Descending Fire 6
I chose not to carry Broken Walls on the way back to Champoor. I’m sure he would have liked it, but that guy gets fidgety after a while, and having his ankles digging into me was less comfortable than I would have cared for.
As we slowly made our way back, we eventually ran into Aster, Chaoxi, and Piper as they rode to catch up to us. They had all the supplies that we had foregone during our hasty departure from Champoor, so I was thankful to be able to have something to eat as we made our way back.
During the long walk, we discussed what to do with our new captive, Rose Piercing Wind. Piper was quite concerned with keeping him out of the public eye, while Broken Walls wanted him to confess his intentions to the authorities of Champoor, such as Hattellus, or Mauk. I don’t really have an opinion on the matter. I’m sure there are benefits to both options, but this sort of thing isn’t really my strong point.
Eventually, we reached an inn along the road. The group decides they want to rest here, but I decided to press on. I had left the tournament in an awkward way, and it left a sour taste in my mouth. The sooner I could return to the tournament, the sooner I could smooth things out.
When I did eventually reach the tournament grounds, I found Mauk waiting for me. I could see that the merchants had all started to pack up and head back to their respective areas of regular commerce. I told Mauk that Broken Walls was on his way, but he might be a while. Mauk kind of shrugged, and motioned to the ring, as if to imply that I could wait for my opponent there.
So I did. I sat in the ring, and contemplated how my final fight of the tournament might go. If Broken Walls didn’t show up, I figured I would challenge Mauk himself. Either way, a fight would be had.
Broken Walls did eventually show up, along with the rest of the group, and Rose Piercing wind in tow. Our little captive was still passed out, but the rest of the group looked well rested and alert. I wondered if they had any issues since we split ways, but they made no indication that they had.
When I urged Broken walls towards the ring to have our match, he told me he didn’t wish to fight me. He also said that due to the rules of the tournament, he wouldn’t be able to give it his all, and thus, not provide the challenge I was looking for.
I was crushed. I had been looking forward to this since I had first heard about the tournament. This was not how I pictured my defeat. If I was to lose, it was to be overpowered, either in skill or strength. To be defeated by denying me the chance to fight was almost unbearable.
Still, there were other options. Mauk had been listening, and wasn’t being too subtle about it either. When I eventually got over the shock of being denied by Broken Walls, I turned to Mauk and shouted, “If Broken Walls won’t fight me, how about you‽”
Mauk initially dismissed the idea, but finally relented when I appealed to his pride of leading his warrior troops. At last, I had my fight. My challenge.
After Mauk retrieved his cudgel, we made our way to a nearby hill. The ring, as enormous as it was, was far too small to let Mauk fight comfortably in, and I didn’t really care about our venue.
We started at quite the distance, which I felt put me at a disadvantage. Mauk could reach me from the onset with his cudgel, but I managed to avoid at least three good swings before I was able to hit him. It was a solid hit for sure; one that would likely cave in the bones of anybody else. Mauk was not anybody else. I don’t even think he felt the hit.
After the strike, a sudden realisation came to me. I had just hit Mauk with everything that I would be willing to throw at somebody that I didn’t intend to kill, and he didn’t even feel it. If I was to continue the fight, I was going to have to throw caution to the wind, and go all out. I wasn’t sure if I could do that to Mauk in the name of a good faith bout.
Mauk wasn’t about to let me sit there and ponder the nature of our fight however, as his next swing landed squarely on top of me. The weight of Mauk’s cudgel was like nothing I had ever felt before. It was as if an entire mountain had collapsed on me. I could hear me rocks below me cracking as I was compressed into the hillside with a loud “thud”. I don’t know if I had passed out, or if I was merely dazed, but the next thing I knew, Mauk was lifting me into the air, his fist wrapped firmly around my entire body. “We done?” He boomed.
Now, I’m not normally one to yield in combat, but I was clearly outmatched here. “Let’s do this again next year!” I managed to shout back to him. I’m going to have some more training to do.
Mauk chuckled as he put me down. It was a good fight at least. I thanked Mauk for the opportunity to test myself against him, and for giving me a challenge to look forward to.
On my way back, I grabbed the gauntlets that I had used when I faced Akimu from the victory pile. I hadn’t beat Mauk, but I did technically win the tournament with Broken Walls withdrawing. Tick did not agree with this assumption however, and asked me to return them. I shrugged as I tossed them back. There’s always next year.
I returned to the compound, exhausted. I’m pretty sure I fell asleep the moment my head hit the pillow.
Descending Fire 7
I wanted to sleep in today, I really did. But a hero shouldn’t let himself get too comfortable when there are injustices around. So, I pulled myself out bed, ready to take on the world once more.
I looked over my uniform before putting it on. It was brand new, but I I had managed to get it pretty beat up and torn in my fight with Mauk. It Looked like I’d be paying Midnight Raining Blossom a visit again.
During my morning patrol, I stopped in to see my new tailor. He was quite excited at how I had performed in the tournament. He had gotten several new orders since people had found out that he was the one who crafted my uniform, but he managed to fix up the damage I had done in a matter of minutes. I couldn’t even tell where the rips were before.
When I did make my way back to the compound, I found Broken Walls and the others, getting ready to question Rose Piercing Wind.
They had brought Hatellus and Gissig there to observe. Probably a wise precaution.
Broken Walls stared at the man for a while before speaking. I’m not sure what Broken Walls’s plan was to get Rose Piercing Wind to speak, but it had better be a good one.
“What is your name, rank, and social standing”? Broken Walls questioned.
“Indebted blood of fire, 5th heir to clan motome, Sergeant in the god-kings army” he spoke back with fear in his eyes.
“Why were you in Champoor?” Broken walls continued.
“Strifes Flawless Depths, of clan Orphis bid me to travel to Champoor to determine the combat capabilities of the foul solar anathema that infest the city.” he squeaked out once more, clearly unable to believe the words coming out of his own mouth.
Broken Walls sat there for a moment, choosing his words carefully. I began to expect that there was some sort of Solar ability at play here. There was little chance that a true enemy agent would give his information up of his own free will, and this is not the first time I’ve seen somebody responding in unlikely ways to Broken Walls asking questions.
“Based off the report you were to deliver, what force would you expect to be sent here?” Broken Walls asked, continuing his interrogation.
“10 legions of Presad, including my clans along with 2 dragonblood.” He responded once more.
“Who are your allies within Champoor?”
“Wonders Of Forsaken Dreams from clan Syuya”
Broken Walls narrowed his eyes as he asked once last question. “What would we need to do to capture Wonders of Forsaken Dreams alive?”
“Convince me to meet him at the outrageous flagon” he responded before starting to scream one profanity after another.