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Fire

Ackar Tahu Element Lord of Fire

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#1 Offline fishers64

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Posted Mar 06 2012 - 06:42 PM

Part I

High above the desolate valley, fire came down from the heavens, blazing through thousands of miserable lives trapped in the anguish of war. High above them, the cliff was steep, bristling with jagged rocks, the torrid site of a landslide that had killed many of his friends. Too many.

Ackar tripped, and fell.

* * *

"I have a bad feeling about this."

"Hey, take it easy, bro. It's not like we are going into the real war. We're just going to make sure that the Rock tribe doesn't take advantage of us while we kick the Ice Tribe back to the desolate rock they came from."

"We're just a bunch of rookies, Rappert. "

"Aw, rookies that are soon to be great leaders! Soon we will rival the Great Beings themselves!"

"If we don't get crushed by the Skrall first. "

"Your pessimism does not become you, brother."

"Nothing becomes me less than being sent into battle without proper training, and on short notice at that. This whole thing looks suspicious. "

"It was authorized by the Element Lord of Fire himself. "

"That guy. Some Great Being dipped him in a pit of power, and he's our 'Great Leader' now. He's gotten us into a war over some silvery magic stuff that's supposed to make us the 'envy of the Great Beings'. Don't find me a leader; find me an escape route."

"We will win, Ackar. This war will be over before you know it. Cheer up, pal. The mind is half the battle. "

Yes, thought Ackar, and on this we have already lost.

* * *
The sight that would have met the two rookie Glatorian as they marched into camp wouldn't have been all that unfamiliar now; the battered tents pitched in grassy knolls, the forest surrounding, the familiar smell of campfires and discharged energy pellets used in weapons to fell game.

The sounds would not have changed much either; the proud voices of some Glatorian, bragging of the feats of which they had yet to accomplish; the eager voices of Agori, talking of heroic deeds of Legend and saying, Yes, this will be even greater.

But around Ackar and Rappert the voices came in whispers. They were the voices of past exploits, of interest born of mischief and ill-gotten gains. Soon after the pair would pitch their tent and make camp, the crowd of followers would gather around their fire, asking for stories.

"What about the time you tricked Certavus into giving you a ride on his Thornatus?" asked one young Glatorian.

"Nah, that's too easy. I could have done that, and I'm younger than you. Tell us about the time someone cheated their way into the intertribe spikeball tournament and you won anyway. "

Ackar smiled. “Well, the big battle is tomorrow, I'm hearing. So how about I tell you both of them, then we all go to bed and rest up?"

"No!" chorused the Glatorian and Agori.

"Look, we all need our sleep" chided Ackar. "If you go into battle without sleep, you'll all be a bunch of droopy soldiers. The enemy will march over you like you were sodden blankets on pegs."

There were a good deal of chuckles at that. "They always tell us the big battle is tomorrow" said one of the smaller Agori.

"Let me let you in on something" said Ackar. He leaned into the ring of Glatorian around the fire and lowered his voice to a whisper. "Rappert and I snuck into Agnes' tent. He has a map in there, tracking the movements of the Earth Glatorian. There is about 2000 kios on that map from where we started, and 2200 from their camp. We set out later, but we move faster then they do. They will be here tomorrow morning."

The party broke out, talking in hushed voices. Ackar knew that he would no longer be able to interest them in a story. Their dread and expectation would make a story of its own, far greater then any of his and Rappert's old tricks.

"What do you plan to do in the battle, Ackar? I plan to crush 100 of those Skrall and make sure that they never get a whiff of silver power."

"I plan to live. "

* * *

That morning came with a rumble that shook the earth itself, shaking the two awake with a start. Ackar leaped to his feet and pulled his energy launcher from his place by his pallet, aiming in preparation for unseen enemies.

"Dude, relax" whispered Rappert, placing a hand on Ackar's arm. "It's just the army approaching. We got this, okay?"

Ackar didn't respond. Instead, he quickly strapped his armor on over his night clothing and raced through the tent flap.

The army was upon them. Rows of Skrall shields were advancing on the sleepy Fire Glatorian, led by the being with rock for armor. Furious, Ackar fired a shot from his energy blaster, hitting and injuring a Skrall by sheer luck. His fellow Skrall comrades trampled him as they rushed toward the scene of battle. Ackar ran back into the tent, already knowing that it was too late, that there was nothing that he could do, only to find his friend, strapping on his armor as if for a casual tournament.

"The Skrall! They're here! Run!"

"Run? What are you talking about?" A Skrall poked its head in the flap. Before he could do anything, he was singed by an energy bolt from Ackar.

"I've got this, Ackar." Without another word, he charged towards the flap, plunging his blade into the Skrall. Ackar ran after him, shooting as much as he could, and then pulling blades and using his bare hands.

It was chaos. Fire Agori and Glatorian in various states of undress used anything they could reach, everything from pans to swords to energy guns. One particularly resourceful group of Agori snagged a group of Skrall in a falling-down tent and set it aflame (The point was lost when the Skrall hacked their way out).

Ackar ran, dodging through trees and past Skrall in various throes of combat. A couple Skrall broke off to follow him, which might have helped Rappert, who was strongly outnumbered but none the less holding his own for the moment. He had given up trying to hold his ground outside the tent but was using said tent to his advantage, trapping various groups inside and using his pulse blaster to take out as many Skrall as he could. This bought him a few seconds before he was hacked to pieces. Soon the camp was lost in a sea of black bodies.

Meanwhile, Ackar blindly sped through the forest, blindly shooting pulse bolts over his shoulder. He reloaded his energy weapon, his clumsy fingers sending sparks into his armor. He heard a groan behind him – one of his shots had struck home – only to see a massive tree crash to the forest in front of him, sending up a torrent of dust into Ackar’s face. He heard the savage yells behind him, knowing that they were shouts of victory, and heard the rumbling of the earth below, knowing it as the sound of doom. Ackar leaped into the dust, felt it rush past him, felt the branches of the trees slap him in their fury.

His hand caught one. He bounced, felt his other hand spring up and slap into place. Just like the arched paths in Vulcanus. You haven’t forgotten your record, haven’t you, Ackar? The day you climbed all the way down to the forges just by using your hands on the lava flume support rods. They couldn’t stop you from having a look at the forges, right? Ackar? 

For a second, all Ackar could see was the red-tinged streets and metal rods in his hands, feel his arms burning with pain, the forge entrance a bio from him. This was the point he had always fallen, time and again, before finally achieving his success. He felt his grip slipping…

And then he was back, back in the tree, muscles burning from exertion. His legs kicked frantically like a tottering schoolboy, the flexible limb of the tree bouncing nervously under its new burden. His heart thundered against the walls of his chest, trying to be set free of the body which held it hostage. The very air itself shook, a salivating beast breathing on its terrible prey.

Ancient rock, untouched for millennia, dissolved under the touch of the recent being’s thoughts. That encampment of proud Glatorian and eager Agori crashed to the valley floor, battered into submission by falling trees and shattered by falling rocks. The earth swallowed it whole, baring a sheer precipice of rock bearing witness to too many terrible choices.

Ackar fell.

Blackness.

* * *

Chains. He could feel them around his wrists, sunk into his armor, armor that dug into fragile skin.

Black. Two inches from his face. A torch. It sizzled and popped, sending light into the barren room. No, it wasn’t a room; its sides pulsed and swayed, breathing like the insides of a savage beast’s throat. It was warm; too warm, and the flames played shadows across the seething tent.

“Runner…” said the being holding the torch. “What do you know about the people of Vulcanus?”

“Nothing, Skrall. Nothing at all.”

The world faded again.

* * *

“Ahhhhh!”

“Listen, foolish Glatorian. Where are the Fire Tribe going? What are their plans?”

“They are walking straight into the fire, sir.” Straight into the fire…

“Tut, tut, rookie. Where is the fire?”

Ackar sat up, bolt awake. Chains were locked around his armour, and a Skrall was waving a torch in front of his face. He was alone, in a tent, and his friends had been…

Oh, Rappert. My friend, my colleague…Tears started to form in his eyes, and he shut them to wash them out of his vision. His heart burned and ached. Rappert, dangling from a support tower. Rappert, running from trouble he no doubt had caused. Rappert, in disguise, trying to cover his laughter at the absurdity of how he looked. Rappert, gone. 

And all because of you. We didn’t mean any harm, just wanted to teach the Ice people that they should share with us. 

“Ow!” Ackar winced as the torch was brought down on his flesh again. Ackar, being who he was, had a natural resistance to fire, but he could still feel the torch, and the shock of the blow still unnerved him.

“Where is the Fire Tribe?” demanded the Skrall, pacing the room in utter disgust. “Or can they not do better than a bunch of rookies to face our might?”

“You know what, they won’t” said Ackar. “The silver fluid should be shared equally, among all the tribes. We fight for right, and you attack us.”

“The silver…belongs to the Rock Tribe. We own all that comes from the rocks below, including you, fool. Wasn’t that armor forged in Vulcanus, from heat that comes from our rock? You should serve us.”

“Who told you that?”

“My master, foolish rookie. I’ve learned to mind mine, and you will learn to mind yours, soon enough. Now where is that army?”

“They’ve gone to teach Iconox a lesson.”

* * *

Sunlight. Ackar felt the chains dig into his arms as he was dragged behind his captor. Well, mostly dragged. His ordeal had left him too weak to keep up with the Skrall’s pace, so the black-hued being mostly just yanked him along. Skrall paused in whatever task they happened to be engaged in to gawk and jeer: “Vulcanus’ pride and joy, right there.” “Our Skrall brother’s got a little taglong.” Raucous laughter. But the words just bounced off of Ackar. Exhustion conquered all emotion, his damaged limbs aching from his fall from the tree. He must have hit his head; his world swam dangerously a few times, and he thought he might black out again. He was forced into another tent. Fortunately for the ravished Glatorian, the top of this tent had a vent to let in air, which also let in a wave of dusty light.

“So, Glatorian, where is my army?” said the being inside. His body was black; his jaws crunched as he spoke, his voice surrounding like the deep rumble of a landslide about to be unleashed. Ackar gagged; his stomach heaved, but it was empty, and he only received a sour taste in his mouth. His legs gave out under him, and he fell to his knees, gasping for air.

“Heading toward Iconox, sir” said the Skrall that held Ackar.

“Does he know anything specific?”

“They are camped on the hill opposite Iconox, between there and the mountains” Ackar lied, his face to the floor.

“Aye, so I see that Vulcanus in quite easily fooled. They will come up through the mountain pass…I see.” The Element Lord did not hesitate. “Assign him to a work detail at once. If I find your information to be false, you will be killed.”

* * *

The water pail banged against the tub of it as Ackar dragged himself away. “Next.” barked the Skrall next to the tub. Ackar stumbled away, heading for the stream to draw water. His wrists stung, and his mind swam.

I hate Skrall. The cold water of the stream washed over his swollen wrists, yanking him out of his exhausted stupor.Rappert would have called them black trees with leaves. See the branches on their arms? He would laugh. He would call me names just to cheer me up. 

“No dawdling down by the river. We have an entire camp, and that camp needs water!” The Skrall at the tub lashed out with his whip across Ackar’s bare back, sending the Glatorian stumbling in a haze of pain. Mindlessly, the Glatorian trotted back to the stream, grabbed a bunch of water, and stumbled back. I hate this stupid war. Silver substance. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Let the stupid Ice people have it. He shoved the water into the trough with a force, sending water surging up the sides. Take this, Skrall! He drew the water up, sent water over the banks. Take this, Element Lords! He threw his bucket into the tub. Take this, Spherus Magna!

Grabbing the bucket, he went back to the stream. He filled the bucket, walked back, and poured the water all over the waiting Skrall. Take this, death! Rappert will live on, and I will live, and you will fall!
* * *

Flames licked the sky.

“I hear the vine-weaving Agori are joining the war.”

“Oh, the tree-chopping Glatorian. I’m trembling in my booties.”

“Have you heard the one about the green Agori who lost his way?”

Heads shook all around, but Ackar could notice the knowing looks. They were just humoring him, trying to get him to go on.

“He walked up to a Skrall and asked where the nearest vine was!”

Chuckles all around, but Ackar could tell they were forced. He went back to eating as best he could. Once again he was chained to a Skrall. He knew that soon after, he would be dragged back to his sleeping pallet for another few precious hours of sleep before his day would begin again, too early. Only his anger kept him on his feet. I will right this wretched planet, even if I have to kill all of you to do it.

The flames in the pit roared higher, answering an unseen voice that even Ackar could not yet command.

* * *

Snow whirled about the assembled Skrall, forcing them to shield their eyes in order to see. Knees knocking, they trudged onward towards Iconox. Ackar shivered. He could not see in front of him, and only the chains’ hold on his wrist kept him moving.

* * *

Six Glatorian huddled together in the tent, chilled though and soaked to the bone. A vent cut in the top of the tent let the smoke escape, but it was a useless measure; the tent was drenched in it, and the Skrall around Ackar shook with coughing. The cold still leeched in though the walls of the tent, and the icy wind tore at the canvas walls, threatening to set them free from the ground. The Element Lord of Rock had assisted them in finding the rock beneath the layer of snow…most of said snow was in the air around them, Ackar guessed, being blown and tossed about. It doesn’t matter much, seeing as I am going to die, and soon. The Fire Glatorian would have never taken this pass; too open and exposed to the winds which could blow up this snow; they would take the faster route from behind the city, and descend upon this mountain villa down the slope and into Iconox. Of course, that is what any resident would logically expect…But nonetheless, they are probably long gone now. This war is over, and I’m still fighting it. His rage built up again. Oh, to join my comrades under the earth! Rappert, you had it easy; I’m still fighting someone else’s war. 

Ackar reached his hand toward the fire, and felt nothing, only icy wind. The flames curled around the Glatorian’s hands, but he felt nothing, only the cold, hard rage of the White Quartz Mountains. The Skrall next to him tried to batter his hand away, only to withdraw it on pain of the surrounding flames. Ackar closed his eyes. The cold seeped into him, despite the vibration of the shivering Skrall around him. This is the end. 

And then he felt something hot. His foot burned in pain. His eyes snapped open. The chain. Hard and brittle from days of shivering in the cold, the heat was breaking it. The armor from Vulcanus was only singed, but the Skrall metal of the chain had broken, lying across Ackar’s foot.

He jumped. To a standing position. The metal came free, liquefying some of the slush on the floor. The remaining chain snapped at his tug. And then a Skrall blade came back to Ackar’s throat.

“Don’t move.”

Ackar fell backward into the snow, then scrambled to his feet. He moved, grabbing a stick of wood for the fire, and reaching past a Skrall, he plunged it in, sending sparks toward the tent ceiling and bringing the wood to blazing life. He ran out of the tent flap before the Skrall could react, plunging into the maelstrom beyond.

* * *

The tents, in their way, formed a semi-windbreak. Ackar’s torch did not go out. The lone aspect of red in a sea of black and white trudged through the snow, heading for the armory tent. The shields, stacked like pancakes. The battle lances. Ackar set them aflame. This was the time when the Skrall had wood shields on an iron palatte – designed to take and hold arrows – the lances were laced with the lighter material to make them easier to carry, a practice quickly abandoned after this battle.

Yes, it was a battle. Ackar, Glatorian of Fire, left the camp of the Skrall, heading toward Iconox. He had spent four days with the Skrall as they had traveled this route up the mountain, which journey began two days after the end of the battle which Ackar’s friends lost. The battle was known later as the Battle of Iconox, for lack of a better name.

It began with a single Glatorian, a prisoner of the Skrall, who had left the camp to die…

* * *

It must only have been a few minutes, thought Ackar. The snow whipped past his face; ever since he had left the camp of the Skrall, the only thing he saw was swirling snow. He took another step forward, and his vision resolved itself.

A village, wedged between three grand and forbidding peaks.

Iconox. 

He trudged forward, full of new purpose. He would warn the villagers of the army on their doorstep and beg for mercy. He could see the guards, posted on the route to the pass now…just a few more steps…and then Ackar heard a horn.Vulcanus. 

Red beings descended across the landscape, crashing down on the Iconox defenders. Flames burst out against the structures, bouncing off the solid mineral of the houses, only scorching it. The Ice tribe defenders appeared from behind structures, slashing at warriors as they stumbled and slide down the white slope.

“Ackar! Give us a hand!” shouted one Glatorian. One of the Ice warriors had cut down three of the Glatorian of Fire.

“It’s lost!” Ackar bellowed. “We lost. The Rock tribe is coming!”

Ackar could see the flaming mass of being that was the Element Lord of Fire coming down the hill, urging them on. “No, retreat!” Baffled, the Fire Glatorian paused in mid-fight, giving their enemies an opportunity that few would miss. Ice formed on the armor of the already cold and miserable Glatorian as the Element Lord of Ice came out to defend his people.

Steam wafted across the landscape as the ice was melted. Fire blazed through the afternoon, but it was too weak for Iconox. “The Rock tribe is coming!” yelled Ackar. “Get out!” He saw the lights of familiarity dawn. He was Ackar, their friend. Weakened as they were, they could not take on two tribes. Slowly, the Glatorian of Fire scaled the heights, their enemies curtailed by fire blasts in his immortal fury.

Below, the floor erupted with a battle cry as the armies of the Skrall charged into Iconox. The charge was too long…the fire Glatorian heeded the cry and finished the climb up and down the mountainside, headed for relative safety.

The Skrall charged into Iconox…only to find no one but a few not so surprised Iconox defenders. The battle was pitched, because the Skrall’s shields and lances were on fire, dealing dangerous blows to the defenders of Iconox. The battle was long, but skill and strength would carry the day, as the embers in the shields went out. To this day the Skrall evoke these surprising effects of this battle – from that day forward the shield fronts are black, the maze design shown in red to effect the blaze of the burning coals. What they won’t remember, or can’t, is who set them aflame.

Many proud defenders of Iconox perished that day. And Ackar remembered. This is my war. I will take you all down, for taking my friends away – you will pay for it!

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Edited by fishers64, Dec 06 2013 - 05:46 PM.

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#2 Offline fishers64

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Posted Mar 07 2012 - 07:05 PM

Part II
Malum grunted. The short but nonetheless strong Glatorian paused before his friend, the Glatorian Ackar.

"The Element Lord of Fire has a message for you." The Glatorian sitting around Ackar's fire fell silent.

"What does he want?"

"He wants to see you."

"Well, that's just great." Ackar bit his tongue. Fabulous. The cool dude who started the whole thing wants to see me. Go jump in the sea, for all I care. 

Malum stepped back. "He…wants to see you…?"

"I'm coming."

The two of them left the warm fire behind, Malum leading the way. Ackar touched the top of his helmet. "So, how did you get to be the Element Lord's personal messenger?"

"He doesn't want any of his messages to be lost" joked Malum. "No, really it is because I'm short. And I don't like it as much."

"You would rather be out there wrestling Rock Tribe into the ground."

"Precisely" said Malum. "Up for a match?"

"Anytime. Of course, I have to meet with His Lordness first."

"Oh, right. Good luck."

* * *

It was dark. The canvas chamber smelled of soot and smoke. Dust crawled up the fabric of the tent, seeking escape.

Ackar coughed.

The being across the tent turned to face him. At least, Ackar assumed that he had turned; the back of his fiery form looked much like the front. Flames seethed and writhed across an indistinguishable form, blurred by the whirlwind of smoke and dust.

"Ackar" said the Element Lord. "How was the battle?"

Ackar did not answer. He was certain, however, that his face reflected pure hatred.

"Not well, I take it?" The Element Lord paused, then continued. "Not every battle can be won. I am sorry for your friends. It is a pity."

"A pity" said Ackar acidly. "When all of your friends die in a battle, then I will call it a pity."

"I have no friends."

"I'm not surprised. What are friends to a formless being of fire? You killed every last one of them, in a stupid war over some stupid silver."

"I want fairness. I want justice."

"No amount of justice is worth killing my friends!"

The Element Lord of Fire settled backward and lowered his voice. "You see, Glatorian, I did not start this war. The ice tribe started this war."

Ackar opened his mouth, but the Fire Tribe leader raised his hand. "Think about it, Ackar. If the Ice Tribe have exclusive rights to that spring, they could destroy us without a thought. Do you know what that means?"

"Don't patronize me."

"It means everything you have ever known – huts, lava flumes, cable routes, destroyed entirely. Leveled. Gone. All your friends dead."

He paused. "That's what we are trying to defend."

"You have already failed."

"You are still here, Ackar." The Element Lord chuckled. "Tell me how you survived."

"I ran away" Ackar dipped his head in shame.

"In trying to warn us. You succeeded. But desertion will not go unpunished, Ackar."

The Glatorian looked at the Element Lord, who glowed slightly brighter. Flames sprung up around the two, closing in like a seine. Ackar clenched his fists and gritted his teeth. He wasn't going to give this being the satisfaction of seeing fear or even his morbid acceptance of death. This being…will…not…kill…me. The flames vanished.

"You amuse me, Ackar" said the Element Lord. "You will remain in my army. Perhaps a gift…would be more to your liking." He reached over to a metal trunk, idly fiddling with the latch, and then opened it, casually pulling a short staff out, a simple staff with a razor tip. As Ackar watched, the "hand" of that held it grew somewhat brighter, forcing Ackar to shield his eyes. When he was done, he tossed the staff to the Glatorian. It clattered to the floor, forcing Ackar to bend down and pick it up.

The new staff wasn't ordinary gray; it blazed a stunning red in the dim light of the tent, causing Ackar to blink. Worse was the effect it had upon him; he felt that the weapon was natural, almost like an extension of his arm.

"A new experiment. Why don't you try it out?"

Ackar paused, shifting from foot to foot. He closed his eyes. He had mentally triggered pulse blasters before, but it took him a second to adjust. If anything, the mental trigger for this was easier than those blasters; too easy. His eyes flicked open to set his target, one Element Lord, than fired. A thick stream of fire blasted toward the fire being, making him blaze brighter. The room filled with laughter.

"As you see" said the Element Lord. "As you see."

"What happens when the charge runs out?" He knew pulse blades; they had to be frequently recharged.

"I doubt that charge will run out before you do, Ackar." As Ackar backed out of the tent, he could hear the being's evil laughter resounding, chilling him despite the intense heat.

* * *

Vines snaked around houses, crawling through doors, shattering pots and tools and struggling with Agori. Trees grew up, crashing into lava chutes, raining the contents down on the unfortunate inhabitants. Fruit fell from the sky, some sharp Thornax, some poisonous.

The tree-chopping Glatorian had arrived.

* * *

"Follow me!" Ackar yelled. He was running, panting. Thick streams of green covered the red palor of Vulcanus. He heard the begging cries of the Fire Agori. We had left them all behind. Don't think, just run. 

Flames licked forth from his sword before he could think, devouring up the carnage of the enemy. He felt his ally behind him, blasting vines down to ash.

The Tesarans, however, were not going to give up so easily. Surging forward, they attacked the taller red-hued beings. Ackar swung his blade, which the expert jungle fighter skillfully parried. Ackar could barely keep up with his movements; he swung, and parried, and stabbed faster than an eye-blink. In no time at all Ackar was on his back, with almost no recollection of how he got there, the green face of his opponent contorted in a contemptible smirk. He could almost feel the vines closing about him, knowing that he would soon again be a prisoner of the enemy. Not this time.Fire lanced out from his sword, blasting the garish green. Stunned, his enemy stepped back, but Ackar knew it would be short. Now his enemy wouldn't hesitate to finish him off. He sat up, readying his blade for the next strike. But before he could, flame cascaded down, ending the battle.

"That's how it's done, my boy" chided the Element Lord of Fire. "What are you, some pathetic weakling that can't even use a sword?"

I am expendable. The words dawned in his mind. If he couldn't be killed for treason, he would be killed in battle. I'm not some tool of yours. 

"I was playing dead to draw him in."

"War is not the place for elaborate battles, little rookie. You either kill him or he kills you." He sidled up to Ackar's ear. "He's part of the people would wanted your friends dead."

The Glatorian looked down at the ashes of the broken Tesaran, knowing yet a many battles to come…

* * *

There was the time that the Ice Tribe tricked his forces into a narrow canyon. Fire leached down from below, taking down an entire legion and allowing him to escape.

There was the time when the Vorox assaulted his thirsty army on the open plain. After beating a hasty retreat at the first bout, Ackar set fire to the grass near the Vorox camp. The entire area went up in flames.

There was the time the Skrall tracked him to a pass in the Black Spikes, with his back against Tesara. Trapped between two armies, Ackar burned up the tents of the Skrall, and then escaped through the Tesaran's camp by riding vines at night, which he promptly destroyed by flame.

Day after day, battle after battle, tale after tale of destruction and death. Flames leaped from him, burning him within. The trail of flames led him back to the cliff, the retribution he had made for them. Each tribe had paid for this war, this war of shame that murdered his friends, wrecked his village and his life, replacing it with this monster that he could not identify as himself.

With one hand, the Glatorian clung to a jagged rock that jutted out from the edge of the cliff. The weapon dangled from one arm, the red staff. As he hung there, the blade slipped from his fingers. It hit the rocks below, shattering into pieces.

No. My friends! How will I avenge you? They will pay for this, they will! Ackar's grip tightened on the rock. He felt his rage lessen, felt his grip loosen. I remember my friends, don't I? I fought for you! I will fight for you! But the words rang hollow. What are you doing? Images of thousands of charred Glatorian flashed through his mind. What have I done?

He lost his grip. He was falling. I am a monster. 

Blackness.

* * *

"Ackar, wake up."

"Uh…" Pain exploded throughout his body…that fall must have taken a toll…

"It's me, Raanu."

"Go away."

"Are you all right?"

"No."

Blackness again. 

* * *
Ackar's eyes opened. He sat up. He stood.

"Ackar! Are you all right?"

"No Raanu. I am not all right. I have just senselessly murdered thousands of people in a senseless quest for revenge."

"You were fighting in a war, Ackar. You have saved countless lives here in Vulcanus."

"Save your words of comfort for the mindless Agori that come to you for aid. I was blinded, Raanu. No one should..."

Raanu placed his hand on Ackar's shoulder. "What has happened to you?"

"Rappert died, and I killed hundreds to avenge him. I was angry, Raanu. Angry at these people for attacking me, angry at the Element Lords for starting it, angry with the Great Beings...where are they, those fools who sit up in crystal towers and create games for us to play? Nothing is worth this, Raanu. Nothing."

"The Great Beings have not abandoned us, Ackar. They have a new creation; I've seen it. It will restore this planet."

"Like the last time?" Ackar sneered.

Raanu said nothing, his eyes betraying his hope.

"You actually believe in their claptrap?"

"They told me that the silver - they had another name for it - was going to destroy this planet. The Agori cannot be allowed to use that, Ackar. It's part of the core of this planet, what holds it together!"

"There is nothing to hold this planet together, little Agori. The only language this planet speaks is the langauge of war." Ackar picked up a familiar weapon; his old energy blaster. "A thousand years of wisdom and strength will not give you mastery over the elements; they are unwieldy and they warp the mind. Fire only destroys out there, and soon it will destroy all of us."

He shouldered the energy weapon. "I thank you, and I will carry your message." And with that, the new veteran of Vulcanus marched out to win a war. And win it he would, although his message would be forgotten, his words discounted in a land of greed. Later, he would remember the Agori's langauge in his governance plans, and he would remember Raanu. But those are stories the storytellers of the past have already told; we remember those with fondness, but now we begin again, crossing our friend's path on another occasion.

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Edited by fishers64, Dec 06 2013 - 05:47 PM.

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#3 Offline fishers64

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Posted Mar 08 2012 - 11:38 PM

Part III
100,000 years later…

Ackar examined the weapon. Dark red edges. The flames within it, leaping forward, still, static, frozen in time.

He tapped them. Hard metal. 

He took the blade, wielding it with two hands. Flames shot from the sword, blasting the practice target into ashes.

It still works, thought the veteran Glatorian. But I don't want to mess with that. It's bound to start another war. 

"Ackar, that sword isn't going to bite you." joked a voice behind him. He turned to see Kiina, Glatorian of Water, swagger into the room.

"What did I tell you about sneaking around?"

"I never get any news around here. All those hush-hush conventions with Toa. What's going on?"

"It's nothing interesting. It's us hardened warriors trying to build a city that won't get so easily destroyed. We still have enemies, Kiina."

"Enemies? They should be afraid of us. Fear me!" She playfully shot a blast of water at Ackar, which splashed all over the Glatorian's armor.

"Kiina, watch it!" But he couldn't help but smile. Kiina was as reliable as packed desert floor, standing by him in countless battles. "I have learned how valuable it is to find someone that you can truly trust" Mata Nui had said. He was the one that gave me this blade...Ackar looked at it again. But he knew that he would never be able to respond back to Kiina in such a playful manner, not without causing her serious harm. Not with this. He put it away.

"Come on, Kiina. You might as well see how boring these conferences are." He touched her shoulder as he walked past, but it was a hollow gesture; his feelings were too dark.

* * *

Next to him was Raanu, wise leader and good old friend. Decisions often weighed deeply on his old shoulders. Kiina stood behind him, feisty Glatorian, pacing the room like a confined jungle cat. Her energy grated on Ackar. "Kiina!" he hissed. "Settle down!"

Kiina took a seat, crossing her arms in disgust. "Hmph."

And then there were the beings across from them. Representatives of Mata Nui. The people he once ruled, who hid their true faces behind masks and used power without a thought. For good.

There's the red character, who calls himself Tahu, and the black one ... Onua, I think his name is...sometimes we see the smaller ones, the older beings. But this is a warrior's strategy meeting.

The red one, who calls himself Tahu, spreads out the map. The map is what he has been building, been traveling to build. The time has come to decide where to build our city of unity. And so we speak again, fire being, guardian of too many souls, too much sadness within our souls. We have seen too many mountains crumbled, lives destroyed, plans ended, too many broken hearts. It will not happen again, we say, and we back our actions with our words. We protect by destroying, you and I, for we are beings of fire. With our flames we chase away the darkness, and yet their heart is destruction and fury, born of shadow.

And yet today we have so many unanswered questions, you and I. Should be the city be up North, to further facilitate exploration there? Or should it be to the South, where it might be away from danger? Should it be on an open plain or secluded on a height? Should this symbol of unity be manned with walls and guards, which divide?


"There are three sites where New Atero could be" said Onua. "There's the one up North, in that valley. Plenty of room to expand, closer to the North-"

"Dangerous" said Tahu. Ackar nodded agreement. The danger of the old Atero was that it was too open and undefended. He gestured to the map, where a safer location could be found, nestled in a natural area between two mountains, and then down, toward the lower foothills. "Here" said Ackar. "A city on a hill. Fortified by walls." This time, the city of unity will not be so fragile. 

"Isn't that a little far away for the workers?" said Raanu.

"It's worth it" said Kiina.

"It's too close to the North" said Onua.

See, Kiina, I told you that these meetings were boring.

* * *

Ackar took up the blade once again. Flames billowed out of the sword, turning the practice target into ashes.

It still works, thought the Glatorian. I will keep an eye on it.

Knock, knock, knock.

"Come in" said Ackar. The being on the other side palmed the door gently, pushing it aside as if hindered by old age. For a moment, he glowed brightly in the darkness of the doorway, calling to mind a flaming being in a torrent of whirling dust. But then the Toa of Fire stepped into the room, and Ackar realized his ally.

"Just a couple Visorak spiders out by here" said Tahu. "I just did a little show to scare them off. Uninvited guests."

"How many menaces have come out of that robot?" Ackar said coldly, putting away his weapon behind his back.

"Too many" said Tahu. "We have been fighting them for far too many years. We will always have to be wary and watchful."

Ackar nodded. The only language that this planet speaks is the language of war. Even you, Mata Nui, could not destroy the menace here; you merely restored this planet so we could destroy it again. Unity must be guarded, peace cannot come in daylight. So we go to defeat the monsters that rise against us, until they are gone. Unless we become the monsters.

"It is a bit chilly in here" said the Toa. "How can you stand it?" Behind him, the braziers that provided dim light to the room flickered up, flooding the room with orange light. Ackar winced. He walked over to put another log on the fire as a courtesy to his guest.

"It keeps me awake" answered the old Glatorian. Flames leaped up to devour the new log, and Ackar half-suspected it was partly the mind of the miserable Toa. How can he just do that, wondered Ackar. Without a single thought. He watched flames swirl in the Toa's palms – somehow he doubted that the warm glow he saw earlier was just for the displeasure of a few beasts.

"Cold?" said Ackar. He could feel that old longing rising in him, the desire to dismiss the cold of the night with a thought, to destroy his enemies utterly so that he would never face them again. It was an old desire, a childish one, born of rage and swallowed friends.

"Well, this isn't Ta-Koro, exactly, but I manage." quipped the Toa. The embers in his hands abruptly died. "I want to know what you think of the Matoran and us. You are their leader, and we will have to work together over the coming days."

"Yes, there are a number of decisions over the coming days. But I'm not sure how to answer your question."

"What do you think of say, me? I've just barged into your house uninivited and warmed it up to an uncomfortable temperature."

"You remind of an old enemy of mine."

"Who?"

Knock, knock, knock.

"Come in."

An Agori extended his head behind the door. "There's a fire brewing in the northern side of camp. Raanu says that there is a Glatorian who started it who has gone crazy."

"On my way."

* * *

Flames scuttled along the ground, broiling up from the blackened sea of scorched canvas. Off in the distance, black hulks of metal were all that remained of some half-built Agori shelters. The sharp orange of sunset was fading to the vast purple of night, highlighting a huddle of Glatorian and Agori, displaced and shuddering in a foretaste of the chill of the dark hours. Other Matoran and Agori were talking with them, arranging things for them. He had to admire their sympathy.

Standing in the middle of the desolation was a single red-armored Glatorian. Opposite him stood a slender multi-spiked shadow.

"Stand down" said Kiina.

"You don't know what you have" said the Glatorian. "You don't know your own power. We don't need those Matoran. We can live by ourselves!"

Ackar shook his head toward Tahu. "He's crazy."

Tahu shrugged. "It might be better if I don't get involved in this."

The Glatorian launched a fire burst at Kiina, who swiftly met it with a jet of water. The blast outlined a familiar shape, the staff that the Glatorian was using…but where did the blast come from? It didn't look like the staff. Ackar swallowed.Just a trick of the night. 

"We can be free! We have power!" The Glatorian raved. "Don't you see?" Flames erupted in front of him, quickly fizzling away under Kiina's stern gaze. But one of the stray sparks hit Kiina's armor; the Water Glatorian sprayed her and him with a great deal of water, making the Glatorian's knees shake with cold.

"That's enough" said Ackar.

* * *

"This" said Ackar, tossing the thing on a table, "is an Element Lord's staff. Who gave this to you?"

"I found it. I was out hunting."

"Just happened to find it?"

"Yes."

"Finding a staff is one thing, young rookie. Burning down part of our camp is another."

"It was an accident."

"Really."

"Honest, all I wanted was a good demonstration. People need to know about the power. It would have been only one old supply tent, honest!"

"Who told you about this power of yours?"

"Nobody. It told me."

"What?"

"The power. It talked to me, told me that I was the one, that we didn't need the Matoran. We don't! It showed me how."

"How to do what?"

"How to do this." And with that, flames erupted from his hands, blazing across the table until it was nothing but a heap of ashes. He reached down to pick up his staff, but Kiina didn't blink, sending a jet of water that hit the Glatorian's palm. Ackar knelt to pick up the staff as Kiina gripped the rogue's hands and shoulders.

"Get him out of here. Lock him up, and make sure he stays there." Ackar snapped the staff across his knee. "That was no power, rookie. That was the Element Lord of Fire you saw."

"The what?" demanded the rookie. "There was no being; there was only fire."

"That's what he looks like. I've seen him before" piped up a small green Agori.

Kiina, with some assistance from Gresh, dragged the belligerent out the door. A flurry of conversation broke out as the small parade of important beings filed out.

"Well" said Tahu, clapping Ackar on the back, "you spoke of us bringing with us more than our share of enemies. How many more surprises in your world are out there waiting for us?"

"Too many." But this time, I should have seen this surprise coming. Ackar dipped a torch into the brazier, sending hissing sparks flying, the torch catching with a crackle.

"Where are you going?" asked Tahu.

"Oh, out for a walk. Shouldn't be long." Before the Toa could venture anything else, the Glatorian was gone, heading off into the night.

* * *

Ackar trudged through the dense forest, the torch giving off a dim ray of dingy light. His feet crackled in the dark, and he glanced over his shoulder on occasion. Orange lights flickered across his vision. Once, he even thought he saw a figure of fire in the trees.

The path sloped upward, bringing him to a rocky clearing. From this vantage point, he could look down across the camp and the coast, the giant robot splayed across his vision...

"Looking for me?"

Ackar whirled, drawing his blade.

"Nervous, Ackar?" the being chided. "Why so hostile? We were friends once."

"Friends of necessity. Allies of the moment."

"How quickly you forget. "

"My duty is to the Great Spirit Mata Nui and his people, who healed this planet and aided our people even when his own were enslaved."

"Ackar, you have always been full of petty words. Your people must be able to survive in face of the threats the Matoran have brought with them. I will teach them the ways of power so that they might survive. My price is simple. "He lowered his voice to a whisper. "The Fire Glatorian will serve me again."

Ackar shook his head. "The life of a monster is no life at all. We will live if we can, and die if we must, but we will do so honorably, the way the Great Spirit tought us. "

"What of your "Great Spirit"? I hear he's taking a nap. "

"He's letting us find our own path. "

"And what about that path of yours, Ackar? Still afraid of me, rookie?" Heat crawled under Ackar's armor, no doubt the work of his foe.

"Power ... must be ... controlled." snapped Ackar. The heat dissipated as Ackar released a thin jet of fire into the air from his blade, striking a nearby rock. "I am not afraid of any fool like you. "

"Perhaps I should end your pathetic existence." The flames of the Element Lord's body burned brighter, sending shadows crawling across the trees.

"Go ahead. Show the Glatorian who you really are, a selfish fool who the Great Beings dipped in a pit of power."

"And you are an old fool who would deprive your fellow beings of what they need. They are Glatorian of Fire, Ackar. Let them show it. "

"You were the one who didn't tell them. During the war, you never told us. "

"I showed you. "

"And look at what happened to me. I won't let this happen again."

"What happens when your people die because of your insolence?"

"What happens when my people die because of your greed?"

The Element Lord of Fire shrugged. "This all a bunch of foolish banter. You know you cannot stop me, weakling. That stick of metal won't help you. "

"Then let's try without the stick." Ackar cast the blade aside. "I am Ackar, Glatorian of Fire." Flames erupted from his hands reaching up to the sky, where they could be seen for miles around by the drowsy camp below. "I know your power, and I'm through with destruction and hot-headed people like you."

Behind Ackar, four Toa and two Glatorian emerged. "I might not be able to destroy you" said Ackar. "But at my word, you will have to face all of them."

"Ha! A bunch of fools..."

Ackar waved his hand over his shoulder. Earth, water, air, and light blasts all waved down on the Element Lord. Furious, he retreated in a huff.

Ackar looked off into the distance for a long time. Then he knelt to pick up his fallen blade.

"Who was that?" said Tahu.

Ackar smiled. "Oh, just an old friend. He's been causing trouble for awhile." He turned away to walk down the mountain, leaving his share of befuddled beings.

* * *

Raanu sidled up to the leader of the Glatorian and Agori. "So how are we going to handle this?"

"One at a time. The Toa are going to assist with the instruction. What was meant to divide us apart may bring us together in the end." The two walked into a cold, dank room, the guards bowing at the approach of the distinguished visitors. Slightly off, far back and to the right, shivered a young red-hued Glatorian.

"Go away" he said, his face full of derision.

"It's alright" said Ackar, opening the grate. "We are just going to show you a few things about how to handle a firestaff. We don't want you burning down half the camp for target practice next time."

The End.

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Edited by fishers64, Dec 06 2013 - 05:48 PM.

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