The feast ended, and the next day, there was already someone waiting at my house. My new soon to be trainer. I wasn’t even dressed yet. And I still had to say my farewells to Aidan. Warriors of the Genesis were always isolated from everyone else. They couldn’t have any influence from the outside, only to be focused on their task. To find a way to stop this madness, this chaos.
I dressed up, my usual leather outfit, with metal rings strapped on my shoulders and my flanks, and my fingerless leather gloves. I tied my black hair into a horsetail, and took a final look into the mirror. My face was smooth. I never went through anything dangerous before. That would soon change. I always wondered if too much stress would damage the color in your eyes. Make it more grim. I didn’t want my sky-blue eyes to die down. It’s the only thing about me that I liked.
I then went to the door and opened it, and there was my trainer. Arem, they called him. For a trainer he looked quite handsome, and had so many scars on his face. You could tell he went outside the barrier a lot of times.
“You’re Elaine Bladesong?”
He wore stern steel armor and wide shoulder pads, a white cloak dragging lightly over the ground and holding a full steel helmet underneath his armpit. His armor had white paintings on it. The symbol of the Genesis. A white circle with a white sun painted inside it. The sword in his scabbard, looked like it was glowing a bit.
“Yes, that’s me. Well, not Bladesong anymore.” I nodded.
I’ve never seen a warrior from the Genesis before. They looked outstanding. Almost even breathtaking. It wasn’t a wonder the shadows saw those warriors as a big threat. He scoffed and shook his head.
“Forget the whole oath thing. We’re still humans, and we have a family to look back to. You’re a Bladesong, and even better, Rendar Bladesong’s daughter. He would be very proud to see you here, you know that right?”
For some reason, hearing he knew my father, struck my heart with some kind of warmth I could not describe. I never knew him, I only heard stories.
“You know my father?” I asked.
“I stood by his side before we lost from the darkness. Anyhow, we’ll talk about your father later. For now, you need to be introduced to the pack.”
“The pack?” I asked with a frown.
“It’s what we call ourselves. The pack of wolves that hunt in the night, not afraid of the darkness. But I’m telling you. We’re terrified of the darkness. It’s that fear that keeps us alive. Now, if you could follow me please?”
“Will I get to say goodbye to my friend?”
“Right now you can’t. We need to test the new chosen on how they react to yearning feelings. Don’t worry, you’ll get to say goodbye to them the first time you go beyond the barrier.”
I nodded and followed him down the path. His armor rattling on every step. I looked at the barrier, enshrouding this entire place. It had a soft green glow. One day, I would be actually going past that barrier. I still couldn’t believe it. We went all around the tree, leaving the entire community behind, and stopped at a wooden gate. It looked like a fortress surrounded by wooden walls. A small stack of smoke loomed above the fort, creating a smell of a warm fireplace.
Fort Luparia (soundtrack)
“Welcome to Fort Luparia, Elaine.”
A guard in white painted leather, carrying a bow around his back with glowing arrows in his quiver, watched around proudly on the watchtower. The wooden gates slowly opened, revealing a busy courtyard. Trainees were shooting targets with bows, all lined up, a group of runners in light clothing were running circles around the courtyard, doing push-ups, or pulling themselves up on poles. Everyone looked so wide and strong. I seemed so out of place here. There were quite a few girls as well, but they looked just as strong as the boys. Some were throwing spears on targets, hitting the bullseye perfectly. There were groups of friends. This seemed like an entire new community outside Kindle Haven.
There, were all the people that were involuntary chosen. Then, all become one big band of comrades. I could feel the bond that everyone had. Some noticed me, and were glaring at me, which made me feel quite uncomfortable. I still followed Arem, who rounded up all the warriors by yelling out loud.
“Alright, warriors, trainees, gather around in formation!”
Everyone immediately responded, running in a jogging pace in a neat formation, all lined up next to each other. Arem looked at me, as if he was expecting something.
“That also includes you, trainee. Hurry up!”
I didn’t know where to stand, so I just joined the formation next to some big, buff man. My heart was pounding, I was so nervous. Everything became silent.
“Brothers, sisters. Just like every year our brotherhood is blessed with an addition to our forces. Every year, our brotherhood grows stronger.”
He paced around slowly, his chest upfront, caressing the hilt of his sword and watching over us. Our group existed of at least twenty-six men. Well...twenty-seven including me.
“This year, we have the honor to be having noble blood in our ranks. Even though it doesn’t mean much anymore in these times of troubles, she is still a great addition. I’d like to welcome Elaine Bladesong into the brotherhood.”
He looked at me, calling me over with his hand.
“Please step forward, Elaine.”
I looked around me, and expecting to see everyone staring at me, they were staring in front of them instead. I don’t think I remembered someone blinking. They were so disciplined. I stepped forward out of the formation, and turned around.
“Her father served this world greatly before darkness took over. And so she will continue to do so. We will train her to be amongst our greatest warriors. If anyone has any objection of her joining the brotherhood, raise your hand.”
With sweat on my forehead, and my eyes darting from person to person, I waited for all of them to raise their hands. But they didn’t. Nobody raised their hands, and just kept on staring in front of them. I finally cracked a smile, releasing a little sigh.
“Then let us accept her into our pack. For humanity, for Oryn.”
The entire group then repeated the words.
“For humanity, for Oryn!”
“Okay, gentlemen, at ease. Continue your daily trainings, Elaine, with me.”
I nodded and followed Arem while the group dispersed and continued with their training. He lead me to a wooden building in the back of the fortress, banners of the encircled sun symbol were hanging beside the entrance. He opened the door, entering a room filled with weapons. Probably an armory. They all were glowing in some light. Bows, quivers, crossbows, bolts, swords, spears, lances, axes, greatswords, shields. All sorts of weapons were placed in the racks. But not only weapons, armor also. Mannequins carrying pieces of white painted armor. Leather, steel, fur, hide, all sorts of types, all carrying the Genesis symbol.
Damnit. I was lost in thoughts again. I sighed and shook my head. I really wanted to know how it felt like to wear those beautiful armors. And I got lost in thoughts looking at them.
“You’ll be able to wear those one day. When your training is over.”
I simply nodded and continued following him. He entered another room, this time, it was filled with wooden bunk beds.
“This is where you all sleep. There’s a few empty beds, you can choose which one you will take. Breakfast is on sunrise, and supper on duskfall. The rest of the day you will train. Find some buddies to train with. Get to know the other people. It’s easier to train with others than by yourself. It goes faster. Try all sorts of weapons, choose your own personal type, and hone your skills with it every day.
“Okay.” I simply replied. He left the room, and I was all alone. It was only then, that I noticed my hands were shaking. Why were they shaking? And why was I so nervous? I chose the free bed close to the window. I always liked looking at the night sky. It was the only thing that was still beautiful despite all the darkness. A pair of clothing was folded and resting on my bed. I took it and unfolded it, revealing a tight uniform made of some hide, but beautifully decorated with the Genesis symbol and polished with leather patches.
“I guess this is what I’ll be wearing now.” I told to myself. I took off my own leather gear, and climbed into the uniform. It felt pretty tight at first, but after walking around with it for a moment, it started to fit better. I also took the pair of simple leather boots and put them on. My own white Genesis uniform. I never thought I would be wearing this to be honest. When I was ready, I exited the quarters back into the courtyard.
People were busy in groups. Everyone was so bonded with each other, how would I possibly fit into one of these groups then? Cropped to myself, I headed over to the archery range. A row of beautiful white bows were resting in a rack. Some were missing because others were using them obviously. I took one as well, gripping it firmly. I looked at the target in front of me, and took an arrow from the quiver that was resting along the rack, nocking it.
I pulled the string tight, closed my one eye and aimed towards the target. When I thought I was ready, I released the arrow. I completely missed, and felt embarrassed, looking around if anybody saw my blunder. I sighed, taking another arrow, and then I heard a voice behind me.
“You gotta relax, Elaine.”
I looked behind me, and saw a boy, well..man, standing there and looking at me with amber eyes. He wore the exact same outfit as me, with brown short hair. He also had a big scar across his entire face. Stubbornly, I turned back to my target and nocked the arrow into my bow.
“Believe me, everyone is anxious the first day in Luparia. You’ll get used to it.” he told me. I released my arrow, hitting the target, but only just on the most outer circle. I sighed again, reaching my hand towards the quiver when I felt his hand intercepting mine, taking the arrow for me.
“Hey, calm down. You need to hold your elbow higher.”
I decided to let him help me, nocking my arrow and letting him correct my stance.
“Straighten your back as well, and take a deep breath.” he said while pushing in the arc of my back. I did notice a change in the position of my bow. It felt more comfortable, and I felt like I could aim better. Maybe it was just an illusion. But when released the arrow, I knew it wasn’t. It almost pierced into the bullseye.
“See? That’s better. Try the other weapons as well. My name is Liam, by the way. I got chosen last year. I caught your name is Elaine?”
I smiled and nodded. “Yes. Thanks for the help.”
So he was the one Aidan talked about. I wouldn’t imagine Liam being one to cry. Did he change that easily just by heading out there?
“Always welcome. You’re one of us now, we have to help each other.”
I went through all sorts of weapons, but the one that appealed to me the most, were the spears. They were pretty light-weighted, and combining it with a shield felt the best for me.
Training Camp (soundtrack)
Months passed of non-stop training every day. I never got used to the weekly Great Climb. That was how they called it. Every week, we had to climb to the top of the Tree of Growth, and mark one of her leaves before climbing all the way down again. When we fell, Vilxians would catch us from the air. But I can tell you, it didn’t take the fear away at all.
I got better every day with my spears as well. It only took a few weeks for me to be able to throw my spear right in the bullseye. Vilxians would cast magical targets that served as the replacement of the shadow creatures beyond the barrier. We trained on those as well, letting more than one pounce at us at the same time. I sparred a lot with others, mainly Liam. He was my main training partner for the entirety of the training season.
I couldn’t stop thinking about Aidan every night. I couldn’t even say goodbye to him. I kept thinking about what he was doing then, if he’s been doing alright.
Then, almost a year passed. My skills were honed to the point where I felt I was ready for the final test. It came down to that. When I passed that test, I would be allowed to go beyond the barrier.
Finally, I was standing there, ready to start the test. An obstacle course stood in front of me, with Vilxians ready to cast creatures pouncing my way. Everyone was looking at me, including the trainers. Even one of the Kindle Haven leaders were here, Arem. I held my spear tightly, the leather of my fingerless gloves squeaking, my tight leather boots crunching in the gravel, and my polished leather armor with the Genesis symbol glimmering in the light. My black hair was tied up in a knot. I was ready, waiting for the trumpet signal.
And then I heard it, the short tune.
I pushed myself forward, making some gravel fly in the air behind me. I immediately stumbled on a crawling obstacle, throwing myself on the ground and crawling as fast as I could. I was surprised by my own speed, as I almost floated under the obstacle, immediately standing up when I made it, continuing my sprint. When I saw the next obstacle, where I had to climb over, a Vilxian cast a creature pouncing at me, making me make a little spin before plowing my spear through it with a loud grunt, making it dissolve into the air.
“Yes!” I shouted in my own head, climbing the obstacle, the grip of my gloves making it fairly easy to vault over it. I let myself fall down, landing on my hands and feet, when I was unexpectedly attacked by three creatures at once. I quickly dived down, letting all their pounces miss me and turned to the creatures, throwing my spear into one of them, and quickly taking a new one from my back. I couldn’t throw another one, as one of them pounced at me again, making me hold my shield in front of me, preparing for impact.
The impact pushed me back a few steps, and then I saw the second one pouncing at me as well. Then I saw it, they were all lined up. “This is my chance.” I thought, so I threw my spear towards them, piercing them both at once, their formless bodies dissolving into the air. My heart was pounding, and my breath quickened. I still have two more obstacles to go.
I continued my sprint, diving onto my hands and knees, crawling through a narrow tunnel. Then, another creature also seemed to be crawling through it towards me, snarling and growling viciously. But that wasn’t the only one, I heard the same snarls behind me as well. They really didn’t make it easy for me. Creatures were crawling from both ends of the tunnel towards me. I held my shield up to one side, and kept my spear up to the other. When the one at my spear approached, I thrust it into the creature while the other pushed against my shield forcefully, dangerously close. The power was immense, making me use both my hands to push against the force, groaning and grunting loudly.
I couldn’t use my spears since the creature was too close, but then I realized. My daggers! I dangerously let go of the shield with one hand, making it harder for me to push against the creature, but I took a dagger from my belt, and quickly thrust it into the creature, making it dissolve as well. I made it.
That encounter in the tunnels made me exhausted. With my heart pounding, and me panting loudly, I crawled out of the tunnel, covered in sweat. One more obstacle to go.
The last obstacle wasn’t actually a physical one. It was just one small platform I had to stand on. I stood on it, and saw four Vilxians standing around me, ready to cast the creatures. They cast them one by one. The first one didn’t pounce me yet, so I quickly threw my spear into the creature. It was immediately followed by another one behind me, this time, it did pounce. I quickly turned around while taking a new spear from my back. But since it pounced, I only managed to slam it down into the ground instead of piercing it. I couldn’t finish it off as the third one was being spawned, dashing towards me. I turned around once again, not able to use my weapons at all, so I grabbed it and threw it over me using the momentum of the creature’s dash. They were both in my line of sight, so I held my second last spear in front of me, in a stable combat position, keeping my feet wide apart from each other.
They both pounced at me again, I slammed down the first one, while plunging my spear into the other, letting out a loud growl myself. While the first one was down, I quickly finished it off before it could attempt another pounce at me. It came down to the last one. Since it was only one, it was fairly easy to kill it, as I threw my second last spear into the creature. As soon as it dissolved, the trumpet sounded again.
Welcome to the Genesis (soundtrack)
It was finally over. I was panting heavily, bending down and supporting myself on my knees. Sweat dripping from my head, and my damp hair sticking to the sides of my head.
“Well done!” I heard Liam yelling in the distance, I saw everyone approaching me with a wide smile on their face. Liam and others wrapped their arm around me, pushing me unintentionally from side to side.
“That was awesome, Elaine!”
Then I saw my trainer approaching. Considering his smile, it was probably good news. He stopped in front of me, and paused for a moment.
“One minute and five seconds. That is the second best we had so far. Congratulations, Elaine. You’re officially a Warrior of the Genesis now.”
He opened his hand, revealing a small metal badge. It was the Genesis symbol. The encircled sun. He pinned it on my chest. I won’t argue that I felt pretty proud of myself. I never thought I would’ve made it.
And so, I became a Warrior of the Genesis.