“Relax, and be focused.” TreeTree whispers into my mind.
A small wolf. That’s my real opponent today, and I felt a bit intimidated by idea of fighting a small wolf, as my first non-sparring opponent. But it’s a monster that appears all the time in the forest, so TreeTree says, it’s probably the easiest one around.
Still, not easy for me. Its still bigger than me!
It growls, baring its fangs
At the back of my mind, I know TreeTree’s watching. So is Horns, the giant fighting beetle, and maybe Jura somewhere. So I try to relax, but, it’s different.
There’s real ‘anger’ in the wolf, a real 'presence' of true hostility. Perhaps it’s hungry. It growls again, and it changes its’ posture, and it looks at me with those angry eyes.
I look at the spear in my right hand, and the dagger in my left. I practiced for this. I practiced a long time for this, and so, I believe I can do it. I have in engraved in my mind thanks to so many dreams of me just swinging the spear and the dagger.
No, I must do it.
A hero must do, what a hero musts.
The wolf charges, our eyes meet. My grip on the spear tightens, and I wait for the moment. It feels instinctive, I’m one with the spear, it’s a small one, so I can’t use a full sized spear yet, but it’s enough.
The wolf enters range.
And it pounces.
I duck and instantly activate my ability [Powerstrike], it feels natural, like the times I practiced with Horns and Jura. The spear’s tip pierces through the wolf’s hide, and it whimpers in pain.
Our eyes meet, as the wolf tries to take a look at the stab wound, blood splattering out. And I see the pain in the wolf’s eyes. This might be the moment it dies. And it whimpers, one of sorrow.
Like a dog.
A part of me wavered that instant, and my spear’s direction shifted slightly. It’s enough to change it from a fatal strike, into one that will only leave a deep cut.
The wolf falls behind me, but because it’s not fatal, it manages to get up, and then run away, leaving a trail of blood dripping onto the dirt floor as it flees.
And yet, I didn’t give chase.
My mind somehow replays that real pain in the wolf’s eyes. The whimpering voice, that almost dog like sound.
“You’re okay?” TreeTree whispers.
“I… I couldn’t do it.”
A part of me curses myself then. Is this how my dreams of being a hero ends?
Am I not meant to be a hero? Heroes kill monsters!
“The first time you draw blood says a lot.” Jura walks over, still holding his bow and arrow, ready if the battle went bad. “How do you feel?”
“I… I’m disappointed. I’m angry. Why couldn’t I do it?” I look at Jura, and he smiles. His big hands holds me on my shoulders, and gives me a shake.
“Why are you disappointed?”
“Because heroes are supposed to slay monsters! But… I failed. Didn’t you tell me that some heroes started fighting monsters when they were 6 or 7? Does that mean I can’t be a hero?”
Jura shakes me again.
“Are heroes mindless fighting golems?”
“No…” I mean, heroes are supposed to be like gods in the battlefield, no. The power of the heavens made flesh, the fury of a hurricane made into human form.
“So, why are you disappointed? Is it really the right thing to feel?”
“The question is this, why did you have to kill the wolf?”
“Because it’s a monster?”
“Why do you have to kill monsters?”
“Because monsters hurt people?”
“Did it hurt you?”
“Well, not yet.”
“So why do you have to kill it?”
“Because it could hurt me?”
“Then you’ll be killing everyone.”
“It’s very likely to hurt me and shows aggression? If I didn’t, I would be hurt.”
“Good point, but in this case, you’ve wounded it and chased it away. Is that sufficient?”
“Uncle Jura, you're giving me the moral answer again. I can sense it when you’re lying and don't believe what you say.” I’m young, but I know it when I hear it. Uncle Jura will kill anyone that even scratches us, maybe only TreeTree can stop him.
Jura shrugs, and rubs his head. “Heh. Well… it’s actually comes with experience, young Lausanne. When you meet more people, and meet more monsters, you will be able to better judge who do you spare, and who do you kill.”
“So that was the morally correct answer?” I think the standard education that all elves, all ‘parents’ try to give, is to be morally just. But I live in a world of wars, even 8 year old children like myself know the morally correct is just words. I live, in a world where might makes right. Where heroes can order nations, because their powers give them that right. Where demons can crush nations overnight, because their might is stronger.
Jura pauses, kneels next to me and rubs me on the head. “Yes. I have to tell you what is morally correct to do. When you deviate from them, you must be able to answer to yourself, why did you deviate from what is morally correct. I may not truly believe in them, but that is because I know what is important to me."
“Well, a hero should do what is morally just.” Do they? Maybe there are other ways of thinking. Or I am trying to take the easy way out?
I sometimes think being a hero is really hard. All these types of justice, fairness, how do they think about these kind of things in the heat of battle?
A week later, I asked TreeTree to let me fight the forest monsters again.
I thought long about it. I mean, it’s hard to think about it. I’m only 8, and I get headaches when I think for too long, and when I do, I feel like going to the playroom and just play with my wooden toys again.
“So, why do you want to fight again?” Jura asks. Maybe a part of him wishes I stop this hero dream of mine, I sometimes still hear Uncle Jura say that when he talks with mom.
“I don't know. I just want to. Maybe I will get better."
"That's not a good reason."
"I just want to." I insist.
"Just because you want, does not mean you can get." Uncle Jura frowns, and gives me that look when I am being a bit… difficult.
"Okay. But I still want to fight monsters. I want to level up, gain experience."
Jura sighs, and he probably knows I'll run to the forest myself anyway, since TreeTree's always there looking out for us. "Fine, be careful."
So I found another small wolf to fight. There are lesser animals, like those giant rats or big squirrel like stuff that live in the forest, eating whatever fruits and leaves that grow here.
This time, I want to beat it, but, maybe I don't have to kill it. Do I still get experience that way?
We spot each other, and the wolf sizes me up. I think thats what its doing when it eyes seem to roam.
"Hello wolf. I'd like to fight you."
The wolf growls. Well, I growl back. Naturally my growl isn't really threatening.
It enters into a combat stance, so do I, my spear and dagger ready.
It charges, again, same movement like the earlier wolf. Somehow the animals have movesets that we can learn.
But this time, I aim somewhere in the side. It won't kill it instantly, but it'll do some harm.
The wolf winces in pain, and my dagger on my left hand swings in, and lands a few cuts.
It swipes, and its claws manage to scratch me.
"Owwwwwww!" That really, really hurt. I'm bleeding, a gash right on my left arm, from my wrist up till my elbow, and its bleeding.
Pain. I feel like my entire left hand stings. Mom won't like that. I better get back and hope it doesn't fester.
The wolf is injured too, the cuts and the stab from the spear is causing it to bleed. I think it did to me.
"Lausanne, are you alright?" TreeTree speaks into my head.
"Fine, bleeding. Can you help me later?"
The wolf charges, trying to take advantage of the time I am still talking to TreeTree. But my instincts, born from years of dreams, and constant practice, manage to react in time, and so, I duck, and stab the wolf again in the abdomen with my short spear.
It whimpers, as it falls onto the dirt floor. And it's voice weakens. It’s defenseless, the 2nd stab drained it’s strength, and it could only limp.
It still looks at me. This time, it’s eyes a mix of anger, and fear.
“Should I kill it?” I wonder to myself.
My left hand is bleeding, blood’s dripping, and yet, my grip on the dagger remains. The wolf takes two steps back, limping.
“Should I? It hurt me.”
What would a hero do? Depends on which hero, isn’t it? Some would kill this wounded wolf, some would spare it, if it shows no further hostility.
If I were a hero, what would I do?
My eyes meet with the wolf again. It growls at me as it steps back.
I think I’ll take it’s life.
I thrust my spear at the wolf.
A loud clang.
My spear, blocked by Jura’s sword. He pushes my spear back, turns, and then shoos the wolf away, and lets the wolf slowly limp off.
“Lausanne.” He turns, and notices the bleeding on my left arm.
“Why’d you stop me, uncle Jura?” Why did he block my spear?
“I think you’re not ready to take a life yet.”
“Is it? Why?”
“Because you are not. Now don’t argue with me and let’s go back to TreeTree and get that gash patched up, before your mommy nags me for not looking after you.”
I sigh. Oh well.
Lausanne Ricola, Level 20 (cumulative)
Elf girl, aged 8
Elf warrior (Level 11)
- Basic evasive steps
- Spear experience- medium
- Dagger experience - low
- Basic pain endurance
- Improved reaction - basic
- Shadow Stab
Villager (4 levels)
- Disease resistance - basic
- Cottonwork - basic
- Olivework - advanced
General (5 levels)
- Basic endurance
- Advanced reading and writing - common tongue
- Blessed by a soul tree
Okay, next regular chapter... next week!