Slahn was growing tired of Dakhrem Lör. They had been walking through this blasted forest for almost a week now. Already they had gotten to the cliff side on the far east, now they were making their way northward. Aside from the run in with the giant boar and the sighting of the largest falcon he had ever seen not, much else had happened. It was also a very quiet trip. Slahn tended to like the silence as it gave him time to think. He thought hard about the spells he knew, and practiced the Rëguin words for those spells many times in his head. It was pertinent the pronunciation for each spell be without flaw. Mispronouncing a word could mean you use a spell you’re not familiar with. Not only might you not be aligned with the spell, but even if it does fall under your alignment it may be too powerful for your body to handle. It all depended on the amount of energy your body could create. The more you practiced, the more energy you could create, which meant you could cast stronger spells.
Slahn looked skyward. Light struggled to trickle through what little space the massive trees that hung overhead allowed. Though the forest wasn’t much less dense when they had gotten to the cliff bordering the ocean, the fog was quite a bit clearer in this area. Kaiser looked even more pleased with himself when the group realized walking to the cliff instead of straight through the forest meant less time in the fog. They were all a bit uneasy in the blanket of white after that boar attack. Now that Kaisers arm was healing the attack seemed like a blessing in disguise. Quite a bit of food was procured from the monster of a hog, and they even got their hands on some warm leather. Tussling with the monsters in this forest wasn’t something Slahn would choose to do, but when they deliver themselves to your feet he definitely wouldn’t argue with it.
Slahn thought back to that falcon. He understood Zavs annoyance when it came to the topic of the Vali. While they weren’t exactly friends, Slahn and Zav had known each other for quite a while and were partners, both in crime and as lovers, for most of it. Slahn did miss the company of Zav on some nights, but he worked hard to keep himself from creating bonds with anyone. He told himself it was purely the physical aspect of it that he missed, but he wondered at times. No, he would never allow a part of himself to become weak like that. Opening yourself up to someone was asking to be stabbed right where it hurts.
The leaves of trees rustled over head as birds constantly fluttered through the canopy. Just as Zav had mentioned the birds were much more numbered near the cliff. Having a dense forest to hide in and an open ocean to hunt in was definitely tempting to the animals. Slahn continued his easy pace just in front of Zav and behind Kaiser for quite a bit longer, but finally Kaiser had spoken up. “I think I see the exit to the forest.” “Wonderful,” Zav responded, “soon we can start walking through a hellish desert void of life instead of a moist forest full of game whenever we need it.” Kaiser rubbed his forehead with the tips of his fingers, “What do you suggest? You want to just fly to Wellspring? Let’s just all summon our magical guardian powers and fly to Wellspring.” “Actually,” Slahn interrupted, “I don’t actually have guardian powers.” Kaiser threw his arms up, frustrated with this entire conversation. “It doesn’t matter! None of us can fly to begin with!” Kaiser huffed and continued down their path. Zav followed, eyes pointed down as he did so, but Slahn seemed rather amused by the whole ordeal.
Soon the forest was at their backs. Now they only needed to scale the mountains surrounding the deserts, descend them, then begin their trip through the sweltering madness of the Kogskad wastes. Zav suggested they set up camp right at the exit of the forest, but Slahn had the better suggestion that they not waste daylight, and instead climb for a bit before making camp at the base of a mountain. Once again Zav folded, and they began their trek up the mountain.
“It’s quite nice to finally see time pass properly” Slahn commented as the group traveled under the open sky. Kaiser looked up at the many different colours of the mountain sky. Purples danced with blues as blithe clouds the same shade of coral floated without care across the heavens. He forgot how much he missed the sky during those bleak days in the dark forest. Slahn proposed now was a good time to make camp as the crimson sky and low hanging sun was promising they weren’t going to go much further with daylight leading their way.
After finishing the preparations Zav approached Kaiser. “I think now would be a good time to train.” Zav narrowed his smokey eyes; he clearly did not want to budge on the matter this time. Kaiser was apprehensive. He still wasn’t convinced it was a good idea to allow the gods a longer time to control him. Still, Bjorn was a benevolent god, siding with the light belief of the balance. While Kaiser did not believe his means to an end were correct, he did believe the gods pursuits were noble. Deliberately Kaiser accepted Zavs suggestion.
Zav looked pleased, if not a bit surprised, by Kaisers answer. “Good then.” Zav turned his gaze over to Slahn who had been reclined against a rock studying something from his bag, “Slahn, would you mind keeping us sane?” Slahn looked over towards the men, lowering the aged papers he had been reading as he did so. “I believe you are quite overestimating my abilities as an adept and a scholar if you expect me to keep you two sane. I will, however, watch you both try in vain to keep yourselves conscious while using your god powers.” Slahn tucked the yellowed paper into his bag and stood up. Satisfied with his answer Zav and Kaiser moved towards the more open area on the mountain.
The sparring men unequipped all of their weapons and each took a separate fighting stance. Kaisers was large and steady, legs set wide on the ground and back straight, his arms reached out in front of him and blocked his face. It was a standard brawling stance many soldiers practiced. Zavs stance was quite a bit different. His body leaned back while he kept one leg on par with his body position, the other leg was stretched out in front, just barely touching the ground. His knees were bent so his body was very low to the ground and he kept balance only on his toes. Slahn saw the two were ready and gave the fighters permission to start.
Zav came fast at Kasier. Kaiser was not a slow man, but he was in now way comparable to the speed Zav had trained to perfection over the years. Kaiser couldn’t stop the quick and precise strikes of his opponent, so he instead kept his guard strong in preparation. He finally began to recognise Zavs striking patterns, and when the chance presented itself he struck out hard. Zav reeled back from the hit. This was what the math was for; Zav could feel the guardian bubbling up. Right now he would practice control. Stave down the powers now and controlling them when they’re active may be easier in the future. Zav continued to fight. His speed was changing exponentially as he felt the speed of the god swelling inside him. He had to be careful not to take it too far, Kaiser was still not fully healed after the last mess up.
Zavs blows continued to come fast, and Kasier recognised his adversary was pulling from his guardian as the blows only became faster. He could feel his own powers trying to rise up, to take over his heavy movements and stalled reflexes. His apprehension to letting just a little of the god out is what caused it to consume him. Suddenly Kaiser could feel no more. His eyes went black as Zavs, and he let out an enranged grunt. Suddenly he was no longer on the defensive, and his hits came much faster than before. Zav could hear the sound of Kaisers fists whooshing past him. He knew if a hit made contact it could be dire. Zav began to lose his own senses. Slahn could feel the change in the air; the air was suddenly ecstatic with the energy the two fighters were pulling from it. With a single word Slahns eyes flashed electirc blue, and without hesitation the brawling men were suddenly forced on the ground locked in position.
Zav was not far into his possession that he was able to fend off the remaining intrusion once Slahn had steadied him to the ground, but Kaiser fought the Adept hard. Slahn could feel the power of a god rushing past his control. Another word slipped through Slahns lips, “Demryk,” and Kaiser wasn’t struggling anymore. The force of the Adepts powers were felt as Slahn turned the entirety of Kaisers power against himself in a single counter spell. Kaiser lay passed out on the ground, and Slahn finally released his control.
Zav approached Kaisers still body. Checking his pulse and, satisfied with the condition of the defeated temple, approached Slahn. “What did you just do.” It wasn’t so much a question as a demand for an answer. Slahn responded frankly, “I made up a new spell and I thought I’d give it a go.” Zav stared half bewildered. “You thought you’d just ‘give it a go’ did you? Without ever practicing it before? Who taught you this new spell?” Slahn waved his hand. “Don’t be daft, I created the spell myself.” “You made up a spell, fully understanding the risks, and just decided to ‘give it a go’?” “I made it specifically for reasons like this,” Slahn responded, “I knew a time would come where your friend finally manned up and decided to control his god powers, and I knew I would need to stop him when he couldn’t.” Zav examined him closely for fatigue. The usual lack of emotion on Slahns face, Zav decided to just ask. “How are you feeling?” “I feel quite close to death, actually. I’m a bit surprised I have yet to pass out from pain. I guess I control myself better than you two, yeah?” Zav continued to stare at Slahn, certain now he could die at any moment. Slahn continued, “I guess it was a tad foolish of me to not only dabble in spell creation, but one that I had planned on using to counter a god. Live and learn. Or I guess in some cases, don’t live.” He chuckled. “Anyways, I think it’s best I go lie down now. Mind your friend while I do.”
Zav watched Slahn walk over to the camp. He kept watch for few more minutes before deciding Slahn was definitely most likely not going to die for the time being. He walked over to Kaiser and hoisted him up on his shoulder. “I’m the last man standing. I guess that makes me the real winner.” Zav muttered to himself. He propped Kaiser up against a rock directly beside the bed he had prepared himself earlier that evening. Zav then settled into that bed, planning on keeping an eye on Slahn and Kaiser for the night.