"GLORIANNA, THE CHOSEN WORLD"
Saga One:"MEANING OF HONOR: THE LEARNER SAGA"
CHAPTER I - "THE ULTIMATE LITTLE GREEN MAN"
Garriott climbed into his flying gondola. He had wanted to leave with Erana as soon as she completed the enchantments to her magical garden; he had learned from her about the large amounts of time complicated warding took to create. Making such warding, as well as other enchantments- such as the healing of visitors -permanent took even more time. Though against her modesty to admit her superiority in spellcasting, the three months Erana had taken to complete her place of peace made the work of most enchanters seem rather slow. Garriott dabbled slightly in magic, and had taken some time aside during Erana's times of rest to share and compare what he knew with her, but he had no real talent for the arcane arts. He had learned a few new tricks from her, but still he found himself awed by just how marginally she outclassed him as a wizard, and awed more so by her modesty at the fact.
He still wondered why, and even marveled over the fact that she had thought he wouldn't love her, why she had thought he would reject her. She's perfect... Garriott thought to himself as he lit the cooking brazier, which served as the engine for his makeshift flying machine. The perfect everything. And only shows herself nobler in her modesty. How could anyone know her and not love her? The balloon began lifting into the air. Garriott sighed; She's everything a paladin could ever hope to be. Everything I could ever hope to be... and yet, what if the world lost her again? What if I lost her again?
He caught his mind before it wandered off completely, remembering the last time he was not totally focused upon steering his machine. He laughed inwardly as he remembered repairing the damage, in the middle of a monster-filled wilderness. "It must be the gloom of the day that is fueling such thoughts." As the gondola flew on, he spotted several of the alien creatures that were locally known as wierdings. A year ago, I would probably land this thing just so I could fight the monsters. Garriott grinned at himself. What a fool I was. Garriott sighed as he shook his head fondly at the memories of himself as a beginning adventurer. I hope Erana and I can, perhaps, enjoy some peace and quiet...but then, with my luck, by the end of today I'll find myself in some crazy wizard's castle, wondering where I am. And being briefed on all the stuff I have to do to save some land I've never heard of from some mythical monster that can only be defeated by walking a high wire while singing and dueling with the world's greatest swordsman. Garriott could not help his growing irritation towards wizards and their 'teleport other' spell. But then, He grinned to himself again, I guess I do have to go where I have to go. The fact that teleportation made him nauseous did not help his disposition towards the particular mode of travel; he had spoken with Erana about it a bit, and she had told him that everyone went through the feeling until they became accustomed to moving through other dimensions.
Again, Garriott caught his mind from wandering off, when a sudden jerk almost threw him from the gondola. At the gondola's current altitude, a fall would most certainly be fatal. With all his daydreaming, Garriott found himself unable to remember even taking to the air.
What was that? Garriott then noticed a small hole in the floor of the gondola, relatively the size of his hand. Suddenly, Garriott heard a pop from above, then a hissing sound; he felt the warm air hitting the back of his head. He restrained himself from cursing, as he easily guessed what had happened, and stood up on his toes to examine a large hole in the gondola's balloon; the tattered edges of cloth around the hole appeared slightly charred. Looking over the side of the gondola, toward the ground, Garriott saw the same group of wierdings, and also noticed his now decreasing altitude.
The wierdings had seemingly found a group of several-month-old dead bodies of hesparian mercenaries. They played jovially with the bows that had once belonged to the mercenaries, as if the weapons were new toys. Did they shoot me? Garriott thought for a moment. No... If they had shot me, it wouldn't have caused the gondola to shake like that. And the balloon had burn marks on it. Suddenly, the back of Garriott's neck began tingling, his magical senses alerting him to something as the gondola neared the ground- and the wierdings. After a second, Garriott determined that one of the wierdings held the source of the rather powerful magical presence- a magical bow. But the hesparians never used magical weaponry...where did he get it?
With the gondola now a mere fifteen feet from the ground, Garriott thought fast and cast his 'levitate' spell as the gondola 'landed'. Garriott's prized machine smacked into the ground roughly, and as he floated slowly to the ground he cringed at the sound of crunching wood, but visually, the damage didn't seem too severe. That'll definitely take a while to patch up...enough to even fly. He sighed. Looks like I'm going to be late.
As the mighty paladin's boots touched down softly, the eight wierdings swarmed around him, preparing to assault him with their claws and teeth; as all but the monster who held the magical bow had dropped their weapons in favor of a more savage struggle. Garriott, for the fact that he did not desire to shed any blood, activated his 'awe' power. A wave of fear overcame the voracious desire to kill in the wierdings' eyes, as they screeched terribly in horror, dashing about incompetently, while the wierding armed with the bow stood fast, strangely unaffected by the powerful paladin-spell. And, still as a statue it remained, as its comrades began wetting themselves and fleeing from the paladin, running in any direction that he was not located in.
Garriott's paladin instincts slapped him with a new sensation; he could now, easily, detect the evil properties of the bow's magic. It feels just like that... the evil I felt when I fought the dragon! The sensation was such a mystery to me then...it didn't come from the dragon itself...but this time, I'm certain it's coming from that bow. Garriott lowered his gaze to watch the wierding slowly let its grip on the bow loosen, and then let go completely. A crazed look- one wild even compared to that of other wierdings lit its dark eyes. Garriott could not sense its true intentions; it struck him as less than even an animal; a creature with no intelligence whatsoever. It reminded him of a person possessed by a demon.
Faster than Garriott could react, in a blur, the wierding charged and dove into him, taking him to the ground. The wierding sprang to its feet again, leaping upon Garriott before he knew what had happened, and kneeling on the paladin's abdomen. It then began pounding on Garriott's chest with its bare fists. This thing's too much! Garriott managed to catch one of the wierding's fists, but the force of the wierding's strength drove Garriott's hand into the ground by his head. He, by reflex, caught the wierding's other fist; the result being both his hands pinned above his head. The wierding applied force, and began to crush Garriott's hands in the dirt, pressing tiny pebbles into the paladin's hand.
How? I've never faced one with this kind of physical strength! Garriott squinted as he struggled against the wierding's mysteriously overwhelming power. Finding himself completely overpowered, the paladin summoned up his honor in the form of physical strength, initiating his 'holy strength' status. He could feel the energy flood his muscles, a sharp pain filling his chest, though the pain vanished after a couple seconds. With a great amount of effort, he managed to force his hands out of the dirt. Sweat beaded his forehead, and he tried hard to ignore the pain of the pebbles imbedded into the backs of his hands, as he slowly pushed the wierding up and away. Garriott clamped his teeth down hard and shut his eyes tightly, feeling the burning in his arms as he squeezed down on the wierding's hands; finally managing to sit up against the wierding's strength.
Garriott's crushing grip around the green creature's smaller hands drew from it a snarl of pain, and as soon as he felt its pushing slacken, he lifted his arms to gain better leverage and pushed the wierding away from him. The wierding rushed him again; Garriott swiftly wrapped both hands around the wierding's left wrist, and fell back; slamming the creature, back first, into the dirt behind him. Garriott, as quickly and gracefully as possible, got to his feet and activated his 'honor shield'; turning around only to find the wierding on its feet as well and ready to fight.
The alien bent down over the body of one of the dead mercenaries, and picked up the corpse's gladius. Garriott drew his own weapon, igniting its blue flames. The wierding held its arm up, shielding its face from the purity of the blue firelight and taking a step back. After a few seconds of slathering unhappily, the wierding's more hostile intentions took an iron grip. It ran full out at Garriott, twirling its rusted, chipped weapon above its head like a banner, and releasing a deafening war cry.
The paladin sidestepped the wierding's careless charge. The wierding quickly came back around with a low attack, forcing Garriott to jump over and back to avoid the blade, rather than counterattack. Recklessly, the wierding rushed at Garriott and attacked high; after seeing this blow parried, it thrust the gladius at the paladin's midsection; Garriott fluently stepping aside and batting the gladius away. The wierding seemed unaware that the fire of the paladin's sword continued to deteriorate the gladius' already less-than-respectable condition in weapon-to-weapon contact.
The wierding then made a significant mistake in raising its aim to thrust its sword at Garriott's head. Garriott jerked his head to the side, avoiding losing his eye and possibly his life, but still receiving a small cut above his ear. Though too close to attack the wierding with his sword, Garriott used the opening left by the creature's faulty move to ram into it with his shoulder, sending it to the ground.
Though the alien tried to grab Garriott's arm, to pull him down as well, Garriott escaped the grappling attempt. Garriott found little advantage coming of his maneuver, however; the wierding snapped back to its feet almost the instant it hit the ground. Garriott gritted his teeth as the pain in his chest throbbed back into existence with a vengeance; the initial numbing effect brought on by the 'holy strength' surge wearing off. The paladin fell to his knees, the rush of pain too sudden and too intense to prepare for.
That thing... It shattered my ribs with its bare fists! The wierding ran up to him in his unguarded condition, ramming its gladius through his magical chainmail and halfway to the hilt into his abdomen. Garriott moaned grossly, but kept his wits; catching the wierding's sword arm as it yanked its weapon from him, and preventing it from attacking again. The paladin dropped his own sword, the flames fazing away as his concentration upon maintaining them deteriorated. Garriott used his last ounce of coherent strength to cast a spell, sending a force bolt, point blank, into the wierding's chest; sending it flying backwards.
Garriott used the alien's airtime to heal himself, breathing a relieved sigh, as the ache became nothing more than an unpleasant memory. As the monster landed on its back, Garriott glanced down and retrieved his sword, igniting its flames. Garriott's eyes turned back to his enemy, hoping to find the monster still getting to its feet, only to find it in his face once more and slashing at him. Garriott barely parried the blow away, and stood while dodging a thrust to the torso, receiving a minor wound to the shoulder. Garriott, struggling to keep up with the furiously chaotic onslaught, parried a low attack. Then a high swing; the wierding then pushing him back and forcing him to parry another low swing, then block a slash at the midsection. The wierding did not let up; Garriott barely parried a high thrust, and received a small cut on his left arm as he made a mistake in parrying a thrust at his midsection. He easily ducked under another thrust aimed at his head, standing and parrying a slash at his abdomen, and then springing back from a swing aimed at his knees. The wierding's aggressive push forward backed Garriott into a large boulder, and the paladin grunted as he found his back against a rather inconveniently placed hindrance to his survival.
The wierding gave a fleeting warning, with a baring of its teeth that looked much like a smile, before thrusting its gladius at Garriott's face. The paladin moved his body, as swiftly as possible, to the left, impaling the wierding almost simultaneously. Garriott looked beside him. Only inches from his head, the wierding's gladius had been caught, and jammed, in a fracture in the rockface, and in its damaged condition it had shattered. Garriott trembled in pain as he came to a sudden realization; his honor had declined for some reason. A traumatic agony wracked him from within, and he fell to his knees in pain, still gripping his sword. A pain not of a physical level, but of the soul. He closed his eyes tightly. But...what...I didn't do anything wrong! Garriott groaned. The awe power is gone from my mind! And the pain! Garriott, eyes shut tight, used the rock behind him to help him force himself back onto his feet.
His 'holy strength' still active, Garriott unintentionally lifted the lifeless wierding corpse, still impaled on his weapon, off the ground; its legs dangling. The flames disappeared from his sword, and he opened his eyes. Still leaning against the rock, Garriott shook his head from side to side slowly, wiping the sweat from his forehead with his left sleeve, as his voice quivered from the all-too-slowly fading pain. Why? Why? Garriott sighed, and looked down at the wierding's body; its weight unnoticeable with his enhanced strength, dangling on his sword. He grunted, and kicked the lifeless monster's cadaver off of his weapon; barely acknowledging the weight change for his right arm's load as the body struck the ground with a thud.
After a second of staring at nothing, Garriott looked down at the dead body, almost expecting to see a demon leave it. But no matter how long he stared, nothing happened. Garriott also noticed that he sensed no more evil; or magic for that matter, in the bow, but he also realized that his turmoil possibly affected his senses for the moment. I know now... Garriott gave himself a horrified gasp. I killed out of hatred... when I killed the wierding, I was angry... I hated it! He turned and walked over to the item he believed to be the source of the entire problem. I don't like this... Garriott mumbled incoherently as he mulled through his thoughts. There's something a little too magical about this whole situation...the hatred just suddenly appeared, and then... just as suddenly, it disappeared. Someone out there knows exactly how to toy with honor...and exactly how to toy with emotions. He raised his sword up. And this little piece of garbage is the key to the whole thing!
"Leave me alone!" Garriott shouted as he struck down on the magical bow. A brilliant, yet harmless, explosion erupted as the flames of honor upon his sword collided with the evil energy in the bow, and when the explosion cleared, only fragments of wood, sparking with now useless magic, remained of the bow. Garriott smiled to himself. Good always triumphs in the end. He thought, but then he frowned as his thoughts turned back to the depressing fact his own honor had declined. The pain still lingered, but he ignored the pain as he made his way over to his gondola to at least patch up the balloon, so it could fly well enough to get him to Erana. He had a strange feeling he could allow himself to waste no time in making his way to her.
"GLORIANNA, THE CHOSEN WORLD" introduction/summary page
This is the first chapter, silly!