HyerOxide

Fire rose throughout the buildings, reaching for the skies as a two story wooden building collapsed against the Earth and the ground shook. It spewed smoke into the air with its ember rushed into the wind, falling like rain, stinging my eyes. A silhouette in the distance dashed across a building, engulfed in flames that stretched to the sky. As I held my shield above my head, I was too weak to stand. Knees laid against the rubble, I used my sword to steady myself. The village was defended, but mostly devastated. I felt a sudden movement over my shoulder which jolted me. “Your time has come”. With an outcry, I swung my fist over my shoulder and smashed the figure that turned into a shattered wooden beam. 

“Relax Heelio, relax! It’s all a dream!” 

Tensed up, I opened my eyes as a stinging sensation striked, rubbing my eyes as they were moist from sweat, stinging my eyes, with a breeze passing by my head, rapidly breathing. I knew the voice was right, as I could not sense the smell of smoke or the heat of fire. The scents of mint and pine lingered through the air, with the sounds of creatures whistling gently making it clear that this is not the same place. There was Jhenko (revisit character name) standing towards my left, with the impact of my fist just barely missing him. It was clear that my reflexive punch had missed him. 

“That happened so long ago, and to this day it feels like yesterday!” I shouted in disbelief as I landed my fist against the bed frame. 

As Jhenko grabbed a chair from across the room, he settled it across from my bed and crossed his arms. 

“So, what are we going to do about it?”, he asked as the chair creaked from his leaning. 

I stare at my armour across the bed. It rested on its stand as its empty shell held memories of darkness, watching over me with its metallic glint. 

“The thing with this” Jhenko continued, “you’ve been chosen to take guard of this village. It’s your purpose to uphold its safety against others who oppose it. Just be glad that there aren’t others who are after us as well, for we would’ve lost this place long ago.” 

Staring into the ceiling, my thoughts were overcome with the uncertainty of why we still try to thrive in these lands.

“Why are we even here?” I asked. 

“Huh?”, a puzzled response. 

“Why did the past leaders choose this place as a safe haven, if it brings us nothing but despair and chaos. Why couldn’t we have settled in the woods?” 

“Too many dangers to deal with, we would’ve been finished before even stepping foot near it.” 

“And you think this is any better of a place?” 

“Yes.” 

Taken aback, but if he truly thought that, there was nothing further I could say.

This led me to question the overall structure of this place. 

“What happened to the walls that were meant to be constructed long ago? Did the builders simply walk off?” I asked.

“They were rather worried so they agreed with themselves to do it later.” 

“Well, I’ll be walking off then.” 

Tossing the covers, I made my way to the doorway with each step causing a creak on the way out, as these wooden floors were built in a rush. 

“You aren’t dropping your duties, and you know it,” Jhenko replied sternly. 

I sighed. I instinctively knew not to look back to see him smiling knowing, he’s right. 

All I needed was a fresh breather, so I started to strap my shield across my back. I decided to leave my armour behind, but I chose this as it will suit my needs of protection in case something decides to attack me. 

Stopping in my tracks, I knew that Jhenko was expecting for me to train with him as he remained seated, waiting for something. 

“I will meet you up at Dragov’s place. I’m not sure when but you’ll know when I turn up.” 

Dust riddled the air as I walked off towards the pathways.The children played about with their wooden swords, running around as the shopkeepers shouted at them, with the place accompanied with life, I was convinced it wouldn’t be the same after that event, but somehow it is. 

“Aye Heelio, what yah doin’ wanderin’ about? Come ‘ere!” 

Khego, an old man with fair hair and a hat to cover his baldness, was easily recognisable as the one with a passion to help in the best way he could. He served bakery goods and fed the townspeople. A jolly type, always making others feel better whenever he can.

Walking towards him, I sat on a stool and rested my arms across the table. 

“Tell me, somethin’ is wrong, I’ll prepare yah somethin’ while yah ponder”. 

He had a rough but understandable accent, as he wasn’t raised here. He’d been rescued by others who found him traversing the lands with nothing but a cart with supplies. They insisted they take him in after he tried to convince them he knew where he was going. The maps showed nothing about anything of the path he took, and after a lot of arguing he agreed to stay with us. 

The fire blazed through the furnace with the smell of roasting fresh dough lingering in the air. The old man preparing the goat’s cheese spread with its herbs. As he was stirring it, questions started to come. 

“How’s life been for yah? Anythin’ new?” 

“It’s been the same as usual, just the nightmares I’ve been experiencing have really made me rethink being a guard of this village.” 

Stopping his movement, he lay the bowl on the table, staring at me with his arms crossed. 

“It wasn’ your fault an’ you know (eeh). You tried bu’ there was nothin’ you could do abou’ (eeh).” 

“I watched people burn, buildings being torn apart because of the destruction, I tried to cover as much ground as possible but there was only one of me, I can’t be in more than one place at a time. There was only one of me, but it wasn’t enough. We were lucky to survive another day. They had attacked in small separate groups, being easier to get taken care of instead of being one. A worried look came across Khego’s face, but he had turned away as he put on the leather gloves, taking out the bread and then placing it onto the wooden board. 

“Truth is, this isn’ a normal life. The first time I was found months ago, crossing these lands, I was drunk. I forgo’ where I even came from, but you guys took me in. You take care of me, I take care of you, is fair game.” 

Cutting the bread in half, he then started to spread the goat’s cheese over the steamy surface, handing it over to me. 

“You aren’ having a good day, so this is on me.” A smile formed and it was met with mine.

Taking a bite, meeting a crunch as I eat its soft centre, followed by the creaminess of the goats cheese. This was really something I needed, with its flavour improving the way I looked upon the day and what happened earlier. 

“Thanks for the food, but you know how I am with free stuff.” I reached out and firmly shook his hand, then I flipped a gold coin, with Khego caught without effort, for then he slid into his pocket. 

“I know I know, but is jus’ a good move. Hopefully yah have a better mornin’.” 

Standing up, I wipe my face as I make my way to Dragov’s to relieve the stress. 

As I was walking, I took my shield off and started to examine it. As its metallic plate shone into my eyes, with its bright light flashback to the sparks from swords clashing against armour, showing my experiences and history for the events I’ve gone through with my journey, for mine has markings dedicated to Ahlmick. Weapon wielders alike have their own stories and events marked into their shields, others even having it on their armour where they show how life had blessed and challenged their lives.

This represents who I am, where those who go through weapon’s training will be allowed to enmark it the way they want, and can even replace every blade and piece. The history and markings will always stay the same. 

Making my way back up the hill to my house I climbed up the steps to enter and came face to face with my armour. Forged by the locals, this is a temporary suit for those that stand as guards, a trial armour for when enough time passes and strength is shown. We would get our own unique type of armour once progress has been done. The problem with this type, is that it limits your movement in a lot of areas, mostly your chest as you can’t bend your spine properly. I’ve been told that I will be getting a new set to my needs. 

I looked upon it, sighing, but took it apart to wear it. The armour is all in pieces, not just a suit, so it makes it easier to replace each part that gets damaged. I strapped on the chest plate, to which I moved onto the legs, securing its movement to my body. I then adjusted the metallic boots to complete my leg cover and then slipped on the armour for my arms and hands. Taking my helmet off the stand, I then secured it onto my head, the set was now complete. 

As I opened the door, the sunlight shone across the plates. As metal against metal grinded each other with every step down the stairs, I walked off into the distance heading off to Dragov’s. 

Greeted by Jhenko, who explained what my tasks were.

“I have decided for you to go against an opponent, rather than the training logs. Once you defeat him, you will be granted your rights to have armour forged specially for you. You can choose everything from how you want it to be made, to the way it is designed.” 

Thinking about it, I agreed. “Sounds fair to me.” “You will go against Khiero, those to collapse or have their weapon disarmed shall lose.” 

I looked over at him. He stood, with his hands atop his holstered sword, fierce, but I knew deeply inside that he’s only good at intimidating.

 “Prepare your places, Heelio on the left side and Khiero on the right. When I slash this rope holding a piece of stone, and it hits this plate of metal, you will start.” 

He then prepared his countdown. 


“3” 

I put my hands over my sword’s handle, with my shield prepared on my left arm. So does Khiero. 

“2” 

I take grip of my blade and bring it out of its casing, gleaming in the sunlight. Khiero prepares his blade. 

“1” 

Battle stance, with my sword ready. 

Slash, the rope instantly tore against metal with smoke protruding because of the intense heat, the stone then fell to the plate, making a clanging sound. 

I then start to slowly make my movement to him, with my shield in front of me. 

Khiero starts to quicken his pace, preparing for a strike with a swing. 

I then swing my shield defending his movement. Striking my shield against him, I swing my sword at him, striking his sword as he raises it in time, but this makes him step backwards as he is not using his shield properly. I go for another overhead strike, another clank as metal strikes against each other, he starts to lose grip. 

He then swings his sword, but with the edge of my shield I strike against it, having lost his grip of his sword as the blade digs into the ground, Khiero then announces,

“Khiero has lost grip of his weapon, making-” “NO!” shouts Khiero. “I still am on my feet and I have a shield, I can do this.” 

I then look at Jhenko, who is smug knowing that there is no point of continuing, so this will just be entertainment for him. 

Khiero then grips his shield with both hands, and I drop my blade and make it fair game. Four metres away, he swiftly swings his shield against me. I step back and he just misses me, but since he has put so much force into it, he is exposed. With my fist I smash my gauntlet against his helmet, dazing him as I then swing the edge of my shield directly against his face, making him collapse to the dirt, as blood drips through his helmet down onto his neck. 

“Once again, Heelio is the winner of this combat. Khiero, you know very well you are not skilled enough to fight him, yet you have chosen to challenge him numerous times.” 

This wasn’t a random opponent? Not surprised as he has always shown anger towards me whenever I was nearby. 

 

These stories were written in our Factory Feedback program, which was created with, and generously supported by, the Dusseldorp Forum.