From eight combatants, now only four remain. Beren, Jade Tiger, Mei Fong, and Shiro defeated their adversaries in grand displays of martial prowess. Mei Fong had confronted the great Hangul, the Demon of the Nura clan, revealing the lost secret arts of the Crimson Phoenix clan. But that surprised many of the participants was Beren, with a display of not only a grand fighting style but his utilization of techniques from the Golden Spear clan. The Golden Spear sage was gone, departed from the mortal realm, the clan itself was small and nearly gone. To find one adept in their techniques was rare, Beren never spoke about any ties to the Nine Clans, but now Jade Tiger and Mei seek answers from the warrior.
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Jade Tiger and Mei Fong gathered around Beren, the young man found a cushioned seat where he pondered for several minutes. He knew his friends wanted an answer for his display. Jade Tiger had traveled with Beren before the monastery, adventuring together for nearly two years. Beren introduced Verro to Emerald Conclave, where he acquired his namesake. Mei Fong was someone that Beren believed that great potential, and he was pleased to know he was right all along. To wield the white flames of the Crimson Phoenix suggested a pure heart and clarity far beyond the mortal coil.
“Where do I begin,” Beren said to himself.
A young Beren wandered through the empty halls and corridors of the compound housing dozens of rooms with thin wooden doors and clay walls. It was morning, so he performed his usual routines: wash the floors, dust the roof tiles, pick and toss the debris in the flower garden, sweep the main gate, and morning meditations. This was life since his family gave him up to the monastery, a life of seclusion, learning, and enlightenment. The monastery was at the base of a mountain valley, the weather was always beautiful and the sun shined often. Master Elanthir was an ancient elf warrior from the First Age, also the sage of the Golden Spear. The name was had its own story, but the elf master took the young Beren and trained him as his own student and child. As the years rolled by, the teacher and student would grow and their bond stronger than anything else.
The day of their parting was a memory Beren could never forget.
It was mid-morning, and Beren had finished packing for his long pilgrimage.
“Do you have everything?” Elanthir inquired. The elf looked weary but optimistic for his student.
“Yes, Master. Though I took the time to prepare additional supplies. Preparedness is the sign of wisdom, as you always say.” Beren replied.
“Yes, I have. But being over prepared can blind us to our surroundings and change. Take only your necessities, the long path out of this valley is harrowing and treacherous.”
“Master, is it vital for me to make this journey?”
Elanthir looked at the curious Beren with a stern look but softened to answer. “The pole can only see as far as its height allows, by overcoming the mountain does it see everything beyond it.”
Beren smiled and did his final pack check, a backpack with several changes in clothing, rations for a few days, and a walking stick.
“So where should I journey first?”
“Go west to the Iron Mountains, there you will find the conclave for the Adamantine Dragon. It’s not the main branch, but an old friend resides there, he will teach more many things there. Once you are finished, he will tell you where you must go next.” Elanthir instructed.
Beren would leave the monastery home and journey beyond the valley for years. He met and fought against many skilled individuals during his time, over a decade passed before Beren returned to the valley. It was no longer the sunshine and warm basin he once knew, felt gray and cold, lifeless at times. The warrior never found his master, but what did find, was a golden sash and a letter for him. The young man read its contents and packed the sash with him as he made his final pilgrimage to the Pilgrim Mountains of Alramos.
“So you’re the remaining warriors of the Golden Spear?” Mei Fong questioned.
“In a manner of speaking. Master never actually taught me anything, but I learned many things from the different teachers and warriors I met along my pilgrimage. I met with warriors, mages, thieves, and even dancers along the way. There was always something new to learn. I was entrusted with their knowledge and wisdom. My master once told me that a name is powerful, but also meaningless. A name is something can endure forever or be forgotten in an instant. He never wanted to be remembered, but the lessons, those he wanted to be remembered.”
Verro crossed his arms and legs while he sat on the floor to ponder. “So your Master taught you the techniques of the Golden Spear, but you never knew?”
“A few of my teachers pointed them out to me, so I realized it after the fact, but I did not realize that I was taught by a sage of the Golden Spear,” Beren remarked.
“It’s one thing to be taught by a teacher of a monastery, but to taught by an actual sage, that is unique by itself.” Mei contemplated.
“So, I think the other important question remains: You haven’t shown us your true skills yet have you?” Verro grinned.
Beren chuckled and nodded back at the tabaxi. Mei Fong already suspected by smiled, knowing that a Sage-taught warrior was amongst them, one who belonged to a dying clan.
Verro picked himself off the floor and went to find a pot of tea to make for his friends. Beren and Mei Fong sat in silence, trying to find some measure of rest before the next portion of the tournament began.
“What was in that letter?” Mei casually asked while polishing her blades.
“To believe in myself, but most importantly, to fight for something greater than myself.”
“The mantle is the essence of your master, that is why you joined this tournament,” Mei concluded.
“In a way, yes. But no, I’m not even sure why I’m here at all. The idea of powerful warriors being here was exciting enough already, but a part of me wants to claim it. It’s my master’s legacy, I cannot just abandon it.”
Mei smiled, there was an air of confidence that she could never shake with Beren, but now she felt humbled that even he was like her, fighting for something greater than themselves.
A voice echoed through the room when Beren and Mei looked up, the Red King of Amalur stood at the threshold. “If you seek your master’s legacy than you shall claim it, like those before you. Fight and prove your worthiness to wield it. I look forward to seeing your matches. Hopefully, you will not disappoint me, boy.”
Beren grinned. “My rematch with you will end with my victory.”
“We shall see,” the Red King stormed off down the hallway. The sound of his footsteps echoed through the corridor, each step firm and confident.
“Rematch?” Mei looked, confused.
“I fought him once, a long time ago when I was still a child. He had visited my master a few times. I use to challenge him often, that was all before I knew who and what he was,” Beren confided.
“You’re either brave or a fool,” she affirmed.
“Why not both?” Beren gave a toothy smile to her before she sighed in disbelief to his honest expression.
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