next week,” Theodora reached down and picked up the young female Gnome lying before her.
“Do you really think you’ve studied enough? I mean, you’ve only put in seven hours today.”
“Oh har har, very witty, maybe you should’ve been a bard. Oh wait, that would’ve required an actual charisma score.”
“Look at me, I’m splitting my sides here.” Theodora’s younger sister proclaimed. Like Theodora she had pink hair and purple eyes, a combination commonly thought of as unattractive. Her hair was covered by a black hood and her eyes by night-vision goggles.
“So how did your day go? Did that guy make a move on you yet?” Theodora asked as she pulled the dagger from her robe and returned it.
“Feh, I wish! He was to busy drooling over Scarlet to even notice me.”
“Elementalists get all the cute guys.” Theodora said with a sly grin.
“I know! What’s she got that I haven’t?”
“Nice hair. Money. Looks. Brains. A large circle of friends. The ability to alter reality as we know it with a few words and gestures.”
“It was a rhetorical question.” The young assassin said in an icy voice.
“A great figure.”
“You can stop now.”
“A cheerleading outfit.”
“Don’t worry Geri, you have plenty of good points yourself,” Theodora looked into Geri’s hopeful expression for an entire minute without saying anything, “Hey look, it’s Mardo!”
Theodora pointed behind her sister, who spun on her heel instantly at the sound of her beau’s name.
There was nobody there.
When she had turned back round, Theodora had already vanished around a corner.
Far away on the other side of the vast continent that dominated most of Terra Raiga, someone else was having a bad day. Indeed, it could be argued, with much supporting evidence, that his day was far worse.
His name was Irhi and he was the leader of a tribe of Goblinoids. His tribe wasn’t the largest, oldest or most successful in Goblinoid history, but it was still alive, which was enough of an achievement itself. Especially since his tribe was at that very moment fleeing an attack from some angry Bloodkind.
Irhi didn’t want his people to end up as either slaves or food for the Bloodkind, as was the traditional fate of any tribe attacked, but he really didn’t want to be either a slave or food himself. If he could get away then he would be happy. If any of his tribe managed to get away too, then that was just a bonus.
He crested the top of a hill and turned back to look over his remaining tribe. He almost fell to his knees in despair. There were only about twenty Goblinoids left alive, and he could see the Bloodkind at the bottom of the hill. They roared with glee as they cut down Goblinoid after Goblinoid. Hard to think that a mere six Bloodkind had dispatched over 300 Goblinoids by themselves, but they were almost invincible warriors. Irhi had originally ordered his Shamans and bow-armed warriors to fight, but most had chickened out. Those that had held their nerve found their attacks bouncing off the tough red skin of the Bloodkind. Three Shamans had gotten lucky and hit a Bloodkind in the shoulder at the same time, tearing the arm off completely. Unfortunately they never got a chance to fire any more shots as the Bloodkind had proceeded to rip one of the Shaman’s head off and use it to batter the other two to death.
That was when the rest of his soldiers had thrown down their weapons and ran.
Right now Irhi couldn’t think of anything but running. Just as he turned he slammed face-first into the chest of a stranger. Momentarily forgetting the threat behind him he gazed up into the face of the newcomer and was shocked to find that it was a Goblinoid. Well, it had the same skin tone as a Goblinoid, but it was easily twice the height and width. It looked down at Irhi, smiled and gently pushed him aside. It walked down the hill towards where the Bloodkind were catching the Goblinoids and stood stock still.
One of the Bloodkind noticed the newcomer and signalled the others. The one-armed Bloodkind was first to move, swinging his huge sword with a remarkable speed that no Goblinoid could have ever hoped to dodge. The newcomer caught it in one hand, then looked directly into his foe’s eyes and asked, in the Bloodkind’s own language, “Why do you fight?”
The Bloodkind didn’t waste any time answering and instead went for a head-butt. The newcomer dodged to the side and plunged his hand inside his foe’s wound. When he withdrew it he was clasping a bloodied spine. Throwing this away he let his defeated foe slump to the ground, stone dead, and turned to face the five remaining.
“Why do you fight?” He asked once again. Once again, his only response was violence. All five of the Bloodkind rushed him, their swords swinging and striking with perfect fluidity, their co-operation having been trained over the course of their entire lives, not one getting in the way of another. The newcomer dodged or deflected them all. The Bloodkind, for their part, didn’t falter for a second and kept pushing forwards.
One of the Bloodkind flanked the newcomer and attacked his blind spot. Somehow the newcomer knew this was coming and ducked underneath it, letting the attack strike another Bloodkind in the throat, breaking the skin and severing an artery. Blood sprayed all over the place, but the newcomer was already out of the way. He had leapt over the top of an opponent and landed behind him. With an unnatural speed the newcomer had spun the Bloodkind around on his feet and plunged two fingers into his eyeballs.
The Bloodkind screamed in pain and fell back, replaced instantly by two more. They kept up the attack, never faltering for even a moment, but the newcomer was too fast to hit. He spun, ducked and hopped around them, delivering small jabs to the front of their necks at every opportunity. All that achieved was a throbbing pain in his hand, so he abandoned this strategy for a more effective one. He plucked a short sword from the hand of a dead Goblinoid near him and stepped forwards.
He ducked and weaved between the swords of his three remaining foes and forced the short sword through the eye socket of the first Bloodkind he reached. The sword went in as far as it could before stopping when it came into contact with the inside of the skull. The newcomer withdrew the short sword and noted how the tip had been blunted by the impact.
He caught the sword of the next Bloodkind between his fingers and yanked, pulling the Bloodkind off-balance. He then jammed the short sword into an eye socket, killing him instantly.
The remaining Bloodkind looked around him to find all of his comrades were dead. Even the one who had been blinded had found itself set upon by angry Goblinoids who clawed at his wounds.
The newcomer once again spoke in the Bloodkind’s language, “Why do you fight?” he asked.
The Bloodkind snarled at him and replied, “Because that’s what we do.”
The newcomer tilted his head to the side as he pondered the answer. The Bloodkind saw his opportunity and charged, swinging his huge blade at head-height. The newcomer ducked effortlessly, only to find his neck impaled by the claw of his foe. A look of puzzlement crossed his face, then he slumped to the ground, dead.
The Bloodkind licked the fresh blood off of his hand and turned to face the remaining Goblinoids. What he saw shocked him more than anything else had in his life.
There, standing behind the Goblinoids, was a creature he had never seen before. What he saw reminded him of the Gnomish females, but this was much taller, although not as tall as he. She had hair of a shade of red he didn’t recognise and skin of purest white. She was naked, although neither the Bloodkind nor the Goblinoids found this anything to be excited over.
She looked over at the scene of carnage and made a tutting noise with her mouth.
“Only five? I expected more from that one. I’ll need more if I’m to have even the slightest chance of being ready in time.”
The Bloodkind smiled to himself. He didn’t recognise the language this strange creature spoke in, but he did recognise a rarity when he saw it. He would capture this new creature alive and present her as a gift for his Queen. For such a gift he was sure to gain favour, which would entitle him to go on greater hunts than mere Goblinoid raids.
He didn’t understand the next words she said, nor did he think much of the hand-gestures she made before her. When the remaining seven Goblinoids all grew and changed shape to match the opponent he had just gutted, he just smiled to himself. More to fight, he thought.
He changed his grip on his weapon, but didn’t get a chance to use it. Irhi had rushed forwards and stabbed the Bloodkind square in the eye. Irhi looked down at his new body, then at his tribe, then finally at the strange creature that had caused this. When he spoke it wasn’t in his own tongue, but in the language of the strange creature.
He was confused. Facts were in his mind were there one second and gone the next. His memories were draining from him even as he tried to recall them. By the time he got to saying his next sentence he had already lost his entire life, “Mistress, why do we fight?”
Irhi’s new mistress walked over to him and cupped a hand around his cheek, “Because I tell you to, that’s why.”
And then they vanished, leaving only bloodied corpses behind.