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It was high noon before they finally set out from Prima, and that is where the first argument began. Deathwish still insisted that they travel through The Wastelands as opposed to the trails and towns. Kanji argued that himself and Lashea, being human, would be hard pressed to survive the extreme heat of the desert.
Forced to concede, Deathwish grew silent. They traveled along the beaten dirt road until dusk in this manner, Deathwish gruffly marching, Kanji lightly stepping lost in his thoughts, and Lashea trying hard to conceal her huffing breaths and mounting fatigue.
How can I be so tired after all of my training, she thought. Ten years all she did was study under her masters in physical and spritual development, and still it seemed to her that she was ill prepared for the road. Her anger at herself and pride kept her going, but not from asking for a much needed rest a few times that day.
They halted to set up camp at dusk just off the side of the road in front of a small stream. Lashea didn’t wait for another word beyond Kanji announcing they were stopping before she slipped her pack to the ground and slid unceremoniously beside it, laying back on the late spring grasses. Kanji shared a look with Deathwish and he nodded. They started to set up camp without her, and not a minute later she was asleep.
About an hour later Lashea awoke to Deathwish invading a dream. At first, the lizard-man’s telepathic communication blended with her battling Father Salane in the training hall. The whole temple was the audience. She was winning and the people cheered her on. Deathwish and Kanji stood by the door like in her last battle against Clavus. Deathwish kept on telling her to wake up, wake up- as if she wasn’t concentrating on the battle. She was awake! She was winning! Wake up, Lashea, wake up-
Finally she bolted upright realizing he wasn’t part of the dream. Night had fully fallen upon the camp, lit by a full, large moon and a campfire which sported a stick rotating in two forked sticks stuck in the ground. On the makeshift spit spun several small fish. Lashea’s mouth watered.
And here I thought there was going to be more for me. Well, since you’re awake- Deathwish threw a small pail at the still dazed woman, fetch us some water and some more firewood.
The toss was a near miss of hitting Lashea in the head to which she sputtered, “What am I, your servant?”
Oh, no, we must be yours, highness!
Deathwish gestured at the sizzling fish and Lashea felt foolish as she looked around at camp, dinner, and her dropped sack of things. Without another word or glance she grabbed the pail and made off for the stream where Kanji was fishing with his foot. He had a stick balanced between two toes and was simultaneously cleaning a rainbow scaled fish on a large, smooth rock by the riverbed. She didn’t spare him more than a glance as she went to fetch water further downstream. Her anger rose at her own ineptness. She assumed they looked on with mocking, contemptuous thoughts.
They should have woke me to help! But they didn’t wake me because they think I am weak and need the special treatment.
And maybe they are right, after all! Look at me!
Her blood boiled more with each breath. She would push herself harder tomorrow, no extra stopping, no falling asleep.
I will not fail you.
She thought of Clavus in the training hall and father Salane speaking highly of her. She thought of her Goddess untiringly helping, protecting, working for those in need. Lastly, she thought of her parents who, sore covered and sick, still only cared for what would become of their daughter as they sent her to the temple to be trained.
Kanji could not know all of this as Lashea went moodily about her chores, hauling more water than they needed back to camp and more wood than they could possibly burn in one night. He finally had to tell her to stop and come and eat before her dinner was cold. When he did, she gave him such a strange look that he could only assume it was the reaction of an overtired novice.
The next day put their feet further on the path that was the first leg of their long journey. Heel to toe they traveled along the trees, out further into the wilderness. The weather was fine but from day to day it was hard for Kanji to determine whether the moods of his companions would be or not. It is true that Deathwish and Lashea got off on the wrong foot, but it had since escalated into a dance of dark looks, testing prods, and testy people. Kanji often found himself putting his foot in his mouth after saying something that pushed the silence into snide remarks.
It was one such morning that Kanji changed tactics as he refused that things would continue like this any longer. Lashea was a part of their traveling group for the duration of the cross country trip, perhaps longer, and they needed to learn to live with and trust each other. Kanji hated to think what would happen if a group of goblins happened upon them now, so disjointed they were as a group. At the next opportunity, Kanji was determined to force these two into a real dialogue, even if it meant the loss of a few limbs or his head being bitten from his body. It was a new day, full of jibes, but hopeful.
“With his ill temper, it is no wonder why they call him Deathwish!” muttered Leena with a sneer, knowing well that Deathwish was more than within earshot.
“Well, no,” Kanji wrinkled his nose anticipating the bad smells that had become so frequent, “…actually, Deathwish is a nickname that the monks at the monastery gave him,” Kanji further gathered up his resolve and felt himself falling into memories, “It was before he obtained the amulet that allows him to communicate telepathically, so he couldn’t tell us his name.”
It doesn’t have a word in your language anyways.
Kanji beamed at the prospect of an actual conversation, rather than another argument, “The monks gave him that name because of the way he deals with a situation- without regard to the consequences on himself, only of the implications of what may happen if he does not act.”
“It was the first summer Deathwish stayed with us. There were reports of a rabid bear skirting the countryside near a neighboring village. Though the bear had not yet attacked, the villagers were panicked that he would hurt someone and infect them or their animals which they relied on for food. The monks took this news, and the petition for their help which soon followed, with calm wisdom. They planned to discuss their options on how to best handle the situation that very night.”
“Deathwish was furious at the delay. He could not fathom why the bear hadn’t been slain the second after it was reported. What if someone died or their flock became ill and died?”
“Deathwish went after the bear himself. I followed Deathwish as he left, worried at what may befall him in his zeal. I shadowed him until he finally found the bear wantonly taking out its aggression on a nearby tree. Deathwish wasted no time rushing in, sword drawn- but the bear- oh he wrapped Deathwish in a hug before he even brought his sword to bear!”
Lashea snickered at the pun. However unintentional, Kanji beamed at what he thought was storytelling worthy of bardic note.
“I did not want to interfere, but seeing Deathwish in trouble I prayed to Brihaad to slow the bear’s movements.”
“Deathwish, I yelled, draw the disease out from the bear! Cure him of his illness. And until then I think Deathwish had only thought to physically stop the bear- never considered that he could do it so easily by using his Brihaad-given abilities.”
“Even after, Deathwish did not stop at curing the bear, but insisted we take him back to the wilderness away from the village to be sure that he would no longer terrorize the villagers. He asked if I could put disable the bear with my Brihaad given magic. I thought about it a moment, but Deathwish grew impatient and punched him right in the head, knocking the bear unconscious. Without another word, Deathwish heaved him over his shoulders and started walking off away from the village. Dare I wonder what would have happened had the bear woken up during this trek. But Deathwish, he doesn’t think like that.”
Amazed at the silence that followed, Kanji figured that he had finally found a solution- until that silence was broken.
“So he’s called Deathwish because he’s the sort of moron who doesn’t think before acting and is likely to get us all killed from his lack of foresight in perilous situations,” summed up Lashea in a huff, “Great.”
Kanji groaned and put a hand to his head, frustrated but far from defeated. The noxious odor of swamp water and skunk wafted past. He wracked his brain trying to think of a way to again turn the conversation.
There was a thud to the ground and Kanji turned to see Deathwish standing, his pack thrown against the base of a tree.
“Deathwish, what are you-”
Let’s settle this, small, noisy flesh.
“Are you talking to me?”
Come on. Single combat to settle this. First blood, disarmament, or withdraw at sword point.
“You can’t be serious,” Lashea laughed putting a slender hand on a hip.
Are you afraid I’ll hurt you? I’ll make sure it’s not a disabling wound. After all, I’m not carrying you.
Lashea’s sense of humor faded immediately and she dropped her own pack to the ground, pulling free her large bastard sword with a single hand, her sinewy muscles drawing tight as she gripped it. Her eyes narrowed and she dropped into a crouch, muttering a request of blessing from Brihad.
A contest of swords only- no using powers from the Goddess.
“What are you two doing? Are you both insane?” Kanji dashed in between the two, arms outstretched to either side and sputtering, “We have a mission! We have duty and a common deity! What good can come of fighting?”
Tension took over the clearing and Lashea stared at Deathwish waiting for his lead. The silence was broken by a screech from of the path.
“Scoundrels! Feel th’ edge of me blade if ye dare get any closer!”
The three barely exchanged glances before they were off to find the source of such a proclamation. Through a stretch of trees off the path there came a clearing overlooking large field. Within the field stood a lone robed figure surrounded completely by goblins who backed away wearily as a floating sword kept whirling and darting all over, pointing at and swishing towards the monsters. It was obvious that this man was loosing his sense of calm. He was severely outnumbered.
I know it’s been awhile! Click here to start at the beginning of our story!