(I’ve begun putting together a new world concept, and this story was written to try to flesh out an individual aspect a little more. A primer on the world of Olkir can be found here.)
The island was almost impossibly tiny, the vast majority of its scant surface composed of a tiled stone floor that was wedged between two statues of armor-clad warriors wielding enormous weapons. When the ship docked, four people stepped off of it and stood at the floor’s edge.
One of them—a Toa with green skin and no armor—cleared his throat and called out, “Pardon our intrusion. We have journeyed here to employ the rite of Last Trial, and will do so unless the gods object.”
Nothing happened. Two villagers walked onto the stone tiles, readying weapons as they did.
“The courts remain divided on the fate of this criminal.”
He gestured to the one who sat in chains next to him, a yellow-orange villager.
“It has been agreed that the only way to break the stalemate is with Last Trial. To wear the Mask of Axonn, the Jungle Tribe has sent the warrior Vanni.”
One of the villagers on the field, with green skin and a brown cloak, walked over to the statue of a warrior holding an axe.
“To wear the Mask of Brutaka, the Sun Tribe has sent the warrior Jogan.”
The other was a villager with black skin and yellow shoulder plates. He approached the other statue, which held a large, twin-bladed sword.
“God of Retribution, God of Redemption, we ask now that you condone this trial so that we may decide her fate once and for all.”
The masks the statues wore shone suddenly, transforming from rock into metal. Each detached itself from the statue and floated slowly into the hands of the warrior standing before it, who then donned it and turned to face their opponent.
“Our thanks, great warriors.” The Toa bowed silently for a moment. Addressing the villagers now, he said, “If Vanni wins, then we will employ Retribution and this villager shall be executed. Should Jogan prevail, she will have the gift of Redemption. Last Trial…commence!”
Jogan ducked down and ran forward as Vanni pulled back on the emerald bow she held. In moments, an arrow materialized in her grasp, and she fired it as soon as she could. Jogan rolled aside and came up in a crouch, pointing his ebony Sun Gun at her—but before he could fire, a loud sound caught him off-guard. It took him a moment to realize that the arrow had exploded when it hit the ground.
That’s not normal.
Those seconds cost him. Another arrow was heading for him, and he was just barely able to pull the trigger in time: a bolt of concentrated sunlight shot from his weapon’s barrel and hit the arrow perfectly, making it explode between the two warriors and form a smokescreen. Darting to the side, Jogan fired blindly as he tried to work out what he was dealing with.
That’s a standard Viridian Bow, isn’t it? It uses the florate inside it to generate its arrows, so there’s no way she was able to put explosives on the arrowheads ahead of time—those arrows don’t exist until she’s just about to fire them.
One such arrow shot through the smoke, narrowly missing his head. Using that to judge where Vanni was, he fired again, and heard a grunt of pain. He kept moving as he fired more shots, but another arrow soon whizzed past. The smoke was just about clear now. Vanni moved to fire but then jumped aside, getting a few holes singed in her cloak, and Jogan watched the arrow closely as it formed.
He turned, catching the arrow on his shoulder plate. The explosion nearly knocked it loose, but it held, so Jogan opened fire. As Vanni dodged his shots, he finally pieced together what she was doing.
“This is a Play you’ve developed, isn’t it?” he asked.
Vanni chuckled, readying another arrow. “So? They’re allowed.”
Jogan rolled out of the way. Vanni had more arrows ready before he could return fire, so he had to focus on dodging. “You’re using a Jungle ability to modify the arrows the Viridian Bow generates, right? These arrows look sorta like Madu fruit.”
“You’ve got it. I figured this would be a fitting way to end that criminal.”
At the next arrow, Jogan twisted awkwardly to dodge and counterattacked, striking Vanni in the shoulder and making her stumble back. “I’m sorry your emergency supplies were stolen, but it clearly wasn’t her! Where would she hide all that fruit so quickly, on an island she’d never been to before?”
He pressed his advantage. Vanni was being pushed back, but she pulled back her bow and prepared another arrow as she moved.
“You’ve got the wrong villager and you know it!” Jogan shouted as he fired wildly. “You just put the blame on her because you could get away with it—because no one would question the death of a Sun Tribe member!”
Vanni flipped through the air, avoiding the bullet, and fired as she landed on the statue’s arm. The arrow struck Jogan in the chest, and the blast sent him sprawling. She called down, “Don’t get so caught up in your emotions. It’s not as if we don’t have evidence, you know. But really, we already decided there aren’t enough facts either way—that’s why we’re here. If you really want to save her life, then you know what you have to do.”
Jogan gritted his teeth as he sat up. He flung himself to the side to avoid another arrow and pointed his Sun Gun. Rather than aiming at Vanni, however, he seemed to be aiming for the ground beneath her. He squeezed the—
The sudden shout made him turn to the prisoner. She stared at him, her wide eyes sending some silent plea. The next thing Jogan knew, he felt another explosion, and his vision darkened.
When he awoke, he was back on the ship. Another member of the Sun Tribe sat next to his bed. He turned to the bunk were the prisoner had slept, only to find it empty.
“What did you expect?” the elder asked. “You took your eyes of the opponent, and just laid there wide open.”
Jogan clamped a hand over his face, refusing to answer.
“You told her you weren’t going to use it. Why were you about to?”
“Because if I’d used Horizon Quill, I could’ve saved her,” he whispered.
The elder looked over her shoulder, and then leaned closer. “She knew that when she made you promise not to use it. She knew that no matter how this trial went, there will come a day when people’s fear of the prophecy makes them even bolder in attacking our tribe, and we’ll have to do whatever we can to defend ourselves. If one of our warriors gives away his Play so early, our enemies will have that much more time to come up with a way to counter it. She knew the consequences. She chose the Sun Tribe’s safety over her own. But you might have been able to save them both if you hadn’t gotten carried away.”
Jogan remained silent. The elder turned and sighed. It was going to be a very long voyage back to the Island of Sun.