Welcome to part 2 of Zera's short story!
Chapter 3: Survival Game
She opened her eyes; she must have fallen asleep and not realized it. Looking below she didn’t see any of the Iron Fangs but noticed Rhelis was desecrated, little to no flesh was left on him and his bones were picked clean.
Zera knew she couldn’t remain up in the tree forever, she carefully made her way down and over to Rhelis. “When I said you’d be honored Rhelis, I wasn’t finished yesterday.” She began breaking the rib cage of the skeleton, forming large pointed blades made of bone. She then began using the woods to her advantage, using a combination of metal, vines and bone; she constructed a bracer with bone blades unleashed from the top of it. Additionally she crafted a bone bowl to hopefully store water or herbal remedies in.
Confidant at putting all of her survival skills to the test she began feeling more self-assured. “You’ve got this,” she said mentally, trying to pump herself up.
Over to her right, she noticed a kuezal, a small furry animal with a metallic beak. “Food,” she muttered silently as she licked her lips. She began stalking the prey silently as it made its way up the woods. She knew that there was a good chance the kuezal was heading towards water, and being able to score food and water in one day would certainly be a success.
She carefully would navigate her feet, being sure not to step onto anything that would alarm the creature. About twenty minutes had finally passed and the kuezal was at a river bed, dipping its beak into the water. Little kuezal soon followed suit and joined their appeared to be mother.
Zera was torn at the picture of family painted in front of her by the creature’s banding together. It reminded her of home; it reminded her of her father.
Shaking off the compassion, she knew what she had to do to survive. She reared the spear back in her hands and aimed carefully until releasing it. The spear arced across the sky and landed true into the kuezal. It let out a pathetic quack before toppling over and taking its final rest. Zera’s eyes teared up as she made her way to the baby kuezalings that were surrounding their mother.
“I’m so sorry little ones,” she said to them as she squatted down towards the tiny creatures. She gestured to pet one of them, but was countered by the baby snapping at her with his tiny beak. While not threatening, Zera still felt great pain internally.
She stood and jetted the spear upward with the kuezaling at the end. Removing it from the tip of the spear, she gripped it tightly in her hand and walked over to a collective of rocks down the riverbed. Using what she had scavenged from Rhelis, she used the bowl made of bone and dipped it into the water. Pouring it over her body, the water trickled down, relieving every bit of her. Rejuvenated she began drinking the water to quench her thirst.
“Ah! I’ve never enjoyed water this much.” She thought. She set the bowl down and began making her way towards two rocks that she started striking together. “Come on!” She gritted her teeth and within moments the stones ignited, creating a fire for her to cook the kuezaling on.
Chapter 4: The Devil’s Grin
Several days had past, maybe even weeks, Zera didn’t think to keep track of time, but she was certainly surviving. “I wonder if any of the others have made it?” she questioned.
Believing that her time was quickly drawing to a close for Nalik Ravar, she began making her way back. Fully equipped with a makeshift satchel, water, food, and her spear, Zera began making her journey back home. The biggest problem now is because she was dropped at a random location, she didn’t know how long it would take for her to make her way back home or even which direction to head in.
Coming to the conclusion that it was best to head towards the way she initially entered, she began setting foot from her camp and making her way back through the glimmering woods.
“Put your hands up you filthy raktii,” a man exclaimed. It was some bandit with a dome shaped black helmet, a red visor, and just enough space to see his gnarled and yellow stained mouth. He began approaching her with a shotgun. Zera put her hands up, releasing her spear and letting it clamor on the ground beneath her.
“What do you want from me?” she inquired to the human bandit.
“There’s a lot of money a man can rack up from captured raktii warriors. You look a bit young, but if I’m not mistaken, you’re the princess. That has to be worth quite a lucrative amount,” he said as his grin devilishly slid from ear to ear.
Zera knew she was in a bad position, perhaps the worst one she’s been in yet. But she also remembered what she had learned from her training. “For every action, there is an appropriate reaction,” she said quietly to herself.
“What did ye say? I couldn’t quite her you.” The man went to go belt her in the stomach with his gun, hoping to knock her out. She turned to her side, narrowly avoiding the impact of the blow. With her fists gripped tight she punched the man, aiming for his neck. He staggered back and had his chest cut a bit from the bone pieces from her makeshift bracer.
“Son of a bitch,” he said as he began feeling the blood rush out of his chest from his wound. He was taken back by the battle prowess of the young female raktii. He slung his shotgun forward but it was too little too late, he let out a crying gasp as blood scattered the metal ground. The spear had made its way through his heart.
Once his life had ended, Zera kicked him backwards. She began scavenging his equipment and made his helmet and pieces of tattered metal into strengthened armor for herself.
Chapter 5: The Duskar Scorpions
Days had past and she began to feel shaken by the lack of water she has had. She was able to expunge some from the silumar trees that retain some water, but other than that – nothing.
Finally, she couldn’t believe it, she could see her home. Distant, the Fieralidyn city. In her peripherals however she noticed something terribly wrong. Duskar Scorpions the size of a small house were attacking her city. Multiple warriors were outside the walls, using their swords, spears and guns, but the metallic hide of a Duskar Scorpion isn’t easily pierced.
Fearing for her comrades’ safety she plunged into battle with a spear in one hand and the looted shotgun in the other. Making the best attempt she could, she threw the spear, hoping to land a deafening blow, but unfortunately her attempt was void. The spear glanced off of the back of the scorpion, only strong enough to alarm it of her presence. It turned to her and began making its way, charging her. Its legs skittering across the ground as its enormous pinchers were ready to snap her in half. The creature struck with one claw, and Zera ducked, avoiding the attack. The scorpion within a second snapped its tail towards the ground at Zera.
Barely able to dodge it, Zera stumbled backwards with her shotgun raised underside of the creature. She fired the shotgun upwards, blowing the underside of the scorpion to shreds. It was a rain of blood that showered Zera. The beast stuttered backwards and seemed disoriented by the attack. Bravely, Zera picked herself up and charged the scorpion. With one last effort, the scorpion tried hammering its claws towards her, but missed. Using her swift acrobatics, Zera leaped upwards onto the back of the scorpion and began firing through the creases of armor on its back. Some of the pellets ricocheted, glancing Zera’s legs. But by that time, the beast had fallen. Noticing the success of her people against the scorpions, Zera, took the time to claim the head of the scorpion she had slain.
Chapter 6: The Return
The gates opened and cheerful glee reigned throughout the city. Zera was triumphant; she had survived and been reborn as a warrior of her people. Proud, Zera approached the city stoically with blood painted on her body and the head of a Duskar Scorpion clutched in her right hand as a badge of worthiness. As she made her way in however, she noticed something disturbing. The others – none of the others had made it. She was the only one being celebrated. Taken back by this, to an even bigger surprise, she didn’t see her father there either, expecting him to be among the first of ones to greet her.
“Where’s my father?” she puzzled. She thought that the king, let alone her father of all people would have been there to support the end of her trail.
With shaggy purple toned hair, light armor and a sword, one of the kings trusted guards Averis stepped forward.
Whispering to Zera, Averis said, “I believe your father and some of his men has stolen the Boveidian Crystal.”
Zera’s eyes grew in anger. She pulled Averis close so that the two remained the only ones to hear the conversation. “You know that will start a war, Averis, how could you let him go through with such recklessness?”
“I’m afraid it wasn’t my place to say. But please princess come with me, things will get ugly here.” He firmly gripped her wrist and began tugging her towards him and away from the others.
“No!” She shouted as she pulled away. Feeling betrayed, Zera turned and spoke loudly to the people. “My father – your king, has stolen something, something he shouldn’t have. The Boveidian Crystal.” The people gasped and Averis drew his sword, knowing the city would soon revolt.
“Yes that’s right,” she continued. “The crystal that draws forth evil from every corner of our world. The one that commands the beasts that ravage through our cities.” Putting it together, she knew that the Duskar attack wasn’t just a coincidence, never have that many at once have come so close to the city. It must be her father up to something…but what?