Hey, look, I finished something!! I've been planning on writing for a while now, but never had the time or motivation. This contest finally gave me something to write for, and by chance, I had the day off of homework, so I got this all finished up. So, without further ado, here's my entry to KanohiJournal Publications' Lesovikk's Hiatus Contest, coming in at about 2,397 words (long short story, eh?):
The last cries and crashes of blades had gone from what was a battlefield only minutes before. Now, only a chilling silence was left for the one survivor looking up to see what was left. The silence is broken by one long, heart wrenching cry full of absolute misery, despair, and a little denial. Then, that too is choked off, and silence returns as the survivor plunges into the mud amidst his brothers and sisters, and appears to be just as dead.
Lesovikk never saw the Zyglak coming, but by the time they had come upon his team, he still could have helped, but torn between saving his team and getting rid of the monsters, he hesitated a second too long, and neither was satisfied.
The Toa of Air picked himself up off the ground clumsily, and brushed mud clumps away from his Faxon. Not that it did him much good in the fight; he almost wanted to take it off and fling it over the horizon, maybe to his home island, as a testament to his friends what had become of his team, maybe to the mysterious place where their spirits would now go, as a final goodbye.
Unfortunately, that was the last thing he should do. There were still lingering Zyglak, remnants of those that took his team, and left him as the only guardian of their memories. Only he could carry their legacy back to his homeland.
He began the old Toa ritual of removing their tools, fixing armor as much as possible with his limited abilities, and resting their bodies eternally on a large, flat stone in the middle of the battlefield, littered with armor fragments and scorch marks from various elemental powers. He would keep their weapons to show his village, to keep their memory alive. He nearly began crying again as he picked up Nikila’s trident, the tool of his second-in-command. She had always been so full of life, confident that nothing could vanquish a Toa, and yet here she lay, victim of the Zyglak, proof that she was wrong. He did the same to each Toa: Iron, Fire, Sonics, Stone, Gravity, and Water, unable to believe he would never see them again. He picked up the last tool: a curving, beautiful Fanged Water Sword belonging to Lihara that she had been so good with in the battle. Before emotions could overcome him again, however, Lesovikk bolted off down the battlefield, tears streaming down his face.
Malinek was woken by a sound of shuffling in the gravel outside of his cave. This cliff-side road on Stelt was rarely used, which meant little business for thieves like him and his companion. The Steltan woke the snoring bruiser beside him, a titan named Gernas.
"We're in business," was all Gernas needed to hear. With a rumble that shook stones from the ceiling, the huge being rose, flexing his claws. "Shh!" cried his partner. "Not so loud! They'll hear you!" Gernas clamped his hand over his face, nodding wildly. Why do I even need you?, thought Malinek as he rolled his eyes. The two thieves finally got outside of the cavern, lumbering over to their usual lookout point, a huge boulder near the mouth of the cave.
Malinek could tell Gernas was just as surprised as he was when a lime green Toa of Air stumbled around the corner, looking down at the cliff off to his right. The biggest surprise was that he was carrying not one, but eight Toa Tools of varying designs and makes. Usually, the near-powerless two would never dare to attack a Toa, but this was obviously too good of an opportunity to pass up. With just a nod to confirm their agreement, the thieves hurdled over the boulder, surprising the Toa enough to make him drop his tools everywhere. When he realized what the two wanted, the Le-Toa grasped the nearest weapon, a Fanged Water Sword. It was painfully obvious that wasn't his usual tool, so his defense would be weak. The two closed in for the kill.
Suddenly, there was an enormous cracking sound. Gernas had stepped on a staff-like tool, and the Toa was notably dismayed. Malinek simultaneously scowled at the bruiser's stupidity and laughed at the realization that the staff was the Toa's native tool. He would have to fight with an unfamiliar one for the impending fight. Still, he had to snap "You imbecile! These tools are our profits!" As if Gernas finally realized what he had done, he suddenly apologized profusely before Malinek cut him off with a gesture. "And it's a very nice profit too." Malinek grinned at the stunned Toa.
The battle that followed was as brutal as it was brief. The Toa was clearly losing against the stronger two, using a shorter and sharper tool than he was used to. He had resorted to using mostly blasts of air, which the thieves simply shook off and continued to fight through. Malinek could see a dozen "unorthodox" ways the Toa could have won the fight, even with all of his disadvantages, but only half-heartedly defended them, knowing the Toa would never stoop so low. Besides, his quick strikes were keeping the Toa on the defensive, struggling to parry with the unfamiliar tool, usually failing and getting a gash along his armor as a result.
Malinek suddenly found himself on the ground after a gust of air and a foot in his path. His blade had been knocked behind him, and in his surprise, Gernas had also been thrown off balance. He was shocked that the Toa had used that maneuver, while also admittedly a bit proud that there was some hope for these "honorable warriors." If he hadn't been battling to the death for the Toa's possessions, he would have considered adding a new partner to his band.
Then, he noticed the murderous glare in the Toa's eyes, and his blood ran cold. He could only watch numbly as that sharp blade was lifted above his head, and could only think of how many people would be glad to know he's gone.
Another thought managed to push its way through his fear and bring a smirk to his face. "Go ahead Toa, if you can. You and I both know you won't do it, with your precious Toa Code."
The lime Toa pondered this for a moment, and then the scowl returned to his face. "I'm no Toa, not anymore," he said, his steely voice wavering to more of a resigned tone by the end. His reply was as terrifying as it was unexpected. The Steltan also became resigned after a moment of shock, and turned his head from the mad Toa.
"Fine then, warrior, just get it over with. I can't imagine anyone who would miss me, besides Gernas here. Then again, he'd probably be too stupid to realize I'm gone."
There was a clang of metal and sparks rained down on Malinek, and through the burning, he realized he was still alive, staring up at the panting Toa with a blade an inch from his neck. "Go," he growled.
A grin spread across Malinek's face. "Big mistake, Toa. I knew you didn't have it in you." Gernas took that moment to charge, releasing all his rage from his partner's comment into the Toa. By the time the Toa realized what was happening, he was tumbling down the cliff. All the tools but the Water Blade were theirs for the taking.
"Come on Gernas," said Malinek. "We're in business."
Lesovikk had fallen a long way, and had some time to think. He had spared the thieves' lives, and in return, he was about to lose his. He swore to himself that he would never make that mistake again, just as he saw the ground approaching rapidly beneath him. There was only enough time to summon a quick air cushion, but at the rate he was falling, it didn't help much. He still hit hard into a softer area of sand at the bottom of the cliff face, and as all went dark, his last thought was: "If I can't be good enough to keep my team alive, I'm not good enough to preserve their memories."
He awoke much later to a low growl coming from behind his feet. He attempted to raise his head, but only caught a flash of tan in a large black opening before he fell back, panting hard from the pain. A much louder roar sounded, and Lesovikk realized he was in trouble. He knew that sound, and knew to fear it as much as any being did. It was a Rock Lion that was now coming out into the sunlight, its armor and silvery mane glistening, teeth and claws flashing as it circled around the downed Toa. As it did, he got a good look at it. He caught glimpses of huge scars running down its flanks, much of the organics in its legs torn to shreds. One paw barely touched the ground as the Rahi limped around. He could see pain in its glowing eyes, and even more worrying, madness. He didn't know if it had tumbled down the cliff side as he had, or if its injuries were the battle scars of a particularly vicious fight with a creature he didn't want to meet. To Lesovikk, either way, it seemed the lion was on its last legs, and almost wanted to just end the constant pain. And he would be happy to oblige it, if it meant getting out of here alive.
Lesovikk began to slowly raise himself up, gasping as his sore muscles stretched and compressed. The Rock Lion growled again, so he stopped for a while, and then resumed when he judged it safe. Eventually, after repeating this tactic several times, he found himself on his feet, limping slightly as he walked backwards to where he thought his sword was. He walked slowly, stumbling the whole way, always keeping eye contact with the approaching Rahi. Finally, his foot stumbled up against something hard and metallic, buried up to the hilt in the soft sand. He quickly turned, unleashing a concentrated blast of air to blow away the sand from the sword, grabbing the hilt, and spinning around, all in a fraction of a second, but still found the Lion in midair, halfway to him, claws reaching for his throat. Lesovikk only had a chance to turn out of the way, the Rahi skidding over his feet just as he dodged, the sword catching on its armor, making it growl in pain as it began rotating through the air.
The lion landed facing Lesovikk, unleashing a huge roar as its mane ignited. The searing heat could be felt all the way from where Lesovikk was standing, and his armor began going soft. It was still growling fiercely, loud enough to be heard over the crackling fire of its mane.
Okay, the Toa thought, if that's how you want to play it, let's go.
The next few days were a blur of parrying, slicing, and running as he battled that lion. Lesovikk had gained some skill with the new blade as he fought the thieves, and he really needed it now. If the claws and teeth of the Rock Lion weren't enough, the blazing mane and sheer ferocity of the attack kept Lesovikk at bay, attempting to land just a single shot somewhere. What armor was still left from the attack was melting together, stiffening as he parried and dodged. Some of Lihara's power must have remained in her blade, because Lesovikk never saw it melting, no matter how close the Rahi got to him. In fact, it felt cool to the touch, and the lion would shy away from it whenever he could get a chance to use it.
Even so, Lesovikk began to get tired. It had been three long days without food or drink, and he was constantly fighting for his life. The adrenaline rush had long faded out, and he was now stumbling again, the pain from his drop and the fight finally catching up to him to take its toll. The lion also seemed a little more sluggish - otherwise he would have certainly lost by now - but its vigor was much greater than his own, even now. Lesovikk knew he was going to lose; it was only a matter of time.
Finally, that time came. The Rock Lion feinted to the left, and then pounced on his right. Lesovikk's lethargic movements weren't enough to stop the lightning-quick maneuver, and he caught the brunt of the lion head-on. He found himself in much the same position that thief had been in three days ago: on the ground, sharp teeth poised at his neck, and no hope. He didn't even have a massive Steltan to cover for him. He went into the same resigned position the thief had, and dropped his blade by his side, the one reminder left of his team, and prepared to join them, wherever they were.
"I give up. Take my life, if you would, Rahi. It would be a mercy at this point. I have been through so much, just to fall at your claws. Just get it over with." He closed his eyes, dropping his head to the ground, hearing a dull thud nearby as he did.
He waited for a few seconds, not sure what had happened, then chanced a quick look up. The Rock Lion had collapsed from its injuries and fatigue, so Lesovikk got up, picked up his sword, and walked off towards the double sunset, knowing if he stopped to rest as well, the lion would be on top of him by day's end. The Rahi had won, and he had learned a valuable lesson to remember forever.
"First of all," he muttered to himself, staggering through the sand. "Don't underestimate a wounded foe. Second, I am my Team's chronicler; I will carry their memories on." He glanced down at his Fanged Water Blade, previous tool of one of his teammates, although he had gotten much better at it in the last three days. He twirled the blade, smiling as it reflected the fading sunlight around. "It doesn't take some rusty old swords, or dusty old tablets, just a good storyteller, and some memories.
By the way, quick thank you's to KanohiJournal for hosting this contest, and also to Cederak, whose epic Cenotaphs gave me the idea for the "ancient Toa ritual" at the beginning. You guys should definitely give it a read.
Edited by Click, Jan 31 2013 - 11:44 PM.