Hiya guys my name is Brandon and today is a little bit different from your average day in Terra. And no I don't mean the constant attacks from vicious goblins that want to kill us all. I'm pretty sure that's normal for a specialist. Then again it's not like I wrote the book on them or read it for that matter. Anyways usually my sister and I would wake up early every morning to spar with me. As a spirit user, I make training as a good way for us to connect and to me to sharpen my skills as my master would always tell me when I grew impatient in my progress.
"Water takes years to destroy a mountain. Be like water Brandon and someday your fists cleave straight through the most difficult of obstacles. Now go and punch that tree as fast as rain!" she said.
And I did punch that tree. It took at least a day or to before I could move that hand again but still. So there I was battle ready to greet a new day right in the face. First thing I do is go over to my sister's bed, but I could already tell that she would somewhat not be disturbed. She looked tired and a little peeved off. And experience taught me waking my sister up on her own was always dangerous. I didn't want to ask others either. It just wouldn't feel the same to me.
In a couple of minutes, I feel the fresh air that the crisp fall air greets me with as I say the mantra that I've repeated nearly all my life.
"I will live to see another day; I will live to take another breath. I will live to break my limits. I will always live to take another unforgettable journey. I will die a legend."
The next 30 minutes I train in all of my basic moves and slowly work my up to my more advanced techniques. After it's done, I gobble down a bottle of water and then get early for the assembly.
Hello, dear readers, my name is Mai. Sorry if I seem a little down, but between the adrenaline of last night and stress Deon gave me I barely got any sleep. So you can imagine my reaction when I felt someone nudge my shoulder. I instantly grabbed his hand with a look that could help back a tidal wave on frustration. I realize it was Aphele who had a face mix between shock and mercy as he winced in pain from my grip. I instantly managed to regain control and let go of Aphele as he grabbed his hand in pain.
"I'm sorry. I usually wake up on my own."
His face morphed into one of complexity as he struggled to let out a yell. Instead, he accepted the fact and passively aggressively through gritted teeth said.
"It's alright; I'm keeping that in mind. Just get ready fast we're about to get to work."
In minutes I rushed outside with only my clothes and one of those instant breakfasts in my stomach. My mind was a mass flurry of thoughts. Between the asinine escapades of Deon, The frightening power of Vicioso and simply not having Brandon with me to vent I wasn't really in the best state of focus. It's not good to keep feelings bottled inside. Ever still I make my way into the town hall. You see every day that we've been here Dwarf has been organizing meetings in the town square with all specialists and all the workable personnel. Between the specialists and staff willing to help they were about 8,500 people. However, from what I read from the reports necessary assessments and downright rumors, at least 15,000 goblins were attacking and they were probably more in reserve.
So saying the situation was desperate was a bit of an understatement. Still, Aphele made it appear to be the first ones to the meetings.
I failed to find Brandon in the mass of people as Dwarf made his way onto the stage.
I was practically tickling with excitement. Over the past few days, I've found a bit of a kinship with the resident specialist. We were not in the best of shape. Out here in the thick of it I only now realize the challenges that may face me in the future. Dwarf still is here operating a currently sinking ship with the weight of a town on his shoulders all with a smile. As a spirit user, I can always relate to people who preserver through significant challenges though he was beaten a bit more than usual. Dwarf was covered in minor scarps and had a limp unfortunately his voice wasn't injured. He grabbed the microphone, and the last non-excruciating sound I heard was a couple of hundred hands clasping their ears.
"GOOOOOOD MORRRNING FAIR PEOPLE OF BETERANO! I KNOW ALL OF YOU HAVE BEEN THROUGH A ROUGH COUPLE OF DAYS, BUT WE'VE GOT SOMETHING TO RAISE YOUR SPIRITS SO HIGH YOU'LL START SEEING THE OTHER SIDE! AND I REALIZE HOW BAD THAT STATEMENT SOUNDS OUT LOUD AND I IMMEDIATELY TAKE THAT BACK! I AM SO SORRY. ANYWAYS SINCE MOST OF THE UNITED TERRAN FORCES ARE OCCUPIED WITH OTHER MATTERS, WE ARE HIGH AND DRY!!!! WHICH IS ALSO NOT VERY GOOD SINCE DUE TO A VERY ECCENTRIC SPY WE NOW KNOW OUR ENEMIES HAVE A RAAAVAGER! NOW DO TO OUR COURAGEOUS SPY THE RAVAGER HAS BEEN SABOTAGED BUT NOT DESTROYED SO IN 3 DAYS WERE STORMING THE GOBLINS RIGHT IN THEIR BASE AND DESTROY THE RAVAGER ONCE AND FOR ALL! TO DO THAT WE MUST GAIN THE HELP OF THE HOBGOBLIN QUEEN INFERENA IF WE STAND A CHANCE. CAN I GET HOORAH FOR THAT PLAN BECAUSE I THINK IT'S A STROKE OF GENIUS!!!!!!!!!!"
The entire speech was louder than thunder, but the silence soon was replaced with murmur and whispers of the crowd. The spirit province was the worst province for interspecies relations. I've read reports on them in the past on the morning news. The Hobgoblins might not be near as evil as the goblins, but that was a bit tricky. The hobgoblins mostly live secluded in the forest of the trial, but they have a bit of a track record being aggressive towards humans and goblins. So the case now was how does it go again? A friend of my friend is my half-lover? Either way Dwarf wasn't winning favors with the plan. I don't hate humanoid monsters, but I do understand the need to be a little wary. Sadly for my eardrums, Dwarf continued with his grand plan.
"ANYWAYS I WILL BE TAKING SMALL TEAM TO NEGOTIATE WITH INFERENA! WHILE I WILL BE TAKING A SMAL TEAM OF OFFICERS, I DECIDED TO TAKE AT LEAST 5 PEOPLE IN THIS ROOM TO COME WITH ME IF THEY SO WISHED! NOW, WHO WOULD LIKE TO COME BECAUSE EITHER WAY, WE'RE DESPERATE!
I was too tired to even think of going on the mission. However unsurprisingly Brandon was the only one that willing joined, Aphele seemed conflicted when he got chosen, and Lunaire was merely indifferent. 2 other specialists were selected as the team was sent. I thought it was better to give myself a bit more breathing room before I confront Deon once again. I thought it was better if I at least make use of myself in Beterano. Plus Deon was still injured so it's not like I couldn't seem him if I wanted to. I still couldn't figure out why Deon would do such a thing. Sure it was his decision-reaped benefits but to throw away his life like that, for such a potentially reckless move. I don't understand. So I got to work hoping to be of some use to the populace.
It turns out it was a long trek from Beterano to Inferena. We sadly couldn't take any of the speeders since we couldn't make them maneuver through the forests. Still on the other hand at least I can get some time knowing my teammates and Dwarf. I desperately tried to make conversation. I've always been the type never to stand still and needed something to pass the time.
"So what made you want to become a specialist, Dwarf."
"Ahh, that is a story that I haven't told much," he said with pained nostalgia as he limped. " While I may be a giant, but I consider myself as human as any other. The Giants had a bit of an animalistic nature to them. They value strength above all else, and when I had turned 11, they decided to abandon me. I was smaller and meeker than most of them, so they viewed me as a weakling. I find it lucky I was able to find a young couple of specialists who took me in. It wasn't too long that I became like a child to them, even with the dangers of human-monster relations at the time. Eventually, I decided to fall in there footsteps to make sure that I pass on their lesson to everyone I meet. That strength comes in many forms. True weaknesses are when one wastes that potential. I sought to be a specialist for 25 years and eventually during the early reign of the elementals, and I've been a specialist for 45 years now."
His words made my heart swell and legs want to run a triathlon at the same time. It motivated me to want to become even half the specialist Dwarf. When I became a specialist, it was more of a self-discovery. I want to see how far I can go as a person and to help people for the sake of a certain someone. However, this does beg the question. How old is Dwarf anyway?
Our journey continued, and I fell back towards Aphele and Lunaire.
"You think that we'll be able to get the help of Inferna?"I asked curiously.
"I don't know about any of you but I'd rather we have none of these monsters bothering us. I'd never thought we'd be in a position in which we would be at the mercy of these things," said a specialist in a harsh tone.
He had wavy jet-black hair a blue ascot and a rifle.
"Like it or not, we have no choice. We can't evacuate that many people in 3 days and the Ravager is way too dangerous to write off. As soon as they fix it up they can vaporize it at any time," Aphele said with worry.
"That isn't true. Ravagers have a ridiculously huge charge up and cool down. They are also as slow as a snailsarus so even if we can cut in the last possible moment we can have the advantage," Lunaire said.
We were both amazed and shocked.
"How do you know so much about the ravagers? Barely anyone here knows. "
"I read a lot and have a perfect memory. You can find anything if you look hard enough."
"Well, I'm sure it will work out. It always seems to," I said enthusiastically.
"If anything it seems trouble finds us no matter where we go," she said spitefully.
Hours later we FINALLY make our way to the hobgoblins village. We soon discovered this when a ring of flame surrounds our entire group through the ring about a dozen hobgoblins on top of slammandria's clad in armor. The differences between hobgoblins and goblins were minute and large at the sometimes. They were as tall as goblins, but much skinner and orange with yellow eyes and their noses were flatter. The slammandrians are the size of trucks and were large lizards with glowing yellow eyes. However, one mana signature was stronger than them all. Inferena stood in her majestic glory. She had long black hair worn with a tangerine armor held together by tight leather and a long clothed skirt. However, what caught my eye were the curved oriented swords with blue jewel glowing in the hilt with flaming power. I wasn't a fan of modifier weapons. But I will be the first to admit they have coolness towards them. Plus the whole melding one's elements with weapons and all that jazz and becoming more powerful than before.
"Tell me your intentions now specialists and speak carefully and honestly. Before the crackling of my inferno overtakes your voices," she said with a dominating presence of what's that fancy word. Oh, right eloquence.
I try not to spend much time in hospitals. They always gave this air of uncertainty and coldness. No one knows the true meaning of casualties before you see injured specialists in war. Dozens of beds laid side by side. Some had murmurs of conversation others mindless babbling. I started to hyperventilate as the awkward silence soon became deafening. Then I feel a hand on my shoulder and instantly knock it away.
I realize what I had done as a woman with dark green eyes and hair. She was dressed as a medic and had utterly drained expression. I soon realized that I had slapped away some coffee she had. She paid me no mind as all she did was kneel towards the spilled coffee. Her expression relived her dead and sad eyes.
"Coffee, no," she said solemnly.
The woman started to cry as she repeated the word coffee over and over again. It was uncomfortably awkward. I wanted to leave, but a part of me forced me to ask the question.
"Are you okay?"
"Yes, just give a minute or more more more coffee hee heee hee," she said while breaking down again.
Eventually, I managed to get her situated against a chair with her coffee in tow as I slowly made her regain her composure.
"I'm sorry it's just been a rough couple days. Ever since that, goblin attacks a couple of days ago. Every one of my mana donors is sucked dry, and they're not many doctors here. I've gotten only 9 hours of sleep in total. There are just too many injured. I can't heal them all not unless I got some sleep a need to recharge my mana. But I can't, and the worst part is most of these people are in critical condition and need my expertise specifically. Some of these people are suffering, and I can't do a thing about it."
The story chilled me to the bone and reminded me of a sin I had committed years ago. I was only a little over a year old when Brandon was born. However, he was a difficult birth, and she soon died a couple of months later. I knew it was stupid but whenever mother's day or anything like that came around I secretly blamed him. That combined with my immense mana and two elements and I quickly rose to be one of the biggest bullies in town. I stole lunch money, beat people up and continuously cheated on tests and quizzes. Besides maybe Brandon the only person I bullied this one girl called Anna. She was from the darkness province, and we regularly made fun about how poor she was.
We had gotten so good at it we openly made a banner about all the people who hated her and forced everyone to sign. That was her breaking point. About a day or 2 after that I overheard that she was in the hospital. She took an entire host of sleeping pills and was hanging on by a thread. The fact that I had caused so much harm to a person they wanted to take her own life. After hearing this, I had a devastating epiphany. I used my power so selfishly and uselessly on the weak to make myself stronger. And I made a vow never to misuse my power again and fight against people who didn't understand that lesson.
So I reached out my hand with my mana surging and got the attention of the medic.
"Um, what's your name if you don't mind me asking."
"Well Jade, since I've been born with a crap ton of mana, is it possible I could make us a cup of coffee and then see if we can transfer my mana to yours? How does that sound," I said reassuringly.
Dwarf instantly took command as he completely bluffed everyone with a dominating appearance.
"Greetings Queen Inferena my name is Dwarf. We come here from the city of Beterano which has been plagued by the Goblin King Vicioso for weeks now. Yesterday thanks to info from a ... brave specialist, we were able to learn that he has a Ravager that could come online within a matter of days. Our city has too many injuries to evacuate properly. We humbly ask for your assistance Lord Inferena. With your power and resources, we could blitz Vicioso's and the goblin army and fix history's biggest mistake by destroying the Ravagers once and for all. If left unchecked Vicioso could disrupt the entire tide of the war. And considering that the Spirit province stands at the very center of Terra all trade could slow to a crawl if Vicioso takes even that. So please Inferena answer our call to arms, for this may be one of the Terra's darkest hours," he said while leaning down.
The gravity of the situation hits me harder than anything, and my body tenses as a question enter my mine.
"How could I be of use in a situation so dire?"
Inferna soon grew a face of conflicted emotions like she was never comfortable in making difficult choices. But that soon was dropped in favor of decisive action.
"To put it simply no. Now please leave."
"What!? Why!?" said the specialist with the ascot.
"If you must know whelp, if I were to join you now I would spit on the face on every hobgoblin ruler before me. For hundreds of years, humans have hunted the slammandrian's to near extinction and have even subjected us to that damn-summoning contract for years. You treat as if we are on the same level as those scavengers. Had it not been for my ancestors, the hobgoblins would be nothing but pets to you humans. While I am impressed that they would even allow a giant to enter their pitiful ranks as a specialist, I will remain neutral in this war. Please leave now, and I will not harm you."
"Please, Inferna don't remain neutral in this fight. It's only a matter of time before Vicioso comes here to settle the score between you and the goblins and steal all you have. Almost everyone knows the animosity between your races."
"The enemy of my enemy is sometimes not my friend," she said wistfully.
"Hey listen to me you damn bitch my brother died a couple of days ago, and we came all the way here so you goblins can all kill each other for us, so you better listen," said the specialist with anger as he raised his gun."
"I will not sit here and listen to the words of a whelp. I'm asking you to leave one more time before my wrath takes over. I have my people to worry about as well, and I doubt the risk is truly more impressive than the reward," she said as she turned her back to us.
"Don't you dare walk away from me, you bitch!"
We tried to calm him down, but it was too late as he fired his rifle towards Inferna. In an instant, she managed to tank the blast with her swords as a guarding motion. Her eyes started to glow with power as her entire body lit up with fire.
"You dare strike at me after the courtesy I've shown you! I will burn you until there is nothing left!"
We all braced for an attack, but in only two maybe 4 seconds she already had Ascot thrown to the ground slashed his rifle with a sword raised. Dwarf worryingly pulled his hammer out to guard the strike and gave Inferna a challenging look.
"I'm sorry, Inferna, but I can't allow you to kill him. That could cause distress among my troops. After the battle; we can punish him severely but not now."
"You dare side yourself with such insolent fools!
Dwarf motioned the hammer and pushed Inferna away.
"I'm sorry, but I can not allow more bloodshed. Please at least let him apologize for his action. We can still join forces."
"No, I will not! She just tried to kill me, and I have to ask forgiveness! I'd rather die."
Inferna and the hobgoblins attacked with the poor choice of words (because it wouldn't be a elementals chapter without a fight).
It took me almost half of my mana to escape Vicioso. Luckily I can recharge a little fast, but I'd say I only have 69% of mana I'm running under. Still, it proved to be usefully combined with Jade's power. Nature is a compelling element essential to the world itself; however, a sub-element of it comes in the form of energy. With it one is blessed with the ability to control the healing process, with it, one can heal, poison and enhance a person. It is a power to give blessings or curses. It was my honor to help someone with such a gift. Again and again, Jade's hands glowed with a green light and physically gave it to another. Her skill shown through with every healed I could physically feel her scanning the ailments and purging the patients of them. It was tiring for sure like the strength of my body fading through. In a couple of hours, we were both dead tired and exhausted with every heave being more and more fatiguing.
"You weren't kidding with that insane mana reserve. I try not to use the mana transfer without the consent of others. Are you okay I know I sucked out a lot," she said?
"I'm okay, give me a couple of minutes. I think I'm just about that edging point. I guess I'm going to sleep for like a couple of hundred years,' I said calmly.
Then a monitor beeps erratically as we see that one last patient. The beeping came from a monitor that showed a man who has flatlined and was burned badly.
"Jade get ready this guy is hurt," I said preparing myself.
"Mai, you can't give up that much mana if you do that you could die."
"It's fine. I know the risk."
"I'm sorry I can't allow you to do that. You've already done en-"
"It's not enough if I don't save everyone," I said defiantly, "What's the point of all of this power if it doesn't do anything!"
I could tell just from looking at her she looked conflicted, but my intensity made her relent. The room was covered in an intense green light as I could feel my mana being poured out of me like a parasite. My arm coward in weakness but I held on through sheer determination. This man will survive to see another day. To laugh, cry and live a long life. He has to! My resolution finally fails me as I fall into slumber.
As I was ever the optimist, I looked on the bright side. No one was using lethal force. It had essentially devolved into a game of person-sized hot potato as we all tried to keep Ascot away from the hobgoblins. The downside was basically that meant whoever held Ascot was a target that said, "Kill me!" I remembered while the officers dealt with the salmmandraians Lunaire was whisking Ascot away from shooting anyone else with his guns. Dwarf and Inferena were a frenzy of blurred blows but with Dwarf injured and Inferna's superior might that standstill was soon to change. A lot of stuff happened after that, and I saw Aphele dispelling fireballs in mid-air while keeping him in line. And now he's under my care, as I have to carry this brickhead as an enraged salmmandraian rampages right with me.
I feel the heat and pressure of the slammandrian's jaws as they snap a mile a minute only inches away from my body. I thought that I would be able to weave through its left arm, but it slaps so hard that it knocked me out for a second or to. When I regain consciousness, I manage to twist my body to take the brunt of the fall as we managed to spin out of each other's grasp and I tumble. I struggle to get up, as my back was a little sore. Not even 2 minute's later I see ascot shoot a couple of blasts from another pistol(seriously why didn't we strip search him already) and slowly starts torturing a young hobgoblin. He shoots both of his ankles and with him screaming in pain he monologues in sick satisfaction.
"You bastards killed one of the things I loved in this world. Now I'm going to kill you," he said with tears streaming down his face and his gun hand shaking with emotion.
A thousand alarms go off in my head as it reminds me of a time long past. When I was younger, I was a very timid boy and got scared easily. My father would always push to try and get me out of my comfort zone. We one time took a trip to the forest, but a monster attacked. I remembered how useless I had been as it loomed over my father with glaring eyes. However, as soon as buried its claws in the dirt, he was gone. A woman with light brown almost golden hair appeared in a combat gi. With an nearly bursting smile filled with confidence, she walked straight up to the monster.
" Now now. It looks I need to teach you a lesson on manners now huh. King Leo Grand Slash!"
Her foot collided with the ground but soon lifted off the air with such velocity that everything in front of her was obliterated utterly. That was my first time seeing my master Basa (wild in Basque). This was the moment I saw the beauty of the Spirit element. That anyone had the potential to achieve anything. So I strive to change myself into something better than myself. And if he carries out this action century old grudges will prevail over we could be doing. With all my strength I fought the pain and picked up a rock and hit it with my Tiger Roundhouse. It perfectly managed to hit Ascot's gun. I still ran as fast as possible towards him. He pulled out a knife, but I used my Anaconda sweep to trip him up and knock him out with his rhino axe kick.
A second later Inferna bypassed Dwarf and stood with a terrifying presence. Ironically I managed to say the words that were needed.
"This guy had his loved one killed when the goblins attacked, and now they're going to kill everyone in Beterano. Women and children, parents and innocents will all be snuffed out. No one else is here to help us except you. When I was young, I worked myself to the bone to change myself into something better. You say that we treat you like pets fine. But how are we ever going to fix this problem if you're not willing to change for the better as well."
Her leer filled me with such intensity that it gave me goosebumps. Her mana ceased to flare, and her composure became relaxed.
"Spark, get Flick to the infirmary and I want that man in jail. He will be detained for the rest of this conflict if our alliance is to have any hopes of succeeding," she said with finality.
"Wait, that means."
"Yes, Dwarf, I will join your little alliance but spare me your words of thanks. Let your actions speak for them. And don't make me regret this choice for even a second."
And in a couple of hours, the sun was setting as we were riding dozens of salammandrians towards Beterano in alliance with Inferena. While it was a bumpy ride, I still went regardless to see my sister.
Next time I wake up I weakly register my environment. I see that I am with a bunch of patients, but they were much livelier than before. When I struggled to get back up, a familiar voice spoke out.
"Welcome back to the land of the living," Deon said.
He still said it with his trademark exaggeration, but I decided that I wanted to cut through all of the fluff. I ask only one question.
"Why, Deon. Why did you do what you did?"
His composure completely fell apart. His face tightened with seriousness.
"To put it simply. I wanted to be of use to you all. I wanted to shine above you all. I came from a place filled with wealth, a strong army but when I see how ruined this place truly was, it made me realize how foolish I was. At that moment I realize why all of you've have hated and pitied me so. I was nothing but a rich boy with far fewer troubles than all of you. I wanted to actually try and be of use to actually lay truth to my claim. So I am sorry I troubled you all so much, Mai. I will become stronger and maybe I can shine as bright as you one day," he said solemnly.
His words hit harder than anything for in a way I realize I had done the same thing. In some form of twisted guilt and dedication for the cause, I put my life on the line. I was able to save so many. I choose my next words oh so carefully.
"Deon, I want you to know that not a second went by for each of us that we didn't see you as a lesser being. I have always in awe of the skill that you've shown. In a way, I guess we were all a little frustrated at how you seemingly shrugged off the weight of this war. But I can see now that was simply your way of coping with the war. But you don't have to bottle that up. We can share that burden together."
Deon's face was soon welled up his face as he finally said.
After our sweet moment, Jade appeared and awkwardly jumped in.
"I'm sorry to interrupt, but they're someone here to see you."
Brandon than and hugged me he asked a bunch of rapid questions. I calm him down enough to ask him a return question until we both said in unison.
"Let's just say you wouldn't believe the day I've had," we said with finality.