• Bubapedia Error 503 Backend fetch failed

    Our technical staff are continuing to monitor the wiki to try and resolve these ongoing issues that are impacting page and image loading. We apologize for the inconvenience. We'll update as soon as we've got more information on this for you.

  • Excited about the recently announced new Pokémon games? Join us here for discussion and speculation.
  • Visit your account preferences to list your favourite Gen 9 Starter, and you'll get the appropriate badge added to your profile!
  • If you are finding yourself unable to log in, you should be able to fix the issue by following the following process.
    1. Close all browser tabs with any part of Bulbagarden open.
    2. Delete all Bulbagarden.net cookies (and if possible, any cached site data for Bulbagarden) from your browser.
    3. Close and reopen your browser, open a new tab, and log into the forums on the new tab.
    If you've followed this process and are still having issues, please contact us via the "Contact us" link at the bottom of the forum.

MATURE: Dawn of Courage (Chapter 78 Up)

CynthiaLover

Geek of the Games
Joined
Dec 23, 2009
Messages
4,355
Reaction score
3,838
Pronouns
He/Him
Time for the next chapter of Dawn of Courage. (Warning: contains mild violence, mild language, sexual suggestions)

Defending Fort Aquatica


It had been roughly a day since the party had defeated Captain Bonechill and his Undead Army platoon. They had reached the next village and were busy shopping. Nova was also selling some of his homemade magical accessories, which proved to be a hit among various traveling warriors and mages due to their more unique effects compared to more common versions.

“Whew…” Zeeker said, wiping his brow. “We did good today. We not only restocked on a lot of things we needed but Nova made a pretty profit with his magical accessories. Looks like your hard work in learning that skill paid off, Nova.”

Nova chuckled lightly, “Yeah, well, I’m glad they were such a hit with the various warriors and mages that decided to check them out. At least we have some money stashed away for a rainy day thanks to the sales we made.”

Nina smiled, “You did good, Nova. You can be quite the shrewd businessman, as you were able to haggle for a few extra coins here and there. I’m impressed.”

Sir Reginald nodded, “Indeed, and it’ll help us in the long run, as being able to get a bit of extra coins here and there for later on is important. Now, with all our shopping done we can head for the inn to rest.”

Suddenly, they all heard what sounded like an owl’s hoot, only it resonated more mystical. Everyone looked around, then up to see an owl approach them. It was a snowy white own with midnight black tips, sapphire blue pupilless eyes, a golden crescent moon-shaped crest on its forehead, small feathers looking like horns, golden talons, and a fan tail with what looked like star patterns on it. It fluttered over to the party.

“That’s a Lunar Owl familiar!” Van said.

The Lunar Owl hovered in front of Angelo, holding out a talon. It was then they noticed it was carrying a scroll. Angelo took it, allowing the Lunar Owl to land on his shoulder. Curious, he opened the scroll and looked it over, his eyes widening.

“Gang!” he said, surprised. “This is a message from Joy the witch! And it’s urgent! She says that Fort Aquatica has been under attack from Muu’s forces in an attempt to retake it. My people and Joy have managed to repel the assaults but haven’t been able to outright defeat them. They need our help, as they noticed that the Undead Captain is stronger than normal, preventing them from doing more than forcing the Undead Army back for a bit. We need to return to Fort Aquatica right away to assist in defending it.”

Sir Reginald nodded, “I see. It’s fortunate that we have teleportation magic, otherwise we’d have a long way to go. I’m guessing this Lunar Owl is Joy’s familiar.”

The Lunar Owl hooted in response, nodding its head.

“I’m willing to bet that the Undead Captain is another one powered by a fallen soul,” Kettu growled. “After all, Muu has been doing that lately in an attempt to retake lost territories.”

“That’s a safe bet,” Nova said. “Maybe it’ll be your brother’s soul, Kettu.”

The Werefox replied in a melancholy tone, “I sure hope so. Getting Felix out of Muu’s grip would be a huge relief to me. While I’m in this fight for the long haul, saving my brother’s soul is a high priority for me; it’s the whole reason I’m in this war to begin with.”

Nina nodded, “Yeah, I hear ya, Kettu. But time for that later, let’s get back to Fort Aquatica. Should I do it or would you rather do it, Sir Reginald?”

“You get us to Fort Aquatica, as your Teleport is stronger,” Sir Reginald said. “I’ll get us back here. Plus your Teleport would be able to get us to the front gates and not have to cross over the water, unlike my Warp spell which would only take us to the closest point.”

“Okay. If everyone is ready I’ll get us to Fort Aquatica.”

Everyone gathered up their stuff and gave her a nod of approval.

“Okay, here we go. Teleport!”

The party and the Lunar Owl vanished in a flash of light. They reappeared just outside the front gates of Fort Aquatica, where the docks were. They could see that the Hopper Clan’s capital was now sporting various magical cannons, but there was also damage to the outer walls.

“I see they took up our suggestion in adding some cannons to their defenses,” Zeeker observed. “That’s probably why they’ve been more successful in repelling these attacks lately.”

Angelo nodded, “Indeed. Now, let us enter the fort and check up on everyone. Hopefully we’re not too late.”

The party nodded and opened the front gates. They could see the various members of the Hopper Clan working hard, trying to prepare for the next attack. Their eyes lit up as they saw the party.

“Prince Angelo and the Demon King’s champion party have come to our aid!” a knight said happily.

Just then a happy voice called out, “Angelo!”

Joy swooped down, riding her staff, before jumping into the arms of Angelo, clearly happy to see him.

“Angelo!” she said cheerfully. “I’ve missed you! And I see you got my message. Good work, Ami.”

The Lunar Owl gave a happy hoot, fluttering off Angelo and perching on Joy’s shoulder.

“So, this is your familiar,” Van said. “And judging by the name it’s a female. We didn’t know you had a familiar.”

Joy replied, “It’s standard for a member of the Magic Clan. We all get familiars upon starting our lessons. Ami is my Lunar Owl familiar, and she’s very reliable. I knew she’d find you.” She then focused her attention on Angelo, smiling, “Angelo, my handsome Hopper, I’ve missed you so. I thank you for everything. You people were skeptical of me for obvious reasons but I proved my worth and earned my place here. Now I not only teach magic to your knights but also help defend this castle. And it’s all because you gave me the chance I’ve been seeking. So… thank you. I now have a home, people who like me, and a purpose, all because of you. I’ve even managed to get more powerful magic under my belt. Turns out I was something of a late bloomer, although I suspect that it was your kindness that helped me blossom into a more powerful witch. Thank you so much.”

Angelo gently held Joy, smiling, “I’m glad everything worked out for you in the end, Joy. You deserve to be happy, and I’m glad that my family and people gave you a chance upon my request. But time for that later. Please, take me to my parents so I can get the full details of what’s going on. That way my wonderful friends and I can vanquish this dastardly Undead Captain and protect our people.”

Joy nodded, “Yes, of course, Angelo. Please, follow me. First thing’s first. Ami, you did a good job. I knew I could count on you. To the Spirit Plane.”

Ami gave a happy hoot before vanishing in a flurry of sparkles. Joy then jumped onto her floating staff and guided the party to where the Aquatica Royal Family was waiting. She did a polite bow from on top of her staff as she approached them.

“Your Majesties, Prince Angelo and his friends have returned,” she said in a courteous tone. “My familiar succeeded in tracking them down and got our message through to them. They are here to help defend our kingdom from Muu.”

King Kermit smiled, “You have done well, Joy. You’ve proven to be a fine addition. I still feel kinda bad for doubting you when you first arrived but you have proven yourself time and time again. Good work.” He then turned to Angelo and the party, “It’s good to see all of you here again. I wish it was during better times, but as the message stated we’re in bit of a bind. A new Undead Captain called Bonegallow has been attacking our home, trying to reclaim it on Muu’s behalf. We’ve been fortunate enough to repel his assaults but he just keeps coming back and we’re running out of strength and energy to keep the defenses up. As you saw, we’ve taken up your suggestion in adding cannons to our defenses, which have been a massive help. And Joy has been just as big of a help to us, as her powerful magic, along with teaching our knights more useful spells outside of our usual elements, has given us more bite to our bark. But we can’t keep it up much longer. So we needed to summon you back here to be our main offense. I’m just glad Joy’s Lunar Owl found you in time, as I don’t think we can take more than one more beating before our defenses crumble.”

Sir Reginald stepped up, “You can rest assured that we will destroy this Captain Bonegallow and stop the attacks, allowing you a much-needed reprieve. Can you give us some more details on our foes?”

Joy said, “I can, as I’ve been taking notes while battling Muu’s forces. Bonegallow looks like a zombified knight with some sort of glowing energy inside of him. He’s also a lot more durable, as he can take a ton of punishment and dish out just as much in return. Even my more powerful magic has only been enough to stall him until he and his Undead Soldiers are forced to retreat. They are using giant zombie fish as their means of attacking us out here in the lake. The zombie fish aren’t tough, as it doesn’t take more than a solid Thunderbolt to fry them, leaving the basic Undead Soldiers to flounder in the water before they are destroyed by it. But they seem to have an endless supply of them. I did notice that Bonegallow seems to be the one who can summon these zombie fish, so taking him out should put an end to those rotting river monsters. Taking him out, however, is the problem. Do you think you can figure out why he’s so damn tough?”

Nina nodded, “Yes. Judging by your description, Captain Bonegallow is an Undead Soldier being powered and enhanced by a fallen soul. We’ve seen it a few times now. Any Undead Captain that is formed from a captured soul becomes much more powerful, has no weaknesses as far as we know, is extremely durable, and can easily take on stronger enemies that regular Undead Captains would struggle to defeat.”

King Kermit looked alarmed, “You mean to tell me that Muu can use captured souls to enhance his Undead Soldiers into more powerful forms!? What about the captured soul? Will it be condemned if the Undead Captain using it is destroyed?”

Nova replied, “Fortunately, no. In fact the opposite happens. If the Undead Captain is destroyed the soul is freed, purified, and is able to ascend safely without fear of being recaptured by Muu. So destroying the body of the Undead Captain is a huge priority. If the body is destroyed then the soul will be released and spared any more pain. One does need to be careful of certain elements, however, because the soul is susceptible to things like hellfire. As such I can’t use my Gorgon Viper familiar to get an advantage, since her hellfire could risk hurting the already tortured soul further.”

Joy’s eyes widened, “You have a Gorgon Viper as a familiar?! That’s the perfect familiar to have against Muu and his army. It’s a shame you can’t use it against these types of Undead Captains. But I bet your Gorgon Viper is very helpful in most other situations.”

“Yes, she is. Elora is her name and she’s proven to be invaluable in our quest. I can’t use her against Undead Captains powered by fallen souls but every other type of Undead Soldier, Captain, and General are fair game for her. She’s been a godsend since I acquired her, helping even the odds against our foes. But we can discuss Elora’s awesomeness later, as we need to focus on dealing with Bonegallow and sinking his battleship before Fort Aquatica takes anymore punishment.”

King Kermit nodded, “Yes, excellent point, Nova. We will leave that to you. Ask Joy and any of our knights for more details so you can map out a battleplan that’ll make Bonegallow and his Undead Soldiers sleep with the fishes.”

Sir Reginald gave a bow, “Leave it to us, Your Majesty. Team, let’s begin mapping out our strategy. Joy, you come, too, as you know more about the situation than we do. Hopefully we’ll have enough time before Bonegallow shows up to get at least the groundwork of our plan down.”

Joy replied, “We should, as Bonegallow prefers to attack around dusk, give or take an hour. That should give us a couple of hours to strategize with the Hopper Clan knights.”

“Excellent. Let’s get to work right away.”

The party and Joy walked out of the throne room to discuss their strategy with the Hopper Clan knights. Joy produced some magical notes that she had taken and showed it to the party, allowing them to get a good idea of what to expect. When the sun was starting to set they had gotten their plan ironed out.

“Okay, we’ve got a solid plan,” Sir Reginald said. “Especially since we’ve got Nina’s and Angelo’s Shaman forms to give us the extra firepower we need.”

Joy said, “I’m still impressed that you can use Shaman magic. Even we Magic Clan members know how much of a game-changer it can be. Shame you can’t use it, Nova, though I do agree with Nina that you could very well gain it, as I, too, have heard that one can obtain compatibility with Shaman magic if exposed to certain energies. And Demon magic is very much an anomaly that could easily give you that ability. But, in any case, we should get the troops ready, as Bonegallow should be coming soon.”

Suddenly a bell was being rung, with a voice calling, “Captain Bonegallow is approaching! He’s heading for the front gates!”

“Right on cue,” Nova chuckled weakly.

“Our timing is perfect,” Sir Reginald said. “Let’s go and destroy this Undead Captain before Fort Aquatica takes any more punishment.”

Everyone nodded and quickly made their way to the front gates, which closed behind them, followed by what sounded like a lock being put in place. The cannons were then armed and positioned where they needed to be. The party could see the Undead Army riding giant zombie fish. Nina and Angelo both nodded, tapped some of the Elemental Gems on their Shaman Magic Bracelets, and held them up high.

“Elemental Energy Fusion activate!” both said in unison.

They were engulfed in swirling energy and before long they had taken the form of Goddess of Phoenixes and Tsunami Knight. Joy’s eyes became hearts as she saw Angelo in his handsome and powerful-looking Shaman form, looking like she was about to swoon off her staff, but managed to regain her focus and took a more battle-ready position.

“Fire the cannons!” Sir Reginald instructed.

The magical cannons launched blast after blast at the approaching Undead Army, sometimes destroying a few Undead Soldiers or one of the zombie fish. However, any time one of them came toward Captain Bonegallow he merely swatted it aside like it was a ball. His eyes gleamed as he saw the heroic party standing in front.

“So, the Hopper Clan was desperate enough to call back the meddling Demon King’s puppet party to aid in their defense?” he sneered. “Good, that’ll give me a chance to eliminate them and get into Master Muu’s good graces. Bring me their heads!”

The remaining zombie fish, saddled with Undead Soldiers charged ahead, ready to strike the party down.

Nina floated up front, “It’s time for a fish fry! Flames of Judgment!”

She launched her attack, causing a sea of golden flames to flow over the water. The attack effortlessly burned several Undead Soldiers and their zombie fish steeds to ash, prompting the survivors to scatter to avoid getting hit by her attack. Angelo stepped out onto the water, holding his halberd with both hands.

“Time to sink or swim!” he stated. “Maelstrom!”

He gave his halberd a swing, causing a maelstrom to sweep up several remaining Undead Soldiers and their zombie fish steeds. They were sucked into the center of the vortex before it exploded, destroying them like they were bugs. Joy’s eyes became hearts again as she saw this masterful display of Angelo’s might in his Shaman form, almost forgetting to return her focus to the battle. She gave herself a slap across the face and focused on the enemy.

“Focus, Joy, focus!” she said mentally. “You’re in the middle of battle! Don’t get sidetracked by how awesome your man is right now!” She then said aloud, “My turn to get a lick in! Thunder!”

The gem on her staff glowed, followed by thunderbolts raining down upon the remaining enemy forces. While her attack had an effect on the Undead Soldiers and their steeds, Captain Bonegallow merely raised his hand up to block the attack, coming out unharmed.

“Dammit!” the witch spat. “He always does that! Even my Thunderbolt spell can’t hack it! I need something with more power!”

Nina turned to her, “Joy, do you know any Staff-based skills like Bang and such?”

The witch turned to her, “Yeah. I know Bang, Magic Burst, and Sonic Boom. Why?”

Nina took a moment to ponder before saying, “Use Sonic Boom alongside my Phoenix Finish move to create a combo skill. Combo skills pack a much, much bigger punch, easily enough to at least severely damage an Undead Captain powered by a fallen soul.”

Joy looked surprised before nodding, “Let’s do it, Nina!”

Both started to prepare their attacks, aiming at Captain Bonegallow.

“Phoenix Finish!” Nina stated.

“Sonic Boom!” Joy shouted.

They fired their respective attacks. The flaming energy phoenix combined with the powerful shockwave of wind to create a gigantic firestorm with a phoenix’s head in front. The attack effortlessly tore through the remaining Undead Soldiers and their zombie fish before rocketing toward Captain Bonegallow. The Undead Captain looked unimpressed and held out his hand to block the attack. However, to his surprise, the attack effortlessly plowed into him, hitting him with such a force that he wasn’t expecting. He screamed in pain as the attack ravaged his body before the phoenix-shaped firestorm exploded, sending him into the air.

Nova took aim with his bow, “Have a taste of this! Celestial Shot!”

He fired the divine energy arrow at the still-airborne Undead Captain. The arrow struck him and exploded, dealing heavy damage as the Undead Captain began his descent.

Sir Reginald turned to Angelo, “Angelo, finish him off before he can recover!”

Angelo nodded, “I’m all over it!” He faced the falling Undead Captain, stating, “Now you will face my power! Never again will I allow anyone to attack my wonderful home! Sea Splitting Slash!”

He rocketed toward the Undead Captain at blinding speeds, skating over the water, his blade glowing brightly. Before Captain Bonegallow could respond Angelo slashed him before coming to a stop behind him. It was as if time had stopped as the Undead Captain was seemingly floating after the attack. When Angelo placed his halberd onto his back the Undead Captain was suddenly ripped to shreds, leaving only the glowing soul powering him. Everyone got into a more relaxed position, with Joy’s eyes becoming hearts again and looking like she was about to swoon herself off her staff and into the water. She started to lean back, her body hot, almost falling off her staff and into the water before grabbing it and readjusting herself, looking a bit embarrassed, much to the amusement of everyone around her. Angelo merely skated back to where the rest of the party was to rejoin them. The soul then floated over to the party and company and took form, becoming a female lion Beastman, making Zeeker’s eyes widen.

“Beth!?” he sputtered. “Is that you?”

The lion Beastman smiled, “Hello, Captain Zeeker. It’s nice to see you again, especially after that bloody battle. I’m glad to see you’re well. And before you say anything, no, I don’t hold what happened that day against you. We all made that same mistake, allowing General Vertebreak to knock us down several pegs, rubbing our failure into our faces. We kinda deserved that for letting our victories over Muu go to our heads. But I know that you harbor a great deal of grief and guilt from that day. Please, don’t try to shoulder all the blame on yourself, as you weren’t the only captain of our army who let our egos get as big as they did. It wasn’t your fault. We all made a critical mistake that day and paid the price for it. But thanks to you and your allies we stand a chance at avenging the fallen and stopping Muu for good. And thanks to you my soul is free from the horrible fate of being a power source for one of Muu’s lackies. Please, Captain Zeeker, continue to fight the good fight and save everyone. We’re all counting on you and your allies, as you’ve given the people hope once again.”

Zeeker nodded, fighting back tears, “I will, Beth, I promise. I learned my lesson that day and I’ve been taking steps to not repeat it. I admit I bowed out of the fight for a while due to my survivor’s guilt but my new friends relit the fire in me again. We will end Muu, no matter what it takes. I’m just grateful you don’t hate me for failing you.”

Beth smiled, “I can’t hate you, Captain Zeeker, as you’re not the one to blame. Or at least you shouldn’t have to shoulder all the blame. We all made that careless mistake that cost us dearly. But you learned from it and are making amends by continuing the fight against Muu. That’s why we followed you, Captain Zeeker, because we believed in you. And we still do. Please, save all the other captured souls so they don’t suffer the same fate I did. Being used as a power source for a special Undead Captain is horrible. Keep fighting, Captain Zeeker, and avenge our fellow Beastmen. No, avenge ALL the souls who have fallen to Muu’s forces. We know you and your allies can do it. Now, it’s time for me to go and rest. Please, noble warriors, don’t give up. Save all of Edyn from Muu and give us our world back. We’re counting on you to bring peace back to Edyn. Farewell.”

She then turned into a sphere and started to float upward. Zeeker saluted as she did, the rest of the party following suit, to Joy’s confusion. When Beth’s soul vanished into the sky everyone relaxed.

“Still no sign of him…” Kettu sighed in a depressed tone.

Nova placed a hand on his shoulder, saying, “We’ll get Felix back, Kettu. We won’t let him suffer. Muu will eventually use him as a power source for a new Undead Captain. And when he does, we’ll make sure your brother is saved from his decaying clutches. It won’t be an easy fight but we will save him. Keep your chin up, as we’ll find him and make sure he can rest in peace.”

Kettu gained a warm smile, “Thanks, Nova, that’s exactly what I needed to hear. While I know that he’s still in Muu’s clutches, which makes my fur bristle, we will find him and save him.”

Sir Reginald nodded, “Indeed. Now, let us report back to King Kermit and the rest of the Royal Family.”

At the time Joy was fluttering around on her staff, gushing at Angelo’s Shaman form, her eyes were hearts, clearly heads over heels for him. Angelo merely stood proudly, allowing Joy to do what she wanted, much to the amusement of the rest of the party. After Joy had finished examining every inch of Angelo’s Shaman form they returned to the inner part of the castle to report to the Royal Family, although Angelo remained in his Shaman form for a bit longer to show it to his family, who all looked starstruck as they saw it.

A little while later, as the sun was starting to set, Nova and Nina were sitting on the same bench they were the last time they were here. Off to their left they could see Angelo, now in his normal form, playing some music on a flute, which he was surprisingly good at. Joy lounged on her floating staff in a rather saucy pose, clearly enjoying it.

Nina chuckled, “I’m glad that Joy is much happier now. Angelo really did her a lot of good. No wonder she’s smitten for him. At least that makes one less rival for me to worry about stealing my man.”

Nova chuckled as well, “True. And that’s fine with me. I still remember the last time we were sitting at this bench. We were discussing what your stance was on possible lovers, such as thinking about other races as options and such.”

“Yes, I remember. You were pretty bold that day, Nova, asking me such a question. It was clear you were testing the waters to see if there was a chance that I could reciprocate your feelings for me. I should’ve realized that sooner, especially after all the chaos it caused later on. I probably drove you mad with all the subconscious hints I was giving you but never realized it myself until it was almost too late. But that’s behind us now and we’re together, and that’s all that matters. It was quite the scenario, to say the least, but it all worked out in the end. And I’m glad for that. After all, you’ve made me so happy, Nova. While some things about you, like your low self-esteem and tendency to put yourself down, annoy me, I accept it. Especially since I know, with some more work, those negatives will vanish. After all, you’re working very hard to make yourself a better person, which is admirable. Not many people, much less men, would be willing to do that. That’s one reason why you’re so wonderful.”

Nova blushed, “Yeah, well, as they say, ‘Behind every great man is an even greater woman’, which holds true for you and me. It was because of you that I gained the motivation to change myself for the better. It probably would’ve happened eventually but you gave it the much-needed kick in the can to get it going. And I thank you for that, Nina, I no longer see myself as the hopeless, worthless loser I once was. I still don’t regard myself super highly yet but it’s progress, even if it’s slow progress. After all, ‘Progress is progress, no matter how small’, as the Blitz family says.”

Nina nodded, “Yes, that’s very true. You still have a ways to go but at the end of the day you’re still my wonderful man. I promise I will return to Earth with you, marry you, and have all your children. I don’t care what anyone else says, you are my future. And I’m very much looking forward to it.”

Both exchanged a kiss before continuing to watch Angelo and Joy playfully flirt with each other. By the time the sun was nearly set everyone had gone to bed, feeling proud that they had saved Fort Aquatica from Muu once again.

Next Chapter: Arrow Dynamics

That's all for today. Looks like Joy the witch is not only much happier but has shifted tracks from Nova to Angelo. One less rival for Nina is good. Tune in next time to see what our heroes face.
 

CynthiaLover

Geek of the Games
Joined
Dec 23, 2009
Messages
4,355
Reaction score
3,838
Pronouns
He/Him
Time for the next chapter of Dawn of Courage. (Warning: contains mild language, light blood)

Arrow Dynamics


It had been a few days since the heroic party had defended Fort Aquatica from Captain Bonegallow and his Undead Army platoon. They had since returned to the road and were now in one of the larger cities in Gloria Kingdom. They were doing various errands and selling monster parts.

Nina said, “Okay, I think we’re good now. We’ve gotten everything we needed and sold any monster parts we felt would be good. That should be everything for now.”

Sir Reginald nodded, “Indeed, Lady Nina. And we’re almost to the checkpoint, as this is the last major stop before the checkpoint to Emerald Coast Kingdom. We can’t forget to pick up the information that Queen Maria gathered and is holding at the checkpoint for us.”

Angelo smiled, “Ah, Emerald Coast Kingdom. The Kingdom of emerald sands and the gateway to the next continent. We’ll need a boat if we’re to cross the ocean so we can continue pursuing Muu’s forces. Shame I won’t be able to see Joy again for quite some time but evil never sleeps. I’m just glad we were able to defend my people from Muu’s forces again. Hopefully that’s the last we hear of Muu trying to retake certain areas for a bit.”

“I’ll say,” Kettu huffed. “We can’t keep jumping back and forth between our targets, especially since it could allow our enemies to make joint maneuvers while we’re distracted fighting another enemy. After all, ‘he who hunts two hares catches neither’, so we need to be careful if Muu decides to try a stunt like that.”

Van then noticed something, trotting over to a flier on a post. Curious, the party joined him to see what he was looking at.

“What’s that, Van?” Zeeker asked.

“Interesting,” the Centaur said. “This city is holding an archery tournament tomorrow. Not only is the prize a large stack of 5,000 gold but the winner of the tournament will receive a special rare Starfire Bow. Maybe Nova should enter it. Not only would the money be nice, but the Starfire Bow would be a great replacement for his current one, as it’s getting pretty worn out. What do you say, Nova?”

Nova pondered before replying, “I suppose it would be good. It’ll let me see just how I stack up to other archers. Plus my old Assassin Bow is getting a tad worn out. So let’s give it a whirl.”

Nodding the party went to where the registration for the tournament was taking place. However, a pair of unwanted ears had overheard their conversation, grinning darkly as a devious thought crossed the owner’s mind.

Nova approached a registration table, saying, “I would like to compete in the archery tournament, please.”

The woman at the table nodded, “You’re lucky, as we only have one slot left. Tell me your name and I’ll register you for the tournament.”

“Nova Blitz.”

The woman wrote it down, “Nova… Blitz… Okay, you’re all registered. Please head for the arena tomorrow at 10 AM. I wish you luck.”

Satisfied, the party started to make their way to the inn, eager at the thought of the archery tournament. Just then they heard a loud, familiar scream. They turned to see Dominic barreling toward them. Before the party could react he swung his sword at Nova. To everyone’s horror his blade sliced through Nova’s arm, cutting off his left hand, causing it to fall to the ground, blood splattering and dripping from both it and his arm.

“There!” Dominic laughed. “I’ve made sure you can’t compete in that tournament, Nova! Without both hands you’re harmless! Nothing will change the fact that you are no longer able to compete! I finally beat you!”

The rest of the party quickly attacked Dominic, but he ran off before they could retaliate. They then turned to Nova who was surprisingly calm. He reached down to pick up his left hand with his remaining one.

“Nova, allow us to heal it,” Van said.

Nina stepped up, “No, leave this to me.”

She started to comb her fingers through her wings before pulling out a Magic Fire Feather. She placed it on Nova, causing the feather to burst into golden flames before engulfing Nova in flames. The party waited for the results. The flames subsided and, to their relief, Nova’s left hand had been reattached, although there was now a ring-like scar where Dominic had cut it.

“There… how do you feel, beloved?”

Nova replied calmly, “I can’t feel with this hand, Nina. Sure, it’s been reattached but I can’t feel or use it.”

Nina’s eyes widened, “What? But I used my Magic Fire Feather, which is the ultimate healing ability. How come you can’t use your hand?”

A voice then said, “Let me have a look.”

Everyone turned to see what looked like a nurse approach them.

“Forgive my intrusion but I couldn’t help but notice what had happened,” she said. “Please, let me have a look at your hand.”

Nova held out his hand, allowing the nurse to examine it.

“Hmm… it’s not as bad as you think. The hand has been successfully reattached, along with all the blood vessels. But the nerves and muscles will take a bit longer before they’ve fully reestablished themselves. I estimate it’ll take at least a good three days before your hand is completely usable again. It will become usable again, it’ll just take some time for the body to reestablish the necessary connections to restore the hand to working order. The fact that you used Magic Fire Feathers made the process smoother, as standard healing magic would take even longer for the recovery to be completed, but he still needs time before the hand is completely usable again.”

“I see,” Nova said. “So I just need to wait a bit and my hand will be fully restored.”

Zeeker’s eyes widened, “You’re taking this surprisingly well, Nova. Aren’t you angry at Dominic for what he did?”

“Oh, I’m furious, Zeeker. I want to gut that goon like a fish. But I’m not going to let my anger control me. No, I’ve got a better plan, one that’ll allow me to have the last laugh against him without actually attacking him. He deliberately tried to sabotage me with this stunt, trying to get me to drop out of the tournament. He’s just like a petty bully. Well, he’ll find out that this man won’t let a petty bully get his way. I still intend to enter that tournament. I don’t care about winning anymore, as I intend to prove that no one, be it Dominic, Stavros, or Eoleo, will push me around anymore. Whether I win or lose it doesn’t matter, as I intend to compete and prove that this dog won’t be kicked without baring my fangs.”

“But… how do plan on competing when you can’t use your hand to hold your bow?” Sir Reginald asked.

“Where there’s a will there’s a way. And I already have an idea on how to circumvent that issue. But Dominic will see that I won’t let him kick me down in hopes of crushing my spirit. I let too many bullies do that to me growing up. Now it’s time to show that this dog has teeth, too, and I’ll use them. I intend to get the last laugh through a different method instead of straight-up beating the goon senseless, since that’s proven to not be effective enough. No, I intend to crush his pride and ego by not letting him win. He thinks he’s got me beat but I intend to prove that the weak, cowardly man that I once was is no more. I won’t bend to his will. I’ll enter that tournament and ultimately find a way to overcome this obstacle. No matter what it takes.”

The party was stunned at Nova’s resolve before melting into warm smiles.

Nina embraced him, saying, “You’ve come a long way since when we first met, beloved. I remember our first night together where a simple Corpse scared the living daylights out of you, causing your spirit to crumble. But now you can fight Muu’s forces without flinching and are willing to still compete even with a disabled hand. You’ve grown tremendously, Nova. Makes me even more proud to be your girlfriend. Yeah, let’s do it. While I’m worried about you competing I also know that you’ll figure out a way to overcome this issue. You’re amazing, Nova, truly.”

The nurse said, “I wish you luck. You really can’t use your hand but I admire your determination to not let that thug best you. If you can find a way to circumvent the issue and still somehow compete then I will be very impressed. I wish you luck, but don’t push yourself too hard before your hand recovers.”

The nurse then walked away, leaving the party alone. Nova looked at his disabled hand, his eyes showing an intense fire in them. The party made their way to the inn to rest, although Nova had some trouble with dinner, requiring Nina to cut it for him. They knew that tomorrow was the real test.

The following day had dawned. Nova was making final preps for the tournament. He had managed to mold his disabled hand into a position so it would be perpetually holding his bow, with his pointer finger erect. After making the final checks the party made their way to the arena.

The man at the counter said, “State your name.”

“Nova Blitz,” the pink-haired man said.

The man looked at the list before saying, “Okay, you’re checked in, Mr. Blitz. Please proceed to the locker room until you are called for your turn. I wish you luck.”

Nova nodded and proceeded to make his way to the locker room, his party following. Nina had an expression of concern on her face, but she had faith in Nova. They saw the other competitors and a handful of their allies, all of whom looked like strong, formidable archers.

“You’ve got some pretty tough competition, Nova,” Kettu observed. “Winning won’t be easy.”

Nova replied, “Winning isn’t a priority of mine right now. I intend to prove that I won’t let something like what Dominic pulled stop me anymore. If I still somehow win then that’s a bonus, but I intend to put my talent with a bow to work and not let anything stop me. It won’t be easy, especially with such strong-looking archers, but I intend to not be beaten down by anyone anymore.”

Sir Reginald smiled, “You really have come a long way, Nova. When we first met you were very insecure, had pretty much no self-esteem, and were something of a defeatist. Now, you’re a much stronger, nobler, and more confident person. Your parents would be proud of you. As are we.”

Nina nodded, “Indeed, beloved. Knock them dead and show that goon Dominic that his efforts will be in vain.”

Nova gave a solemn nod as he waited his turn. One by one the various archers left the locker room upon being called. Their scores were projected via a magical screen, allowing everyone to see how good these archers were, though none had achieved a perfect score yet. Soon, it was Nova’s turn.

“Okay, I’m off,” he said. “Time to show the world what I can do.”

The party nodded as Nova left the locker room and entered the center arena. The stadium was packed, full of cheering people, eager to see who would win. Nova took his position, awaiting his instructions.

“Our next competitor is Nova Blitz,” the announcer said. “This young lad has come out of nowhere but he seems determined to win. Will this black horse come out on top? We will find out. The rules for this round are simple. For the first round Nova needs to shoot three targets three times. His score will be determined by how successful his shots are. We will provide him with special arrows designed for this tournament. With the targets set we can begin.”

A man standing near Nova held out some arrows for him to use while three targets were set up. Nova took one of the arrows, took aim, and fired his first shot. To everyone’s surprise he managed to strike dead in the center of the first target.

“Woo! Nice shot! He’s the first one to actually nail the dead center of the target. Nova could be a contender, folks. But can he keep it up?”

At the time the party was watching from the locker room. Nina had a worried expression on her face, clasping her hands together.

“Young lady, you seem rather tense,” a voice said. “Why?”

Without looking Nina replied, “Nova is competing in this tournament with a disabled hand. A goon named Dominic Flight cut his hand off yesterday. I was able to reattach it with one of my Magic Fire Feathers but the hand is unusable for a few days. It was a deliberate attempt by Dominic to sabotage Nova, but he’s still competing despite the fact his left hand is unusable right now. Nova doesn’t want to let anyone, including Dominic, push him around anymore, which is why he’s competing despite being at a disadvantage due to his disabled hand. He’s grown a lot since I first came to know him, becoming my lover, but I’m still worried about him.”

The mysterious figure seemed surprised, “He’s competing with a disabled hand? You possess Magic Fire Feathers? Some guy name Dominic deliberately tried to sabotage Nova? And you two are lovers? That’s all rather surprising yet fascination information. What is your name, young lady?”

“Nina Firewing, a renegade from the Phoenix Clan and the former princess of the race, both of which I take pride in. And I take even more pride in being Nova’s girlfriend. But like any good lover I worry about him. While he’s doing surprisingly well I can’t help but feel nervous about him competing at a disadvantage due to being handicapped thanks to Dominic. I think I’m probably more nervous than he is, and he’s the one competing.”

The mysterious figure said, “I see. Interesting. And judging by his results he’s actually nailing each shot, even splitting his previous arrows with the follow-up arrows. His raw talent is remarkable. I know a certain archer who would be interested in this young lad. Thank you for the information, Miss Nina.”

The figured walked away, leaving the party to keep watching the events. After a few tense minutes Nova’s score for the first round was displayed.

“Unbelievable, folks!” the announcer said. “Nova is the first one to get a perfect score. But this is just Round One. Can he keep it up in the next three rounds? We will now begin preparations for the second round. Archers please remain in the locker room until you are called.”

A few moments later Nova appeared in the locker room. The party quickly swarmed him.

“Nova, you’re doing amazingly well,” Van said.

“I’ll say,” Angelo said with a smile. “You’re the first one to get a perfect score so far. Even with a disabled hand you’re still the sharpest shot in the land.”

Nova blushed, “I wouldn’t go that far, Angelo. But I admit I’m doing better than I thought despite my competition being quite fierce. I just need to keep my focus, keep my head cool, and not let anything get in my way. That’ll show Dominic that he can’t beat me down. And it’ll prove my worth as an archer. Now, I just need to rest for a bit before I’m called for the next round.”

The party nodded and waited for the next round. One by one the various archers competing left the locker room when called for the second round. Eventually it was Nova’s turn. He got up and walked out into the stadium.

“Round Two, everyone!” the announcer. “So far competitor Nova has proven to be quite the sharp shot. But can he repeat his success when dealing with moving targets? Just like before he needs to strike the three targets three times, with his score being determined by the successfulness of his shots. Can he net another perfect score like last round? Let’s find out!”

The man presented Nova with the arrows he would be using. Nova took one, looked at the moving targets for a moment, and then took aim at them. He fired his first shot which struck the center of one of the targets, much to the joy of the spectators. He continued to fire shot after shot, striking the center of each target, splitting the previous arrows with his follow-up arrows. In the stands Dominic was both wide eyed in shock and fuming, seeing his plan not working as Nova continued to succeed in the tournament. Finally Nova’s next score was posted.

“Wow! Another perfect score. This Nova, who has come out of nowhere, is smoking his competition like it’s no one’s business! He could potentially get a perfect total score, which has only been achieved by Aerrow Sparrow, the Legendary Archer himself. This young man could pull it off as well. Now, it is time to prepare for the next round. Archers report to the locker room until you are called. Good luck!”

The archers returned to the locker room. Nova was swarmed by his party, all expressing confidence and joy at his success so far. Soon the next round was upon them, this time the archers had to shoot their targets while blindfolded. For this round a special shield was erected to protect the spectators from stray shots. The various archers made their shots, some of which missed entirely, before getting their scores. It was then Nova’s turn. He took a calming breath before the blindfold was put on him. He readied his arrows and fired his shots. To everyone’s surprise he was still able to nail the center of each target, once again splitting the previous arrows with the follow-up arrows. Soon his score was shown.

“I don’t believe it, folks!” the announcer said. “Challenger Nova has succeeded in sniping the dead center of each target again! Where did this kid come from? We haven’t seen such a skilled archer since Aerrow Sparrow last competed in this tournament. He could be championship material, folks. Now we move onto the final round. Archers report to the locker room until you are called. Good luck!”

The various archers made their way back to the locker rooms, awaiting their final turns in the final round. Nova’s party expressed joy at how well he was doing, with Nina giving him a big kiss. Soon the final round was ready. One by one the various archers left the locker room to compete in this final round. After a bit it was Nova’s turn. He entered the arena, ready for his final challenge.

“This is it, folks. Challenger Nova has aced each round. But can he do the same in this round, being both blindfolded and trying to hit moving targets? Let’s find out!”

Nova took a moment to observe the moving targets before putting the blindfold on with his good hand. He took a calming breath before loading up an arrow and pointing it at the targets. To everyone’s surprise he was able to successfully strike the center of each target, splitting each previous arrow as the follow-up arrow was fired. Finally, he had shot his last arrow, allowing the judges to calculate his score. He removed the blindfold to see what his score would be. When the score was calculated the crowd erupted into cheers.

“I don’t believe it, folks! Challenger Nova managed to get a perfect score! He completely aced the tournament! We haven’t see such talent with a bow since Aerrow Sparrow last competed here. Nova has won the tournament hands-down! We have this year’s champion, folks! And it’s Challenger Nova Blitz! Congratulations!”

The party cheered happily as the results came in. Soon it was time for the award ceremony. Nova was standing on a podium, feeling both proud and a bit sheepish. His party was nearby, clearly elated at his success. A judge carrying a bag of gold and a very impressive bow walked up to the young man.

“Challenger Nova, it is my pleasure to give you the prize of 5,000 gold and a rare Starfire Bow,” he said. “Congratulations on a victory well earned.”

Just then a voice said, “Hold it!”

Everyone turned to see a Phoenix Clan male with flaming red hair, blue eyes, and a sturdy frame walk out into the stadium. Everyone went silent in shock.

“It’s Aerrow Sparrow!” the announcer said. “The Legendary Archer himself! He hasn’t show up here in years!”

Aerrow approached Nova, his eyes showing warmth, “Nova Blitz. I heard from a special comrade of yours about what had happened. Someone deliberately tried to sabotage you by cutting off your left hand. You’ve been competing with a disabled hand yet you somehow managed to not only compete effectively but win the tournament. This victory is even bigger because you proved to be an archer of the highest caliber by competing with a disabled hand. Congratulations.”

The announcer said, “Did you hear that, folks!? Challenger Nova was competing with a disabled hand! He was able to snipe those impressive shots while being at a disadvantage due to being handicapped! Unbelievable! Challenger Nova’s victory today is even more sweet because of such a feat! He truly earned his victory today!”

The crowd erupted into cheers upon hearing this information, chanting Nova’s name proudly, making the pink-haired man blush.

Aerrow said, “You should be proud of yourself, Nova Blitz. You did something that I was not able to do. I, too, once had my left hand disabled before this tournament years ago. I was forced to drop out. But from what your girlfriend told me you didn’t even consider that as an option. You were willing to compete at a disadvantage and still managed to pull off an impressive victory. You have the true spirit of an archer, Nova. I would like to offer you apprenticeship with me, as your incredible raw talent is impressive, but I can help refine it into a more elegant and formidable form. Will you accept?”

Nova nodded, “Yes, I accept, sir. I need all the help I can get if I’m to improve my archery and not become dead weight to my party. So I accept your offer.”

The announcer said, “Did you hear that, folks!? Aerrow Sparrow has chosen Challenger Nova to become his apprentice! This is a grand day for our young challenger! To be offered an apprenticeship with Aerrow Sparrow is every archer’s dream come true! This is a banner day for our humble archery tournament! Let’s all give Challenger Nova a big round of applause for his impressive victory today!”

The crowd started to cheer and clap, clearly elated at the news, making Nova blush brighter. The judge then gave Nova the new Starfire Bow and the bag of gold. Aerrow then guided Nova and his party out of the stadium in order to talk to them.

“I never knew that the Legendary Archer was a Phoenix Clan member,” Nina said. “Where have you been all this time?”

Aerrow replied, “I’ve been living in Emerald Coast Kingdom. I’m like you, Miss Nina: a renegade from our clan. I left our people after becoming disgusted by our self-destructive tendencies. I left the same year you were born. I had lost all hope in our clan becoming something better. However, I recently heard about a group of warriors who liberated Phoenixwing Kingdom’s capital from Muu’s forces. I realized that was you lot. And I heard that the clan is changing for the better, all because of you saving them and smacking some sense in them. I never thought that was possible given how bullheaded our kind are. But meeting you has given me hope for our clan, Miss Nina. And I very much approve of your choice in a boyfriend. You picked a fine man. I, too, fell in love and eventually married a human, having two teenage daughters with her, showing that our kind shouldn’t restrict ourselves to just our own kin. Seeing you with Nova makes me feel that, for the first time, there is hope for our people.”

Sir Reginald asked, “So, you live in Emerald Coast Kingdom? We happen to be heading in that direction. Where are you located so Nova can begin his apprenticeship with you?”

“I live in the next major city just beyond the checkpoint. You can ask around there and anyone will point you in the right direction. Naturally, I want Nova’s hand to recover first before I take him under my wing, so to speak, that way he can be in full fighting form when I train him. I know you’re dealing with Muu’s forces so I can’t devote as much time as I would like to training him. But I always find a way to work with what I’ve got. Nova…” he turned to Nova, “You have the true spirit of an archer. I haven’t seen such raw talent in years. I will admit I’m going to put you through the wringer but I have faith you can succeed in my training course.”

Just then a voice roared, “NOVA!!!”

Everyone turned to see Dominic charge at them, his sword raised over his head. However, before anyone could react Aerrow loaded up an arrow on his bow and took aim.

“Petrify Shot!” he stated.

He fired the arrow, striking Dominic in the crotch, making him scream in pain. His entire lower body became stone, keeping him from moving. The Phoenix Clan archer looked at Dominic with contempt.

“You vile scumbag. You dare try to sabotage a competitor in this noble tournament. Then you have the gall to try to attack him in broad daylight? You are truly the lowliest creature of them all. And as it so happens there’s a warrant for your arrest here in Gloria Kingdom. I’ve already alerted some knights nearby about you. I’ll make sure that you pay for what you did.”

Just then two knights ran up to the party. The quickly disarmed Dominic, shackled his arms, and turned to Aerrow.

“Thank you for informing us about Dominic, Mr. Sparrow,” one knight said. “We’ll take it from here.”

The two carted Dominic off, who was screaming and shouting profanity as he was dragged away.

Aerrow turned to the party, “I’ll be seeing you all very soon. Please make sure Nova recovers before you seek me out, as I want him to be in top form when I train him. Congratulations and good luck. And Miss Nina… thank you for giving me hope that our people can change for the better. It’s nice to know that a Phoenix Clan member like yourself exists; I thought I was the only one. I’m glad you helped change our people for the better by rebelling against the status quo and became a renegade. And hopefully you and Nova will have many happy years together. Farewell for now. Teleport.”

He then vanished in a flash of light, leaving the party alone.

“Come on, team, let’s go celebrate Nova’s major victory,” Sir Reginald said.

“Here, here!” Zeeker cheered.

The party nodded and went to the local restaurant to celebrate. Nova was mildly annoyed that he still couldn’t cut his food, much to Nina’s amusement, but she graciously cut it for him. They were all looking forward to Nova’s training, knowing he couldn’t be in better hands to improve his archery skills to new heights.

Next Chapter: On the Straight and Arrow

That's all for today. Nova's sure come a long way. Tune in next time to see his training with the Legendary Archer in action.
 

CynthiaLover

Geek of the Games
Joined
Dec 23, 2009
Messages
4,355
Reaction score
3,838
Pronouns
He/Him
Time for the next chapter of Dawn of Courage. (Warning: contains mild language)

On the Straight and Arrow


It had been a few days since the archery tournament. The party was back on the road, heading to the checkpoint that separated Gloria Kingdom from Emerald Coast Kingdom. Sir Reginald was in the lead, as usual, guiding the party to the checkpoint.

“Okay, we’re about an hour away from the checkpoint,” he said. “We cannot forget to get the information that Queen Maria gathered for us when we get there. By the way, Nova, how’s your hand doing? I know the nurse said you can use it now but how does it feel? Does it tingle anymore? Do you have full motion and gripping power with it?”

Nova nodded, flexing his left hand, “Yes, it’s fine now. I’ve regained full feeling and use of it. Plus it finally stopped tingling when the nerves were starting to reconnect. I can grab things with ease now and my grip is fine. Although I now have a new scar where Dominic cut my hand off. As if I didn’t need anymore scars. Either I’m just that poor of a healer or I just scar easily. Either way I didn’t need another memento of my hardships. But there isn’t much that can be done about it so I’m stuck with it.”

Nina gave a sad smile, “I wish there was some way to rid you of all your scars, both physically and emotionally, beloved. I’m just impressed that you not only figured out how to use your hand despite it being disabled during that tournament but you took what Dominic did surprisingly well. I know you’re mad at him, and who can blame you, but to handle that whole situation as calmly as you did. You’ve really grown since we first met, Nova. Makes me proud to be your woman.”

Nova blushed at Nina’s words, making the rest of the party chuckle.

“She is right, Nova, as you did handle that situation like a real trooper,” Zeeker said. “Hopefully we’ve seen the last of Dominic for a bit, as I know we can’t get rid of him that easily. But yeah, despite being furious you were still remarkably calm and focused, which not only earned you the admiration of the people at the tournament, but netted you an apprenticeship with Aerrow Sparrow, the Legendary Archer himself. That’s every archer’s dream: to have the Legendary Archer tutor them. While I haven’t heard much about his training regimen I do know he’s rather strict. You’ve probably got your work cut out for you, Nova. But you’ve managed to weather everything thrown at you here, for better or for worse, so we think you’ll do just fine.”

“Let’s hope so,” Nova said. “But I know I need to do this, as I need the training to become stronger. Whether I gain the ability to use Shaman magic or not I don’t know but I do know that I need to take any opportunity I can find to get stronger. I have to do everything the hard way if I’m to become less of a weak link and a more useful member of the team. That way I won’t slow everyone down and throw my weight around effectively.”

Nina gained another sad smile, “Nova, you’re not the weakest link. And you’re more valuable to us than you realize. You’re the glue holding us together, as we’re quite the mishmash of characters. And we’d starve without your help. Try to see yourself in a positive light for once. I know you’ll be the one who will end this nightmare with Muu, saving our world from his evil. I just wish you could finally catch a break and not have to do everything the hard way. But we have faith in you, so try to see it yourself. Okay, beloved?”

“I’ll try, Nina, but don’t expect any miracles. I may have come a long way since the early days, but I haven’t quite reached the level where I can hold my head up high just yet. That’ll take time, especially after all the abuse I’ve been through. And I know that all these fights with Undead is going to mentally scar me for life and make my plasmophobia worse. Halloween will never be the same for me, which is a shame as I love that holiday because of the creativity it breeds. But like the Blitz family says, ‘Progress is progress, no matter how small’, so I’ll take what I can get.”

“We’ll just have to accept that,” Kettu said with a weak smile. “But Nina does bring up many valid points. And you’ve done a lot for our world. Edyn will definitely honor you for all you’ve done once Muu is vanquished. But, for now, let’s keep going, as we should be nearing the checkpoint soon.”

The party continued onward until they reached the checkpoint. There were two knights standing at the gate that led to Emerald Coast Kingdom. Sir Reginald walked up to them.

“Halt!” one knight said. “State your business.”

“We’re the Demon King’s champion party,” Sir Reginald explained. “We were informed you would be holding information for us from Queen Maria regarding Muu’s forces. We would also like to cross. Here’s my special passport.”

The knight said, “We’ve been waiting for you. What took you so long? You, lad, go fetch the information that Her Majesty gathered.”

The other knight, who was younger, nodded, “Yessir.”

He ran into the nearby building. A few minutes later he returned with various notes and handed them over to Sir Reginald.

“Here you go, Sir Reginald, sir,” he said. “These are all the information on the Undead Bases that our intelligence network gathered for you.”

Sir Reginald took the various notes, saying, “Thank you. Now, may we cross into Emerald Coast Kingdom?”

The first knight looked at the passport before saying, “Everything looks to be in order. You may proceed.”

He pulled a lever which caused the gates to open, allowing the party access to the next kingdom. The party thanked the knights before crossing through the gateway into Emerald Coast Kingdom. The area was already different, consisting of what looked like tropical palm trees and more sandy earth scattered about. There were also some new monsters roaming around, some of which immediately attacked the party, though they were able to handle them with ease. After a while they came to a magical campsite.

“We’ll have to pitch camp here, as we still have bit of a hike before we reach the city that Aerrow lives in,” Sir Reginald said. “Plus the monsters get more aggressive at night. So let’s take a load off and start setting up our camp.”

The party nodded and began setting up camp. Soon the tent was raised and Nova was cooking dinner, much to his party’s eagerness. After a bit he tasted the food and gave a nod.

“Yeah, we’re good,” he said. “One ginger pork stir-fry with mixed vegetables, ready to eat. Gather up.”

“No need to tell us twice!” Zeeker smiled.

The party gathered around as Nova served them generous helpings of food. They all sat down and ate their meal, clearly happy at the quality. Before long all the food was gone, allowing Nova and Nina to wash the dishes. They then piled into the tent for the night and quickly fell asleep.

The next day they were back on the road.

Nina’s eyes narrowed, “Hey, gang, I see the next city just up ahead. It must be Aerrow’s hometown, as he said it was the first major city past the checkpoint. Hopefully he’s home.”

“He should be, considering he knows Nova is coming,” Van pointed out. “He wouldn’t leave his new apprentice high and dry, especially since it’s clear he’s taken a shine to Nova. So let’s get into town and see if we can find his home.”

The party nodded and made their way to the city. It was a large city, full of people. Various vendors and shops were offering deals, children ran and played, and adults chatted and gossiped.

Sir Reginald walked up to a merchant, “Excuse me, sir. You wouldn’t happen to know where Mr. Aerrow Sparrow’s house is?”

The merchant nodded, “Indeed I do. His home is the largest mansion near the eastern part of the city. You can’t miss it as it’s decorated with archery-themed statues and such. No surprise, given he’s the Legendary Archer.”

“Thank you.”

The party made their way to the eastern part of the city. They soon found their destination. A large mansion decorated with several archery-themed statues and other such items. In front of the mansion was a guard.

“Halt!” he stated. “State your business.”

Sir Reginald said, “We’re the Demon King’s champion party. Mr. Sparrow wanted to train Nova in the art of archery.”

The guard nodded, “Yes, Mr. Sparrow informed me about your coming.” He unlocked the gates, “Please, proceed.”

The party entered the mansion’s grounds before making their way to the front door. They pushed it open, revealing a luxurious interior. A butler was standing in the middle of the foyer.

“I take it you’re Mr. Nova Blitz and company,” he said. “I am Jeffery, head butler of this home. I was informed from Mr. Sparrow about your coming. He’s been eager to train you, as he says you’ve got the most raw talent he’s ever seen. He hasn’t stopped talking about you, Mr. Blitz.”

Nova blushed, “I’m quite flattered he says that. Is he home?”

“No, but he will be soon, as he’s just picking up his order from the local weapon shop. Please remain here until he returns.”

A woman then walked out from another room. She was quite beautiful, with long red hair, grey eyes, fair skin, and a well-cut figure. She noticed the party and walked up to them.

“Oh, you must be Nova and company,” she said. “Welcome. I am Jessica Sparrow. My husband has been talking a lot about you. So good of you to finally arrive. I hope your hand has recovered since then, as my husband told me it was temporarily disabled due to some goon named Dominic cutting it off in an attempt to sabotage you.”

Nova gave a polite bow, “Yes, I’m Nova Blitz. Yes, my hand has since recovered from that incident, although I now bear a scar from where it was cut, much to my annoyance. I’m very flattered your husband has been speaking so highly of me, ma’am. Makes me feel a bit nervous about living up to his expectations.”

Jessica gave a crooked smile, “Knowing my husband, he’s got some high expectations for someone like you. He’s going to put you through the wringer, that’s for sure, so you’d best be prepared for it. But he wouldn’t be doing this if he didn’t have faith in your potential, so it’s something of a give-and-take. Please wait until he arrives from picking up his order; he should be home soon.”

Just then two teenage girls appeared, they looked very similar to their mother except they each had a pair of reddish orange feathered wings with matching plumes, although they were smaller than Nina’s wings.

“Oh!” one said. “I take it you’re the one daddy has been talking about. He mentioned that his new apprentice would be easily recognizable with his pink hair.”

“So I take it you’re Aerrow’s daughters,” Angelo said.

Jessica nodded, “Yes, these are our daughters: Jade and Amber. Jade is the eldest at age 16 while Amber is 14. Jade is the one with green eyes, hence her name, while Amber has my grey eyes, so it’ll be easier to tell them apart, as they both look a lot like me.”

Jade got close to Nova, saying, “You’re the one daddy mentioned competed in the archery tournament with a disabled hand, right? That’s something even he hasn’t done. You’re quite bold to do something like that. And quite cute. However, I know you’re dating Nina, the former princess of the Phoenix Clan, so I won’t get in the way. Especially since daddy wouldn’t appreciate me trying to get in between you two.”

Nina gave a relieved sigh, “Thank you, as enough women have tried to win Nova away from me. Some using rather drastic measures. Although there have also been plenty of men doing the same so there’s that. But nothing will get in between Nova and me.”

Just then they heard a tapping at one of the windows. They all turned to see what looked like a hawk-sized phoenix pecking at the window.

“Oh!” Jessica said. “That’s Inferno!”

She ran over to the window and opened it, allowing the smaller-than-normal phoenix to enter the building. It was carrying a note. Jessica took the note and read it.

“I see. Jeffery, please have some of the staff go help Aerrow, as apparently he’s having trouble carrying the whole order.”

Jeffery nodded, “At once, Lady Jessica.”

He then left to inform the staff about the request. Moments later some guards appeared and walked out the door.

Jessica turned to the smaller phoenix, “Thank you, Inferno, for delivering this message to me. Please return to your master.”

The phoenix gave a screech, followed by a nod, then took off after the guards.

“I take it that’s a familiar?” Nova asked.

Van nodded, “Yes. That’s a Demi Phoenix familiar. I take it that’s Aerrow’s familiar, correct?”

Jeffery nodded, “That is correct. Inferno is Mr. Sparrow’s familiar. He’s had him for years and has proven to be very reliable.”

Amber sighed, “Yeah, but I wish we could see more familiars instead of just Inferno. We missed a chance to get our own familiars when a traveling familiar summoning service was here a few years ago. Be nice to see something a bit different for a change.”

Sir Reginald said, “We’ve got familiars.”

The two teenage daughters’ eyes lit up, saying in unison, “You do? Please show us!”

Jessica chuckled, “Now, now, you two. We need to make sure it’s okay with them to show us their familiars.” She turned to Sir Reginald, “Would it be okay if my daughters saw your familiars? It’d really make their day.”

Sir Reginald nodded, “Certainly, ma’am. But not in here, as some of our familiars are quite large. Do you have any space in the backyard or somewhere?”

“Yes, we do. Please follow me.”

Jessica and her two daughters led the party through part of the mansion and out into the large backyard. It was full of more archery-themed decorations, but also had some phoenix ones, too, along with plenty of flowers.

“Please, let us see your familiars!” Jade said eagerly.

Sir Reginald nodded, “Certainly. I’ll go first.” He bit his thumb, causing it to bleed, before saying, “Thundervolt, come forth!”

A summoning circle appeared, followed by a flash of lightning and soon Thundervolt was standing next to Sir Reginald.

“Wow!” Amber said in awe. “A Thunderclap Stallion! Totally cool!”

Nina smiled, “Isn’t he? Now it’s my turn.” She bit her thumb, making it bleed, before saying, “Phantom, come forth!”

Another summoning circle appeared, followed by a gust of wind, and soon Phantom appeared, perching on Nina’s arm.

“Awesome!” Jade said. “A Stealth Falcon! It looks so noble.”

Kettu chuckled, “Now it’s my time to shine.” He bit his thumb, causing blood to flow, before saying, “Snowstalker, come forth!”

Another summoning circle appeared, followed by a burst of snowy air, and soon Snowstalker was standing next to Kettu.

“Totally cool!” Amber said. “A Frostbite Fox! It’s fur looks so soft.”

Nova gave a light chuckle, “I guess it’s my turn now.” He took out a Summoning Sticker, placed it on the back of his right hand, and said, “Elora, come forth!”

The Summoning Sticker glowed, followed by a burst of smoke and fire, and before long Elora was standing next to Nova.

“A Gorgon Viper?!” Jessica sputtered. “You’ve got one of the most powerful and dangerous familiars of all!? You’re a brave man to own such a formidable familiar.”

Nova gently stroked Elora under the chin, “Actually, Elora isn’t like other Gorgon Vipers. She’s actually very friendly, calm, obedient, and unquestionably loyal, which regular Gorgon Vipers aren’t. She’s something of an exception, though I’m not complaining in the slightest. She’s been my ace-in-the-hole because she’s an Undead hunter, which, considering my line of work, is an invaluable asset to have. She’s only fierce and aggressive in battle or if I’m being threatened, otherwise she’s a total sweetheart.”

Jade looked surprised, “She’s actually that friendly? I didn’t know that Gorgon Vipers could be friendly. You really lucked out there, as from what we’ve heard Gorgon Vipers can be quite aggressive even to their masters. But wow, such cool familiars. Finally we get to see something outside of Inferno. Nothing against him, mind, but Amber and I have been dying to witness even just one different type of familiar for years now. Thank you for allowing us to see your familiars. They’re all so cool.”

Sir Reginald nodded, “We’re glad you like them.”

He, Nova, Nina, and Kettu all said in unison, “To the Spirit Plane.”

The four familiars nodded before vanishing in a flurry of sparkles. They returned to the mansion and waited for Aerrow and his guards to return. Moments later Aerrow appeared carrying a couple of quivers of arrows, followed by his guards carrying the others.

“Ah!” he said. “You made it. Good, very good. We will begin your crash course training tomorrow morning after breakfast, Nova. I’ve decided we will use my second and more challenging training grounds for your training. I know you may not have a lot of time so I’ve set aside a week at the most for your training, though if you finish early that’s fine, too. Also, if Muu’s army makes a move you will be exempt from training that day. We will be using these quivers of custom-made arrows for your training. I made sure to get a lot so we’ll have plenty to last the week if need be. Jeffery, please escort these fine people to their guest rooms. We have set aside some guest rooms for you: no need to stay in the inn. We will call you when dinner is ready. In the meantime, please, enjoy your stay.”

Jeffery turned to the party, “Please follow me to your assigned guest rooms. You will each get one room. Now, follow me.”

The party followed Jeffery to where their guest rooms were. One-by-one they entered their assigned rooms and took the time to relax for a bit. Soon dinner was ready, ad they joined the Sparrow family in the dining room. After a filling dinner they retired for the night.

The following morning there was a knock at Nova’s door, startling him awake.

“Yes, hold on,” he said groggily.

He walked over and opened the door, revealing a maid.

She bowed, “Good morning, Mr. Nova. Breakfast will be ready soon. Mr. Sparrow requests you join him in the dining hall ASAP as he wants to discuss your training regime.”

Nova nodded, “Yes, I’ll be there. Just give me a minute or two to wake up and get my stuff.”

The maid nodded and moved on to get the rest of the party up. Nova gathered up his stuff, gave a yawn, gently slapped his cheeks to get himself focused, and made his way to the dining room. There Aerrow and his family were already seated at the table.

“Ah, Nova, good to see you awake,” Aerrow said. “Now, I need to discuss some things with you. I’ll be taking you to one of my two special training grounds in order to help you hone your skills as an archer. Only you will be allowed to come with me. I don’t want any distractions or outside help from your allies. The rest of your party will remain here.”

“I see,” Nova said.

Nina, who had just walked in, looked worried, “So none of us can come with Nova?”

Aerrow nodded, “Sadly, yes, Miss Nina. I don’t want any distractions or anyone offering outside help. I’ll protect him if need be but I won’t permit someone else to come with us. The training will end when the clock chimes 3 PM or when your quiver of special arrows runs out, whichever happens first. I hope you’re ready for this.”

Nova gave a heavy sigh, “I’m probably not but I don’t have a choice. If I want to get stronger and become a better archer I need to take any training I can get. So whether I’m ready or not I have to do this.”

“Good, I’m glad to hear that. Now, please sit and enjoy your breakfast. Then we will get going.”

The party nodded and sat down. After eating a hearty breakfast Aerrow and Nova started to head for the front door. Aerrow gave Nova a special quiver of arrows, and he swapped out his usual one for the new one.

Nina walked up to him and kissed him, saying, “Please stay safe, Nova. Make sure you come back to me alive and in one piece.”

Nova nodded, “I will. Just hold tight until then, Nina.”

Aerrow smiled, “Seeing you two together makes me very happy. But we must get going. Nova, are you ready?”

“I guess, Master Aerrow.”

“Then it’s time to go. Teleport!”

Both he and Nova vanished in a burst of light, leaving Nina alone and worried.

“Please, Nova, stay safe,” she said gently. “And come back to me alive.”

Moments later Nova and Aerrow appeared in another location. It looked like a large island in the middle of the ocean, as Nova could smell the salty air.

“So this is our training grounds?” he asked.

“Yes. And I see one of our targets now.”

Nova turned and went slack jawed. A giant green Gummi monster was making its way toward them.

“What the hell is that?!” he sputtered.

“A Titan Gummi,” Aerrow said. “This is the Island of Giant Monsters. This will be our training ground. Are you ready, my apprentice?”

Nova gave a resigned sigh, “I guess. As I always say: here goes something…”

Next Chapter: Aiming for the Top

That's all for today. Nova's got his work cut out for him. Tune in next time to see how he fares at his training.
 

CynthiaLover

Geek of the Games
Joined
Dec 23, 2009
Messages
4,355
Reaction score
3,838
Pronouns
He/Him
Time for the next chapter of Dawn of Courage. (Warning: contains mild language)

Aiming for the Top


It was close to 3 PM. Nina was waiting by the door of Aerrow’s mansion, her hands clasped together, a concerned look on her face. She knew it was nearly time for Aerrow and Nova to return from training but she couldn’t help but worry.

“I hope Nova’s okay…” she said silently. “I know he needs this training, as he’s worried about becoming dead weight to us. But I cannot help but worry on where Aerrow has taken him. He said he’s taking him to his most advanced and formidable training grounds, which could be several different locations. I just hope he doesn’t push Nova too hard.”

Suddenly, she heard the front door click, alerting her to it. The door opened and Aerrow and Nova appeared. Nova looked exhausted while Aerrow looked pleased.

“Nova!” Nina cried.

She tackled him in a hug, nearly knocking him over in his fatigued state. He could only gently return the hug as he was clearly completely wiped out.

Aerrow smiled, “Well, Miss Nina, I hope you weren’t waiting here the whole day. You can rest assured that Nova is fine. Tired but fine. I take it there have been no other issues like Muu making a move or something?”

She replied, “No, everything’s been quiet on that front. But where did you go? Nova looks like he’s half dead.”

“I feel half dead…” Nova replied weakly. “Master Aerrow is certainly putting me through the wringer, just like he said he would.”

Aerrow nodded, “True. But that’s because I have faith in your abilities. And to be perfectly honest you’ve already succeeded at certain tasks faster than past apprentices of mine, and it’s only been one day. That’s why I’m working you so hard, as I know you can do it. Especially since your natural, raw talent with a bow is giving you the edge you need. But, in any case, good work for a first day. You deserve a rest. We’ll pick things up again tomorrow morning after breakfast.”

Nina turned to him, “Can you at least tell me where you two are training?”

“Unfortunately I cannot. Not because I feel the area is my personal training grounds but because I don’t want to risk you or anyone else in the party trying to follow us. And Nova can’t reveal it either. He can when the training is complete but until then he is forbidden to tell you where we’re doing his training. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go take a shower and freshen up. I suggest you do the same, Nova, as you worked hard today.”

Aerrow walked away, heading to his personal bathroom to wash up. He passed the rest of the party as he did, alerting them to Nova’s return. They quickly raced over to find an exhausted Nova being gently guided by Nina.

“You’ve returned, Nova!” Angelo said.

“How’d it go, Nova?” Zeeker asked.

“Okay… I guess…” the pink-haired man sighed.

Kettu quirked an eyebrow, “You guess? How so?”

“I suppose it was a success… I’m just completely wiped out… and tomorrow will be more of the same… Not sure if I’m looking forward to that or not…”

“Where are you training?” Sir Reginald asked.

“Can’t say. Master Aerrow won’t let me, at least not until my training is complete.”

Van scratched his chin, “So Aerrow won’t allow you to reveal your training grounds? Why is that?”

Nina replied, “He doesn’t want us following them to the location in order to interfere with Nova’s training. Which only makes me more worried about Nova. I know Aerrow will protect him but it doesn’t stop me from being concerned about what could possibly happen. But we have no choice but to accept it until the training is complete.”

Sir Reginald nodded, “I see. I can see his reasoning for it, as we would probably try to interfere if we felt Nova was potentially getting into deep danger by himself. And since Nova himself wants to become stronger in order to avoid becoming, as he put it, ‘dead weight’ to us, we just have to grin and bear it. I do wonder what type of training regime it is, though? Are you at least allowed to tell us that?”

Nova replied wearily, “Yes, that I can talk about. Mostly monster hunting, but these monsters are not your run-of-the-mill Gummies or Harpies. While I cannot say what the monsters we’re fighting are, I will say that they’re definitely ones that require a great deal of skill to take out, especially since I’m using limited ammo and can’t use magic. I can use skills like Fire Shot or Dragon Strike, since they’re important to the training, but I can’t use regular magic like Thunder or Fireball. So I basically have to learn to take out these strong enemies with a single hit, be it with a skill or just hitting the right spot, since my day’s training ends when either the clock strikes three or I run out of special arrows, whichever happens first.”

Kettu scratched his chin, “Hmm… these monsters sound like really tough contenders, especially if you have to learn how to take them out with a single strike as part of the training. I know you tend to conserve your arrows as much as possible and will get as many arrows as you can carry when given the chance, so the fact you are forced to work with a limited supply is clearly also part of the training. Boy, when Aerrow said he was going to put you through the wringer he wasn’t kidding.”

Nina nodded, “True, but he also said that Nova has already achieved things in a much shorter time frame than many of his past apprentices. That means Nova’s raw skill with a bow is high enough that he can at least keep up with Aerrow’s harsh training until it’s refined to a satisfactory point to both of them.”

Angelo smiled, “That’s a good sign. And the fact that Nova is clearly willing to go through with it despite how tough it is does show that he’s determined to do whatever he has to in order to achieve his goals at becoming stronger.”

Nova nodded wearily, “Yes, exactly, Angelo. I always seem to have to do things the hard way but I know that I need this training if I’m to not slow the party down and remain a threat to my enemies. It drains me to the point of exhaustion but I know I have to do it if I’m to become strong enough to stand on my own. After all, ‘no pain, no gain’, and ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’. Although I do admit I like the refined version of that last one that I learned from a favorite game of mine better. In that case it said, ‘something ventured, something gained’, which I feel applies to me more accurately.”

Van chuckled, “You always have the most unique sayings that you picked up from Earth. And yet they work well.”

“Yeah. In any case, I’d better wash up, as I’ve worked up quite the sweat during that intense training session. If you’ll excuse me.”

Having recovered enough strength Nova left the party and headed to one of the guest bathrooms to shower.

Nina gave a heavy sigh, “I really wish I could at least see what Aerrow is putting Nova through. While I know he’s right about me wanting to interfere with the training if I were to even just learn where this training ground is, I can’t help but worry. It’s a lover’s job to worry about their partner when they’re involved in possibly dangerous affairs. At the same time, however, I really respect Aerrow, as he and I are very much alike, sharing several traits that I never thought was possible. After years of dealing with my greedy, sexist clan I never thought I’d actually meet another Phoenix Clan member who felt the same way I did about our own kind. And he even married a human, like what I intend to do with Nova when the time comes. I never thought another Phoenix Clan member like that even existed. I may not like what he’s putting Nova through but I know it’s for the best. Especially if it’ll help our cause in fighting Muu.”

The party nodded in agreement. After he had finished showering Nova rejoined his party and they joined the Sparrow family for dinner. After a filling meal Nova quickly crashed into his bed and fell asleep near instantly, clearly exhausted. Tomorrow was another day.

Dawn broke the following morning. Nova slowly stirred from his slumber. He was clearly not looking forward to another day of training but he knew he had to do it.

“Another day, another trip to that freaky island…” he said wearily. “Why does such an island exist? Sounds like something out of an RPG like Breath of Fire 2 or whatnot. And for that matter why don’t the giant flying monsters like the Chlorine King Flies or Gold Hawks simply leave the island? Is the island that rich in food? Or is there another reason why they stick around on it? Makes no sense to me. I guess I can’t complain, as I’d rather such monsters don’t make their way to the mainland, especially since they’re very tough. Well, enough griping, time to get up and get to work.”

As he slowly got out of bed a knock was heard at his door. He walked over to it and opened it, revealing a maid.

“Pardon me, but Mr. Sparrow is waiting for you in the dining hall,” she said.

“I’ll be there in a minute. Just let me come to my senses first, as I only just woke up, and I’m not a morning person.”

The maid bowed and walked away. Nova got himself together, gathered up his stuff, and made his way to the dining hall where the rest of the Sparrow family was waiting.

“I hope you’re rested up, my apprentice,” Aerrow said. “Today’s another day for training. Today we’ll be doing something slightly different. We’ll still be training at the same training grounds but we’ll be performing different exercises this time. Considering how well you’ve done in just one day I have confidence that you’ll excel in these next lessons.”

Nova gave a weak smile, “Great.”

The rest of the party showed up shortly afterward, taking their seats and awaiting breakfast. Soon the food was placed in front of them and they began eating. Nina was clearly worried about Nova, as she was eating rather slowly, something that didn’t go unnoticed by the party. By the time the plates were clear it was time to get going. Nova and Aerrow made their way to the front door. Aerrow picked up one of the quivers with the special arrows and gave it to Nova, who attached it to his Digi-Pack.

Nina walked up to him, saying, “Please, Nova, be careful. I don’t know what you’re facing out there but please come back alive and in one piece. I can’t lose you now.”

Nova gave her a weak smile, “I’ll be back, Nina. Hold down the fort while I’m gone. Hopefully this won’t be as rough as yesterday, since I sorta know what to expect now. I’ll be seeing you later, Nina.”

Nina gave Nova a kiss, making Aerrow smile.

“The two of you together are quite a beautiful sight,” he said warmly. “Reminds me of when Jess and I were dating, although you two are younger than we were when we first became an item. Young love is such a beautiful thing. It makes me quite happy to see another Phoenix Clan member like you, Miss Nina. Now, enough of this. Time to get going. Are you ready, apprentice?”

Nova replied weakly, “Whether I am or not I know I have to go. Let’s get going before my dread gets any worse.”

Aerrow chuckled before saying, “Then let’s go. Teleport.”

Both he and Nova vanished, leaving Nina alone. The Phoenix Clan woman placed her hands near her heart, clearly worried about her lover.

Jessica walked up to her, “I know how you feel, Miss Nina. Every time Aerrow goes off to his training grounds I cannot help but worry. He’s a very special part of my life now and if he were to face an untimely death I’d be devastated. But you have to have faith in him. I know he’ll look after Nova, as he wouldn’t be doing this if he didn’t have faith in that young man’s abilities. My husband is very picky about who he takes under his wing, so to speak, as his training is rough. Pretty much no one has ever seen his training through because of how difficult it is, causing them to quit. However, it appears that Nova may be the first apprentice that might actually succeed in completing my husband’s tough training regime. He clearly doesn’t like it but from what I’ve seen and from what Aerrow has told me he’s pretty determined to see this through to the end. It’s one reason why Aerrow expresses such faith in that young archer. He sees him as a fledgling archer with a lot of raw talent and potential. Try to have some faith, Miss Nina, as I know my husband won’t let Nova die.”

“I know…” Nina sighed. “But that doesn’t stop me from worrying about him. Nova is the most important person in my life. He gave me pretty much everything I ever wanted, needed, and more. If I were to lose him I don’t think I could continue on. I just hope wherever Aerrow has taken him for this training it won’t be anyplace extremely dangerous like, say, around Muu’s territory. I guess all I can do is wait.”

Nova and Aerrow reappeared on the Island of Giant Monsters. Nova gave a resigned sigh as he saw the area.

“So, what’s today’s training regime, Master Aerrow?” he asked, clearly dreading what was in store for him.

Aerrow replied, “You’ve excelled in all of my past training courses, and that was just the first day. Today we’ll be working on using your mind to see your target instead of your eyes. Archers need to rely on their eyesight the most of all warriors due to the nature of their weapons. But as I saw in the tournament you’re capable of sniping targets even when blindfolded. That means you have at least the basic idea of how to us your mind to see instead of your eyes. We’ll be honing that trait today so you can continue striking your targets even when your eyes are unusable.”

“Okay. So I guess it’s time to find a monster.”

Aerrow nodded, “Yes, let’s get going.” He then said silently, “This young man has the potential to achieve his goals. I know he’ll be the one to defeat Muu for good. Hopefully he can grant me my lifelong wish: to see that one special skill in action even just once. If he can pull it off I can die a happy man, and if he does it’ll serve him well in the upcoming battles. I know my training is rough but I also know he can complete it, as he’s got the spirit of an archer. Time to see if the fruits of our labor will pay off soon.”

Next Chapter: Remarkable Marksmanship

That's all for today. Nova's training is going well. Will he ace his final exam? Tune in next time to find out.
 

CynthiaLover

Geek of the Games
Joined
Dec 23, 2009
Messages
4,355
Reaction score
3,838
Pronouns
He/Him
Time for the next chapter of Dawn of Courage. (Warning: contains mild violence)

Remarkable Marksmanship


Two days had passed since Nova’s second day of archery training. He and Aerrow had been working hard to the point Nova would return to his mansion exhausted, much to Nina’s concern. But despite the harsh training Nova kept pushing forward, doing his best to complete the tasks laid out in front of him.

It was just after dinner on the fourth day of training. Nova was already out cold in bed, trying to recuperate his energy from the grueling training he was enduring. Aerrow was sitting with Jessica in one of the living rooms, talking to her.

“That Nova…” he said. “He’s a really rare find. Just like Miss Nina said, he’s a diamond in the rough. One that I’ve been polishing up to this point. He has succeeded in every task I have put him through. I’ve actually run out of training routines for him, as he’s managed to complete all of them. None of my past apprentices have ever made it this far, much less this quickly. He’s a natural with a bow, something that I haven’t seen since my own early archery days. He might end up being my successor at this rate. It makes me wonder if Nova could possibly grant my lifelong wish.”

Jessica smiled, “I’m glad to hear that, despite the harshness of your training, that young man has excelled. And I know what that wish is. I know you’ve spent many years just trying to find any scraps of information on that skill, much less anything regarding how to use it. Do you think Nova could pull it off?”

“I believe he can. He’s got the spirit of an archer. I know that he’ll be the one to finally use that special skill. If he can, I can die a happy man knowing that all the blood, sweat, and tears I shed trying to even come close to learning as much as I can about that skill will have paid off. Out of all my apprentices Nova is the only one to have gotten this far. Tomorrow will be final exam time to see if he’s able to put all that he learned from my teachings to use. And maybe, just maybe… he’ll grant my lifelong wish in the process. It's a long-shot, but that’s what archers specialize in.”

Jessica nodded, “Then let’s hope he’ll ace the final exam.”

The next morning had come. The party was seated at the main dining hall, eating their breakfast. After a few minutes Aerrow turned to Nova.

“Nova, my young apprentice, I have something to tell you,” he said.

Nova looked up, “What’s that, Master Aerrow?”

“Well, to be frank, you are the only apprentice I’ve trained that has gotten this far. In fact, you’ve completed all of my training courses. That means today is effectively final exam day. We will be returning to the same training grounds to put all that I have taught you to the test. The fact you’ve gotten this far, much further than any past apprentices, shows just how serious you are about wanting to become stronger. You have proven to be determined despite the harshness of my training. That makes me so proud. Like I said today will be your final exam. Pass it and that’ll end your training.”

Nina looked hopeful, “So Nova only needs to pass your final exam and the training will be complete? That’s wonderful.”

Aerrow smiled, “Indeed. Which means, if everything goes according to plan, we’ll be back sooner, allowing your party to finally move on and continue your mission. Nova… you have proven to be a very rare gem. I’ve had a good two dozen apprentices but none have ever graduated from my training. If you’re able to complete your final exam then you will be my first apprentice who has completed my training courses. So once you are finished with breakfast it is time to head back to our training grounds and proceed with your final exam.”

Nova nodded and resumed eating, knowing what he had to do. After breakfast was done and the plates cleared he and Aerrow made their way to the front hall. Aerrow gave Nova another quiver with special arrows, which he equipped to his Digi-Pack.

Nina approached Nova, “Be safe Nova. And good luck with your final exam. I know you can do it. It does amaze me how far you’ve come from the early days, beloved. And I feel honored that I was able to watch your growth from nearly start to finish. Knock ‘em dead, beloved.”

She kissed him on the cheek, making him smile.

Aerrow said, “It’s time, Nova. Let’s get going. Are you ready?”

Nova nodded, “Yes, I am. I’ve worked hard to reach this point and I intend to complete what I’ve started. I’m not the defeatist I once was. Let’s do this.”

“Music to my ears. Teleport.”

Both males vanished, leaving Nina behind. She took a deep breath and managed to crack a smile.

“Nova, you’ve grown so much,” she said. “Yet you’ve remained the same wonderful man at your core. I’m proud to be your lover.”

Aerrow and Nova reappeared on the Island of Giant Monsters. Nova took a few calming breaths before steeling his nerves.

“Okay, what’s first on the final exam, Master Aerrow?” he asked.

“First will be killing a monster with one hit without using a skill,” the Phoenix Clan male replied. “Thanks to your training you can now pinpoint weak spots on monsters. Let’s see if you can pull it off on the first monster we find.”

Suddenly they saw something approach them. It was a large Tyrannosaurus Rex-like creature, only it had bright red skin with copper streaks, a stiff mane of spikes, gold eyes, and a gapping maw full of sharp teeth.

“A Saurus, perfect timing! Okay, Nova, time to show me what you can do.”

Nova nodded, loaded up an arrow, and took aim at the massive dinosaur-like monster that was charging toward them.

“Time to take down this Jurassic giant,” he said.

About two hours later Nova and Aerrow were taking a break. Nova was guzzling down the contents of his canteen while Aerrow merely looked at a checklist he had made, a smile on his face.

“Nova…” he said gently. “It pleases me to say that, after all your hard work, you have completed your final exam. And to put it simply, you aced it. Congratulations, my apprentice. You’re the first one to ever complete my training, including the final exam. I’m very proud of you.”

Nova gained a weak smile, “I’m glad I was able to meet your expectations, Master Aerrow.”

“Oh, you more than met them, Nova. You excelled. No other archer I’ve ever seen nor trained has ever shown the raw talent and innate skill you have. I could very well be out of the job because of you.” He then paused for a moment, much to Nova’s confusion, before saying, “…Nova, I have one last challenge for you. This challenge is more of a bonus round than part of your final exam. Thus it won’t affect your final score if you don’t succeed at it. But if you are able to perform this final task then it’ll boost your final score and could potentially earn you my title. Are you up to one last test?”

Nova replied, “Might as well. What is it?”

Aerrow took a deep breath before saying, “Nova, as you’re aware there are various weapon-based skills. You use plenty of them yourself, though it’s because the Demon King Ring grants you easy access to them. However, there is a hidden tier of weapon-based skills that very few know about. Even fewer know what their names are, and even less know how to use them. They are effectively Goddess-tier skills, as they’re all divine in nature. Each weapon type has one Goddess-tier skill. I have spent a sizable chunk of my life searching for information on just the archery skill alone, much less anything else. I finally struck paydirt not long after Jade was born. However… I have been unable to use the skill that I spent so long searching for. This skill doesn’t require mana and cannot be called upon through conventional methods. And any information on how to use it is extremely scarce. All I know is the name of the skill: Celestial Judgment Arrow. I have never been able to call it myself. However, I feel you might be able to. The Demon King Ring can’t help you here, although it could potentially enhance the skill, but I have a gut feeling that you will be the one to use this skill that has faded into obscurity.”

Nova looked surprised, “There’s actually a tier of skills higher than ones like Dragon Strike? And the archery skill is called Celestial Judgment Arrow? Do you really think I can summon it when even you can’t?”

“I have faith that you can, Nova. You are a really rare gem, as I’ve said before. I have never seen nor met a young man like you previously in my life. If you can grant my lifelong wish of even just seeing Celestial Judgment Arrow once then I can die a happy man when my time comes. I believe you can do it. Like I said I don’t know how to summon the skill other than the fact it requires no mana to use, so I can’t help you there. But I have confidence in your ability as an archer. Please, Nova, try to summon the Celestial Judgment Arrow. If you can pull it off I will be forever thankful.”

Nova closed his eyes, taking a few breaths, before replying, “Okay. I’ll give it a shot. If it’ll mean that much to you then I’ll do the best I can to grant you your wish.”

He stood up, primed his bow, and began concentrating, trying to figure out how to call upon this skill. Aerrow then noticed something. A gigantic nuclear green fly with blood red eyes and sharp claws was starting to head toward them. Nova noticed it, too, and began focusing on the giant fly. He held his bow out, pointing it at the approaching monster, closed his eyes, and began concentrating harder. To Aerrow’s surprise the bow started to transform. It was engulfed in white light that molded it into a more divine form, with a pair of energy angel wings sprouting at the top. A matching pair of energy wings formed from Nova’s back. The front of the bow gained a sapphire blue disc, followed by four strange protrusions appearing around it, then pointing forward, almost looking like the frame of a cannon. A large base formed at the bottom of the bow before sprouting feather-shaped legs, becoming an anchor to the bow.

Nova, whose eyes were still closed, drew one of the remaining arrows from his quiver, and positioned it onto the newly transformed bow. The arrow started to glow as it was seemingly infused with divine energies, growing in size. A targeting reticle appeared and after a moment locked onto the giant fly. Aerrow’s eyes were as wide as saucers as he witnessed Nova performing the feat he had longed to see.

Nova’s eyes snapped open, stating, “Celestial Judgment Arrow!”

He fired the now-magnified divine arrow, sending it through the sapphire blue disc in front of the bow. This action caused the four protrusions to fire condensed energy beams alongside the arrow. The four energy beams swirled around the arrow before fusing with it, becoming a giant arrowhead-shaped energy beam. The fly monster realized what was coming toward it and immediately tried to flee. However, the target reticle was still on its body, allowing the Goddess-tier skill to quickly catch up to the fly monster and swallow it up in the energy beam. The fly monster gave a pained screech as its body was torn to atoms, leaving no trace of it, while the beam continued onward, piercing the clouds and heading into the sky. The energy beam eventually waned, ending its magnificence, leaving Aerrow slack jawed.

“I hope I did that right…” Nova said sheepishly.

“N-Nova…” Aerrow said, in total disbelief. “Y-You succeeded in summoning and firing Celestial Judgment Arrow…! You somehow managed to call forth the Goddess-tier skill that virtually no one knows about on your first try! I’m… I’m speechless… And yet… I’m elated to have finally seen that skill with my own eyes! After years of searching for even the smallest scraps of information about it I finally got to witness the skill in action. That Chlorine King Fly was utterly eradicated by it. You managed to achieve my lifelong dream of seeing the skill used even just once. Nova… you have no idea how happy I am right now. You not only succeeded in my harsh training but you succeeded in calling forth a legendary weapon skill that virtually no one on this world knows exists. I don’t know how you did it but you did it. Nova… thank you. You have proven to be the best apprentice I’ve ever had. I have nothing left to teach you. Hopefully you can use Celestial Judgment Arrow in your fight against Muu. But Nova… thank you. For everything.”

Nova blushed, “I should be thanking you, as you were willing to take me under your wing to become a better archer. Not many would be willing to do that for me. So I wanted to return the favor in some form or another.”

Aerrow hugged Nova, stunning the young man, clearly happy at what he saw and heard. After a minute of this he stepped back, smiling.

“Nova, you are truly a rare gem,” he said. “A true diamond in the rough. One that is now shining extremely brightly. Needless to say you passed your bonus test. This is cause for a celebration. Let us return to my mansion and celebrate. If you’re ready to go we can return to my home.”

Nova nodded, picking up his stuff, “Let’s go, Master Aerrow.”

“Teleport.”

The two of them vanished from the training grounds, returning to the Sparrow family mansion. When they opened the door they saw Nina waiting for them, her eyes lighting up when she saw Nova. She tackled him in a bone-crushing hug, making Aerrow smiled.

“How’d it go, Nova?” Nina asked.

Aerrow replied with a smile, “Nova passed with flying colors. He even managed to achieve a feat of legendary proportions on his first try that I had spent a sizable chunk of my life trying to find even the tiniest scraps of information on. As a result we are going to celebrate not only him passing my training but achieving another impressive feat, one that puts even his performance in that archery tournament to shame. Jeffery!”

Jeffery quickly appeared, saying, “You summoned me, Master Aerrow?”

“Jeffery, prepare the staff for a celebration. Not only did Nova succeed in his training, but he also achieved a certain lifelong goal of mine in the process.”

Jeffery’s eyes widened, “Sir! You mean to say that Mr. Nova actually performed that skill!? The one you spent years just trying to learn the name of, much less actually cast?! I will alert the staff immediately to begin preparations for a grand celebration.”

He bowed and quickly scampered off to alert the staff to begin preparing for the celebration.

Nina kissed Nova, “I’m so happy for you, Nova! You passed your final test AND managed to do something that not even Aerrow himself was able to do? That’s impressive. I hope you’ll tell me what exactly you did, as I’m curious to know why it was a lifelong dream of Aerrow’s.”

Aerrow replied, “We’ll gladly tell you at the celebration. But, for now, let Nova rest for a bit while my staff prepares our celebration. But simply put I have nothing left to teach him. You’re a lucky woman, Miss Nina, to have a man like Nova by your side. I wish you many years of happiness together. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have work to do, as this is a momentous day.”

Aerrow quickly darted off, eager to get the festivities going. Nina hugged and nuzzled against Nova, who gently stroked her head, smiling lightly.

“It wasn’t easy but I managed to achieve the task set before me,” he said silently. “I’m not entirely sure how I pulled off that Celestial Judgment Arrow but I did it. Hopefully with this new special skill and all my training complete I can ensure that our party will be victorious in the fight against Muu.”

Next Chapter: Shadow Fox

That's all for today. Nova's training is complete. How will it serve him in future battles? Tune in next time to find out.
 

CynthiaLover

Geek of the Games
Joined
Dec 23, 2009
Messages
4,355
Reaction score
3,838
Pronouns
He/Him
Time for the next chapter of Dawn of Courage. (Warning: contains mild language, mild violence, sexual suggestions)

Shadow Fox


It had been a few days since Nova’s training with Aerrow Sparrow had been completed. The party was back on the road, heading to the next Undead Base.

Sir Reginald looked at the information they had gotten, saying, “Okay, our next opponent will be Captain Crossbone. However, we have a bit until we’ll be near his base so don’t expect any battles with him right away. According to the information we got he’s beyond the next two villages. Seems that Muu wasn’t able to set up as many bases in this kingdom compared to past areas. That means we don’t have that many Undead Captains to destroy.”

Zeeker placed his hands behind his head, “So once we get rid of them this continent will be freed from Muu’s influence. I’m down with that. Then it’ll be off to the next continent to do the same there.”

Nina was very quiet. She seemed a little off. Nova took notice of this and turned to her.

“Nina?” he asked gently. “Are you okay? You’re not sick, are you?”

She shook her head, “No, no, don’t worry about me, Nova. I think I’m just experiencing the ‘symptoms’ of me molting. It makes me feel a little ill but once I do molt I’ll be fine.”

“So, you’re about to molt? I didn’t realize Phoenix Clan members molt. How long does it last?”

As if on cue Nina wings burst into golden flames, startling Nova to the point he fell down. Her wings burned for a few seconds before the flames subsided, revealing fresh, glossy feathers. She started to shake her wings, causing ash to fall out of them. After shaking her wings for a good few minutes, getting as much ash out of them as possible, she straightened herself and smiled.

“That’s better,” she said cheerfully. “Sorry about that, Nova, but when phoenixes and the Phoenix Clan molt, all our old feathers burn up in one quick burst, allowing new, fresh feathers to take their place. I molt once a season at the start of each season. Let’s see… judging by how my body feels… and if my knowledge of the time of year we’re in is correct… then this is my summer season molt. …Uh-oh…”

Angelo asked, “What’s wrong, Nina? Is there a problem with you molting now?”

“Kinda… Well, let me explain from the top. As you know, we Phoenix Clan members share the same ancestry with regular phoenixes, thus we share a number of traits. Whenever phoenixes molt during the start of summer it means the start of mating season. For the next two weeks phoenixes will go into heat, seek out a mate if they don’t already have one, and shortly afterward produce an egg. We Phoenix Clan members are very much the same. While we don’t go into heat, fortunately, we do become more fertile during the first two weeks of summer. So for the next two weeks we need to be careful, as I’m now very fertile. So I cannot get aroused nor let people like Dominic or Eoleo know about it, as they may try to impregnate me forcefully, since during this timeframe getting pregnant would be a guarantee. After the first two weeks are over my fertility will decrease until it reaches more normal levels once I hit my autumn molt but I need to be careful for a while. So we need to keep this rather hush-hush for the next two weeks to avoid any problems with people we’d rather not deal with.”

“So you Phoenix Clan members become more or less fertile depending on the season you molt in?” Nova asked. “That’s an interesting concept. But I can see why you’re concerned, as both Dominic and Eoleo want to bed you, thus we cannot allow them to know that these next two weeks you’re at your most fertile.”

Nina nodded, “Exactly. So let’s not talk about it for a while and move on before either of those two show up. But you also need to be careful, Nova, as you could arouse me, which would also result in possible problems. Not that you deliberately try to arouse me or get me in the sheets with you, but you are a well-equipped man that could accidentally get me going. So try not to do anything that might entice me, be it on purpose or by accident, for a bit.”

“I’ll try. Not sure what I could possibly do that would get your motor running but I’ll be careful.”

Sir Reginald then said, “Anyway, we should be nearing the next village soon. Let’s get going and see what we can find out.”

The party nodded and made their way down the road to the next village. However, to their surprise, it was sporting a fair bit of damage. Now concerned they quickly made their way over to the village. Villagers were busy repairing the damage, though they had almost defeated looks on their faces.

Sir Reginald walked up to one of the men, “Excuse me, but can you tell me what happened here?”

The man replied, “Warriors? Wait, that could work. We’ve been attacked by a monster leading a monster army. The thing is… the monster, which we can deduce is a Death Chimera, looked more human-like. It could talk, stand upright, and was clearly more intelligent than normal. It was leading a Thrasher monster army. They’ve been attacking us for two days now, stealing livestock and other food. The only reason our village hasn’t been leveled yet is because our village priestess has managed to repel the worst of the damage with her magical barriers. But she can’t keep it up, as the repeated bashings have worn her out and she’s unable to regenerate her mana fast enough to keep staving off the attackers. But maybe you can take care of them for us?”

Kettu placed a hand on his hip, “So, we seem to be dealing with another evolved monster, just like the Torrent Cobra and Fire Jelly from before. Can you give us any ideas on how this Death Chimera evolved?”

A woman replied, “Something fell from the sky and landed in the forest where the Death Chimera and those Thrashers live. Prior to that they never bothered us, as the forest is full of food for them. Do you think whatever it was that fell from the sky could’ve caused this?”

Nina pondered, “Something that fell from the sky? It could be a Comet Core or something along those lines, just like what happened with the Torrent Cobra. Considering that even something like a Starfire Ruby could enhance a monster it’s possible that something along those lines could’ve done the same to this Death Chimera. Looks like we’d better check it out, as we have experience dealing with evolved monsters.”

A woman wearing priestess clothes walked up to them, looking very tired, “If you can solve this issue then we’d be forever grateful. I’m exhausting my mana so rapidly just trying to keep those monsters at bay, not having enough time to regenerate it. I don’t think I have enough left to repel another attack if they decide to attack soon. So, if you’d be so kind and destroy them our village would be able to breathe a sigh of relief. The forest is just to the northeast of here. You can see it from here.”

She pointed in a certain direction, showing that a forest was not far from the village.

Sir Reginald nodded, “You can leave it to us. Like Lady Nina said we have experience dealing with enhanced monsters so we’ll gladly take care of that Death Chimera and its Thrasher minions. Team, let’s go.”

The party headed toward the forest, the villagers waving at them as they did. After about half an hour they reached the forest. It was dark and dank, full of vines, creepy-looking trees, and other such plant life. The party could sense something deep within the forest. A strong energy that seemed to be radiating from the heart of the trees.

Nina took a moment to sense the energy before saying, “I can detect a strong energy. Not as strong as a Comet Core but still plenty powerful. Feels like it might be a Goddess Tear, a Moon Diamond, or a Black Eclipse Gem. Any of those items could enhance a monster to a more evolved state. Which means we need to find it along with slaying the Death Chimera that came into contact with it so this incident can’t repeat itself.”

Sir Reginald nodded, “Indeed. Good detection skills, Lady Nina. You Phoenix Clan members have excellent energy identification abilities. Now, let us proceed, but be careful, as those Thrashers could be around acting as sentries.”

The party nodded and ventured into the forest, being guided by the energy emitting from whatever lay deep within it. Their eyes and ears were on full alert, keeping track of any possible threat. Suddenly, Van’s ears twitched, as he detected a sound.

“Hold your horses, gang, I just heard something,” the Centaur said.

The party froze and started to survey their surroundings. They then saw something swiftly dash from behind a shrub and head deeper into the forest.

“That was probably one of the Thrashers acting as security,” Kettu said, his ears twitching. “Which means our unknown ‘friends’ may soon arrive. I suggest we get into a battle-ready stance so we’re not taken by surprise.”

The party nodded and drew their weapons, getting into a defensive position. It wasn’t long before they were confronted with their targets. Several monsters jumped out of the cover of plant life, revealing themselves to look like floating bird heads crossed with unicorns, their bodies covered in white feathers with blue ones near the back, gold beaks, green eyes, and a gold spiral unicorn horn on their heads.

“Yep, those are Thrashers,” Zeeker growled. “Which means their ‘boss’ is not far off.”

A voice said, “You’re correct, Beastman. And I intend to have my monster minions feast upon your bodies.”

Another monster emerged from the depths of the forest. It was a Death Chimera, only it was now more anthropomorphic, standing on its hind legs, its front claws turned into hands, and both its heads glaring hatefully at the party.

One head said, “I take it those idiots in the nearby village sent you?”

The other head stated, “Well, too bad for you, as you’re about to meet a grisly end at our claws. You will regret the day you stepped foot in our forest… assuming you live to tell the tale. Thrashers, prepare for battle. Pick the flesh off of these fools’ bones and show them how stupid it was to come after us!”

The Thrashers all gave cries that sounded like a cross between a bird call and a horse neigh before charging with their horns out in front. The party dodged the attacks from the Thrashers as they zipped around like angry bees, trying to strike the party.

Kettu gained an idea, “My Fox Fyre form will give these horned hellions something to worry about.”

As he was about to press the Elemental Gems that would create his Fox Fyre form one Thrasher grazed his body with its charge, knocking his hand away from the Fire symbol and instead hitting the Wood symbol, while the Dark symbol was already glowing. Kettu managed to right himself after the attack.

“Damn! I didn’t want the Wood symbol. But I can’t go back on my choice.” An idea dawned upon him, “Wait! Beings of the Wood element often gain more power in places like forests. Yeah, this could work, actually. Let’s try it. Elemental Energy Fusion activate!”

His body was engulfed in swirling energy, causing the monsters to stop their attack and observe. When the swirling energy burst a new form was standing before them.

Kettu now looked like a Beastman or a midway point between his normal and Werebeast forms. His body was covered in black fur with gold accents and highlights, his hands were now golden claws, his tail was stiff, almost like it was made of metal or something, his eyes were red and he had gold streaks on his face. Attached to each of his biceps, shoulders, torso, hips, and calves were strange capsules that seemed to contain black energy or smoke, while his legs were strong-looking and more beast-like.

“Say hello to my new form: Shadow Fox!” Kettu stated strongly.

The Black Chimera shook both its heads before saying, “Impressive trick, fox boy. But it’s still no match for me and my Thrashers! Attack!”

Kettu smirked as the Thrashers prepared to charge again. The capsules on his body suddenly released black smoke that blanketed the area, concealing the party from view and preventing the Thrashers and the Death Chimera from attacking.

“Don’t think your smokescreen can save you!” the Death Chimera stated.

Kettu’s voice could be heard from the smoke, saying tauntingly, “True, but that’s not what I intend to use it for. Carnivines Chaos!”

Suddenly the ground shook, startling the monsters. Moments later giant vines with Venus flytrap heads emerged. They opened their gaping jaws and snapped up all the Thrashers in clusters, devouring them before spitting out their horns, leaving the Death Chimera alone. The vines then retreated back into the ground; their task complete. The evolved Death Chimera looked around, as the smoke was still present, preventing it from seeing the party.

“Fireball!” Nina’s voice could be heard.

A fireball appeared out of the smoke and struck the Death Chimera.

“Fire Shot!” Nova’s voice stated.

Coming from another direction a flaming arrow struck the Death Chimera, forcing it to turn around.

“Ice Shard!” Angelo’s voice said strongly.

A chunk of ice flew out of the smoke from another direction, striking the Death Chimera and freezing its wings, making it turn around wildly.

“Petal Storm!” Van’s voice said nobly.

Sharp rose petals formed and slashed the Death Chimera, causing more wounds to start forming.

“Earth Power!” Sir Reginald yelled.

The ground erupted underneath the Death Chimera, striking it with powerful energies.

“Flame Burst!” Zeeker’s voice shouted.

A pyramid of fire erupted, engulfing the Death Chimera, making it roar in pain and severely burning it. It was clearly on its last legs, the damage it had taken was wearing it down.

Kettu’s voice chuckled, “Not so tough now, are you? Now, for the final blow. Strike Razing Claw!”

The Death Chimera looked around wildly before Kettu dashed out of the smoke, jumped up high, and slashed the monster with glowing claws, severing both its heads in one shot. He came to a screeching halt a short distance away as the now-dead enhanced monster fell to the ground. Not long after the smokescreen cleared, revealing the party, all of whom looked satisfied at the results of the battle.

“Swift moves, Kettu,” Nova said. “Your newest Shaman form certainly put in the work. Makes me even more jealous and envious that you all can use Shaman magic and I can’t. But nevertheless you did good today. Using that smokescreen to allow us to ambush the evolved Death Chimera on all sides gave that monster a taste of its own medicine. But now we need to find whatever it was that enhanced it before any other monsters follow suit.”

Kettu nodded, “Yes, I know. Leave that to me.”

He dug a claw into the ground and started to release pulses from it. At first everything was silent but then the ground started to shake. Out emerged another carnivorous vine with a Venus flytrap head. It opened its mouth to reveal a strange object. It looked like an aqua teardrop gem that was easily as big as a basketball, and it seemed to be giving off strong energies.

“Yep, that’s a Goddess Tear,” Nina said. “A powerful gemstone infused with a fragment of the Goddess’ power. While it’s not as strong as a Comet Core it’s still plenty powerful, more than enough to evolve a monster like that Death Chimera if it came into contact with it. We’d best take this with us in order to avoid a repeat event. Nova, put it in your Digi-Pack, as it’ll be safest there.”

Nova nodded, took the Goddess Tear from the flytrap’s mouth, and put it in his Digi-Pack. The carnivorous vine retreated back into the ground and vanished.

“Hey, I’m curious about something,” he said. “Why are these items falling from the sky? This is the second time a powerful object fell from the sky and caused a monster to evolve. Why is that? Where are they coming from?”

Angelo replied, “Well, believe it or not, they come from the remains of some of our moons.”

“What?”

Nina turned to him, “You see, Nova, prior to the Great War, Edyn actually had five moons instead of three. The Goddess infused all our moons with rare gems, powerful items, and other such minerals. During the Great War Muu destroyed two of our moons in an attempt to use their remains to bombard our planet. That failed thanks to the Goddess’ interference, but we still lost two moons. Their remains are still orbiting around our world, which also unearthed all the various gems, minerals, and other items that she planted in them. Every now and then one of those items falls to the planet. The Comet Core we picked up earlier and that Goddess Tear are some examples of those items falling to the planet after the destruction of two of our moons.”

Nova quirked an eyebrow, “So let me get this straight. You originally had five moons but two were destroyed. Your Goddess infused those moons with various rare and powerful objects. However, she never granted your people the ability to actually go to those moons and harvest the items to further your world’s production? Then why did she bother to infuse the moons with items like Comet Cores and not give you the means of accessing them instead of just simply planting them in the planet itself like the Magna Crystals or Mana Stones?”

The rest of the party gained stumped and stunned expressions, clearly showing that this idea never crossed anyone’s mind. They all exchanged looks, surprised at the question.

“That’s… a good question, Nova,” Van said.

“Yeah,” Nina nodded. “Your question isn’t only fair, but it makes perfect sense. Why didn’t the Goddess simply plant those items into Edyn itself instead of putting them in the moons yet never giving us the means of accessing them until two moons were destroyed by Muu? Clearly it wasn’t to keep them out of the wrong hands, as Magna Crystals, Mana Stones, and such are free to be harvested, even by Muu’s forces. Especially since Muu wasn’t part of the equation when she first created our world. So why did she put those objects into the moons yet never gave us the means of going to the moons to harvest them? That’s a very logical question, one that we cannot answer.”

The party all exchanged looks, as they clearly never thought of such a question.

Sir Reginald then said, “Well, whatever the Goddess’ reasons were… they clearly don’t make sense. But we’ve taken care of the problem so we should report back to the village and let them know the monster problem has been dealt with.”

Kettu nodded, “Yeah, Reggie. And time for me to revert back to normal. Cancel Fusion!”

He was engulfed in swirling energy before it burst, returning him to normal. The party then collected the Thrasher horns that remained from the devoured monsters, left the forest and headed back to the village to report their success.

Meanwhile, in the planet’s core, Belzebuth had overheard the conversation from the Demon King Ring. He quirked an eyebrow at what he heard. He turned to the Goddess who was with him.

“Hey, Serenity, my champion brings up an excellent question,” he said. “Why did you infuse the five moons that Edyn had before Muu showed up with those objects yet never gave the people of Edyn the means of actually accessing them? You were willing to infuse the planet with Mana Stones, Magna Crystals, and other such powerful items yet not things like Comet Cores, Goddess Tears, Moon Diamonds, and everything else that are sitting in those orbiting rocks surrounding your world? Wouldn’t those items really help give the people of this world some much-needed power and equipment to better fight their enemies and evolve their races further? So why didn’t you simply infuse them into Edyn itself like you did with Mana Stones and such instead of putting them in the moons with no way to access them until after Muu destroyed two of them?”

Serenity gained a rather stumped expression, “Um… Well… I… Uh… I have no idea why. I guess the idea never crossed my mind.” She gently tapped her head with her fist, stuck out her tongue, and closed one eye, “Silly me.”

Belzebuth gave her an odd expression before placing his face in his palm, sighing.

“And you call yourself a wise goddess…” he groaned.

Next Chapter: Battling with Elegance and Grace
 

CynthiaLover

Geek of the Games
Joined
Dec 23, 2009
Messages
4,355
Reaction score
3,838
Pronouns
He/Him
Time for the next chapter of Dawn of Courage. (Warning: contains mild language, sexual suggestions, racism)

Battling with Elegance and Grace


It was the following day after the heroic party had vanquished the evolved Death Chimera and its Thrasher minions. They were back on the road, heading toward the next Undead Base.

Angelo asked, “So, Sir Reginald, you mentioned that our target, the Undead Base, is past the next village, correct? How far until we reach that village?”

Sir Reginald checked the map along with the notes he had before saying, “According to the map we should reach the next village in about two days. There is, fortunately, a magical campsite nestled in between, as we won’t be able to reach the other village before nightfall unless Nina were to fly us there. But since she’s still building up her stamina while in her phoenix form we cannot do that.”

Nina nodded, “Yes. I’m still not quite there yet. At least not without needing to consume an Energy Potion afterward. Plus I’d be worried that my phoenix form might frighten the locals, as the mountains in this kingdom tend to have a fair few phoenixes. Not as many as my kingdom’s territory, hence its name and why my kind reside there, but this is still prime phoenix territory. And since it’s the start of mating season it means both the males and females will be getting much more hungry, thus it’s not unheard of for a phoenix or two to snatch some livestock from villages and towns during this timeframe. So it’d probably be best to just walk so we don’t accidentally ruffle anyone’s feathers, so to speak.”

“That’s a fair point,” Nova said. “It’s probably for the best we just use our legs to get us to our destination and not make any villagers or townsfolk resent us if we accidentally frighten them with your phoenix form. Especially during this timeframe when the phoenixes are in heat. Plus I wouldn’t be surprised if you, Nina, went into heat if you were to transform into your phoenix form. After all, knowledge on the Power of the Phoenix was lost when the power itself was lost. And since you share origins with regular phoenixes there’s nothing saying that you couldn’t go into a mating season mayhem if you were to become your phoenix form.”

Nina’s eyes widened in surprise, “That’s a fair point. I hadn’t thought of that. Considering that, while I retain my mind and personality in my phoenix form, you do bring up a valid point, as I also gain stronger instincts when transformed. There isn’t anything that says I wouldn’t gain mating urges while in that form, which could present a problem if I do. Yeah, I can see your point, Nova. Good thinking, as now I know to be extra careful during these next two weeks.”

Van’s ears then twitched as he heard something. He turned around, alerting the party to him. They all turned and looked behind them. They could see a fast moving whirlwind approaching them.

“Oh for the love of the Goddess… Not him!” the winged woman wailed.

“He really is just like Dominic,” Kettu grumbled. “He won’t stop chasing Nina and he’s like a rash that keeps flaring up every time we think we’ve gotten rid of him.”

“What I want to know is how he crossed the checkpoint?” Angelo asked.

“Probably jumped the fence or something,” Nova said bitterly. “Like a wooden checkpoint guarded by humans would be a deterrent to him, especially considering his racism toward humans. Hmm…” He took a moment to think before gaining a devious idea, “I’ve got an idea on how to humiliate him again. Gather up, quickly!”

A few minutes later Eoleo came into view, Ian and Hunter trialing behind him, still unable to catch up to their leader’s speed. Eoleo saw Nina and the rest of the party and began making a beeline for her, increasing his speed. He launched himself at her in a tackle. Nina smirked and sidestepped, revealing Van’s rear behind her, as he was crouching down to avoid being see. Van grinned and launched a strong kick that struck Eoleo squarely in the face, sending him flying before crashing in a heap on the ground, a horseshoe-shaped indent in his face. Ian and Hunter had just caught up to witness this event, groaning defeatedly.

“Nova did it again,” Ian sighed.

“This time he got even more creative with his ambush counterattack,” Hunter nodded.

Van returned to an upright position, chuckling darkly, while Nova merely sneered at Eoleo’s misfortune. The leader Werecat managed to get to his feet, still dazed but his eyes flaring dangerously.

“How DARE you do that to me, human!” he spat. “Getting your pack mule to pull such a dirty stunt. Befitting for the filthiest creature on the planet.”

Annoyed, Van spun his spear and slammed onto Eoleo’s head, dazing the Werecat again.

“I’m no pack mule!” the Centaur spat. “And Nova is far from the ‘filthiest creature on the planet’. That honor belongs to you and Dominic, especially Dominic. After all, you two keep harassing us, interfering in our mission to stop Muu, and trying to violate Nina. Nothing’s filthier than that. So watch your mouth before we rip it off.”

Eoleo recovered before saying, “Nina is my destined pack queen! Nothing’s more noble than that!”

Nova snorted, “Yeah, and I’m a leprechaun. The only thing that’s destined about you and Nina is that your ‘mission’ to bed her is destined to fail. Are you really that dense that you don’t understand that Werecats and Phoenix Clan members hate each other? Or did you skip out that lesson in kitten kindergarten? Either way, Nina has made it repeatedly clear she wants nothing to do with you, furball. So make like a drum and beat it.”

Eoleo turned to him, growling, “You’re the one who should beat it, human. You’re unfit for any sort of role, much less a husband to the perfect Nina. You’re better off extinct, like all humans should be. Your kind are inferior to other races in every shape and form so you should just disappear like you never existed. The world would be a better place if you humans went extinct instead of plaguing Edyn with your presence, allowing superior races to take command.”

Nina fired an energy sphere at Eoleo, blasting him in the face, knocking him back, her eyes flaring hatefully.

“You take that back, Eoleo!” she spat. “Humans are more wonderful than your racist eyes can see! Nova showed me just what a real man is like! It’s no wonder I fell in love with him. I could never love you, Eoleo. Even if it wasn’t the whole Werecat/Phoenix Clan issue, the fact is I hate racism. Every race has a reason to exist, a purpose, and they all play a role in the production of Edyn’s future. And, for the record, humans were the first race to emerge from Edyn’s evolution, thus they hold a special role in the world’s growth. It’s because of humans that other races came to be, grew, evolved, and created lives for themselves. Humans aren’t an inferior race. It’s people like YOU who are inferior. You are inferior to Nova in every shape and form, you Werecat wannabe warrior. The fact that your fellow Werecats don’t share your racist ways speaks volumes about how lowly you are.”

Ian scratched the back of his head, saying, “She’s got a point. We don’t hate humans nor see them as inferior. Only Eoleo does. Considering that Eoleo never had any negative experiences with humans prior to meeting you all makes me wonder where this racism came from?”

Nova gave a heavy sigh, “Unfortunately, racism really doesn’t have any reason to exist. People can be racist just for the sake of it, or in some cases for political reasons. I admit my country back on Earth has issues with racism even to this day. It’s not as bad as it was back a few hundred years ago, where entire races of humans were enslaved, but there are still some traces of it here and there. And, unfortunately, people just hate other types of people for no reason other than they can. So Eoleo’s racism exists because he wants it to exist. Which makes me wonder if he realizes just how small and insignificant he is, thus he’s trying to deflect that feeling to another race he perceives to be an easy target to make himself feel bigger and mightier than he really is.”

Now enraged, Eoleo stormed up to Nova, glaring down at the pink-haired man.

“You dare suggest that I’m lowly, human?” he growled threateningly. “You go too far. Maybe I should pound you into the dirt and prove who the REAL small and insignificant one is around here!”

“Ooh, I’m all a-quiver,” Nova taunted. “Go chase a mouse, pussycat, before you get kicked to the curb like the alley cat you are.”

Eoleo prepared to strike, only for Nova to launch a powerful kick into the Werecat’s chin, despite the fact that Eoleo was a good half a head taller than him, sending him flying onto his back.

Hunter’s eyes widened, “How did Nova bend his leg that far up? Considering that Eoleo is a good half a head taller than him how could he reach that far with his leg?”

Nina giggled, “That’s probably from his figure skating lessons. That’d probably make him very flexible.”

Ian looked confused, “Figure… skating? What’s that?”

Nova gained a grim expression, “Don’t ask, it was my mom’s idea back when I was kid. And, sadly, Nina is correct. Those lessons, as much as I hated them, did make me more flexible. Probably also helped make my reflexes as sharp as they are. So kicking someone taller than me isn’t exactly impossible considering I can flex my body like it was made of rubber thanks to those accursed lessons.”

Eoleo had managed to recover, standing up, and began laughing.

“You had to learn how to be girly?” he howled. “I knew you weren’t a real man! You’re as girly as your pink hair! I knew you were a pansy, pink boy! The fact you had to learn a girl’s activity proves it!”

Nova replied calmly, “Hate to burst your bubble, furball, but there are just as many male figure skaters as female. It’s not a purely female sport. In fact, there are competitive events surrounding the sport, with plenty of men to go with women in it. But considering the fact that you and Dominic embody the poison that is toxic masculinity would prove that you couldn’t be graceful if your life depended on it. So while I hated those lessons with a passion I bet I could easily whup you five ways to Sunday with my old figure skating moves and you’d be unable to land a hit on me in return. That is unless your too chicken to lose your masculinity to a ‘girly’ human, pussycat.”

This taunt immediately made Eoleo stop laughing. His eyes flared dangerously, his teeth bared, and his tail stiff.

“You watch your mouth, pinkie pie,” he growled. “Fine, I accept your challenge. We’ll see how confident you are once I turn you into a smear on the ground. So bring it on, little girly girl human.”

Zeeker looked puzzled, “How is Nova going to use his figure skating moves here? There’s no ice.”

Nova replied calmly, “My Hoverboots can replicate the function. Better give us some room to ensure no one gets caught in the crossfire. Hoverboots, on.”

Both parties backed away to give the two males room. Eoleo started to flex his muscles as a means to intimidate Nova, who merely looked bored.

“Smart, handsome, talented, and wonderful Nova versus dumb, ugly, weak, and annoying Werecat!” Nina cheered. “Round one! Ding!”

Eoleo started to hop back and forth on his legs, saying tauntingly, “This is your last chance to give up, human. Why humiliate yourself and ruin what little manhood you have?”

“I should be asking you that question, Eoleo,” Nova replied calmly. “I may be years out of practice but your manhood, and ego, are about to be seriously deflated. And I’ll do it in style. Your move, kitten, if you dare.”

Eoleo got into a running position and charged at Nova, ready to strangle the pink-haired human. He lunged and rocketed forward. Nova suddenly performed a very graceful jump and spin that deflected Eoleo, sending flying back, with was followed by another turn and a half turn before landing gracefully.

“That’s what’s called an axel. A double axel, to be exact. Care to try again?”

Nova then started to swish side to side on his Hoverboots, as if taunting the Werecat. Eoleo’s eyes flared hatefully as he saw this stunt. He got into another pouncing position and rocketed toward Nova. Nova then started to spin one foot with their other leg extended behind him and above his head, forming a teardrop shape. This maneuver not only caused Eoleo to sail right past Nova but the resulting spin smacked the Werecat from behind, causing him to skid face-first into the ground.

“I always thought cats landed on their feet,” Kettu chuckled.

“Not if your Eoleo, who couldn’t land on his feet to save his life,” Zeeker snickered.

Ian and Hunter sighed in unison, “Sad but true.”

Nina, however, was looking mesmerized at Nova’s grace, her eyes were practically hearts. Nova stopped his spin and started to swish back and forth, heading backwards to put some space between him and Eoleo.

“That’s called a Biellmann spin,” he chuckled. “It’s a difficult spin, requiring great flexibility. It’s required for women to use in competitions while it’s optional for men. This move is named after Swiss skater Denise Biellmann, who invented the spin. Had enough, Eoleo, or do you want some more?”

Now furious, Eoleo glared hatefully at Nova, his face covered with dirt but his expression was clearly shown. He started to race over to Nova at top speed, ready to strangle the human. He jumped at Nova, ready to rip him apart. Nova started to spin in a squat position, with one leg straight in front, with the toe pointed. This maneuver cause Eoleo to soar right over Nova, completely missing him before crashing face-first into the ground. Nova then spun himself back into an upright position, smirking.

“That’s called a sit spin,” he taunted. “Looks like I’m just too slippery for you, pussycat. Want to quit and save what little dignity and manhood you have left or are you still hungry for more punishment?”

The Werecat managed to get back on his feet, clearly furious. He got into a crouching position before rocketing toward Nova. Nova jumped and started to spin in the air. This stunt combined with the propulsion of his Hoverboots caused him to become airborne enough for Eoleo to sail right underneath him, missing him entirely again, skidding on the ground face-first and coming to a halt. Nova then gracefully landed.

“Face it, Eoleo, you can’t win. You’re making a real arse of yourself.”

Eoleo stood up, now really angry, “I’ll show YOU who’s a real arse around here!”

He started to concentrate and soon transformed. He was now in his Werebeast form. This form looked more like a saber tooth tiger, easily bigger than Kettu’s Werebeast form, with large muscles, massive claws, strong legs, and a feral face. Nova didn’t seem impressed and started to skate around Eoleo as if to mock him. Eoleo started to pound the ground in an attempt to squash Nova but the Hoverboots made him a bit too fast for the Werecat to land a hit.

“Nova’s literally skating circles around Eoleo,” Angelo said.

This routine continued for a few minutes before Eoleo stopped trying to hit Nova. He staggered, clearly dizzy, looking like he was ready to throw up. Nova took advantage of this and performed another sit spin that deliberately struck the Werecat’s legs, knocking him off his feet and flat on his back. Eoleo then suddenly transformed back to normal.

“Looks like Eoleo ran out of mana,” Kettu observed. “He didn’t last very long in his Werebeast form, only a few minutes at best. That must mean his natural levels of mana are pretty low. While my levels aren’t anything to write home about I can at least last ten minutes in my Werebeast form, though I know my mana pool has grown since starting this trip so I can probably last longer. But Eoleo doesn’t have the mana to sustain his Werebeast form for very long, allowing Nova to simply outlast him. How pathetic.”

Eoleo staggered to his feet while Nova gently moved backward, swishing side to side. The Werecat looked totally exhausted but he clearly still wanted to fight.

“When I get my hands on you, human, I will—” he started to say before clutching his mouth shut.

“Uh-oh…” Ian said.

Eoleo staggered over to a nearby bush before ducking behind it. They all heard vomiting noises, making everyone flinch.

“That’s not pleasant…” Zeeker winced.

“At least he had the decency to do it behind a bush,” Sir Reginald said, clearly disgusted.

After a few moments Eoleo stood up again, looking pale and sick but still angry. Nova gently hovered in one place, waiting for the Werecat to make a move. Eoleo wiped his mouth, turned to Nova, and started to run toward him, his fist held high. However, he was running very slowly, as his exhaustion was clearly displayed. He took a swing at Nova, only for the pink-haired man to gently maneuver out of the way, causing the Werecat to miss and fall flat on the ground, utterly defeated and completely out of energy.

“I think that ends that,” Van said. “Eoleo clearly has no more strength, stamina, and energy. Nova literally skated circles around him, making a complete fool out of that Werecat. Even his Werebeast form wasn’t enough to turn the tables. No, it’s safe to say that this is a total victory for Nova. And he certainly did it in style.”

Eoleo grunted, “I’m not… done yet… human…”

He tried to get up but pathetically flopped back down on the ground, completely exhausted, making Nova smirk.

“Where’s your toxic masculinity, manhood, and pride now, Eoleo?” he taunted. “How does it feel to lose to what you consider a girly activity? Not so cocky and proud now, huh? I told you I’d beat you without you landing a single hit on me. Playtime’s over, pussycat, you lose. Hoverboots off.”

He deactivated his Hoverboots and walked over to his party.

“I gotta say, you really schooled Eoleo,” Kettu said.

“And you were so graceful, too,” Angelo smiled.

Nova replied, “I’m more impressed that, despite it being nearly a decade since my last lesson, I was still somehow able to perform those tricks like I had just learned them yesterday. Although my axel was timed a bit off and my sit spin was a tad sloppy, but overall I’m surprised I retained what I learned nearly ten years ago in my mom’s attempt to make me more ‘graceful’. Strange what comes back to you. What did you think, Nina?”

However, his eyes widened in horror as he saw Nina’s expression. She looked extremely aroused from what she saw, her eyes practically hearts, and she looked like she was ready to tackle Nova and take him right then and there.

“N-Nina… why are you looking at me like you’re about to tackle me, rip both our clothes off, and take me right now? Y-You know this isn’t good timing!”

Angelo quickly and reluctantly started to channel energy, stating, “Water Bomb!”

He fired a sphere of water at Nina, striking her, drenching her body and damaging her a bit. This attack, however, had an immediate effect on her. It seemed to bring her back to her senses, cooling her libido down, and caused her to calm down.

Mildly annoyed, she said, “While I don’t appreciate getting attacked by my own ally… I can’t deny that your Water Bomb slapped some sense into me before I did something rash out of lust. So… thank you, Angelo.”

Angelo smiled sheepishly, “Sorry, Nina, but it had to be done. I just hope you can dry off quickly enough.”

“Oh, don’t worry, I’ve got that covered. Watch.”

She enveloped herself in her wings, which started to produce heat. Within a few minutes she unraveled her wings, revealing she was now nice and dry. She then turned to Nova, her eyes showing love.

“Nova… what you did today was incredible,” she purred. “I don’t know why it got me so hot and randy but seeing you move so gracefully sent my heart aflutter. You truly are incredible. You may be bit of a grab bag of skills, but they’re all quite useful. And seeing you thoroughly humiliate Eoleo only made it better. This is one reason why I love you. I don’t need a macho, manly man, I prefer a softer, gentler man who I can snuggle with and not feel threatened by, and you fit that bill perfectly. Now, let’s get going before our unwanted alley cat regains his strength.”

The party nodded and started to walk away, leaving the Werecats behind. Eoleo tried to drag himself after them but was too exhausted to get more than a few inches from his spot.

“Well that was certainly quite the display of superiority in one graceful package,” Ian said.

Hunter nodded, “I’ll say. Nova schooled Eoleo like it was no one’s business. All with figure skating moves. That’ll put a serious dent in our fearless leader’s ego. Come on, Ian, let’s try to get Eoleo back on his feet.”

As the other two Werecats started to try reviving Eoleo, the leader Werecat’s eyes showed hatred.

“I’ll make you pay for this humiliation, human…” he seethed silently. “No one makes a monkey out of me, especially an overgrown ape like a human. Just you wait, pink boy, I’ll get you good. That I promise.”

Next Chapter: The Distant Stars

That's all for today. Will Eoleo take this humiliation lying down? Not on your life. Tune in next time to see what happens to our heroes.
 

CynthiaLover

Geek of the Games
Joined
Dec 23, 2009
Messages
4,355
Reaction score
3,838
Pronouns
He/Him
Time for the next chapter of Dawn of Courage.

The Distant Stars


It was the following evening after the party had encountered Eoleo. They had reached the next magical campsite; their tent pitched and were just finishing off dinner.

Nina purred as she finished her next bite, “I still can’t get the image of you whupping Eoleo with figure skating moves today, Nova. Not only were your moves incredible but seeing that damn Werecat make a complete arse of himself was the icing on the cake. That’ll teach him for being such a racist prick. After all, humans have their right to live on this world, too. Still, I’m practically giddy at what I saw you do today, beloved.”

Nova gave a weak chuckle, “Well, don’t expect it again. Though I am surprised at how I was able to execute all those moves like my last lesson was just yesterday despite being nearly a decade out of practice. Funny what comes back to you. But I won’t deny that what I did will severely bruise Eoleo’s ego. He will be back for revenge, as he’s not the type to take something like this humiliating defeat lying down. Hopefully he won’t show up again today, as I’m really not in the mood to deal with him twice in one day.”

Sir Reginald chuckled, “True. And I think all of us could use a break from Eoleo. Though your display was quite masterful, Nova. You said you were good at winter sports like that and I can see just what you mean. You performed those tricks flawlessly despite being years out of practice. If you’re that good with your least favorite winter sport it makes me wonder how good you are with something like snowboarding, since you say that’s your favorite and preferred winter activity.”

“Well, not to toot my own horn but I take pride in my snowboarding ability. While I’m no Shaun White I can make some pretty swift and masterful moves myself. Granted, I have no interest in joining the Olympics, which is a world-wide sporting event, as I prefer to do it for fun and not for competition. But it pays to be the only family member in the Blitz family that not only tolerates the cold and snow but loves it. Winter is definitely my domain, while the rest of the family are like heat-loving lizards. You’re more likely to find me in the snowy mountains than at a tropical beach, while the rest of my family are the opposite.”

Nova suddenly gained a sullen expression, his eyes growing dull. This change in demeanor didn’t go unnoticed by the party.

“Nova?” Nina said gently. “Are you okay? Did we say something that upset you?”

He shook his head, “No, no, don’t mind me. I guess I’m just a bit homesick. I am worlds away from where I belong, after all. I’ll be okay, just give me some time.”

Nina and the others could tell he was hiding something but decided not to press the issue, resuming eating. Before long all the food was gone and Nova and Nina washed the dishes. Nina then sat down in front of Nova and held out a brush.

“Okay, Nova, you promised me back at that last village you’d help with brushing my wings for a bit,” she said.

“I know, Nina, I know,” he chuckled lightly. “Spread your wings so I can begin.”

Nina spread her wings open, allowing Nova to take the brush and began brushing the back of her wings. As he did what appeared to be small grains of ash would flutter out of her feathers.

“Ah, I see,” Zeeker said. “Nina just molted so she might still have some ash in her feathers. So Nova’s helping brush any leftover ash out of her fresh feathers.”

Nina nodded, “Yes, that’s correct. A Phoenix Clan member needs to have their wings brushed for the first few days after molting. While I got most of the ash out of my wings some is still clinging in the grooves and notches in my new feathers. So Nova’s brushing them to get any remaining ash out, as it’s rather uncomfortable. I can do the front of my wings but I need him to do the back. Also, watch what you hands grab, beloved, as the frames and base of my wings are very sensitive. They have a ton of nerves in them so even the slightest touch can trigger something. While you are allowed to touch and stroke my wing frames and base, since we’re lovers, try not to, as it could arouse me again. And especially don’t grab them, as that’ll hurt like hell.”

Nova nodded, “Yes, don’t worry, Nina. I know what I have to do. Just keep your wings steady so I can brush out as much ash as I possibly can.”

The party watch with interest as Nova continued brushing the backs of Nina’s wings, causing small bits of ash to fall out every so often. After he had finished Nina took the brush and began doing the insides of her wings, causing more ash to fall out. After about ten minutes of this Nina gave her wings a ruffle, folded them up, and packed up the brush.

“That should do for now,” she said. “We’ll do another session tomorrow night before bed. And maybe I can take a bath or shower when we get to the next village, which will really help get the last bits of ash out. While getting my feathers wet isn’t easy, as the magical Fire energy from the Magic Fire Feathers creates a gloss that shields them from getting wet, which is why I can swim, it will at least wash out the remaining ash.”

Van quirked an eyebrow, “Wait, what? You can swim? I though Phoenix Clan members couldn’t swim.”

“Normally we can’t, as getting our feathers wet makes our wings heavy. And given the size of our wings that could easily cause us to drown. But because I have the Magic Fire Feathers, which not only emit heat from the Fire energy but also create a gloss over my feathers: prevents them from getting heavy and wet. They can get wet, but not enough to hinder me. Plus I have strong legs, so I’m capable of at least treading water if need be. So, as a result, I can swim, unlike the rest of my clan. Chalk up another win for me against the rest. Sometimes it pays to be the black sheep of the clan, as I gain abilities, powers, and talents that the rest of my kind can’t.”

Nova’s expression changed to a sullen one again, his eyes growing dull again. He picked up his Digi-Pack and went into the tent without a word, surprising the party.

“Did I say something wrong?” the winged woman asked the party.

“I dunno…” Sir Reginald pondered, scratching his chin. “Something’s bothering Nova. I don’t think you said anything that might’ve offended him. But something is definitely up. Could he really be just that homesick? Or is there something else on his mind?”

Angelo said, “I think it’s more than just homesickness. I’m beginning to think that Nova has some issues with his family. From what we’ve heard so far the Blitz family seems like a fine family. But I’m beginning to suspect that Nova might also be bit of a black sheep. I don’t know for sure but there’s definitely something going on between him and his family—in the same vein as Nina and her clan. I’d say we should ask about it but he might get defensive, so we’d best wait until he’s ready to say something. But I can definitely sense there is something that concerns his family.”

The party looked concerned, especially Nina. They soon ventured into the tent. Nova was sleeping the furthest away, his back turned to them, but it was clear that something wasn’t right. The remaining members exchanged nods before heading to their own sleeping bags, with Nina trying to get as close as possible without making Nova feel threatened accidentally. They soon fell asleep.

A few hours later Nova was tossing and turning in his sleep. It was clear he was having a bad dream and was trying to weather it. However, after enough time had passed he opened his eyes and sat up. Even in the darkness his eyes were dull and lifeless, tears seemingly threatening to leak out.

“Dammit…” he cursed silently. “Does that dream have to remind me of the harsh reality I live in every single day back on Earth? No matter what I do nothing seems to be enough. I need to go out and look at the stars so I can get my mind off that dream.”

He gingerly crept out of the sleeping bag and tiptoed to the tent flap, taking extra care not to wake the rest of the party. However, just as he started to slip out of the tent Nina opened one eye. She turned the moment he had exited the tent. Now with both eyes open she snuck out of her sleeping bag and gently peeked outside. Nova was sitting by the now-extinguished campfire, looking up at the stars. He had a very wistful expression, his eyes showing pain, anger, and sorrow, as he gazed upon the glimmering stars and three half-moons. Mustering up the courage Nina slipped outside and gently approached him.

He turned to her, “I disturbed you, didn’t I, Nina.”

“Not quite,” she replied. “I could sense something wasn’t right. I could tell you were having trouble sleeping. Nova, I know I have no right to ask, but please, tell me what’s wrong? Maybe I can help you solve whatever’s bothering you.”

“While I harbor doubts that you can change the flow of my cursed existence you might as well swing it on over and park it. I guess it’s time I revealed the truth about the Blitz family to you, since you may become part of it someday in the future.”

Nina gently walked over to where he was by the campfire, sat down, and gently curled up into a fetal position next to him. There was a short pause before Nova took a deep breath.

“Nina… as you’re probably aware, you and I are very alike. In more ways than one, in fact. You see… I’m a black sheep in my ‘clan’ of sorts, too. And just like you I’ve suffered at the hands of others because of that status.”

Nina gingerly asked, “How so? Have you been abused by your family, too?”

“In a sense, yes, though not the same way you were. Let me start from the top. The Blitz family dates back a good 12 generations, at least last I checked. It was our earliest generations that coined the family motto: Progress is progress, no matter how small. This was because the earlier generations of the Blitz family weren’t well off, so they were willing to accept any sort of progress in developing our family name. Over time the family grew and became stronger and more successful, but they never forgot the modest beginnings of our family tree and the noble origins of our family motto. However… that changed about five generations ago.”

“What happened?” Nina asked.

“The family ‘evolved’, but not in a good sense,” he sighed. “We became obsessed with overachieving our goals. There was no kill like overkill. The family became too successful, which resulted in the last five generations to become a family of overachievers who ended up creating ridiculously high standards for the Blitz family name. As a result the modest history of my ‘clan’ and the noble origins of our motto was lost, though the family still uses the motto, though it no longer means what it was originally created for. Now the family is obsessed with success, and the more successful and intelligent you are the more respect and prestige you get from others. Unfortunately… I was unable to keep up with everyone.”

“Don’t tell me your family turned on you!”

“In a sense, yes. I struggled at the same fields the rest of the family succeeded in. I’m the first member of the family who was forced to drop out of college, which is a higher learning curriculum, because I could not handle juggling four part-time jobs to pay for the college courses and the college work itself, ultimately causing me to crash after my first year. I became something of a shame to the family name. I became the first ‘underachiever’ in the family after generations of overachievers. It didn’t help that I got the shallow end of the gene pool when it came to raw intelligence. My IQ is only 127, which is considered unacceptable to the Blitz family, as the ‘bare minimum’ should be no less than 150. I’m still smart but that alone turned me into an outcast, much less my constant failures, which the family has a very bad habit of reminding me about.”

Nina looked depressed, “So, that explains why you worry so much about falling behind the rest of us. As that’s been a recurring problem for you for years. Now it makes sense. I take it there’s even more?”

Nova gave a heavy sigh, “Sadly, yes. Even my method of learning is different. The Blitz family prefers to learn via the ‘universal’ book method, as in studying from books and such. I, however, don’t absorb information well with that method. To give an example, a long time ago I had a test on the 50 states and their capitals of my country for school. I tried to memorize them via a schoolbook but I was having trouble. So I took a break and watched a favorite afterschool cartoon called Animaniacs. And as fate would have it that episode had one of the characters, Wakko, sing the 50 states and their capitals to the beat of Turkey in the Straw. I ended up acing the test, being the only one to get a perfect score, not because of the schoolbook but because of that cartoon segment. I was able to absorb the information much better via that cartoon than from the book and retained it more readily. That pretty much dictated my learning style: I learn better from more hands-on and creative approaches than from regular textbooks. It meant that when I took this different approach my grades were always top tier. My family wasn’t very approving of me basically ignoring textbooks, the Blitz family’s tried-and-true learning method, in favor of more creative methods, which only further complicated things. They kept trying to force textbooks down my throat only for the effort to fail and I would quickly return to my usual, creative learning style despite the fact I got good grades as a result.”

“That’s terrible. You were still getting the grades they wanted by using a method that worked best for you, yet your family didn’t approve and tried to make you do it the old-fashioned way even though they knew it wasn’t compatible with you. They should’ve just accepted it and let you learn your way.”

“Yeah, well, going against the grain in the Blitz family is something of a taboo to them. At least in the last five generations, anyway, as earlier generations were simply glad to gain anything, no matter the method.”

Nina looked at him, “But what about the skills you’re really good at like baking and winter sport? Wouldn’t that be considered an accomplishment?”

Nova gave another sigh, “It created an interesting dichotomy with me and my family. Wherever the Blitz family excelled I failed, yet wherever I excelled the Blitz family failed. I’m good at baking, the rest of the family couldn’t bake for their lives. I’m good during the winter thus am good at winter sports, they freeze up and pretty much hibernate. I’m good at drawing and sketching, even though I tend to use an anime/manga style; they couldn’t draw stick figures. I’m good a designing creative gadgets like my Hoverboots, they couldn’t redesign a toaster. I follow the ‘simple solutions to difficult problems’ method, while they are the ‘crack a nut with a sledgehammer’ type. I’m have a more practical mindset and tend to be more rational, while they are impractical at best and tend to overthink everything. And as of this trip I have great accuracy and can hit the most difficult targets even on the first try, while they couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn from five feet away. But, unfortunately, it’s not good enough to them. They want me to be as good as the rest of them in the fields they feel matter, so anything that I can do that doesn’t coincide with their talents means nothing. Only baking really has any sort of impact as the Blitz family has a universal sweet tooth. But even that isn’t enough to earn me any praise or approval, something that I’ve been trying to gain for years. As a result I tend to avoid family get-togethers due to several factors.”

Nova then placed his head on his knees, giving a heavy, depressing sigh.

Nina said gently, “Boy… we really are very much alike. More than I even knew possible. We’re both black sheep in our respective ‘clans’, we both seeked approval from our families yet never get it because we’re not good enough to them; we both learn differently than others; we both have talents that the rest of our ‘clans’ lack. And we both follow the beat of our own drum when compared to the rest of our ‘clans’ who play follow-the-leader. It really paints our relationship into a new perspective. No wonder the two of us get along so well, as we’re pretty much two peas in a pod compared to the rest of our kind. But the fact that your family has these ridiculous standards and are willing to cast you aside pretty much because you have trouble meeting said standards is just horrible. At least in my case it was because of my clan’s stupid sexist rules and then their greedy ways. In your case it’s because your family has forgotten what matters most and has warped your family motto from its noble origins into a travesty they want.”

Nova sighed, “Yes. And that’s one reason why I desire to be special. Why I crave having at least something that makes me seem like I have value. I’ll cling onto whatever I can get in order to give myself something to feel good about. It’s the main reason why I crave Shaman magic: if I could somehow gain the ability to use such a power it would help give me more self-worth and a sense of accomplishment compared to others. But now you see where my self-esteem issues and cravings for being special come from.”

The winged woman nodded, “Yes, I do. Now it all makes sense.” She took a breath before saying, “Nova, I’m going to make you a promise. When we get married and have children of our own, I won’t subject them to such ridiculous standards like the rest of the Blitz family does. Hopefully, by then we can change their tune but if not I’ll make sure we raise our kids the right way. And I’ll make sure our family honors the true, noble meaning of the Blitz family motto, as it’s a beautiful motto that the past few generations have twisted into a deformed state.”

Nova turned to her and managed to crack a smile, “Thank you, Nina. That means the world to me. We’ll be going against the grain if the Blitz family doesn’t change by that point, but considering we’ve been going against the grain in our respective families for years it won’t be anything new. That’s just how we are.”

The two closed in for a kiss, tenderly locking their lips and holding each other close. Nina then pushed Nova down onto the ground with her on top, continuing their tender kiss. Unbeknownst to them the rest of the party had overheard the conversation from within the tent.

“Now it all makes sense,” Van said in a hushed tone.

Angelo nodded, “Yes, that explains a lot about Nova. I knew there was some sort of problem between him and his family but I admit I didn’t think it was this bad. No wonder he is the way he is.”

Zeeker growled, “The nerve of his family. They’re practically tossing him away because he doesn’t fit their idea of how a member of the family should be. They only see him for his flaws instead of seeing the person he is and what he is capable of. I’ve heard of dysfunctional families but the fact that they pretty much made Nova an outcast because they couldn’t appreciate what he can do and what he brings into the equation is just disgusting. Hopefully Nina can smack some sense into them, as she was able to lift Nova’s curse at being the universe’s butt-monkey when they became an item.”

Kettu nodded, “I totally agree, Zeeker. Even my family, who were a family of thieves, were very tightknit, and we never ostracized a member of the family for being different. In fact, we welcomed a family member that could break the mold and bring something new and different to the table. Felix and I were such members and the Softfoot family welcomed our methods and abilities with open arms. The fact that the Blitz family has not only forgotten the true meaning of their beloved motto but are willing to cast aside their own flesh and blood because they break the mold is just despicable. Nova has great talents in fields that the Blitz family lacks and yet they can’t look past the fact he’s failing where the rest of them succeed. No wonder he’s got such terrible self-esteem issues and craves to be considered special.”

Sir Reginald gained an annoyed look, “For once I agree with you, Kettu. And I can sympathize with Nova. My family name has an impressive history to it and we work hard to live up to its reputation. However, the Ganner family is far more forgiving when in the face of failure unless it’s truly inexcusable, and we’re willing to accept those who do things differently. We don’t force our family members to follow a set, rigid path like Nova’s family does. We grant whatever freedom we need in order for each generation to achieve their goals. The Blitz family really needs a slap of reality, as they’re driving a wedge between them and a perfectly capable member of their family who just does things his own way. And the fact that Nova seems to operate on a more practical level compared to the overkill methods the rest of his family does gives him an undeniable edge. Really, his family needs a serious wake-up call to see that they’ve been rejecting someone who is not only perfectly capable in his own right but could help revolutionize the family if they’d give him a chance and not feel their methods are the only true path.”

“I’ve got a hunch that Nina may be the very person who can smack some sense into them,” Van said. “Nova’s already breaking the mold further by falling in love and forming a relationship with a woman from another species. And as mentioned earlier she did break his curse at being the universe’s butt-monkey, so she could very well break the status quo of the Blitz family to bits and allow them to see sense. I’m not sure how, but given the fact it’s Nina, she’ll find a way, as she always does somehow. Especially if it comes to Nova’s well-being and happiness.”

“Here, here,” Angelo nodded.

Sir Reginald said, “Let’s head back to bed before they realize we’ve been eavesdropping on them. But at least now a lot of Nova’s personality quirks and faults make sense to us. It certainly explains a lot about him. But let’s retreat to our slumber before those two realize we’ve been listening in on them.”

The rest of the party nodded and returned to their slumber, though in the backs of their minds they were trying to think of a way to help Nova. Meanwhile Nova and Nina had stopped their tender make-out session and were watching the stars. Nina gently used one of her wings to cup Nova from behind, leaning close to him, making him smile. They stayed this way for about an hour before returning to the tent to sleep. They were unaware that the party had listened in on their conversation, merely going back to bed.

“I promise you, Nova, I will find a way to smack some sense into your family,” Nina vowed silently. “I don’t care what it takes: I will find a way. And if they still don’t comply then we’ll raise our own family the way we want to, following the true meaning of the Blitz family motto, and without any interference from the rest of those self-righteous jerks. They’ll find out the hard way just how special you are, and they’ll regret pushing you away in favor of their stupid overachiever methods. No matter what I have to do in order to beat the sense into them I will do it. Count on it, beloved.”

Next Chapter: Galloping Galactic Guardian

That's all for today. This reveal certainly puts Nova's past behavior in a new light. Tune in next time to see what our heroes face.
 

CynthiaLover

Geek of the Games
Joined
Dec 23, 2009
Messages
4,355
Reaction score
3,838
Pronouns
He/Him
Time for the next chapter of Dawn of Courage. (Warning: contains mild language, mild violence)

Galloping Galactic Guardian


It was the following morning. The heroic party was on its way to the next village. They had just finished off some monsters that had attacked them and were collecting the most valuable parts from them.

Sir Reginald nodded, “Okay, we got a good collection of parts to sell. Some Orc hammers and shields, a handful of Toady tongues and legs, a couple of Blue Clam pearls and shells, and even the horns, tusks, and vertebrae from a Basilisk. The Basilisk parts will fetch a very nice sum of coins, though the Blue Clam pearls will also net us a decent profit.”

Smiling, the party put the monster parts into Nova’s Digi-Pack.

“I gotta say having that Digi-Pack with you has helped us quite a bit, Nova,” Zeeker said. “It basically acts as a bottomless satchel really making transporting anything we need a breeze, as a lot of this stuff would be hard to carry otherwise.”

Nova gained a sheepish grin, “Yeah, well, it’s not like I planned this trip or anything. It was just good luck that the Digi-Pack was on my person when I got sent here. Though I’ll gladly take whatever break I can get so I’m not complaining. Now, if we’ve gathered up everything we need, let’s continue onward. Plus I need to restock my arrow supply, as I’m starting to get low.”

Kettu replied, “From what I’ve heard the next village has some archery equipment, so you can restock there. Probably because they’re not far from where Aerrow lives in this kingdom. After all, it appears he’s got quite a bit of pull around this kingdom. Makes me wonder if Queen Maria has him train her own archers, as I know she has some in her army.”

Sir Reginald nodded, “That’s correct. From what I’ve heard her archers are some of the best in the world, so it’s very possible that Aerrow trains them. Would also explain how he can afford such a large mansion, as Queen Maria would probably pay him a pretty copper for his assistance in tutoring her soldiers. But time for that later, let’s get going. Hopefully we don’t have to deal with something like another evolved monster or whatnot when we get there, as they’re starting to become a bit too common.”

Nova gave a sigh, “With my luck if there is a problem it’ll be an Undead Captain powered by a fallen soul.”

“Nova…” Nina said tenderly.

Van stood proud, “Well, whether there is a problem or not, if there is we will deal with it like we always do. That’s the way of the warrior.”

Angelo chuckled, “That’s the spirit, Van.”

The party started to make their way to the next village. It wasn’t long before it came into view.

Nina’s eyes widened before narrowing them, “Hang on a second, gang. The village looks like it’s been attacked. I can see the smoke and damage from here.”

“Joy…” Nova said, deadpan.

Sir Reginald’s eyes narrowed, “Then let us hurry and see what has transpired.”

The party quickly made their way toward the village. When they got there they saw the village was sporting a lot of damage, with burnt ground, homes with holes blasted in them, and debris all over the place. The villagers were working hard at trying to repair the damage but they were doing it half-heartedly, as if knowing that their efforts would be in vain.

Sir Reginald walked up to a young man, “Excuse me, but can you tell me what happened here?”

The young man replied, “We were bombarded by Muu’s damn army, that’s what. And we know they’ll be back, as our village priestess can’t block their assault a second time.”

“Can you give us more info?” Van asked. “Like who was the leader of this platoon of Muu’s forces?”

A young woman in rather elegant priestess clothes walked up to them, saying, “The leader of this platoon was some Undead Captain named Captain Marrowgold. We’ve never heard of him before. We know that there’s an Undead base about 25 miles north of us but that one is home to Captain Crossbone. I will say this: Marrowgold is tough! He’s easily stronger than Crossbone. My shrine magic can keep Crossbone at bay without much trouble but Marrowgold nearly put me on death’s doorstep. I was able to just barely repel his assault and send his bony goons back, but just by the skin of my teeth. I don’t know how I did it but one of my attacks seemed to strike a glowing orb inside of him, which seemed to be a weak point, as it forced him to retreat. But, at the same time, that orb… it felt like it was crying for help.”

Kettu growled, “That’s because Marrowgold is being powered by a fallen soul. Before you ask, every now and then Muu creates a special Undead Captain by fusing a captured soul with an Undead Soldier. We’ve seen it several times now. The resulting Undead Captain is far stronger, has no discernable weaknesses, and often sports various special abilities. Consider yourself lucky that when hitting that soul didn’t extinguish it, as you could’ve accidentally erased an innocent person from existence.”

The shrine maiden looked alarmed, “That was a fallen soul!? And I could’ve accidentally extinguished it?! Thank the Goddess that didn’t happen! I could never live with myself if I had accidentally destroyed an innocent person’s soul. But… then how do you save the soul?”

Nina explained, “Simply destroying the body of the Undead Captain will free the soul, purify it, and allow it to safely ascend. Destroying the Undead Captain’s body isn’t easy but it’s doable, as we’ve done it a fair few times now. It does require quite a bit more power in your punch. Combo skills are a good way of causing at least heavy damage to the Undead Captain, possibly even destroying it if the combo was strong enough.”

An older man asked, “Combo… skills? What’s that?”

Nova gained a sheepish expression, “I unintentionally coined the concept. They’re two or more skills combined into a new, more powerful form. Like combining Fire Shot with Wind Cutter Arrow to create Missile Strike or Bang with Lightning Burst to create Lightning Eruption, and so on and so forth. Note that any combo skills and their names have been coined by us, as we were the first to discover that it was possible. But the general concept is combining two or more skills together to create a more powerful one.”

The shrine maiden nodded, “I see, I see. Interesting. I’ll keep that in the back of my mind for future reference. But, in any case, since you have experience dealing with enemies like this can we entrust you to destroy Captain Marrowgold and his Undead Army platoon? I don’t have the strength to do it and the few other warriors in this village can barely handle the basic Undead Soldiers. While we know it’ll get Captain Crossbone on our case, he’s more manageable. Can we ask you to do this for us?”

Van nodded, “Yes, of course. That’s our job. We’re the Demon King’s champion party, after all, so dealing with Muu’s forces is part of our routine. So leave Marrowgold and his platoon to us.”

Sir Reginald nodded, “Van is correct. It’s our duty to wipe out every trace of Muu’s army and influence. So leave Marrowgold to us.”

The villagers all looked relieved.

The priestess smiled, “Thank you. That’ll put our mind at ease. However, we don’t know where Marrowgold is stationed so you might be better off waiting for him to attack here again. He comes after sunset, which makes me wonder if sunlight weakens him or he just simply gains more power at night. Either way, it might be easier to wait for him here until he decides to attack, as I’m certain he will. I can’t keep him and his platoon at bay for very long, he knows especially after how much strength and mana it took me to just slow him down a bit. We can’t offer too much, as most of our resources are going towards repairing the town, but we’ll offer what we can to help you.”

Nova asked, “Do you at least have archery equipment? I need to restock on arrows so that would be worth something to us.”

A young woman nodded, “Yes, we do. The weapon shop carries bows and arrows so you can just ask the owner for some.”

Sir Reginald nodded, “Right. Let’s get to work, team, and begin mapping out a plan. Nova, you should head for the weapon shop and pick up some arrows. And see if you can get a good price for the Orc hammers and shields. Nina, you should probably go with him, as you know your stuff about how much certain items fetch. The rest of us will ask around for more details on Marrowgold and his platoon so we can begin devising a plan to take him out. We’ll meet up at the inn to discuss our battle strategy. Quickly, as we only have a few hours before sunset.”

The party nodded and split up. Nova and Nina went to the weapon shop to purchase arrows and barter for the Orc hammers and shields. Nina also picked up a new set of magical rings called Starlight Topaz Rings while she was at it. The rest of the party went around the village to gather information on their new enemy. After about an hour the party met back up at the inn. There they started to devise a few strategies on how to defeat Marrowgold and his platoon. After about another hour they seemed to settle on a plan.

“Okay, everything looks to be in order,” Sir Reginald said. “From our knowledge on our Shaman forms both of Kettu’s current forms and my Terra Dark Knight gain more power during the night. We can use those forces as our primary offense against Marrowgold, taking advantage of his tendency to attack at night. The basic Undead Soldiers can be easily dealt with our tried-and-true methods. From what we were told there is only an average amount of Undead Soldiers in this platoon so they shouldn’t be too much of an issue. Marrowgold himself seems to be the toughest nut to crack, from what Grace the priestess told us he’s got a lot of power backing him up. Makes me worried that the soul being used to power him is also very strong, since we know that the stronger the soul being used for power, the greater the Undead Captain’s strength is. Sadly, once again we can’t use Elora here despite the fact she’d be stronger, as Gorgon Vipers get stronger at night, which is when they hunt undead. But we can’t risk hurting the soul with her hellfire. Kettu, have you decided on what Shaman form you’ll use?”

Kettu nodded, “Yes, I have, Reggie. I’m going with Fox Fyre. My Shadow Fox form won’t gain any extra advantages, as I need to be in a forest to gain further bonuses and abilities. But Fox Fyre doesn’t have that issue. Plus having the Fire element would give us some extra bite against them.”

“My name is not ‘Reggie’, Kettu!” He recomposed himself before saying, “Anyway, that is a good idea, as undead are weak to Fire, so having something like Illusion Flames will be extra potent. Plus, from what Grace told us, Marrowgold likes creating hallucinations, something that you’re immune to in your Fox Fyre form. And with my Terra Dark Knight I can produce stronger barriers so if push comes to shove I can substitute for Grace in erecting a barrier to protect the village. It’ll take a lot of strength to protect something so large but I can do it if need be.”

Van was looking at his Shaman Magic Bracelet before saying, “I have an idea, Sir Reginald. I’ll use a Shaman form, too. Not my Guardian of Edyn manifestation, as that won’t grant us any useful effects. I might experiment with a new combo. Seeing how both Nina and Kettu used trial-and-error when they gained their second Shaman forms and managed to defeat our foes I feel I’ll be able to take that roll of the dice as well.”

“What elements do you have in mind, Van?” Zeeker asked.

“I was thinking Dark and Light.”

Nova nodded, “That’s a good idea. Dark and Light together create the element of Chaos, which is by far the strongest element of all. That would be a very effective combo, especially since it’ll have no weakness along with a lot of raw power.”

Sir Reginald nodded, “That’s an excellent idea. That way if I have to resort to barrier duty we’ll have a third powerhouse to pick up the slack. Let’s hope that your Dark and Light combo is strong enough. Now, with that extra element added in I think we can start getting ourselves prepared for the actual battle, as sunset will be soon.”

“We should eat first,” Nina suggested. “That way we’ll have the energy to fight. Plus the battle will burn off all those calories.”

“I’m down for that,” Zeeker smiled.

Nodding in agreement the party ordered some food to keep their strength up. When the food arrived they tucked into it, enjoying the quality. After finishing their dinner they went outside to where Grace was.

“You finished planning everything?” she asked.

“Yes, we have,” Sir Reginald nodded. “We also just finished dinner so we’ll have the energy to fight. I can see the sun is starting to set. Any sign of our unwanted friends yet?”

She shook her head, “No, not yet, but it will be soon. I’ve got a villager in the watchtower with a telescope keeping an eye out for Marrowgold and his army. He’ll ring the bell when Muu’s latest goon get into range. I just hope I’ll have enough strength to erect a barrier to protect the village.”

“If you start having trouble I’ll take over, as I’m an expert on barriers myself. And since my Shaman form I intend to use makes producing barriers easier I can pick up the slack if you start running out of mana.”

The priestess gained a small smile, “You’re so lucky to have the ability to use Shaman magic. Such a rare gift. Thank you. If I start having trouble I’ll let you know so you can take over barrier-making duty. Hopefully that won’t be necessary but I’m glad to know that the option is there and ready if needed. Hopefully the destruction of Marrowgold won’t trigger Crossbone to attack shortly afterward, as we really can’t take any more punishment.”

Angelo smiled, “Don’t worry, we’ll take care of him, too. And we’ll make sure to destroy his base while we’re at it. So you can rest easy knowing that we’ll rid this area of Muu’s influence.”

“Hopefully we can ambush him at his base before he gets prepared to attack this village,” Kettu said. “After all, we also need to destroy the Undead Bases to prevent Muu from just recycling them. But hopefully we’ll be given a bit of time to get ourselves ready for Crossbone.”

The party nodded and continued to wait. Soon the sun had set and darkness was creeping over the land. They soon heard the clanging of the bell in the watchtower.

“Marrowgold and his army are coming from the north!” the villager in the watchtower stated.

“Time for us to shine,” Sir Reginald said. “Prepare for battle!”

The party dashed over to the northern part of the village and got in front of it. They prepared their weapons as they could see the Undead Army approaching them. Grace took a deep breath before summoning a barrier to protect the village. Soon the Undead Army was upon them. Captain Marrowgold, like his name, was a gold-colored skeleton knight wearing silver armor, boots, a horned helmet, and was wielding a large broadsword and a shield. A glowing light could be seen from within him and his red eyes flickered in the darkness.

“The Demon King’s puppet and his party, eh?” he sneered. “Thank you for showing up, as you’ve made my job easier. Once I eliminate you Master Muu will reward me. Soldiers, attack!”

Sir Reginald and Kettu activated their Shaman Magic Bracelets, saying in unison, “Elemental Energy Fusion activate!”

They were engulfed in swirling energy and before long they had become the Terra Dark Knight and Fox Fyre.

Van tapped his Shaman Magic Bracelet, saying, “Now it’s my turn! Light, Dark! Elemental Energy Fusion activate!”

He was soon engulfed in swirling energy. Before long when the energy subsided a new form was standing before them.

Van’s horse body was now black with what looked like cosmic patterns on it that seemed to be moving, along with a large pair of snow white wings, hooves looking like they were made of space rocks, and a tail that was made of cosmic energy. His human half was encased in strong armor that seemed to be composed of solidified Chaos energy, a helmet similar to a more sleek version of Nova’s O2 Mask on his head. His eyes were black with gold pupils, his hair was white, and he was wielding two trident lances made from solidified energy.

He stood up on his hind legs, stating in a strong voice, “Face the power of the Galactic Pegasus! I will trample all over your bony bodies and reduce you to cosmic dust!”

Although surprised, Captain Marrowgold recovered, stating, “So, what General Vertebreak said is true. But I’ll stop you regardless of your Shaman powers! Get them!”

The Undead Soldiers charged in, ready to strike the party down.

Van raised his twin tridents into the air, stating, “Let’s see you handle this! Meteor Storm!”

There was a brief pause before a barrage of meteors rained down upon the battlefield. The attack destroyed several Undead Soldiers with ease while also battering Captain Marrowgold, stunning him at the sheer power of the attack.

Sir Reginald ran up to Captain Marrowgold, stating, “Have a taste of this! Seismic Shock Slash!”

He performed two powerful slashes that knocked Marrowgold off his feet and onto his back. However, just as he did that, Grace fell to her knees, dropping her barrier, showing she was completely exhausted. Sir Reginald noticed this and quickly raced over to where she was. He placed both his claymores onto his back and stood in front of her.

“I’ll take over from here, Grace! Barrier!”

He summoned a very powerful barrier that shielded the village, much to the villagers’ relief.

“Nova!” he shouted. “Take the reins! I have to shield the village so you take over the leadership role for now!”

Nova nodded before instructing, “Van! Kettu! You two deal with Marrowgold! The rest of us will deal with the bread and butter Undead Soldiers! Give him hell!”

Van and Kettu nodded before racing over to Captain Marrowgold. Just as the Undead Captain managed to stand upright Van lashed out both tridents.

“Star Spear Strike!” he stated.

The tridents glowed with cosmic power before plowing into Captain Marrowgold, creating an explosion, knocking him back again and destroying part of his breastplate, revealing the trapped soul inside his ribcage.

Kettu said, “Now it’s my turn! Kitsune Curse!”

His nine tails began releasing an eerie light. Soon Marrowgold was engulfed in a black haze, causing him to panic as it seemed to mess with his mind. He screamed as he appeared to be bombarded with mental attacks but was unable to leave the haze.

Kettu tuned to Van, “Okay, my Kitsune Curse has weakened him! You deal the killing blow!”

Van nodded before stating, “Time for the final strike! Asteroid Annihilation!”

There was a brief pause before a massive asteroid came rocketing down from the sky. It crashed down upon Captain Marrowgold, making him scream in pain as his body was shattered to dust, leaving an impact crater where he once was along with freeing the trapped soul. At this point the rest of the party had finished off the remaining Undead Soldiers. Nova turned to Sir Reginald and gave him a nod, which the gallant knight returned and lowered his barrier, as everyone knew the fight was over. The soul then started to take shape, revealing it to be a man with floppy dog ears, a fluffy tail, paws for feet, and fur-covered claws for hands. Kettu’s eyes widened in surprise.

“Carlos!?” he sputtered. “Is that you?”

Angelo turned to him, “Carlos? A friend of yours, perhaps, Kettu?”

The Werefox nodded, “Yes. Carlos was my neighbor growing up. He’s a Weredog. But last I checked he was still alive. Carlos…” he turned to the Weredog, “…what happened?”

The Weredog gave a sad smile, “Kettu, it’s good to see you. Although I didn’t recognize you in that form at first. Sadly, I was attacked and killed by General Bloodgore not long after you left the village. I was collecting firewood for the village when Bloodgore swooped in and took me out before I could retaliate. Your girlfriend, Julia, was the one who found me just moments before Bloodgore ripped out my soul and left my dead husk of a body behind. He didn’t attack her, fortunately, so you don’t have to worry about her, but I know that by now she got the rest of the villagers to bury me alongside Felix. Thanks to you I’m finally free again, and I’m extra grateful it was your party that did the deed. Although this is a very uniquely assembled group, Kettu.”

Kettu looked devastated, “So, Bloodgore got you as well?” He then clenched his fists, “Then it’s a good thing I finally destroyed that bat-faced freak! That’s the lives of two people he’s claimed that I care about! Ooh, Muu is gonna pay big time for this.”

Carlos’ eyes widened, “You already destroyed Bloodgore? Then you have my deepest thanks, Kettu. At least no more lives will be lost to his vampiric claws. But while I was trapped in Muu’s clutches I met Felix’s soul. He knows you’re fighting Muu’s forces, trying to rescue him, as Muu hasn’t exactly been subtle about how much he hates your group for constantly ruining his plans. Felix desperately wants to see you again, Kettu. Please, don’t stop fighting Muu so not only can his soul be freed but all the others captured as well. We’re counting on all of you to save our world from Muu once and for all.”

Sir Reginald stepped up, “Don’t worry, we have every intention of doing so. This time we’ll make sure that cowardly bone daddy of a monster gets his just desserts. Whatever it takes we’ll stomp him and his army out for good.”

The party nodded in agreement, making Carlos smile.

“You have my thanks,” the Weredog said. “Now… it’s time for me to go. Thank you again for freeing me from Muu’s grip. Being used as a power source for one of his goons is a horrible experience. Give my regards to Felix when you find him. And don’t give up. Farewell.”

He became a sphere of light and flew into the air, disappearing in the night sky. Kettu had a somber expression on his face, clearly surprised at what he had learned.

Nova placed a hand on the Werefox’s shoulder, saying, “This was definitely a shock to your system, wasn’t it, Kettu? Learning that another person you care about was killed by Bloodgore was not something you wanted. But at least you avenged him as well as Felix when you cooked Bloodgore to extra crispy style. Now he can rest more easily knowing his murderer is dead. Don’t give up hope, Kettu, as we’ll not only save Felix’s soul, but all the souls Muu has in his grip.”

Kettu nodded, “Oh, don’t worry, I haven’t given up. I’m in this for the long haul, especially after learning that Carlos was another one of Muu’s victims. It was bit of a shock, no doubt about it, but it only motivates me more to finish this job and ensure that Muu is destroyed once and for all.”

Nina smiled, “That’s the spirit, Kettu. We’ve made a lot of progress so far and we intend to take this fight to Muu’s throne room doors. It won’t be easy but we will prevail against that big bone daddy and his goon squad. We’ve come this far and we’ll go the whole distance. And we’ll save Felix’s soul so you can be more at peace.”

Everyone nodded in agreement, clearly determined to win this war.

Grace walked up to them, “Either way, you have my village’s thanks. Now with Marrowgold gone and the trapped soul freed we can breathe a sigh of relief. Crossbone is the next threat but he’s nowhere near as tough as Marrowgold was. If you lot can deal with him then my village can rest easy.”

Van nodded, “Oh, don’t worry, we have every intention of stomping him out like the maggot he is. We’ll go after him tomorrow to ensure that he can’t ambush your village while it’s in a weakened state.”

Nova then gained an idea, “Hold on, I have an idea.”

He started to rummage through his Digi-Pack, much to Grace’s confusion, before pulling something out. It looked like a magical accessory. It was a sky blue stone bracelet with three orb-shaped emeralds on it. He held it out to Grace.

“Here, Grace, take this magical accessory I crafted,” he said. “I call it a Mana Gem Bracelet. It’s made from a Mana Stone combined with three Soul Emeralds. It’s great for helping you maintain your mana levels by not only giving you a constant source of mana energy to recharge from but it’ll also cut the needed mana costs for your magic by 33%. Hopefully you can make use out of it.”

Grace’s eyes widened as she took the bracelet, saying, “You… made this? I had no idea you were a magical accessory craftsman.” She took a moment to analyze it before smiling, “Thank you. This’ll serve me well. That’s very sweet of you, especially since I’d expect you to charge for this, as coming across items like Mana Stones and Soul Emeralds aren’t easy. Thank you, I’ll make good use of this.”

She then gave Nova a kiss on the cheek, much to Nina’s fury, before placing the bracelet on her right wrist. The Soul Emeralds started to glow a bit, seemingly activating the bracelet, making the priestess sigh contently.

“Ahh… that’s the ticket. I can feel the bracelet restoring my mana energy. This’ll be a huge help in allowing me to keep protecting my village. Thank you again. Now, I suggest you all rest, as you said you’d go after Crossbone tomorrow. So head for the inn and get some much-needed shut-eye.”

Sir Reginald nodded, “Indeed. Let’s go, team. But first we need to return to normal.”

He, Van, and Kettu said in unison, “Cancel Fusion!”

They were engulfed in swirling energy before returning to normal. They made their way back into the village, where the grateful civilians sang their praises. They returned to the inn and quickly went to sleep, knowing that tomorrow was another battle.

Next Chapter: Crossing Off Crossbone

That's it for today. Another day, another Undead Captain destroyed, another Shaman form. Tune in next time to see the battle with Crossbone.
 
Last edited:

CynthiaLover

Geek of the Games
Joined
Dec 23, 2009
Messages
4,355
Reaction score
3,838
Pronouns
He/Him
Time for the next chapter of Dawn of Courage. (Warning: contains mild language, mild violence)

Crossing Out Crossbone


It was the following morning after the party had defeated Captain Marrowgold. They were making preparations for their battle with Captain Crossbone and his platoon. After a bit they had gathered up what they needed and were starting to make their way out of the village.

Grace stepped up to them, “Please, be careful. While Crossbone is weaker than Marrowgold was, don’t take any unnecessary risks. We cannot afford to lose you now.”

Sir Reginald nodded, “You can rest assured we will be careful. We’ve gotten this far and we intend to go the distance. I promise you we will return with good results. Now, team, let’s move out.”

The party nodded and started to make their way in the direction of where the Undead Base was said to be. After about an hour of walking it came into view. The party quickly ducked behind cover to avoid being spotted.

“Lady Nina, have Phantom scout things out so we can get an idea of what we’re up against.”

Nina nodded, bit her thumb to produce blood, and stated strongly, “Phantom, come forth!”

A summoning circle appeared, followed by a burst of wind, and soon Phantom was perched on Nina’s arm.

“Phantom, you know the drill. Scope out the Undead Base while invisible and record what you see. Then report back to us so we can begin mapping out a plan.”

Phantom gave a screech before becoming invisible and taking off toward the Undead Base. He perched on a flagpole and his eyes started to gleam, recording what he was seeing. After a few minutes of scoping out the enemy he took off and returned to the party, becoming visible again and perching on Nina’s arm.

“Let’s see it, Phantom,” Zeeker said.

Phantom nodded and started to project a recorded image from his eyes. The party took a moment to observe what they were up against.

“Hmm…” Sir Reginald mused. “While we’re dealing with the usual number of Undead Soldiers this base has a handful of Stone Gaia monsters acting as back-up.”

Nova turned to him, “Stone Gaia? What type of monster is that?”

Nina turned to him, “Stone Gaias are part of the Gaia family. They are classified as Spirit type monsters. They take the form of statues wielding hammers. In their default state they are made of stone and cannot be attacked. However, when they attack they become vulnerable, as they drop their stone body guard in order to swing their hammers. When they strike the ground with their hammers it caused a ripple of shockwaves that erupt as they travel, making them pretty dangerous. I admit I’m surprised that Muu is enlisting monsters like Gaias into his army. Makes me worried he might use other monsters as extra firepower for his army.”

Van replied, “Frankly I’m not too surprised. Muu knows his basic Undead Soldiers are pretty easily felled, especially to more powerful warriors. So ‘enlisting’ monsters to use as extra troops isn’t really farfetched. And given the fact that we’ve been mowing down his Undead Soldiers like they were toy soldiers would prompt him to try using something with more bite to its bark. Stone Gaias are actually a pretty solid choice, as they’re not only very durable but they are very strong, too. Much stronger than the bread and butter Undead Troops. So we need to be careful around them.”

Sir Reginald nodded, “Yes, exactly, Van. Let’s begin our strategy meeting so we can best prepare for this threat.”

The party started to plan their strategy, trying to map out ideas and tactics that would work against their foes. After about 20 minutes they settled on a plan.

“Okay, everything seems to be in order. Van and Kettu will deal with the Stone Gaias, as the Meteor Storm and Will-O-Wisp attacks from their Shaman forms would have the ability to bypass the Stone Gaias’ defenses. Nina and Zeeker will handle the Undead Soldiers in their Shaman forms due to both having strong AOE attacks. The rest of us will deal with Crossbone. If we’re all set we can begin the attack.”

Everyone nodded in agreement and began making their way to the base. When they got within range of it the four Stone Gaias that were stationed at the front in their statue forms turned to face them.

“Nova, if you’d be so kind?” Van said.

“Right,” the pink-haired man nodded. “Ifrit Mode.”

The Demon King Ring adjusted itself, now set to Ifrit Mode. He then nocked an arrow onto his bow.

“Dragon Strike!”

He fired the attack at the front gates, causing them to be blown open, revealing the Undead Army and its Captain. Captain Crossbone almost looked like a skeleton pirate, only instead of a hook for a hand he had scimitar blades made of bones in replacement of hands. He also seemed to have a crossbow attached to his shoulder. His eyes gleamed as he saw the party.

“I was wondering what had happened to Captain Marrowgold,” he growled. “So, it was you who destroyed him. Well, I intend to fix that. Undead Soldiers, Stone Gaias, attack!”

The Undead Soldiers began their charge while the Stone Gaias raised their hammers. Nina, Kettu, Van, and Zeeker all tapped the gems on their Shaman Magic Bracelets.

“Elemental Energy Fusion activate!” they all said.

They were engulfed in swirling energy, causing Muu’s forces to stop for a moment to observe, before they had transformed into the Goddess of Phoenixes, Fox Fyre, Galactic Pegasus, and the Burning Beast.

“Those Shaman powers are a problem,” Crossbone growled. “But while they can deal with my Undead Soldiers let’s see how they fare against Stone Gaias! Attack!”

The Undead Soldiers charged toward the party. Nina and Zeeker exchanged nods and faced the skeletal warriors.

“Flames of Judgment!” Nina stated strongly.

“Firestorm Wrath!” Zeeker roared.

The two flaming attacks combined into a massive maelstrom of power. It effortlessly swept up the Undead Soldiers, allowing the rest of the party easy access to the other enemies. The Stone Gaias dropped their defenses and slammed their hammers down, causing exploding shockwaves that raced toward the party. Only Nina and Zeeker were able to dodge the attacks due to them floating off the ground, although they did float a bit higher to better avoid the assault. The rest of the party got knocked down, though they got right back up. The Stone Gaias quickly raised their defenses again to avoid a retaliation.

Kettu snarled, “Nice try, but not nice enough! Will-O-Wisp!”

He fired several will-o-wisps from around his body, striking at least half of the Stone Gaias. The flames were absorbed into them, causing it to form above their heads. They had an immediate effect, as the Stone Gaias started to crumple.

Van said, “My turn. Meteor Storm!”

There was a brief pause before a barrage of meteors rained down. The attack effortlessly destroyed the other half of the Stone Gaias even in their defensive state, leaving their shattered bodies, helmets, and hammers behind. Shortly afterward the other Stone Gaias literally crumbled to pieces, leaving only their hammers and helmets behind. At that time the massive maelstrom that Nina and Zeeker created ended, showing that none of the Undead Soldiers that were swept up into it had survived. Captain Crossbone started to look nervous as Nova, Sir Reginald, and Angelo began to corner him.

“H-How did you do that so effortlessly!?” the Undead Captain sputtered.

Sir Reginald smirked, “We have our methods, Crossbone. And just because Muu is now aware of our Shaman powers doesn’t mean we can’t still use them to our advantage. Now it’s time to say goodbye. Nova, Angelo, let’s send this goon back to the grave! Flame Slash!”

Angelo nodded, “Flame Slash!”

Nova loaded up two arrows and pointed it at both Sir Reginald and Angelo, “Time for a combo finisher! Double Wind Cutter Arrow!”

He fired the two Wind-infused arrows at the respective blades of his allies. The attacks combined, creating a massive firestorm on each weapon.

“Combo Skill: Firestorm Slash!” both Sir Reginald and Angelo said strongly.

The two launched their attack on Crossbone, who raised both his scimitar sword arms in defense. However, the dual combo skill effortlessly shattered his defense and tore through him like a hot knife through butter, burning him to ashes, ending the battle.

Nina floated over to the party, “Let me heal all of you before we check out if the base has anything useful, since you did get hit by the Stone Gaias’ attacks. Goddess Blessing.”

The party was bathed in healing light, restoring them to full strength.

“Much obliged, lovely Nina,” Angelo said with a smile.

Sir Reginald nodded, sheathing his sword, “Yes, I agree. Now, let’s see what we can find. We saw some crates in the base when Phantom scoped it out for us earlier. Let’s see if there’s anything worthwhile in them.”

The party nodded and entered the base. They took a moment to observe the inside of the base to ensure that there were no more Stone Gaias to ambush them. When they detected none they quickly found three large wooden crates tucked in a corner. Zeeker effortlessly ripped the lids open, revealing various materials in them.

“Hmm… interesting,” the brave knight said. “We’ve got Mana Stones, some refined Magna Crystal cubes, and a decent supply of Elemental Gems not unlike the ones on our Shaman Magic Bracelets. We’d best collect these. They’ll not only fetch a decent profit but the Magna Crystal cubes are considered extremely useful, as they’re often used to power certain machines like ships, magic cannons, and barrier generators. I wouldn’t put it past Muu to try to use these to fortify his defenses and make it harder for us to get to him. You know the drill, Nova, stash these into your Digi-Pack for safekeeping. Then we’ll destroy the Undead Base.”

Nova nodded and quickly stored all the items in the crates into his Digi-Pack. The party then walked outside the base, collected the Stone Gaia hammers and helmets, and put a fair bit of distance between them and it.

Van stepped up, “I’ll do the honors this time if you don’t mind. It’ll save Nova an arrow and some of the Demon King Ring’s magic. Sir Reginald, a barrier if you’d please for good measures.”

Sir Reginald nodded before stating, “Barrier!”

The party was protected by a magical barrier. Van then raised both his trident spears into the air.

“Asteroid Annihilation!” he said in a strong voice.

There was a brief pause before a massive asteroid fell from the sky. It plowed into the Undead Base, effortlessly destroying it like it was made of matchsticks, causing the Magna Crystal to explode. When the dust settled all that was left of the Undead Base was debris and a crater. Sir Reginald then lowered his barrier.

“Okay, that’s another Undead Base and its occupants destroyed,” the knight said. “We’ve done good lately, as we’ve taken out two Undead Captains and their platoons within 24 hours. Not to mention we freed a trapped soul in the process. That leaves only three Undead Bases left on this continent if Queen Maria’s information is correct.”

Kettu nodded, “Yeah, you said it, Reggie. Just three more major battles before we take our business to the next continent, which I hear is in dire straits due to the abundance of Muu’s forces littering the place.”

Zeeker turned to Nina, “Hey, Nina, I’ve got an idea on what to call our combo that we performed today. How does Judgment Inferno sound?”

Nina giggled, “Sounds good to me, Zeeker. Now, with the enemy gone we can return to normal, so I suggest we cancel our respective fusions and head back to the village to let Grace know that her people are no longer in any immediate danger.”

“Cancel Fusion!” she, Zeeker, Van, and Kettu said in unison.

They were engulfed in swirling energy before it dispersed, returning them to normal. The party then started to make their way back to the village. They soon arrived and standing at the entrance was Grace, who looked relieved to see them. She dashed up to them.

“Did you succeed?” she asked. “I saw what looked like Van’s cosmic attacks from here. I take it Crossbone is gone?”

Sir Reginald nodded, “Yes, Grace, we’ve dealt with them. And we learned something new in the process. Muu is now using monsters as part of his army, as we had to fight some Stone Gaia monsters alongside the Undead Soldiers. Considering that his basic Undead Soldiers aren’t too difficult to defeat, Muu must be trying to fortify his army with more powerful threats. We also learned he’s now got the methods to refine Magna Crystals, as we found a crate full of Magna Crystal cubes. Normally he just uses raw ones to power his bases but it appears Muu has learned how to properly refine them to more stable forms. And considering that stable Magna Crystal cubes are more powerful than raw ones, along with their uses, may mean he’s going to further strengthen his defenses against us and our allies. But you can rest easy knowing that this area is now Undead Army-free.”

Grace looked both relieved and concerned, saying, “So, Muu has finally figured out how to refine Magna Crystals, huh? That means he could start incorporating shields into his bases to prevent assaults on them. But at least my people can take a sigh of relief knowing that Muu’s presence in our area is gone. I thank you. First you deal with Marrowgold, then give me this special bracelet that’s really been extremely helpful to me, then you destroy Crossbone and his army, and finally you learned that Muu is not only using monsters but may incorporate other defenses to his army. That’s quite the job well done. You’re a strangely assembled group but from what I’ve seen you are extremely efficient. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Please, take a chance to get some rest, as I know you have other bases to hunt down.”

Angelo smiled, “Thank you, we’ll take you up on that.”

The party nodded in agreement and entered the village. The villagers were singing their praises, happy to know that they were finally freed from Muu’s army in their area.

Next Chapter: Stone Cold Panic

That's all for today. Muu's using monsters now? What does this mean for future battles? Tune in next time to find out.
 

CynthiaLover

Geek of the Games
Joined
Dec 23, 2009
Messages
4,355
Reaction score
3,838
Pronouns
He/Him
Time for the next chapter of Dawn of Courage. (Warning: contains mild language, mild violence)

Stone Cold Panic


It had been a few days since the heroic party had destroyed Captain Crossbone and his Undead Army platoon. They were back on the road, heading toward the next village. Sir Reginald was in the lead, as usual, guiding the party with the map.

“Okay, once we get to the next village it’ll be a straight shot to Emerald Coast Kingdom’s capital,” he said. “There we will meet with Queen Maria to discuss anything that needs addressing, along with thanking her for the extensive notes her intelligence network got us on Muu’s army.”

Zeeker placed his hands behind his head, “I’ve heard that Queen Maria is rather strict toward her subjects, especially men. But considering the fact that this kingdom is a matriarchy it makes sense, as women take priority here.”

Nova chuckled darkly, “Not exactly a good place for Dominic, as his tendency to sexually harass women would most assuredly land him in some very deep, hot water with Queen Maria. Not to mention he’s gained quite the negative reputation, which she must’ve heard about by now. Looks like Nina might finally get some reprieve from him. And, perhaps, from Eoleo as well, since he’s trying to bed her as well, something that I doubt Queen Maria would allow.”

Angelo turned to Nina, “Speaking of which, are you past your two week extra fertility timeframe, Nina?”

She shook her head, “No, but I’m nearing the end of it. Another three days should do it, then it’ll start to decline until it reaches more ‘normal’ levels when autumn rolls around. At least we’ve managed to keep both Dominic and Eoleo in the dark about it, allowing me to get past this stage of my bodily hormones without too much issue. I still have to be careful, though, as my fertility will be higher for a while despite it slowly tapering off. It’s just the first two weeks of summer are the most crucial due to it being mating season for phoenixes. While I still can get pregnant pretty easily even after those two weeks have passed, it won’t be a guarantee after that timeframe. But at least I’ve managed to get through this timeframe without much incident.”

Sir Reginald turned to her, “That’s good to know. Now, we should be nearing the next village. Hopefully it hasn’t been attacked by anything lately, as we’ve been having to deal with that problem a fair bit as of recent.”

The party nodded and made their way in the direction of the next village. However, to their surprise, when they got there they saw it had a barrier erected around it.

“Oh, joy…” Nova said, deadpan. “Something tells me there was an incident here.”

“Let’s find out,” Van replied.

The party made their way to the village. There was a guard stationed at the front of the village just behind the barrier. He got into a defensive position as he saw the party approach.

“Halt!” he said. “State your business. Hmm?” His eyes widened, “Sir Reginald?! Is that you?”

Sir Reginald nodded, “Yes, and this is the Demon King’s champion party. I take it something has happened that you felt the need to erect a barrier?”

The guard nodded, “Yes. There is, or rather was, a warlock from the Magic Clan not far from here. He experimented on a Stone Gaia and ended up turning it into a massively dangerous and deadly monster. The new evolved monster killed him and has since been attacking the area. We don’t know why he was experimenting with such a dangerous creature like a Stone Gaia but he did and now we have that brute running around. Do you think maybe you can deal with it? It would allow this village to be put at ease and we can drop the barrier surrounding us, as the rest of the monsters around here aren’t that difficult.”

“Another Stone Gaia?” Kettu quirked an eyebrow. “We just had a run-in with some being used as new mooks for Muu. Considering they don’t usually haunt around these parts it makes me wonder where that warlock got one?”

“Probably summoned it or something,” Nina said. “The Magic Clan can do stuff like that so it’s possible he could’ve just summoned it and turned it into a lab rat.”

Sir Reginald nodded, “Yes, that is very possible.” He turned to the guard, “We’ll deal with that evolved monster for you. Just tell us where it is and we’ll go after it.”

The guard looked relieved, “You have no idea how much our village would appreciate that. Especially since our barrier generator’s power source has nearly run out. Just go north from here and you’ll spot the remains of that warlock’s tower. The evolved Stone Gaia shouldn’t be too far from it. Please, be careful, as Stone Gaias on their own are tough, much less a more evolved and intelligent one.”

Sir Reginald replied, “We’ll be fine. Leave it to us. Team, let’s go and take care of this evolved Stone Gaia. I already have an idea on how to deal with it but let’s get going so we can keep it from coming near the village.”

The party nodded and started to make their way north to where the evolved Stone Gaia was residing.

“Well, at least this time the evolved monster didn’t come into contact with something that literally fell from the sky,” Nova said dryly.

Zeeker nodded, “True, but it could also mean this evolved monster is stronger, as it was purposely experimented on. The warlock was probably trying to turn it into a weapon for his own gain so he probably made it very strong. Though he obviously didn’t predict that it would turn on him. Anyway, Sir Reginald, what’s your gameplan?”

The knight turned to the party, “As we learned from our last battle with Stone Gaias they are vulnerable to Kettu’s Will-O-Wisp and Van’s Meteor Storm. Granted, I harbor some doubts that Meteor Storm will be as effective as it was last time: like you said this special Stone Gaia could be significantly more enhanced than past monsters, but maybe Asteroid Annihilation would be effective. And I could use my Dark Meteor for extra punch. So, in short, our Shaman forms will be the key to defeating it.”

Nova then said, “I also noticed something the last time we fought Stone Gaias. Their exploding shockwave attack has a small gap in between each eruption wave. If we can use that gap to dodge the incoming attack we can avoid getting hurt unlike last time. It’ll take some fancy footwork but it is doable.”

Nina nodded, “That’s an excellent observation, Nova. I noticed that, too. We could potentially dodge the eruption wave attack by taking advantage of that gap that lasts a few seconds. Although we do have to consider the possibility that this evolved Stone Gaia lacks that issue. But either way we could use some fancy footwork skills to dodge the attack in future battles.”

“That is an excellent observation, Nova,” Sir Reginald said. “We’ll keep that in mind for later battles. For now, we should be nearing the area where that monster is lurking. I can see the remains of the warlock’s tower from here. See?”

He pointed ahead. Sure enough there was the partial remains of a tower visible from their current position. They could also feel the rumbling of what sounded like heavy stomping a bit further up.

“Seems like this monster can move on its own,” Van said.

“Yeah,” Kettu nodded. “Considering the fact that none of the Gaia monsters can move from their platforms it does mean this one won’t be a sitting duck. Fortunately, it doesn’t sound very fast either, so we’ll still have the ability to run circles around it.”

Nina’s eyes narrowed, “Hang on, gang, I see something. I think I can see the Stone Gaia monster from where we are. It’s a big one, that’s for sure, and I think it has two hammers instead of one, replacing both hands in the process. And it seems to be hopping, so that’s how it moves. Maybe we should devise our plan now just to be safe.”

Sir Reginald nodded, “Yes, I agree, Lady Nina. Let’s map out our battleplan. Quickly, before that monster notices us.”

The party huddled together and began strategizing. After about ten minutes they had settled on a plan.

“Okay, like I had envisioned before, Van and Kettu will be the main offensive force, as Will-O-Wisp and Asteroid Annihilation will be the most effective attacks. The rest of us will provide extra firepower by using our Shaman forms. Nova will support us from a range with coverfire, as he can’t use a Shaman form, thus is the most vulnerable to attack. If we’re ready let us begin our attack.”

Everyone nodded in agreement. They made their way to where the warlock’s tower was. Standing before them was a massive monster. It looked like a gigantic Stone Gaia with free-floating arms ending in huge hammers, glowing eyes, strong armor, and was hopping around on a single pillar-like leg. It glared at the party as they approached it.

“So, you dare try to challenge me?” it growled. “Big mistake. I’ll squash you like I did my creator. Prepare to die!”

The party quickly activated their Shaman Magic Bracelets.

“Elemental Energy Fusion activate!” everyone except Nova said.

They were engulfed in swirling energy which soon dissipated, revealing the Terra Dark Knight, Goddess of Phoenixes, Tsunami Knight, Fox Fyre, Burning Beast, and Galactic Pegasus. The evolved monster’s eyes widened in surprise.

“How can you do that? No matter, I’ll still crush you like insects. Eat this!”

It clanged both its hammers together before striking the ground, causing the same explosive shockwave that normal Stone Gaia monsters use, only with larger eruptions. To the monster’s surprise the party managed to dodge the attack by jumping through the gap between the attack wave, leaving them unharmed.

Kettu stated, “Time to put you on a timer! Will-O-Wisp!”

He fired one of the will-o-wisps from his body into the evolved Stone Gaia. It tried to swat it away but that only caused the will-o-wisp to fuse with the monster. The monster stumbled as the ghostly flame formed over its head.

“W-What’s happening to me?!” it cried out.

Kettu smirked, “My Will-O-Wisp is slowly eating away at you. Not even your stone body defense can block it or remove it. As long as it exists inside you it’ll slowly weaken and kill you. No matter how the battle ends you will die.”

The monster’s eyes glared, raised up its hammer, and attempted to squash Kettu underneath it. Van took flight on his new wings and snatched Kettu out of harm’s way.

“Nice flying, Van,” the Werefox smiled.

“No problem,” the Centaur chuckled.

Nova primed an arrow, stating, “While I can’t do much I can at least provide something for this fight. Like this! Lucifer Mode! Dragon Strike!”

The Demon King Ring adjusted itself, now set to Lucifer Mode. He then fired the supercharged arrow directly at the evolved Stone Gaia’s face. The electrified dragon crashed into the monster’s face, creating a massive explosion, making it roar in pain and stumble.

“As I said once before, that’s a facial disgracial!”

Nina floated up, “My turn! Phoenix Finish!”

She fired the flaming energy phoenix at the monster. Just as it had recovered from the Dragon strike to the face the flaming energy phoenix struck it in the face again: doing just as much damage as Dragon Strike did, causing the monster to become rathe rocky as it tried to regain its focus.

“Now that you’re all fired up it’s time to cool you down,” Angelo said confidently. “Waterspout Tempest!”

He swung his halberd, causing a massive waterspout to form and engulf the monster. While unable to lift it off the ground, the powerful water vortex still whipped and slashed at the monster. When the attack waned the evolved Stone Gaia looked dizzy.

“Time to feel the burn!” Zeeker sneered. “Firestorm Wrath!”

He created a flaming tornado that viciously burned and scorched the monster, making it howl in pain. When the attack subsided it looked like it was on its last legs. There was also cracks forming in its body where ghostly flame energy was leaking out.

Sir Reginald turned to Van, saying, “Let’s end this in one devastating strike!”

Van nodded and both began to prime their finisher attacks.

“Dark Meteor!” Sir Reginald called.

“Asteroid Annihilation!” Van roared.

There was a brief pause before both attacks came rocketing down toward the Stone Gaia monster. They fused together, creating a humungous space rock easily the size of a small moon. The party quickly retreated behind Sir Reginald as he erected a barrier. Before the Stone Gaia monster could retaliate the massive attack plowed into it, effortlessly crushing it to bits and causing a large explosion that tore apart the rest of the warlock’s tower in the process. The barrier managed to weather the attack, though the party could feel the force of the attack even from within the barrier’s safety. After the dust had settled there was nothing left of both the evolved Stone Gaia and the warlock’s tower, with only a smoldering crater remaining. Sir Reginald lowered the barrier now that the fight was over.

Nova said, “Well, that was certainly a finisher of galactic proportions. I suggest we call that move Cosmic Collision.”

“I’m down with that,” Zeeker said.

Sir Reginald nodded, “Indeed, a good name for it. Maybe we can use that combo against General Vertebreak the next time we see him. It might have enough oomph to at the very least severely injure him. But, anyway, good work everyone. We took care of a very dangerous threat. And I will say Nova’s observation about how the Gaia monsters’ attack functions was key in us pretty much coming out of this battle unscathed. We’d best keep that in the backs of our minds for later, since Muu is now using Gaia monsters as extra firepower. I suggest we return to normal and report back to the village.”

“Cancel Fusion!” everyone except Nova said.

They were all engulfed in swirling energy before returning to normal. The party made their way back to the village. As they arrived they saw the barrier had dropped and the various villagers were waiting for them.

“Was that massive attack your doing?” a young woman asked.

“And did it destroy the evolved Stone Gaia?” an older man asked.

Sir Reginald nodded, “To answer both your questions: yes. You no longer have to fear of that evolved Stone Gaia causing any more problems. And the rest of the warlock’s tower was also destroyed in the process, so that’ll eliminate any possible repeat offenders, as it’s pretty clear nothing survived the attack.”

The village elder stepped up, saying, “You have our deepest thanks, heroes. We were terrified of that monster showing up at our front doors; it could easily crush us like bugs. Even the barrier might not have been able to block it.”

Nova asked, “Speaking of which. Did you drop the barrier because you thought the threat was over or did the power source run out?”

An older woman replied, “The power source finally gave out, so the barrier dropped on its own. If we only had a fresh Magna Crystal cube we could easily keep our barrier generator ready in case of other problems.”

Nina smiled, “We’ve got some Magna Crystal cubes that we liberated from Muu’s forces. We’d be happy to give you one in exchange for a free night and food at the inn.”

The village elder smiled, “That can be arranged. We probably would’ve given it to you anyway since you dealt with that monster on our behalf. If you’re really willing to part with a Magna Crystal cube that would really make our day. We’ll even offer a discount at our shops for you only.”

Zeeker nodded, “Sounds like a plan to me. We accept.”

Nova took out a Magna Crystal cube and handed it to one of the villagers, who ran over to where the barrier generator was, which was hidden inside a belltower, and installed it. The villagers welcomed the party into their town, eager to reward the party for saving them from the threat of the evolved monster.

“I’m a bit worried,” Nova said silently. “This warlock managed to evolve a monster without the use of something like a Comet Core or Goddess Tear. It makes me wonder if Muu might try to copy that idea, as he’s now commanding monsters like Stone Gaias and who knows what else. I hope this isn’t a preview of what may come.”

Next Chapter: Dominic’s Disastrous Betrayal

That's all for today. Fillier-ish but it does give some foreshadowing. Tune in next time to see what our heroes face.
 

CynthiaLover

Geek of the Games
Joined
Dec 23, 2009
Messages
4,355
Reaction score
3,838
Pronouns
He/Him
Time for the next chapter of Dawn of Courage. (Warning: contains mild language, mild violence)

Dominic’s Disastrous Betrayal


It was the following day after the heroic party had destroyed the enhanced monster created by the warlock. They were back on the road, heading toward the capital of the kingdom. Sir Reginald looked at the map, did a quick calculation, and turned to the party.

“Okay, if we keep up this pace, and if weather permits, we should reach the capital of this kingdom in a few days,” he said. “Before you ask, roughly three, give or take a few hours. Fortunately, there are a handful of magical campsites that we can use to rest so we don’t have to worry about being bothered by much. And when we get to the capital we can really market some of the monster parts we got from the past few battles.”

“That also means we’ll be meeting with Queen Maria, correct?” Angelo asked.

“Yes, that’s correct, as along with the notes regarding Muu’s forces is a request for us to meet with her when we arrive at the capital. So we’ll have to take care of that first before we do anything else.”

Kettu said, “Hopefully it’s that easy. Muu has been awfully quiet since our last tango with General Vertebreak, sans Marrowgold and Crossbone. I worry that he might send that bony dragon after us again. Hopefully if push comes to shove Nova can just cast Banish on him again and get rid of him for a while. Although we do know a few new combos that could seriously put the hurt on Vertebreak, I’m still a bit unsure if we can truly handle him yet.”

Nova nodded, “I agree, Kettu. Even with my newest trick that I got from my training with Master Aerrow I don’t know if it’ll be enough to take Vertebreak out. Plus I don’t know exactly how to summon Celestial Judgment Arrow. I pulled it off during my final exam but I’m not totally sure how I did it. So let’s hope we don’t have to deal with him, and if we do hopefully we can use the Banish spell again. However, I harbor doubts about that, as Muu should have figured out a way to get around that problem by now. If he hasn’t I’d be very surprised.”

“That’s true,” Zeeker said. “Muu may tend to underestimate his foes at first but when he wises up he does so with gusto.
I’d be very surprised if he somehow hasn’t figured out a way to keep us from just casting Banish on Vertebreak until we know we’re strong enough to handle him. Muu’s a cocky coward but he’s also smart. I speak from experience thanks to the failed Beastman Resistance. I’m still kicking myself for that even though the souls of my fallen friends don’t hold it against me.”

Nina placed a hand on his shoulder, saying, “You really should try to not let that bother you, Zeeker. You’ve done great work both with us and with the Beastman Resistance. Yes, you made a critical mistake but you’ve been making amends for it by helping us. I’m not trying to downplay the sheer loss of life that day but you really need to not let what happened continue to eat away at you. It was a mistake that everyone made that day, not just you, so don’t feel the need to shoulder all the responsibility. And you’ve managed to save a good handful of your friends from Muu’s grip so you’ve rectified that mistake. Try not to let it bother you, okay? You’ve done a lot so far and you’re continuing to do good work. Try to see that instead of dwelling on your mistake, okay?”

Zeeker nodded, “I know, Nina, though I do appreciate the pep talk. I know I shouldn’t have to shoulder all the blame but I do feel bad for running away and not taking up the fight again until you all lit that flame under me. I’m just glad I can make amends for my failure by helping Nova and the rest of you. But you are right, as I have managed to at least mitigate my failure and cowardice by rescuing a handful of souls of my fallen Beastmen brethren. And I’m grateful they don’t hold it against me. Yeah, you’re right. I just gotta keep my head up and feel good about what I’ve done so far. Thanks, Nina.”

She smiled, “Anytime, my friend.”

Suddenly they all heard a bombastic voice shout, “I finally found you goons!”

“Oh for the love of God… not him…” Nova groaned.

They all turned to see Dominic approach them. He looked like he’d seen better days, as his clothes were tattered, his armor was heavily damaged, and his body was sporting various wounds. He stopped and pulled his sword, pointing it at Nova.

“I’ve had enough of you and all the problems you cause me!” he spat. “That’s the worst kind of discrimination: anything against ME! I have half a mind to skewer you right here and now! And I’m still determined to prove to the Phoenix girl that you’re not worth her time! I won’t let you give me any more grief! Today you die, pinkie pie!”

He raised his sword and prepared to slash Nova. The pink-haired man causally dodged the attack, using his Hoverboots to gently slip out of the way. Dominic turned to Nova again and started to swing his sword madly, trying to cut his enemy down. However, Nova continued to casually dodge the attacks with his Hoverboots, to the amusement of his party. This farce continued on for a solid ten minutes before Dominic stopped attacking. He fell to one knee, panting heavily, his body covered in sweat, but his eyes still showed hatred.

“Stand and fight, coward!” he spat.

“That’s rich coming from you,” Nova replied calmly. “You’re an even bigger coward that I am. You run the instant a fight goes south while I stand and fight even if I’d rather not. I’ve been working hard on shedding my cowardice, along with my other flaws, unlike you, and I’ve made good progress if I do say so myself. While I still don’t feel truly worthy of a woman of Nina’s caliber I know that I’m at least a better pick than you. I respect women and don’t treat them as possessions or playthings, something that you need to seriously consider. So while I still have flaws I’m working on fixing them so I can be a better person, unlike you who practically revels in your sins. We really don’t have time to deal with you, Dominic, so just go away and leave us alone. We’ve got a date with Queen Maria, so get lost and let us do our job.”

The party started to walk away, clearly not interested in dealing with the obnoxious, egotistical man. Dominic, however, was not done.

“Don’t you dare turn your backs to me!” he spat.

“Watch us do just that,” Zeeker huffed.

Dominic mustered up the energy and started to run toward the party.

Nova sighed, “Ifrit Mode.”

The Demon King Ring adjusted itself, now set to Ifrit Mode. He then turned around to face the obnoxious man.

“Banish!”

Before Dominic could respond he vanished in a flash of light, leaving the party alone.

“Good thinking there, Nova,” Kettu said. “But where did you banish him to?”

Nova replied, “The Iselina Tarpits. Let’s see him get out of that, although I doubt even that will kill him. Come, let’s keep going to our destination, as we still have a few days before we reach the capital.”

The party nodded and continued heading in the direction of the kingdom’s capital.

Meanwhile, Dominic suddenly reappeared in the center of the Iselina Tarpits. He tried to pull his legs out but he couldn’t. He then felt a burning sensation as he started to sink into the tar.

“Help!” he screamed. “Get me out of here!”

However, no one was nearby to heed his call. He continued to sink into the hot tar, his body burning, screaming for help. Before long his entire body had sunk below the tar, with only a few bubbles to indicate where he once was.

It was that following evening. The party had set up camp at a magical campsite. The tent was pitched and Nova was making dinner, much to the eagerness of his party. After a few more minutes he took a sample from the pot and tasted it.

“Hmm…” he said. “Yeah, I’d say we’re good to go. One apple cider roasted duck with rice is ready to eat. Gather up.”

“No need to tell us twice!” Zeeker said happily.

The party gathered around and Nova gave them all generous portions of food. They sat down and began eating, gaining looks of bliss on their faces.

“Mmm!” Nina purred. “Your meals are always so good, Nova! I eat better with you than I ever did at the castle. Especially since your recipes are much more creative and interesting.”

Nova chuckled lightly, “Glad you feel that way, Nina. There’s plenty to go around so if anyone wants more help yourself.”

“We may take you up on that offer, Nova,” Sir Reginald smiled.

The party continued to eat their dinner. After another serving the food was gone, allowing Nova and Nina to wash the dishes. They all piled into the tent and quickly went to sleep. However, for some reason, they all had a feeling of dread nagging them in the backs of their minds.

Meanwhile, in a hidden location, an Undead Captain walked up to a massive shadowy figure. He went into a bow as he became level with the gargantuan figure.

“Pardon me, General Juggerrot, but we’ve managed to come across an interesting situation,” the Undead Captain said.

General Juggerrot, who was still concealed in darkness, replied, “Oh? How so, Captain Corpseporal?”

Captain Corpseporal replied, “We managed to get some interesting information from a surprising source that we encountered.” He turned his head back, “Bring him here.”

Two Undead Soldiers appeared carrying a still-alive Dominic, who looked severely burned and damage. They roughly tossed him in front of General Juggerrot, making him yelp in pain.

“Hey!” he complained. “Easy on the goods!”

“This human has something of interest?” General Juggerrot asked, confused.

Dominic swallowed his fear before saying, “Yes, I have some interesting information on your enemy, the Demon King’s champion. He and his party are heading to Emerald Coast Kingdom’s capital to meet with Queen Maria. I have a proposal to make. You send your Undead Soldiers after them at the kingdom’s capital so I can swoop in and save it. In exchange I’ll give you that pink-haired rat’s head mounted on a spear. Sound like a good idea?”

Captain Corpseporal hissed, “Why should we agree to such a ludicrous idea? I though you said you had something of worth to offer! What a waste. Dispose of him!”

General Juggerrot said, “Hold on, Captain Corpseporal. This human may actually present a worthwhile opportunity for us. You say the Demon King’s champion and his party are heading to Emerald Coast Kingdom’s capital? Then that’ll be a perfect opportunity to take him out. Very well, human, I accept your proposal. Undead Soldiers, go and heal him, as he’ll need to be in top form for this unusual plan of attack. When you’re done healing him take him to a place where he can keep an eye on that ‘champion’ to ensure he gets to the capital. When he does have him alert us, as we need to prepare for this plan, so we can finally be rid of that pink-haired man. Now go.”

The Undead Soldiers grabbed Dominic and took him away, although he wasn’t protesting the rough treatment, as he had a sinister smile on his face. After he and the Undead Soldiers were no longer around Captain Corpseporal turned to General Juggerrot.

“General Juggerrot, I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but why are you willing to go along with that moron’s plan?” he asked.

General Juggerrot replied, “Oh, I’m not going along with it, Captain Corpseporal. At least not the way he wants it to go. We’ll use that buffoon to guide us to the Demon King’s champion and his party, but instead of letting him defeat us, we’ll destroy him, the party, and the entire capital, harvest all their souls, and give Master Muu some peace of mind. Prepare a force large enough to level that city. When that moron gives us the word we’ll strike.”

Captain Corpseporal nodded, “I see, General Juggerrot. Brilliant. I’ll begin preparations right away.”

Next Chapter: The Longest Day of the Capital

That's all for today. Dominic is like a game of limbo: How low can he go? Well, he can go pretty low, apparently. Tune in next time to see what happens.
 

CynthiaLover

Geek of the Games
Joined
Dec 23, 2009
Messages
4,355
Reaction score
3,838
Pronouns
He/Him
Time for the next chapter of Dawn of Courage (Warning: contains mild language, violence, death, blood)

The Longest Day of the Capital


It had been a few days since the party’s encounter with Dominic. They had arrived at a large walled city with a magnificent gate. Standing at the gate were two female guards.

“Halt!” one said. “State your business.”

Sir Reginald stepped up, saying, “We’re the Demon King’s champion party. Queen Maria is expecting us.”

The guard nodded, “We’ve been waiting for you. You are a bit late, as Her Majesty was expecting you a few days ago.”

“Our apologies, as we had a fair few incidents prior to crossing into this country and arriving here. Mostly dealing with either Muu’s forces or evolved monsters, so that delayed us.”

The second guard nodded, “I see. I thought I heard rumors about incidents like that occurring in various places. So you lot were at the center of them? Then that explains why you’re late. Please proceed and make sure to explain what happened to Her Majesty, as she doesn’t like anyone not being punctual.”

The guards opened up the gate, allowing the party to enter, before closing it behind them. The city was large and magnificent, with plenty of people bustling about, merchants promoting their products, and children running around. The party made their way toward the castle, which was at the center of the city. Another female guard was stationed at the front, stopping them.

“Hold it!” she said. “State your business.”

Sir Reginald stepped up again, saying, “We’re the Demon King’s champion party. We apologize for being late as we’ve been in the center of a number of incidents. Queen Maria is expecting us.”

“I see. But before I let you in, please show me the Demon King Ring.”

Nova stepped up and presented his right hand, allowing the guard to fiddle with the Demon King Ring to check its authenticity.

“Yep, that’s the Demon King Ring. You may proceed. Be warned, as Her Majesty is not happy with you being late.”

The party nodded and entered the castle. They were then escorted by a butler to the throne room. They went into a bow before the royal family consisting of a noble yet rather stern-looking queen, a king, and a daughter who looked no older than ten.

“So, you’ve finally arrived,” Queen Maria said. “I am Queen Maria. This is my husband, King Jordan, and my young daughter Princess Mai. I’m a bit disappointed you didn’t show up sooner. I hope you have a good excuse.”

Sir Reginald nodded, “Yes, Your Majesty. We’ve been in the center of several incidents involving either Muu’s forces or evolved monsters, thus we were delayed as we had to take care of those threats.”

The young daughter turned to her mother, saying, “Mother, I’ve heard of those incidents. Ranging from things such as a warlock creating an enhanced Stone Gaia to a strange Undead Captain named Marrowgold that was stronger than normal causing trouble. So I think we can be lenient with them and forgive their lateness.”

“So, you were dealing with those threats that the rumors I’ve been hearing mentioned?” Queen Maria asked. “Then I suppose I can forgive your lateness, as it’s clear you had a lot on your plates. Can you give me a few extra details on some of those threats?”

“Yes, Your Majesty,” Sir Reginald said. “Like Princess Mai mentioned the most recent incident was a Stone Gaia monster getting enhanced by a warlock from the Magic Clan. The Stone Gaia killed its creator and left the lingering threat of it possibly attacking a village. We destroyed it so it cannot cause problems. Other incidents include dealing with Captain Marrowgold, an Undead Captain fused with a captured soul, followed by fighting Captain Crossbone, alongside both their platoons. We also had to deal with an enhanced Death Chimera and its Thrasher allies. And finally, Nova, the Demon King’s champion, was requested by Aerrow Sparrow to undergo archery training, so that further delayed us.”

“I see. So those rumors I’ve been hearing were true, then. And the fact that Mr. Aerrow Sparrow felt that the Demon King’s champion was worthy of his tutelage does warrant leniency, as Mr. Aerrow Sparrow trains my archers, thus I’m in good relations with him. Very well, you are excused. I take it you got my intelligence network’s notes?”

Van nodded, “Yes, Your Majesty. We picked them up at the checkpoint as you said. While they didn’t have information on Captain Marrowgold, as he was a new element thrown in after you gathered the information, it does contain the information about other Undead Captains like Crossbone and Corpseporal. We will be dealing with the remaining Undead Captains in this territory after we leave this capital.”

King Jordan asked, “I need to know. Why was this Marrowgold so unusually strong? You mentioned he was powered by a fallen soul. What do you mean by that, exactly?”

Nina explained, “You see, ever so often Muu will take an Undead Soldier and fuse it with one of the souls he’s captured. This results in a special breed of Undead Captain. These particular Undead Captains are much stronger, have no discernable weakness, and often have special powers. Because of their enhanced durability they often take much stronger attacks, particular combo attacks, to be defeated. Shaman magic is also an effective weapon against them, but mostly they just require a lot of hammering away with strong techniques. Oh, and you can’t use things like hellfire on them, as it runs the risk of hurting the captured soul.”

Queen Maria looked alarmed, “Muu is using the souls he’s captured to create special enhanced versions of Undead Captains!? That fiend!” She regained her composure, “Forgive my outburst, it’s just that I despise the concept of souls being used as power sources for evil. At least I now understand what may happen to my older sister.”

Sir Reginald looked surprised, “Your Majesty! You mean to say that your sister was a victim of Muu’s army?!”

The Queen gave a heavy sigh, “Sadly, yes. She died fighting General Cranidon. Now that I know Muu has her soul and could potentially use it as a weapon against us makes me sick. I’m aware that you already destroyed General Cranidon back at Phoenixwing Kingdom so I can at least feel some solace knowing that her murderer has been slain. But the thought of her soul being used as both a power source and meat shield makes me angry and scared at the same time. How do you free those souls?”

Sir Reginald explained, “Simply destroying the Undead Captain’s body will free and purify the captured soul. Again, one cannot use something like hellfire against them due to the risk of hurting the soul further, but simply destroying the body will free and purify the soul, allowing it to safely ascend to the heavens.”

“I see. So simply destroying the body will free the trapped soul? And Muu can’t take it back when that happens? That brings me some comfort knowing that saving the soul is that simple. I implore you to find my sister’s soul and free her from Muu’s clutches. Whatever it takes. Do that and not only will I be more at peace but I will be forever grateful.”

Zeeker said, “We’ve already got a list of souls we need to rescue from Muu. Ranging from members of my Beastman Resistance to Kettu’s younger brother. So you can rest assured that if we find her soul we’ll do everything we can to save it.”

Princess Mai looked at Kettu, surprised, “Your brother’s soul was also claimed?”

Kettu gained a bitter look, “Yes, and I consider it my greatest failure. General Bloodgore was responsible for Felix’s death and the capturing of his soul. It’s the entire reason I started my mission and joined this group. I’ve since destroyed Bloodgore but I know my younger brother is still in Muu’s clutches. I intend to free him, no matter what.”

Queen Maria gained a softer look, “You know exactly how I feel, Werefox. That reassures me you lot will find those stolen souls and free them, especially since some of you have personal connections trapped in Muu’s bony claws. In any case, I know you won’t be able to stay for long so please use what my city can provide to better aid your mission. I know there is more work ahead of you, especially since you’ll have to eventually cross the ocean to the next continent. You are dismissed. And please, find my sister’s soul and free her. She and I may have had a typical sibling relationship, bickering like Devil Cats and Wood Dogs, but she’s still my sister, thus I care about her. Freeing her from Muu’s evil grip would bring great relief to my own soul. Until then I wish you luck. Please escort this party out of the castle so they can get to work preparing for their next battle.”

A butler stepped up, nodded, and guided the party out of the castle. They eventually made it to the center of the city and sat down in front of a fountain.

“Not exactly the most pleasant person, is she…” Nina said.

Nova nodded, “Yeah. And how were we supposed to know she was expecting us at a certain time? None of the guards at the checkpoint told us that. So how were we to know she wanted us to arrive here when she wanted us to?”

Sir Reginald gave a sigh, “Either they forgot to tell us or they didn’t know either. But you do bring up a fair point, Nova, as we were never informed about needing to arrive here at a certain time. Still, even though she’s well-known for being rather… difficult, she’s still fair enough to at least hear us out and allow us to explain our reasons. Though it was good of all of you to not mention we weren’t informed about being required to arrive at a certain time, as that could cause problems.”

Kettu grumbled, “Yeah, well, I was pretty tempted to, mind. I know she’s an ally to us thus we can’t really speak ill of her but she seriously needs to lighten up on the attitude. Not everything goes according to plan, after all, so she can’t expect everything to flow around her schedule.”

Angelo nodded, “Sadly, you are correct, Kettu. As a royal myself I know that one needs to be flexible with their plans and expectations of others. After all, like you said, not everything goes according to plan. That’s why all of our plans offer some wiggle room in case we need to improvise on the fly. Trying to plan every second of every day will make your head spin.”

A female guard waked up, saying, “Sadly, you are all correct. Queen Maria, while a good ruler, tends to prioritize certain things that often cause headaches for everyone else. While I respect her political prowess and levelheadedness she does tend to micromanage everything to the point she wants everything to happen precisely when she wants it and allows absolutely no room for error. And she often finds out the hard way that not leaving some space of possible errors can be costly. Unfortunately, she doesn’t learn from those mistakes either, so that only further complicates issues. Everyone here loves her, even if she’s a bit strict, especially toward men, but we can all agree that she really needs to learn that micromanaging everything will inevitably cause bigger problems in the long run. So you’re not alone in feeling that way. Everyone in this city feels the same way, even her husband and daughter.”

Nina brushed some hair out of her face, saying, “Well I’m glad to know that we’re not alone in feeling like Queen Maria needs to lighten up a bit. What will it take for her to learn that micromanaging things will only cause conflict and issues with everyone, including her allies?”

“Probably nothing short of an attack on the capital,” Nova said bitterly.

Just then another guard shouted, “An Undead Army platoon is heading our way!”

“…Me and my big mouth…” he groaned.

Sir Reginald stood up, “Time for that later, Nova. We have boneheads to bash!”

The party quickly made their way to the front of the city. There, several female soldiers were standing by, ready for action. The party wove their way through them and got in front of the women warriors. They saw an unusually small platoon of Undead Soldiers approaching them with no Captain or General, confusing them.

“…That’s it?” Zeeker asked, confused. “That’s not very many Undead Soldiers. And where’s their Captain or General?”

Nova narrowed his eyes, “Hmm… I smell a trap. Keep your wits about you, team, as something isn’t right about this picture.”

Suddenly a bombastic voice shouted, “Leave these goons to me!”

Dominic appeared out of nowhere and stood in front of everyone, brandishing his sword at the incoming Undead Soldiers.

“I will smite these Undead fiends and prove my salt as a true hero!” he stated in a strong voice.

“Do I even want to know how he survived the Iselina Tarpits?” Nina groaned.

Kettu’s eyes narrowed, “No, but now something is really off. This feels planned.”

The Undead Soldiers stopped at a certain point before they opened up a massive portal in the sky. Suddenly, a huge number of Undead Soldiers appeared, followed by a terrifying sight. Out emerged a gigantic creature. It looked like an undead centaur, only its lower body was that of a triceratops, complete with three horns in the front, while its upper body was a massively bulky decaying man wearing impressive armor with a dragon-like head. As he touched down onto the ground Dominic went pale.

“Hey!” he protested. “This isn’t what we agreed on! You said you’d let me destroy some Undead Soldiers to gain the praise I deserve from the capital in exchange for me giving you the Demon King’s champion!”

“What did you say?” the party and the female soldiers growled collectively, making Dominic go wide eyed in horror.

“You mean to tell us you made a deal with Muu’s army?!” Van spat.

“You slimy, cowardly, good-for-nothing scumbag!” Nina roared. “You are willing to side with Edyn’s greatest enemy so you can make yourself look big! As if I didn’t have enough reasons to hate you!”

“You traitor!” Angelo growled.

The massive monster chuckled, “They are right, Dominic. You are a traitor to the people of this world. All because you can’t stand not getting your massive ego stroked. I may have said I was going along with your plan, but in reality I had my own agenda. Your ‘plan’ was just convenient timing that I took advantage of. Now that you’ve outlived your usefulness I’ll be sure to kill you along with the Demon King’s champion party and the people of this city. I, General Juggerrot, will ensure that every soul standing before me will be collected and given to Master Muu. And I brought with me a platoon of 10,000 Undead Soldiers to ensure that I harvest every single soul in this city. Prepare to die! Skull Meteors!”

A brief pause occurred before a barrage of skull-shaped meteors rained down upon the area, striking everything and causing huge amounts of damage to the city, even tearing down part of the city walls. The party and the female soldiers were able to weather the attack thanks to Sir Reginald erecting a barrier to shield them.

“Not bad, knight boy, but let’s see you handle this. Gravity Crusher!”

Gravity started to intensify, forcing the party and the soldiers flat on the ground, although Dominic was, strangely, unaffected.

“Now, with that active, let’s try this again. Skull Meteors!”

Another brief pause followed by skull-shaped meteors raining down upon the party and soldiers, heavily bashing them with their power. Dominic then gained a devious idea. He marched up to Nova and sneered.

“That’s a good place for you, pink vermin,” he taunted.

He then started to stomp his foot down on Nova’s head repeatedly, much to the disgust of the rest of the party.

“You back off, you overblow blowhard!” Zeeker spat.

“Leave Nova alone, you bully!” Nina yelled.

Dominic ignored them and continued to stomp on the already heavily battered Nova. It got to the point where he created a wound that started to ooze blood down Nova’s face, much to Nina’s horror. Dominic started to laugh as he saw this, stomping his foot down harder to make the wound worse. Suddenly, without warning, Nova lashed out his hand, grabbed Dominic’s leg, and somehow threw him off, causing the egotistical man to fall over. To everyone’s surprise Nova started to force himself to stand. Slowly he managed to rise up to his feet despite the intense gravitational field that he was in. He glared at Dominic with hateful eyes despite the fact one was getting covered in his own blood.

“Dominic, I knew one day you’d sink to extreme levels of villainy to satisfy your own ego,” he said in a surprisingly calm tone. “You are the slimiest of slimeballs, willing to side with Muu in order to get what you want. You are nothing more than a terrorist, a traitor, and an idiot who only cares about yourself, no matter who you have to step on to get your way. You betrayed the world so now you must pay the price.”

Dominic started to mock Nova, “Ooh, I’m all a-quiver! Get it? Quiver. Because you’re a wannabe archer! Bwahahaha! You can’t stop me, pink punk. Not when I have General Juggerrot and his army behind me.”

“Wanna bet?” Nova replied, still surprisingly calm.

He primed his bow despite the intense gravity around him and began concentrating. To Dominic’s shock and everyone else’s surprise the bow began transforming. It was engulfed in white light that molded it into a more divine form, with a pair of energy angel wings sprouting at the top. A matching pair of energy wings formed from Nova’s back. The front of the bow gained a sapphire blue disc, followed by four strange protrusions appearing around it, then pointing forward, almost looking like the frame of a cannon. A large base formed at the bottom of the bow before sprouting feather-shaped legs, becoming an anchor to the bow.

“W-What is that!?” the obnoxious traitor sputtered.

“I-Is that the Goddess-tier skill that Aerrow taught Nova?” Nina said in awe. “The Celestial Judgment Arrow?”

Nova then nocked an arrow onto the newly transformed bow. The arrow started to glow and transform, becoming more divine.

“To give it some extra kick… Lucifer Mode,” Nova said.

The Demon King Ring adjusted itself, now set to Lucifer Mode. This power shift caused the arrow to grow even more until it was easily as big as Nova was. A targeting reticle appeared and locked onto Dominic, making his eyes widen in horror. He gave a girly scream and started running. He ran through the legs of General Juggerrot and started to push his way through the platoon of 10,000 Undead Soldiers, trying to escape the soon-to-be-fired arrow.

General Juggerrot growled, “Not on your life, puppet boy! Gravity Crusher!”

He started to intensify the gravity around Nova but to his surprise the pink-haired man managed to remain upright even though the ground around him started to crack and crumble. Nova continued to take aim undeterred.

“Grr! Skull Meteors!”

Another brief pause followed by several skull-shaped meteors rained down, this time only targeting Nova. Nina’s eyes widened in horror as Nova was bombarded by this attack. However, when the attack waned, to everyone’s surprise, Nova was still standing. General Juggerrot’s eyes widened in horror.

“My turn!” Nova said in a cold tone. “Celestial Judgment Arrow!”

He fired the divine attack, which caused the four protrusions to fire beams of energy. They combined with the arrow to create a powerful beam with an arrowhead front. General Juggerrot braced himself for the attack. To his horror the attack effortlessly plowed through him, completely annihilating him with ease. The attack continued onward, destroying every single Undead Soldier in the area. Before long all that was left was a still running and screaming Dominic, with nary a trace of any member of Muu’s army left. The destruction of Juggerrot caused the intensified gravity to end, freeing everyone from its effects. The attack continued onward, rocketing toward Dominic. Dominic looked back to see the attack continue its path toward him. He got an idea and took a hard left turn while still running. To his horror the arrow-shaped beam merely bent its path to continue pursuing him.

Nova said in a cold tone, “Face it, Dominic. You can’t outrun or outmaneuver it. When the Celestial Judgment Arrow locks onto its target… nothing will deter it until it strikes its designated victim.”

Dominic made another hard turn, this time to the right, but the Celestial Judgment Arrow merely bent its trajectory to continue chasing after him, rapidly closing in on him. Dominic wasn’t looking where he was running until he ran smack into a large boulder, stunning him. The Celestial Judgment Arrow began its final charge toward the traitorous man. Dominic managed to recover only to start screaming in fear as the Celestial Judgment Arrow struck him, engulfing him in a massive explosion, seemingly annihilating him, leaving no trace of any of him or the Undead Army behind.

The party and the people who witnessed this event were wide eyed and with mouths agape. Nova merely relaxed, causing the bow to transform back to normal. The party and the soldiers started to stand up, clearly in shock and awe at what they had seen Nova do.

Nova suddenly stated, “Van! Angelo! Nina! Heal the people and soldiers who were harmed by Juggerrot’s attack!”

“B-But what about you?” Nina asked, concerned.

“I’ll be fine, just treat the people who need it more.”

Nina hesitated, especially since Nova’s entire left side of his face was covered in blood, but she reluctantly complied. Van and Angelo also followed Nova’s orders, although it was clear they were worried about him and his wounds. Nova merely took out one of his canteens and poured the contents over his head, washing the blood away.

“Demon Mode.”

The Demon King Ring adjusted itself, now set to Demon Mode.

“Rejuvenate.”

He was bathed in healing light. Before long his wounds were gone but his clothes remained tattered.

“Dammit… this was one of my favorite outfits…” he muttered. “Guess it’s time for an upgrade.”

He started to make his way into the city, heading for where the shops were, much to the party’s confusion. But they nevertheless continued treating the people who were injured, allowing Nova to do what he wanted. Nova eventually made his way to a clothing store. This one seemed to specialize in adventurer’s clothes. He opened the door to see the store owner gingerly poke his head out from behind the desk.

“Is the threat over?” the store owner asked.

“Yes, it’s safe now,” Nova merely said. “Now, as you can see, I’m in the market for some new clothes. Care to help me?”

The merchant emerged from under his desk, giving a sigh of relief, “Good, glad to know it’s all over.” He then regained his composure and said, “Welcome to Jonny’s Adventurer Boutique. What are you looking for?”

“Something durable yet lightweight.”

“All right, what are your measurements?” Jonny asked.

“Let me write them down,” Nova replied.

Jonny quirked an eyebrow, “You won’t say what your measurements are? Isn’t that usually what women do? Why would you be shy about your measurements?”

Nova replied nonchalantly, “Considering I’ve been mistaken for a woman more than a few times due to my coral pink hair and the fact my hips unintentionally sway when I walk, aka a ‘sexy walk’, because my right hip is higher than my left, it’s nothing new. Besides, I’m a bit self-conscious and have a rather odd set of measurements. Anyway, here are my measurements.”

He handed over a piece of paper with his measurements. Jonny looked at them, quirking an eyebrow.

“Hmm… I see what you mean,” he said. “You’re a fairly odd size despite your rather average height. But I specialize in custom fits so this is completely doable. In fact, I believe I have something in exactly this size. Follow me so we can get you decked out in real adventurer’s clothes.”

At the time the party was continuing to heal the people who were injured in the fight. Soon Van and Angelo slumped onto the ground, completely drained of their mana. Nina noticed this and jogged over to them.

“You two okay?” she asked tenderly.

Van panted, “We just out of mana. We’ll be fine if we rest for a bit.”

Nina pondered for a moment before smiling, “Actually, I have a nice, quick fix to your mana issues.” She reached into one of the pouches on her belt and pulled out two Mana Stones, “Here, use these to recharge your mana.”

Angelo quirked an eyebrow, “Why are you carrying Mana Stones, Nina?”

“Nova gave these to me. Since I’m primarily a spellcaster, thus I fight mostly with magic, with some kicks thrown in every now and then, Nova gave me some Mana Stones in case I ever needed a recharge during or after a battle if I’m low on magical energy. But, for now, you two should use these.”

The Centaur and Hopper Clan prince smiled and graciously took the Mana Stones and gently held them. The Mana Stones glowed and started to send magical energy into the duo’s bodies, restoring them. After about two minutes Van and Angelo were fully restored, able to stand up again. The Mana Stones then turned dark and shattered into nothingness, indicating they were used up.

“Thanks, Nina, that was a much-needed pick-me-up,” Van said with a smile.

“Indeed,” Angelo nodded. “Now we can get back to work, as there are still some people who need our help.”

Nina smiled, “Happy to help. Especially since our job isn’t done yet. I just hope Nova’s okay…”

A familiar voice said, “Yeah, I’m fine. Not the first time a bully like that has given me head trauma, and I doubt it’ll be the last.”

Nina eagerly turned to face the voice, “Nova! I was so worried that—” but she stopped midsentence as her eyes locked onto Nova.

Nova was now donning a new outfit. It was a sleeveless red tunic made from very durable material, with a shoulder plate strapped to his left shoulder, and leather bands attached to a large ring that wrapped across his shoulder down to his right hip and wove around the right side of his ribcage and around his back, connecting to the shoulder plate. He was also wearing brown fingerless gloves, a thick belt with several pouches attached to it, and navy blue adventurer’s pants, complete with his Hoverboots, Digi-Pack, archery equipment, and his coral pink hair tied up in a short, brushy ponytail. The outfit was noticeably more form-fitting on him, revealing that he was gaining a fair bit of muscle, as his torso was looking bulkier and newly exposed biceps were more well-defined, along with revealing the scars on them. The rest of the party showed up at that moment and did a double take when they saw Nova.

“Nova?” Zeeker said, surprised. “Is that really you?”

“No, I’m another archer with coral pink hair, Hoverboots, and a metal backpack,” Nova replied dryly.

Kettu chuckled, “That’s Nova. Can’t mistake that dry wit.”

Sir Reginald asked, “Why the outfit change? Not that you don’t look good in it, mind, but what’s the occasion?”

Nova replied, “My old clothes were nearly torn to ribbons thanks to the battle so I couldn’t walk around nearly half-naked. So I went to an adventurer’s clothing store to get outfitted with a new look. One that’ll be more durable. Like we say on Earth, ‘When in Rome, do as the Romans do’. So if I’m going to be an archer fighting a war against an ancient evil entity I might as well look the part. It’s a shame I had to discard my old clothes as they were one of my favorite outfits but they weren’t exactly designed for combat so I guess it was only a matter of time before I would have to replace them. What do you think? I admit it’s a bit more form-fitting than I’m used to, as I tend to wear loose-fitting clothes, but it’s more durable and flexible than it looks. Does it look the part of an archer?”

Angelo smiled, “It most certainly does, Nova. Now you look like a real warrior.”

Nina started to flit about Nova, examining him and his new outfit, much to the amusement of the party. After thoroughly checking out her lover’s appearance she stood in front of him.

“Nova, you look amazing,” she purred. “You’re sending my heart aflutter. While I have seen you naked before you’ve definitely gained some muscle since then. That outfit looks incredible on you. I rather like the fact it’s more form-fitting, as it shows off your developing body nicely. And the ponytail is a nice touch. It’s a good thing we’re past those first two weeks of summer now, otherwise I’d be in real trouble, as your new look is making me want to pounce on you and take you here and now. Although you’d probably look better naked so you can show the women of this kingdom what a real man is like.”

Nova gave a light chuckle, “Sorry, Nina, but that’s not happening. That’s a pleasure I’m reserving for you alone. And besides, you look better naked than me, as your body is a work of art compared to mine.”

She purred, “Well, I can’t argue with that. But your body has become quite the work of art itself, Nova. Makes me eager to think of steamy ideas for us to enjoy one day.” She gave a heavy sigh, “But, obviously, business before pleasure. We still have some people to heal. But man, it’s gonna be hard to not drool over you now, as you look gorgeous in your new adventurer’s outfit. Now I know how Joy felt when she was fawning over Angelo’s Tsunami Knight form. But I guess it’s back to work.”

The party chuckled at the duo flirting with each other. They then nodded and resumed aiding the recovery efforts. However, they were all fuming at what Dominic did today.

“He is a traitor to the world,” Nova said silently. “And those who ally with Muu for their own gain deserve to be punished. If he’s still alive I’ll make sure he pays dearly for what he’s done.”

Next Chapter: The Day After Disaster

That's all for today. Quite the event. And Nova will be donning that new outfit from here on out. And the best way to envision it is L'arc Berg from Shield Hero, albeit with some differences (ie: the shoulder plate is on the opposite shoulder).
 

CynthiaLover

Geek of the Games
Joined
Dec 23, 2009
Messages
4,355
Reaction score
3,838
Pronouns
He/Him
Time for the next chapter of Dawn of Courage. (Warning: contains mild language)

The Day After Disaster


Two hours passed since General Juggerrot’s attack and the reveal of Dominic’s betrayal. The relief efforts were still in full-swing. The injured had been healed, the civilians were working hard to repair the damage, and the soldiers stood guard to keep opportunistic monsters from attacking. The party was also aiding in the recovery of the capital, helping any way they could. Much to Nina’s ire Nova’s new look also attracted a number of new female fans, including soldiers, much less the fact he was the one who ended the threat in one swoop. But he ignored them and continued to help in the rebuilding of the capital city, his mind still focused on Dominic’s betrayal.

Soon, after another 30 minutes Princess Mai arrived flanked by knights. Everyone bowed as she approached the party.

“I apologize for not coming sooner,” she said in a formal tone. “But during the attack my family and I were shuttled to the saferoom for protection. Anyway, my reasons for being here is that Mother… I mean Queen Maria, requests your presence. She wants to know more about what happened and learned from the soldiers that you solved the crisis. So, if you’d please follow me to meet with Queen Maria.”

The party complied and followed Princess Mai and some of the soldiers with her, the rest stayed behind to aid in the reconstruction. They were escorted to the castle and into the throne room. Queen Maria and King Jordan looked a bit ruffled but nonetheless okay. The party went into a bow as they approached her.

“Your Majesty, I brought the Demon King’s champion party as requested,” Princess Mai said.

“You have done well, Mai,” Queen Maria said. “Please return to your throne so we can begin discussions about what transpired today.”

Princess Mai nodded and returned to her throne, sitting down next to her mother.

Queen Maria gave a heavy sigh, “I’ve heard some of the details about what happened, but I need to know more. Please, tell me what caused this incident?”

Sir Reginald replied, “This was all a staged attack planned by a man name Dominic Flight. I’m certain you’ve heard of him by now, yes?”

King Jordan nodded, “Yes, we have. And nothing has been flattering about him. But I thought he was too stupid to plan something like this.”

“To be technical, it was his idea, apparently, but General Juggerrot manipulated it into a form that was more useful to Muu’s army. From what we can assess, Dominic wanted General Juggerrot to send some Undead Soldiers to ‘attack’ your capital so he could destroy them and make himself look like a hero. It was clearly an act of spite toward Nova, as he’s exposed Dominic’s schemes and lies multiple times. However, General Juggerrot obviously betrayed Dominic. He first played along with it by only sending a handful of Undead Soldiers but when Dominic made his ‘grand’ entrance General Juggerrot appeared and summoned a platoon of 10,000 Undead Soldiers so he could destroy this city and harvest all the souls for Muu, which would include Dominic. Thanks to Nova the attack was thwarted and General Juggerrot, along with the 10,000 Undead Soldiers, were annihilated. Dominic was also seemingly killed in the fight but we have reason to believe he probably survived, as he’s extremely durable and has survived many near-death experiences that would’ve killed any other person.”

Queen Maria turned to Nova, “You somehow thwarted the entire attack? How? And, come to think of it, when did you change your clothes? I admit your new outfit is rather flattering.”

Nova blushed before saying, “I really owe it to Master Aerrow, as he informed me about a legendary, Goddess-tier weapon skill that I was able to summon to destroy the attacking force in one strike. This skill in particular is called Celestial Judgment Arrow. These Goddess-tier skills have long since been lost to the sea of time but Master Aerrow managed to at least get the name of it and passed it onto me, where I was able to summon it the first time on his behest. Granted, I wasn’t exactly sure how I did it back then but this time I was able to summon it again and enhance it with the Demon King Ring to become powerful enough to wipe out the entire attacking force. Although, if I may be honest with you, taking out Juggerrot and the Undead Soldiers was kind of a bonus, as my real target was Dominic. He just made it more convenient for me by trying to use Muu’s army as meat shields to no avail. Not saying I wouldn’t use it against Juggerrot and his army, it’s just that Dominic was my first choice to use it on. He just made things easier by proving his cowardice and used Muu’s army to block the attack, which obviously didn’t happen.”

King Jordan scratched his chin, “Celestial Judgment Arrow? I think I’ve heard of that name before, but it was a long time ago. It does ring a bell. So Aerrow passed on the information about it to you and you were able to summon it? He clearly had high faith in your abilities, especially since I can surmise that you passed his extremely difficult training regime, unlike past apprentices of his. And it’s equally clear you lived up to that faith and expectations. That’s not an easy thing to accomplish but you clearly somehow weathered Aerrow’s training and have become quite the formidable archer. I have to give you props. Even our archers, who are some of the best in the world, just barely make the cut when it comes to Aerrow’s lighter training regime, much less the more difficult lessons that you endured. That’s quite impressive, to say the least.”

Queen Maria nodded, “Indeed. Aerrow is very strict with his training, even with our archers, but it’s clear you managed to pass even his toughest training courses. That’s something most archers cannot boast about. But back to our original subject. It’s clear that Dominic Flight is a traitor, as he allied himself with Muu’s forces for his own gain. Assuming he survived that powerful assault I will make sure he’s not only banished from this kingdom but will put warrants out for his execution; this time he’s gone too far. I’ll also alert our allies about what transpired today so they don’t have the same thing happen to them. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for preventing the destruction of our capital and saving the lives of my people. From what one of my soldiers said you managed to prevent any casualties, outside of Muu’s forces at least, which brings great relief to me. But to think you were strong enough to take down General Juggerrot, who is Muu’s second most powerful Undead General behind Vertebreak, and a platoon of 10,000 Undead Soldiers in a single strike is both amazing and… rather frightening. It makes me glad you’re on our side, as I’d hate to be on the business end of that Celestial Judgment Arrow like Dominic was.”

Princess Mai asked, “Did Mr. Aerrow Sparrow mention what some of the other Goddess-tier weapon skills are?”

Nova shook his head, “No, sadly, he didn’t. He at least informed me they exist, but since he’s called the Legendary Archer it only makes sense he’d focus on the skill that corresponds with his weapon-of-choice. So hopefully we will stumble upon the other skills in that tier: they could provide great use to our mission.”

Queen Maria sighed, “It’s to-be-expected. But at least you know such abilities exist in case you do stumble upon any scrap of information on them. But, in any case, you have my deepest thanks for repelling Muu’s assault on our people. I hate to ask but could you stay one more day to further aid in the relief efforts? Seeing how you protected us it would probably give my people some peace of mind if you stuck around for a bit longer. I know you have other fish to fry in the forms of Undead Captains and their bases but it will put our minds at ease if you stick around for a bit. My people can handle the necessary recovery but you staying for one extra day to ensure we’d have sufficient protection while we’re licking our wounds would mean the world to us.”

The party exchanged nods before Sir Reginald said, “If that is your wish then we will abide by it. It would be for the best, as Muu could potentially send another Undead Captain to pick up where Juggerrot left off and attack while your city is in a weakened state. So we’ll stay the extra day to ensure that you capital will be in the clear when we resume our mission.”

“Thank you, that would mean a lot to us. I will arrange for the inn to let you stay free of charge as a small token of my appreciation. Now, please continue aiding my people during the aftermath of this horrific event. And I’ll make sure that warrants for Dominic’s execution are put out, as betraying Edyn for Muu in order to make himself look like a big-shot hero is inexcusable. You are dismissed. I’ll have a soldier inform the inn about your arrangements. Please, do what you can to help my people while we lick our wounds from Dominic’s unthinkable plan that Muu took advantage of.”

The party nodded and were escorted out of the castle and back outside. They rejoined the relief efforts, doing whatever they could to repair the city and boost morale to the people. It was clear their presence was greatly appreciated by the civilians and soldiers, seemingly putting everyone’s minds at ease while working on restoring the city to its former glory. After a few more hours the party was escorted by a soldier to one of the city inns, where they got free food and free lodging. When darkness covered the land the party was fast asleep, knowing that their job wasn’t done yet.

The following morning the party was back on their feet. After a filling breakfast they continued aiding the people in repairing the extensive damage that Dominic and Juggerrot caused. It wasn’t long before something else would occur.

A guard then noticed a fast-moving whirlwind heading in their direction.

“We’ve got company!” she shouted.

Several guards got in front of the wrecked wall in the city, preparing to attack. Nova, who happened to be nearby, took a look and rolled his eyes.

“You can relax, that’s not a threat,” he said. “That’s just an annoying Werecat who’s been chasing after us. He’s about as dangerous as a newborn kitten. Well, his mouth is rather dangerous but he was unable to even dent a basic Undead Soldier. Trust me, we saw him in ‘action’, so to speak, and it was downright abysmal. I was able to fight Muu’s forces more effectively on my first day on the job, and back then I was a bloody coward. The only thing you need to watch out for is his racist attitude toward humans. But other than that he’s not very threatening. But keeping him out of the city would be ideal, as the reason he’s chasing us is to bed Nina.”

One soldier quirked an eyebrow, “A Werecat chasing after a Phoenix Clan member? Don’t both races hate each other?”

“Yes, but he’s too dumb to realize that. His head is denser than depleted uranium despite Nina making it very clear she wants nothing to do with him. While he’s not much of a threat, if any, we really don’t need his inclusion right now. Try to keep him out, but be warned, as he is a terrible racist toward human. His lackies, Ian and Hunter, are actually decent folk, and are capable of intelligent thought. Eoleo, not so much.”

The soldiers nodded and prepared themselves for Eoleo’s arrival. He soon came into view, with Ian and Hunter lagging behind him as always. The three Werecats came to a screeching halt as they saw the damage to the area.

“What happened here?” Ian asked, surprised.

“Looks like a really big battle took place here,” Hunter said.

Eoleo walked up to the soldiers, who were all pointing their spears at him, trying to keep him out.

“Unless you’re here to help in the relief efforts we suggest you leave,” one said. “We cannot afford any other problems right now.”

Eoleo huffed, “Like I’m gonna listen to a bunch of pansy humans. Step aside, as I know that pink-haired human and the lovely Nina are here.”

The soldiers refused to budge, much to Eoleo’s annoyance.

“I said MOVE!”

“We don’t take orders from you!” one of the soldiers said. “Only from Queen Maria and the Royal Family.”

Eoleo was about to throw a punch when Ian grabbed his fist to stop him.

“Hold it, Eoleo, let’s not be hasty,” he said. “Last thing you need is more enemies.” He turned to the soldiers, “What exactly happened here?”

One soldier said, “If you must know, General Juggerrot and a platoon of 10,000 Undead Soldiers attacked us. Some goon named Dominic was in league with them and tried to make a deal with them. He wanted them to send a few Undead Soldiers that he could destroy and in exchange he’ll hand over Nova, the Demon King’s champion. General Juggerrot, obviously, betrayed him, and caused all this damage. But we were saved by the valiant efforts of Nova, who vanquished General Juggerrot, all 10,000 Undead Soldiers, and, hopefully, Dominic, in one swift attack.”

Hunter’s eyes widened, “Wait… Nova vanquished General Juggerrot AND 10,000 Undead Soldiers?! In a single attack!? I knew he got stronger but I didn’t think he had it in him to kill Muu’s second most powerful Undead General AND that many Undead Soldiers in a single attack. And you say this whole attack was partly planed by Dominic? What a slimeball. He willingly betrayed Edyn just to make himself look like a big-shot hero. That’s low even for him.”

Eoleo huffed, “Like I’m gonna believe that worthless human killed such a force by himself.”

A familiar voice then said, “Well, you’d better believe it, Eoleo, as we all saw it. And Nova was magnificent.”

The Werecats looked around, then up, spotting Nina standing on part of the broken wall, out of reach.

“What?” the Werecat leader sputtered. “You can’t be serious, Nina!”

She gave him a cold look, “Well, believe it, fleabag. Everyone here saw it, including me. While I know you won’t take the word of a human I know you’ll believe me. And I’m speaking the truth: Nova single-handedly vanquished General Juggerrot and a platoon of 10,000 Undead Soldiers with one attack. Even when he was being bombarded by skull-shaped meteors and intensified gravity he still managed to annihilate Muu’s second most powerful Undead General and a massive army of his troops in one attack. It was truly a sight to behold. I’d swoon at the thought of seeing Nova take so many levels of awesomeness but I’d worry you’d try to catch me. Now, do us all a favor and beat it. We’ve got work to do and we don’t need a mangy Werecat causing problems. This city has suffered enough, it doesn’t need you dogpiling any more issues on top of the current one. Now go away and leave me alone.”

Nina took flight and vanished behind the broken city wall.

Ian turned to Eoleo, “Well, there’s your proof, fearless leader. If Nina is willing to vouch for Nova’s performance then you really can’t argue about it. You’ll believe anything she says, so if she’s backing the story you can’t really say otherwise.”

Eoleo looked stunned, “T-There’s no way that useless, good-for-nothing pink-haired human could do something like this…”

One of the guards pointed her spear at Eoleo, saying, “Well, he did. Deal with it. We all owe our lives to him. He bravely stood his ground despite being bombarded with attacks and single-handedly saved all of us by vanquishing Muu’s second most powerful Undead General and his massive platoon like they were insects. While we doubt the one who started this whole event, Dominic, survived a direct attack from such a powerful skill, if he did we’ll make sure he pays dearly for his betrayal. But whether you want to believe it or not Nova is our city’s hero. The fact that he and his party are staying an extra day to help with the relief efforts shows just how incredible they are. People like you could learn a lot from him, Werecat, so don’t be dismissing someone as noble as Nova. Now leave us in peace, as we have our hands full right now.”

Hunter grabbed Eoleo’s shoulder, saying, “I suggest we do as she says. This is neither the time nor place to pick a cockfight with Nova. He’s got more important things to do. And the fact that he saved an entire city of people single-handedly is impressive enough that even you can’t argue against it. Especially if Nina will vouch for him. Come on, Eoleo, let’s leave and go home, as this stupid ‘plan’ of yours has been falling flat on its face repeatedly.”

Eoleo struck Hunter on the head, saying, “Shut up! I’m not leaving until I prove my superiority over that pink-haired human!”

A familiar voice taunted, “Prove your superiority? You’ve failed to do that ever since we first me, Eoleo. Face it: you’re a third-rate warrior and a sixth-rate man.”

Everyone turned to see Nova stand casually at the wrecked gate. The soldiers smiled as they saw him while Eoleo started to fume.

“What did you say about me, human?” he growled. “If anyone is third-rate around here it’s you!”

“Go chase a mouse, as that’s something in your weight class,” Nova taunted. “You proved to be ineffective against Muu’s army. You’re clearly feebly punching threats that are so out of your league. Even if you could beat me, which you can’t, Nina would never love you. She’s made her mind up so you’d better start respecting it or she’ll hate you even more. She could never love you, so give up this ridiculous chase and go back to your pack, as it’s gone on long enough. Take your cockfight somewhere else, as I don’t have time to deal with a pest like you.”

Eoleo jumped over the soldiers and charged toward Nova, ready to punch him.

“I’LL SHOW YOU WHO’S A PEST!!!” he roared.

Nova causally pointed the hand with the Demon King Ring at him, saying calmly, “You’re such an immature child. Banish.”

Ian and Hunter wailed in dismay as they and Eoleo were teleported away, making everyone give a sigh of relief.

“Man, that Banish spell is more useful than I thought. It was even strong enough to banish General Vertebreak back to Muu when we first fought him. At least it kicked that cat to the curb.”

Nina emerged from behind the wrecked wall and tackled Nova in a hug, saying, “Thank you, beloved, for getting rid of him. Where did you send him?”

“Only as far as the checkpoint to this kingdom,” he replied. “I wanted to send him further away but I couldn’t think of a good enough place right away. So I went with the first idea that popped into my head. Not my usual standards, I admit, but it’ll at least keep him out of our hair for a bit. Hopefully by the time he gets back here we’ll already be on our way over the ocean. Now, with that distraction dealt with, it’s back to work.”

Nina nodded and the duo resumed aiding the relief efforts for the city. The guards gave a relieved sigh before resuming their duties. They knew the city’s recovery would take time but they would prevail in the end.

Next Chapter: Freeze Play

That's all for today. Not much happened but it is the aftermath of that massive battle so everyone needs time to lick their wounds. Tune in next time to see what our heroes face.
 
Last edited:

CynthiaLover

Geek of the Games
Joined
Dec 23, 2009
Messages
4,355
Reaction score
3,838
Pronouns
He/Him
Time for the next chapter of Dawn of Courage. (Warning: contains violence, mild language, sexual suggestions, female nudity)

Freeze Play


It had been a few days since the attack on Emerald Coast Kingdom’s capital. The city was well on its way to being repaired after the destructive fight. The party was back on the move, heading to the next Undead Base in order to remove Muu’s influence from the continent.

Sir Reginald looked at the map, then the notes, and turned to the party, “Okay, our next stop is a small farming village. From there it’ll be a two-day hike to the next Undead Base, which is led by Captain Phantasm. After that we only have Corpseporal and Goregon and that’ll be the end of Muu’s influence on this continent.”

“I’m so looking forward to that,” Zeeker said. “Then our next step will be to hitch a ride on a ship and head to the next continent.”

Kettu nodded, “Yes, and that’s when things will get extra dicey. Although I am surprised that Muu hasn’t send out Vertebreak again after the destruction of Juggerrot. Or at least sent another Undead Army platoon to attacked the capital while it was weak. I mean, by now he must’ve heard about Juggerrot’s destruction. So… why hasn’t he started a retaliation against us?”

“Maybe the destruction of Juggerrot has made him hesitant about sending out Vertebreak?” Angelo suggested. “I mean, Nova destroyed his second most powerful Undead General along with a platoon of 10,000 Undead Soldiers in a single strike. Surely that must’ve caused a ripple effect of some sort that could demoralize his army. After all, taking out someone as powerful as Juggerrot alongside a huge army could very easily cause Muu’s army to become nervous about fighting us. Just a suggestion.”

Sir Reginald replied, “It’s possible, as Muu is a coward. He did lose one of his strongest pieces in this game of chess with no way to recover it. There could be some truth to that theory, as losing Juggerrot so early could’ve easily thrown a massive snag into Muu’s plans. While I harbor some doubts that destroying Juggerrot would make Muu quake in his boots, he knows that Vertebreak can put us on the backfoot at the very least. It could cause some concern and hesitation from his lower-ranked troops that we were able to vanquish someone so powerful. Hmm… that is something to consider, as it is possible that while Muu himself might not be as badly affected by Juggerrot’s destruction, the lower-ranked troops could very well be rattled by this turn of events. Interesting theory, Angelo.”

Nina said, “Let’s hope that’s the case. It would make our job easier if just our presence alone is enough to intimidate Muu’s Captains and Generals. But I also harbor doubts that it’s that simple. It could be, as everyone, even his troops, knows Muu is a coward but I don’t think it’ll be as easy as that.”

Nova nodded, “True. And even if Muu’s forces are now intimidated by us that doesn’t mean they won’t fight. ‘The cornered rat will bite the cat’, which is a saying from Earth. It means a cornered, fearful enemy can still fight back out of desperation. I admit I used to fulfill that phrase when I started this ‘job’, so to speak. I only gained the will to truly fight back and shed my cowardice when Nina nearly got turned into an Undead because my fear caught me at a bad time and trying to save me she got hit with a Decompose spell from Zomboni. To this day that memory haunts me, as it truly made me realize that fear can hurt not just yourself but those around you. While, obviously, she’s fine now, it was the brutal wake-up call I needed to tell me I had to change if I’m to survive this nightmare. It also made me realize I was in love with her though I kept it to myself for a while, taking occasional shots in the dark to see if she and I being together is possible.”

Nina gave him a smile, “That saying holds true, as Muu’s army can and will fight back even when cornered. Earth certainly has interesting yet wise sayings. I often wonder where you get these. By the way, how’s your head? You took some nasty hits from both Dominic and Juggerrot. Does it hurt?”

“More fatheaded than fractured, Nina. I’ve suffered worse head injuries, like getting a baseball bat to the back of the head from a local bully back when I was 12. Felt like something right out of Tom and Jerry. Not the first time a thug has given me head trauma, and I doubt it’ll be the last, as I’ve got a gut feeling that Dominic is still alive.”

Kettu gained an uneasy look, “You certainly take injuries like that disturbingly well. When Dominic cut off your left hand prior to that archery tournament you were surprisingly calm throughout the whole ordeal. Were you that big of a butt-monkey to the universe that you just shrug off what would be horrific injuries as just another day?”

“You could say that. Stuff like that has happened enough times to me that anything that comes my way is treated just like any other Tuesday. Granted, I don’t LIKE it, and it still hurts, but when the universe was dead-set on dumping as much misery on you as possible you just gotta deal with it. ‘When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade’. Thanks to Nina defying the universe and scoring a win for me seemed to finally remove that curse, so I don’t have to worry anymore about stuff like that happening on a routine basis. I still don’t like it when it does happen but after dealing with it for years you kinda get used to it. Doesn’t make it any less painful but by now I just grin and bear it. It helps that all those events gave me a very large threshold for pain. Hopefully if Dominic is still alive the universe will send the karma missiles after him to make his existence miserable.”

Van replied, “Well, if he did survive, he’s now a wanted man, as he’ll now be known as a traitor to Edyn for siding with Muu in an attempt to make himself seem like a big-shot hero. We saw one of the posters that Queen Maria’s troops put out, saying that if anyone finds him to kill him on sight, as it appears imprisoning him doesn’t cut it. And considering he’s effectively banished from this entire continent and news will spread to the other lands like wildfire he’ll have pretty much no place to hide. And I doubt Muu will offer him sanctuary, since it was Dominic’s poorly designed plan that cost him Juggerrot. Hopefully he did die at the hands of your Celestial Judgment Arrow, but like you I harbor doubts that your devastating attack finished him off for good.”

Sir Reginald said, “Anyway, we should be seeing the next village soon. Let’s hope nothing bad happened, as we’ve run into several incidents over the past month.”

Nodding, the party made their way to the next village. To their relief it looked okay, as there was no damage or panic or despair to be seen. They entered the village, which seemed peaceful enough. Suddenly, they heard the shriek of a woman.

“It’s him!” she cried out. “The Demon King’s champion!”

This outburst redirected the entire village’s attention to the party, wide eyed, making the party freeze. Pretty much everyone raced up to the party eagerly.

“Brace yourself, Nova, as you’re about to become very popular,” Zeeker whispered to the pink-haired man.

The entire village swarmed the party, extremely excited to see them, especially Nova.

One of the older men said, “We heard everything that happened back at the capital! You single-handedly vanquished General Juggerrot and a platoon of 10,000 Undead Soldiers! Amazing, truly amazing! And you’re so young, too. What an honor it is to meet you and for you to come to our humble abode.”

Nova became very sheepish, gaining a blush, “I-I appreciate your kind words, sir. B-But I’m not that impressive. It was just fortunate that I was able to call upon a special skill that ended the threat. Nothing too amazing.”

An older woman smiled, “So modest. And your party is quite the impressive one. Strangely assembled but still very impressive. We’ve heard several rumors about you and your allies. Vanquishing evolved monsters, destroying super-powered Undead Captains that not even a priestess can fight on an even footing, and also having the rare talent of being able to use the coveted Shaman magic. You seven are practically living legends.”

A younger man nodded, “Indeed. Your exploits are traveling the wind faster than a phoenix can fly. I wouldn’t be surprised if towns, villages, and cities on the other continent haven’t heard of your amazing heroics. You seven are becoming a beacon of hope for us in this long, drawn-out battle with Muu. People are starting to gain hope that you lot will be the ones to destroy Muu once and for all.”

“Ho-boy…” Nova gulped. “Let’s not get our expectations too high. Yes, we do plan to take down Muu for good, that is our goal, but we’ve only just begun chipping away at his army. Muu is pulling some rather nasty tactics, like fusing captured souls with Undead Soldiers to create stronger Undead Captains, so it’s not like we’re invincible or anything. Yeah, sure, we have taken down said special Undead Captains fairly regularly, among other enemies, but it’s not like our victories or plans are flawless. A lot of our wins were gained through improvising and learning mid-battle so we’re not the most elite of the elite. Especially me, as I’m practically a rookie compared to the rest of this party.”

An older woman pat Nova on the back rather hard, “Now, now, no need to be so modest, young man. You’re still bringing people like us hope that our 3,000+ year war with Muu will finally be over. While past champions have done well, none have had to face opponents like Undead Captains enhanced by captured souls or General Juggerrot the way you and your comrades have. Many of the kingdoms believe that this army is Muu’s strongest since the Great War itself and you’ve been defeating them left and right. So hold your head up high and be proud, young man, as you and your allies have been inspiring hope in us all.”

A young woman said in a flirtatious manner, “You’re also quite the cutie. Not quite a hunk but you’re getting there--if those muscles you have are anything to say about you. Do you need a girlfriend?”

Nina forced her back, hissing, “Back off, he’s mine!”

Another woman quirked an eyebrow, “Since when does a member of the Phoenix Clan express an interest in another person from another race? Your kind never considered other races as options for significant others.”

Kettu said, “Um… you’re forgetting about Aerrow Sparrow, who lives in this kingdom. He’s a Phoenix Clan member and he married a human woman, so Nina falling in love with Nova isn’t exactly farfetched. Besides, she hates her own kind and would never marry another Phoenix Clan member due to past abuse at their hands. Nova treated her better than anyone did prior so her falling for him was inevitable, even if she took her sweet time figuring it out.”

There was a brief pause before the woman said, “Oh, right, I forgot about Aerrow Sparrow, the Legendary Archer. Yeah, he did marry a human, so I guess it’s not strange for a Phoenix Clan member to fall in love with another race.”

The village elder walked up to them, saying, “Since you are here maybe you can help us with something.”

“Oh no…” Nova groaned mentally. “Here it comes.”

“We need you to take care of some bandits that are harassing our village,” the elder said. “They reside in the cave just southeast of here. Normally they’re not a problem, as they don’t bother us. But recently they’ve gotten pretty bold and have been attacking shipments of goods to and from our village. While they haven’t actually killed anyone they have stolen several things from our shipments. We don’t know why they’ve gotten so bold but if you could deal with the threat we’d be very grateful.”

“Another issue…” Zeeker sighed. “Big surprise.” He turned to Sir Reginald, “What do you say, fearless leader?”

Sir Reginald nodded, “We’ll deal with those bandits for you. While Muu is our primary objective it is our duty to bring peace to this world in every shape and form. We will handle those bandits and take back anything we can that they stole.”

The villagers looked elated at Sir Reginald’s statement.

“Then we shall leave it to you, brave warriors,” the elder said. “Please, return to us with good results.”

Nova gave a heavy sigh, “It’s just one thing after another. Let’s get going and deal with these bandits before anything else happens.”

The party nodded and started to make their way toward the location where the bandits were said to be, to the joyous waves and cheers of the villagers. It wasn’t long before they found the cave. It was a large cave nestled in a small mountain. The party could see torches lit inside it, indicating it was the correct place.

Sir Reginald said, “Stay frosty, team, as we don’t know what to expect.”

“So how are we going to deal with these bandits?” Nova asked. “I’d really rather not kill a person unless it’s absolutely necessary.”

“The leader may need to be killed but we’ll try to captured the bandits. Like you, I’m against killing people unless absolutely necessary, like if said person is a terrorist.”

“Or Dominic,” Nina smirked.

“Yeah, that’s probably the one exception to my list,” Nova chuckled lightly.

Angelo then said, “Hang on a second, gang. I think I see something.”

He walked over to a wall, much to the party’s confusion. He then pushed against a large rock, causing it to move and revealing what looked like a nest with eggs. The party quickly dashed over to examine the eggs.

“These are monster eggs,” Zeeker observed.

Kettu picked one up and took a closer look, saying, “Yeah, and they appear to be Wood Anaconda eggs. Before you ask, Nova, Wood Anacondas are part of the Elemental Anaconda family of monsters. They’re giant snake monsters that are capable of swallowing a person whole like they were candy. They’re highly dangerous and very strong. But like most everything that has the Wood element they hate Fire and Ice. But I wonder why there are Wood Anaconda eggs here? Does the leader have a pet Wood Anaconda?”

Nina’s eyes widened, “Or maybe the Wood Anaconda is the leader. Maybe it came into contact with something and evolved, taking over as the leader of these bandits and using them to its desires. We’d best hurry and see what more we can find out. We should also take these Wood Anaconda eggs, as they’re not only valuable, especially since these are freshly laid, but it’ll prevent a swarm of baby monsters from causing problems later on.”

The party put the large number of eggs into a sack and placed them in Nova’s Digi-Pack. They continued deeper into the cave until they came to a large open area. There they saw a bunch of bandits standing before a rather chubby man.

“That must be the leader,” Sir Reginald said.

Angelo narrowed his eyes, “No, not quite, my friend. That’s a monster in disguise. It must be using either Cloak or Transform. We need to expose it and kill it before it can cause any more problem.”

Nova looked to his left and said, “I see the stolen items just off to the side. We’ll need to take those with us after we deal with these goons. Let’s make our plan.”

The party huddled together and started to devise a plan of attack. After about five minutes they had settled on their strategy. To trap the bandits Sir Reginald closed the only way out with his Earth magic before the party slowly crept toward where the bandits and their ‘leader’ was.

One bandit asked, “So, Boss Johnson, what’s our next raid going to be?”

The ‘leader’ replied, “We’ll attack the village directly this time. Not just for our usual items but bring me a beautiful woman so we can have some ‘fun’ with her.”

The bandits looked eager, “Ooh, sounds good, boss. Hopefully the girl we get is still a virgin. That’ll be fun.”

Angelo started to charge energy into his rapier, saying, “Time to expose this faker. Ice Sword!”

He launched the attack as a projectile and struck the bandit ‘leader’ in the back, making him howl in pain. His body started to flicker and before long the disguise was broken, revealing a monster.

“B-B-Boss Johnson is a monster?!” one of the bandits screamed.

The monster looked like a giant anaconda, green in color with yellow stripes and spikes littering its body. Its body was, strangely, made of segments linked together, almost like it was a toy or robotic snake, but it was still very clearly alive. Its eyes were yellow and pupilless and had sharp fangs poking out of its mouth. It gave a hiss of fury at its disguise being exposed.

“Who dare did that!?” it hissed.

The party jumped out, weapons drawn, making the Wood Anaconda’s eyes widen.

“Warriors?” it hissed. “You will regret challenging me! Bandits, attack them or I’ll eat you like I did your boss!”

The bandits hesitated but when the threat sank in they quickly charged in. Angelo gained a smirk.

“I know how to put the freeze on these goons!” He tapped two Elemental Gems on the Shaman Magic Bracelet, “Ice, Light! Elemental Energy Fusion activate!”

He was engulfed in swirling energy, causing everyone to stop and observe. Before long a new form appeared.

Angelo’s new transformation was very similar to his Tsunami Knight, being a tall, muscular knight, with ice blue skin, gold eyes, twin purple mohawks, strong limbs, ice skates for boots, his armor was made of snow white ice and he was wielding twin swords with a shield strapped to his back.

“Face the might of my White Blizzard Knight!” Angelo said confidently.

The Wood Anaconda hissed, “Impressive trick, frog boy. But it won’t save you. Get them! And bring the Phoenix girl to me!”

The bandits charged in, ready to defeat the party. The party quickly sprang into action, ready to defeat the bandits. Angelo skated over to the Wood Anaconda, his feet creating ice to skate on as he moved.

“Fine, I’ll eat you first, frog boy. It’s only natural that snakes eat frogs.”

Angelo stated, “The only thing you’ll be eating is defeat and death! Bring it on! Sub-Zero Slash!”

He viciously slashed both of his swords in an “X” shape, creating freezing energy that left a sizable gash on one of the Wood Anaconda’s segments, making it hiss in pain, along with ice forming around the wound. The Wood Anaconda gave a hiss and summoned pillars of wood that raced toward Angelo. The Hopper Clan prince merely skated out of the way of the attack, allowing him to get behind the Wood Anaconda.

“Time to chill you to the bone, you snake in the grass! Jack Frostbite!”

He summoned a blast of cold air that froze part of the Wood Anaconda’s body, making it howl in pain. Angelo then noticed something.

“I see how you became smarter, vile viper. There’s a Starfire Ruby on your head. Well, that won’t be an issue once I’m done with you! Freeze!”

The Wood Anaconda was hit by a blast of icy energy, causing its head to freeze up in a block of ice. It crashed to the ground, shattering the ice, but seemingly putting the monster on death’s doorstep. Angelo took advantage of this and quickly skated over, both swords ready, and viciously slashed the Wood Anaconda’s head off, causing it to fall to the ground and die, ending the fight. At that time the party had finished off the bandits, who were now unconscious, allowing them to breathe a sigh of relief.

Sir Reginald walked over to where some tools were hung on the cave wall and took some rope from it, saying, “Now, stay nice and still while we tie you goons up.”

In a few minutes the bandits were tied up. Sir Reginald then wrote a note and slipped it into the ropes.

“Nova, use Banish to send these goons back to the capital so Queen Maria can deal with them, as she would know best. The note I left will explain everything.”

Nova nodded, “Music to my ears, Sir Reginald. Demon Mode.”

The Demon King Ring adjusted itself, now set to Demon Mode. He then pointed his hand with the Demon King Ring at the bandits.

“Happy trails, you lowly thugs. Banish!”

The bandits vanished in a flurry of sparkles. Nina then walked over to the decapitated Wood Anaconda and plucked the Starfire Ruby off its head.

“Another treasure from the cosmos,” she said. “It was fortunate that it was just a Starfire Ruby this time. They’re probably one of the weaker items the Goddess infused into the moons: if a monster comes into contact with one it’ll only evolve its intelligence and abilities, not its body. We’d best take this with us, along with our harvest of the valuable parts of this monster. Then we’ll take the stolen goods back to the village.”

Angelo smiled, “Sounds good to me. Now, Cancel Fusion!”

He was engulfed in swirling energy before returning to normal. The party began collecting the fangs and spikes from the Wood Anaconda, stashing them in a pouch and putting them in Nova’s Digi-Pack. They then stored the stolen items and money in his Digi-Pack and began making their way back to the village. By the time they had returned to the village the sun was starting to set. The villagers immediately noticed the party and quickly gathered up.

The village elder asked, “Were you successful?”

Sir Reginald nodded, “We were. Turns out the bandits’ leader was replaced by a Wood Anaconda that came into contact with a Starfire Ruby, enhancing its intelligence and abilities, something that not even the bandits knew about. We’ve since slain the Wood Anaconda, captured the bandits, sent them off to the capital for Queen Maria to deal with, and recovered all the stolen items.”

A young man asked, “Why just capture the bandits? Why didn’t you kill them?”

Nova said, “We have bit of an aversion to killing people unless absolutely necessary. Especially me. Those bandits may have committed crimes but we felt they didn’t need to die at our hands. Queen Maria would know the better method of dealing with them so we’re letting her sort them out. After all, the bandits didn’t kill anyone themselves, only the Wood Anaconda did, as such we felt they didn’t deserve to die at our hands. If they had taken the life of one of you villagers then that would warrant more lethal force but since they only stole items we felt it wasn’t necessary. And Angelo deserves most of the credit for today’s victory, as his keen observational skills and newest Shaman form really made our job so much easier. But, in short, we don’t feel the need to kill a person unless absolutely necessary. Or if that person is Dominic Flight.”

The villagers went silent before suddenly cheering, startling Nova.

“Spoken like a true hero!” one woman said.

“You truly are a noble champion!” a man announced.

“Yes, only a noble, humble soul would spare the lives of criminals and offer more credit to his ally than himself!” an older woman smiled.

Nova sighed, “Not the reaction I was expecting. Anyway, give me some space so I can return the stolen items.”

The villagers gave him some space, allowing him to eject the stolen items from his Digi-Pack. The villagers quickly gathered up the items before escorting the party to the inn, giving them a free night and food as thanks. Some of the young women flirted with Nova, much to Nina’s fury, but he politely turned them down.

Later that evening Nova was sitting on one of the inn beds. He looked exhausted. Nina was busy locking the inn door to their room, followed by putting the chair from the nearby desk under the doorknob to further prevent anyone from entering.

“There!” she huffed. “That’ll keep those chicks away from my man.” She turned to face Nova, her expression softening, “Nova? You okay, love?”

He gave a heavy sigh, “My attempt to make those villagers think I was a pansy by not killing the bandits failed spectacularly. Now I’m even more popular than before. I’m beginning to wonder if it would’ve been better I remained a nobody instead of becoming a hero. Now people’s expectations of me will be too high and I worry I won’t be able to live up to them.”

Nina gave a small smile, walked over to the bed he was on, and sat on his lap. She then wrapped her arms around his neck and gave him a tender kiss.

“Nova, I can understand why you’re worried,” she said gently. “Because of your past you worry that you can’t live up to such high expectation and standards now that you’re becoming a world-renowned hero. Considering that you struggled to meet your family’s ridiculous expectations I can see why you’re worried about living up to these expectations. But I know you can do it. You’ve truly become a beacon of hope for people. I should know, as I’m one of them. You gave me a life worth living and a future worth fighting for. You’ve made me so, so happy, and you’ve improved my clan for the better, making all the years I suffered at their hands become worth it.”

“Do you really feel that way, Nina?”

“I do. You’re a wonderful, noble man, Nova. I know your self-esteem issues prevent you from seeing yourself as such but you’ve changed so many lives for the better, our party included. While past champions have proven their salt, all of them tend to fit the same mold. You break that mold and prove to be a better champion, as you take everything seriously, work hard, and are willing to address and improve your flaws, something that past champions tended to take for granted. You’re a truly noble, wonderful man, Nova, so while I understand your concerns about living up to the people’s expectations, I know you can do it.”

Nova gave a sigh, “I wish I could be so sure. While I appreciate the pep talk I’m not totally sure if I can accept it. I mean, I’ve failed to live up to various high expectations for years. Thus it makes me worried that this’ll be no different. I just don’t know if I can handle this pressure of being considered a hero to the people. While, yes, I do crave being special, this is a bit too much for me to endure. I guess this is a ‘be careful what you wish for’ or a ‘wanting is better than having’ scenario. I want to do my best and live up to the people’s expectations but after failing to do so for years prior I just don’t feel I can do it.”

Nina gave him another kiss, saying, “Nova, I understand what you’re saying. But unlike your family’s stupid standards because they forgot what’s important, the people here on Edyn are willing to accept any form of good you do, as even the smallest of things can improve the lives of our people. And you’ve done plenty of good that warrants the praise and respect you’re getting. Your family failed to see just how wonderful you are but the people of Edyn can see it clearly. I know you’ll succeed in every task you set yourself out to do here. And I’ll stand by your side the whole time.”

Nova turned to her, locking eyes with her. He could see the warmth and love that her cerulean eyes radiated. He gently cupped her face and pulled her closer. The two engaged in a tender lip lock, showing their love and joy they had for each other. After what seemed like an eternity but was probably only a few minutes they broke apart.

“Nina…” Nova said. “You know I don’t deserve you. But I’m really happy you chose me over any other man. I’ll try my best but don’t expect any miracles.”

She nuzzled her nose against his, purring, “That’s more than enough for me. And I know the people of Edyn will feel the same way.”

They remained that way for a while, their foreheads pressed against each other, their bodies being gently cradled by the other. After a little while Nina got up, stripped, and curled up under the sheets of one of the beds. Nova kicked off his Hoverboots and laid down on the bed he was sitting on. He blew out the candle that was illuminating the room, allowing darkness to blanket them. Nina flashed one last smile before she drifted off to sleep. Nova was awake a bit longer, still worried about what they had discussed, but eventually fell asleep.

Next Chapter: Bone Breaking Battle

That's all for today. Another day, another village saved, another Shaman form obtained. Tune in next time to see what our heroes face.
 

CynthiaLover

Geek of the Games
Joined
Dec 23, 2009
Messages
4,355
Reaction score
3,838
Pronouns
He/Him
Time for the next chapter of Dawn of Courage. (Warning: contains mild violence, mild language)

Bone Breaking Battle


It had been a couple of days since the party encountered the bandits led by a disguised, more evolved Wood Anaconda. They were on their way toward the direction of Captain Phantasm’s base. They knew that another big battle would soon be upon them.

Sir Reginald checked the notes before turning to the party, “Okay, we should be seeing Captain Phantasm’s base soon. It’s stationed near a fresh water lake so we can use Angelo’s frog form to sneak up from behind, as according to the notes, the front of the base is heavily fortified with various defenses. The notes also say that there is a barrier generator in it, shielding the top of the base, so, unfortunately, Phantom can’t help us scope things out.”

Nova quirked an eyebrow, “How so?”

Nina explained, “Well, while Stealth Falcons can become intangible, which allows them to penetrate solid objects like walls and buildings, they can’t go through barriers due to their unique nature. So looks like this’ll be Kettu’s time to shine and use his stealth abilities in Phantom’s stead.”

Kettu nodded, “Sounds good to me. Been a while since I used my fox form and I might as well make use of this Stealth Earring Nova was kind enough to make for me. Hopefully I’ll have an easy point-of-entry to exploit like a drain pipe or a vent or something. But if not I do have other methods of infiltration.”

Sir Reginald nodded, “Yes, this time we’ll need your expertise, Kettu. Especially now that we know that Muu can properly craft Magna Crystals into refined cubes, which would work better for both powering the bases and a barrier generator. We should be seeing the lake really soon so let’s hope we can take advantage of it and get the drop on the Undead Base and its occupants.”

Nina then said, “I can see the lake. It’s only about a mile up ahead of us. Let’s go, boys, and bust some boneheads.”

The party nodded and made their way to the lake. They could see the Undead Base across the lake, facing the other direction.

Angelo smiled, “Time for me to shine.”

He waded out into the lake before transforming into his giant frog form.

“Hop on, gang,” he said cheerfully.

The party climbed onto his back except Nina, who hovered next to him. Angelo began ferrying the party across the lake with Nina flying next to him, her toes and plumes gently skimming the water. They soon arrived at the back wall of the base. Kettu quickly scoped the area before smiling.

“Perfect,” he said. “I see a drain pipe. You all wait here while I check the situation out.”

Zeeker nodded, “Right, do your stuff, Kettu. But be careful.”

Kettu nodded and transformed into his black fox form. He jumped off of Angelo’s back and scurried into the drain pipe, vanishing from sight. The party waited for the Werefox’s return. After about ten minutes the black fox emerged from the drain pipe, giving his body a shake to get all the grime and gunk out of his fur, before transforming back to normal.

“Blegh…” he grumbled. “No matter how often I infiltrate places through drain pipes it’s still never pleasant. Anyway, here’s the scoop. We’re dealing with the usual number of Undead Soldiers. They have a barrier generator being powered by a Magna Crystal cube, which is also powering the defenses in the front, so that crystal is doing double duty. Captain Phantasm actually seems really paranoid. Makes me wonder if Angelo’s theory about us destroying Juggerrot causing a ripple effect in Muu’s army might not be far off the mark. Anyway, he’s also not very tough, as he’s rather low on the pecking order in Muu’s army, but I did see some Stone Gaias acting both as frontal sentries and as extra security inside the base. So taking Phantasm out will be easy enough, but the Stone Gaias will be slightly more problematic. Although thanks to past experiences we now know how to deal with them more effectively.”

Sir Reginald nodded, “I see, I see. Good work, Kettu. Was there anything else of note in that base like crates of cargo or weapons or whatnot?”

“I did see one crate which seems to contain Magna Crystal cubes, as I could hear the hum they make and sense their energy. Other than that not much else was out of the ordinary.”

“Okay, let’s start devising our plan.”

The party got off Angelo’s back, allowing him to transform back and climb out of the water. They began strategizing, keeping their voices low to avoid being detected. After about ten minutes they had settled on a plan.

“Okay, I think we’ve got a good plan mapped out. Attacking from the front is a bad idea so we’ll attack from this side, taking the enemy by surprise. It’ll also allow us to bypass the defenses in the front and limit how many Stone Gaias we have to fight right away. Since there’s only two in the base itself, the rest are stationed in the front, we can take out those two first and deal with the ones in the front after we’re done with Phantasm and his platoon. Now… how to break down the wall?”

“I have an idea,” Nina suggested. “We’ll use a Magna Crystal cube and detonate it like a bomb, as even though they’re stable they’re still rather volatile to outside forces. So we’ll plant one against the wall, get a safe distance away, and have Nova snipe it with an attack to cause it to explode, tearing open the wall so we can infiltrate the base.”

Zeeker grinned, “I’m down for that. Good idea, Nina.”

Sir Reginald nodded, “Indeed, an excellent suggestion. We’ll need to have Angelo transform into his frog form again so we can get a safe distance from the exploding Magna Crystal cube, as when they go boom, they really go boom. But after that it shouldn’t be too difficult to take down Phantasm and his platoon. Okay, if we’re ready we can begin the mission.”

The party nodded in agreement. Angelo got back into the water and transformed into his frog form again. Nova then placed a Magna Crystal cube right up to the rear wall of the base before getting on Angelo’s back along with the rest of the party except Nina. Angelo swam a short distance before stopping. Nova got into a kneeling position, nocked an arrow on his bow, and took aim.

“As I always say: Here goes something,” he said. “Ifrit Mode. Fire Shot!”

The Demon King Ring adjusted itself, now set to Ifrit Mode. He then launched the flaming arrow at Magna Crystal cube, striking it, which caused the crystal to start shaking and humming before it detonated in a huge blast. The explosion tore a sizable chunk out of the rear wall of the Undead Base, startling the Undead Army. Angelo quickly swam back over to the shore, allowing the party to jump off and begin their attack, him transforming back to normal and joining the fight.

“T-The Demon King’s champion and his party!” Captain Phantasm sputtered. “G-Get them!”

However, the Undead Soldiers hesitated, clearly uncertain if they could fight back. This delay gave the party the opening they needed, allowing them to charge in and start tearing the Undead Soldiers apart. The two Stone Gaias that were stationed in the base, dropped their defenses and launched their exploding shockwave attack. However, the party managed to dodge the attack by jumping through the brief gap in between each blast.

“Mind Swords!” Nina stated strongly.

She summoned large magical swords and hurled them at the Stone Gaias before they could raise their stone body defenses again, effortlessly shattering them. It didn’t take long before the last Undead Soldier was destroyed, allowing the party to corner Captain Phantasm.

“Y-You won’t get away with this!” he sputtered, clearly too scared to fight back. “Master Muu will destroy you personally if he has to!”

“Not if we destroy him first!” Sir Reginald stated. “Take this! Miracle Slash!”

His sword started to glow with Holy energy which he then slammed down upon the Undead Captain, effortlessly bisecting him and destroying him, with what seemed to be healing energy flowing into Sir Reginald shortly afterward.

“Okay, now we have to deal with the Stone Gaias in the front. But first let’s check out the crate, as the Stone Gaias can’t attack us from here.”

The party nodded and opened up the lone crate in the base. Inside were several Magna Crystal cubes.

“As I thought,” Kettu said. “Well, we know what to do with these, right gang?”

“Right!” everyone else said in unison.

Nova scanned the Magna Crystals into his Digi-Pack. He then took the one that was powering the base’s barrier generator and other defenses, shutting them down, and stored it with the others.

Van said, “I’ll handle the other Stone Gaias. Light, Dark! Elemental Energy Fusion activate!”

He was engulfed in swirling energy and before long the Galactic Pegasus was standing before them. He took flight on his strong wings and hovered over the Stone Gaias, who were clearly trying to figure out how to attack the party inside the base.

He smirked, “Not happening, hardheads. Meteor Storm!”

A brief pause occurred before a flurry of meteors rained down upon the Stone Gaias, shattering them with ease, leaving only their helmets and hammers. Satisfied Van flew back down to ground level.

“Okay, that takes care of the last of our enemies in this base,” Sir Reginald said. “Let’s collect the helmets and hammers of the Stone Gaias then we’ll destroy the base.”

The party quickly gathered up the hammers and helmets of the Stone Gaias, placing them in Nova’s Digi-Pack. Angelo then turned into his giant frog form, jumped into the water, and allowed the party to climb on his back, with the exception of Nina and Van, who used their wings to hover. When they had gotten a safe distance away Van raised his twin tridents in the air.

“Time for the grand finale!” he said strongly. “Asteroid Annihilation!”

There was a brief pause before a massive asteroid came rocketing down from the sky. It crashed into the Undead Base, effortlessly destroying it, leaving nothing but a crater and some debris behind. Satisfied, the party made their way back to the opposite shore, got off of Angelo’s back, who transformed into his normal form, along with Nina and Van landing with them.

Sir Reginald smiled, “Good work, everyone. That’s another Undead Base and its occupants destroyed. And it appears that Angelo’s theory might not be too far off the mark, as Phantasm was clearly too intimidated by us to fight effectively. Maybe destroying Juggerrot so early in this game of chess really did demoralize the lower ranks of Muu’s army, making them more unwilling to fight back against us.”

“Hopefully that’s the case,” Zeeker said. “Would make our job so much easier. But I harbor doubts this’ll be a recurring thing. I’ve got a gut feeling that this was kind of a one-time deal, as Phantasm is pretty low in the pecking order. Things will probably go back to ‘normal’, so to speak, when we get to the next continent, as that’s where most of Muu’s Undead Generals are.”

“That’s a fair assessment, Zeeker,” Nova said. “We might be able to get Corpseporal and Goregon to quake in their boots, but I wouldn’t bet money on it. Especially since they’re probably not quite as low on the pecking order as Phantasm was, thus may have some bite to their bark. While I’ll take whatever break I can get I know that once we remove Muu’s influence from this continent it’ll only get tougher from there.”

Nina nodded, “Yeah, no doubt about that. But we’ve gotten this far and we can go the distance. So it’s off to the next battle for us.”

Van smiled, “You’ve got quite the bit of spunk, Nina. But you are right. We intend to take this fight straight to Muu’s front doors. So let’s get going. But first… Cancel Fusion!”

Van was engulfed in swirling energy before retuning to normal. The party started to make their way to the next location, knowing the battles will only get tougher from here.

Next Chapter: Looking Back and Moving Ahead

That's all for today. Short, sweet, and to the point. Will the remaining battles be this easy? Or was it a one-time wonder? Tune in to find out.
 

CynthiaLover

Geek of the Games
Joined
Dec 23, 2009
Messages
4,355
Reaction score
3,838
Pronouns
He/Him
Time for the next chapter of Dawn of Courage. (Warning: contains mild language)

Looking Back and Moving Ahead


It was the following night after the party had defeated Captain Phantasm and his platoon. They were at a magical campsite; the tent was pitched and Nova was making dinner. After a few more minutes Nova sampled the food from the pan.

“Hmm…” he pondered. “Yeah, we’re good to go. The boneless spareribs with fried rice is ready. Gather up.”

“Music to my ears,” Zeeker grinned.

Nova served generous portions of the food to the party, allowing them to settle in and start eating.

“Delish, as always, beloved,” Nina purred happily. “To this day I’m still surprised you’re only the third or fourth best cook in the family. Your meals are just as good as anyone else’s, if not better. Plus they’re so much more creative then what Edyn usually eats.”

Nova chuckled lightly, “Well, believe it, Nina. Now there’s plenty more if anyone wants seconds.”

“We may take you up on that offer,” Sir Reginald smiled.

Kettu was eating slowly, his mind seemingly elsewhere. This change in demeanor didn’t go unnoticed by the party.

“Kettu?” Nina asked gingerly. “Is everything okay?”

Kettu replied, “Sorry, I didn’t mean to cause alarm. The next village we’ll be hitting… it’s my old hometown. It’s where several types of Werefolk like me reside. And you can rest easy, Reggie, as it’s not a town of thieves or whatnot. That was just my family’s line of work. No, it’s a more standard village, only it is full of Werefolk like me. To be honest… I’m a bit reluctant to go back there. I vowed I wouldn’t return until I found Felix’s soul but, obviously, that hasn’t happened yet. I know I’ve got friends and family there, waiting for me… but I’m not sure if I can face them just yet. Not after not finding Felix’s soul. But I know we need to stop there for supplies and such. I just hope I can face my family…”

Nova placed a hand on his shoulder, “I know it’ll be tough, Kettu. But you’re as tough as they come. It’ll be okay. Granted, I don’t have the best relationship with my family, as I’m aware you lot know since you eavesdropped on Nina and me that one night. But I know your family will understand. At least knowing that you destroyed Bloodgore would bring them some peace of mind. Especially since Bloodgore came back for seconds and made off with Carlos’ soul. But I know they’ll understand why you came back and I know you’ll give them some comfort knowing that Felix’s murderer is dead.”

Angelo nodded, “Nova’s right, Kettu. Just knowing that Felix’s murderer has been slain by your hands will bring your family some solace. While it’s not as good as actually finding and freeing Felix’s soul, knowing that the villain who killed him, and later Carlos, has been destroyed will bring them at least some comfort. I know it’ll be hard but you can handle it.”

Kettu broke into a smile, “Thank you, that does make me feel better. I guess even if it’s not much my family will find some peace of mind knowing that Bloodgore is dead, thus he cannot reap any more souls. It still won’t be easy but it has to be done. I just hope Julia is still okay.”

Van smiled, “She’s your sweetheart, right? I’m certain she’s fine. She’d probably be the most excited to see you again. Now, I suggest you eat up, as you’ll need the energy to face your family and friends. But I’m certain they’ll simply be happy to see you’re alive and well, and even happier knowing that Bloodgore is dead.”

Kettu nodded and resumed eating with more gusto. The party continued their dinner in peace. After another serving of food was handed out it was gone, allowing Nova and Nina to wash the dishes. Soon they all piled into bed and fell asleep, knowing that tomorrow was another day.

Dawn broke the next morning. After a nice breakfast of eggwiches the party made their way to the next village. Like Kettu said it was full of Werefolk of all kind, going about their day and simply taking care of business. A door opened at a local florist, revealing another Werefox. She was beautiful, with snow white hair, a matching tail and ears, soft, supple skin, bright blue eyes, soft paws, and was dressed in a nice brown and blue dress. She turned to the party and nearly dropped the flowerpot she was carrying.

“K-Kettu?” she said, surprised.

Kettu replied in a surprisingly coy tone, “Hello, Julia. Hope you are well.”

Julia put the pot down and ran into Kettu’s arms, embracing him in a tight hug.

“Kettu!” she cried. “I’ve been so worried about you! I’ve heard so many rumors and stories about what has been going on lately with Muu and the force that’s been opposing him.”

She gave him a kiss on the cheek, making him blush, wagging her tail happily. It was then the rest of the village noticed the party and immediately swarmed them.

“Kettu’s back!” a male Werefolk who looked like he was a kangaroo rat said happily.

“And he’s brought company with him,” a rabbit-like Werefolk female said.

An older Werefolk who seemed to be a coyote looked the party over before saying, “If I’m not mistaken, this is the Demon King’s champion party. Everyone says that the Demon King’s champion party consists of various races. Kettu, you’re part of this party?”

Kettu nodded, “Yes, old man Hookfang. This is the Demon King’s champion party which I’m part of. We have Nova the Demon King’s champion, Nina the Phoenix Clan ex-princess, Sir Reginald the Galvatar knight, Van the Centaur warrior, Zeeker the former captain of the Beastman Resistance, and Angelo the prince of the Hopper Clan. We’ve been working together to fight Muu’s forces, and we’ve almost driven him out of this continent.”

Julia gained a solemn expression, saying, “Kettu… I don’t know how to tell you this… but Carlos…”

He said, “I’m already aware. Carlos was killed by Bloodgore, right? I encountered his soul not too long ago. It was being used to power a new, special breed of Undead Captain. We destroyed that Undead Captain and freed Carlos’ soul, allowing him to tell me what happened.”

A female Weredog perked up, “Then you saved my son’s soul? That brings me a great deal of comfort.”

“What about Felix’s soul?” a female leopard-like Werefolk asked.

Kettu gave a heavy sigh, “Still in Muu’s clutches. I know Muu will eventually use his soul to power a special Undead Captain. Hopefully when he does I can finally free Felix from the torture he’s enduring. But I know there are other souls still in Muu’s grip that he could turn into lab rats at any time so we have to free all of them. We’ve already freed a good number of captured souls, including Carlos and members of Zeeker’s Beastman Resistance, but there’s still more we need to save.”

The kangaroo rat Werefolk cursed, “Damn that Muu! He’s using innocent souls to make more Undead Captains? That horrendous, diabolical, cowardly fiend!”

“I can give some good news, though. Bloodgore has been slain by yours truly, so he cannot hurt another member of our village.”

Julia perked up, “So Bloodgore is finally dead? Oh, that’s such a relief. First Felix then Carlos, it was clear he perceived us as easy targets. But how did you beat him? Your Werebeast form wasn’t strong enough back then.”

Kettu raised his right wrist, showing the Shaman Magic Bracelet, “With this very useful trinket. It’s a Shaman Magic Bracelet. Turns out our entire party, except Nova, can use the powerful and game-changing Shaman magic. So we were given these Shaman Magic Bracelets to better aid in our fight against Muu. While Muu did eventually find out about these thanks to Vertebreak, we’ve been able to use them to destroy countless Undead Captains and Generals, giving us a much-needed power boost. I used one of my Shaman forms: Fox Fyre, to burn Bloodgore to ash in retaliation for Felix’s and Carlos’ deaths, although I didn’t know about the latter until recently as I killed Bloodgore a while ago. But this little trinket has made my Werebeast form look like a tap on the shoulder and allowed me to avenge Bloodgore’s victims.”

The various Werefolk looked at the Shaman Magic Bracelets with sparkling eyes.

“So cool!” a younger Weredog said.

Julia looked elated, “Oh, Kettu, I knew you were special. To think you can not only use the rare gift of Shaman magic but you used it to destroy Bloodgore is truly amazing. I admit I’m a bit jealous. But considering you’re on the frontlines you need it more than me. A shame you didn’t have that before, as maybe it could’ve…” but she trailed off.

“I know…” Kettu said in a depressed tone. “I could’ve saved Felix and perhaps prevented Carlos’ death, too. But like Nova once said that’s the price of getting stronger. Sometimes you wish you had the strength you have now back then, making you wonder if it could’ve changed things for the better instead of what truly happened. It’s a harsh, miserable feeling but sometimes some things are just out of your control. At least now I can use my newfound strength to prevent others from suffering the same fate. It won’t ever bring back Felix or Carlos but at least I can help prevent future incidents from occurring.”

Julia turned to Nova, “You’re Nova, right? I’ve heard that the Demon King’s champion has pink hair. I must thank you for helping Kettu in his search for Felix. It’s clear you’ve done a lot of good for him. His family would be so happy to know he’s got really good friends like you.”

Nova blushed, “Don’t think it’s been a one-sided relationship. Kettu really came to our aid, as he had gathered extensive notes and intel on the enemy before meeting up with us. Without those notes we wouldn’t have been able to crush so many enemies. While those notes have long since run dry they still provided us with a much-needed early advantage, allowing us to get some solid footholds against Muu. But I appreciate what you’re saying. While Sir Reginald wasn’t too keen on having a well-known thief in the ranks at first, I was glad to vouch for Kettu, as his talents proved to be invaluable to us. We couldn’t have gotten this far without him.”

Kettu broke into a smile, “Nova… thank you. You’re the best. You may have not been the bravest of heart at first but you’ve come a long way since then. Even managing to take out General Juggerrot and a platoon of 10,000 Undead Soldiers. That proves just how much you’ve grown, yet you remained true to your core nature. But thank you for saying that, it means a lot to me.”

“No problem, as it’s the truth.”

Nina wrapped her arms around one of his, purring, “Considering I’ve known Nova since nearly the beginning I can personally say he’s right.”

Suddenly three voices said eagerly, “Kettu! You’re home!”

They all turned to see a trio of Werefoxes approach: an adult male, an adult female, and a teenage female. Kettu gained a sad smile as he saw them race up to him.

“Hi, dad, mom, and Kris,” he said gently.

The three Werefoxes embraced Kettu, clearly happy to see him. Kettu felt a bit embarrassed but he accepted it. After a minute they broke apart.

“Kettu… we’ve been worried about you,” his father said.

“And we’ve heard many rumors, too, which has only made us worry more,” his mother added.

“And… any news on big brother Felix?” Kris asked gingerly.

Kettu said sadly, “Unfortunately, the only news I can report is that Felix is still in Muu’s clutches. I haven’t been able to find him yet. However, I can say that I did kill Bloodgore, so that avenged both Felix’s and Carlos’ deaths at his vampiric claws.”

His father went wide eyed, “How? Your Werebeast form wasn’t strong enough to save Felix. How were you able to kill Bloodgore?”

“Turns out I have the rare trait of being able to use Shaman magic. So I donned a new Shaman form and managed to barbeque that bat-faced freak to ashes. While I knew it wouldn’t bring Felix back, I at least took some solace that I killed his and Carlos’ murderer, thereby mitigating my failure. I still have every intention of finding Felix’s soul, even if it means my party and I have to bash down Muu’s castle doors. I still have a long journey but we were in the area, taking out Undead Bases, so we stopped by, along with needing to get supplies. But I’m glad to see you three are doing well despite Felix’s death.”

His mother whimpered, “It’s been hard but we’ve been managing. But the fact you’re willing to take the fight to Muu directly proves just how serious you are at rescuing Felix’s soul. I know you consider that day your greatest failure, even drowning your sorrows in the pub for a bit until Julia smacked some sense into you, but it warms our hearts to see just how hard you’re working to avenge and save Felix. And we can be more at peace knowing that Bloodgore has been slain, thus we don’t have to worry about him swooping in and claiming a third victim in our village. You make us so proud, Kettu.”

“Thanks, mom, but the job isn’t done yet. We cannot rest easy until Muu is gone for good. And we have every intention of finally putting that bony coward in his place: oblivion. But so far we’ve made great progress. Just two more Undead Bases and we’ll have removed Muu’s presence on this continent. Then it’s off to the next continent, and hopefully after that to Muu’s continent. That means I’ll be gone for a long time. Hopefully you all can hold the fort until we return with Muu’s head on a plaque. One that we can throw darts at.”

His father smiled, “I like the sound of that.” He turned to the party, “I thank you for your willingness to work alongside Kettu. Yes, our family has a reputation of being thieves, so I’m even more appreciative that even Sir Reginald himself would be willing to work with my son.”

Sir Reginald replied, “Yeah, well, I will admit I wasn’t fond of the idea at first. Nova and Lady Nina talked me into it, especially since Kettu had done plenty of intel gathering that gave us an undeniable edge early on, something that any knight and strategist worth their salt couldn’t pass up. He and I have a… unique dynamic, but I won’t deny Kettu has been an invaluable asset in our fight against Muu. His stealth abilities and information gathering skills leave nothing to be desired, and that’s not taking into account his skills on the battlefield, especially after we all got Shaman power upgrades. So while I’ll freely admit I wasn’t keen on having a well-known thief in our ranks I cannot deny his contributions and skills in our mission.”

“Aww… I knew you cared, Reggie,” Kettu teased.

“My name’s not ‘Reggie’, Kettu!” the knight retorted. “Enough with the Reggie stuff!”

“Whatever you say… Reggie,” the Werefox said slyly.

Everyone chuckled at the banter between the two.

“Those two certainly keep things interesting,” Nova chuckled.

“Just like an old married couple,” Nina teased.

“Yet, at the same time, they can perform some surprisingly good synergy on the battlefield,” Van said in an amused tone.

“I guess opposites do attract,” Zeeker snickered.

“Indeed, and we wouldn’t want it any other way,” Angelo said in a jovial yet sincere tone.

Sir Reginald gained a sour expression, making everyone chuckle again. Kettu’s family then stepped back a bit.

“Kettu, we know you have work to do so we’ll let you do what you need to,” his father said. “We thank you for your continued efforts in trying to save Felix’s soul from Muu’s grip. Please, return safely when this fight is all over.”

Kettu nodded, “Don’t worry, dad, I intend to not just save Felix’s soul, but all the souls Muu has captured. And when Muu is finally dead I will return home.”

Julia stepped up, saying, “Please, be safe, Kettu. According to the rumors I’ve heard you and your party have had the occasional close shave, like when Juggerrot attacked the capital. Please, come back alive and in one piece.”

“I will, Julia. When you’ve got backup like these guys it’s hard to not to come out of a battle fully intact. But I will be careful. So please hold down the fort while I’m gone.”

Julia kissed Kettu then nuzzled her head up to his, which he gently returned, making everyone smile. The villagers then returned to their activities, allowing the party to begin picking up supplies.

“I know you’re out there, Felix,” Kettu said silently. “While I know I can never bring you back home I will at least free you from Muu’s grip. With my friends by my side I’ll make sure you never suffer again. That I promise.”

Next Chapter: Volcanic Titan

That's all for today. We're finally introduced to Kettu's friends, family, and fellow Werefolk. Looks like he's quite popular with the locals even if the mood is somber. Tune in next time to see what our heroes face.
 

CynthiaLover

Geek of the Games
Joined
Dec 23, 2009
Messages
4,355
Reaction score
3,838
Pronouns
He/Him
Time for the next chapter of Dawn of Courage. (Warning: contains mild language, violence)

Volcanic Titan


It had been a couple of days since the party had visited Kettu’s hometown. They were back on the road, heading to the next Undead Base. Sir Reginald was in the lead, as usual, guiding the party with the map and compass.

“Okay, we should be nearing the next Undead Base soon,” he said. “According to the notes we’ll be dealing with Captain Corpseporal. And also according to the notes he’s got a fairly large platoon under his command.”

Van said, “And he’ll probably have a handful of monsters with him, too, I’ll bet. Most likely Stone Gaias since they’ve been pretty common among Muu’s forces lately.”

“Probably,” Angelo said. “That would be a pretty safe bet. But I also wonder if Muu would use other monsters? Stone Gaias are strong, don’t get me wrong, but are they, or at least the Gaia family in general, the only monsters in his army now?”

“A fair question,” Zeeker said. “We’ll just have to wait and see. The Gaia family is probably the safest bet, but I wouldn’t put it past him to ‘recruit’ other monsters like Haunted Armors, Wood Anacondas, or even some Death Scorpions.”

Nina shivered, “I hope not. I hate scorpions. They’re the one thing I’m afraid of. But like Nova I know how to face my fear, although in his case he doesn’t have a choice in the matter. But I hope there are no scorpions in Muu’s army now.”

Nova chuckled, “Can’t say I blame you, Nina. But, in any case, we should be seeing the base soon, right?”

Sir Reginald nodded, “Yes. According to the map it’s just beyond that hill.”

The party nodded and made their way up the hill. Sure enough a little ways away was the Undead Base. Like the last one it was heavily fortified in the front, with what looked like strange cacti monsters scurrying around.

“Those are Bomb Cacti,” Nina observed. “They’re not too dangerous in general but they can produce quite the suicide blast when backed into a corner. In short, they blow themselves up as a last-ditched tactic to take out their foes. So it looks like Muu is also using Bomb Cacti.”

Kettu said, “Looks like there’s another barrier over the base, so we can’t use Phantom to scope things out. Guess that means it’s my turn to check it out. Let’s find a spot to hide so I can sneak in and see what’s cooking.”

Everyone nodded and ducked behind some bushes. Kettu turned into his black fox form and scampered off toward the base. Everyone waited patiently for his return. About 15 minutes later he scurried back to them and transformed back to normal.

“Okay, here’s the scoop. Like the notes said we’re dealing with a larger army of Undead Soldiers. Captain Corpseporal seems to be about average strength for an Undead Captain, though I did hear him mutter that Juggerrot’s destruction has had an effect on morale in Muu’s army. That means Angelo’s theory may be on the money. Anyway, I didn’t see any other monsters inside the base, so we only have to deal with the Bomb Cacti out in front. Other than that nothing else to report.”

Sir Reginald nodded, “Okay, then, let’s begin our preparations.”

The party huddled together to begin mapping out their battleplan. After about 15 minutes they had settled on a strategy.

“Okay, that does it. If we’re ready we can begin our attack.”

Everyone nodded in agreement. They approached the base, causing the cacti monsters to turn and look at them with their single red eye.

“Time to get their attention,” Nova said. “Ifrit Mode.”

The Demon King Ring adjusted itself, now set to Ifrit Mode.

“Dragon Strike!”

He fired the arrow at the Undead Base’s front, striking the barricade and blasting it apart. This caused the front gates to open up, allowing the Undead Army to emerge along with Captain Corpseporal.

“I had a feeling you’d show up eventually,” the Undead Captain growled. “This is for General Juggerrot! Attack!”

Nina tapped some of the gems on her Shaman Magic Bracelet, saying, “Time for a barbeque! Elemental Energy Fusion activate!”

She was engulfed in swirling energy and before long had become the Goddess of Phoenixes.

Zeeker began to activate his Shaman Magic Bracelet, saying, “Don’t leave me out of the party, Nina!”

However, just as he was about to press the combo for his Burning Beast form one of the Bomb Cacti fired a large needle at him, forcing him to dodge it and press the wrong symbol in the process.

“Damn… I was going to become the Burning Beast but now the Earth symbol is glowing. Maybe I’ll try it, since when the others experimented with their secondary forms it worked out okay. As Nova would say, ‘here goes something’. Fire, Earth! Elemental Energy Fusion activate!”

He was engulfed in swirling energy, causing the enemies to stop and observe for a moment. Before long a new form had appeared.

Zeeker’s newest transformation gave him a very bulky body that seemed to be composed of molten rock, with twin vents on his back that were releasing steam, large arms ending in hands that looked like two halves of a small volcano or cannon, strong legs ending in rock feet, orbiting stones around his body, a fierce head mostly made of rock and fire, glowing yellow eyes, sharp fangs, and steam emerging from his muzzle.

He gave a fierce roar, “Try your luck against the Volcanic Titan! Take this! Molten Rock Cannon!”

He combined his hands together to create a volcano-shaped cannon and began firing large chunks of molten rocks at the enemies in a steady barrage. The attacks were effortlessly destroying the Undead Soldiers like they were toothpicks. The Bomb Cacti fired their needles at him.

“Oh no you don’t!” Nina stated. “Phoenix Finish!”

She fired the flaming energy phoenix at the airborne needles, engulfing them and burning them up.

Zeeker turned to her, “Nina, launch that attack again, but this time at me!”

She looked hesitant, “Are you sure, Zeeker?”

“Trust me, I know what I’m doing.”

“Okay. Here goes something. Phoenix Finish!”

She fired another flaming energy phoenix at Zeeker. He opened his mouth and swallowed the attack, much to everyone’s surprise. It resulted in the flaming energy in his body getting stronger.

“Yum, that hit the spot,” he grinned. “Now that I’ve gotten some extra fuel--time to feel the burn! Volcanic Panic!”

He slammed both hands, which were still connected in the volcano-shaped cannon, into the ground, burying them slightly, before seemingly pumping energy into the ground. There was a brief pause before a massive volcanic eruption exploded underneath Captain Corpseporal, the remaining Undead Soldiers, and the Bomb Cacti. The party quickly got out of range to avoid getting caught in the crossfire. Captain Corpseporal screamed in pain as his body was melted by the powerful lava energy. Soon the volcanic eruption ended, leaving no trace of the enemy behind, ending the fight.

“Talk about a hot battle,” Nova said.

Nina nodded, “Yes, quite the fiery display, to put it simply.”

Zeeker grinned, “You know I’m hot stuff, right?”

Sir Reginald gained a crooked smile, “Well, be as it may, we should check out the base to see if there is anything of worth inside it.”

The party nodded and entered the base. It held the standard fare, although they did notice a crate tucked away in a corner. Van pried open the crate, revealing more Magna Crystal cubes.

“More Magna Crystal cubes,” Nova said. “Muu’s really been making the rounds with these. And it’s safe to say we’re gonna take them, right?”

Sir Reginald nodded, “Indeed, so please put them in your Digi-Pack. Nina, you get the Magna Crystal cube that’s powering the base and barrier generator and give it to Nova.”

She nodded, “Right, give me a second.”

She floated over to where the Magna Crystal cube that was powering the base was and gingerly removed it, causing everything to shut down. She floated back to Nova, who had just finished putting the Magna Crystals away, and gave him the last one, which he stored with the rest. The party then made their way outside and put some distance between them and the base.

Zeeker said, “Right, I’ll handle scrapping the base. Sir Reginald, please put up a barrier for good measures.”

Sir Reginald nodded and said, “Barrier!”

A barrier formed around the party.

“Okay, time for a fiery finish,” the Beastman said. “Volcanic Panic!”

He buried both his hands into the ground a bit before pumping energy into it. There was a brief pause before the ground underneath the Undead Base erupted with fire, rock, and lava. In a matter of moments the base was reduced to molten rock and metal. Zeeker removed his hands from the ground, his task complete.

“Done like dinner.”

Sir Reginald lowered the barrier, saying, “Good work, gang. While it wasn’t quite how we had planned it, as we were going to use Goddess of Phoenixes alongside the Burning Beast to create Judgment Inferno, Zeeker’s newest Shaman form still managed to make it work in a different but effective way. That’s why we allow some wiggle room in our strategies in case of something like this happening. Overall, a job well done.”

“I’ll say,” Nova said. “That was quite the explosive finish. And that means we only have one more Undead Base and Muu’s influence will have been removed from this continent.”

Angelo smiled, “Yep, and then it’s off to the next continent to save them from Muu’s forces. And we know they need our help badly.”

Van nodded, “Yes, that’s true. And we’ll make sure they get our help.”

Nina turned to Zeeker, “Zeeker, let’s revert back to normal now, as our job is complete.”

“Cancel Fusion!” she and Zeeker said.

They were engulfed in swirling energy and before long they had returned to normal. Satisfied, the party moved on, heading to the last Undead Base on the continent.

Next Chapter: Mortal Enemies Collide

That's all for today. Another day, another victory, another Shaman form. Tune in next time to see what our heroes face.
 
Last edited:
Top