Medievia Mudslinger

January 28, 2001

A Warrior's Advice - By Adamon

The eastern gate of the City of Medievia creaked open as the first golden ray of sunlight chased away the blanketing gloom of the night. The grinding sound of hoof against cobble shattered the early silence of the dawn as a black warhorse stamped in protest at being wakened from its comforting slumber at such an unmedievic time.

"Easy now!!" Huankeat stroke the huge head of the horse as he led it outside the city wall. In a single, well-practiced move, he mounted the horse and kicked it hard, sending it into a hesitant stride down the well-paved road.

Huankeat yawned. As a warrior in training, he was expected by the guildmaster and other graduated warriors to respond at a moment's notice to any chance of in-field training. About an hour back, an imp had dropped out of a puff of smoke onto his bed, bearing with it a message from Shyh, one of the senior warriors working for the Guild. He had to meet him at the Xezadha Cathedral as soon as possible. The message was scarce but it mentioned that some sort of uprising was going on there. Huankeat gulped at the thought of it - so far, his only practical experience in fighting had been during bar brawls down at the Wild Knights during the weekends. Everything else involved sparring and even then his sparring master would look upon his sword strokes with a withering gaze. He raised his hands to the sky and prayed silently that this "practical experience" will not be his last.

"Where are you going, good lad?" a chirpy voice sliced through the melody of bird songs and forest insects. Huankeat turned around to the sight of a middle-aged man leaning against a huge boulder by the roadside. A closer inspection revealed that the dusty, worn out armor he was wearing bore the symbol of Medievia City. Huankeat staggered back in shock as he suddenly found the sharp tip of a sword glinting no more than two inches from his nose.

"Novice eh?" said the elder warrior, "Well, take the first lesson from a more experienced warrior to a rookie," the warrior said as he inverted the sword in one graceful movement and slid it back in the scabbard. Staring straight into Huankeat's eyes he said, "Be prepared, be alert, look up, look down, look left, look right, listen, hear,". The warrior gestured, kicking up a tiny plume of dust in the wake of the frantic movements. "Keep your calm in the face of adversity, expect the unexpected, be prepared for the worse, seize all opportunities when they come your way, and that way you will survive any encounters you may face in your short life."

Huankeat nodded and waved his arm. Consulting his map and compass (this was the first time he had ever stepped out from the City of Medievia - barring the summer's expedition to the Forbidden Forest) he reluctantly turned his horse down the yellow dirt track cutting through the jungle.

"And another word of advice, warrior hopeful, don't use the road. Keep to the jungle to go wherever you are going. It will not be a pretty sight for the next trader coming down the road if you are waylaid by a bunch of trolls or kobolds!" For an instant the warrior's voice silenced the usual undertone of the wilderness. Having been raised up on a healthy diet of horror stories centering on the dreads that awaits unwary travelers using the wilderness roads, Huankeat rode straight into the thick underbrush of the forest without giving second thoughts.

A few hours later, Huankeat lay spread-eagled beside the green murky surface of a stagnant pool of water. Green ichor from the sap of hacked undergrowth and blood from a few unbelievably huge robber flies clung to the blade of his sword. A few feet away, his horse was happily munching away at a small clump of watercress that was growing at the rim of the pool. "Not long now," he thought as he spied the top of the dark stone building of Xezadha Cathedral not far to the southwest. He was really glad he had taken the advice of that old man. He had witnessed a group of traders stumbling straight into a group of hiding bandits, wisely not staying around long enough to witness the final outcome of the encounter. About the other nonsense he said, well, they were just garbles that senior warriors like to bemuse novices with - things which had little use in daily living. He waved his hands as he dismissed the so- called advice. Bah, he could live by swordplay alone, so long as he lived long enough to learn it all.

A loud hissing sound suddenly caught his attention. Huankeat rose up slowly and surveyed the immediate area. "Nothing," he thought for he could see nothing amiss. He relaxed.

"Hiss", the sound was now louder. The warhorse stopped chewing and looked around in apprehension.

"Hiss", whatever that was, he thought, was definitely nearby. Abruptly, his horse broke into a run and vanished into the depths of the jungle. Huankeat dashed in the direction of the horse but after a few steps, gave up. He panted. There was no way he could chase after the horse now, he told himself.

"Hiisss!!" Huankeat leaned his back against a tree. The sound of snapping twigs and cracking leaves now filled the air. He raised his sword and assumed an attack position.

Huankeat arched backward and cried out in pain as something sunk its teeth into his calf muscles and was quickly followed by a burning sensation that seem to travel down his veins. Stumbling forward, he turned his head around to be greeted by a black, spotted length of some kind of hideous looking snake. Standing up, he painfully brought himself back to attack stance.

"An Ort!!" the snake cried as scintillating rays of color flew straight into him.

"Oh just my luck," he thought as he shielded his eyes from the blinding light, "A magic user." A searing pain scalded his exposed parts and it grew more intense as time went by. Forcing himself to see through the multicolored spots that danced through his vision, he saw that his skin had been burnt by the intense radiation from the spell. "Oh no," a betraying thought boomed through his mind as the snake dashed forward and swiped his sword arm painfully with it's tail. "This snake is too powerful," his mind concluded grimly!! Primordial fear gripped him and disregarding the nagging voice of pride that insisted he stay and fight, he fled.

Crouching underneath the root of a gnarled oak tree, Huankeat groaned. How was he going to survive this? He closed his eyes. The image of the older warrior he saw by the roadside suddenly flashed in his mind. "Be prepared" came the first word. Gathering up his thoughts, Huankeat opened up his tiny backpack and produced a tiny vial of green liquid which he poured over his wounds. A river of green clouds rolled out from the tiny confine of the vial and systematically made their way to all his wounds, and with a sudden flash of light, healed them. Next, he produced a bottle of clear liquid which was given to him by a cleric during his initiation into the guild as a gift. The cleric, whose words than had seemed rather pointless specifically told him to use the potion only in the event he had to fight a strong magic user. He opened up the bottle and a cloud of white mist enveloped him and from the sky, a black raven descended into his body. Suddenly, he felt instinctively more resistant to the effects of evil magic.

"Hiss" the sound came again. "Be alert" the voice of the old man boomed through his mind. "Look up, look down, look left, look right, listen, hear," it advised. Huankeat tried to scan the surrounding but could only see the color of his fear and hear the fast and heavy thudding of his frightened heart. "Keep your calm in the face of adversity," the gentle words said, calming the raucous thumps of his heart. With a deadly calm, he tuned his ears to the sound of his surroundings. Nothing.

"Expect the unexpected," the aged warrior warned Huankeat through space and time. Whirling about, he arched his sword above him, a deadly silver dance amidst a sea of green. From a tree branch hanging just above him, something screamed in pain as rivulets of bright red blood trickled over the sap- encrusted blade. Something black and bloodied, about six inches in length, fell from a branch and disappeared into the bracken.

"You fool, in all my years, no one has injured me such!" a dry, reptilian voice echoed down the corridors between the trees. Huankeat looked up at the source of the voice and as expected, it was his nemesis talking. Sticking out its long forklike tongue, probably to sample his body's sweaty aroma, the snake hissed. "Now feel the might of banelar kind, bringer of bane!!"

Banelar, the name sounded familiar. Suddenly, tales that he had for years believed to be figments of fearful traveler's imagination suddenly flared to life in his mind. That meant, he remembered, that this creature could poison people and cast fireballs at them. Without warning, a deep-seated pain suddenly traveled up his spine, forcing him to bend over and cry out in feverish pain. He had been poisoned by the banelar's first bite. The snake smiled and opened its jaw.

"Be prepared for the worst," said the old man. Huankeat dived into the emerald depths of the pool of water at the very moment the snake raised up its head and spat a fireball in his direction. The ball skimmed harmlessly over the surface of the water leaving white steam in its wake, eventually exploding into a fiery inferno as it struck a tree stump. Huankeat rose to the surface for a desperate gasp of air only to have to duck again when another fireball bounced his way.

"Seize all opportunities as they come your way," came the last advice. Huankeat broke the surface, the poison was markedly reducing his ability to hold his breath, and even now he was struggling to remain afloat. He heard a series of spidery incantation and a wicked red aura flickered weakly about his body, then died abruptly. An angry curse soon followed, with a ringing tone of rage. Huankeat risked a glance at the banelar, noting to his pleasure the damage he had wrought upon its body. Whatever spell it had attempted to lay over him had evidently failed, most likely due to the protective presence of the black raven in his body. A thought raced through his mind - the snake was running out of magic. In its fit of rage it had failed to conserve its power and was now trying to buy time to gather enough power to hurl another spell at him. The water surface exploded as Huankeat rose vertically and lunged towards the banelar. With his sword in hand, he swung the wet blade into the fleeing length of the banelar.

And sliced the banelar in half. A fountain of blood spurted from the broken form as it shuddered for the last time, then stilled.

"That way, you will survive any encounters you may face in your short life." In his mind's eye, the senior warrior gave him a wink and then faded away. Huankeat collapsed on his knees and let the feeling of the moment overwhelm him.

Later that evening, as the sun nearly dipped in the horizon, a ragged, feverish warrior was seen walking towards the front door of the Cathedral. Another warrior, mounted on a stone falcon greeted the bedraggled man.

"Lieutenant Shyh, I, Novice Huankeat am here to report for duty. I am truly sorry if I am late for my mission," the younger warrior reported. Saluting his senior, he bowed his head and carefully inquired, "How fares the uprising?"

The elder warrior glanced at him quizzically and laughed. "Oh, Huankeat, there was no uprising. The whole scheme was to force you to brave the dangers of the wilderness alone. Your battle with the banelar, oh yes, we were watching," he added as he gestured to a wizard who was stepping out of the lengthening shadow of the cathedral, "proves to the guild that you are worthy of being a warrior." The aged wizard crinkled a smile at the novice and allowed him a peak into the mirror he was holding, which gave the young warrior a bird's eye view of himself and the wizard.

"Rise, Private Huankeat, and join us now in the league of warriors. You are no longer a warrior aspirant, but a fully-fledged warrior worthy of honor," announced the elder warrior as he bent down from his mount to pin an emblem on Huankeat's tattered clothing in the waning light of the sun.


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