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  1. The Final History of the Skrall Part one: The Monarchy What follows may be the last record of our people that is untainted by the lies and herecies of the unfaithful. Our history begins when the first emperor, Renliss the Great, united the Skrall people and forged a massive empire that stretched from Bota Magna to the Skrall river. He organized the populance into five classes: the emperor and preist classes ruled, followed by the leader, elite, warrior, and non-Skrall. Then, he set up an alliance with King Nectanebo of the Rock kingdom. After him came Tasha the magnificent, Onua, Renliss II, Recusant the empress, Absalom the usurper, Zalo the restorer, Tasha II, Otak the heretic, and Renliss III. During the reign of the eleventh emperor,Nezco, the Great Beings arrived. They came bringing advancements unheard of, longer life, and wonders beyond imagination. But Asho the high priest saw through their deception, and revealed what they truly were, liers, deceivers, and spreaders of the herecies of Shazo the dark one. But none listened. The poison of the Great Beings spread rampant. Only king Anu of the Iron tribe openly opposed them, but a plague struck killing Anu and decemating the populance. After Nezco came Baen. After Baen came Zalo II. During his reign a leader class Skrall collaberated with the Great Beings and became the High Heretic, the Element Lord of Rock. The Great Beings wanted to foricbly unite the Skrall Empire and the Rock Kingdom under this Element Lord. Alarmed, Prince Renliss made an alliance with King Wanshu of the Rock Kingdom , and Lord Karzo of the Vorox Emirate to combat the Element Lords. Lord Karzo assembled an army of 40,000 of his finest soldiers to attack the Element Lord of Sand. Little did he know the Element Lord had assembled an army of 622,000 warriors. The battle was a massacre. Only Karzo and two dozen of his soldiers escaped into the desert. A day later he was murdered by one of his bodyguards. The Rock Kingdom was quickly overrun. But Atero ,the capitol, was beseiged for two weeks. At the end of the seige the Element Lords armies broke through the defenses, took the city, and set the palace ablaze. Wanshu and a thousand of his warriors held off the enemy long enough to escape, but they were defeated four days later at Gatherers Ridge. Then the Element Lords combined armies seized Roxtus our capitol and killed NezcoII. Only Prince Renliss and his army was left. They smashed the Element Lord of Waters army at Tankor Zatt and took the city. There he was crowned Emperor Renliss IV. After twelve days the enemy arrived. Their 847,000 against our 12,000. The Faithful were slain mercilessly, until only Renliss was left. He proclaimed that it was better to die than live under the rule of the Faithless. He grabbed a banner of the Skrall Empire and jumped off the battlements. His body was never recovered. The Unfaithful had won and the old ways were forgotten. Part 2: The Core War Two hundred and forty two years after the monarchy was abolished the ice tribe discovered energized protodermis. It had the power to create ........ or destroy. The Element Lords met to discuss the fate of the substance, but no agreement was made. The Element Lord of Ice prepared his troops to defend the spring where the substance was found. A coalition against him was formed but quickly fell apart. Soon, a six way civil war was raging on the planet. Early into the war, a group of rock glatorian scientists set upon weaponizing the Shazo Exploration Project. Their goal was to create a interdimensional weapon for instantaneous travel to the spring. From this project the Shadow Zone (A.K.A. The Field of Shadows.) was discovered. However, before the project was complete the city where it was being devoloped, Sargon Akkad, was set upon by enemy forces of the other five factions mostly consisting of Agori had agreed to unite against this threat. General Kulta, unaware that those in close proximity to the weapon suffered massive amounts of tissue decay, ordered the prototype device to be used to escape. However, there was an accident, Kulta, the city , and all in a five kilometer radius vanished without a trace. Only the gods know their fate. Horrified, the Great Beings brought the Element L ords to the peace table in a effort to reassert their dominance, but the talks failed. The war waged for twelve terrible years more. Stronius in command of an army of 72,000 warriors, 127 fliers, a division of Chatak armored tanks, and 43,000 rock steeds launched a massive campaign. They routed Tarixes water tribe army at Leins drift. Then, they ambushed a company of Vorox led by Kabrua, before assualting the ice tribes position at the spring. Sadly, he was repulsed. Weakened, the ice tribe fell prey to the fire tribe, who set off the Shattering. While the other tribes cast off their Element Lords the rock glatorian, already decimated from the accident at Sargon Akkad, remained fanatically loyal to the point of worshipping the Element Lord. He and his followers fled into the mountains. Our people made Tuma, who wanted to restore the old ways, our leader. Our armies set off in pursuit of the Element Lord. The fanatic rock glatorian began a vicious guerilla campaign against us. After many savage years of fighting we took their last stronghold and slew them all. However the Element Lord escaped, but we found him on the mountainside. He slew many of our warriors, but the great warrior Tanlo paid the ultimate price driving a lance into the Element Lords heart. The Core War was over. Part 3: Empires End Under Tumas leadership we thrived. But then the Baterra came. They destroyed nearly all of our cities, and then massacred our greatest soldiers at the battle of the silent forest. Our last city was beseiged from a certain perspective, most of our scouts and parties searching for supplies never returned. However one party was able to retrieve some firewood, and they brought it into the city. The Baterra were shapeshifters, and they were the firewood. The city was set ablaze, and Tuma led our remnant in retreat. Sadly this invasion killed nearly all of our females. The only ones left was the fanatical Order of the Sisters of the Skrall, and their teachings were to heretical to come south with us. Thus we left them in the safety of a hidden monastery. Tuma led us to take up residence in the abandoned city of Roxtus, and we observed the desert villages for three years and plotted our next move. The conquest of these villages was a key component of Tumas plan to defeat the Battera when they came south. While the agori villagers were watching the glatorian tournament at Atero we struck in a attempt to eliminate our foes in one fell swoop. We sacked Atero and then waited ,instilling fear in our enemies. We allied with the Bone Hunters under Fero and they raided (but failed) the city of Vulcanus. Three months after the fall of Atero we conquered Tajun. Then much to our dismay the villages united under the old Core War general Ackar. Then the alien warrior Mata Nui, who had aligned himself with the villages, challenged Tuma to one on one combat. Sadly Tuma was killed, and a force of glatorian warriors led by Ackar attacked. Our ice agori ally Metus attempted to rally our forces, but he soon fled the battle. Our remnant scattered. Roxtus had fallen. Our people were united no longer. One group was defeated by Mata Nui and some glatorian. When the giant ones arrived and clashed with each other, another group sought to take advantage of the chaos and exact revenge. Alas, they perished. The great general Stronius has kept nearly a hundred warriors united and they are currently in hiding. Some have revoked their honor and have joined forces with some of the aliens that arrived during the gient ones battle. Us, the remaining faithful, number nearly a dozen, and are led by Branar. We head north to Bota Magna. There we shall discover our destiny.
  2. This fanfiction is for VBBN, I'm sorry I didn't have it out in time, but I'm out of practice with writing and my life was a bit hectic as I finished my Internship and started a new job. ________________________________________________________________________________ ‘A united land under a Red Star, Gold and White, Bronze and Blue, The Hunted must finish their hunt, To the Hero’s lair on the Mountain of Monsters, Lest a Maker become a Destroyer, As the Poisoners became poisoned’ Danu looked over the text on the scroll handed to her by Aode. She thought about the agori’s advice about claiming her own fate, and not ending up like Yxaaz. Danu could remember his former lucidity only as a distant memory. Danu was the jewel of his eye, before it was filled with mad visions from the Great Beings. She rolled up the scroll and put it into it’s case, now was not the time to figure out a future bogged down in the past, but plan it. The young glatoran looked over the canopy of jungle; Danu stood over a ridge that defined the end of the local Sand tribe city’s territory and beginning of the Earth tribe’s realm. She figured that Poisoners probably meant the Vorox, or maybe whatever the source of the Dreaming Plague was. But Danu guessed that the recent spy reports of an unknown engineer amongst them suggested the builder that Yxaaz’s prophecy. She sighed as she thought of her summons to court the previous day to exam the prophecy after wrecking the training arena (again) an yet still she couldn’t believe that she had been summoned by order of the Elemental Lord, and she thought of the throne the warlord sat upon; black basalt placed on top a crop covered barrow in the depths of the royal vault of the Earth tribe. Danu’s mother had told her that the Great Being responsible for Yxaaz’s condition was buried beneath it, and Danu wasn’t sure she doubted it. Danu prepared herself, looking up the last star that now hung in the final shadows of the night sky. She had never known Spherus Magna, only Bota Magna. But she didn’t care about that, the prophecy said great danger would occur if the Hunted did not finish their hunt, whatever that meant; and the Vorox liked to have things to hunt. She took in a deep breath, the Elemental Lord had order that her tribe to only spy and gather information, not to directly interfere with the affairs of the other glatoran, skrall or vorox. But Danu had listened to Aode, who had told her of tales of heroism and honour before the war, especially those of Danu’s parents. She knew she would be in trouble at least, but she knew she had to fallow Yxaaz’s prophecy. It was then that the blast of lightning blasting in the forest, and Danu knew she had to go. She pulled out her twin kama and waved them at the least steep slope of the ridge. The glatoran focused her will through them like she had done so many times before; the slope burst forth a new ridge along it’s dorsal edge, wide enough for her to walk down and shallow enough for her to get down safely. She rushed over and started to run down it; all the times she had wrecked the arena had been worth it. At least they were until her third footstep, she felt the ridge collapse; Danu knew she hadn’t compacted it enough as it turned to dust under her feet, and later head, an she now started to tumble down hill. She really didn’t want the Element Lord to find her now, both for punishment for disobedience, and the shame of mucking up like that after all of her training. But Danu knew not of the wisdom far above her, hidden in the last star of night, one of sanguine light; The Red Star. ________________________________________________________________________________ In the depths of the Red Star two matoran ran from Krestora, and some of their victims. One was green with secondary brown colouration and a rose red mask, the other was a horrid mixture of lime green and bright saffron. “Fanua is going to panic when we don’t come back with Mavrah.” Complained the more horrid of the two matoran, his armour dented and scratched from lost aeons, and his mask a foul tusked thing with no equal. His companion stopped for a second to think. “That might be good thing Lerun,” Replied the red mask matoran “He might not worry about us.” Lerun looked back at him for a second and shook his head. “Ruaun, I don’t understand you at times.” Lerun retorted before stopping himself and letting his companion overshoot as Ruaun restarted his run. Then latter matter yelp in surprise as Lerun started fiddling with the wall “Where is that fault?” “I know it might be fun to mess around, but even I think this is a bad time” Exclaimed Ruaun, Lerun waved his concern away. “There’s an old fault that was supposed to be used by a creation of the Great Beings” Explained Lerun, “A failsafe, some sort of proto-toa or something. If the Krestora went mad, which they have, it would awaken and take them out and repair them.” Ruaun snorted, “Good strategy, let ‘em muck up the place and then deal with the Krestora.” “Who do you think their first victim was?” Replied Lerun, “They knew the guardian would ‘deal with’ them, so those buggers dealt with him” Ruaun made a small disappointed sound, “You’ve seen it actually, it’s the one with the two giant scissors for arms and twenty tentacles for a head.” Ruaun than mad a small excited sound, and that worried Lerun. “You mean Sergeant Snippety-Snips?” Exclaimed the Bo-Matoran, Lerun could only sigh in confirmation. “With the blue and silver? And the fire breathing? And the –“ *CLICK* “Oh, you unlocked the door?” Ruaun inquired, Lerun shook his head. “That wasn’t m-“ *Click* Both matoran looked back the way they had come from; Standing at the end of the corridor was a tall silver and blue figure, its hands now distorted into an over sized set of spiderish legs and the original pair of legs twisted and shrunk to serve as arms. The two matoran looked at each for a second before dashing; even Ruaun knew that Sergeant Snippety-Snips was not safe to be around. They ran down several corridors, zigging and zagging along them as the monster chased them with the constant click of it’s unnatural gait. It was slower than them, but every slip and crash in their haste cost the duo some time. But as Lerun and Ruaun started to loop on themselves they gained some distance from it. Their minds were in a rush, that the sound of panicking voices was completely missed. *Crash* Lerun crashed into a grey matoran with a mask of healing and Ruaun into a blue matoran with a Kanohi Arthon. Behind those two still stood their last Matoran companion, a stark white individual glaring with shock at the four matoran. “First our base was taken and the Turaga kidnapped, now you two are just fooling around!” whispered the still standing matoran, although his tone and style it sounded more like a shout. “You were supposed to find supplies! And where is Mavrah! You sold him out didn’t you!” Still quiet but an increased desperation was on the voice, as the four matoran got up and tried to silence their companion. And then the white matoran stopped, his eyes aghast. The monsterous form that had been chasing his compatriots overshadow all of them. They stood still for a second before they tried to run away, but the monstrosity slammed one of it’s spiderous hands down, trapping them all. Most of the matoran tried to squirm free, expect the blue one who had flicked out a wrist mounted blade and was furiously trying to stab the abomination. It didn’t seem to notice, only letting down some tentacles the smoulder from the ooze they secreted, a drop landed on Lerun’s armour, stinging him. “I always thought the monster that would kill me would be of my own design” droned the grey matoran as a tentacle slithered towards him, “Don’t worry Ketsa, just because it happened once doesn’t mean I’ll let you go down again.” Declared the blue matoran, as she jabbed her blade harder than before. The only reaction was the gigantic hand pressing down harded, crushing the matoran. “No” Said Lerun, “I won’t die!” Yelled the Blue Matoran, “So this was their plan?” Moan the white matoran, Ruaun gave a desperate laugh, “So it is” declared Ketsa. ________________________________________________________________________________ Elsewhere, a sole Skrall stood on a field of sand, surrounded by grinning fiends. He thought of surviving the Core War, escaping the Baterra, the glory of Roxtos and the Victory at Atero. How the Stone Tribe had fallen, how he had fallen. Tuma was gone, the greatest tribe scattered and world now infested with foul invaders. He looked down at the peg-leg he had been given by these ‘Skakdi’, their leader had thought it would be funny to give a cripple an experimental micro-lance for a prosthesis, better than the flail he had also been entrusted with. “Now, I, Thasikann, the magnificent” Boasted the leader of these savages, his brass-like armour a poor simulacrum of actually gold with his asymmetric and broken horn hanging a garland of withering flowers and the remains of small animals. “Declare that to celebrate my ascension to being the most powerful Skakdi of All Time, my grand games will be finish with a battle-royale between our greatest enemies to earn the honour of battling my champion, Ziskann!” The Skrall smirked as the arena stands filled with the cheers of Thasikann’s followers towards their favourite, tall and in the colours of the setting sun upon winter snow, she made a dashing figure, especially with those menacing ruby eyes. As she scanned the competitors; the skrall, a small beige and black Agori like being with vibrant blue eyes, a dark green warrior with sharp claws and a sharp gaze, a fish monster of some sort (which seemed to speak in obscenities), and an individual who was either a tiny Vorox or an overgrown Zesk. When her gaze reached the skrall, the intensity increased and he stared back; at least in his mind their rivalry was set. Everything he had been thrown against today was easy compared to what the gazed promised. “From the deserts of Spherus Magna,” Continued Thasikann “A scorpion horror and a basalt Skrall!” The cheers turned to jeers directed at him and the sand tribe competitor “From the depths of the nightmares and Irnakk’s caverns, a Zyglak!” The boos became focused on the fish monster, and while the Skrall couldn’t understand it, this Zyglak was clearly using even fouler language, “To the foot hills of the dreaded Mountain, Suufiji of Xia!” Suufiji merely made a hand gesture towards the crowd, the increased passion in their insults indicated that is wasn’t a friendly gesture. “And finally, from the heights of Metru Nui: Akhmou, the treacherous!” The crowd went silent for a second, confused by the this individual’s seeming importance. Thasikann took a breath in, “a servant of the recently deceased Makuta!” The crowd quickly roared with their rage at that name, with a visceral passion. The Skrall wondered if any of these beings were of any real threat to Thasikann or his skakdi horde; more likely political theatre that was either orchestrated by arrogant leader or manipulating fools. The Skrall assumed both were true. “And now, let the Games begin!” _________________________________________________________ I would like to thank VBBN for giving me his prompt, Tufi Piyufi for arranging the contest and Tolkien for some help with the names.
  3. I'm currently not looking to trade it. I ship from UK first class international to any destination. Transactions will be made through PayPal. LINK TO PHOTO: https://s19.postimg.org/cwupekdg3/IMG_4073.jpg
  4. I wrote this out of sudden inspiration in one night. Hope you all like it. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- BLACK CORONATION A Rude Awakening tale A sizeable crowd stood before him. The man clad in blackened steel stood above his subjects-to-be in sheer height, helmet in absence. Though he was not of the size of a jirapa giant like ol’ Big Tuma, his belonging to the Elite caste of skrall still made him taller than non-Elites. He walked forward betwixt the crowds twain, they kneeling as he approached them. Skrall of both types, even male and female together, knelt in union before him, as did the agori servants of both Nealite breeds (small Kontes and tall Pisiles). He walked confidently without body guards: anyone that posed a serious threat had since been delivered to Greani Ateir in the next life, and even those that wished to challenge him he would welcome with open arms before their swift demise. None did so from either sheer fear or complete respect and allegiance. The only one accompanying him was a scared tall man of sand-blue color, even his height being down-played by the great presence before him. He was only here because his noteworthy skills in chronicling, his existence being a sign of taboo and making him the cause for many a hunt, in-turn causing the man to have paranoia; and now here he is in the wolves den. The truth of the matter is that he was nearby and was forcibly ‘convinced’ to come here as none of the skrall here could read or write, including their new lord. “Make him look good, scribbler”, he was commanded by his captors at blade-point before their arrival. And the chronicler did as prescribed, for his fate was completely in their hands. The bulky man of great prestige walked to the end of the aisle of sentients, where a great door laid shut. He took a deep breath, briefly glared out of the corner of his eyes to what he saw as an abomination before shutting his eyes, and exhaled, thence opening the heavy doors with ease. More people were inside the long building, the genders playing different parts. The women, who all wore hooded robes, stood silent with their heads down and kept them as such until the man of the hour walked past them; the men were all garbed in gears and arms of war, they all bracing their shields and their swords or axes. Everyone said his name thrice, “Stronan, Stronan, Stronan!” With the men having melted to the back of the crowds, the women proceeded to throw violet-blue flower pedals high into the air into the middle aisle as the black-clad champion and the unwanted guest passed by, whilst the men behind the women began to stomp their feet, bang their sword or axe onto their maze-decorated shields, and exhale short howls, this beat of noises slowly getting louder. Even outside, the rhythmic uproar could be heard. Stronan, or Stronius as the Nealites flavored his name, walked with his scarred red-pink face proud, his bearded chin tastefully lifted, and his hairless lips slightly smirking to one corner, conveniently the end away from his scribbler. He finally stopped a few cubits from the stairs, and his only living suitable rival, the champion Branar, approached with a sharp, gold pointed crown of emerald and onyx decor in his hands. Stronan knelt before his scared-strait servile swordsman, causing the whole of the area to mute in complete silence, and Branar carefully placed the jagged crown upon the warlord’s head. When this happened, the chronicler removed himself from the scene, placing himself near it at the front-most of the crowd. The crowned Elite looked up past his new champion, and looked at his throne, cut from black rock in the likeliness of their former-homeland of the now-destroyed Black Spike Mountains. It was decorated with the carvings of the unique torso maze patterns of his dead rivals, symbolically ruling atop their corpses, and many empty patches had been left there for future generations to etch on if they were to conquer similar foes. The throne had pillows installed into it and it was carved in a way to be most comfortable, no-doubt having been in the works for years. His eyes then looked past his throne, and focused on the symbolic stained glass shipped straight from Vulkanus. It contained white cupped hands pressed together at their sides, the symbol for Grunchar the Primordial Potter, displaying his gift to the world, the ancient green Skrall hero and saint, Greani Atier. Greani stood there, helmed shirtless with a mail sleeve and skirt, both hands touching another in their grasp of the lost holy sword, the Arm of Grunchar. Atop Greani’s helmet was a crown, exactly like that of Stronan’s, which made the veteran warrior smile. As Stronius stood up, Branar symbolically knelt before him and bowed his head. Stronan climbed the low staircase, turned around, and with everyone’s eyes glazed at him, sat down upon his throne. At that moment, Branar yelled while still kneeling and closed his eyes, “All of Spherus Magna behold, the King of the Skrall, king Stronan the Strong!” Horns blared thence and the building became alit with rekindled noise, the uproar becoming deafening. The chronicler was obviously displeased with the noise volume, who rolled up what little he had writ up his armpit and plugged his ears with futile fingers, as did follow some of the agori. Stronius raised a single hand, and the place soon died in decibel once more. He spake thus in his deep voice of power, “Branar, arise!”. The man did as such. “Your business with the crown is not finished. Fulfill what you swore, or become of my decor”. In agreement, Branar removed his glove to reveal a scarred hand, and then sliced his thumb up one of the sharp spikes of the crown, blood trailing down the crown and even onto the king’s stolid face. His life by sign of lifeblood was now tied to the crown of the King. A kontes agori slave brought out a cup of Tesarite wine for Branar to put his wound in, which he did as soon as he got out of the way. Stronius then stood from his seat, yelling to all: “What has been achieved here today, is that which has not been achieved in an age. No longer will we Skrall bow to anyone. Our Jirapa giant overlords see their end over the horizon, and the Nealites to the south who have disgraced our honor before by means of Mata Nui now cower before the likes of too many an enemy. The ancient Spirit of the Mountains has returned from under his hiding rock and seeks to enslave us once again. Anyone who is caught seeking to join this false-god will meet their end by my hands. Anyone in-general who crosses me will meet their demise by my grasp, is this understood?” He walked over to the slave that brought Branar the medicinal drink and slew him horribly with his bare hands and sheer strength to serve as an example with a stomping finish, which with that some in the crowd slowly began to stomp in rhythm. Gazing at the pieces and whipping his hand down a few times to get some of the liquid off he looked at the crowd, and said, “You will all then come to find mercy in death by my mighty club and serpent saber if there be even a whiff of transgression, as they are but my instruments and not of my body, my being”. The chronicler was awestruck in fear and disgust by what he had just witnessed, and threw up in his mouth at the realization of what he sees now and that he has been touched upon by carcass's crimson spray. The king turned to him briefly with a japing face of disbelief at how 'weak' the historian hybrid reacted, then back to the crowd. Already the men were beginning to rise in their pounding noise of praise; the younger women were whooping with excitement, while the conquered remnants of the now-powerless, elderly Sisters of the Skrall were merely clapping. The men were chanting in a scary, barbaric rhythm while horns were blown to the beat. Stronius grabbed the cup of bloody wine from Branar and filled his mouth with it. He swished the funny liquid around and then orally poured the wine onto his hands, thence wiping the mess onto a given towel. The towel was thrown at another slave, whom the king then tasked with also feeding the bodily remnants on the floor to a spikkit. Sitting upon his new throne now, Stronan began moving his head to the rhythmic dark uproar of savagery with a closed smile. Later that night, noises of a festival from inside the great hall could be heard from the chronicler’s prison as the preserved heads of the lord's former-rivals were delivered beyond the big doors upon pillows one by one. Apparently, Stronius saw further use of the poor blue man, which meant nothing good. While writing of the events that transpired that day, the man was visited by Branar, the new champion of the fresh king crowned. “Here, I believe I am done. Is it fitting, my lord?” Branar took it from the chronicler’s hands and read it. “Hmm, it is good. ...Too good“, the skrall smirked, “I heard that you enjoyed truth.” “I do sir, but this court has forced my hand”, he replied. "if it is of any consolation, I was planning to write words of accuracy once I was released, but now that doesn't seem to be the case...". “Only by their claw's reach”, Branar began, then opening the gate, “Go now, and spread the truth of this animal despite his wishes, beyond said thing's grasp. These people have replaced a monster with a monster, and thus are fools; and by Greani’s example, all monsters of darkness must perish. Stronan’s day of felling will come, and only then do I want you to return: only upon this I will tell you everything. In the meantime, I am forced to stay here, leashed. There is a rock steed waiting for you outside the prison, and the guards here will not be a problem for you, trust me. Oh, and you'll be needing this, wont you?", the standard skrall of pale-pink pigment spake, holding the hybrid's tattered brown hooded robe, then throwing it at the up penman. "Good bye, Iaredios”. The chronicler said his farewells to the true king of the Skrall, not feeling like he got the full picture, and fled south. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Edited for better wording.
  5. In ages past, before the rise of the Great Beings and when giants (called Jirapa) held control over civilized Spherus Magna, one man defied these shadow-worshipers, and his name was Greani Ateir. Settling the land of Neala, and founding Ateiropolis (later called Atero) and the other major cities of Neala (Tajun, Iconox, etc), he had an interesting ideas in mind. He knew of nothing that could vanquish a whole mountain under the course of a single siege, so he created the plans to forge a grand castle out of a mountain. The heroic skrall died in battle against said giants before he could see this project gain heavy development, but over the course of 200 or so years, his descendants made this dream a reality. Unfortunately, the collapse of the Kingdom of Neala and the region's fragmentation to city-states led to it's abandonment by Atero's forces. The Ruunic Ostonigosa (meaning Bone Hunters in Nealite Agoric, and [of the] West in Old Geroikoi tongues, respectively) took over the abandoned castle, finding it to a be treasure. They named the mighty site Tsaiz-Kuluu, which is Ostonigosan for Mountain Fortress; others called it Gatherer's Stronghold. Since then, it was the capital of the Element Lord of Lightning and various qaghanates that have risen and fallen through out the centuries. Many have tried to take it, but this world wonder still stands to this day under the control of these lords of the arid planes. (More info can be found here.) Now that history class is over, lo and behold, Tsaiz-Kuluu! I apologize I couldn't put in some of the more finer details I initially planned, like little stairs, wooden stakes in some parts of the mountain side, a Bone Hunter to ride that rock-steed. I just lost interest after trying to make the mountain part of the fortress as perfect as possible. I purposefully didn't draw all of Tsaiz-Kuluu in the picture because I wanted to do some scenery, so sorry if you are disappointed by that. Anyway, I hope you liked both the picture and the little story behind it. }----|]I||I[|----{ Now here is a picture of a post-Greani Skrallite Helmet, when the Kingdom of Neala was at it's height and afford to forge such great and detailed pieces of armor (specifically for Skrall soldiers in this case). Since then, though adapted to change throughout the ages, this is the basic form of a Skallite Helmet, be it Nealite or lands yonder. I have had this done for a while now, but I thought I would give it's own topic (sharing space though). Also, keep in mind that this was just concept art for possible future skrall-based drawings. If you look at the helmet I have designed and compare it to the set form, you will see many similarities. The flagpole is supposed to be fastened to the helmet through twisting slots, while that specific flag itself is the flag of Greani (taken after the natural lines that form on skrall around the chest, back, and shoulders). And on the forehead, there is supposed to be a metalwork design that is unique to each skrall and the stylistic lines are painted. As such, helmets like this in post-Shattering Spherus Magna under the Jirapatine Empire (of whom Tuma was the last ruler of) are only crafted for skrall that have proven themselves worthy of a personal identity (such as Branar), and this helmet vividly shows that off. }----|]I||I[|----{ Thanks for looking at my topic and art, and kudos to you if you actually read the descriptions that came before each picture. C&C is most welcome.
  6. These are my first Bionicle MOCs in a long time, and my first ever old/new style fusion. The fact that they are a very similar style to Nescent's MOCs is an uncanny coincidence. Anyway, they're simplistic, but I think they turned out alright. Gresh front back pose Skrall front back pose And finally, the obligatory fight. EDIT: I made an all green version. I personally don't like it quite as much as the silver, but let me know what you think.
  7. Y'ello there viewer. Ever since the female segregation amongst the Skrall was introduced, I always wondered how a Skrall sister would look like as a set. Obviously, since I like everything in Bionicle having a nice Lego-ish form in my head, i decided to make a female Skrall that could PASS AS A SET. I put that in caps so that people realize why this is so dumbly simplified. What we know about the female Skrall: femaleSkrall (means blackish armor/skin?)psionic powers (thanks to lady Annona)staves for toolsno armorwear robesWell, with one cape, and some improv, I decided to make a... Mother Skrall! Mother Skrall. The Mother is the wisest Sister chosen from the female population to guide the Sisterhood through their struggle for survival. The role is of great responsibility, but comes with several perks as well... Even though the Sisters don't carry weapons, the Mother is in charge of handling the ONLY Thornax launcher in case of emergency where destructive force is necessary. The Mother also gets access to the Creator's Staff which, unknowingly to the Sisters, is able to fend off Baterra by releasing a sub-sonic hum, which explains why the robots don't attack her when she handles the launcher. Finally, the Mother is adorned with the Crown of Thorns which was given to the male Skrall ruler by his chosen female to signify his rule over Skrall, back in the age before Annona caused segregation. It serves to signify power, but also as a reminder of the old way of life that all Skrall secretly miss. Pictures: closeup frontal sweet mother (with "robe") Hope you guys liked the moc and back-story. I would like to point out that I chose translucent blue as I think it's fitting with the black, and to represent the biological effects on the sisters from Annona's tampering. I also tried to keep the Moc's frame somewhat sleek and feminine, as well as organic as possible (trying to follow that 85% organic rule, cha feel), also close to the Skrall we got to see in sets. Armor was omitted as described in the online serial. Yeah. Let me know what you think.
  8. The following theory is developed off two basic assumptions: 1. No character participated in the Core War unless it was explicitly stated in some canon source. If a source says "the rock tribe" or "jungle Glatorian," that does not include Tuma or Gresh, only the rock tribe and jungle Glatorian of that time. 2. Any identical names that existed in the Core War era can be claimed to be ancestors of the current characters bearing those names unless the current characters bearing those names explicitly state "I remember this." ---- At some point during the development of Mata Nui, the Great Beings developed a substance/method/device, hereafter referred to as Immortalis. This substance/method/device would induce genetic immortality into an individual, though it would not protect against disease or slaughter, but only old age. After the shattering, they offered to use Immortalis on the Glatorian and Agori of Bara Magna ((being unable to use it on Bota Magna for whatever reason)). The majority of the tribes accepted the offer, with two exceptions: the sand tribe, who did not want further experiments to be run on them, and the rock tribe, who claimed they would endure the desert. While the other tribes stopped reproducing after a few generations, due to lack of resources to support a growing immortal population, the rock tribe and the sand tribe continued to breed as per natural. However, upon witnessing the sand tribe descend into feral instincts, the rock tribe glatorian and agori agreed to maintain a caste system to keep themselves from falling to such madness. The splitting of family lines, as well as limiting breeding to "successful" individuals, gradually transformed the rock tribe Glatorian into the Skrall and, further, into the three genetically divergent branches of the skrall. The agori were limited to service works, although some would later split off in protest of their treatment and develop into the bone hunters. Female skrall were, initially, part of this caste system as well. However, over the generations they would be relegated to serving only as breeders, something that they disagreed with extremely. At some point a few of them would be approached by Anonna disguised as Angonce, who would induce psychic powers on a genetic level; the psychich skrall would attempt to use their ability to wrest control of the rock tribe from the males, only to cause reactionary witch hunts that ironically enough led to the deaths of all nonpsychic females. From that point onward, the female skrall kept to themselves, only returning when their numbers were low or to drop off a male skrall and always operating under a cloak of projected control. Thoughts?
  9. Behold: Tuma. "He had never been one for deep thoughts, doubts, or reflection. His class within Skrall society – those intended by nature to be leaders and the fiercest of warriors – did not place great value on looking inward or backward. Life was simple: move ahead, conquer, secure what you have taken, and then move on." My interpretation of Bara Magnans is somewhat looser, as they're mostly organic, and they've been mentioned as wearing cloth along with their armor to serve as insulation and protect them from the heat of the metal itself in the sun. The end result looks like Ali-Baba getting teleported into Mad Max and then deciding to dress like a samurai for no apparent reason. I also turned the four blades on his back into two banners, kind of like dual-sashimono, even though only soldiers typically wore those, not commanders, to my knowledge. They'd look kind of silly on a regular skrall anyway. Maybe they look silly on Tuma, too. I don't know. Last art post for a little while.
  10. Did the Great Beings put it on there in case Mata Nui showed up? Did some ancient Skrall map the place?And why did the Skrall stick with the design? It's a rather eccentric design for a sheild, and probably costly to make. What significance would it have for them?
  11. Oh boy, haven't posted in this forum for a while. Anyway, I've been working on the next issue of Mackron: The Vulture Warrior (which you should totally read because it's like awesome... and stuff), and I really wanted to show you this guy because every time I finish a character I feel like the guy in that movie Castaway when he finally makes a fire. So yeah, this guy was made in Blender 3D but the base human and the skin textures were made in Makehuman. I hope you like it, please C&C, you know... the works. FRONT: https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-uCLh4UdCy0A/UbqaUc1OclI/AAAAAAAAAj8/v7w2fe3RNZA/w1388-h781-no/Skrall1.jpg SIDE: https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-ujTmRDDkQv4/UbqaUd8cmHI/AAAAAAAAAkA/oAxbb6VjsEc/w1388-h781-no/Skrall2.jpg BACK: https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-o5YRaHPAw-E/UbqaUv18IcI/AAAAAAAAAkE/etcKuD0X970/w1388-h781-no/Skrall3.jpg SIDE: https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-eZR7Nqb4vyo/UbqaTWOkPnI/AAAAAAAAAjg/eJmvpdGgHhc/w1388-h781-no/Skrall4.jpg FACE: https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-MA_mKR02zPI/UbqaTh-FFjI/AAAAAAAAAjs/k14mifp_K3Q/w1388-h781-no/Skrall5.jpg FACE WITHOUT MOUTH GUARD: https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-v0W1x0FifoY/UbqaTstTFcI/AAAAAAAAAjk/f6qr_fsH0Ws/w1388-h781-no/Skrall6.jpg FACE WITHOUT HELMET: https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/6WTafeMA3FJG1_YA-IvXk2N6TCpKULSodFu8gMD1Fyc=w1388-h781-no
  12. This is Venomu, a character that appears in Secrets of the Star. He's a leader class Skrall who leads a second group of Skrall that is separate from the one Tuma led.Front: http://www.brickshelf.com/gallery/Joev14/MOCS/Venomu/venomu_front.jpgBack: http://www.brickshelf.com/gallery/Joev14/MOCS/Venomu/venomu_back.jpgTop: http://www.brickshelf.com/gallery/Joev14/MOCS/Venomu/venomu_top.jpg
  13. What do we know about the physical characteristics of Agori, Glatorian, and the other natives of Spherus Magna? I think Greg says they have hair, but where does it grow? Just on top of their heads? Can they grow beards, too? Armpit hair? And is the color of their head in the set supposed to be the color of their skin?Going by the set forms, they seem to have large feet, though we can't tell how much of that is boot. Compared to human proportions, Agori seem to have large hands while Glatorian have small heads. I think their faces are supposed to look more organic than the faces in the set do, but going by the basic details of that piece, they have wide jaws, large, square, wide-spaced nostrils on a flat nose, and large, sort of rectangular eyes that might not have visible pupils.And another question: are the bug-like mandibles of Vorox and Zesk actually part of them, or just part of their helmets?What else do we know or can we assume about these beings?
  14. The baterra had been around since the Core War, but they suddenly appear to attack the Skrall, as if out of nowhere. They are machines programmed to kill anything armed; why the 100,000 year time delay between the Core War and them attacking the Skrall and forcing them south?
  15. Welcome to the eleventh installment of the Glatorian Chronicles series! This story stars Stronius as he and a fellow Skrall are hunted by a mysterious monster. As with the other GC stories, here's a brief summary of what the GC is about: The Glatorian Chronicles is a series of Bionicle fanfiction short stories/short epics that star each of the twelve Glatorian characters released as sets in 2009. All are written in first person point of view from the point of view of the starring Glatorian. Each story is completely independent of the others, so a new reader can jump in at any point in the series with little-to-no confusion on the reader's part. If you wish to read the previous ten GC stories, you can find links to them in my library here. And with that out of the way, I now present to y'all the eleventh GC, Obsidian Among the Frost: As a special forces Skrall, it was unfitting for me to run away from any battle. It was disgraceful, dishonorable, and could result in a loss of respect from the soldiers I commanded. Moreover, I had a name – Stronius – and named Skrall never, ever ran from battle. The fact was, though, that I and my lieutenant (who hadn’t done anything to earn a name, unlike me) could not defeat this beast. My club was unable to pierce its hide and my lieutenant’s sword and buzz saw shield couldn’t even scratch it. We could be forgiven for temporarily retreating in order to devise a new plan against it. As I and my lieutenant sat behind a boulder, doing our best to keep quiet lest the monster hear us, I recollected how we had gotten to this point. Perhaps there was a secret to defeating this monster hidden in the past, though I doubted it. A few hours earlier, I’d led a battalion of Skrall on an attack on the Ice Valley, which was the only thing standing between us and the pool of silvery liquid that our tribe coveted. There we’d run into the Fire army, which had wrest control of the silver pool from the Ice army. It’d been a fierce battle, one to make any warrior proud, but due to an unforeseen assault from the Water army, we were forced to retreat. And during the assault, my lieutenant and I were separated from the rest of the battalion. Normally, that wouldn’t be an unsalvageable situation. My lieutenant and I were strong enough to survive in the Northern Frost on our own for a while. It wouldn’t be hard for us to find the rest of the battalion and rejoin them. My men were probably looking for us even now. I knew they were loyal to me and would never abandon me unless they were sure I was dead. We therefore faced only one problem: A monster – bigger than the two of us combined – was trying to kill us. Where it came from, I couldn’t say. One moment, my lieutenant and I were walking cautiously and carefully through the snow, keeping an eye out for enemy soldiers that might be waiting in ambush; the next, this beast just came out of nowhere and attacked us both. We’d just barely managed to fend it off and retreat, although it was only a matter of time before the monster found us. As we sat there, I remembered with a repressed shudder what the beast looked like. It resembled a Snaj – giant snow beasts that towered over all Skrall – but it was even bigger than that and had deep black armor. It’d had dozens of small spikes running down its back and a long, even spikier tail that could cut through stone. Its head had resembled the slanted, narrow head of a Snaj, but it’d had two tusks protruding from its mouth and a large horn sticking out of its head. Also, its armor was incredibly thick. No matter how many times I’d hit with my club – and I’d hit it dozens of times – I couldn’t even so much as dent it. Its armor was even harder than rock, or so it seemed, anyway. Neither of us knew what the beast was. We’d never seen or heard of anything like it before. My lieutenant had suggested that it might be some Northern Frost beast we’d never seen before, but I disagreed. Whatever this thing was, it didn’t look like a natural beast. It looked like a monstrosity; a creature, in other words, that shouldn’t exist. Whatever it was, we couldn’t kill it. It probably could kill us, though, which didn’t make me very happy. I peered around the boulder and looked at the surrounding area. I saw rocks, snow, mountains, and cliffs, but no monster. I didn’t even see any paw prints, but I wasn’t dumb. It was probably hiding, waiting for us to come out. It was possible that it’d left, but that seemed unlikely. Such a vicious monster wouldn’t give up that easily. At least, if I knew that if I were a beast like it, I wouldn’t run away just because my prey had disappeared. “What do we do, commander?” asked my lieutenant anxiously. “Is that beast still out there?” “No,” I said, shaking my head. “But we should still wait. It might be a trap.” “As you command, Stronius,” my lieutenant answered. “I’m just anxious to return to our allies.” I looked at him, unconvinced. “Yes, I’m sure that is all you want to do. I suppose your son has nothing to do with this?” “Well, that too, commander sir,” said the lieutenant, somewhat sheepishly. “I mean, I haven’t seen him for months now. I’m hoping we can go home to-“ “Be quiet,” I snapped. “Think about your own survival for once. Or have you forgotten what happens to Skrall with preoccupied minds during battle?” “Yes, sir,” said my lieutenant. “I’ll stop thinking about my son.” I sighed. My lieutenant had just recently mated with a member of the Sisters of the Skrall. She had given birth to a male and in accordance with tradition the male baby had been given over to us, the male Skrall. The infant was currently in the care of some Rock Agori, who oversaw our younglings while their parents were off to war. When he was old enough, my lieutenant’s son would join the war effort, which was the only useful thing that came out of mating with the Sisters. The only reason I knew about any of this was because my lieutenant talked about his son constantly. I’d never had a child before, so I didn’t understand his fascination with his only child. What was so interesting about a baby that couldn’t even hold a knife? Perhaps it was just something that fathers did, although it seemed foolish to me just the same. I disregarded that thought and focused on our situation. If we couldn’t kill the beast, then we had but one option in order to ensure our survival, although I disliked it. Still, I wanted to live to see the end of this war and my lieutenant wanted to see his son again, so my lieutenant would have to agree regardless of his personal feelings. “Lieutenant, I am about to ask you to do something very un-Skrall-like,” I said to him. “What do you mean, commander?” asked my lieutenant. I looked around, feeling sheepish and embarrassed, but then I looked him in the eyes as seriously as I could and said, “We’re going to have to run for it. We can’t kill the beast. As much as I hate to admit it, retreat is our only option.” “Run away?” said my lieutenant in surprise. “What will Lord Torxus say if he hears about this?” “Do you want to see your son again, the one you keep blabbering on about?” I asked. “Well, yes, of course, commander sir,” said my lieutenant. “But-“ “Then follow my lead,” I said. “That’s an order.” My lieutenant nodded, but he still didn’t seem happy about it. I didn’t blame him, but right now our survival was a bit more important than our honor. We could worry about that later, after we were no longer threatened by an invincible monster. I looked around the boulder again and saw nothing. “The coast’s clear. On the count of three, we’ll run for it. One . . . two . . . three!” We ran from behind the boulder and across the clearing as fast as we could. I looked to the left and right for any sign of the monster, but saw nothing. That was both good news and bad. Good because the monster might really be gone. Bad because the monster could be hiding, waiting for the right moment to strike. We were taking a big risk, but I’d taken similar risks in the past and had come out of them all right, so I never doubted our survival for even a moment. When we were about halfway across the clearing, however, something huge and black slammed into me. I was sent flying into my lieutenant and we both went sprawling in the snow. After we untangled ourselves, we looked up and saw the monster standing before us. It looked just as I remembered it, although it looked angrier. Perhaps it was angry that we had outwitted it so far. Whatever the case, I didn’t have time to think about it. The beast charged at us, but fortunately, we managed to get out of the way in time to avoid being impaled by its horn. The creature lashed out with its claws, which I managed to block with my club. Somehow my weapon got caught on the monster’s claws and, when the monster pulled its claw back, my club went flying out of my hands, landing several feet away from me, well out of my reach. Now I wasn’t totally defenseless here. I had my Thornax launcher, after all. But my club had been my primary weapon. I wasn’t as skilled in Thornax launchers as I was in smashing things with my club. Of course, my club hadn’t been useful against the monster in the first place, but I still felt vulnerable without it. The beast bent down to leap at me when my lieutenant suddenly jumped on top of it. Startled, I watched as my lieutenant raised his sword and brought it down on the monster’s head, yelling all the while, “For my son!” To my amazement, his sword actually pierced the monster’s skull. The monster shrieked in pain and threw my lieutenant off, who fell onto the thick, soft snow. I quickly backed away as the monster bucked and acted crazy, blood running down both sides of its face. Seeing it in pain like that brought me satisfaction, for I was sure the battle was ours. Then, to my horror, the monster shook its head and the sword went flying out of its skull. I just barely managed to dodge the flying blade, which embedded itself in the stone wall behind me. Then I looked at the monster and saw its skull regenerating. Soon the only clue that a sword had been in its head was the dried up blood on its face, and even that seemed to be disappearing rapidly. So apparently the monster could heal itself. I’d never heard of a creature like that before, which again made me wonder just what this monster was. If there were any more of it out there . . . even I, a mighty warrior, shuddered to think of what they could accomplish if someone tamed them or if they chose to leave their mountain homes and attack the outside world. I’d no more time to ponder this, however, for the beast had completely recovered by now. It looked around and, as soon as it spotted my lieutenant, bellowed in rage, in a roar like I’d never heard before. It chilled me to the bone, but I acted quickly just the same. Raising my Thornax launcher, I shouted, “Die, monster!” I squeezed the trigger, sending a ripe Thornax flying at the monster. The Thornax exploded upon contact with the monster’s hide, although it only seemed to stun the monster rather than hurt it, for the creature didn’t screech in pain. The explosion gave me just enough time to run to my ally’s side, picking up my club as I ran along. “We’ve got to get out of here while it is distracted!” I told him. “The thing can’t die. You saw it regenerate, didn’t you?” “But we’re Skrall warriors,” my lieutenant protested. “True Skrall never run from a fight!” “And did you know that true Skrall also never fight an enemy they can’t beat?” I asked harshly. “I understand your concerns, but we have no choice. Unless you don’t want to see your son again, that is.” My lieutenant looked like he wanted to argue, but he just nodded and said, “Yes, sir. You walk and I will follow.” So we began running away, but the monster seemed to have recovered from the Thornax I’d launched at it. I heard it roar and, looking over my shoulder, saw the monster chasing us. It was fast. Clearly, it was used to running in the snow. I’d no doubt that it’d catch us quickly, and when it did, we’d both be dead meat. I looked around again and saw a cliff up ahead. A plan formed in my mind, a plan that, if it worked, would get rid of that monster once and for all. And if it failed . . . well, my lieutenant would never see his son again and I’d never see the Rock Tribe’s inevitable victory over the other tribes. “This way!” I said, running toward the cliff. “Are you crazy?” my lieutenant asked as we ran. “What-“ “Be quiet and follow my orders,” I told him as we stopped at the edge of the cliff. I peered over the side. It was a long, long way down to the bottom. No doubt a fall from here would be fatal. If my plan worked, there would be something dead down there soon, but it wouldn’t be either of us. We turned around and saw the monster running at us. Within a few seconds, I knew it would reach us, but we still had to wait. The timing needed to be just right before we could act. And then – when it was only a few feet from us – the monster leapt at us. It flew through the air, claws outstretched, roaring loudly. It was coming almost too fast to dodge . . . almost. “Duck!” I told my lieutenant. We both fell to the ground as the monster sailed overhead. Unable to stop its trajectory, the creature flew over the edge of the cliff and disappeared. I heard a roar of shock and anger, followed by a loud crash. Then there was silence. My lieutenant and I stood up. We looked over the edge of the cliff and saw exactly what I thought we’d see: The broken body of the monster lying on the hard, icy ground hundreds of feet below us. It lay in a pool of its own blood, coloring the snow red. The monster’s healing abilities didn’t seem to be working, but I didn’t intend to stick around and find out if they were delayed or something. “Let’s go,” I said, turning and walking away from the cliff. “The monster is finished.” “What a brilliant plan, sir,” said my lieutenant as he fell into line behind me. “Though I still wonder what that beast was and where it came from. The ability to heal itself is something I’ve never seen in any creature, whether in Bota Magna or in the Northern Frost.” I looked toward the north and said, “Perhaps it is a creature from neither, lieutenant. Remember what the silver pool does to those that touch it; it transforms or destroys. Maybe this monster came into contact with some of the stuff and was mutated by it.” “Whatever it was, I’m just glad it’s dead,” said my lieutenant as he glanced over his shoulder. “And I’m also glad it is a single creature. Imagine a whole species of such monsters, commander. That’d be a nightmare.” I didn’t look at him as we walked. “Yes. I have imagined what more of those creatures would be like . . . and it is as you say: A nightmare.” - Comments, criticisms, reviews, and so on are all welcome . Also, creds go to Cederak, who not only looked over this story for me before I posted it but even came up with the title. -TNTOS-
  16. Jowm

    Scars Of War

    Scars of War Ackar glanced nervously around, expecting to find Skrall hiding in the rocks nearby. He had expected to run into a patrol of them by now, however, there had been no sign of them so far, and no evidence that they had recently been there. Ackar had been ordered to rally some of the Glatorian troops from his fire tribe who weren't already out on missions or anything else, and go to a Skrall outpost in the northeastern part of the Bara Magna desert. They were to perform a recon mission, steal some equipment, weapons and sabotage other things in their outpost without allowing the Skrall to discover that the fire tribe was behind the mission. Ackar knew he shouldn't allow his suspicions to endanger his mission or troops. "Come on," he ordered, his commanding voice entwined with a sigh. He turned back toward the rocks ahead. It was not long before he turned his head back to face the area behind them, still searching for signs of Skrall, wary of an ambush. He noticed something a little ways to the left of the direction he and his troops had taken in order to reach the place they were currently at. "Halt!" he commanded, his voice slightly betraying his suspicion. His troops stopped, and turned to view the area he was interested in. What Ackar had noticed was a Skrall shield, sticking up out of the ground in an area that was not visible to them earlier due to the angle they had been at. The shield had slash marks through it and was dented and bent, a small chunk had been torn out of the outside edge, and some of the blades on the edge were dulled and ruined. The design on the shield was hardly recognizable. Ackar silently motioned for his eight troops to go out and move toward the place from either side, while he silently walked straight toward the spot. As Ackar approached the site, he noticed Skrall blades and armor lying about, a battered arm lying out at full length from behind a rock. Ackar wondered about how horrible it would be to have one’s arm chopped off. As Ackar attempted to determine what would have the ability to do such a thing to the Skrall while he was still approaching, he caught sight of a Skrall foot lying on the ground near a bush, he now also observed Skrall armor and weapons lying around, scorch marks from overripe Thornax fruit, and a battered and twisted blade sticking up from the other side of the small sand dune he was climbing up which separated him from the site. Ackar finally reached the top of the sand dune, and before him lay a sight that even a Rock Steed would have found revolting. He now observed that the blade which he had assumed was sticking up out of the ground, was, in truth, protruding from the marred, battered, and somewhat shredded body of a Skrall. He understood now that the arm stretched out was still connected to the devastated body of its Skrall owner. The foot, which was lying near a bush, obviously belonged to the hardly recognizable body of a Skrall, which was barely discernible from the bush in which it was buried. Ackar, out of the corners of his eyes, spied the two squads of his troops approaching, they, too, appeared shocked. Suddenly, Ackar realized that there was no sign of any armor belonging to any other tribe. Now Ackar was beyond suspicious, he knew something was up, Skrall just didn't die this way. That was a fact, they would have at least damaged their attackers enough for there to be signs that the enemy had been hurt. Ackar knew that even if the enemy had attacked from a distance, with bows and arrows or Thornax launchers, there would still be signs of the Skrall's enemy. Besides, Ackar rationalized, the scene laid out before him suggested that the enemy had attacked from close range. He peered at the area surrounding the site for footprints. It was not long before he found footprints, several sets of them, leading away from the battle site. The footprints were all Skrall's, Ackar knew that Skrall cared little for the corpses of their own kind, and he wondered if the footprints meant that remaining Skrall had gone after their enemy, however, he found only Skrall footprints, no others, which would indicate that no enemy of the Skrall had left, yet he saw no sign of any still here. Ackar considered whether or not to endanger the mission and his troops to find out what this all meant and what had gone on here. He made his decision. Ackar knew the importance of following orders, he also knew that the one who had given him orders-the Element Lord of Fire-was a power-hungry dictator. Besides that, he knew that to always follow orders to the letter was to not think for one's self, to be a mindless soldier, and, in some cases, to be the loser of the battle, or the loser of one’s life. There were always variables, and one could not always make orders which would successfully deal with each of those variables. He motioned for his troops to come over to him. "Listen," Ackar began, "I am unsure of how to tell you, but I'll do my best to be clear, I am about to disobey orders," The troops were visibly surprised, they had not expected this, not from Ackar, not in this situation. “There is something very strange going on here," Ackar began, "and I intend to learn what it is, if you want a reason for my decision which will benefit our tribe, I have come up with one, it is this; whoever, or whatever, has the ability to do this to the Skrall, would be an invaluable assistance to our tribe, or an unbelievably dangerous foe. So what do you say?" The troops appeared hesitant for a moment, then, slowly at first, they each began to agree to his proposal. Ackar was pleased, and relieved, he was unsure of what would have happened had all his troops not agreed, he only hoped none of them were planning to turn him in for his decision. He quickly led his troops forward, following the plain and obvious trail of footprints. Ackar realized that the Skrall must have left here recently, if their footprints were showing up as well as they were in the rapidly shifting sands of the desert part of Spherus Magna. The trail of footprints led straight away from the site of... of whatever had happened, and did not turn where the Skrall border did a few kio away. Ackar traveled with his troops trailing behind for almost an hour, he was beginning to believe that he should have stuck to following the orders outlined for the mission. He had decided to go on a little farther before giving up, when he heard first one of his troops shouting, "What the-" and as he turned to find what was going on, heard one of his troops murmur in awe, "Great Beings, what is th-" then out of the corner of his eye he spied a quick blur of motion, too large to be a projectile, he barely managed to notice, and a metallic clang rang out, interrupting the speaker, who immediately let forth an unnatural screech of surprise and pain. Ackar drew and swung his sword, with almost impossible speed, toward the troop who had been interrupted, to his right and behind him, knowing that from the angle he was at, he would strike whatever had impacted his fellow Glatorian. When he struck the thing, on what appeared to be its back, it went sprawling into the sand, while his troop, recovering, struggled to return to his feet. Ackar quickly placed his Thornax launcher in the hand he was holding his sword with, holding both in his right hand as he reached down with his left hand, and grabbed his fellow Glatorian by the right arm, pulling him to his feet. The thing he struck was not something he recognized, but he had no time to wonder about what it was, he heard more sounds from behind him, his other troops being attacked, he assumed, and turned to find his troops doing battle with the, things. He watched as the troop closest to him was lunged at and knocked down, by, seemingly, sand. As he gazed on with confusion, he watched the “sand” shimmer and change into another of the silver things. Their color caused him to suspect them of being ice tribe, as the Ice tribe warriors used silver as their main armor color more often than any other tribe. They had spikes all over their armor, and large claws at the end of each arm. There were four of these unknown attackers. Although their color caused him to suspect them of being ice tribe, he was unsure of whether they were or not, he didn’t believe that the ice tribe had the ability to shapeshift that way, he could tell that they hadn’t just sprung out of the sand. All this flashed through Ackar’s mind in an instant, but he had no time to consider any of it more, for his legs were knocked out from under him, sending his weapons flying away from him, and almost before he hit the ground, one of the attackers landed on his chest, its feet close together as it crouched on him, its arms held high as it prepared to bring its wickedly sharp claws down on him. He used his arms to push himself over and begin a roll sideways, knocking the attacker off of his chest. His foe quickly returned to its feet after falling onto its side in the sand. Ackar used the momentum from his roll to launch himself to his feet, and stood in a battle stance facing his opponent. His opponent did not hesitate even a second before charging at him, claws slashing. Ackar dove to his left for his sword, grabbed it, and rolled onto his back, correctly anticipating that his attacker would jump on him. His foe landed directly on the point of the blade, which pierced through a weak part of its left chest armor and slid through its body, disabling some of its inner parts before penetrating the back of its armor and protruding from its back. Ackar began to breathe deeply, regretting that yet another life had been lost in this war. Ackar glanced at the fighting around him, and realized that he should help his warriors. Curious, though, Ackar thought, that he-or she-didn’t cry out, or even speak at all, even once. Ackar knew, though, that there would be time to study these strange new foes and contemplate their strange behavior later. Suddenly, the eyes of his enemy, which he had thought dead, snapped open. Ackar was startled, and it raised its clawed hands to bring them down upon his face. Its left arm only raised about halfway up, though, then halted abruptly. When its arm stopped, Ackar felt his blade twist in his hand, and heard metal scraping on metal. That was when Ackar realized that the thing wasn’t alive, of course, that explained everything, no blood, no speaking or crying out in pain, it wasn’t dead after being stabbed through, the arm had stopped halfway up because his sword had wedged into some of its internal workings, and now it was going to kill him. The thing turned its head to look at its arm, and although it was a robot, it seemed almost confused. Ackar made use of the delay and punched the thing in the face while grabbing its right arm with his left hand. The robots head whirled to face him, and Ackar saw in its eyes only blackness, with an occasional flicker of light. Ackar had only a moment to see its eyes, because it brought its left arm down on his right shoulder, at one of the only few angles still available to it with that arm, knocking his arm back to the ground. He grunted as it struck his shoulder, then tightened his grip on its arm. It pulled its arm as far back as Ackar’s reach would allow, and Ackar began to try to pull it back toward him with all his strength, trying to stop the robot from freeing its arm. Suddenly, the robots arm shot down towards him like lightning, all he saw was a flash then gave a gurgling gasp as he felt the dual claws pierce his upper chest and neck. The Creature withdrew its claws from his body, and Ackar immediately grabbed at his own neck, gasping for breath. The robot, noticing the movement, instantly slashed his face, and he managed to restrain a cry of pain, though he dropped his sword. As soon as Ackar dropped his sword, the robot turned away and leaped at one of his Glatorian ten feet away. Amazingly, the thing cleared the distance, and knocked the fighter over into the sand. Ackar was confused about the things’ strange behavior, but he wasn’t about to complain. He remained still for a moment, to ensure that it was gone, staring straight up into the bright, hot sky, and thinking, It won’t be long until this isn’t just an act. Ackar gave quick, gurgling gasps and held his neck wound closed while pulling himself away from the fighting with his right arm. One of his troops, a fighter called Perditus, who was not very skilled at hand to hand fighting as he was training to use vehicles in battle, rushed over to him. “Fighting these things is worse than getting cornered by a pack of Iron Wolves in a blizzard!” he exclaimed, panting. Ackar didn’t even try to reply, and Perditus noticed his wounds. “No…. you…. Here! Have these.” Hurriedly, Perditus pulled some bandages from the pack he wore on his back, and handed them to Ackar. Ackar applied some of the smaller ones to his face and also bandaged his chest, but continued to hold his neck. Ackar managed to rasp out, “Neck… too bad… bandage, useless.” Perditus reached into his pack again, and retrieved some tools. “Let go,” Perditus ordered, “I may not have been trained as a medic, but I know a bit about Glatorian anatomy.” Upon finishing, Perditus glanced around to ensure that they were still relatively safe, only three Glatorian remained standing, and only the robot Ackar had fought appeared to have been downed, which left three still fighting. Perditus decided not to break this news to Ackar, and turned back to him, waiting for an answer. Ackar hesitated for a moment, then released his neck. Perditus could see that the damage was bad, and that Ackar would be out of the war for at least a month, maybe two, but for Ackar’s sake, he tried not to show it. He leaned down toward Ackar and moved some of the organic tissue under the armor with one of his tools, one shaped rather like a small metal stick, with the end bent diagonally. Ackar winced but did not cry out, besides, it would have been painful and difficult to do so. Perditus finished, then smeared some adhesive onto a small metal plate he had retrieved from his pack, and pushed it gently onto Ackar’s neck. He held it there for a second, then let go of it, and wrapped a bandage around Ackars neck. “I moved some of the internal parts of your neck so that you won’t die, but the damage is bad enough that in about one day, the parts I moved will have been pushed back and you will be dying again, at which time you will have a little less than an hour to live.” Perditus explained, “However, you have a day before that happens, and until then, while it may hurt, your neck should remain in survivable condition.” “Great.” Ackar croaked. Perditus then glanced around at what was left while helping Ackar to his feet. “They’re… robots.” Ackar gasped out. Perditus did not question him, he trusted Ackar, even if sometimes he wasn’t sure how he knew things. One of the three Glatorian he had noticed earlier had been killed, while none of the three robots he had watched appeared to have been stopped, and were now pursuing the other two Glatorian, who were fleeing toward himself and Ackar. Perditus worried that his efforts to save Ackar would be pointless, and that they would all die. One of the troops had no weapons, apparently believing that he stood a better chance of surviving if he ran instead of fought. The other soldier, however, still held a Thornax launcher; he fired it now, back at his wordless pursuers, then threw it at them, apparently having no more ammunition. Strangely, indeed, one of the strangest and most unusual things Perditus had ever seen, or ever would see was that, immediately after the Glatorian released his weapon, the things stopped, just stopped short, and began wandering about, walking off into the distance. Perditus, Ackar, and the other two Glatorian stared after them in bewilderment. “Well,” Began Ackar, “I suppose there is no end of surprise, and death, as long as this war plagues us.” Perditus nodded in agreement. Ackar turned and began trudging toward Vulcanus. Ackar stumbled and fell. Perditus helped him to his knees. “I can make it,” Ackar rasped out. “No,” Perditus ordered, “Don’t push yourself too hard, we won’t let you,” Perditus finished, glancing at both of the other Glatorian, who nodded in approval. “But I-“ “No,” interjected Perditus, cutting off Ackar. Ackar sighed, nodding. Ackar knew he was in no position to argue, and besides, Perditus was right. Ackar lay back in the sand, falling deep into sleep. Perditus took charge. “Alright,” He began, “We can’t go towards Skrall territory, he wouldn’t survive, none of us would. The Skrall would be glad we came, they would be grateful for such an easy chance to kill some of their foes, and especially Ackar, one of the Fire Tribe’s best field commanders.” “Then what do we do?” inquired one of the other Glatorian. “Well,” Perditus thought a moment before continuing, “The Skrall might follow the footsteps away from the site where we found the Skrall bodies, which would lead them here, so we can’t stay here. Hmmm, well, we’ll have to stay the night out here, that’s for sure, we’ll never make it back to the village in time, so I suggest we get as far as we can toward Vulcanus as possible before dark.” “What about him?” questioned one of the Glatorian, gesturing toward Ackar. “We’ll take turns carrying him,” answered Perditus, “two of us will carry him at a time.” The other two troops nodded their assent, then they both picked up Ackar and began following Perditus through the desert. Perditus led them towards the Fire Tribe village for hours, staying kios away from the Skrall borderline. Darkness began to envelop the desert, and Perditus began to help carry Ackar, giving one of the Glatorian a break. Suddenly, the sand around them erupted, this time, however, it wasn’t the sand that lunged at them, but the beings hidden beneath it. Six Sand Tribe warriors flung themselves at the group, and Perditus barked out, “Set down Ackar!” The Glatorian helping carry Ackar obeyed, and Perditus and the other two Glatorian formed a defensive triangle around Ackar’s sleeping form. The Sand Tribe warriors began slowly walking around the triangle. Perditus knew that they couldn’t survive this fight; they had no weapons, and were hopelessly outnumbered. He knew that their only chance of survival was to outwit their foes. Perditus raised his hands in surrender, and when the other Fire Tribe Glatorian glanced at him quizzically, he motioned for them to do the same. Slowly, both the other Glatorian raised their hands in surrender. “Halt!” one of the Sand Tribe warriors, obviously the leader, shouted. His troops immediately stopped walking around Perditus and the other Fire Tribe Glatorian, and stood, weapons ready, surrounding them. The Sand Tribe warrior who seemed to be the commander strode over to Perditus, assuming, because he had ordered other Fire tribe warriors to surrender, that he was their commander. “Are you the commander of these Glatorian?” he questioned Perditus. “No, he is,” Perditus replied, gesturing to the sleeping Ackar. “He needs medical attention within the next 19 hours.” The Sand Tribe commander answered, “That could be true, or it could not, we don’t like this war any more than you or anyone else, but I can’t just allow you to leave on your word alone.” “So what are you going to do with us?” Perditus inquired nervously. “Hmmm,” the Sand Tribe commander contemplated the situation for a moment, then continued “we will escort you to our camp, it is nearby, there, your friend can be looked over by our medic, and you will be our captives. I think that while you are enjoying our hospitality, you can repay us with information, whether you like it or not.” Perditus glared at the commander, however, he didn’t object, he was in no position to make requests, but he had no intention of betraying his tribe, whether this Sand Tribe commander liked it or not. “You two!” the Sand Tribe commander shouted, pointing at two of his warriors, “you walk behind us, keep an eye on our prisoners. And you!” he called, this time gesturing to one of his remaining Glatorian, “you walk on the right of the prisoners, while you!” he ordered, gesturing to yet another Sand Tribe warrior, “walk on the prisoners left. And you,” he pointed toward his only remaining troop, “will have the privilege of accompanying me in leading the prisoners.” Perditus could already tell that this commander was very self confident, thought a lot of himself, and was making sure that everyone knew who was in charge. Perditus imagined that it was likely that the Elemental Lord of sand and this Sand Tribe commander would have leadership issues, they probably already had. “Oh, pardon my manners,” the Sand Tribe warrior began, turning to face Perditus as his troops moved into position, “I’m already taking you captive and I haven’t even introduced myself, my name’s Kabrua, now move it!” Perditus and one of the other Fire Tribe Glatorian lifted Ackar and began to walk forward, following the remaining Fire Tribe warrior. A few minutes later, Ackar stirred, and Perditus quietly warned him not move, as that would let the Sand Tribe troops know that he was awake. Ackar waited silently for a minute, turning his eyes to check the situation. After a few minutes, Ackar whispered to Perditus, “Tell the Glatorian holding my feet to launch me up and over you on my signal.” Perditus nodded, then whispered to the Glatorian ahead of him, “I want you to carry Ackar’s feet now, and, on his signal, throw him up and over me.” The warrior’s eyes widened, but he didn’t question Perditus. The troop stepped back to take the other Glatorian’s place holding Ackar’s feet. Ackar then quietly questioned Perditus, “What are you doing?” Perditus responded in a whisper,“I thought this would be less suspicious.” Ackar waited silently for a moment, then shouted in a voice cracked because of his wound, “Now!” The warrior holding his feet then launched him up and forward, he spun in the air and landed on the face of the Sand Tribe Glatorian accompanying Kabrura in the lead, just as he was turning around. The Sand Tribe warrior he had landed on was knocked unconscious, and Ackar snatched his weapons, a Thornax Launcher and a sword. Kabrura, however, was not so easily downed, as Ackar grabbed the fallen troop’s weapons, he swung his blade at Ackar, catching him in the chest and sending him stumbling backward. Perditus and the other Fire Tribe warriors acted instantly, catching the Sand Tribe troops off guard. Perditus tackled the Glatorian on the left side of the group, while the Glatorian who had thrown Ackar attacked the one on the right. The remaining Fire Tribe Glatorian fought hard to defend against the Sand Tribe warriors in the rear, but couldn’t hold out for long. Perditus had knocked the Glatorian he had tackled to the ground, and they now struggled in the sand. Perditus grappled for the Glatorian’s hatchet, both he and his foe knew that they were at too close range to even try to use the Thornax Launcher, neither of them would be able to get in a good shot, and even if they could, they would hurt themselves as well, being so close. Perditus had broken the Thornax Launcher, however, not wanting his enemy to try to stand and get some distance then take a shot. Perditus pulled at the hatchet, and the Glatorian kicked him in the chest. Perditus had the wind knocked out of him, lost his grip on the hatchet, and the warrior drew back for the strike. Suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, Ackar stumbled back and tripped over Perditus, the Sand Tribe troop had only a moment to glance upward at Ackar before Ackar landed on him, knocking the hatchet from his hand. Perditus grabbed the hatchet. Ackar stood, and the soldier he had fallen on turned to look up only to find the handle of the hatchet flying down toward his face before a sharp pain and then only blackness. The Glatorian who had thrown Ackar was struggling to face his combatant. He had charged his opponent, however, the warrior he had attacked had great reflexes, and he was now on the losing end of a debate with frighteningly sharp axe blade. He ducked under another swing of the axe, hearing it whistle through the air as it passed over him. He came up then, trying to give his foe a strong uppercut, only to receive a knee in the stomach, an elbow to the face, then a punch that sent him sprawling in the sand. After landing hard in the sand, he opened his eyes to find the double-bladed axe streaking down toward him. He tried to scramble out of the way, but he was out of breath and weak, the axe blade sliced through his armor, digging into his left thigh, and he let out a cry of pain. The Glatorian lay stretched out on the ground, as the Sand Tribe warrior raised his axe for the final blow. Ackar turned to find Kabrura running toward the Fire Tribe troop who was taking on two other fighters, and was just about to go and help, when he noticed one of his fellow soldiers laying on the ground, an axe cut on his leg, with his opponent raising an axe over him. Ackar sprung forward, arms outstretched, ready to tackle the Sand Tribe warrior. He shouted, “Stop!” as he sprinted forward. The Sand Tribe Glatorian heard Ackar’s shout, but didn’t even glance up, he swung down with all his might, as the troop he swung his axe at cried out for mercy. The axe blade crashed into the Fire Tribe warrior’s chest with a “Clang!” then a sickening “Crunch!” and the warrior’s cries died along with him. Ackar crashed into the Sand Tribe warrior, but not very effectively, he seemed to have lost speed. Ackar had just witnessed the death of one of the soldiers under his command, the war had not been going on for long, and he was unused to the death of his troops. He was especially unused to trying to save his warriors, and failing. He blamed himself for the death of that Glatorian, he had been too slow, and now the death of that troop was on him. He stopped for a moment, too late to save the warrior, then, suddenly, he was knocked back to reality, and onto the ground, by the fist of the Sand Tribe Glatorian he had attacked.Perditus, meanwhile, had watched Ackar leap forward and had wanted to follow, but knew that the Fire Tribe warrior Kabrua was advancing on needed help. He struggled to his feet and charged after Kabrua. As he neared the Sand Tribe Commander, he raised his weapon. Suddenly, Kabrua, hearing Perditus, spun around and gave him a slash to the face with his sword. Perditus’s feet kept running forward even after he had been sliced in the face, and he fell onto his back. He was gasping for breath, his face was torn up, his metal armor fragmented, even shredded in some areas. Kabrua towered over him, holding his sword at the ready. Perditus, his left hand on his face, blocking his left eye, struggled to his feet. Kabrua laughed, and kneed him in the chin, knocking him back to the ground. Kabrua raised his sword to stab it into Perditus. Perditus realized that, although he usually preferred to fight honorably, his life was on the line, and honor wasn’t worth his life. He flung sand up into the face of his enemy, while scrambling to stand. But, unfortunately, Kabrua was used to such tricks, and brought the blade down without hesitation. Perditus felt an immense pain shoot through his right thigh, and cried out. He could no longer feel his leg. He dropped to the ground in a heap, pinned down by Kabrua’s blade, which had pierced straight through his leg and stabbed into the ground. The world began to darken, and Perditus turned to look at Kabrua as everything began to spin. He managed to find him standing, chuckling, just before the world went black. Ackar found himself in a very difficult situation, he was going to die. After being knocked to the ground, he had managed to trip his opponent, and now they both lay on the ground. His disadvantage was that his opponent was holding an axe, and he wasn’t. He quickly scrambled back, away from the Sand Tribe warrior, and his foe stood to his feet and followed. Ackar, noticing the Sand tribe Glatorian coming, leaped to his feet and stood ready. His enemy swung his axe horizontally, and Ackar ducked, then punched his opponent in the stomach, followed by a swift right-handed uppercut to the Glatorian’s jaw. His adversary was knocked to the ground and Ackar took advantage of the chance, seizing the axe while his enemy fell. Ackar moved like lightning, swinging the axe as his enemy hit the ground, and knocking him unconscious with a strong smack with the eye of the axe. He spun around, surveying the battle. Perditus had apparently just been knocked to the ground by the brutal Kabrua, and the other Fire Glatorian was being beaten by the remaining two Sand Tribe troops. Ackar made the quick decision that Perditus’ need was the least urgent, and rushed toward the other Fire Tribe Glatorian. He tackled one of the Sand Tribe Glatorian from behind, knocking him to the ground. He began to sit upright on the Glatorian, but received a strong bash in the face from the shield that the other Sand Tribe warrior held. He was knocked to the ground, but the Fire Tribe Soldier, regardless of his wounds, leapt into the legs of the Sand Tribe Troop who had hit him, knocking him down. Ackar sat back up, and the Glatorian he had tackled leaped toward him, sword at the ready. Ackar saw what he had to do, as his enemy flew through the air. He didn’t want to, but he wasn’t going to let himself be killed. As his enemy flew toward him, Ackar waited a split second until his foe was so close he wouldn’t have time to react, then, he flung his foot out like lighting, turning his head away at the same time. He heard the clang of his foot impacting the fighters’ face, the snap of the warriors’ neck, and the thud of his carcass falling to the ground. Ackar then turned to the left, toward the other Sand Tribe soldier, not looking toward the body of the warrior he had just killed. The soldier he had turned towards had an expression of rage on his face, because one of his fellow soldiers had just been killed, Ackar guessed. The Sand Tribe warrior kicked the weak and wounded Fire Tribe troop away, then stood, and advanced on Ackar. Ackar scrambled up, but it was too late, the warrior stood over him, hatchet in his left hand, shield in his right. He glared at Ackar for a moment, as Ackar waited for him to make the first move, then slammed the bottom of his shield into the ground so hard it dug in, while at the same time falling into a crouch behind the shield and swinging his hatchet down toward Ackar. Ackar, surprised by this move, scrambled awkwardly away, and was caught in the left arm by the hatchet. He cried out, and grabbed the hatchet with his right hand. He pulled the weapon, but his enemy was stronger, as he discovered when he was roughly jerked face first into the shield. He pushed himself away from the shield, but his foe ripped the shield out of the ground and kicked Ackar in the face. Ackar scrambled back, struggling back to his feet. As he stood, he saw the blur of the hatchet flying toward his neck, there was no time to move, but an object already in motion suddenly appeared in front of his neck, and the hatchet hit it. Ackar heard the object emit a cry, and watched as the object, to fast a moment ago to recognize, fell to the ground. It was the Fire Tribe warrior, he had sacrificed himself for Ackar. The hatchet protruded from the right side of his head, and Ackar stood for a moment, realizing what had just happened. Ackar then realized that the fight wasn’t over, and decided to ensure that the warrior hadn’t died in vain. The Sand Tribe soldier was also standing in shock at what had happened, about three feet from Ackar. He kicked the warrior in the left side of the head, knocking him to the ground. Ackar lunged toward him, but he raised his shield, and Ackar went sliding off of it, over the Sand Tribe troop and onto the ground. He stood and spun around, as his combatant did the same. They circled each other, then Ackar, near the fallen Fire Tribe Glatorian, pulled the hatchet out of his helmet, which it was still embedded in. His foes’ eyes narrowed at this action, and Ackar readied himself. His enemy charged forward, shield ready. Ackar dropped to the ground as his enemy was about to impact him, tripping him, then he leaped to his feet, and jumped and landed on the back of his enemy, knocking the wind out of him. As he drew back the knife, about to knock his foe unconscious with the handle, the warrior rolled over, and he was knocked to the ground. He landed roughly in the hot sand. His enemy smacked him with the shield, and he was momentarily stunned as his enemy reached for the hatchet. He recovered as the knife was snatched from his hand, and brought his left leg around, delivering a strong kick to the back of his combatants’ head. The Sand Tribe warrior was knocked unconscious, and fell to the ground. Ackar breathed heavily, then, remembering Perditus, grabbed the hatchet and shield. He stood to his feet, turning back toward Kabrua and Perditus. Perditus was lying on the ground, seemingly unconscious, and Kabrua was surveying the outcome of the battle. Ackar knew that Kabrua would win if they fought. Kabrua was visibly stronger, and Ackar had become tired and wounded from fighting, while Kabrua appeared to have been effected very little by the battle, and Ackar wondered if he had even fought anyone besides Perditus. Kabrua spotted him and grinned, standing ready for the impending battle. Ackar groaned inwardly. He wasn’t ready for this, he knew he would lose, he had to find an advantage. He quickly scanned the area, trying to find something that would give him an overwhelming advantage over Kabrua. He suddenly spotted a loaded Thornax launcher near where Perditus had been fighting before he battled Kabrua. He realized, disappointedly, that the Thornax launcher was broken. Kabrua relaxed his stance, and Ackar focused his attention on him, wondering what he was doing. Kabrua turned around, bent over, and lifted Perditus’ unconscious form off the ground, and held him up, with his sword pressed to his neck. Ackar realized that Kabrua wasn’t even going to fight, he was just going to force him to surrender by threatening Perditus. Kabrua shouted, “I’ve heard about you, Ackar, a rising general, constantly improving your skills, well, improve them now! Drop your weapons, or your friend will die!” Ackar sighed, and dropped his weapons in resignation. Kabrua smiled, and called, “Now go and rouse the surviving Sand Tribe warriors.” Ackar turned toward the closest living Sand Tribe soldier, unconscious in the sand, and began walking toward him. As he began tapping lightly on the Glatorian, he glanced over at Kabrua, and noticed Perditus’s eyes light up, as he regained consciousness. Ackar hid the emotion of hope and excitement that exploded within him as he turned back to the Glatorian he was awakening. Ackar began tapping the sand behind the soldier, hoping Kabrua wouldn’t notice his treachery, until it was too late.Perditus awoke with cold, sharp steel pressed against his throat. He didn’t move for a minute, trying to understand what was going on and why he was no longer on the ground. “Hurry up” he heard Kabrua shout from right above his head. He realized he would have to act fast if he was going to get out of this situation. He lifted his arms and threw Kabrua over his shoulder, and as Kabrua flew over him, he snatched the sword from his hand. Kabrua landed in the sand, winded, and before he could react, Perditus had brought down the pommel of the sword down on his forehead, knocking him unconscious. Ackar rushed over to him, calling, “Yes! Now let’s get out of here, before they wake up!” Perditus nodded, and they ran away, in the direction of Vulcanus. A few hours later, Perditus and Ackar, who had begun so enthusiastically on their journey back to Vulcanus, were struggling just to remain on their feet. Ackar stopped walking, and collapsed into the sand. Perditus collapsed next to him, wheezing, “We- we can’t stop now, we don’t have far to go.” “I know,” Ackar responded between gasps, “reach into my pack, I brought an extra Thornax in case we ran into trouble and our troops needed more ammunition. Perditus pulled out the Thornax, then asked, “What do I do with it?” Ackar replied, “You still have Kabrua’s sword, right?” “Yeah.”“Throw the Thornax into the sky as high as you can, then, throw the sword up and hit it, setting it off, which should signal a Fire Tribe patrol.”Perditus, too weary to respond, readied himself, then threw the Thornax into the air, he quickly threw the sword up after it. Unfortunately, he missed the Thornax, and he scrambled to catch it before it impacted the ground, as that would probably set it off. He remembered just in time to dodge the sword, and stepped out of the way as it stabbed into the ground. He tried once more, and this time it worked, and he collapsed on the ground, unconscious. Ackar managed to retain consciousness long enough to see a Fire Tribe patrol come hurrying over moments later, then he fell into the black pit of unconsciousness. Days later, Ackar and Perditus were sitting outside a military hospital in Vulcanus, their wounds bandaged. Ackar had learned much from his experience, disobeying orders was only to done to save a life, and, unfortuneatly, his actions had not been done to save any lives, and had eventually led to the loss of some. Ackar would always remember this experience, and applied to himself from then on, which made him a better warrior, leader, and being overall. “These are some pretty serious wounds,” Perditus remarked, “The scars of war everyone who survives will bear.”“No,” Ackar replied, staring off into the distance. Ackar had learned much from his experience, disobeying orders should only be done to save a life, and, unfortuneatly, his actions had not been done to save any lives, and had eventually led to the loss of some. Ackar would always remember this experience, and applied it to himself from then on, which made him a better warrior, leader, and being overall. Perditus turned and looked at him quizzically.“No, Perditus, these will heal, even if they leave marks. The true scars of war, are the memories.” ____________________________________________________________________________________Did you enjoy it? What were the good things about it and the bad? How could it be improved? Feedback is appreciated, and thank you for reading.
  17. I posted this on here a long time ago, back before the site was revamped, but this piece of art is still as awesome as ever, IMHO. It's a real, 3D, life-size Skrall shield that can actually be worn and used. I made it for Halloween 2010, with some help from my dad. It is plywood, and the maze pattern consists of raised pieces of wood.The shield: http://www.brickshelf.com/gallery/Krakax/SkrallShield/100_0309.jpgReverse: http://www.brickshelf.com/gallery/Krakax/SkrallShield/100_0310.jpgWorn on the arm: http://www.brickshelf.com/gallery/Krakax/SkrallShield/100_0314.jpgHope you all like it!
  18. A little taste of what I plan for my fan epic, entitled Sins of Our Forefathers. The picture was all done by hand, gimp, and word's paint. It took a few days and several hours to get this accomplished in total, sometime during the summer when I worked on this. Overall, I feel a strong emotion behind this piece when I look at, and I like that with my pieces. I feel it is an accomplishment when I manage to retain vibrant works like this. I hope this is with others, 'cus I'm already proud to have done it.If you'd like to see the story behind this, you can click on the "spoiler" tag below to reveal the info about it:This picks off where Disgrace Amongst the Skrall left (sort of), but it follows a different approach rather than by the view of an ex-Skrall. Now it follows the story of lamentation and fulfillment by Padelean, a female Skrall recently afflicted by amnesia (loss of memory of her past self), but she still remembers bits and pieces of her troubled life.... especially the pain brought by it. Now she struggles to find her identity, as well as find Malduki in time to save him.Otherwise, enjoy and comment on it.-Toa Deserok
  19. This is a tale passed between the Agori of Bara Magna to the Matoran of the Great Spirit Mata Nui, a story that had its origins only a short time before their coexistence with each other on the reformed Spherus Magna. It is a tale of three warriors – an outcast, a champion, and a veteran – and the very brief meeting between them. Although the arena system of commerce is no longer used by the Agori, the Glatorian still take the lesson that this tale teaches to heart; the Skrall tribe, however, will no longer hear of its telling. It is a story of honor, respect, and courage, in their truest forms. ------------------------------------ It was a cold night in the great desert of Bara Magna; even though it was a sea of everlasting sand, lit by a relentless sun, it became a frosty, lifeless place when that mighty orb sank and the moon raised its baleful color high into the sky. A lonely pallor was cast over the whole land at night; a ghostly radiance illuminating all of existence beneath it, even the small figure seated next to a bright spot of light. His white, scratched armor gleamed dully from the glow of his fire. Gelu - the tracker, the escort of numerous convoys across the windswept and perilous sands - reclined easily in his oasis of light amidst the chilly and dim environment. He was out of work, now, and as he sat there, contemplating the stars above him, he shifted uneasily. Thoughts of the Agori settlement of Tesara, thoughts which jeered at his loneliness, flooded over him. It was the closest settlement to him, yet he couldn’t reach it during the day, and he didn’t want to take the risk of travelling at night. Although he was a seasoned Glatorian, and now an even greater caravan escort, the Bone Hunters had been on the rise, recently. The campfire burned low as he scanned the grayish-tan visa with his solemn eyes. Bone Hunters had to sleep sometime, Gelu thought, but that thought was slowly being pushed aside by another that raised the question that perhaps, to them, rest only meant a long-awaited death. Looking up at the stars again, he pondered the entirety of life on Bara Magna. He knew he would be a fool to say that it wasn’t miserable, although there were those that disagreed; those that were driven by the vague promise of hope. Gelu remembered the young Tajun Glatorian, the one who always knew that, somewhere, anywhere out there, there was a better place than this sandpit. Somewhere that the Agori could be given purpose; where the Glatorian didn’t have to fence each other in and destroy each other. Somewhere.... His eyes began to droop and his consciousness began floating off. Suddenly, something grabbed him back into awareness - a stench, a smell. Something here was not right. Vorox, he thought. The beautiful thing about the high desert wind was that a range of smells could be carried to the nostrils of such experienced trackers as Gelu. Slowly, silently, he shifted his position to get a better understanding of his surroundings. Not seeing anything, he grabbed his twin Exsidian broadswords, still glancing this way and that for any sign of the preying waste-landers. He had to act fast, if he wanted to avoid any trouble. And then again, perhaps some profit could be made from the savages. It wasn’t that Gelu was a slaver - he detested that practice - but the way he saw it, they were absolute nuisances to everyone else. In a way, it was an acceptable substitution to taking other Agori, who were both more intelligent and more valuable. Without a moment to lose, a brilliant scheme came to him. He dashed behind a nearby dune, but not before he threw open one of his supply packs and made an effort to scatter a bit of it on the ground. From a distance, he watched and waited, suffering the chills of the moonlit desert night. It wasn’t long before success was granted to him - one lone Vorox wandered into the camp, sniffed the air, and began picking through the supply pack. Better one than three, Gelu thought. He readied his swords and got everything in place - a fist-sized roll of linen bandages was readied in his hand, as he prepared to launch it at the opposite dune. The plan was almost too perfect - sometimes, Gelu wondered, if he weren’t a caravan escort and if his moral viewpoints weren’t holding him back, how good of a slaver he’d be. But he caught himself in mid-thought - what was he doing, stalling like that? The roll was gripped in his fist and his arm was cocked back behind his head. A nerve inside of him made him hesitate - and just as suddenly as he had realized the presence of that hesitation, something unusual happened. The Vorox stopped what it was doing, reared up, and emitted a guttural cry. Gelu ducked down, startled by the scavenger’s strange behavior. He readied himself for anything, as he grabbed his swords and checked his footing. He grimaced, as the last of the piercing notes died in the cold nocturnal air. So much for having to deal with only one... He could hear the sand being kicked up as five other Vorox skidded into the camp. They chattered to themselves for awhile, and then grew silent. Now, other footsteps could be heard - heavier, almost familiar footsteps. The prattling started up again, but was joined by a gruff voice which spoke the same broken dialect as the Vorox did. The strange thing to Gelu, however, was that the voice, even in such primitive utterances, carried with it the accent used by those of Vulcanus. He decided to take a quick peek over the dune at the strange communion. Among the Agori, it is said that whenever one wanders too far into the desert or stays in the sun for too long, one sees mirages. Gelu was beginning to wonder if such trickery of the eyes was happening to him. What he saw baffled him - an assembly of six Vorox, hunched around the fire - tamed, for that matter - and, seated at the head of the meeting, a familiar figure. He was so recognizable that Gelu almost wanted to call out to him in friendly greeting, and yet there was something odd about this person altogether. He wore the red armor of Vulcanus, but it was heavily pitted and slightly sun-bleached in some areas. Atop his head, on top of his own helmet, was tied the skull of a Vorox - one more jagged and spiny than those of the rest of the Vorox present. He had the claws of a behemoth-like desert creature tied to his upper arms, hunkered over his shoulders. Across his waist was tied a belt of Thornax vines, with a dagger made out of the helm of a Skrall thrust through it. He held a shield of that same hated tribe in one hand; in the other, he held aloft a spear with the head of a Rock Steed mounted on it. His appearance was mighty and the Vorox seemed to respect - nay, fear him. He and Gelu had met before. His name was Malum. Crouching down, he himself inspected the contents of the bag, eyeing the canteen of water and a small sack of food rations. He rose again, turned this way and that, and whistled out loud, as to signal someone. Gelu did not know what to think of Malum, in this new state - no one knew what had become of him. However - at least from what Gelu could see - he was somehow able to make peace with the Vorox and tame them. Perhaps, he thought, he might’ve changed with all that sun on him. Facing the decision of whether or not to confront him, he heard the crunch of sand underneath foot nearby - Malum had sent Vorox to scout the area around the camp. Putting all fears beside him, Gelu threw his swords away from him, towards a blank area near the fire, which no one seemed to be occupying. He rose slowly, with his hands above his head. The Vorox noted him and froze, drawing their swords to the ready. Gelu merely walked forward, slowly. “Easy,” he said. “I don’t want any trouble.” Malum waved his hand and the Vorox backed down. He cleared a spot on the ground for himself, and then one for Gelu, beckoning the escort to join him. As Gelu sat down, Malum fished through the pack, hoping for something to eat. Not finding anything to his pleasure, he set the pack down beside him, leaned back, and lowered his eyes to sleep. Gelu sat and watched him, a bit impatiently. Well, it’s better than sitting away from the fire, if anything, he thought. Ten minutes passed. Half an hour followed it. Finally, after a full hour must’ve passed, Gelu truly felt his patience running thin and his hunger rising. He reached for the pack, but the sleeping Malum caught hold and held fast to it. One eye slowly opened, as Gelu sat stunned by the unexpected reflexes. “Only one hour? Too impatient; you must achieve patience to win the battle.” “One hour? How is anyone supposed to contain their hunger for that long?” Malum sighed and sat up, the various implements of his armor clanking as he did so. “Only the truest of warriors can withstand such a test. I see you need much training, still.” “I’m not in the arena, anymore. Anyways, what do you want with my things?” “Is it not obvious that my warriors and I require food and warmth ourselves to survive?” “Oh, I thought you were a true warrior - didn’t realize you needed those things, too.” Malum smirked at this. He spoke again, returning to his business. “I seek the Justicar. Perhaps you know of him?” The words hung in the air for a moment, as if no ears had accepted the inquiry and it was left to die alone. The silence ended softly, as Gelu spoke up. “He’s the leading Skrall competitor,” he explained. “When neither Stronius nor Branar are in the ring, he is, and Tuma puts every resource that Roxtus has on the betting table.” “This, I know. And they say that he is unbeatable....?” “Yes - and that’s the truth, too. He nearly killed Vastus during the last match I saw. I ended up having to drag a shipment of driftwood all the way to Roxtus, just for that little spectacle. And that’s the first time Vastus has lost in awhile.” “No one is unbeatable, Gelu. Learn this, if anything. All can become conquered; he who cannot become conquered is already dead and beyond us.” Gelu shrugged at Malum. “Look,” he said, “I’ve got to admit, the day we threw you out of Vulcanus, you managed to land some pretty good punches on me.” If Malum still had the willpower and good nature left in him to smile at this, he would. “But you know my job, so you must know how conditioned I am. Essentially I could walk back into the ring right now and get pretty high up in the ranks pretty quickly – if I didn’t have to manage my way through all the Skrall dominators.” Gelu shifted a bit, as he managed to get a food pack open. Malum showed no sign of caring whether or not Gelu touched them, now. “But the Justicar? He stands taller than anyone else in the ring,” Gelu continued. “His whole body’s covered, either with plate-blacksteel or spikes – spikes as big as your fist. His helmet’s virtually a chunk of blacksteel with an eye-slit cut into it.” “Does he use a Thonax launcher?” “No – not that I’ve seen, at least. He only uses sword and shield, but the size of them alone is staggering.” Malum seemed to make a note of this fact as he ran his hands over the Rock Steed skull. “Well, maybe not to me.” Gelu eyed him cautiously. “And just what do you think you’re up to?” “Does not Outcast keep to his own? Or do I distinguish a tone of anxiousness in your voice?” “I just want to know, alright? This sounds like it could be a good conversation starter with the traders. Especially back home at Iconox – it’s either gossip, or they won’t say a stray word otherwise.” Malum reclined back, as he relaxed in the campfire’s warmth and let out a long, peaceful sigh. “I do this for revenge, Iconi.” “Revenge? What did he ever do to you?” “Several times as I’ve passed over the dunes of this vast place, the Skrall have attacked me, for no reason but for plunder. They are worse than the Bone Hunters, now – the Bone Hunters, they will only raid caravans, as you would know, but the Skrall have become hostile to anyone traversing the same path that they are. Not only that, but the current situation of every arena across the face of Bara Magna also worries me. I know it sounds strange, but I still care for the Agori.” “Why would you? We hurled you out of Vulcanus, no different than what we’d do with a Bone Hunter.” “Because, Gelu, it is a lesson learned only by thinking greatly and deeply over time. Take the largest Agori settlement here, if you would care for me to lecture. They have already established a system of pit-fighting in order to trade by using the Glatorian, instead of killing each other themselves. One race of Agori believes that they are to be above all else, to unite all of Bara Magna underneath their banner, but only as subjects, not equals. To begin this ‘great crusade’, if you will, they place their highly trained and conditioned warriors into the ring. Now, because none of the other tribes are winning matches, all of the resources being traded are going only to this dominating tribe. The worst part about all of this is that, soon, either the Agori will refuse to trade with the Skrall at all and be killed for it, or they give in and are made slaves.” “But you can’t possibly beat the Justicar! You’d be better off trying to track down every single Bone Hunter on the loose and bring them to justice.” Gelu waved his hand through the air, emphasizing his outlook on the seemingly ridiculous proposal. “A lot of things can be willed in life – perhaps some of them can be accomplished, if willed strong enough.” “But you earnestly think you can defeat him? He’s not only among the race of the best fighters of Bara Magna, but he’s the best among the best!” Frustration upon his face now joined Gelu’s hand motions. “Are you even listening to what I’m saying, anymore?” Malum sighed, his face growing weary.“The only one I listen to anymore is Certavus, for he guides and protects me still.” “Certavus?” “Yes; I know that, even though he is gone from this world, perhaps resting in the afterlife, he continues to watch over us, as he did those he trained in the arena. He was our father, Gelu.”Awe filled the features of the Iconian’s face, as he remained unmoving, due to the outcast’s last remark. It was difficult to argue with a warrior who considered the best arena fighter in Bara Magna’s history as some sort of ethereal deity of combat mastery. “Of course, but…the Book is lost. How do you really know that he’s ‘watching over’ you, anyway?” “If it can be believed, it can be willed. Strong belief leads into the creation of an idea, an idea that cannot die or be rendered useless.” Malum stared into the dying flames. “It is an enigma which cannot even be considered unless you live within these sands, in this barren wilderness. I feel that, had it not been for that idea of Certavus watching over me, protecting me, I would’ve died several times over. And the Book has been found, by the by, although I don’t believe I’ll need it.” “How do you know you won’t?” Malum, deciding that the conversation was nearing its end, slowly stood, brushing himself off and gathering his weapons. “I don’t read.” As he stalked away, the unnoticed Vorox tagging along with him, Gelu called out to him. “To the winds, Vulcani!” He stopped in his tracks and turned to Gelu. “Thank you, Iconi; however, I wish it be that you stay out of this feud. See to it that you complete your job - and hold out for more than just one hour!” Gelu sat back down and stared at the fire as Malum continued on his way. He could see that the outcast’s vigilantism would soon be carried out, as determined as he was. Putting it off of his mind, he nestled down next to the fire and began to fall asleep. A much needed rest, indeed, he thought. ------------------------------------ The night was the busiest time for the city of Roxtus. There were ‘special’ matches being held in the arena, which usually consisted of a slave-warrior fighting a Spikit, or two groups of various, illegally imprisoned Glatorian fighting to the death. This, of course, drew the merchants - namely the Bone Hunters and slavers - en masse to witness the more gruesome entertainment. The rest of Bara Magna had disagreed with Tuma; they believed in the more humane ways of the arena, such as fair play, no fatalities, and good sportsmanship. Tuma, on the other hand, had more capitalistic ideas. The welfare of Roxtus was practically at its highest with the income from these anarchic, outlandish exhibitions. He stood there, in a chamber with a broad casement overlooking the city’s arena. The entertainment that night spotlighted an enslaved Glatorian from Tajun fighting a starved Iron Wolf, which the Skrall had managed to capture with some difficulty. Tuma observed the match, hands gripping the rails and a smile on his face. Glatorian didn’t matter - the more that Roxtus could afford to get rid of, the better. As the Tajun Glatorian began to lose and the voracious cheers of the arena erupted, Tuma left the balcony and retreated to the room behind it. It was dim, but slightly lit by a lone torch. A tall, black and red figure reclined on a fur-covered couch on the far wall. “How is the match tonight, my lord?” “If you would get off of your black, metal haunches and see for yourself, Axior, you’d be much more pleased.” He stalked around the chamber, eyeing the lounging Justicar. “That seems to be your problem, Axior. You’ve been under my command ever since the War; I’ve practically raised you into the warrior that you are now. You are the Justicar - a title not lightly given. I expect you,” he punctuated, as he put his clawed hand down on the arm of the couch, “to be both Roxtus’s and my own personal medium, showing us all that it will be the Skrall alone who rule this miserable sandpit and its pitiful Agori. And yet you merely sit there, expecting me to satiate and watch over you.” Axior chuckled, as he sat up. “My lord, I am sorry that I offend you so,” he began, “but I need my rest as well. Why is it that you do not fight in the arena? Surely with your great power-” Tuma wheeled on him. “A wretch such as you would not understand my class. We are meant to think, not to get our hands dirty, such as you are. And you’ve rested quite long enough - you’ve already missed out on three matches through the week. Laziness, Axior, is a downfall. You’re a lazy, spoiled brat, Axior.” This time, Axior stood to his full height - about as tall as Tuma himself, even though the latter was of the Elite class. A menacing look was in the fighter’s eye and the edge of his voice was deadly. “You do know, my lord, I can kill you at any time. I can kill you even now.” Tuma’s stance shifted a little. “I have no problem with you not being here.” “And this is why I am in charge of Roxtus - you can’t think beyond swinging a sword. After you strike me down, the whole of Roxtus will see what you have done and come after you, on charges of treason. They know that I am the leader, Axior. Not you. They only respect you as a thing.” Axior’s glance shifted downwards, as the realization dawned upon him that Tuma was right. “Don’t think you can try to outrun or outfight your brothers, Axior.” “But what am I to do, caged up in this place?! You blame me for being lazy, but no one wants to fight me! I say that we abandon all of this...polite behavior, this sentimental slop, and begin raiding the cities again!” Tuma seemed to contemplate this, as, pushing Axior out of the way, he took his own seat on the couch and rested his chin in his hand. “It is true, Axior, that the other tribes have been....reluctant to face us, after we raided Atero. But we cannot openly attack them, yet - it may not look like it, but they still remain strong enough to drive us off. Still, there must be something for you to do...it’s no good, having a champion sit around and decay; on top of that, you are starting to annoy me with your presence...” They could both hear the lusty cheers of mayhem and violence occurring outside. The next match, Tuma surmised, would be the nightly special event, which was the Pit of Sand Vipers. Just at that moment, a Roxtian Agori, escorted by two guards, entered the chamber, holding a stone slab. “L-lord Tuma,” he said, shakily, “this was just delivered to us by a...a pack of Vorox.” “Delivered?” “Well...no, sire. They attacked us and- and dropped this on their retreat.” “There,” Tuma said, taking the tablet and turning to Axior, “there’s your solution. The Vorox population could certainly use a good check...why don’t you go out and destroy the lot of them, and be sure to bring me back a few for the arena. I could use them.” Tuma dismissed the Agori and the guards, and turned his attention to the message. Time seemed to stand still for a few moments, as he read the slab. Axior could barely read, so he focused on the sounds of the crowd outside; his attention would’ve been wasted on trying to decipher the message. After what seemed several long moments, Tuma let out a long, thoughtful sigh. He turned to Axior again. “The Vorox can wait. It seems that you’ve already found a combatant.” Now, the Justicar’s eyes lit up. “Who is it? Where?” “You will meet him at the place where Atero once stood - or, at least, whatever remains of it now. Your opponent will be the Vorox chieftain.” Axior’s laugh boomed, resounding throughout the room and down the halls of Roxtus. “The Vorox chieftain wants to fight me, the champion of the Skrall? The champion of all of Bara Magna? Hah! I am offended by such an offer - shall I fight such lowly scum as that?” “Be careful with words, Axior - you have no use for them. I would advise that you take this offer up, for if you can defeat the Vorox and bring them under our total control, then the whole of Bara Magna would respect us even more. They would not dare defy the tribe that tamed and defeated their feral cousins...” Tuma rose and walked back over to the balcony, beckoning Axior to join him. The Pit of Sand Vipers event was coming to a close, as the last of ten Glatorian pathetically held his own against the slithering, deadly ground. It was a most interesting event, the main purpose of which, outside of raw entertainment, was to contrast the reaction time of the average Glatorian against that of the desert’s most pestilent inhabitant. Tuma absolutely loved it, as it also demonstrated how weak most Glatorian were against mere Sand Vipers. Turning to Axior, he spoke again. “Gather three platoons and begin your journey tonight towards the south. You will meet this chieftain at Arena Magna and defeat him in battle. Use the Skrall to your advantage - there is no doubt that he will bring with him all of the Vorox tribe. Do not fail me, Axior, or you may lose your current position, title, and familiar state of being alive.” As the dawn began to rise, the desert saw several hundred Skrall leave for the ruins of Atero with Axior at the head, marching off for victory. ------------------------------------ The Skrall had already overrun Atero and decimated much of it, which severely strained the tension between them and the other tribes. It was in great disorder - however, since very little of the foundation had been eradicated, it had not yet plunged into the immense Sand Falls, which it was built over. The sandstone structures that were strewn about the area – statues of arena victors, pillars, plaques, memorials, whatever remained of vendor booths and personal quarters – marked the northern raiders’ march on the arena-city. Now, the blazing sun seared its burning anger and radiance down upon the ghost of the desert’s capital, setting its course and vanquishing the chilly horror of the night. But what was about to commence this day would be a terrific fright in and of itself. Dawn passed, and Axior and his troops had arrived an hour before, now making camp within the desolate place. The ruins were completely empty. By noontide, they were getting impatient for the fight to begin. Of the Vorox chieftain, there was no sign. Some of the Skrall began to state, quite spitefully, that it was a trap, wherein the Vorox could easily topple one of the barely surviving sandstone structures on top of them, or perhaps a mockery to be made of Axior and the whole of Roxtus’s warrior class by inviting them to a challenge and leaving them to wander for hours in the hot sun. Axior himself, however, knew that the Vorox were not that intelligent, and remained with patient expectations. As another hour passed, however, he himself was bored of waiting for the chieftain. Finally, Axior’s designated opponent showed himself, much to the Skrall’s surprise. They weren’t sure what was more intriguing - that he was extremely late or that this challenger was not even a Vorox at all. Tagging along behind him, as if Tuma had planned what he’d said, was a formidable force consisting of a great deal of Vorox and a few of the Zesk. The two opposing leaders walked up to each other, dragging their armaments behind them, eventually meeting in the middle of the barren Arena Magna. It seemed like days had passed during their approach towards one another.Axior really was an impressive sight. He stood taller than Malum, and he was much broader, as well. In one hand was a giant, black great-sword; in the other was a triangular shield, equally as massive. His whole body was covered in thick, blacksteel armor, with spikes jutting out at the crucial places of vulnerability. All in all, he was a midnight black tower of steel and pain, a colossus of brutality. But Malum was not easily intimidated. He was quite a barbaric sight, himself; a few of the Skrall looked hesitant to face him. But this was a match between only two warriors - the champion of the ring and the champion of the wastelands.It was Axior who broke the tense silence, with his harsh, grating voice. “What kind of chieftain are you? You are not even of the Vorox.” “No,” replied Malum, “I’m not. But these are my people - they obey me, now.” Axior smirked, toeing the sand underneath his feet with his armor-clad boot. “So if I were to kill you, they would answer to me?” “You must be mistaken, Justicar - they don’t answer to that low of scum.” “Strong words, for a mere outcast. It’s a shame that you won’t be able to talk that smart after we’re through here.” Axior shoved Malum with such a force that it would have sent an Agori soaring backwards, yet Malum remained firmly planted, as a tree against a strong wind. “You take care of what words escape your tongue today, Roxti. Those who speak highly of themselves will scrounge the ground for scraps of food, and become their enemies’ servants.” Malum warned. Axior chuckled. “You are already a servant to fools, Vulcani. You lead these beasts as if you have a place in the world, but really you are no better than they are in this wasteland. “ Malum shifted his stance a bit. “I beg to differ,” he said, as he began to bring his skull-mace around in a wide, sweeping arc, “you are the fool as you stand there, you dirt-sucking invalid.” His swing was true, and the ghostly arena rang with the sound of bone cracking against the metal helmet of Axior. The Skrall were in an uproar as the preliminary strike was dealt. They filled one half of the arena floor, at Axior’s back; however, they were not the only audience there, as hundreds of Vorox occupied the opposing half, behind Malum. Axior was on the ground, supporting himself with one arm. He had dropped his sword and his shield was useless to him, in the position that he was in; through the blinking lights that flew across his eyes, he could see Malum, just standing there. Why didn’t the outcast attack? Now was a better opportunity than ever to finish the Skrall off. He began to rise again, swaying this way and that, throwing curses into the air. “How....how dare you attack me in an unsporting manner; you thief, you dog!” “Really? Did you come up with that charge yourself, or is that what all the Glatorian you’ve ever faced in the arena said to you?” Axior snarled and lunged towards him, cleaving downwards with his huge sword. Malum moved skillfully out of the way and came right back at him, jabbing at the Skrall with the spear-point of his strange but grisly weapon. Axior backed off, and then slammed into Malum with his shield. The points of the steel barricade dug into Malum’s armor, causing him to yelp in pain and crumple to the ground. He raised his battered Skrall shield into the air, hoping to fend off an attack, but Axior merely swatted it out of the way. As the Justicar prepared for the killing blow, Malum ripped off his belt and thrust the sharpened Skrall helmet into Axior’s breastplate, managing to cause some damage. As the Skrall shuffled backwards in pain, howling, Malum swung his weapon again and scored him a blow into the stomach. Annoyance quickly evolved into rage as Axior blindly swatted the air with his weapons. He managed only to cuff Malum across the face with the huge, curved pommel of his sword. As the Vulcanian fell to the ground once again, Axior tossed away his shield and grabbed his sword with both of his hands. Another downward slice was aimed at Malum, but the red-clad warrior unexpectedly rolled out of the way and underneath the Justicar, nearly sweeping him off of his feet. He quickly picked himself up and hefted his hammer; he saw a golden opportunity to strike at Axior, now that he was behind him. Axior tried to turn around but before he could, Malum swung his hammer again and caught him behind the knee, causing him to kneel down in pain. From there, Malum grabbed the elongated point of the traditional Skrall helmet that Axior wore - he never got why they were designed like that - and, holding the helmet in one hand, he brought the hammer down hard upon Axior’s head. After the ringing metal sound had subsided, the Justicar realized what had just happened. He was prone on the ground, with his weapons laying several feet from him. The lights returned to his eyes, spinning and flashing around, ensuing nausea and extreme agony. He tried to roll over, but his thick armor was painful where the protrusions dug into his own body. Barely managing to get up, he scanned the area around him for the things of the most immediate importance to him: his sword, his shield, and Malum attacking him. He retrieved his arms, but of Malum, there was no sign. Axior held his sword high above his head and yelled. “Hah! Some chieftain of lowly waste-landers you are, Malum! Show yourself, or I deem you a coward and my Skrall army shall run you down!” Only the uproar of chaos replied to him. Both the Skrall and the Vorox had erupted into open combat by this point; the sounds of battle echoed so badly throughout the ruined arena that it was deafening. Yet Axior wondered if Malum had been an apparition all along, some lost soul who had died in the heat and loneliness of the desert and had come back to torture those who would accept his invitation - his snare - to the ruined Arena Magna. In his pondering, Axior spied deep foot tracks in the sand. From his viewpoint, they led to one of the arena’s caved-in walls; he decided to leave the rabble and follow Malum outside. So, he had ran away from him. Some brave-talking chieftain he was - he couldn’t even finish an enemy off. Now, Axior would show him true pain and suffering, and the Vulcani would feel real cowardice. How convenient, he surmised, for Malum to choose an area immediately outside of Arena Magna to fight - that was where the perilous sand falls were. He was standing on a barren, rocky cliff, now, still with no sign of Malum. It was broad enough to maneuver but combat would be tricky - at least he had the benefit of traction. The footprints continued in the sand. Axior stalked forward, very slowly - his enemy could jump out at him at any time. Behind some of the rubble, Malum observed the Skrall making his way cautiously around the outside. He wasn’t going to assault him from surprise - true, he could use this advantage and push him over the falls, but Malum wanted his victory to be fair, at least. A sound next to the outcast made him turn in surprise, fearful that one of the Skrall troopers had found him. It was only Gelu, who had somehow sneaked his way into the arena and hid next to Malum. He brandished a small, Exsidian dagger in his mouth, in a sort of cliché, renegade fashion. Crouching down next to Malum, he removed the knife from his mouth and joined him in spying on Axior. “Thought I’d miss the fight, eh Vulcani?” “Get out of here, Gelu.” “No, I’m not letting you get killed by that...thing. Besides, if you do take him down, some has to bring the news to the villages.” Malum glared at Gelu, until he got the message. “Alright! But I’m still hanging around. You can’t chase me out of here completely, outcast!” Gelu snaked behind him for a moment, and then was gone. Malum had to admit, the envoy did have good speed and stealth, which was required for the job. Then again, he reconsidered, that was probably why he left the arena so early - those were the only skills that he had. Clearing all thoughts from his mind, Malum turned his attention back to the situation at hand; as Axior came near, he slowly rose, hammer and shield in his hands. The giant, armored Skrall lashed out with his sword, filled with hatred and malice. He used any means possible, now, to bring Malum down. Jabbing wildly with his sword, he pushed Malum back, and then kicked up the sand into his face. As his opponent scratched at his own eyes, Axior took the advantage and crushed him with a heaving blow from his massive shield. Malum now lay on the ground, badly hurt and his shield cracked down the middle. It was useless to him, now - with all his might, he hurled it towards Axior, but with a flash of the giant sword, it was rent in two. He scrambled around on the ground, still clutching his hammer, trying to find a way to defend himself. Hefting it in both hands, he wildly swung it back and forth, fending off most of the blows, but Axior somehow managed to get past his scattered defense and stab him in the shoulder. A howl of agony erupted from Malum. He kicked his foot out hard against one of Axior’s armored, steel boots, but was immediately met with pain. There was a final stroke coming down towards Malum, but, mustering all of the will power that was left in him, he managed to lung his head towards Axior’s chest and ram him at full force with the Vorox skull which was tied atop his helmet. The Skrall staggered backwards, stunned that he was unable to defeat this pesky outcast once again. Perhaps, he thought, his own pride had got the best of him, and he’d underestimated both his opponent and this situation. Malum had used this chance to recover and put some distance between him and Axior. Suddenly, an idea formed in the Skrall’s mind, as he observed the surrounding landscape. A pillar - one of the spires which once stood high over the arena - had fallen, and now was teetering on the edge of the cliff, jutting straight out over the falls. A cruel smile flickered underneath the jet black helmet. Axior took up his attack upon Malum again. They were both weary from battle, now - their eyes were haggard and their movements were sluggish. Malum, much to Axior’s delight, allowed the Skrall to push him back towards the fallen spire. The Justicar laughed aloud as Malum stepped on the shifty surface. “You may have reached higher ground, Vulcani,” he said, “but I still have the upper hand!” Axior tossed his shield aside and struck the sandstone with his sword; Malum, in reaction, began shuffling backwards, careful not to miss a step. Again and again, Axior chipped at the spire, hoping to break it off with sheer force, but nothing seemed to work. By the time that Malum was a good ways away from him, he decided to give up his efforts and pursue his quarry. The outcast was now dangerously suspended over the sand falls, yet still standing on two feet. As Axior moved closer and closer towards him, he could feel the spire shaking, almost ready to snap. Malum smiled, content with his luck. He allowed Axior to budge just close enough to be able to kill him, and, holding his hammer out, spoke. “Go on, Axior, kill me! Defeat your opponent - look, I am still armed, even! It will be fair!” The Justicar could see nothing but a haze of red anger. The only audible sounds were the rushing of the falls and his heavy breathing. “I will do more than defeat you, Vulcani! I will tear you into two halves and spread your entrails across the desert, so that they may be consumed! Your body shall never be found!” “Neither shall yours, Justicar - and your fate shall be even worse!” Followed with a bellowing war-cry, the huge black sword came careening down towards Malum. In just a split second, however, time seemed to stop moving. Malum leapt up and over Axior as the sword came cleaving down; he pushed off of the blacksteel helment in a mighty spring. Heaving the hammer high into the air, he sailed over the Justicar, as the spire began dropping. As soon as he landed, he slammed his weapon into the base of the rock. Axior, plunging to his doom, glanced back at Malum, before the murky, crushing sand veiled him from sight forever. Victory tasted neither sweet nor bitter in the outcast’s mouth - it was over, and that was that. He lay on the ground beside the cliff, limbs sprawled out and his face towards the shining sun. It was soon eclipsed, however, by Gelu hovering over him. A look of worry upon the white Glatorian’s face was soon replaced by a smile. “I told you that hanging around would be a good idea.” “At least I don’t need saving, Iconi,” he said, “but that Skrall may need somehelp.” Gelu strode over to the edge and peered down. He let out a whistle of amazement. “No more Justicar for Roxtus, then, I suppose.” “All for the better.” Malum tried to sit up, but he recoiled with pain; Gelu rushed over and helped him to stand. The outcast, once he was back on his feet, gazed all around him at the ruin and decay, and then down at his hammer. As he looked decisively between the wreck and the weapon, a long moment of silence drifted over the two Glatorian. Finally, Malum took his hammer in both hands, twisted back, and lobbed it into the falls. Gelu stood there, stunned, as Malum began trekking back into the arena. “Don’t worry about it,” he called back, “I’ll get another one.” Both the Skrall and Vorox had left the vicinity, but not before leaving behind evidence of their scuffle. Here and there were scattered fragments of bone from the weapons of the Vorox, chipped and broken shields from the Skrall, and several hundred footprints in the sand. Gelu picked up a piece of shield and inspected it. “Either they had a bit of a scuffle,” he said, thoughtfully, “or they were dancing quite aggressively.” “Don’t be a fool, Gelu.” Malum said back. “They probably dragged the bodies out, if there were any survivors.” “Do you think there were any left?” “I have my doubts, but I’m sure some Vorox remain, at least. You know as well as I do, though, the tensions between the Skrall and the Vorox. If they had the chance, they’d wipe each other off the face of this land.”Malum began rummaging around on the ground, in search of something. “Is that why you brought the tribe with you?” “To be honest with you, Gelu, they followed me here. I wasn’t anticipating nearly half of the Skrall army being here, though, so my thanks goes out to them.” He looked up at Gelu and pointed a finger in the general direction of the desert. “I didn’t ask them to come along, they knew. They’re more than barbaric animals, Gelu.” The white Glatorian nodded, and Malum continued scrounging around. After awhile, Gelu asked him: “What are you looking for?” “Found any good knives lying around?” “Why?” But before he received an answer, Malum plucked something out of the ground and strode over to what little was left of the arena stands. Above this section towered another spire, still intact. When he reached it, after climbing the broken steps into the stands, he dug the Vorox-made knife he found into the sand stone, and began carving words. Gelu stood back and watched, his stomach rumbling, begging for food. Hold out for longer... After awhile, he decided to follow Malum into the stands to see what he was doing. As the last rune was carved, Gelu reached the top. Malum brushed the sand off of the rock, and stood back. Gelu could see that the same message was written in three different scripts - the common Agori writing, the untidy scrawl of the Bone Hunters (which was slightly different), and the archaic pictograms of the Vorox. The message read as follows: HERE I FOUGHT AND HERE I DIEDI HAVE OPPRESSED THIS EMPTY LAND FOR TOO LONG IN LIFENOW I WILL HAUNT IT BEYOND THE VEIL OF DEATHTHOSE WHO HEAR MY NAME TREMBLE BEFORE ME JUSTICARLEAVE THIS HALLOWED PLACEOR YOU TOO SHALL PERISH NEATH THE SANDS Malum began walking off again, as Gelu was still reading the inscription. The outcast did not get very far, however, before Gelu caught up with him. “Hold for a moment - so does this make you the new Justicar, now?” “If I am, then I resign the title, with no successor.” He continued walking along, not even glancing at the Iconian following him. “No, Gelu, let it die here. No more shall that name be used.” “Where are you going, now?” “Back to the desert, back with my tribe.” “Your tribe? So you’ve officially adopted them?” “I doubt that Raanu would welcome me with open arms again.” “True...but surely, since you’ve defeated Axior-” “There’s no use telling them who defeated him - so long as he is no longer a terror to the arena, then my duty is completed, and I may return from whence I came. There is a change to soon come to this land, Gelu. I can feel it. Soon, the Glatorian will no longer need to aimlessly fight each other, and the Agori will no longer squabble over the scraps of their former lives. Hope is coming, Gelu. Real hope.” “Real hope?” “By defeating Roxtus’s finest, I have begun to show the Agori that they have this real hope. It is a minute victory, in the grand scheme of things, yes - but they must be able to see that they, too, can overcome the Skrall and make change in the world, even before this new hope comes.” Gelu hadn’t realized it, but they’d been walking for some time, now - they were well away from Arena Magna and the sand falls. Several Vorox, appearing out of nowhere, had also begun to follow them, almost matching Malum’s every step and stride. It was nearing evening, now, as the sky turned from the vibrant blue of midday to a soft shade of peach. The desert birds that winged overhead began to turn towards the cliffs near Tajun, where their homes were. Gelu considered going there, as well, to tell everyone about the good news. But something did worry him... “What evidence will they have that Axior has been defeated, Malum?” “None. There is no evidence. Not even of the weapon that killed him.” “Then how will they know that I’m telling the truth?”“Outside of asking Roxtus, they must have faith in the fact that it is true.” “Faith? What kind of an absurdity is that!” “These are desperate times, Gelu - the Agori are willing to believe anything even remotely beneficial to them, especially the defeat of a murderer and a cheater. Even so, if they are to ask Tuma on the matter, he would be sorely wounded, because his champion fighter is missing, presumably dead. Trust in it, Gelu, for faith is the first steps into hope. Hoping leads to the action of doing, and doing thus leads into what you originally put faith in to become true.” The high desert wind picked up, once again, and sand started flying this way and that. Malum stopped and turned to Gelu, put a heavy hand upon his shoulder, and spoke: “Certavus watch over thee, Gelu. May you have luck with the people of the Agori. And if not, then to the winds with your fate, and may it land upon fertile ground.” Before Gelu could return the benediction, the red warrior stepped away from him and was lost in a screen of dust, as a sand storm began to develop. Soon, Gelu could not see him any longer, and had to shut his eyes and lie flat on the ground for protection. When the wraithlike winds subsided and the dust no longer whipped through the air, the white Glatorian rose, his armor now encrusted with sand. The sky was now a dark, velvety purple, with streaks of bright red through them. There was no sign of Malum or his Vorox - not even foot prints, as the raging sandstorm had already covered them up. Deciding that there was nothing left for him here, Gelu set off towards Tajun. ------------------------------------ During the following night, several Tajunian Agori became skeptical of this ex-Glatorian, who had just arrived in their city. They highly questioned the news that he brought, though some were willing to accept it immediately. Those who did believe went on to gossip about it with the traders and merchants from the other villages, who, in return, brought the news back to their respective homes in haste. Several of Tuma’s insurgents also caught wind of the rumor. All the way through to the following morning and the day after, the city of Roxtus was in an uproar. In his rage, Tuma personally slew three of his own servants and had all of the Vorox who were being held in the cells executed immediately. The following night found Gelu escorting a new caravan of trade supplies out of Vulcanus, en route to Tesera. As he looked up into the starry sky, he wondered about that hope, and how soon it would come - but little did he know of his immediate future, as a fabled mask, wreathed in flame, came careening down towards the cold deserts of Bara Magna.
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