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by Brett Ultimus

Part 2: The Beginning

“What is your name...”

“I am Destin the Valliant.”

“What do you stand for?”

“I stand for freedom, and anything that is against the tyrants of Zetegenia.”

“May the gods be with you, Destin...”

Destin slowly walked out of the stronghold where he graduated with a serious expression on his face. He looked down to his sword that was just handed to him, with the engraving: “May your heart shine true.” Destin nodded after reading the engraving, and looked up, surprised to see in front of him three small fighters, all about four and a half feet tall, with shined iron armor, helmets covering over the top of their heads; a beard and mustache concealing the bottom of their faces.

“Can I help you all?” Destin asked, puzzled.

“We are your followers, Lord Dustin! May you lead us to victory!!” All three fighters shouted at the same time, as they fell to one knee, drew their swords, and slashed through the air twice.

Destin rose an eyebrow, and gave a hesitant laugh, saying, “Oh... a ha.. I see... you must be my soldiers.”

“YES SIR!” The fighters shouted even louder then before, giving a strong downward slash in mid air, “We are your soldiers, and shall follow you even through death!”

“Death?! Whoa! Uh, I won’t lead you all to death!” Destin said surprised, taking a step back.

The fighters were silent, as they all looked up to Destin at the same time with puzzled looks on their faces.

“You won’t?” The fighter to the left said to Destin.

“Then what shall you lead us too?” The second and middle fighter asked his leader.

“Tell us, Lord Destin!” The third, final, and the right most fighter shouted triumphantly.

“To... uh... to...” Destin said with a sort of panicked look on his face.

The three fighters’ expressions became one of anticipation, as their eyes opened wide, their lips turned to large smiles, as they hoped to hear from their fearless leader.

“To... victory?” Destin said with his left eyebrow raised, and in a confused fashion.

“TO VICTORY!” The fighters proclaimed, holding their short swords up to the air, praising their leader.

“Whew...” Destin said to himself as the fighters triumphantly stood, holding blade in the air, “This is going to be harder then I thought...”

“Quickly! We must take him over to see Lans!” The first fighter shouted.

“Yes, quickly, this way! We haven’t a moment to spare!” The second one shouted, grabbing Destin by the hand, as he started to tug.

“It’s almost sundown! Look!” The third fighter shouted out, pointing over to the sun, clearly still high above the blue skies.

Destin nodded, and pulled his hand away, “Okay, understood! So, we should start heading northeast?”

“Whatever you wish, our fearless leader!” The entire fighter legion shouted out, as they gave a salute.

Destin and the three fighters, who took lead in front of him, began to walk down the path outside of the stronghold they were stationed, heading over the northeast town of Zeltenia, where Lans was waiting for him. Destin looked over to the three fighters as he then asked, “So, what are your names?”

The first fighter proclaimed, “I am Sir Luthor! I came from across the seas to fight for Zenobia! I smite myself a red dragon once with my sword!”

“Try a hatchling... that was ALREADY dead!” Shouted the second fighter to Luthor, “I am Sir Ryall! Luthor and myself go back, so I can tell when he is lying... and this one is by far, the worst.”

“Oh, no sir! The one about the ‘flying like a hawk-man’ lie was the worst! When Canopus heard of such, he almost beat Luthor here to a pulp!” the third fighter told Ryall in a joking manner.

“All right, Calvis, stop with all of this.” Luthor told the third fighter, with an irritated expression on his face.

“Indeed, ‘Sir Luthor the Paladin’.” Calvis announced in a booming voice.

“ONE DAY! You will see!” Luthor shouted over to Calvis. “All right, all right, enough of this... we have some work to do, right?” Destin asked everyone.

“INDEED! YES SIR!” All three fighters shouted, turning over to him, and saluting.

“By the gods... this is going to be difficult.” Destin muttered to himself.

After several hours down the path, a rainstorm began to start up. The rain poured down on this miniature army, as they finally reached their destination across grassy plains, and rugged mountains...

“The ocean?!” Destin shouted, mouth wide open, as he pointed over to the vast sea.

“This is where Sir Lans is, Lord Destin!” Ryall proclaimed, as he pointed out.

“I see nothing...” Destin said in confused fashion; his eyes squinted as he tried to stare through the fog that hung over the ocean.

“Well, nobody does, Destin! You see, Zeltenia is strategically placed behind the magical fog created by our follower, Sir Warren! It is a perfectly hidden city!” Calvis proclaimed-- eyes closed, and index finger pointed into the air.

“I see...” Destin responded, but then asked, “So... how are we going to get across?”

“By our little friend!” Ryall proclaimed, then moved both index and middle finger into his mouth, and then let out a sharp whistle.

“Oh no... you don’t mean...” Luthor shuttered, taking a few steps back as his eyes opened wide from fear.

Waves began to form on to the shore, as a form began to emerge from the ocean floor. The form became larger and larger once it got closer to surface, until finally, a tall and wide octopus came out of it’s ocean sleep, and let out a small cry from its tube-like mouth. All eight tentacles of the orange, slimy creature moved around widely, until it was then calmed by Ryall’s touch, whom calmed and soothed the sea-beast by petting right above its two small eyes. The octopus let out a soothing cry, as it’s eyes closed, and gave what almost sounded like a muffled purr.

“Meet my friend, Mothropod.” Ryall said with a smile, “He’ll take us to Zeltenia.”

“Bloody hell, you won’t make me get onto that... that beast!” Luthor shouted, running back away from the octopus.

Calvis grinned, as he walked over to Destin, whispering into his ear, “Frankly... Luthor hates these damn beasts. Anything taller than him gives him the shakes, you know what I’m saying?”

“Right...” Destin whispered back, then turned around to Luthor, shouting, “Hey! Luthor! I think Ryall has it covered, you have nothing to be afraid of.”

“Sorry there, Lord... but... uh...” Luthor muttered quietly, as he then stood straight, and gave a salute, “Permission to... uh... stand... uh... PERMISSION TO STAND GUARD, SIR!” Luthor shouted to Destin.

Destin rose an eyebrow once more, as he’s done so many times in the past with the three fighters, then gave a half of a grin, and nodded, “Permission granted, Luthor.”

“Oh, thank the gods!” Luthor proclaimed to the heavens, kneeling down, and holding both arms in the air. After realizing what he did, he stood back up as fast as he could, and saluted, “Yes, sir! I won’t let ye down!”

Destin nodded, then walked over to Ryall, “Luthor is staying behind.”

“Oh, I figured. The baby hates Mothropod over here, but that’s fine... Mothropod has only enough strength to take three of us.”

Destin gave a nod, then looked over to the octopus who was staring him down wearily, giving out a small groan. Destin tried to approach the creature, only to be greeted with an even louder cry. Afterwards, Destin felt it was best to watch himself, as he took a few steps back.

“No... easy there, Mothropod! Destin is friendly. You know? F.r.i.e.n.d.l.y.”

Mothropod gave out a cheerful squeal, with eyes closed, he moved out one of his long tentacles over to Destin, grabbing him tightly, and then moved him over to the octopus’ own back, giving out another delightful groan.

“Good job, Mothy! Calvis! We’re heading out!” Ryall shouted, as he got on the sea beast’s back.

“Heading out, heading out! Don’t piss your bloomers, Luthor! We’ll be back!” Calvis shouted, as he also got onto Mothropod’s back.

“Onward, Mothropod, onward!” Calvis shouted, pointing of into the northeast, as Mothropod did just that. He began to swim at a rapid speed straight away, giving another battle cry.

The skies grew dark after half an hour into sea; the storm raged on as lightning struck everywhere, and the winds and rain continued throughout. Mothropod continued to swim forward through the wind that raged against him. Ryall kept petting the strong octopus for comfort, trying to keep him going.

“It shouldn’t be too long now!” Calvis shouted out to Destin, trying to shout over the wind.

“Will we make it though?!” Destin shouted back.

“Of course, trust my octopus, he knows what he is doing!” Ryall shouted, still petting Mothropod.

A louder battle cry was then given forth from the eastern direction, one more louder and deeper than Mothropod’s. Everyone turned their attention over to it, to see a gray octopus, much larger then Mothropod, emerging from the ocean, and submerge once more.

“Oh crap... oh, that is NOT good!” Ryall shouted.

“What? What is it?!” Destin shouted back, staring over where the gray octopus once was.

“The terror of the deep! The rarest of the octopus family! Its a Kraken!” Calvis shouted, pointing out to sea, “And me without my spear! Damn the gods!”

The Kraken emerged out from the dark ocean once more, this time closer, and began to swim straight towards the group. Destin, in desperation, pulled out his sword, and pointed out towards it.

“We are going to have to fight it if it still continues to go straight forward!” Destin shouted, “Move towards it!”

“Yes sir!” Ryall said, doubtful, but then pointed straight towards Kraken, “Mothropod! Head for it!”

Mothropod let out a huge yell, as it began to swim straight for the deadly creature of the deep blue seas. It’s eyes became full of anger, as it began to swim extremely rapidly. Ryall and Calvis pulled out their short swords, and kneeled down, ready to fight. Seeing this, the gray terror of the seas emerged from the water; its scream echoed through the sea. Destin, Calvis, and Ryall all saw that this creature was twice the size Mothropod was, with a huge set of jaws that stretched from the tip of the bottom left eye, all the way down to its middle tentacle. This creature was feared by all, with several spikes jutting from all of it’s eight tentacles.

“Oh damn.. so this is Kraken...” Calvis spoke quietly.

Destin closed his eyes, and pointed his blade straight towards the fearsome creature, and shouted, “Attack!!”

“Roger!!” Ryall shouted, as he lunged straight toward the beast, slashing with all his might from his short sword. The Kraken easily retaliated by throwing one of his tentacles in the way, and batting him back. Ryall then fell into the water with a loud splash.

Mothropod dived down into the ocean, and both Destin and Calvis leaped over on top of Kraken, slashing away at his body. The blows were mighty, yet the damage was minimal. Kraken swam back under the water, going down deeper and deeper into the ocean abyss. Until then... it was silent. The rainstorm passed, and the dark clouds remained. Only the silent blow of an ominous wind remained over the ocean. Destin and Calvis, who were just floating there, looked around for any sign of Ryall, Mothropod, or the mighty kraken.

“...Where’d they go?” Destin asked Calvis, still looking around in all directions for any of them.

Water began to sprout up from what was north of Destin and Calvin. Both warriors turned to it, with one sword in hand, while the other tried to keep them floating.

“How are we suppose to bloody fight with us bobbing about?” Calvis asked Destin, while moving his sword around, trying to keep an even flow so he could float.

Suddenly, a large gray form leaped out of the ocean, and blocked whatever little light was beaming forth from the dark clouds. All Destin and Calvis could see was a black shadow, as the figure was heading straight towards them...!

“...hey... hello? Wake up! ... They took quite a hit... didn’t they?”

“Yea... we’re lucky to make it here alive...”

All Destin saw was a solid black, as it soon began to grow more transparent... and then more clear to him where he actually was. He looked up into the clear blue skies to see the figure of a knight in silver armor, visor up from his silver helmet, revealing to Destin blue eyes. The knight had a long, red sash, that went down to his back. He held out his hand to the fallen Destin, “You okay?”

“Yea... I just have a splitting headache...” Destin asked, pained, then panicked, “Wait... where is Ryall and Calvis?!”

“Right here, SIR!” The two soldiers shouted, as they let out a salute.

Destin turned around to see the two fighters, almost surprised, but quite use to the fact he was a leader now. He chuckled a little after seeing the two. Ryall cleverly managed to surround himself in seaweed... a lot of seaweed that wrapped around from below his neck, all the way down to the bottom of his right leg. Calvis’ armor appeared to be covered in a little seaweed as well, but had starfishes sticking all over his leg, and middle torso. His helmet was also on backwards, covering his face. Calvis coughed in the muffled helmet, as he pulled it off; a bucket full of water fell from the helmet, pouring all the way down his body.

“By the gods...” Destin said with a wide grin, shaking his head, “Well, its good to see you both got out alive.

“Of course, SIR! We would NEVER fail you!” Both of them shouted.

“All right, all right... well, you guys get cleaned up... I’ll talk to this guy over here... you know, thank him, and give him his just reward of goths.” Destin said with a nod.

“Uh... sir?” Calvis asked, then informed, “This is just no ordinary man. This is the great Sir Lans! He is the one that was going to join our rebel alliance?”

Destin turned around, with a hesitant look on his face to the tall figure, “Are you, now?”

Lans grinned, with eyes closed, as he gave a huge nod, “Yea, that’s right. Name’s Lans, put er’ there!”

Lans grabbed Destin’s hand tightly, as he began to shake it up and down, “Its a real pleasure to meet the son of the great Sir Lexor. Any ally of King Gran, is an ally to me, that’s for sure! Destin nodded slowly, then looked back down and realized once more the true fact that Gran was dead. Afterwards, he gave a silent, “Yea...”

Lans looked down to Destin, his happiness turned to depression, as he looked down, “It angers me how Gran’s life was wasted away. I still can’t believe he was assassinated...”, Lans said in a serious tone, but then slowly got back to his cheerfulness, “I will not stand by and watch our king’s life be wasted away. We must fight!”

Destin nodded, then gave a smile, as he began to shake Lans’ hand with him, “That is right! For the Zenobian Kingdom! For... Gran...!”

After an hour of relaxation, the two fighters, Lans, and Destin got back on their feet, and looked out to the ocean blue sky. Destin blinked, confused, as he sighed, “No way I’m going through that deathtrap again...”

Lans grinned, as he snapped his fingers loudly; a griffon submerged from the transparent clouds, giving out a loud caw as it landed down to the ground.

“Nice! Oh... no... Ryall, what happened to Mothropod?” Destin asked, as everyone got onto the winged beast.

“Oh, him? He’ll be fine... he was the one that got us ashore! It was a nasty fight for him, but a bit of seawater always heals an octopus’ wounds!” Ryall cheerfully informed.

“So, sir, shall we head over to Warren’s Castle?” Lans asked.

“Warren? You mean... ‘Old Man Warren of Sharom’? What would we want from him?” Destin asked, unknowingly.

Lans gasped in shocked, “Where the hell have you been, boy?! He is also starting up a rebel faction... and, if I may add, he is doing quite a better job then what we have! Three fighters, and octopus, a griffon, and myself? He has loads of units there, waiting for a leader to form! And that leader will be you!”

“Me!?” Destin asked, almost shocked, “What about Warren? If he’s so great, why can’t he run the faction?”

“Dear boy, you must understand.... Warren is almost two hundred years old! That man can’t live forever. He is looking for someone strong enough, and youthful enough, to lead them! We don’t know how long this battle will take!”

The griffin’s wings picked up speed, as it took to the sky, ascending above the clouds. Only an hour passed; the sky was clear, and night had formed. Right after the first howl of the night wolf, they saw it; Warren’s Castle. Lans pointed towards it’s roof, as the griffin made its landing. Out a trap door from the roof, while the griffin landed its first paws, emerged a very old man, using an oak staff to walk, approached them. The man had dark, gray robes, and a long beard that reached the ground. He seemed to limped over, and looked over to the army. Luthor, who was with this old man, came out of the trap door as well, and ran over, hugging Destin.

“Its so good to see you alive, sir!” Luthor shouted.

“What are you doing here with him?” Destin asked, confused.

“I summoned him here...” The old man spoke in a crackled tone to Destin.

“Ah... so you must be Warren. It’s a pleasure.” Destin said, almost sarcastically, “My name is...”

“Enough, young one...” Warren said, then coughed loudly, “I know who you are... come inside... we have much to discuss...”

The room downstairs was large, damp, cold, and extremely dark. Only a faint candle light was the only source that illuminated the room. Inside, hung ancient Zenobian tapestries, with ragged, old flags of Zenobia strung up all around. Near the northern part of the room was a wooden throne, which rested at the top of a small staircase. As everyone walked down, they felt a small shiver, as Warren faced his back to them.

“My boy... tell me this...” Warren asked, as he then turned around, “Are you ready for your test?”

“My test... Warren?” Destin asked, confused.

“Indeed... I must see if you are what they say you are... that if you can actually lead us all to freedom. After all... if you are beaten by an ancient old wizard, like myself... well... there is no hope for you becoming leader.” Warren explained, while scratching up and down his beard.

“Warren, need any help?” Lans asked the elder.

“That is fine, Sir Lans, but I can take care of myself. I want to see if Destin and his comrades can defeat me.” Warren said, with a gentle smile.

“I don’t want to hurt you, old man...” Destin said quietly.

Warren began to laugh, as he held his staff up, “Hurt me? No... it is your own well being that you should worry about!”

Warren held the staff up into the air, and began to chant silently to himself, as the dim candle lights illuminated thus further, turning the room into one of the richest throne rooms ever seen. The walls became painted with gold, the flags and tapestries gained grand luster--as if new--and the wooden throne transformed to magnificent silver.

“Come forth, Sir Destin! And face your destiny!” Warren shouted, as he pointed his staff forward. Lightning stroke in front of Destin, as he jumped back.

“Damn!” Destin said in surprise, but then ran forward and counted with a large slash. Warren grinned, as he floated back quickly, then came back even quicker, and batted Destin with his staff, knocking him back a few feet, as he came crashing to the ground.

Destin moaned, as he tried to get back up, but Warren was quick, as he created another lightning strike right on Destin, knocking him back another few feet. Destin knew he had to respond quicker, as he forced himself up, holding the blade up in a blocking position.

“Ryall! Luthor! Calvis!” Destin shouted, as all three responded with a nod, and stood up right in front of him, with swords up in the air.

“Not very leader-like to use your own men as a shield, Destin...” Warren said with a sigh, as he then held his staff forward.

A fireball emerged forth from the wooden staff, as it then shot forward with a blazing speed straight towards Destin who was behind the fighters.

“Now! Dodge it and attack!” Destin shouted.

The fighters did just that. Ryall, who was to the left, ran even further to the left, and back to the right straight towards Warren. Luthor freaked out, being in the middle, as he yelled, while jumping over the blazing fireball, just missing it by a hair, and running towards Warren as well. Calvis, grinning, jumped to his right side, then jumped to the left, running in formation with Luthor and Ryall. Destin grinned, as he held his sword forward to deflect the fireball, only to his surprise, the fireball went straight into the blade.

Ryall and Luthor joined forces, as they did a twin running slash straight towards Warren. Before he got hit, Warren held his staff up, creating transparent ice barrier, in a circular motion, around himself. The Ice field moved around at rapid speed, only deflecting the attack, and throwing both Luthor and Ryall aside.

“Oh crap...” Calvis said, surprised, as Warren grinned, holdings his staff straight toward Calvis. He summoned another lightning bolt, as it stuck Calvis. Calvis fell back onto the ground, and stayed there, trying to recover his wounds.

Warren grinned, as he turned over to Destin, “This battle ends here!... what?!”

Warren saw Destin, and was amazed at his power. The sword was illuminating a red glow in Destin’s hands, as he tried to contain it. He held the blade up even further, and smiled, then pointed it straight towards Warren. With a loud battle cry, two huge pillars of fire were summoned in mid-air, and headed straight towards Warren. The old mage took a step back, and held up his staff. However, to no avail, he was hit by both pillars, and then set ablaze. Warren fell to the ground, and began to roll around, trying to douse the flame on his robes. After the fire was extinguished, he stood up, and limped over to Destin very slowly. Destin, ever so cautious, held his sword up once more.

“There there, sheath your blade, boy.” Warren said with a smile, as he held his hand up, struggling with it though, “My boy, you have really amazed me today.”

“I... I have?” Destin asked.

“Indeed, you have! I have only seen such powers from mages! Never before did I think you had the power to create yourself a firewall!”, Warren said in amazement.

“It... it seemed pretty easy to accomplish... however... I just have no idea how I did it.” Destin said in confusion, while putting his sword back into this leather sheath.

“Lexor’s blood flows within your veins... am I correct?” Warren asked.

Destin nodded slowly, as he then asked, “I am still unsure of his role through history though...”

“Why, my boy! You have a lot to learn then, don’t you? About the legendary Ogre Battle...” Warren said in amazement, “I feel there is much you can learn with an old man like myself at your side! Also... a great deal I myself can learn by being at yours. What do you say... leader? Will you accept myself, and the rest of the rebel forces I have acquired?”

“Really? I passed?” Destin asked in anticipation.

“With flying colors, my boy!” Warren said, while patting his back.

Calvis tried to lift his head up; steam still coming around from the lightning strike, “C... cleric!” He shouted, as he then fell back down to the ground.

Warren gave a silent laugh at the sight, then turned back over to Destin, “Listen... how about we rest in my palace for today... then, we shall start on our first mission!”

“Oh boy! Finally! Back in action!” Lans said, overwhelmed with joy, as he walked over to Destin and patted his back with a hard slam. Destin coughed from the hit, but Lans didn’t seem to notice, “Hey, glad to be on the team!”

“Of course, same to you!” Destin responded, nodding.

“We’ll follow you through this war, sir!” Ryall said with a nod.

“Indeed, with my strength and... uh... my strength... we shall liberate Zenobia!” Luthor said with a big nod.

Calvis tried to sit up, looking to Destin, trying to say something, but then shouted, “CLERIC!” as he passed back out onto the floor.

Destin laughed, and he then nodded, “You two, get him into a bed. Afterwards, just relax. Our first mission is tomorrow.”

Destin then turned over to Lans, “That goes for you too, Lans.”

“Yes sir!” Lans said, as he saluted.

“Indeed... that was a very big day for me.” Destin said with a nod.

“Amazing... you have quite some power.” Tristan said with a smile.

“Of course. But everyday seemed to be something big for me.” Destin responded.

“Oh. Like your first mission? Tell me about it.” Tristan asked.

“Certainly... it was very big..." Destin explained, continuing to bring back past memories...

End of Part 2

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