Chapter One: The Test of a Warrior
Section 1: Emily
I sit up and stretch myself out from laying atop Lucy's roof. I reach my arms up super high, letting them fall back to my sides.
"Well time to go," I say out loud. It should be about time for me to get to the city outskirts to start the test to become a Peacekeeper.
"Boy it sure has taken a while but I'm glad the moment has come grandfather. The moment to where I get my chance to become a soldier a keeper of peace just like you were. Wherever you are or where ever you left to, I hope you're happy for me."
"Emily get down from the roof please." I look down to see a pale skinny woman with short brown hair barley reaching her neck and her smooth yet piercing blue eyes are what stand out the most about her.
"Hello Janet good morning. You look stunning as usual." I give her a brief wave.
Her eyes bore into my soul as she looks up at me.
"Don't try to flatter me Emily you know it doesn't work. Now get down here so I can talk to you without looking up at you. Plus with how clumsy you are I am sure you'll fall off that roof." Janet's mouth twists into a mischievous grin.
"I'm not that clumsy, but okay let me get down."
Jumping down from the roof to the dirty streets below kicking up a cloud of dust as I land, the dust blows away with a gentle breeze. I see trash littering the sandy narrow streets complementing, the run down shacks and homes with the wood holding the homes up teetering on the edge of collapse by the rot covering their woody exterior.
Their are people's ragged fluttering clothes hung on lines running from broken light stems, and the roofs and window sills of people's homes. The shouts of people selling fruit, clothing and other various items out of wagons or on their homemade wooden shops with a single board loaded up with the items which is held up by some gray tin buckets.
"Good now are you ready for the test today?" Janet asks me her eyes glittering with worry.
"Of course I've been training for this ever sense grandfather left after grandmothers death. Plus how else will I go about finding him."
Janet sigh and moves out of a wagons way as it moves along the sandy road. The Sandma's seem to pull the man's. wagon at a slow pace but with relative ease.
Once the wagon rounds the next corner Janet looks back to me. She dusts some sand if her shirt as she speaks.
"I know you're grandfather dissapearance was sudden but honestly Emily you don't have to join the Keepers to find him." Janet places a gentle hand on my shoulder.
"But I have to maybe if I can become the Admiral like grandfather was then maybe he'll come back. Also...?"
I'm cut off when Janet squeezes my shoulder.
"Emily I won't stop you from becoming one if you're sure it's what you want. Dominic would want you to follow your own dreams not mirror his." She unclenches her hand from my shoulder.
"Yes it's what I want grandfather trained me for a reason and I believe this is it. Plus why would you put Lucy and I through all those rigrous training regimes?"
Janet chuckles and shakes her head her hair shaking with it.
"The only reason I gave it to you was because it was necessary. I'm sure that's what your Dominic would say to. Now you should hurry and get to the Ban site so you can catch the rest of Lucy's match and get yours."
"Wait aren't you going?" I ask her.
"I wish but the house is a mess and Lucy wouldn't want me to be there. So I'll stay and fix up the house. Now hurry and go just no I'm rooting for you and Lucy no matter what happens you're both winners in my book." Janet embraces me in a hug before I set off. I accept the embrace and wrap my arms around her and bury my face in the noom if her shoulder.
I unlock my self from the hug and give her a bow.
"Thanks Janet I shall be off and eish me luck!" With that I take off down the road.
"Of course sweetie I just hope that things will get easier for you. Gods knoe you deserve better."
Section 2: Emily
While making my way to the Ban Site
A man calls out to me from the back of a wagon he waves me over to hoping I'll accept the offer but I ignore him and continue walking to the site.
I try not to buy anything from anyone here anymore ever since that shoe salesman in Sky Alley ripped me off.
I spent ten eels for a pair of his shoes, and they fell apart at the seams during a training session in the Klan forest on the edges of the Wastelands and the Capital lands.
I remember that day Lucy and I stole an Elder's Sounds and tied them up to a piece of sheet metal off a broken down shack. We both rode on the back of the sheet metal and had the Sounds pull us to the Klan forest which is Thirty Ticks north of our village Fallout. The Sounds are great animals their scaled heels and thick feet help them fight against the sands heat. Their legs are tremendously strong and with the lean muscle it helps them glide across the sand. Their furry bodies protect them from the Sun's harmful rays.
When we reached the Klan forest we climbed through it's beautiful majesty. The leaves were in full bloom and the sound of twigs and dead leaves crunching under every foot step Lucy and I took was music to my ears. We passed by two flowing waterfalls that were breathtaking the way the water just just kissed the small streams smooth and glittery surface was blissful to our eyes. The best part was the wind whistling through the trees branches and the dancing leaves as the branches would shake the leaves off and they would glide gracefully to the ground. Finally we reached Kuzar cliff at the center of the Klan forest to begin our new work out.
When we began our training Lucy harped on me the whole time about my new shoes I just bought.
"I'm telling you, Em, if you try to train in those shoes you'll get hurt," Lucy would give me that smug smile of hers. The right corner of her mouth would curl up and she'd put her hands on her hips and lean forward to emphasize her smugness.
"Pssh it'll be fine stop worrying mom." I gave her a glaring look while we balance on a small cliffs edge. We were practicing our footing and ability to keep them steady while on a unstable surface.
"Fine but you better not ask me to help you when you fall." She crosses her arms and begins to pout, but she'd quickly turn her face to hide the smile plastered on it. Lucy was always good with being dramatic so I decided to play along with her.
"Hey that won't happen I may not be very good at being a wizard but I won't fall off this stupid cliffff!" I lost my focus and turned on my left heel too quickly causing the heel pf the shoe to rip. That's when I toppled off of the cliff side, I landed on my side before rolling off the edge. I tried to use my wind magic to help save me but I was exhausted. I watch as the ground races to me quickly. I cover my eyes hoping to shield myself from my oncoming demise before the sound of rushing water comes rushing through my ears.
I see a water bridge underneath me trailing from the cliffs upper edge to beneath my descending route to the hard ground below. I could also see Lucy standing on it. She moves her hand up to me and the water shoots up at me like a million tiny hands. I'm slowly lowered to the glistening bridge and see Lucy's smiling fave as she just laughs.
"Oh Emily what will I do with you." Lucy just continues to laugn as we head back up to the clifgs edge.
Luckily, Lucy was there to save me, or I might have died.
Guess it was my fault for wanting to train on the cliff in shoes that were bad. Except I didn't know they were bad so I couldn't have known I'd fall.
After walking a few more minutes I have to cover my eyes from the blistering rays of the sun which I can feel scorching my fair skin and blinding my vision. I finally reach the village's small wall which wraps around the outer edge of Fallout.
"This stupid Sandstone wall why in all of Esterpine do we have this tiny wall? It's an enigma this wall it's too small to keep anyone out they can easily jump over it, or knock it down. Stupid Enigma wall why do you exist who built you and why?" I look behind me because I hear footsteps crunching with the sand. Two villagers wearing tattered Skans with a silk bow wrapped around the waist to hold it together.They walk right by me not even paying me the time of day.
They push through the gate and it opens with a loud creak. It clangs against the side of the wall and slowly creeps it's way back to its starting position.
I push open the gate door and follow the people who I can hear whispering. Well it's not whispering more like pretend whispering.
"Did you see that Shroud talking to herself again." The girl in the dirt colored Skan says.
"Yeah why can't she disappear like that stupid grandfather of hers?" I stop myself from going off on them because of what I promised my Grandfather before he disappeared. I can never break that promise after what I did and what Grandfather had to go through to make things right again...it just can't happen again.
No matter how hard it is or how much I hate the people in this village I will never harm them again.
I can see a small dot in the distance and flashes of lights but it's hard to see through the afternoon haze of the Wastelands heat. I can see Ban Site which is on the other side of a hill outside the village. There is a small shed which holds our food and water supply. It's single handedly the most important thing in Fallout.
I can see a group of people huddled around some flashing lights right outside the shed. The white and blue lights dance around, the blue light turns into a string of water that rises above the cheering crowd. I push through the crowd to get up to the front. I make it through to the front and I see Lucy's blue aura shimmering around her as she uses her water magic. She twirls it in a circle around her opponent like a ring.
Is she going to use her Ice Ring? Well, it is her favorite attack.
It seems smart because the soldier who she's fighting seems incredibly fast and her Ice Ring is great at immobilizing her opponet. Then, while her oponet is trapped by the ring, she'll use her Frozen blitz to finish the opponent. I was her test subject while she practiced this combination.
I watch as the ring clasps around the Peacekeeper's body constricting her movement then hardens into ice. Damn it; I hate this move because it takes a lot of physical strength to break free from its grasp. I really hate Janet for teaching her this annoyingly great move.
The worst thing about Lucy being the first to fight is that there is a huge chance that she could win, and that sucks. Lucy is much stronger than me when it comes to using magic. I have the advantage when it comes to using my magic more precisely and my hand-to-hand is a little better, but in terms of raw power, she has me beat tenfold. Watching her lift all the water out of a lake and move it proved that.
Also, if she wins, she'll have to leave town immediately due to the rules of the Peacekeeper test if you pass you must be taken to the capitol immediately. Which means that - Gah, if I have to wait another year in this town, I'll most likely keel over from the sheer boredom, especially because I'll be here without Lucy. Even though Lucy and I promised we wouldn't be sad or jealous if one of us wins, but man is it hard not to be either of the two.
I try to get a better look at who got stuck fighting Lucy, and the realization of who her opponent is almost makes me shout. That jet black hair with that neon orange stripe in it, the long katana on her back, the sleeveless black vest adorned by two breats pockets, and with that long black cloak held together by a golden Phoenix pin is proof enough to know who it is.
Wait; hold on, why the hell is Alva Copper here? There's no way she's testing us!
Well, she is the only soldier here, Emily, and she's fighting Lucy. What a stupid question. Plus, why is she testing us? Do the Peacekeepers expect untrained wizards to defeat one of the more powerful wizards in Esterpine?
I'm pulled from my thoughts by Lucy screaming my name. She continues waving at me. I look up to see that Alva is still trapped in Lucy's Ice Ring, and then Alva glares at me intensely. As a white light begins to shimmer around her body as she releases a small amount of her magical energy.
With a sudden burst, the ring shatters scattering the ice across the ground before dissipating back into the Mana Streams. She quickly vanishes into thin air leaving a cloud of sand behind he as she instantly appears right behind Lucy.
A small object drops from her cloak when she whips it back it makes a whistling sound, it then extends into a very long staff. I look back to see Lucy still waving at me, not paying attention to her opponent. Before I can warn my confused friend, her legs are knocked out from beneath her, and she falls to the ground on her back with a loud smack. Alva stands over Lucy with the end of her staff sitting right under Lucy's chin.
Man, you are the worst sometimes, Lucy. Don't you remember what your mother taught us, "Never take your eyes off of your target, Emily it can cost you your life." Except here you are ignoring her teachings.
"First rule of battle, never turn your back on your opponent. The second rule is never allow yourself to become distracted, Miss Martin."
Wow, déjà vu, that sounds almost like Janet.
Alva extends a hand to Lucy, helping her to her feet. She gives Lucy a pat on the back and whispers something into her ear. I wish I could hear what she said.
Then Alva straightens out her cloak brushes off her pants then walks over to an old cart guarded by two men in full silver armor; I can feel myself beginning to freak out. Oh no, this was much easier when I thought I wouldn't be facing off with Alva.
She reaches into the front of the wagon and pulls out a piece of paper, scratches something off, and then sets it back down. I wonder what that paper is. Maybe the list of recruits she's had to face? It makes sense to have one to keep organized sense the test is held all over the Capitol and it's provinces.
"Okay, Emily Shroud, come forth."
Oh boy, it's time. Well, Emily, you've been preparing for this moment for years, suffering through all those rigorous and tedious training sessions with Janet and Lucy, and also this is what Grandfather would have wanted, I think. He trained me for a reason. I believe that this is what it was for? There is no other reason for all the training Grandfather put me through but to join the Peacekeepers. There was only one time he told me that I didn't have to join.
"Emily, just because I was the admiral in the military and the king's right-hand man does not mean that you have to join. The Peacekeepers are not the only path for a wizard to walk. There are plenty of other branching paths for you to take. The choice is yours. You're special, my dear. You don't have to choose my path. You can go down a different one if you so wished."