Arise to Fall is the story of Varsia's sixth specter.
STORY EXCERPTS #1 Leila made her way to the south side of town, passing by the unlit windows of the small shacks that belonged to the other local inhabitants. The smell of smoke lingered strong in the air, as she made her way down the hill to the small lake that was cradled in the meadow below. She walked over to the edge and looked at her reflection. Her dark red hair was tangled and scraggly, her naturally tanned complexion blotched with mud. The stars and moon sprinkled the surface of the lake with an occasional glistening reflection, as they slipped their rays through the cloud cover above. Leila reached down and stuck her hands in the cold water, sending a wave of circular ripples across the surface. She rubbed her rough hands together washing off the dirt and sending it out in plumes of brown mist. She brought her hands together, lifting water to her face. The sensation from the cold water shimmered over her skin as the mud receded. As Leila put her hands down she noticed a bright light reflecting in the water, but it wasn’t the moon. She spun around, startled to see a glowing woman standing before her. “Do not be afraid. I am Shasia. Have you not heard my message in your dreams?” the woman asked. Leila stumbled backwards, nearly falling into the water as she tripped over a rock. “You’re… You’re a Varsa…” “Yes,” Shasia replied. “I have been sent by the Creator, Talviaol, to instruct you of your task as the specter.” Leila shook her head. “But… but, I’m just the daughter of a serf! How can I be the specter?” “Never limit an unlimited God.” Shasia replied, “Now, Cyril, son of Rowen, can be found in the Traylin Realm. Take those who will follow you and search him out, and if none will follow, you must go alone. His leadership will be needed in the near future. He must bring back the rightful line of kings.” And with her last words she faded away into a glittering swirl of light. “Wait!” Leila called out. “Don’t go! I don’t know what to do.” Leila sighed and hung her head. She did know what to do. She would have to visit The Kings Fortress and get King Goldwin to give her permission to leave the manor. She took a deep breath, “Ok…” She proceeded back to her house. Droplets of water started falling as she stepped through the front door of her home. #2 Finally the two made it to the base of a small hill. Leila knew, from what Roldin had told her, that the minotaurs often hid behind such landmarks. Roldin stopped, motioning for Leila to stay where she was. Leila hoped they were far enough away from the river by now that they would be past any minotaurs that might be hiding on the plains. Slowly the dwarf crawled to the top of the hill. Leila tried to keep sight of him, but she wouldn’t dare risk getting above the grass. Soon Roldin had disappeared and the skilled dwarf could neither be seen nor heard. Moments later, while Leila scraped mud from her feet, she heard a snorting sound as Roldin came flying over the top of the hill and rolling down towards her. She gasped in fear as she caught Roldin. The agitated dwarf pulled out his throwing axes as a large black figure walked to the top of the hill. He threw his two axes at the head of the figure that towered over them. The axes flew straight and true, striking the minotaur between the eyes. The great beast fell to the ground as Roldin urged Leila to come and join the battle. Leila, struggling to keep track of the black figures in the dept of night, rushed down the hill to help. The minotaurs, caught up in the battle, didn’t even see her coming. She stabbed the nearest minotaur in the back, sinking her blade in up to the hilt. She could feel the minotaur’s course hair against her hands as it roared in pain. To her surprise the creature turned around and sent her flying to the ground with a swift strike from his elbow in her face. Roldin, who engaged the second minotaur, caught his opponent’s blade in the hook on the back of his own blade and twisted the scimitar around behind the minotaur as the other wounded beast went after Leila. Despite Roldin’s dwarven strength he couldn’t force the weapon out of the hand of the strong minotaur. Leila stumbled to the ground but quickly jumped up to her feet as the angered minotaur approached. The large beast struck hard with his large mace. She was barely able to block it with her shield. The strike was so strong her shield splintered. She ran out of the way of the creature, the injured minotaur stumbling as it followed in pursuit, her sword still lodged in it’s back. Leila, who had made her way back to the top of the hill grasped for the throwing axes that were still lodged in the head of the first minotaur. She could feel warm blood smearing on her hands as she stumbled, falling on top of the brute. Taking the throwing axes in her hand she heard Roldin’s opponent bellow in pain as he fell to the ground. The night air was filled with another cry as Leila threw the two axes into her attacker. Leila, satisfied that her attacker was dead, rushed back down the hill to grab the supplies while Roldin grabbed his throwing axes and her sword. Leila and Roldin traveled all night long until the sun began to rise above the distant horizon. Finally they stopped for a rest and a meal. Leila opened her canteen and took a drink. They had filled their water at the river, and she could tell from the taste. She wanted to use the water to wash the minotaur blood off of her hands, but she knew they needed every drop of water they could get. There would be very few places to replenish their water supply until they reached the Sarangedeeze river. Leila put the cork back in her canteen, and rubbed her arm. She had a bruise running the whole length of her arm from wrist to elbow from blocking the minotaur’s mace attack. Her hands were still shaking from fear of the battle. She grabbed her bag and rummaged through their leftover supplies. “We don’t have much left.” “It will suffice,” Roldin said confidently. “I will go hunting and let you get some rest.” “No,” Leila said, shaking her head. “We need to be going as soon as possible. I’m used to hard work and long days, I’ll manage.” “Hard work and long days don’t prepare anyone for battle,” Roldin told her. “I’ve been there… at my first battle. Hot blood rushing through my veins, excitement coursing through my lungs with every breath. Beneath it all there is always a thin layer of fear.” That wasn’t exactly the way Leila would describe it. She looked down again at her shaking hands and bruised arm. “I could sure use some rest,” she admitted. #3 Leila turned to the valley and began the long walk down the steep side, fog enveloping her as she walked into the cool air that was still shielded from the low rising sun. Large marble tombstones began appearing out of the haze. “What am I supposed to be doing here?” she wondered. She kept walking, something drawing her further in, deeper into the valley. Volian’s warning didn’t seem to frighten her anymore. She knew there was something here she was meant to find. “Who is it that dares enter my domain?” the creature growled in a low gravelly voice, baring gnarly teeth that jutted from his beak like muzzle as he spoke. Leila’s heart skipped a beat, but it was as if something inside of her was strengthening her, she felt almost no fear. “My name is Leila, and I am the specter, Malock,” Leila answered, the wyvern’s name coming out of her mouth involuntarily. The creature growled and continued circling her, all four limbs in motion. The creature, unlike a dragon which had four legs and wings on its back, had two legs and wings attached to its front limbs. “You speak to me in my birth name!” the wyvern’s beaklike mouth snarled. “How do you know my true identity human?” The fog swirled mystically around the wyvern’s feat as he circled, crouching low to the ground in a threatening manner. Leila stared the creature in the eye as it circled around in front of her. “Let me pass and your name is safe,” she assured the creature. The wyvern only laughed sinisterly. “You think me a fool human? With the true birth name of a soul all you have to do is travel to the Lageriat swamps and in your dreams my greatest weakness will be revealed to you,” the creature stopped and stepped closer. “So why would I let you live when you pose such a danger, and foolishly come here without any weapons?” “Perhaps, I come here without any weapons because I have already been to the swamps and have seen your greatest weakness,” Leila suggested. The wyvern’s eyes glared more sinister now only a thin dark yellow strip showing between his dark blue and black eyelids. He stepped back in uncertainty. “If you knew my weakness you would kill me.” “If you let me pass within your domain and allow me to leave safely I will keep your secret to my grave,” Leila assured him. “I have no interest in killing you.” “The word of a human?” the wyvern spit his words out with disgust. “No,” Leila objected. “The word of the specter.” The wyvern crouched down and spread it's wings over the ground, it's face thoughtful. Folding his wings the creature stood straight up on his two legs, towering over Leila by twice her height. “Enter... but I will watch your every step. One wrong move and we will see if you truly do know my weakness, trickster.” “Thank you,” Leila walked calmly past the fierce looking beast, passing inches from it's eagle like talons.