Not all heroes start with a heroic quest,
Heroes are not made but shaped by their courage and devotion.
The greatest test is the one unseen and unknown,
the better path is never smooth or easy.
Across the frost covered mountains that stretched across the continent of Alramos, ancient watchtowers and monasteries remain vigil, awaiting the return of an ancient foe. Many of the orders and disciplines were crafted and refined for centuries since the day the last god walked the realm. Dozens of these outposts rested along the spine of the continent, though many have been abandoned by time, there were still a few that held their oaths. One such monastery rested high along the Pilgrim mountain range within the southern portion of the continent, roughly two weeks travel from the largest settlement, the twinned city of Lastil-Taswell. While the city was only starting to grow, the capital city of Garisport rested nearly three weeks away from the mountain range.
A figure clad in brown tarp traversed higher and higher along the perilous crags and slopes. Between the relentless winds and the icy air, most men would not dare such a climb. The rocks were uneven, difficult to find footing once the trail began to thin. At the end of the path was nothing but the face of the mountain, many pilgrims in the past tried to traverse through these narrow corridors. Many never returned, many did find their way to the bottom again though; their bones rested in the unseen base. The cloaked figure surveyed their surroundings before taking a few steps back, running in a blinding blur across the near vertical mountain wall. Skidding across the surface before finding purchase in a small piece of the mountain, the figure raised their fist and smashed through the rock to create an anchor.
The climb was treacherous and the wind continued to howl along the empty mountain cliff. Dark clouds began to congregate over the mountaintop, the air chilled and the wind picked up pace. Bits of frozen ice began to fall against the rock face, the chunks began to grow in size as the hour passed. The lone climber continued their ascension long the Pilgrim mountains, visibility began to dwindle as the hour grew late. After several hours, with many close calls and falling pieces of rubble. Thunder began to crack and lightning danced across the darkened sky. The figure reached the flat top of the mountain side, their muscles were burning from the long and agonizing climb. Stumbling along the surface, glancing just beyond the hood of their cloak to see the empty landscape with a large structure made of wood and stone. A building nearly four stories tall, a base made of stone with rest made of wood and paper. There were no windows, the upper levels had their corridors open and most exposed to the outside. The terracotta roof was a rich mixture of blue and emerald motifs. A stone wall made for a large enclosure around the large structure, but there was a circular gate that faced the drop from the mountaintop and greeted the sojourner.
The figure kept the tattered cloak wrapped over their form, walking quickly across the courtyard full of trimmed bushes, sand gardens, and tall stone columns. The wind continued to howl and press against the wanderer, the clouds continued to roll by until the moonlight broke through and illuminate the mountain face. The figure reached the center of the courtyard, with stone paths flanking them in each cardinal direction, and paused mid-step. The wind continued to howl, the moonlight crept along the stone path until its light shined upon the cloaked figure.
Shifting shadows leaped from the bushes to reveal five assailants converging on the cloaked figure. Each wielding an assortment of blades, knives, and curved blades aimed to kill, all five weapons were met with a blinding blur of steel and swordplay. Two long blades, each with golden hilts with a crimson phoenix etched long the guard, parried the blows and were posed on either side of the traveler with cloak still intact. The figure surveyed their surroundings, each blade guarding their flank while the five assailants trailed closely behind them. The next assault was imminent, and weakness in their guard would spell an opportunity to be exploited.
“Why are you here?” Spoke one of the darkly, clad assailants.
The cloaked figure remained silent.
“He must be a fool to have traveled this far,” another spoke.
“He must be a fool with a death wish to reach here,” a third agreed.
The cloaked warrior regained their composure and stood perfectly still and somber, seemingly lost in thought with their blades pointed toward the ground. The five assailants looked to each other for confirmation, and with deadly precision and coordination launched their attack on the doomed warrior. A blinding flash of swordplay, arcane flames, and cries deafened even the wind. The five warriors slumped onto the stony ground, moaning in pain but not dead. The flames ate the cloak to reveal a beautiful woman clad in brown leather armor with bits of red scales added to her shoulders, forearms, and legs. Her hair was black like the night, her eyes were equally as dark, her complexion was white as the purest ivory, and her physique seemed reminiscent of a dancer more than a warrior. The female warrior surveyed her foes, a clean execution of technique and skill, satisfied she sheathed her blades into a single sheath on her back.
A loud clap could be heard from across the courtyard, the warrior turned to face the source of the sound. The clouds parted and the moonlight unveiled a young man, near his mid-twenties, with short-cropped dark hair. The man did not seem to have any obvious weapons on their person, he had a modest grin on his face, and his physique denoted an individual well-trained in various combat arts. The most peculiar oddity was the color of his clothes, they were a soft cream color but he had a long saffron sash that was wrapped around his waist, and along his wrists.
“That was an excellent technique, would you are care to spar with me?” The man inquired, adjusting his posture and form until his legs and arms were extended, with one hand he beckoned the female warrior to come.
“Who are you?” The female warrior demanded.
“My name is Beren.”
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