Does this old man really have to hit so hard?
My body convulsed momentarily as I vomited onto the grass; the exhaustion and dull pain that was wracking my body was beginning to stack and reaching its fever pitch. I had started training with Callum two weeks prior, and my body still was struggling to keep up with the onslaught. At the moment, I was currently sparring seriously with Callum. He had given me an hour to regain my footing just now, and I was reflecting on the events of everything that happened since nearly a year ago.
It’s been roughly eight months since my eighth ‘sun.’ I turned nine, maybe two months after that, so we finally had a concrete time of my birth and when my sixteenth ‘sun’ would come to pass. I actually started referring to Hatsumi as ‘Mama,’ who was glad to know her ‘little girl’ was that much closer to actually making it to adulthood. The fact that children died quite frequently unless kept under watch grew more evident as time passed. Recently Mother has tried getting me to connect with other children in the area, but things were just too awkward; it really was bad in this city. Either children had to grow up in a close-knit set of families to gain any form of social skills,' or they had to learn fast and form teams from there when they were let off the leash to be adventurers or take on whatever job their families secured for them. This city was struggling from a form of social starvation not too dissimilar to what earth suffered through and after the war. Because Mother didn’t want me to have to outright join her team and be put in too much danger for a beginner, she actively tried to network with other parents in the city on her off days.
On the subject of off days, I managed to finish my lessons with Lorn. She had privately scolded me around a month in; she could see all of my stats, not just strength. So she began ramping up the skill level of everything she taught me. Surprisingly, the further we got into the language, everything began clicking in place. The easiest way to describe it would be as if paths in my brain were at some point there, only reappearing as Lorn guided me. We managed to learn that I had difficulties with anything related to Va-ren; I wasn’t sure why. Lorn brushed it off with some excuse about ‘The state is old, it could be the level of information and blah blah blah.’ Which I obviously didn’t believe. She pressed me to drop it, so I've been trying to catch up on it by myself with no luck so far.
Why the hell couldn’t I handle the information? It was as If my mind was scrambling itself the minute it made it in.
Learning more about Damus, It was under the rule of half a dozen political figures. The owner of the keep at the center of the city was Baron Victor Frederick Cranton, he was in charge of governing the city and the surrounding territory, which included a handful of trade routes and villages. The significance of knowing him was tied to the fact that Mother and the others were brought into his guard and protected the city from raids for a short time after the purges in Morus. Mother was apparently a really strong mage, so she was held in the position for some time but put up with it. After a while, they allowed her to leave, and she rejoined the others. The Baron was still favorable to her and the rest of the team, so he may ask us to visit from time to time. Personally, I was hoping not to get involved with that level of difficulty. If this world's politics were anything like any part of Earth's old history. I would prefer to stay uninvolved; I didn't want to think of the plethora of ways I could be killed that were separate from the already natural dangers present.
After politics, I managed to learn about the pantheon of gods this world worshipped. They were very much real, acting directly in the affairs of mortals on a handful of occasions and indirectly on many others. In one of Lorn’s not so Lucid states, she even mentioned how she managed to meet the god of prosperity in her home city when she wasn't even fifty years old. I tried pressing her for some stories about the city, but she would drink or smoke soon after on each occasion. I knew the pattern enough to cease my prodding, which I think she may have been thankful enough for me being able to read between the lines.
The gods currently known openly were few and often held in varying views by each individual. It was nearly impossible to rank them in any way as they all encompassed different values.
Orion, the first God Lorn discussed with me due to the danger that I was in thanks to him, was ‘God of the hunt and spoils’. It was hard to pin down what he embodied as he was widely considered the embodiment of greed and wastefulness to those with a poor view, the god of plentiful hunts, and eternal wealth to those with a favored view. He was often depicted as a herculean human, but he was depicted as an avian demi-human with shared traits with various birds of prey in older text.
Myr was the ‘Goddess of Beauty and trade.’ She was viewed as a swindler and a symbol of acute vanity, the inability to see past one’s own faults and wrongdoings. To the inverse, she was also considered the ideal in this world for beauty and good business. She would often be praised and given offerings any time a girl reached her eighth sun by her family to bless her with heightened charisma and anytime a contract was being made in the name of business. These were absolutes and even performed by those who viewed her mostly negatively. She was more often than not depicted as a rather finely aged, older woman.
Tyr was the god that Lorn met early in her life. Few gods bore patronage to a particular race, but Tyr was the patron god of elves. He was the ‘God of fertility, plentiful crops, prosperity, and guidance’. His existence was one of the few viewed indifferently rather than negatively by those that didn’t consider him their central deity. He was rather favored by farmers and those attempting to bear children for obvious reasons and those looking to make the proper decisions in their lives when what they were about to do was gravely serious. He was often depicted as a blonde, middle-aged elven man. However, Lorn says these depictions are rather modern and incorrect. She said when she met Tyr, he appeared as a rather bashful boy just on the cusp of his nineteenth or twentieth ‘sun.’ His hair was green, and he was of a rather small stature. The change in depictions was also considered strange since he was quite vocal.
Ky-ras, the ‘Goddess of the night,’ whose name was mostly self-explanatory. Lorn kept the description of Ky-ras rather vague, but It was easy to tell why. After reading some on the pantheon in my free time, it was made clear she would be prayed to on a rather common occurrence for…reasons…particularly for things Callum was interested in…nightly… Other than that, she was also considered the goddess of safe travel and good health, surprisingly. It’s just that she was more widely known for her other qualities. She was confirmed to be a particular breed of demon, a succubus. However, her actual depiction varies greatly because she tends to be whimsical in her chosen form.
Lastly, Solah, ‘Goddess of war, resilience, and recovery.' She was looked to for strength, the ability to recover, for the safety of loved ones, and healing. She was also strangely looked to by engineers or carpenters for some reason. Lorn clarified that Solah’s definitions of what she encompassed were rather vague. She was vocal, like Tyr was, but tended to only interact through those that she could speak through. She was not fond of directly making herself seen; nothing good would ever come of it. Her worshippers tended to be the widest in variation, as she was worshipped by warlords, craftsmen, healers, and by those with a strong desire to protect others. In her most negative light, she was viewed even worse than Orion in some places, a Goddess that celebrated wanton death. This meant she was simultaneously praised and cursed by most people. She was often depicted as a species of demon just as Ky-ras was. An Oni woman that was built as if she were currently in her prime, red skin, with one of her horns snapped off near its base. Thankfully, the description didn’t match up with the woman I had seen in my flashback before.
Only Tyr, Ky-ras, and Solah were ever known to convene with each other of the gods. Myr and Orion were both said to be singular in their goals and intents and actively avoided interaction with the others. Knowing the baser knowledge about each of them was important, since they came into play on random levels of society. Some of the formalities that their followers practiced are extremely close to becoming commonplace. To the point that Lorn said, even Mother prayed at one of Solah’s shrines for me to be safe on our days outside the city’s walls before I woke up.
Lastly, a slight run-through of the fauna. Of all the monsters or animals I was familiarized with roughly, I could name well over a dozen.
‘Stalker’s’were pretty much Carnotaurus but renamed. ‘Skullker’s’ were Tyrannosaurus on steroids; the main difference in this world is that they had a split jaw and arms that were fairly usable compared to their ancient earth counterpart; thankfully, they weren’t commonplace monsters on the frontier. ‘Tortoise spider’ was slightly incorrectly named; they were often more turtle-like and still displayed the tendency to prefer rather large rivers. Ones that dwell in dens’ like the one that nearly killed me tend to only make their den over a location with a spring or a high water table. Aside from those, you had giant lizards, owl-bear, drake’s, giant salamander’s, a handful of wyvern variants, and then a wide range of megafauna extremely close to those of the Pleistocene epoch.
Thankfully, I wasn’t expected to hunt any of those for years when all was said and done. Knowing the enemy was one thing; being capable of facing them was another. Mother and Callum would be the final judges of whether I could do that or not.
“Hey, get up and drink some water.”
I heard Callum say, tossing a water skin at my feet.
“C-can we take five more-ah-minutes?-ah-“
I asked, gasping for air. My ribs felt bruised; he was hitting hard enough that I think one of them was maybe even cracked. I wanted to double over from it, but he had some beast-kin girl he knew from the guild on healer duty, so none of the injuries ever lasted longer than it took for them to lay me out on the ground. That means getting back up and retaking the brunt of it.
I’m pretty sure this constitutes child abuse.
“No, not until you learn to stop hesitating with your damn swings. That’s the one thing I need you to drop, and the only time we stop is either when you give one good, dedicated swing or when your mother actually comes to pick you up. You have roughly two hours to the latter, so you have the opportunity to cut this short and actually swing with what you’ve got!”
This fuckin guy! Argh, I wanna run his head through a god damn window! I only got older by a year. I’m still nine, asshole!
“U-uncle Callum, I don’t think I wanna-“
“Don’t give me that ‘think I wanna’ crap. Kiyomi, I would be dead already if you were the strongest thing I’ve parried or blocked. Just swing, you do that, and you can take a nap while Kelly gets us supper.”
“Isn’t that a bit much? She’s been healing me all day. Shouldn’t she take a break too?”
I asked, squinting at Callum.
“I’m fine, Kiyomi! Callum’s paying me hourly!”
The healer yelled from where she stood.
“You could just draw this out and get her paid more Kiyomi, that’s free practice for her since all you do is get hurt.”
Asshole. Asshole. Asshole.
“Come on, Kiyomi, one good swing. Stop chickening out and try to actually hit me. I promise if it's full force and I parry it, that I won't hit you, in turn, this time. Okay?”
Callum started trying to bargain with me.
I could make this go a bit faster…Supper does sound nice…
“…Can we have those smoked meat sandwiches?..”
I asked, mulling over his proposal and what we’d be having to eat once this was over.
“I’ll give Kelly my coin purse the minute she heals you up after the swing.”
Callum said with a smile, moving to stretch as he waited for a response.
“Wait, she won’t heal me right now?”
I asked, disappointment in my voice.
“Nah, you wouldn’t be as motivated otherwise.”
Nine years old, you cocky fuck!
“O-okay, I guess I’ll try.”
I said before picking up the water skin and taking a well-deserved drink from it.